After a second day of strike action by Jobcentre workers in Walsall and Wolverhampton the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is consulting workers at other sites about expanding the strike.
However, response by claimants online has been mixed and it’s easy to see why. In his speech on the strike, the PCS’s General Secretary said “Our members… work to support some of the most vulnerable members of society”. This disappears the role Jobcentre workers have in making claimants lives’ worse and the vast numbers of normal people being made vulnerable by Universal Credit. Further singling out “concerns over staffing and under investment” he implies that Universal Credit is fixable by Government if it responds to the Union’s demands.
This doesn’t reflect the reality of our lives. Many of us experience Jobcentre workers as oppressors, not martyrs. None of the five demands of the PCS will have a critical impact on this. Universal Credit itself is a tightening of the stranglehold Government has over the poor and a massive step backwards for the lives of claimants.
Until unions start demanding an end to or total restructuring of Universal Credit they must expect their strikes to be seen for what they are: self serving and meaningless demands for reform from those enacting the policies we despise.