Thousands of Job centre plus staff from offices in Glasgow, Norwich, Newport, Sheffield, Makerfield and Manchester are to stage a 48-hour strike, over poor working conditions and claims of excessive monitoring.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) will take industrial action on Thursday January 20 and Friday January 21 after previously voting in favor of a walkout.

The union said it wanted staff to have the same flexi-time arrangements as in the rest of the Department for Work and Pensions, more varied, satisfying work and an end to a “target” driven culture, particularly by changing the way “unrealistic average call times” are used.

Officials claimed “oppressive” working conditions in Jobcentre Plus were causing high levels of stress and sickness, adding that staff were leaving at an “alarming” rate.

PCS official Martin John said: “This is about respect. We want both customers and staff to be respected by the DWP, and we will continue to push for decent working conditions and a properly resourced public service.”

“Our members want to give genuine customer service but call handling targets mean callers are not having their inquiries dealt with.

The PWC was not contactable at the time of press.