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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 April 2016

Save BIS Sheffield

Northern Powerhouse or Northern poorhouse?

Part of the PCS contingent on the 2011 N30 London demo, photo Senan

Part of the PCS contingent on the 2011 N30 London demo, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Marion Lloyd, PCS union group President in Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

It is clear that the attempts by this Tory government to drive a coach and horses through all the gains we have won have no bounds. Latest is the complete decimation of the civil service through their so called "estates strategy" which could see more than 600 government buildings close throughout the UK.

This will not only see thousands of civil service workers made redundant, but the impact on the delivery of key services and on local communities will be of a magnitude never before experienced.

What this means in the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), the alleged department for growth, is "efficiency" savings of 40% and a reduction in premises from 86 to six. The impact would be devastating.

Tip of the iceberg

Across BIS we have already had the withdrawal of funding from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, based in Rotherham, the privatisation of the Green Investment Bank, the announcement of the privatisation of Land Registry (see below) and the closing down of the National Weights and Measurements Regulations Office.

We know this is just the tip of the iceberg.

But probably as shocking was the announcement from the department that 300 policy jobs are set to be moved to London if senior management in BIS have their way.

On 28 January, management told staff in Sheffield that the office would be closed and all policy jobs would move to London. This will result in the loss of 250 jobs in Sheffield. This announcement alone gives nonsense to the Tories' Northern Powerhouse rhetoric.

Moving hundreds of jobs to London will have a devastating impact on the local economy and communities. In Sheffield an already poor city will become poorer. These plans must be stopped.

PCS BIS group leapt immediately into action and less than 24 hours later we had questions being asked in parliament, local and national press coverage and had enlisted the support of local MPs, local councillors, unions and the press. We have worked tirelessly to build a campaign around a clear set of demands including no compulsory redundancies and no office closures without union agreement. This has included linking up with PCS branches across the city and contacting other unions.

Industrial muscle

Central to the campaign is the industrial muscle of civil service workers. Within a couple of weeks we achieved three key changes from the employer.

Their decision suddenly became a proposal, they added a two month extension to their consultation period and conceded that the movement of work from non-Sheffield locations into London had a more relaxed timeline.

However this is not enough. We are determined to keep our office open. We have agreed to ballot for industrial action if management don't agree to withdraw their proposals.

The Socialist Party fully supports PCS members fighting this attack. Reverse all cuts - for investment in decent jobs for all, throughout the country.

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In The Socialist 6 April 2016:

Steel crisis

Workers' action to nationalise steel

Tata steel: Act now - fight for nationalisation

My hometown lost its soul when the steelworks closed

Bosses' and union tops' "agenda of misery"

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Needed: a real living wage - not Cameron's sops

Library occupied in 'siege' against Blairite cutters

Save Pent Valley school demo demands a council u-turn

Butterfields tenants and supporters 'walk the walk'

London Labour councils purge housing waiting lists

Fighting fund target smashed, again!

Socialist Party news and analysis

Panama Papers: they're all in it together!

Getting the anti-austerity struggle onto the ballot paper

TUSC in 'surprise bid' for official exit lead

TUSC councillor calls on trust to reject new junior doctors contract

EU begins deporting refugees

Them & Us

NHS facilities to start paying market rents

Uber and Facebook tax dodge scandal

International socialist news and analysis

Sanders campaign: build a new party of the 99%!

International news in brief

Workplace news and analysis

Northern Powerhouse or Northern poorhouse?

Land Registry workers ready to fight privatisation

Workers and campaigners fight to save library

RMT protests against new Northern Rail franchise

Workplace news in brief

Socialist readers' comments

Homelessness holding kids back, says teacher

Stop divisive attacks on pensioners' cash



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