Back office admin staff working at the MoJ's two Shared Service centres are to down tools next week over fears of job cuts. This follows the department's decision to outsource the work to a business owned by French integrator Steria.
Staff at the centres in Newport and Bootle run payroll, personnel and finance for the 90k people working in Blighty's courts, probation service and prisons, but under the proposed move will transfer to Shared Services Connected Ltd.
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Steria, which owns 75 per cent of SSCL (UK government owns the remainder) confirmed it has been selected by the MoJ as the "preferred framework supplier for the provision of their shared service".
"As a contact has not been awarded it would be inappropriate to comment further while negotiations continue and details remain commercial in confidence," Steria added. A deal is likely to be finalised by August.
As revealed by El Reg last week, 47 per cent of the Public and Commercial Union 382-strong membership working in the two MoJ shared service centres voted overwhelmingly to strike if the Steria deal edged closer.
The union claimed that when SSCL took on the centres for DWP and Defra last autumn, it halved the number of UK staff doing the work, closed three local offices, and hired 200 more workers in India to pick up the slack.
PCS predicts that the SSCL MoJ contract will lead to further job cuts for civil servants and plans to take industrial action on 30 June.
"The government is using shared services as just another way to cut civil service jobs, by privatising and sending work overseas," said PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka.
"Not only does this threaten the security of sensitive personal and financial information, it is a cynical exploitation of the inferior pay and employment conditions of workers in other countries," he added.
The Cabinet Office's Next Generation Shared Services strategy (PDF) was designed to save the public purse between £400m to £600m by consolidating departmental shared service centres.
Business Process Outsourcer Arvato acquired the Department for Transport's centre in Swansea, and in November SSCL took on the centre managing finance, HR and procurement for the DWP, Defra and the Environment Agency.
To date, the MoJ operated a standalone shared service centre running back office functions as did the MoD and HMRC.
We have asked to MoJ for comment and will update if or when it arrives.
An MoJ spokeswoman sent us this statement.
“We are committed to modernising the department’s administration services – creating a fit-for-purpose organisation which offers the best value for money to the public.
“This work is central to the Government’s ongoing reform programme, which was put in place to create a more accountable and unified Civil Service.
“We are currently in discussions with Shared Services Connected Limited with a view to signing a contract later this year, which will save the taxpayer millions of pounds a year.
"We will work with staff, trade unions and other stakeholders to assess any impacts on staff." ®