WHILE bosses admit Jobcentres in Ellesmere Port and Neston were forced to offer a “reduced service” during last week’s two days of strikes, they say all essential payments were still made to customers.
Jobcentres across the country were hit by industrial action on Thursday and Friday taken by members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) in support of their latest pay claim.
Despite 76% of the 90,000-strong membership rejecting it, management refused to improve their original offer, which the union says comes to only 3% in total across three years.
PCS Cheshire branch secretary Helen Flanagan said the strike had been very well supported, with “little to no service provided for the public”.
About 85%of staff across Cheshire went out on strike, she added.
Ms Flanagan added: “DWP management were quick to criticise a low turnout for strike ballot, but I think our members have fought back and voted with their feet.
“Staff were recently asked not to take strike action because it would tarnish the image of the Civil Service. Yet our members believe that management are already doing this with the recent revelation of a number of security flaws at senior level, which caused the missing discs fiasco in the HMRC.
“The two days of strike action attracted a lot of media attention nationwide, and we hope this will make the Government act.”
And she warned: “If DWP management and the Government are not prepared to improve the 1% per year pay offer, I am sure our members will be prepared to take more action.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that PCS has decided to call this action. DWP will do everything necessary to minimise disruption to its customers and is confident that its services and payments will be maintained.
“Regionally, all our offices remained open. While offices in Ellesmere Port and Neston offered a reduced service, all essential payments were being made. The vast majority of our customers have their benefits paid directly into a bank or building society account, so were therefore not affected.
“The pay award we have implemented is a good one, which particularly benefits our lowest paid staff and those at the lower end of their pay scales. Seven out of eight of the department’s staff have not voted for strike action.”