Two important meetings organised by the PCS union in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) were set to take place this week.
The first takes place on Tuesday in Leeds. Representatives of all 38 offices in the Jobcentre Plus call centre network were to discuss their dispute over working conditions.
In July the union’s group executive committee voted to suspend industrial action in the long-running dispute for talks.
Further talks are due to be completed by the end of the month before a final offer is put to the membership.
However, while management has made concessions in many areas, these fall far short of the campaign’s demands.
The “interim agreement” the group executive signed up to is short on detail.
This has caused a great deal of unease in some of the better-organised sites.
Members in those sites don’t trust management because of the bad faith they have displayed in the past.
There has also been no noticeable difference to conditions on the ground since July, and support for further strikes remains high.
Unless more substance was presented to Tuesday’s meeting the union should be naming the day for the next round of strikes.
On Friday, a second meeting was to take place in Leeds of representatives from 20 Jobcentres, 17 benefit processing sites and five call centres earmarked for closure. In some areas such as Old Swan in Liverpool, local campaigns against the closures have already begun.
The group executive must pull these together.
It is clear that this is just year one in a three year office closure programme.
The need for national action to stop the closures is urgent.
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