Staff at the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) service centres in Bootle and Newport are due to go on strike over plans to outsource the department’s back office services to Shared Services Connected Limited (SSCL).
Civil servants at the Bootle office are due to start six days of strike action against the transfer tomorrow, with staff at the office in Newport due to join them for a 24-hour strike on 31 July.
The walkout follows strike action from MoJ employees at both centres at the end of last month.
If the plans go ahead, the staff will move to SSCL as the MoJ joins other Whitehall departments in outsourcing back office functions such as procurement, finance, payroll and HR to the new venture, which is 75 percent owned by French multinational Steria and 25 percent owned by the government.
The Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs awarded SSCL a contract to run their back office services in November last year.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents civil service and public sector staff, has warned that plans will lead to office closures and the loss of 500 jobs.
PCS union has flagged its concerns over the plans in a letter to MoJ permanent secretary Ursula Brennan.
In particular, PCS is concerned that the proposals will lead to personal and commercially sensitive data currently handled by civil servants being dealt with by a private firm overseas.
In the note to Brennan, the union listed a series of questions about data protection and warned that unless it receives a satisfactory response it will refer the issue to the Information Commissioner.
It emerged last month that the MoJ had to write off £56 million in IT costs after abandoning its shared services programme. The majority of the losses were caused by a failed project to build an ERP system, which Steria had been responsible for developing.
A number of MPs representing the constituencies affected have been vocal in their opposition to the MoJ’s plans.
In particular, Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, criticised the decision by the MoJ to abandon its own shared services programme in favour of SSCL during a House of Commons debate earlier this month.
He said: “It seems an act of madness to take successful jobs from an initiative developed in Newport and send them overseas, and to spread the profits to a foreign company.”
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