PCS takes jobs fight to the Cabinet Office today after Equality and Human Rights Commission helpline is privatised


Workers who advise vulnerable and disabled people about their rights face being forced out of their jobs by a decision to privatise their work and move it hundreds of miles across the country, the PCS says.

Staff working on the Equality and Human Rights Commission helpline have been told their jobs are being moved to Stratford upon Avon in September, and if workers in Scotland and Wales do not accept a transfer they will be deemed to have resigned.

The union will be raising the issue as a priority with the Cabinet Office today at a meeting about dealing with redundancies in the civil service.

The helpline – which employs staff in Cardiff, Glasgow and Birmingham – was previously run in-house but is being handed to a consortium led by private company Sitel as part of massive cuts to the commission’s budgets and staff.

The workers have been told that on 30 September they will be transferred to the new company, which will only operate from Stratford. But the union is challenging how regulations on staff transfers can apply when it would be unreasonable to expect them to move or unfeasible for them to travel that distance to work.

If they accept the transfer they risk the sack for not being able to get to work, but if they refuse they will be deemed to have resigned so will not be eligible for a redundancy payment.

On top of this privatisation the commission confirmed on Friday it plans to cut the rest of its staff by more than half to 150 by March 2013, and close offices around the country.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This is an outrageous way to treat experienced staff who are dedicated to helping people facing discrimination.

“These cuts to the EHRC will wind the clock back decades and are purely designed to make it easier for the government to ride roughshod over vulnerable people in our communities.”

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