Jobcentre staff in Sheffield begin two week strike against closure

Staff and supporters during a previous strike at the Eastern Avenue Jobcentre
Staff and supporters during a previous strike at the Eastern Avenue Jobcentre
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Jobcentre staff in Sheffield are today beginning a two-week strike in protest at plans to close their office.

The jobcentre on Avenue, in Manor Top, is due to close next March, when the service will be merged with existing Jobcentres in the city centre, both of which are at least three miles away.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union in Sheffield are staging a two-week walk out from today.

The union has previously organised shorter strikes over the closure, which it claims will remove a vital public service in one of the city's most deprived areas.

The union is campaigning against plans to close a number of jobcentres across the country.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "We will continue to fight to save jobcentres that provide a lifeline for unemployed, sick and disabled people. It is utterly disgraceful that this Tory government is abandoning our communities."

A demonstration was held outside Whitley Bay jobcentre on Saturday ahead of a strike there next Thursday and Friday, while union members at Hoylake jobcentre in Merseyside will strike later this month.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is due to join the union's national president Janice Godrich and Labour MP Hugh Gaffney at a demonstration in Coatbridge on August 25.

Campaigners fighting to save the Eastern Avenue jobcentre say it is used by more than 1,100 people a week, many of whom would struggle to access the alternatives and could miss out on benefits and support to get back into work.

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh, who opposes the closure, previously described a consultation over the plans as 'bogus'.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "Eastern Avenue Jobcentre Plus will remain open and operate as usual. Meeting customers and making payments remain our top priorities."