26/01/2006

Jobcentre staff strike over job cuts

Thousands of Jobcentre staff are on strike in a dispute over deteriorating service levels and government job cuts.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said that around 80,000 of their members, from Jobcentre, benefit offices, pension centres and the Child Support Agency, were on strike on the first day of a planned 48-hour stoppage.

The strike had followed the loss of 15,000 jobs in the Department of Work and Pension, which were part of government plans to cut a total of 30,000 jobs by 2008.

The union claimed that service were frequently "on the verge of collapse" because of the job cuts.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "The strong show of support today demonstrates that staff are prepared to stand up and be counted in defending the services they care about.

"With staff leaving the department at the rate of 1,000 a month, we are seeing delays and backlogs as jobs are cut and the work remains.

"It is time that the DWP woke up and stopped ignoring the damage which job cuts are having by jointly assessing what staffing levels are needed to ensure that the public receive the service they are entitled to."

The PCS has called on the job cuts to be stopped until staffing levels had been properly evaluated.

The Department of Work and Pensions said that contingency measures were in place to ensure that services were maintained during the strike.

(KMcA/CL)


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