Job Centre row hits stumbling block

Public and Commercial Services Union will have to re-run its recent ballot on
strike action over the Government’s new-style job centres.

Financial Times has reported that a costly and embarrassing error in the ballot
means the union will have to repeat the procedure.

action was initiated because staff feel unprotected in the new-look job centres
which have removed the traditional partition that separates them from claimants.

have said they feel vulnerable to attack in the new Pathfinder benefit
agencies, which are designed to make the system seem more open and accessible.

month Prime MinsterTony Blair was warned by union officials that 50,000 staff
could get involved in the action after a series of high profile violent
attacks. In one incident in Bradford a member of staff was hit with a hammer
and in another case a policeman was stabbed after being called in to placate an
irate claimant.

work and pensions secretary Alistair Darling has called for a halt to the
action, promising screened areas for difficult situations and a clampdown on
violent claimants.

By Ross Wigham

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