Katrine Williams , PCS DWP group vice president
As part of the Tory offensive against the public sector, the chancellor has announced a 20% reduction in Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) offices, and more jobcentres to share sites in local authority premises, to deliver 30% savings on estates costs. This fits in with the approaching end of the contract with the company which owns the DWP estate.
At the beginning of December 2016, there was an announcement of the closure of half the jobcentres in Glasgow. This was met by immediate anger and opposition from PCS members, politicians and claimant-support organisations.
The campaign has continuously been in the news from day one and the ferocity of the opposition has rocked the government.
This stopped DWP in its tracks until 26 January when the announcement was made about the future of over 700 offices in DWP.
Behind the headlines of the closure of 78 jobcentres, which will damage the ability of the public to access our services, there is also a huge list of office closures.
But there is a wider attack on jobs in some of the most deprived communities. For example, over 1,000 jobs are being proposed to move out of the South Wales valleys into two sites in Cardiff. We see proposals like this up and down the country in communities which desperately need jobs.
PCS DWP president Fran Heathcote said: “PCS in the DWP has a proud record of defending members. Our successful campaign to prevent compulsory redundancies in 2012 has stopped any being announced since, but these announcements pose a serious threat to our members and to the services we deliver. We will fight them with every means at our disposal, including the use of industrial action, after full consultation with regions and branches has taken place. Our executive meets on 16 February to consider all feedback.”
We have seven weeks to involve everyone in our communities in campaigning to defeat these proposals.
We had a great start in Glasgow and our members and reps are up for the fight. We appeal to fellow trade unionists and community groups to get stuck in alongside us. Politicians who have seen the campaigning in Glasgow are also lining up to support us.