Jobcentre staff on strike
STAFF at the Jobcentre in Huntingdon were on strike last week over a Government pay offer which the union says is below inflation and a scandal. Picket lines were formed on Thursday and Friday, and staff will be working to rule – operating an overtime ban
STAFF at the Jobcentre in Huntingdon were on strike last week over a Government pay offer which the union says is below inflation and a scandal.
Picket lines were formed on Thursday and Friday, and staff will be working to rule - operating an overtime ban - up until December 23.
The civil servants, who are members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), are employees of the Department for Work and Pensions.
They voted to go out on strike after they were offered an overall pay rise of one per cent each year for three years. They say that because inflation is more than four per cent, the offer amounts to a pay cut rather than a pay rise, and will affect staff pensions.
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The Department for Work and Pensions insists it is a good deal, with lower paid workers getting up to five per cent increases.
However, the union says all members are already on low pay and believes the strike could also affect passport offices and driving test centres.
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Huntingdon Jobcentre employee, Charlotte Wright, 34, told The Hunts Post: "I have been working there for 14 years and I am earning £15,800 a year."
A statement released by the union added the Government was insisting on below inflation increases and the offer had been rejected by members.
"Civil servants in the department are on very low wages," it added. "All of them earn less than £17,700 a year. Some are on as little as £12,500 a year. Thousands of them have to rely on tax credits to make ends meet. It is a national scandal that the Government allows City workers to get £8billion in bonuses while saying civil servants must accept paltry pay rises to keep inflation in check."
Union representative for Huntingdon, Lesley McKeag, said: "This is the first time we have picketed at Huntingdon Jobcentre. We perform vital jobs in getting unemployed people into jobs and in paying out pensions and benefits. Every citizen uses the department during their life.
"The staff who work there should be valued for this work."
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "We are disappointed the PCS has decided to take this action. We will do everything necessary to make sure the disruption to our customers is kept to the minimum.
"The pay deal on offer is a good one and of particular benefit to our lowest paid workers. This three-year pay award provides a good deal for the majority of our employees. For those employees lower down the pay scales, during the next three years the minimum pay increase they will see is three per cent a year. Many of the lowest paid at the bottom of the pay scale will be getting, on average, more than five per cent a year.