Sunday, 29 October 2017

NSSN 362: PCS strikes against DWP office closures

The full version of this week’s no.362 can be viewed HERE this week's highlights include news, protests, solidarity campaigns against victimisation, strikes and industrial action ballots involving BFAWU, Unite, RMT, PCS, Unison, GMB, CWU, BECTU, UCU, UVW, NBRU, SIPTU, TSSA and TEEU as well as international reports plus much more

NSSN 362: PCS strikes against DWP office closures on November 6th in Plymouth & all-out in Sheffield and RMT announces more DOO strikes
In this week’s bulletin, we headline with the continued action by PCS members against office closures in the Department for Work and Pensions. Also, for the 3rd time, Southern Rail management have put a divisive offer to train drivers in the dispute against Driver Only Operation (DOO). We call on ASLEF members to again reject this offer and open the way to joint action with the RMT, who have now called strikes against DOO in five train operators

Workers had already taken 26 days of strikes at Sheffield Eastern Avenue jobcentre but started indefinite action this Monday after DWP management announced that they intend to close it on November 17th.
Now PCS members at Plymouth Old Tree Court benefit centre have voted to strike on 6 November in protest at the plans to close the benefit centre. An overwhelming majority of members voted in favour of striking with 76.9% supporting the strike. The 230 members in the benefit centre however have been told they must relocate to another office in Plymouth. However, due to the geography and the transport connections of the area, a large number of members will not be able to relocate to the proposed new office as it is well outside reasonable daily travel from their homes. This has left a significant number of members at risk of redundancy.
PCS DWP Group President Fran Heathcote on Sheffield Eastern Avenue picket line

As well as these two offices, there have also been strikes at Hoylake and Whitley Bay job centres as part of the PCS DWP Group’s strategy to defend offices, jobs and public service.
PCS DWP Group President Fran Heathcote said, “With strikes like these, PCS is showing DWP management and behind them the Tory Government, that we will fight these vindictive closures that are to the detriment of our members and claimants alike.”
To support these strikes and all others by PCS in DWP:-
Send messages of support to Donations should be sent to PCS DWP Group, 3rd floor, Town Centre House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS28LY.
PCS consultative pay ballot – the consultative ballot on the pay cap and whether members are prepared to take industrial action to protest against it, opened on October 9th
The ballot runs from Monday, 9 October to Monday, 6 November and you can vote by post, email or phone.
If you have not received a ballot paper in the post or received details of how to vote online to your personal email address by 20 October you should request a replacement ballot paper by emailing
The ballot asks two questions:
Do you agree that the pay cap should be scrapped; and that funds should be made available to provide you with an above inflation pay rise?
If the government refuse to scrap the pay cap, are you prepared to take part in industrial action? Read more   Join PCS by 27 October to vote on pay
Video update from today's CSCS talks (24 Oct) - General Secretary Mark Serwotka talks to members about the Civil Service Compensation Scheme talks that PCS was part of at the Treasury today

RMT announces strike action in separate disputes over the attack on the role of the guard and the extension of Driver Only Operation (24 Oct) - RAIL UNION RMT today confirmed strike action in November in separate disputes with train operating companies across the UK over attacks on the role of the safety-critical guard and the extension of Driver Only Operation in the name of increased profits. Members on Southern, Greater Anglia, South Western Railways and Island Line have been instructed to take action as follows:
Not to book on for any shifts between 00.01 hours on Wednesday 8th November and 23.59 hours on Thursday 9th November.
Members on Northern and Merseyrail have been instructed to take action as follows:
Not to book on for any shifts between 00.01 hours and 23.59 hours On Wednesday 8th November read more
RMT calls on Southern Rail staff to stand together and reject divisive and tainted company plan to destroy safety and access (24 Oct) - Rail union RMT today called on Southern Rail staff to continue to stand united and reject the latest company and government proposals to extend Driver Only Operation which would destroy the principles of safe operation and access to services for all. Staff on Southern Rail have stood together for nearly 20 months now in the teeth of attacks on the safety culture and have repeatedly rejected plans cobbled together by Southern/GTR, under the direction of the Government, which would give the green light to axing the second safety-critical member of staff from services at the whim of the bosses and which would leave disabled passengers stranded. RMT is calling on staff to maintain that sense of unity. In a letter to members today – below - RMT reveals that the latest tainted company deal on Southern Rail attempts to link the most blatant of attacks on safety to increased pay while rolling back the boundaries on Driver Only Operation on a scale not seen before in any of the earlier proposals. RMT is making it clear that the union will be campaigning for a rejection of the whole package read more
National dispute fund (DOO disputes) – If you would like to donate to the RMT National Dispute Fund which makes payments to support their striking members taking part in National DOO disputes then you can donate via PayPal using the donate button below or make a cheque payable to RMT National Dispute Fund and send it to the address below. Alternatively, you can ring their Freephone helpline on 0800 376 3706 who will be happy to process a credit card payment for you, or, if you would like to pay via internet banking, please email for further details. Vicky Thompson, Finance Manager RMT, 39 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD. Tel: 020-7529-8843

Support the Royal Mail workers: ‘Dispute postponed – not cancelled’ read more on CWU website
Defending the NHS
This Saturday October 28 - National Demonstration and Rally in Barnsley Save Our NHS: fighting back to win. Assemble Barnsley Eastgate at 11.30. Speakers include: Justin Madders, Shadow Health Minister, Mike Forster, Hands Off HRI, Ellen King, Bassetlaw parents
Saturday November 4 Health Campaigns Together Conference in London. Early bird registration and travel concessions closes 23.30. 31st October. The link for online booking is Lunch will be provided for all PRE-BOOKED delegates Early bird fee: £7.50 | After 31st October / On the door: £10 Concessions: £5 pre-booked (£7 on the door)

NSSN news
There was an excellent NSSN Solidarity Forum last Saturday in Birmingham.
Over 80 union reps and members discussed how to build support for the increasing number of disputes, including the CWU in Royal Mail, Unite at Birmingham bins, PCS in DWP, BFAWU in McDonalds and the fight to scrap the public sector pay cap. We also heard from campaigners fighting to keep the Derby Women’s Centre open. If you want to organise a similar event in your area, email us via
Get your trade union branch or trades council to affiliate to the NSSN – it only costs £50. Already affiliated? Please think about renewing it. Also, many of our supporters pay a few pounds a month. You can set up a similar standing order to ‘National Shop Stewards Network’, HSBC – sort code 40-06-41, account number 90143790. Our address is NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE. Affiliation letter is below
Download the ‘Join the NSSN’ leaflet here
And if you can, come to one of our regional Conferences. If there is not one in your area, get in touch to either assist in organising or have a speaker at one of your meetings or events. Contact Rob or Linda on
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