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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
David Humphreys

DWP brand union's demands 'unaffordable' at city job centres

Demands by the union representing staff at three Liverpool job centres staging strike action are “unaffordable” according to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

A rolling programme of strike action has been confirmed by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union, with staff from three city locations joining colleagues from Doncaster in walking out on certain dates between December 19-31. Workers at Toxteth, Liverpool Duke Street and Liverpool City job centre - based in St John’s Market will strike later this month.

The three sites are the first, alongside Doncaster, to stage action nationally. A ballot was held across the PCS Union regarding pay, pensions, jobs and cuts to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme last month and with members across the civil service opting to walk out.

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Responding to the industrial action, a DWP spokesperson said: “We greatly value the work of our staff but the PCS Union’s demands would cost the country an unaffordable £2.4 billion when the focus must be on bringing down inflation to ease the burden on households, protect the vulnerable and rebuild our economy. Benefits, the state pension and child maintenance payments are paid automatically and people who rely on that support will continue to receive it.”

Among DWP staff, 87.6% of members voted for strike action on a 50.4% turnout, above the required legal threshold of 50%. The union said its initial phase of strike action is being targeted at areas that will have “a significant impact on employers’ operations and the government.”

The union said it was currently finalising details of members' meetings, rallies and picket lines and with details to follow. The walk out at Toxteth job centre comes amid an ongoing battle by staff and the community to keep the site open.

In three months, it is expected almost 200 jobs will be moved as the DWP relocates staff from Toxteth and St John’s Market job centres to a city centre location. An online petition has already been launched by the union, who said they “vehemently” opposed the closure at Toxteth. An emergency meeting was called at Toxteth Town Hall by PCS Union officials in a bid to fight the closure in May. Kim Johnson, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, used a debate on the business of the house in Parliament to call on the Government to debate alternative options.

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