JEREMY CORBYN joined civil servants yesterday for a march against the planned closure of a major government office in Scotland.
The Labour leader was in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, in the latest leg of his tour of marginal constituencies when he joined the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union protest against the closure of a vital Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) centre in the town.
The closure of the Coatbridge centre is part of a government programme which would axe more than 70 offices across the country, with a possible loss of 800 jobs.
Mr Corbyn said the closure — which would see around 250 staff transferred to Motherwell and Glasgow — showed the Tories have no interest in helping people find work.
He shared PCS concerns about the effect on the local economy and accused the government of abandoning the most vulnerable in society.
Local Labour MP Hugh Gaffney joined Mr Corbyn at the public rally in Coatbridge town centre before they marched with PCS members and supporters to the DWP office.
Mr Corbyn said: “The Tories are turning their backs on unemployed, sick and disabled people with jobcentre closures.
“In places where poverty is high and job opportunities low, closing down jobcentres is counterproductive.
“The Tories are planning to force a million more working people to attend a jobcentre, under its plans for in-work sanctions, while simultaneously closing one in every 10 jobcentres across the country.
“That is the twisted logic of this government’s chaotic austerity agenda.
“The closures make it absolutely clear that this government has no interest in helping people to find decent and secure work.
“Labour will take a different approach to our social security system, which under the Tories is failing our pensioners, the working poor and disabled people.
“We will lift the freeze on social security, using part of the billions we set aside for reform in our costed manifesto, by recycling social security savings made by introducing a real living wage of £10 an hour, and by building the affordable homes we need.”
PCS national president Janice Godrich said: “The fight against office closures is a community fight as well as a trade union one.
“The impact on the local economy if 250 jobs move out the area will be significant and we’re not prepared to stand by and watch it happen.”