At the moment, there’s a large-scale programme of jobcentre closures happening. Although this is clearly a national issue, the PCS seem to only be responding at a local level, and by far the most determined resistance has come from staff at Eastern Avenue jobcentre in Sheffield. After 26 days of strike action, Eastern Avenue staff have now announced they’ll be going on a continuous strike from Monday 23rd October until 17 November, when the place is due to close. If you’re in the area, please consider if there’s any mornings when you can get down to visit their picket lines; otherwise, messages of support can be sent to Leeds@pcs.org.uk (kind of weird that PCS email addresses are apparently so tightly rationed that they can’t even manage one per city, but whatever), and donations to the strike fund can be sent to PCS DWP Group, 3rd Floor, Town Centre House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8LY (once again, British unions seem to really struggle with the idea that there are methods of raising money that are more efficient than asking people to post you cheques).
As for the situation in the rest of the country, the PCS say:
“The action at Eastern Avenue has given confidence to others. Strike action has taken place at Whitley Bay jobcentre in Tyneside and Hoylake Jobcentre in Merseyside.
A vote for strike action by PCS members against the closure of the DWP Southall Jobcentre led to talks, progress and concessions. PCS welcomed the positive approach by local management and the outcome of the talks and has agreed to suspend the strike.
At Coatbridge in Scotland members showed their opposition to the proposed office closure by attending an excellent demonstration in the town where Jeremy Corbyn condemned the proposed closures and urged DWP to reconsider their plans.
PCS members at Cwmbran, Newport, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly and Cardiff Gabalfa are outraged at DWP plans to make then all compulsorily relocate to a new office on an hard to get to industrial estate north of Cardiff. One rep from Cwmbran did the journey from their home to the proposed new office with her MP and was shocked to find the return journey took over 5 hours. PCS is urging DWP to reconsider and keep these five offices open.
Members at Plymouth Old Tree Court who are facing closure and for whom redeployment elsewhere would be extremely difficult are balloting for strike action. Their ballot ends next week.”