Almost 250 workers facing redundancy from a Sheffield Government office will be told if their jobs are being axed – by computer.
Union bosses said the move by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills is the ‘final insult’ for the 247 civil servants affected.
Staff have been emailed and told news of the final decision on whether the Sheffield office is to close will be communicated on the staff intranet next Thursday rather than in an ‘daunting and impersonal’ face-to-face announcement.
It comes as a staff walked out on strike yesterday over the controversial proposals, which have been strongly criticised by MPs over the lack of business plan to justify the decision.
The decision on whether or not to close the Sheffield office by 2018 and move its work to London is due to be made by the Department’s executive board in a behind-closed-doors meeting next week.
Marion Lloyd, from the PCS union, said news of how the main announcement will be delivered has caused ‘shock and anger’.
She said: “People were going mad about it. It is the final insult and it has strengthened the resolve over the strike.”
She added the Government is yet to provide a ‘single credible reason’ why it should close the Sheffield office and move the work to London.
A BIS spokesman said the announcement was being made on the staff internal internet after concerns were raised about how the proposed closure was announced at the offices in a large meeting by the department’s permanent secretary Martin Donnelly in January.
The online announcement will be followed by individual briefings with bosses.
An internal message sent to staff said: “We will communicate our decision on Thursday May 26 during the morning.
“This will be published on the intranet during the morning and briefings by directors and director-generals will take place after this.
“Your feedback following the January announcement highlighted that different people prefer to receive and absorb information in different ways and for many people a large event can be quite daunting and impersonal.
“We are therefore planning communications sessions that are on a smaller scale.”
A BIS spokesman said: “Whenever a proposal such as this is made, there is a potential impact on people’s livelihoods and families, which is never easy. The proposal to close the BIS office in Sheffield has not been put forward lightly and ensuring staff are fully briefed and consulted remains a huge priority for us.”
He added: “Staff told us they wanted to receive and absorb information in different ways, so we will be providing staff with opportunities to hear and discuss the board decision in a number of different ways.
“This includes materials published on the intranet, audio calls, online sessions and face to face briefings and meetings with managers, the Executive Board and the Permanent Secretary on the day, and in following weeks.”