Ninety-five per cent of PCS members at Garston contact centre supported 2 one-day strikes on 16 May and 23 June to fight the proposed closure of their office and the forced transfer of all staff to either Bootle or Birkenhead. On both days about 30 pickets, including ordinary members formed lively picket lines.
Members then took a further five days of strike action from Monday 13 October to Friday 17 October. Again the picket lines were extremely well supported.
Now members at Garston have voted for another 2 days of strike action to put more pressure on DWP management. The strikes will take place on Monday 22 December and Friday 2 January.
PCS proposals rejected
Previous strike action has won concessions, but most members of staff still face being compulsorily transferred to other offices if Garston closes. For some staff this would mean their second and, in some cases, third forced transfer due to cuts and office closures over the last 10 years.
PCS proposed the setting up of a satellite contact centre close to Garston as an alternative to compulsory moves to Bootle if the DWP insist on closing the Garston site. Management refused on the grounds of cost, quoting £100,000 as the cost of a satellite centre. However, the closure of the office will involve costs of £610,000 for staff to travel across Liverpool, including £160,000 in taxi fares.
PCS national officer Steve Cawkwell said: “Nobody wants the office to close and we have made sensible proposals for the work to be done nearer Garston.
“It is staggering that the DWP plans to press ahead with this eye-wateringly expensive plan to ferry staff across Liverpool when cheaper options exist. The seven days of strike action already taken by our members at Garston shows their fantastic solidarity and commitment in their fight to keep their office open.”
How you can help
The PCS national disputes committee has authorised 50% strike pay for members taking part in the next 2 days’ strike action, however members are still facing financial hardship.
Send donations to the hardship fund to Mr A Campbell, 67A Garston Old Road, Liverpool L19 9AD. Make cheques out to “PCS DWP Liverpool branch hardship fund”.
Send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org.