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16 June 2017
Sheffield Jobcentre strike grows in second round of action
Alistair Tice, Socialist Party Yorkshire
About 50 members of civil service union PCS have been taking strike action all through the week of 12-16 June in Sheffield to save the Eastern Avenue Job Centre. Its closure is proposed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as part of its national cuts programme.
The five-day strike, which follows a one-day strike on 2 June, has been solidly supported by PCS members. Six further staff have newly joined the union, with only a handful of the total of 75 going into work.
What's remarkable about this strike is that it's not for more money or simply to save jobs, but to defend a local service in the community which serves some of the most deprived areas of Sheffield. And that the staff were willing to strike - 92% voted in favour - even before the DWP officially confirmed closure after the end of the 'consultation' period.
Indeed, with the Tory government in such disarray, the fight to save Eastern Avenue is looking very favourable. With a fight, the entire cuts programme could be scrapped.
At a well-attended public meeting chaired by PCS DWP group president and Socialist Party member Fran Heathcote, the union's general secretary Mark Serwotka said the chances of a successful campaign were dramatically improved by the success of Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity election movement. This approach was also reflected in a text of solidarity from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
Mark promised the full support of the union for the ongoing campaign. Strikers will meet on 21 June to decide on the next action, but appear resolute on naming more strike dates.
Strikers have also been boosted by big numbers supporting the picket line each morning from other PCS branches, Unite Community branches, Disabled People Against Cuts, Derbyshire Unemployed Workers Centre, the Socialist Party, Heeley Labour Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.
- Send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Donate to the PCS Fighting Fund: PCS DWP Group, 3rd Floor, Town Centre House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8LY - or at the PCS website
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 16 June 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.