CIVIL servants in Wrexham formed picket lines to protest about Government changes that they say could cost at least 320 jobs in North Wales.
Across Britain members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) from tax inspectors to driving instructors went on strike on Friday over plans to cut back on public services.
In Wrexham the changes will mean pension enquiries currently dealt with face to face at the pension office on Grosvenor Road will instead be conducted over the phone at a call centre in Swansea.
Downsizing of the Department for Work and Pensions will see offices on Wrexham's King Street and Lord Street closed and could see offices not just in the Wrexham area, but across North Wales shut down and moved to Grosvenor Road instead.
The office will also deal with all Social Fund business from across Wales.
The result would be 720 DWP workers fighting for just 400 posts.
'It is shocking the Government believes that is the best way to deliver services,' said Wrexham PCS branch chairman Keith Williams.
'They are going to put many of our members out of work and offer a lower quality service to the public.
'We are picketing, the Inland Revenue staff in Wrexham are also on strike, the changes affect every single civil servant, all that varies is how much it affects them.'
An Inland Revenue spokesman said: 'The department used its contingency plans to deliver the services it provides to the public and businesses during the strike in Wrexham.
'We ensured that everybody who wished to attend their workplace to help maintain these important services felt able to do so.
'Where necessary senior managers at local offices helped maintain essential services.'
The DWP claimed minimal disruption to services.
'In the Wrexham area there are 490 DWP jobs,' said a spokeswoman. 'Of those 248 were on strike and the workers who did come in were moved to our larger centres to maintain services there.
'Of 12 offices in the area four were closed - Llangollen, Flint, Denbigh and Prestatyn. Across Wales out of 4,598 staff 2,022 went out on strike.'
PCS Wrexham branch treasurer Mike Wake, also on the picket line, said that while the employees will suffer the cuts, the public will suffer long-term.
'The elderly are to be expected to ring a call centre,' he said. 'It is not ideal at all. Most pensioners prefer to deal face to face so things can be fully explained to them. If you are in a call centre it is more difficult to be understanding and explain things in a way people understand.
'Add to the fact that the call centre is going to be inundated with calls from all over Wales and you see that the situation will get worse, not better.
'It is the same across all the civil services. As they are cut back more demands will be forced onto fewer people and it is only a matter of time before it breaks down.'
Keith said he believed the Government was still open to other ideas.
'If we didn't believe we could get the Government to change it's mind and look at this again we wouldn't bother protesting,' he said.
'We do not believe this is in the best interests of our members or the public so we are fighting it.'