HUNDREDS of civil servants walked out of work today in Newport, in opposition to plans to privatise their jobs and send them abroad.

Workers at the Ministry of Justice Shared Services centre in Celtic Springs Business Park went on strike for the third time in recent weeks in protest against UK government plans to sign a deal with French-owned IT company Steria.

About 350 of the centre’s 700 full-time staff are members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, said PCS campaigns officer Darren Williams.

Earlier this week PCS members at Newport’s Passport Office also walked out in protest against nationwide issues with workload.

About 700 people performing back-room functions like payroll and human resources are employed full-time at the Shared Services centre, with 300 others doing the same jobs on temporary contracts.

They do work for the likes of the probation service, the Home Office and the courts and prisons service.

Managers signalled their intent to go through with the deal in June but the Argus understands the agreement is likely to be made this month.

Of three options available, the government favoured Steria’s business plan which involves off-shoring the jobs to other countries, such as India where one of its subsidiaries, Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL), already runs an NHS call-centre.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said they will work with staff, trade unions and other stakeholders to assess impacts on staff.