JOBCENTRES in Ellesmere Port and Neston will be hit by a two- day strike by members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) tomorrow (Thurs- day) and Friday.
The union decided to take the action after last-minute pay talks with bosses in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) broke down.
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.
With more than 1,200 members, PCS’s Cheshire branch is expecting a “huge” turnout for the strike action.
The union has about 60 members at the Ellesmere Port Jobcentre and another 10-15 at Neston.
Cheshire branch secretary Helen Flanagan said she expected the service offered at the two offices to be somewhere between reduced to non-existent.
She added: “It is disappointing that senior members of the civil service and the Government have not been prepared to offer our members an inflation-proofed pay rise.
“PCS members in Cheshire are incensed at the imposition of the pay offer, which sees many long-serving staff not receiving a penny rise in their pay packet next year.
“A large proportion of our members earn less than £15,000 a year, and we have many part-time workers on much less than that.
“We are dedicated to delivering a high quality service to the public, and do not want to withdraw our labour, but we now feel we have no other choice. The strike will be a chance for our members to show their fury to the Government, and to say enough is enough.”
Ms Flanagan said a two-week ban on overtime by her members would follow the strikes.
This, she said, was also likely to impact heavily on the public as the service was now “running on overtime”.
A DWP spokesman 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.
“Nationally, only around 13% of DWP employees voted to go on strike. Seven out of eight of the Department’s staff have not voted for this action.
“The decision to implement the pay award was taken following extensive negotiations, covering 25 meetings in total.
“The 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.”