Strike action for Norwich Job Centre Plus staff

Jobcentre Plus staff at Norwich's Mountergate branch joined colleagues in a national 24-hour strike yesterday, in an escalating row over working conditions and claims of a 'target-driven culture'.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) based in more than 30 call centres across the UK walked out after accusing management of showing little willingness to resolve the dispute.

In a ballot of the union's 7,000 members in the call centres, 70pc of those who took part voted for strike action, with a turnout of 43pc.

The action follows a two-day strike in January by more than 2,000 workers in Jobcentre Plus's seven newest contact centres who complain of being forcibly moved from processing benefit claims to handling enquiries by phone.

The union said it wants to improve the levels of customer service in call centres, end a target-driven culture, particularly by changing the way 'unrealistic' average call times that are used, and introduce proper flexible working arrangements.

A picket formed outside Baltic House on Mountergate yesterday morning before dispersing around 9.30am and employees going home in support of the strike action.