The Burning Issue

A couple of weeks ago, a press release landed on Guru’s desk which made his eyebrows shoot up in incredulity. It was from the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) about a terrible attack on a Jobcentre Plus employee by a man with a machete.

Apparently, the stabbing happened after a claimant was refused a face-to-face interview and was referred to a phone to contact the Department for Work and Pensions’ call centre.

At this point, the customer produced a machete and assaulted the member of staff, who was seriously injured.

This was a horrible event, but if you look hard enough there’s political capital to be had from anything. This is why the PCS linked it to staff cuts under the government’s efficiency drive. PCS president, Janice Godrich, who also works in the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “We totally condemn this assault and our sympathy is with the member of staff attacked. However, we believe this sort of incident is only avoidable if jobcentres are properly staffed.”

If you take this argument to its logical conclusion then it looks like all hell is going to break loose. Think of all the times you try to access a facility and are referred to an automated service. If the natural consequence is that you need to take a machete to the nearest available staff member, it’s going to be a massacre.

Then again, maybe not everyone carries large knives around with them and this was an isolated incident based on some serious issues held by the machete-wielder.

But Guru has been known to be wrong before, so beware.

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