Civil servants set to walk out in jobs row

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka who said ministers had pushed for work to be sent overseas, putting local jobs at risk.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka who said ministers had pushed for work to be sent overseas, putting local jobs at risk.

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Fylde coast civil servants are set to walk out on strike on Friday in a row over jobs.

Staff from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which has offices at Norcross in Blackpool, are among those angry at plans to privatise their work with some functions expected to be transferred to overseas companies.

Union leaders have warned that changes to jobs within the organisation’s Shared Services, which they say are due to be finalised on November 1, will affect around 250 DWP workers in the resort.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) claims the Government is proposing to sell off a range of several Government departments’ support functions, including human resources and finance to French multi-national Steria.

It could mean some of the work, which sees staff handle payroll and procurement details, is diverted overseas.

Union leaders claim the offshore plan flies in the face of a previous ministerial commitment that existing employment would not go overseas and that contractors would be urged to invest in the UK.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “From day one, ministers have pushed for this work to go overseas, putting jobs at risk and threatening the security of sensitive financial information.

“We will not stand by and watch while yet another piece of the civil service is parcelled up and handed to a private company to make a profit.”

Friday’s strike also affects offices in Cardiff, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.

But a spokesman for the Cabinet Office said no announcement about awarding the contract had yet been made, and any changes were aimed at creating a more efficient and cost effective service.

He said: “The civil service is moving to be faster, smaller and more unified and sharing services is a central part of this.

“The Next Generation Shared Services Strategy sets out a new model to share HR (human resources), procurement, finance and payroll functions with five centres instead of the current eight in order to deliver more efficient and cost-effective services.

“The process of selecting a private sector joint venture partner for the second of the two independent centres has commenced and we have consulted with staff and unions throughout, and continue to do so.

“An announcement will be made in due course.”

The Blackpool staff working for Shared Services are based in Tomlinson House at Norcross.

They are the only DWP employees still at Norcross, after 1,200 staff were transferred to new sites, mainly to Peel Park at Westby earlier this year.

Telereal Trillium, the company which owns the 18-hectare Norcross site, wants to redevelop it.

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