News : Anger as Staff Forced to Move for Second Time in a Year
Feb 7, 2014 -- Dozens of job centre staff are being forced to move offices for the second time in just over a year as part of a reorganisation programme.
Up to 160 staff who now work at the Jobcentre Contact Centre, in Garston , have been told they will have to up sticks and go to work either in Bootle or Birkenhead when the site in St Mary’s Road closes.
Many of them had to move to Garston when the Jobcentre in Old Swan was shut in 2012.
Today, union leaders branded the situation a shambles and said they feared the relocation would be used as a way of cutting staff numbers, because some people will not want to make the move.
But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the move was about "making the best use" of all office space. Union chiefs are now planning to meet with Labour’s Garston and Halewood MP Maria Eagle for talks on how the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition’s agenda is damaging some of the most deprived communities by taking away jobs from those areas.
Public and Commercial Services (PCS) branch secretary Peter Middleman said: "I think they’re banking on people not being able to travel owing to domestic arrangements and therefore leaving on voluntary or even compulsory terms.
"The DWP is already in chaos because of the Universal Credit meltdown, and it shows there’s an abject lack of planning.
"They’re dancing to the tune of a government that wants to reduce head count by any means, rather than provide assistance to people to find work in the best tradition of the Welfare State."
He added that the shift towards Contact Centres – call-centres were welfare advice is given – over customer-facing job centres showed that the Government knew there were simply not enough jobs out there for those looking for work.
A spokesman for the DWP said: "By March, 2015, DWP will move all staff out of its office at Cressington House, Garston, and relocate them to Bootle Contact Centre.
"Cressington House is not an office which customers are asked to attend in person.
"The relocation is to make the best use of all our office space and responsibly manage the cost of leasing sites.
"Garston Jobcentre is in a separate building and is unaffected.
"There will be no impact on our services or our customers."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Friday, February 7, 2014