STAFF at Balham benefit centre are being balloted for strike action having been told that their office is due to close on 31 December.
This is because the building’s landlord wants to redevelop the site and DWP is committed to moving all processing work outside of London.
The department has also announced that 130 staff at the benefit centre have been declared ‘unassigned’ and are now formally at risk of redundancy.
This is a disastrous decision for PCS members at Balham, as few, if any of them, will be able to move with their work. It makes no sense for the department either, as it will lose all the knowledge and experience that the Balham staff have accrued over the years.
PCS is committed to campaigning to save the jobs of members in Balham and is are therefore running a strike ballot from tomorrow (25 July) until noon on 13 August.
Management could easily choose to move the staff and the work done at Balham to one of the new civil service hubs in London, such as the one at Croydon which is likely to be reachable for most members.
However, the department has told the PCS that it plans to move all back of house work, such as benefit processing, out of London.
This not only puts at risk the jobs of PCS members at Balham, but potentially also the jobs of members in other benefit centres in London such as Hackney and Stratford.
PCS also have serious concerns about the employer effectively dismissing a proportionally high black and ethnic minority workforce.
PCS is calling on the DWP to:
- Reverse its decision to move all processing work out of London
- Keep a DWP presence in Balham to accommodate staff who work at the current Balham office who wish to remain working for the department
- Not issue compulsory redundancies
- Not compulsorily relocate staff
- Implement proper redundancy avoidance measures using all available options
• Ensure there is no detriment from any office closure process for any member of staff with a protected characteristic as a result of that characteristic.