Efforts to halt the closure of the DWP benefits office in Merthyr Tydfil were boosted on Saturday (2 February) by a successful campaign event staged by the Department’s main trade union, together with local politicians.
Gerald Jones MP and Dawn Bowden AM joined representatives from the PCS union and supporters from Merthyr Trades Council as they leafleted the town centre and collected signatures on a petition to save 200 jobs that are threatened by the closure plans.
The campaigners were delighted that, despite the cold weather, they received a warm reception from residents, almost 300 of whom signed the petition against the transfer of the work and jobs to a new site in Treforest.
A local PCS representative explained:
“Ty Bethesda in Merthyr is one of five Welsh DWP offices in South Wales that are currently facing closure – the others are in Caerphilly, Cwmbran, Newport and Gabalfa in Cardiff. The Department want to relocate the work from all these sites, and the staff involved, to a newly-built ‘operational hub’ in Treforest. In total, around 1,700 posts would be affected, which would be transferred from their current town centre locations to a remote industrial estate with poor public transport links. We are campaigning to persuade the DWP to recognise the potential detrimental impact of its plans, both on our members and on the wellbeing of the five communities involved.”
Dawn Bowden AM said:
“I remain concerned that the DWP seems intent on moving more than 200 jobs away from Merthyr to Nantgarw. The impact on individuals and the economy of the town can’t be underestimated. For many people, this move is not possible because of their personal, caring or travel arrangements. It is a cost cutting exercise by DWP that will do nothing to improve efficiency, but will cause considerable hardship to those affected. I will continue to urge DWP to rethink this proposal and fully support the campaign of PCS union stop the move.”
Gerald Jones MP added:
“The proposal by the Government to relocate and centralise DWP jobs away from town centres like Merthyr Tydfil is short sighted and will have a negative impact on our town, staff at the Benefits Centre and local residents. It was clear when I questioned the DWP Minister in Parliament, he had little knowledge of the impact this proposed move would have in terms of our town centre and particularly travel difficulties for staff. I will continue to offer my full support to PCS Union in the fight to keep these jobs in our area.”