April 11, 2011 10.29 am This story is over 155 months old

Lincoln Jobcentre to strike for 24 hours

Standing ground: Jobcentre Plus staff in Lincoln will be striking to improve conditions for members and customers.

Staff at Lincoln’s Jobcentre Plus will stage a 24-hour strike next week as part of a national campaign.

Jobcentre staff across the country will be striking due to a row over working conditions, poor customer service and a culture driven by targets.

Over 30 call centres will be walking out of their offices on April 18, after they believe management showed “little willingness” to resolve disputes.

Out of 7,000 Public and Commercial Services Union members (PCS), 70% voted for strike action with a turnout of 43%.

Back in January, staff in the seven newest call centres walked out for two-days after claiming to be moved forcibly from processing benefit claims to having to handle enquiries by phone.

The Union’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) president Jane Aitchison said: “We are being prevented from providing a good quality service to the public because of unnecessary and unrealistic call centre targets.

“We entered into negotiations in good faith because we care about the help and advice we give to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“It’s very disappointing that our management didn’t do the same.”

As well as Lincoln, strikes will also affect other centres such as Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby, Middlesbrough, Blackpool, Liverpool and Manchester.

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “We are disappointed that despite three-quarters of staff across the centres not voting to strike, the PCS has decided to take industrial action.

“The contact centre staff at DWP have good terms of employment including generous holidays, and have a good amount of flexibility.

“But we have to ensure that our service is available when our customers, who include some of the most vulnerable people in the country, need us.”

The Union hopes that the strike will improve levels of customer service in call centres, end the target culture and create better, flexible working arrangements.

Related Report: BBC News | Photo: BCD