Solidarity with PCS (including Jobcentre/DWP Staff) Strike

Members of Defend Welfare Newcastle (including benefits claimants) and Tyne & Wear Left Unity, were joined by a “Fat Cat” when they offered support to striking workers at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).  By attending pickets, and a rally at Newcastle Monument, organised by the PCS Union during their strike on March 8th and 9th, they showed their solidarity with workers at the DWP, including Jobcentre staff.

In supporting the strike, Defend Welfare Newcastle wanted to highlight that attacks on the benefits system are also attacks on the workers who staff the benefits system, and that privatisation of jobcentres and the benefits system is bad for both DWP workers and benefits claimants.  In conversations with the striking workers, members of Defend Welfare Newcastle told striking workers about a Claimants’ Union that was being set up on Tyneside, and stressed that this would defend claimants’ rights, and was not against ordinary Jobcentre/DWP staff.

Recent benefits changes force single parents to look for work once their child is 7 (and attend work-focused activity from when their child is 3), make sick and disabled people more ill with stress by forcing them off Incapacity Benefit/ESA and onto Jobseekers Allowance, and are even going to make people “work for their benefits” – for as little as £1.27 an hour.

The Public and Commercial Services Union were on strike in order to prevent their redundancy pay from being cut – which would make it easier for the government to make job-cuts.  Many of the DWP workers are low paid – the basic wage of a clerical assistant is just 24p an hour above minimum wage.

Increased privatisation would lead to redundancies and poor conditions for DWP staff and less face-to-face interaction between Jobcentre workers and claimants (with even more use of call-centres).  As has already been shown by the use of companies like Atos Origins, A4E and Work Directions, privatisation means mistreating (often vulnerable) people claiming benefits in order to make profit for private businesses.

One claimant, who attended pickets and the rally with the group said “I had really interesting conversations with some of the strikers, and hopefully gave them some moral support.  I think it’s important when you’re defending yourself against attacks on your own situation, that you see the links with other people’s situations.  I also took part in the International Womens’ Day celebrations at Monument, and handed out Newcastle Defend Welfare leaflets there, because welfare is a feminist issue, the recent changes have hit single parents particularly badly.  It’s all part of the same system, all an attack on working class people.”

If negotiations are not successful, PCS members will strike again on March 19th.

The new Tyneside Claimants’ Union can be contacted at

tynesideclaimantsunion at googlemail dot com

Newcastle Defend Welfare can be contacted at

defendwelfarenortheast at googlemail dot com


4 Responses to “Solidarity with PCS (including Jobcentre/DWP Staff) Strike”

  1. frances carerwatch Says:

    CarerWatch are asking for your help. Please send the e-mail below to all prospective parliamentary candidates in your area and ask them to sign.

    We need to elect a parliament of people who are concerned about welfare and will fight for us. You and others need to know how the candidates stand on this.

    E-mail to PPCs
    I am writing to you as my local candidate to ask you if you will support carers and sign the two statements below.

    They are being proposed by CarerWatch which is a group of unpaid family carers. You can see all about them at

    The first statement concerns carer poverty. After twenty years of promises of better financial support for carers during the boom times carers are still waiting for help. Now it is the bust this situation is becoming desperate.

    The second statement concerns ESA. CarerWatch are only asking for protection from ‘conditionality’ for the most severely and enduringly sick people as they should never have been caught up in these reforms without protection.

    You can see the campaigns at –

    and I really hope you will sign and support them.

  2. Alisdair Cameron Says:

    Keep up the fight. Any help we can offer through Launchpad,( just ask.And don’t get me started of the the toxic legacy of that shitdribble Purnell, and the iniquities and inequities of the big money-makers out of the imposition of privatised workfare like ATOS and A4e.

  3. Flexible New Deal Says:

    Would be nice if DWP staff would join in with an unemployment demo!

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