Tories throw down gauntlet to PCS – Office closures a battle for us all

glasgow-solidarity-1
Showing solidarity against closures at PCS DWP South East Region

The Tories threw down the gauntlet to PCS and all those who care about public services just before Xmas when they announced over half the job centres in Glasgow were to close.

Ignoring their own guidelines for how far claimants should have to travel, they used google maps to decide which centres to close.

This is just one recent DWP closure announcement with more to follow in the new year, alongside across the board closures in other departments including more redundancy announcements in HMRC.  These will have a huge impact on our members, the number of jobs and the services they provide.

The PCS NEC has agreed to step up our campaign against the closures with coordination of political campaigning,  public meetings and targeted industrial action. This is absolutely right because we cannot leave each office or town to fight off these closures one by one.

As Socialist Worker has argued, we urgently need a national campaign  and this should include national strike action.  This position has been adopted by a number of DWP branches and regions.

The campaign in Glasgow has got off to  a great start with members getting organised and local public meetings with service users. The closures have already been raised at Prime Minister’s Question time, there was a Parliamentary debate 20 December and it has been discussed at the Scottish parliament social security committee.

But Glasgow’s closures are not the only ones that have already been announced. And we need to show the offices affected that they are not on their own if they fight.

Where we have taken action PCS campaigns have succeeded in resisting closures such as in BIS in Sheffield and HMRC in Dundee.

Theresa May’s government is divided and are facing a growing scandal over Tory attacks on benefits and job seekers. Ken Loach’s film “I Daniel Blake” has helped build the campaign and focus on the barbaric cuts that the Tories are trying to hand out to the most vulnerable.

The PCS fight against closures and to defend our members terms, conditions and jobs should be part and parcel of this wider campaign and should be based on uniting service users with workers.

For example, let’s get a national statement against the closures which we could ask Ken Loach to sign and set up as an online petition. We need to think big, bold and go national.

We can learn the lessons from our successful campaigns, whether in BIS, Land Registry or in our Museums and Galleries. Combining militant industrial action with the widest possible political campaigning is what gets results.

What you can do

  • Send an urgent solidarity message to offices facing closure to show the members in the affected offices that they have support from around the UK.  Send them to the DWP group office leeds@pcs.org.uk  

Download solidarity poster here

  • Help organise a public meeting in your town or region. Or put on a campaign film showing of “I Daniel Blake”

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