Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/230/9238

From The Socialist newspaper, 16 November 2001

Jobcentre safety dispute: Demanding A Safe Workplace

ON 5 November a man walked into Leyton Employment Service Jobcentre (ESJ) in east London, demanding a payment. Staff advised the man that he was not entitled to payment and had to call the police when the man became aggressive. Before the police could arrive the man pulled out a knife and stabbed a security guard in the chest.

Debbie Darracott, PCS member

6 November saw the start of a ballot of all PCS union members in the Benefits Agency (BA) and Employment Service (ES). The ballot calls for national strike action to support the dispute over health and safety in the new Jobcentre Plus offices.

These new offices will combine the job-broking aspect of the benefits system, usually done by ES staff in ESJs, with the delivery of benefits usually done within BA offices by BA staff.

This means that everyone of working age (with a few exceptions) will have to be dealt with in a Jobcentre Plus office when they make a new claim for benefit. The government and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) management have hailed the new offices for their more comfortable surroundings, less aggressive image and 'customer friendly' colour coding and 'floorwalkers' to meet and greet claimants.

Staff recognise that many of the features of the new offices are improvements and are keen to see such initiatives. But staff are not prepared to see their own safety compromised.

Ministers and management have agreed that some aspects of benefit delivery can give rise to anger and frustration. Refusal of benefit payments and crisis loans is likely to cause resentment and/or aggression.

These flashpoints of the process have been the source of many incidents in both BA and ES offices. Yet ministers and management refuse to ensure that sufficient safety measures are there to prevent assaults on staff. That's why we need a big majority in the strike ballot.

AT WOOLWICH BA I was shown the doors which had been smashed the previous week. The customer had used a knuckle duster and had cut her own hand trying to smash the windows. Had there not been a screen, there could have been a serious assault.

During the members' meeting one PCS member said to me: "These ministers should come here and work on the counter for a month. They would soon change their minds about the necessity of screens".

Another said that managers "just don't care about staff". All the members attending the meeting expressed support for the dispute and their solidarity with those offices already on strike.

PCS members in BA and ES don't have an 'anti-claimant culture', despite the claims from management. But they do understand that benefits claimants already perceive the benefits system to be inadequate.

The expansion of the penalty based system to lone parents and sick claimants will only increase the frustration felt by the poorest members of society. BA and ES staff will be the at the forefront of the new system and they will be the targets for the expression of that frustration.

PCS members don't want to strike, but they understand the importance of this dispute. No one wants to see a further incident like that at Leyton ESJ - as one member said to me: "Let's hope management see sense before someone is killed".

AFTER THE security guard was stabbed in Leyton, a worker spoke to The Socialist:

"We don't feel safe now. We've asked for two experienced security guards for our office but they've only sent one inexperienced one. She just sat there and didn't do anything.

"If the guy who attacked the guard is banned from our office he will probably be sent to the Walthamstow office.

"My husband is a guard there - I feel worse because I'm worried about him now. He needs extra security.

"We feel inadequate now because we couldn't work the day after it happened. We need more than a bit of counselling."

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 16 November 2001:

No To War: Fight For A Socialist World

Jobcentre safety dispute: Demanding A Safe Workplace

Stop this brutal war

Port Talbot Steelworks Explosion: Make Safety Not Profit First Priority

No To The Graduate Tax - Fight For Free Education

150,000 Say "No To War" In Rome

Kashmir: US Policy Is Destabilising Region

Why We Need International Socialism

A 'Call To Arms' Against Privatisation


 

Home   |   The Socialist 16 November 2001   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Jobcentre:

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

trianglePCS: strikes to defend jobcentres

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleJobcentre strike grows in second round of action

PCS:

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

triangleBalloting members on the pay cap

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleWho's watching who?: The fight for justice, trade union and democratic rights

Benefits:

triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

triangleHousing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

triangleMajor attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

Strike:

triangleArriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

19/10/17

North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

18/10/17

Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?

18/10/17

Leeds

Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni

18/10/17

Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

18/10/17

PCS

Balloting members on the pay cap

18/10/17

Art

'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

18/10/17

Council

Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

18/10/17

South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

18/10/17

NHS

Uprising to save the NHS!

18/10/17

Socialism

Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

18/10/17

East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!

18/10/17

North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

18/10/17

BAE

Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems

18/10/17

Schools

Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

18/10/17

Swansea

Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2