Union leaders clashed with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over the effect of yesterday’s strike by workers in Jobcentres, benefit offices and the Child Support Agency.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said 80,000 of its members at the DWP joined the first day of a 48-hour walkout in a campaign against controversial plans to axe 30,000 jobs in the department.
Offices across the country were closed, while others offered a limited service or no service at all to the public, the union claimed.
But the DWP said only 40 Jobcentres were closed – compared with 55 closures during a previous strike earlier this year.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “The fantastic show of support demonstrates that staff are not willing to stand by and see the services they deliver damaged by crude job cuts.
“The perpetual self-denial of DWP senior management over the level of staff anger and impact of job cuts serves only to undermine services that some of the most disadvantaged rely on.
“With support for the two-day stoppage expected to grow, the department needs to negotiate seriously with the union to avoid further industrial action.”
A DWP spokeswoman said: “If we are going to meet our commitment to deliver the highest quality of service to our customers it is vital we continue with our modernisation programme.
“It is disappointing that the PCS appears not to be moving in the same direction and seems opposed to many of the changes.”