Fears over job cuts
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
SINN Féin MLA Mickey Brady has said Newry HMRC staff will be left with huge financial worries over the Christmas period if the decision to close the branch is not reversed.
In November, HMRC said 240 customs jobs across the north would be lost, with Newry taking the heaviest hit of 134 job losses. Mr Brady said he is alarmed by the decision of HMRC, which was made with no discussion or thought for Newry staff.
“I am concerned that there was no staff consultation and I would like to know details of HMRC protocols on matters such as this," he said.
"This closure will affect border constituencies in a disproportionate manner and it is possible that women and part time workers will also be disproportionately affected. HMRC employs in excess of 20,000 staff, there is no reason why these redundancies could not have been absorbed by the whole organisation."
The MLA said he would use yesterday's (Monday) Assembly debate to carry out an equality impact assessment and to halt these closure plans, adding: "HMRC must think of their staff as real people who are now left with huge financial worries over the Christmas period."
Meanwhile South Down SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie said: "The Treasury Minister has informed me that the centre in Newry still processes over half a million work items every year, showing the heavy case load that their workers still deal with. This has not declined significantly in recent years and there must be real doubts that this work will be managed effectively once the service is removed.
“Of further concern is the astounding revelation that neither senior HMRC staff nor the Minister have been to assess the operation and capacity of the Newry centre before making the decision that it no longer features in the their medium to long term plans.
“This compounds the basic lack of oversight that should have been taken before announcing these voluntary exit plans such as an Equality Impact Assessment and consultation with the Executive.
“It is also particularly unwelcome to force staff to make decisions on redundancy packages under this haze of uncertainty," she said.
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