Jobcentre workers are reeling this week. Having been told how valuable they have been in getting the country out of recession, this week they were told that 4,000 of them are to be sacked within the next few months. This is even though unemployment has started to rise again and, with over 2.5 million unemployed, the recovery is still a long way off.
The previous Chancellor, Alistair Darling was forced to acknowledge in his budget in March that jobcentre workers had helped to reduce the budget deficit by a whopping additional £4 billion by getting people back into work quicker than anticipated. Since then the new Con-Dem government has announced these savage job cuts aiming to save £30 million.
Jane Aitchison, Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) group president for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “For my union members, this is not just a question of fairness and them not wanting to accept cuts to pay for a crisis they did not create. Cutting their jobs is economic madness. Their hard work is saving the economy far more than they are paid in wages. What sense is there in adding my members to the growing dole queues when they could help to shorten those dole queues and speed up the economic recovery this country needs?
“This callous action puts paid to the lie that this is about money – if the government goes ahead with this cut it will show all too clearly that this is about attacking the public sector not paying off debt”.
A further cut in the number of jobcentres has also been signalled – it seems that not only will people be forced to go further to look for work, they may also be forced to travel further just to sign on for the dole. Clearly the service jobseekers are set to receive under the new government is about to deteriorate.
Jane Aitchison said: “We have launched a massive staffing campaign to save these members’ jobs and to keep the department fully staffed and working well for the people of this country. My members aren’t waste, they provide a vital public service and a financial return. We are lobbying MPs and getting the public on board too. We will fight against these disgraceful cuts.”
Members of the PCS union will fight to defend jobs and the services they deliver and they must be supported in that aim.