Workers in DWP call centres are striking today after accusing managers of “draconian conditions”.
The walkout by 6,000 civil servants who are members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) has affected 32 call centres in England, Scotland and Wales.
The union claims that call centre workers who are reprimanded for wishing jobless people ‘good luck’ and they face “draconian” target-driven working conditions.
"With unemployment remaining high and our economy in the grip of recession, it is shameful that Jobcentre bosses are still refusing to let their staff provide the kind of help and advice that people need,” said PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka.
"These call centres provide a vital lifeline.
“Enquiries are often complicated, and people struggling to find their way around the benefits system are often understandably desperate and upset, but staff are being forced to end calls as quickly as possible just to meet an artificial target.
"Our members care about the services they provide and they want to be able to help people properly, not have to fob them off."
A DWP spokesman said: "We are disappointed that some staff are taking industrial action which we think is unnecessary. We have gone to great lengths to resolve issues with unions.
"Jobcentres and benefit payments will be unaffected and claimants will be able to access some information online, so any impact will be limited."