Join ECAP on the jobcentre workers picket lines
7.30am – 9.30am this Wednesday 1st February, at High Riggs and Leith Jobcentres
(High Riggs jc by Tollcross, Leith jc at 199 Commercial St EH6 6QP )
PCS government workers rally 12 noon this Wednesday 1st at the Mound. Princes St
Including workers employed by DWP, Scottish and UK governments, National Museums, the Courts and others
Defend the Right to Strike
Rally at Southside Community Centre, 117 Nicolson Street EH8 9ER
1pm – 3pm Wed 1st Feb
Organised by Trade Unions in Communities
This rally is to Defend the Right to Strike against the UK Tory government’s new legal attacks which are to make it compulsory to have “a minimum level of service” in several areas of work, and put workers at risk of being sacked if they don’t cross picket lines.
Why are Jobcentre workers striking?
DWP staff in Jobcentres and other civil servants have been forced to accept below-inflation pay rises for years, like many other workers in Scotland. They, like rail, postal, teaching and health workers, are having to deal with the same cost-of-living crisis.
Not only are some Jobcentre workers having to make claims for Universal Credit themselves due to low pay, there are also reports of bullying and intimidation from management as they intensify the pressure on front-line staff to implement a harsher regime on claimants. Job coaches are being micro-managed to meet new targets for claimant appointments, with less time and less discretion to deal with them.
Many have reached the point where they are not willing to put up with it any longer and, at the very least, are demanding a pay rise in line with inflation.
Why does this matter to claimants?
Firstly, the Government and the DWP management have been pushing a ‘hostile environment’ for claimants for years. The pressure on staff to introduce more intensive and harsher regimes is part of this. Senior managers punch down on local managers, who punch down on front-line workers, who then punch down on claimants. Pushing back against this gives both claimants and Jobcentre workers common cause.
Secondly, the fact that UK benefits have been kept so low has made it easier for employers keep wages low. The threat of unemployment on destitution levels of benefit has undermined workers’ efforts to win real pay increases for decades. It is in the interests of all workers, whether they are currently employed or not, to get benefit rates raised.
Many groups of workers are taking strike action and the UK Government’s response is repressive new anti-strike legislation. The way forward is to link up struggles across sectors and be prepared to defy the law.