New strike action by under-threat Sheffield civil servants

Protest at St Paul's Square over cutsProtest at St Paul's Square over cuts
Protest at St Paul's Square over cuts
Government workers in Sheffield due to find out this week if they are to lose their jobs are going on strike tomorrow.

Almost 250 people who work for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills are set to be made redundant by 2018 under plans to close its Sheffield office at St Paul’s Place and move its work to London.

A final decision on whether the move is to go ahead is to be announced on Thursday morning.

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The Public and Commercial Services Union has announced strike action will take place this week on Wednesday and Thursday, following a one-day walkout last week.

PCS Branch Secretary Marion Lloyd said: “How can you claim to support a Northern Powerhouse, while at the same time send 250 policy jobs responsible for its delivery back to Whitehall?

“We will continue this campaign until senior management agree a no compulsory redundancy guarantee and to keep the Sheffield site open.”

The closure plan has been criticised by MPs who have questioned whether moving work to London will save money.

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While ministers have said no final decision has been made on whether the closure will go ahead, business secretary Sajid Javid indicated last week it was a key part of departmental plans to find £350m of savings in the next five years. In a speech in Sheffield, he said: “I want BIS to be leaner.

“I want it to be more efficient, more flexible, more focussed, just like the businesses it serves.

“I want us to be spending money where it can really make a difference.

“Those £350 million savings are being found in lots of ways.

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“We’re cutting our headcount related to operating expenses by up to 40 per cent.

“We’re halving the number of public bodies.

“And we’re reducing our number of offices.

“The proposal to close our Sheffield office is one part of that.

“No employer ever takes pleasure in proposing redundancies, however necessary they may be.

“It’s painful, it’s difficult.

“And it’s certainly not a reflection of the quality of work being done at St Paul’s Place.

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“Nor is it a sign that we’re turning our backs on the north and hunkering down in London.

“Even if all of the proposed restructuring goes ahead, more than 80 per cent of BIS staff will still be based outside the capital.

“We’re also reducing the size of our London footprint, both in terms of office space and headcount.

“Above all, we’re doing more with less so that we can really focus on what matters most.”