Under-threat Mowden Hall workers to vote on strike action

First published in News
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Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter (Darlington)

CIVIL servants working at a closure-threatened Government office in the region are preparing to vote on strike action.

The Department for Education (DfE) wants to move 480 jobs from Mowden Hall, in Darlington, to Newcastle.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union are to begin voting on Monday (January 28) for strikes and other forms of industrial action over plans for cuts that threaten 1,000 jobs nationally.

Five other DfE offices, as well as Mowden, are also under threat, the PCS says.

The union believes education secretary Michael Gove is using the department as an ideological test-bed for wider civil service cuts and to help drive through more academies and free schools.

Last week, it emerged that senior civil servants in the DfE played a game using party hats to share their plans for what to cut.

Describing it as a "monumental loss of judgement", the union's negotiations officer for DfE, Kathy Prendiville, wrote to the department's permanent secretary to complain.

The union is seeking urgent negotiations over the planned job cuts, office closures and a performance management system that the DfE's own figures show is discriminatory.

The union announced last week that a new national ballot will be held in February of its 250,000 public sector members over cuts to pay, pensions, jobs and terms and conditions.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “With plans for a 50 per cent budget cut education secretary Michael Gove is playing politics with people's livelihoods and the education of our children and future generations."

The DfE is drawing up a shortlist of alternative locations for the Mowden Hall jobs, which is expected to include at least one of two options in Darlington.

More than 1,100 people have signed The Northern Echo’s petition to keep the jobs in Darlington.

Comments (2)

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9:23pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Spy Boy says...

I take it that the DofE have a valid and fair reason for the move ?

A strike is not the best way out of a problem and it should always be a last resort. As a long time union rep, I know that strikes are always turned against the strikers in the national media and also in television programmes. Look how they reported strikes on the TV. I think that we need to take a different tack. They can't force employees to move more than15 km away from their current place of work, so maybe everyone just sit in and refuse to go along with the plans. Contest the reasons for the move. Highlight the problems that will be the price of such a move. Loss of expertise.

Look at other reasons such as hidden agendas. For instance, are the majority of people getting the boot on Final Salary Pensions ? Maybe they have long service, a good prospective pension and are of a certain age ? Getting rid of these people sooner than later may cut their pensions by a huge amount and save the DofE millions. It's happened elsewhere. Many pension schemes are being hit due to the dire financial climate brought on by the greed and arrogance of the monied elite. Pension schemes can save millions by getting rid of some of the people in them that are due to get a good deal upon retirement.

Final Salary Pension ?
Long service ?
Age group. 50-61 ?

Three ticks and you're out. Worth thinking about. I would guess that many of the employees at Mowden tick all the boxes.
I take it that the DofE have a valid and fair reason for the move ? A strike is not the best way out of a problem and it should always be a last resort. As a long time union rep, I know that strikes are always turned against the strikers in the national media and also in television programmes. Look how they reported strikes on the TV. I think that we need to take a different tack. They can't force employees to move more than15 km away from their current place of work, so maybe everyone just sit in and refuse to go along with the plans. Contest the reasons for the move. Highlight the problems that will be the price of such a move. Loss of expertise. Look at other reasons such as hidden agendas. For instance, are the majority of people getting the boot on Final Salary Pensions ? Maybe they have long service, a good prospective pension and are of a certain age ? Getting rid of these people sooner than later may cut their pensions by a huge amount and save the DofE millions. It's happened elsewhere. Many pension schemes are being hit due to the dire financial climate brought on by the greed and arrogance of the monied elite. Pension schemes can save millions by getting rid of some of the people in them that are due to get a good deal upon retirement. Final Salary Pension ? Long service ? Age group. 50-61 ? Three ticks and you're out. Worth thinking about. I would guess that many of the employees at Mowden tick all the boxes. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

2:42pm Wed 23 Jan 13

Homshaw1 says...

A strike is a daft idea

You will lose money and do nothing to further your cause

Wait for a definitive decision then decide what to do

If I were the management I wouldn't be keen to find and train new staff. I can't believe this is a done deal

Let them do daft things like play games in party hats.

If they go ahead and move then the gloves come off
A strike is a daft idea You will lose money and do nothing to further your cause Wait for a definitive decision then decide what to do If I were the management I wouldn't be keen to find and train new staff. I can't believe this is a done deal Let them do daft things like play games in party hats. If they go ahead and move then the gloves come off Homshaw1
  • Score: 0

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