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REVOLUTION UNTIL VICTORY!
STREATHAM STRIKER No.10
We haven't lost sight of the fact that the Pathfinder office is at Streatham, but the spotlight has been on Balham over the past week.
Mark Serwotka, the PCS General Secretary elect was interviewed twice by BBC TV news teams outside Irene House on Tuesday and Thursday, for prime time news bulletins.
Our banner reads "Jobcentre Plus Screens Equals Staff Safety" and was seen by millions of viewers. John Stanley's foghorn and tambourine were also to the fore as the Stanley Singers gave lung to their favourite picketing songs!
Mark shares a joke on the picket line, but the placard is no joke - it lists 4 types of weapons recently used against BA/ES staff.
But it's not only senior union figures doing the talking - our strikers had their say too
we need to get the message across about staff safety.
In the BBC studio there was also a live video link between Mark and Alistair Darling. Mr Darling did not look pleased. Leigh Lewis also featured at Streatham JCP, telling us in a seductive voice how nice it was and how the staff thought it was wonderful. Sadly none of these staff was available to be interviewed.
Last Monday morning there was a stabbing incident at Leyton ESJ.
During the course of the incident a customer stabbed a security guard in the chest with a concealed knife, and was only disarmed when another customer threw a chair at him.
The assailant escaped the building and has not yet been arrested. Staff were terrified by the attack and the office remained closed during Monday.
When it re-opened on Tuesday, Benefit Agency staff refused to work in the unscreened Employment Service area of the office.
BA spokesman Frank Bonner said: "The office should not have been opened at all until a new risk assessment had been completed, which is required following any serious incident. Our members were really shaken up by this, and of course we're very concerned for the security guard. His attacker needs to be apprehended before he can strike again."
The National Unemployed Centres Combine last week expressed full support for PCS members in the employment service and benefits agency who are taking industrial action over the right to a safe workplace.
Kevin Flynn, Chair of the Combine said: "Our task is to support the unemployed and other claimants. We can see this strike action is not anti-claimant. The strike recognises the reality that low benefit levels and unfair rules which work against claimants will sometimes result in attacks out of sheer desperation. Enforced poverty puts tremendous pressure on claimants."
PCS has consistently stated that they do not believe the vast majority of people who attend Jobcentres and Benefit Offices are violent.
We believe that, unless a safe working environment, including the retention of screens for benefit work, is provided, these attacks will increase. Jobcentre Plus brings together, under one roof, the function of the two agencies and also introduces new conditionality rules that will have to be enforced by staff.
As we go to press negotiations have restarted but we still need you to vote YES in the current ballot for discontinuous strike action.
Makerfield has voted to take action against the enforced scabbing by a massive 6 - 1 majority with an 85% turnout.