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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 February 2017

PCS union pledges to fight Jobcentre job losses at public meetings

Llanelli

Over 70 people packed into a meeting comprised mainly of workers from the Llanelli benefits office.

The meeting was called to oppose the possible loss of 157 jobs due to the proposed office closure, part of 78 proposed Jobcentre closures across the country.

These job losses would have a horrendous impact on the workers and their families and on the town itself - a town that has already lost most of its relatively well-paid manufacturing and heavy industry jobs. Speakers included Carrie Anne Watkins from the PCS civil service union.

The meeting was angry and did not accept the reasoning of the Tories for this reorganisation. As these are proposals, a consultation period is under way and PCS members were urged to participate. I brought solidarity from the Unison local government committee, representing all 22 local government branches in Wales, and from Llanelli Trades Council and the Socialist Party. I suggested we set up an action committee to organise support for PCS's campaign.

Mark Evans, Llanelli and West Wales Socialist Party

Sheffield

Sheffield meeting photo Alistair Tice

Sheffield meeting photo Alistair Tice   (Click to enlarge)

A well-attended public meeting of over 60 PCS members, local residents and supporters, launched the campaign to keep Eastern Avenue Jobcentre in Sheffield open.

Sheffield PCS branch secretary Tom Bishell said that the union branch had successfully fought the proposed closure of two other local offices before but this time the closure plans were nationally driven by the Department for Work and Pensions. Eastern Avenue Jobcentre serves 1,100 claimants every week.

Jen Dunstan from Disabled People Against Cuts and Alistair Tice from Unite Community and the Socialist Party, who both live locally, pledged support, and will be organising a big solidarity protest outside the Jobcentre in the next few weeks.

People already struggling on benefits would have the extra hassle, time and expense (4 a day bus fares or 10 a week) of having to sign on in the city centre, and the local shops, Post Office and library would all suffer.

To emphasise the point, a local disabled claimant publicly thanked the Eastern Avenue Jobcentre staff for the help they'd given him over the last 18 months in receiving the right benefits and support he was entitled to.

PCS members are considering industrial action and community campaigners intend to build local support to back them up and keep Eastern Avenue Jobcentre open.

Sheffield Socialist Party

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