Defra staff at Alnwick go on strike

Staff at Defra’s Lion House, in Alnwick, went on strike today after talks over job losses and outsourcing broke down.

The walk-out follows news that 41 positions are affected at the site by a new part-privatisation.

The Defra building in Alnwick.

The Defra building in Alnwick.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has opposed the sell-off, to French multi-national Steria, of a range of government departments’ support functions.

This will include human resources and finance and is due to be finalised at the start of November.

The PCS has speculated that the move will mean some of the work will be off-shored, potentially to India.

It also throws the future of the state-of-the-art building, at the town’s Willowburn Trading Estate and opened in 2009, into doubt.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that yet again the PCS insist on pushing for futile action which benefits no one, and damages the services they deliver to the public.

“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 for the taxpayer.

“We have begun the process of selecting a private sector joint venture partner for the second of the two independent centres and are consulting with staff and unions.

“We will make an announcement in due course.”