Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/363/5960
Strike Back At Jobs Massacre
Build for strike action across the Civil Service on 5 November
Support civil servants in their fight to defend jobs and services
For a one-day public sector strike
"THE THREAT to close 37 JobCentre and Social Security offices in the Department of Work and Pensions is the first tangible evidence of Gordon Brown's plans for the civil service", Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) told the socialist.
"It's not a pleasure to say 'I told you so'. But if ever proof was needed that you can't axe 104,000 civil service jobs without cutting frontline services, then that has been shown by this announcement.
"This is the first instalment of the government's plans and it confirms everything our union has been saying in recent months. And it just further confirms our determination to fight these proposals.
"This is 37 offices physically shutting rather than jobs being relocated. The government gave assurances that physical sites where people go to sort out benefits wouldn't be shut.
"This news will be desperately disappointing to the 2,000 hard-working public servants who work in these offices. Many of the staff there will have given year after year of dedicated service and this is the thanks they get.
"Some of the offices will close as early as 2005. The next question is what other jobs will follow?
"We were told our action was premature. But the one-day strike we are planning is now more important than ever. The strike will show our members, the government and the public the value of the services we provide and show the government the strength of feeling."
"This is decimation not modernisation of public services", said Janice Godrich, PCS president. "It exposes the real motivation of Chancellor Gordon Brown. It is about crude cost-cutting."
"These are all frontline offices which provide the services which affect all our lives, not the backroom jobs that the government said it wanted to rationalise.
"It's not just the case that people who are unemployed may want to go to a JobCentre for advice. Unemployed people have an obligation to attend once a fortnight in order to get benefits.
"So with these closures, people who use them will have increased travel costs to get to a JobCentre once a fortnight to sign on. It's certainly not improving their access to benefits.
"The only way that this government will take notice is through our members taking action on 5 November."
In The Socialist 25 September 2004:
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