Minister's letter sparks offshoring fears for Newport service centre
1:44pm Monday 24th February 2014 in News
CONCERNS have been raised again that UK Government jobs currently based in Newport could go offshore after a letter from a minister didn’t rule it out.
The Ministry of Justice shared service centre in Newport’s Celtic Springs is facing possible privatisation, with officials looking at two different firms to take it over.
Justice secretary Chris Grayling told Newport East MP Jessica Morden that one joint public-private venture in the running for the work needs to be in line with other such firms that often offshore jobs.
Ms Morden has attacked the UK Government over the letter – claiming remarks by the prime minister that the UK was to become a reshoring nation rang hollow.
Around 1000 full-time, casual and agency staff work at the Newport service centre.
Mr Grayling explains that the ministry is looking at two options – one of which is a joint venture that the UK Government has already signed an agreement to run with Steria Limited.
The company, 25 per cent owned by government, has committed to no compulsory redundancies in the first six months of operation.
But Mr Grayling says for the company to be “a competitive and viable business” it needs to be “in line with other companies of this kind, which often see some non-customer facing transactional roles being sourced offshore.”
The new company, Shared Services Connected Limited, will include a number of existing shared service centres, including work from the Department of Work and Pensions and the Environment Agency.
Labour Newport East MP Jessica Morden said: “So much for David Cameron’s warm words when he announced his plan to make Britain the 're-shore nation'. The minister's letter clearly shows what a hollow promise this is.
“It’s clear the Government are pursuing policies that will potentially put Newport jobs at risk of off shoring. We’ll be working with the PCS union and pressing for a meeting with the ministry to make it clear how unacceptable this is.”
Darren Williams, acting secretary of the PCS union in Wales, said it was “disturbing to see the minister acknowledge in such detail that the government is actively considering the privatisation” of the centre.
He said the category of “non customer facing transactional roles” could include most of the work currently done in Newport.
Labour Newport West MP Paul Flynn said: “Efficient, good value Newport jobs that deliver a splendid service are under threat because of the Government’s political prejudices.”
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "The department is considering options for the future delivery of back office admin services. All options will be evaluated to make sure they provide value for taxpayers' money.
"We will work with staff, trade unions and other stakeholders to assess any impacts on staff."
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