Disruption expected at job centres

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STRIKING civil servants are tomorrow set to bring disruption to Job Centre Plus branches around South Yorkshire and the UK Border Agency’s offices in Sheffield which deal with asylum claims and visa applications.

And thousands of office-based workers at the Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Education, and Department of Business Innovation and Skills in Sheffield are also set to walk out in the dispute over changes to public sector pensions.

Many of the civil servants - plus striking teachers - are set to gather for a march through Sheffield City centre leaving the Peace Gardens at 12 noon, followed by a rally outside City Hall at 1pm, organised by Sheffield Trades Council.

Bosses at the Department for Work and Pensions said they had ‘contingency plans’ and expected to keep Job Centre Plus branches and the service’s enquiry line open.

But Joel Hayes, a regional member of the Public and Commercial Services Union’s national executive committee, said: “We are expecting great support for the strike from our members at offices in Sheffield and South Yorkshire.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “We have contingency plans to ensure we can achieve our priorities throughout any strike action.”

The Home Office said its UK Border Agency office in Sheffield will be open for business as usual tomorrow.

Penistone and Stocksbridge Labour MP Angela Smith said: “We need the Government and the unions to start talking.”

Unions were due to meet with the government in a bid to reach a compromise over pensions - and end the threat of more teachers strikes in the autumn.

But public sector pension reform discussions are likely to be too late to avoid the planned strike by teachers tomorrow.