Jobcentre workers are threatening to strike over Covid related safety as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are “insisting” more staff must return back to the office.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) have been asked to a conservative ballot if they will take industrial action.
The union will hold another vote before any industrial action takes place, as PCS officials do not believe work can be done safely, or that risk assessments and safety measures have been put into place.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said, “We oppose the reckless and unnecessary full reopening of jobcentres when many of our staff are delivering Universal Credit and other services to claimants from home.
“Some claimants are from the most vulnerable sections of society and our members are dedicated to assisting them in accessing what they need. However, jobcentre staff have the right to do their job safely.
“DWP and ministers need to rethink this approach to avoid possible industrial action in the future.”
A PCS member, who did not want to be named, said, “My office is a small office with an increased number of staff from the recruitment drive that took place during lockdown.
“I don’t see how the office can safely accommodate all staff as well as customers and still adhere to Covid regulations and social distancing.”
A DWP spokesman said, “We have worked closely with the unions throughout this pandemic and continue to do so to ensure our sites are safe, and that the health and safety of colleagues remains at the centre of our response to provide vital jobcentre support to those who need us.
“It is, therefore, disappointing to hear the PCS has chosen this course of action as the country reopens and our jobcentres return to full opening hours.
“We remain absolutely committed to maintaining all our services to customers and ensuring our sites remain Covid-secure for colleagues and customers in line with the latest public health and Government guidance.”