Reposted from PCS website
Don’t offshore our jobs and data, is the message from our members who have turned up in number on picket lines in Newport, Wales and Bootle on Merseyside.
Our members in the two MoJ ‘shared services’ centres who work in payroll, personnel and finance covering the courts, prison services and Home Office face being handed over to a new company called Shared Services
Connected Ltd (SSCL), set up last autumn to take on similar work for the Department for Work and Pensions and Defra.
SSCL is 75% owned by French multinational Steria, with the government retaining 25%. Months after winning the contract the company announced plans to halve the number of UK staff doing the work and close three offices by October 2014, at the same time as taking on 200 more jobs in India.
When the Cabinet Office first published its shared services strategy, it stated the MoJ would continue to operate a standalone centre. Staff learned out of the blue late last year this had been abandoned, with no explanation.
Strong and loud
Today at Newport MoJ Shared Services a strong and loud picket line demonstrated members’ outrage at the scandalous proposal to outsource their jobs to French company Steria/SSCL. The strikers were joined by both local
MPs, Jessica Morden and Paul Flynn, representatives from PCS MoJ group executive and Welsh committee, Newport Trades Council and UCU.
In Bootle there was a fantastic turnout with scores of people on the picket line and one non-member crossing. At one point over 40 pickets turned up and some even brought along their own children who held signs saying “Save my mummy job”. They were joined by Ronnie Draper, general secretary Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union, and Bill Esterson, MP for Sefton Central. Joe Benton MP for Bootle was unable to visit the picket line but sent a message of support.
There has also been significant local and national press coverage including:
Rewarded for failure
Yesterday, it emerged in a report by the Guardian that the MoJ has written off £56m spent on a shared services IT project after discovering it was late, over budget and duplicated by another department.
Ministers decided to shelve the project, designed to save money on back-office functions, when they realised it was obsolete.
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.
Good lively picket line at MOJ Shared Services Newport. Supported by PCS Wales committee members, Austin Harney from the GEC, UCU Coleg Gwent and both MPs in Newport. When management called the police one of them agreed to have his photo taken with the pickets. Another lawful picket line despite what management try to say.
The write-off – equivalent to about a quarter of the amount being cut from the legal aid budget – has been criticised by PCS as yet another example of a private company being rewarded for failure.
In 2011, Steria was 1 of 3 firms to win an outsourcing contract to oversee the “shared services” project in the MoJ.
Accounts released by the ministry this month show that civil servants grew increasingly concerned at the project’s progress.