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171 York civil service jobs at risk
MORE than 170 York civil service jobs are at risk from Government privatisation plans – with some of their work even being sent to India, a union has claimed.
Lois Austin, of the PCS union, said the Cabinet Office was setting up a new limited company to carry out “back office” work within Defra and the DWP nationwide.
She said 171 people who worked in payroll, human resources, procurement and finance at Defra’s King’s Pool complex in Peasholme Green, York, would all be affected.
Speaking during a visit to York to discuss the proposals with union members and Cabinet Office officials, she said the new limited company, SSC Ltd, was set to take over on November 1, before the union had had the opportunity to fully discuss the plans.
It would be a quarter owned by the Government and three quarters owned by a private company, and a firm called Steria had been chosen from four contenders as the preferred bidder.
“Steria has confirmed that a large element of work will be offshored to India,” she said. “It will be processing work that does not involve face-to-face contact, including telephone calls.
“The PCS is concerned that people will be subjected to poor wages and conditions in India to do the work that was previously done in Britain under decent civil service pay, terms and conditions.
“Steria has also indicated it intends to reduce the size of the UK estate but will not indicate which offices are to close. It will not give a guarantee that the York office would remain.
“Employees working for the new company would initially retain their terms and conditions under ‘TUPE’ regulations but experience has shown that over time, people moving from the public sector to private sector find those conditions are chipped away later on.”
A York civil servant, who did not wish to be named, said their job situation had been made insecure, saying: “The new company coming in has already said they will reduce the number of sites where work is currently done and cut jobs.
“I am particularly worried about offshoring. Important personal data will be sent abroad and how can we be promised a job with the new company if they are sending work overseas? They should not be cutting jobs in one country to create jobs in another, that solves nothing but just creates more unemployment here with low wages and terrible working conditions abroad.”
A Steria spokesperson declined to comment.
Cabinet Office spokeswoman 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, 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 an announcement will be made in due course."
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