Update: Union considering industrial action after Annesley DWP centre set to close

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The Department of Work and pensions (DWP) has announced it will after all close the Annesley DWP office.

A decision has been taken to close Waterfront house at Sherwood Park.

The closure has put 130 jobs at risk and some staff have been told that any alternative employment they would be offered by the DWP would be up to an hour’s drive away.

Around three-quarters of the staff who work there are women, many of whom have part-time working patterns to enable them to fulfil childcare responsibilities.

The move comes despite a campaign by the Public and Commercial Service Union and Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero to kep the offices open.

During the consultation over its proposed closure, Ms de Piero has met with employees and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) to hear how important the office is to the area.

Before the closure was announced she said: said: “I have written to the Secretary of State because I felt it was important to reiterate how vital this office is to Ashfield.

“I have heard first hand from people who work at Waterfront House what good jobs they have there and how hard it would be for them to find new jobs that would pay as well and allow flexibility to accommodate their caring responsibilities.

“We need this office to stay open.”

PCS Midlands regional secretary Andrew Lloyd said there were more than 130 staff 130 staff working at the site and whilst there are no face to face interviews conducted at the office, staff engage with hundreds of member of public over the telephone and by email every day.

Of the 130 staff the vast majority of them (75%) are women, and the vast proportion of these having one kind of caring responsibility or another.

A number of them work part time and some part year to allow them to provide caring.

He said DWP is inviting staff to apply for roles in the DWP in other parts of the region, it was not clear where all these roles will be, but they could be as far away as one and half hours away travel from Annesley.

This could mean that working days are extended by three hours.

Whilst initially additional travel costs will be met, in the long term these will have to be paid for by staff themselves.

He said: “Irrespective of the costs being covered a number of the DWP employees will not be able to travel and therefore will lose their jobs.

“All will face the dilemma of keeping their job, but the price they pay will be to their families and loved ones, and of course to them as their working day could extend by almost 50per cent.”

He said the union would resist the measure and was today considering whether to take industrial action.

He said: “There is no need to close this office, For offices in a similar position to Annesley, the DWP has reversed its decision and kept them open,

We demand that DWP do this for Annesley. There are no winners in this situation, people will lose their jobs, or keep them at a massive price, DWP will lose skilled experienced staff or those that remain will be less motivated, and Annesley will lose out economically and lose 130 quality jobs.”

“Striking is not something they want to do, but what other response can they make to defend their jobs and Annesley.”

He added; “We are really pleased that Gloria Di Piero continues to support us, and made a significant contribution to a parliamentary debate on the issue on Thursday.

“The DWP minister David Gauke in response to Gloria claimed that 75per cent of staff have indicated a willingness to travel, which is amazing given that they have not yet been formally asked about their preference! Even if that were the case that’s still 30 to 40 redundancies.”

Staff have been told to be ‘careful’ to what they say publicly, but some have described the closure as a ‘bombshell to their lives’, and that the news was ‘devastating’.