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Friday, 8 April 2011

Strike To Hit UK Jobcentres This Month !!


Thousands of Jobcentre Plus staff are to stage a 24-hour STRIKE later this month in an increasingly bitter row over working conditions.


We, as Unemployed Workers' (job-seekers) MUST stand shoulder to shoulder with the union who are trying to defend a public service for us claimants.
Many claimants will have suffered at the hands of some of the staff, but this groups notes that NOT all staff are in the Union & the PCS Union has always defended the rights of benefit claimants, unlike this government & the previous labour government.

Governments have tried to force job centre staff to treat claimants in a contemptuous manner by harassing claimants, giving incorrect advice & much more, those same staff have no understanding of solidarity & the PCS union does not support treating benefit claimants in such way..

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union based in over 30 call centres will walk out on April 18 after accusing management of showing "little willingness" to resolve the dispute.

In a ballot of the union's 7,000 members in the call centres, 70% of those who took part voted for strike action.

The action follows a two-day strike in January by more than 2,000 workers in Jobcentre Plus's seven newest contact centres, who complain of being forcibly moved from processing benefit claims to handling inquiries by phone.

The union says its main complaint centres on "unrealistic" average call times while it is also seeking more flexible working arrangements.

Jane Aitchison, the union's Department for Work and Pensions group president,said: "We are being prevented from providing a good quality service to the public because of unnecessary and unrealistic call centre targets.

"We entered into negotiations in good faith because we care about the help and advice we give to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

It's very disappointing that our management didn't do the same."

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka claims standards are being driven down at Jobcentre Plus as a result of Government spending cuts.

He said: "Instead of punishing people who are claiming benefits through no fault of their own, the Government should be investing in our public services to help get people back to work quicker and to help our economy to grow."

The union says among the call centres taking part in the strike will be those in Glasgow, Dundee, Newport, Bridgend, Bangor, Sheffield, Halifax, Norwich and Southend.

Also those in Newcastle upon Tyne, Middlesbrough, Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Derby, Coventry, Exeter and Bristol will be affected.


A Press Statement from the PCS Union: Jobseekers should not be penalised by unfair targets.

Jobcentre staff should not be forced to refer jobseekers to have sanctions imposed to meet cost-saving targets, PCS says.

Following the story in the Guardian newspaper that claimed jobseekers were being tricked into having their benefits taken away, the unions have written to Jobcentre Plus management to ask for urgent clarification.

In an interview with Sky News, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith dismissed the story as "claptrap" and officially the Department for Work and Pensions denied targets were being applied.

But many of our members have reported they are being instructed to make at least one referral a day, even where there are no legitimate grounds.

In the west midlands, for example, advisors have been told they must make five stricter benefit regime referrals a week, one of which must be a refusal of employment.

We are urgently seeking clarification from management what the official position is and whether local offices have discretion to set targets about referrals for sanctions.

We do not believe that targets should be applied and we have made it clear that our members are concerned that the story raises accusations that advisors are acting maliciously.

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Respect For the Unemployed & Benefit Claimants

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