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Union launches five-day strike to fight closure of Sheffield jobcentre

Workers at a jobcentre in Sheffield will strike for five days this week as part of an ongoing campaign against the planned closure of the centre.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) at the Sheffield Eastern avenue jobcentre will go on strike from today (Monday 12 June) until Friday in opposition to the closure of their office, one of a tranche of planned cuts by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

It follows a strike earlier this month that was announced in January, after the DWP stated it would be closing 78 jobcentres across the country.

Local MPs have come out in support of the PCS’s action, and a petition has also been signed by a number of claimants who rely on the jobcentre.

The union has also warned that the closure to the office would hit residents particularly hard as it is located in one of the most deprived parts of the city, and is a “vital service to the local community”.

It also described the wider group of cuts as “nothing more than a spreadsheet exercise” that will seriously impact the most poor and underprivileged people living in the area.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka warned that the DWP’s plan for the Sheffield centre, as well as the many other closures to job centres across the country, had to be stopped.

“These plans need to be halted, along with all the other closures across the country,” he said. “These proposed cuts, forcing claimants to travel further, are not only unfair but undermine support to get them back to work.

“These plans show a contempt for people trying to get back into work and the staff who work in Sheffield and other jobcentres.”

“We will vigorously fight any attempt to force DWP workers out of their jobs,” he concluded. “Our message is clear, listen to staff and the local community, stop the cuts and defend public services.”

A DWP spokesperson told PSE that as part of contingency arrangements, staff have been deployed to the jobcentre to support customers and make payments. 

It also added that the People and Locations Programme continues to have regular meetings with PCS to consult on the proposals for the DWP estate, including Eastern Avenue. 

"Eastern Avenue Jobcentre Plus will remain open and operate as usual," the spokesperson stated. "Meeting customers and making payments remain our top priorities.”

Top Image: Helen Cobain

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