Two-day walkout begins

DOZENS of frustrated civil servants took part in walkouts across Suffolk today to protest against thousands of job cuts and service changes.Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff in Ipswich took part in the first stage of the two-day strike action and called on the government to halt its plans to cut 30,000 jobs.

DOZENS of frustrated civil servants took part in walkouts across Suffolk today to protest against thousands of job cuts and service changes.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff in Ipswich took part in the first stage of the two-day strike action and called on the government to halt its plans to cut 30,000 jobs.

Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) members from Jobcentres, benefits processing centres, the Pension Service and the Child Support Agency took part in the walkouts.

Nick Bird, PCS assistant secretary for Suffolk, said the job cuts which had already been made and the introduction of new computer systems were undermining the way services were being provided.

He said: “All we hear about is targets all the time but the reality on the ground is staff are pushed to their limits and customers just aren't getting the support they depend upon.

“What we're calling for is a halt to the cuts while we have a proper review of the staffing levels that we need.”

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The union says nationally 15,000 staff have lost their jobs in the cut backs and services have been reduced in the process.

Richard Edwards, PCS regional secretary for the DWP, said: “We are not saying we want everything to stay as it is. But we need to call a halt to these programmes and re-examine the processes together and manage the changes to protect public service levels and retain staff where we can agree we need them.”

A DWP spokeswoman said: “We are absolutely committed to our service to the public. While some offices may close, our robust contingency plans ensure that our top priority, to make payment to our customers, is maintained, while minimising the impact industrial action may have on our services.

“If we are going to meet our commitment to deliver the highest quality of service to our customers it is vital we push ahead with our modernisation programme.”

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