The Civil Service Rank & File Network is calling for action aimed at Jobcentre Plus in the week of the 5 August.
The government is trying to draw a dividing line between claimants and those in work as it attacks all of us. Nowhere is this more clear than at the Jobcentre, where low waged civil servants are expected to impose sanctions and enforce unpaid work schemes for unemployed people subsisting on benefits.
But the government’s dividing line is an artificial one, as evidenced by the extension of the sanctions regime to part time workers receiving in work benefits, including 40% of Jobcentre staff. Whether unemployed or in work, we are all working class and have shared interests in opposition to the government and the boss class. We need to stand and fight together – not against one another at the government’s behest.
That is why the CSRF Network has argued strongly for Jobcentre workers to resist imposing sanctions on claimants. We took this message to the conference of the PCS union and intend to push for and build this stance at the coal face, where it really matters.
At the same time, it is vital that claimants show their solidarity with workers wherever possible. We are also at the sharp end of the government’s attacks and pushing for a more effective and disruptive campaign of action in response – despite the apparent hesitation of PCS, who have scaled back their campaign to action short of strike during July and August whilst they “consult” over what to do in the autumn.
The fact is that we cannot afford to wait until autumn to continue fighting. We face a hostile government and a hostile employer who quite frankly aren’t concerned in the least by the occasional one day strike.
That is why the CSRF is calling for a week of action aimed at Jobcentres. This is only part of a broader effort to push for a more effective and sustained campaign strategy, but it is an important one. Here we have the potential to forge the links of a practical solidarity between workers and claimants – and also to cause disruption even when no strike has been called.
In the week commencing 5 August we encourage civil servants to work with claimants and others who oppose austerity in your area.
- Hold workplace meetings to discuss the type of action needed to win.
- Stage pickets outside of the Jobcentre to bring workers and claimants together in opposition to the government.
- Occupy the Jobcentre and bring business to a halt for as long as you practically can.
The action taken by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty against Leith Jobcentre is a brilliant example of the kind of protest we are advocating.
Most importantly, we urge you to treat this action as just one element of a broader campaign. There will be more national days of action, but don’t just wait for them – do whatever you can where you are. We will not see significant movement or concessions from this government until we are continually and severely disrupting business as usual.