Magazine article Public Finance

Unions Fear Agency Sell-Off

Magazine article Public Finance

Unions Fear Agency Sell-Off

Article excerpt

A proposed cull of up to 40% of workers at the Home Office's forensics agency has prompted fears of a sell-off.

The Forensic Science Service, wholly owned by the government, is proposing to make up to 800 of its 1,900 staff redundant over the next two years.

The restructuring plans include the closure of at least one laboratory, and staff fear that pay, pensions and redundancy terms might also be up for negotiation.

Consultation began on June 8, with public sector unions condemning the plans, fearing the agency was being prepared to be sold off. Prospect general secretary Paul Noon pledged to scrutinise the cuts programme to ensure the FSS would not be 'denuded of the skills it needs'.

A spokesman for the union said the FSS could not manage its current workload with 40% fewer staff. Prospect feared the agency was planning to retreat from its current position as the main supplier to police services in England and Wales.

Peter Middleman, negotiations officer for the Public and Commercial Services union, said: There can be no doubt that the Home Office has undermined [the FSS's] ability to perform to its full potential by encouraging profiteers in a sector that should be about the public interest. …

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