Ministry of Justice strike against privatisation

Big turnout at Newport picket line as multinational prepares to outsource work


Dozens of PCS members and other trade unionists were at the picket line at the Ministry of Justice shared services centre in Newport as civil servants struck against privatisation plans.

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) plans to hand over the workers in payroll, personnel and finance covering the courts, prison services and Home Office to a new private company controlled by the French multinational Steria. They work at two shared services centres in Newport and Bootle on Merseyside. Steria has recently taken on contracts from the DWP and Defra then announced that it was halving its UK workforce, closing three offices and offshoring the work to India, where it can take advantage of the cheaper workforce. Sensitive data would be handed to a private company that would send it overseas.

PCS members in Newport joined a noisy picket line which was supported by other trade unionists from UCU, GMB and UNITE.

Steria is being awarded the contract even though it is walking away from another contract with the MOJ which will cost the government £56 million. PCS has criticised yet another example of private firms being rewarded for failure while the jobs of civil servants who actually deliver the service are being thrown aside "Steria was 1 of 3 companies asked to set up a £116m programme to help run staffing, procurement and payroll services for 90,000 civil servants. But the project has run into problems, official accounts disclose, and will be replaced by another, set up by a consortium to be headed by Steria."

The threat to hundreds of jobs in Newport follows the debacle at Newport Passport Office where hundreds of jobs were lost with the part closure of the Newport office which has now led to a huge backlog in passport applications not being processed. The threat to civil service jobs in Newport could lead to a similar farce in the MOJ.

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