Save Eastern Avenue Job Centre!
This week from Monday 12th June to Friday 16th June, PCS union members at Eastern Avenue Job Centre are on strike.
Clare Goonan, local PCS rep explained that 78 Job Centres up and down Britain are earmarked for closure:
“Staff at Eastern Avenue have voted with their feet, we’ve had a 96% Yes vote to our strike ballot. Our jobs are safe, staff would be moved elsewhere, the strike is about defending the community from negative impact of the proposed Centre closure.
If we close, service users will have to attend the offices in Sheffield city centre in order to perform job searches and attend mandatory interviews.
For people who live nearby the Centre, this would mean a 6 mile round-trip, however for service users living further out the distance will be even greater.
We’re doing this to support the community and i’m so proud that our members care so much about that.”
— DPAC Sheffield (@DPACSheffield) June 15, 2017
Sheffield DPAC were invited to speak at a public meeting at the start of the week along with Unite Community, Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore, PCS reps and PCS union boss Mark Serwotka.
Jennifer Jones of DPAC Sheffield talked about her personal experience of currently going from DLA on to PIP and how distressing the whole experience is, and comparing difference between dealing with ATOS staff over the phone she said “… its a far-cry from dealing with Job Centre staff face to face who know you and know about your illnesses and with who you have built up a relationship.
At Eastern Avenue I can sit in a side room with my advisor, to support my anxiety and mental health and keep me calm, my advisor goes through the information that I need with me, at a pace that I can understand and will ensure that I’m absolutely clear about what I need to do. Without that help I wouldn’t be able to cope…”
Stuart P of Unite Community talked about the impact of closure on poverty stricken claimants who would have to make the journey on foot in all weather. The elderly and disabled, as well as people with young children. He referenced I Daniel Blake, we will only see more scenes like those in the film. He added:
“…these areas affected, especially the Manor estate in sheffield, are not only the most poverty stricken areas but they have a high amount of elderly population. Alot of support is needed to help these people with job searches, a lot cant use a computer, they aren’t of that generation and simply aren’t going to get the help they need..”
PCS Union boss Mark Serwotka praised his staff, he said the Union was so proud of what they are doing:
“When I joined the service (then the DHSS) in 1980 the motto was : do whatever you can to help. fast forward to 2017 and it’s a Tory imposed Draconian service where staff can do less and less to help.
Tories have decided to close 78 Job Centres as a cost cutting exercise.
They don’t care about the effects on staff or the people that use the service.
7 out of the 8 council wards effected in Sheffield have higher benefit claimant rates than the rest of the city.
People are already travelling for 3 times longer than the 20 minutes acceptable travel time that ministers have set out in order to attend Eastern avenue, this is set to increase if closure goes ahead.
It’s clear from this election that people don’t support public sector cuts.
This is the first PCS dispute since the anti trade union laws came in. The Yes result was 96% . Even Theresa May cant argue with that!”
Sheffield DPAC are supporting the strike, this is absolutely an accessibility issue that will affect the disabled community greatly.
The claimants living furthest out on the affected areas will have to make a whopping 20 mile round trip in order to go to appointments in town and this isn’t acceptable.
We continue to fight for and end to WCA , to benefit sanctions and for the restoration of DLA , ILF and more but we ask you all to support us by sharing news of this strike and the reasons for it.
We have been told that other Job Centres out of the 78 are currently balloting for strike action so keep out for a picket near you.