FIFTY jobcentre staff in one of Sheffield’s most deprived areas walked out for a second week yesterday in a bid to save the vital service from closure.
Civil Service union PCS workers at Sheffield’s Eastern Avenue jobcentre warned that closing the centre will mean claimants, many of them vulnerable, sick, disabled or with young children, will be forced to travel much further to access services they need to find work.
The closure is part of wider government plans confirmed last week to axe almost one in 10 jobcentres across Britain.
PCS Sheffield branch secretary Tom Bishell said: “Eastern Avenue serves deprived areas of Sheffield where the government should be increasing support not removing it.”
The 50 workers staged a week-long strike in June warning that the closure represents a real barrier to accessing employment and training opportunities.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “After the general election result, the government has no mandate to continue with its damaging plans to cut more of our public services.
“Jobcentres provide a lifeline for unemployed, sick and disabled people and it is utterly disgraceful that this Tory government is abandoning them. We will continue to fight these closures.”
The strike has won support from members of union Unite Community, which provides help and advice for people denied benefits under Tory austerity.
Unite Community northern regional organiser John Coan said: “This is a particularly vital jobcentre because people of limited financial means will have to travel long distances to another centre.
“People are being penalised for missing appointments, and this will make it even harder for them to get to them.
“The government is attacking both the people who rely on benefits and the public servants who deal with them.