Huge vote to walk out over plans to close BIS Sheffield office
TORY Business Secretary Sajid Javid is facing industrial action in his own department over plans to close its Sheffield office and move 250 jobs to London.
Civil Service union PCS yesterday announced the results of a strike ballot which saw a whopping 96 per cent of affected members back strike action on a 53 per cent turnout.
Around 150 Business Department (BIS) workers will walk out next Thursday and the union has warned Mr Javid that it will take further action until the closure threat is removed.
The union said transferring highly skilled jobs from Sheffield to London makes a mockery of the government’s claims to be building a northern powerhouse.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This vote sends the clearest possible message to BIS ministers and senior officials that these plans are wrong and must be reversed.
“The closure of this office is precisely the opposite of what the government claims to want for the north and the wider Civil Service.”
The Department for Education, which shares the building with BIS, is actually recruiting more staff to Sheffield.
BIS permanent secretary Martin Donnelly has twice been unable to tell MPs how much it will cost taxpayers to make staff in Sheffield redundant before recruiting new staff in London.
PCS believe the supposed fundraising measure could end up costing more than it saves.
Sheffield Heeley MP and shadow Civil Service minister Louise Haigh vowed yesterday to join the picket line, saying the workers were “fighting every bit as much for Sheffield as they are for their own futures.”
She told the Morning Star: “Moving those jobs to Whitehall as the Tories plan would be a signal of government contempt for the north and for the skill and perspective of northerners — a contempt that has prevailed for far too long.
“But if the Sheffield office is saved it could become the eyes and ears of the northern resurgence, helping to rebalance our economy away from the dominance of the City of London.”
BIS had not responded to the Star’s requests for comment by the time we went to press.