Relocation plans for 300 Health and Safety Executive staff get thumbs-down from unions

Unions representing workers at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have expressed “major concerns” over plans to relocate about 300 jobs to Merseyside.

The decision to relocate policy and administrative roles is part of a wider government drive to make billions of pounds of efficiency savings from 2008.

High rent and labour costs, and a target of relocating 20,000 civil service posts from the South-East to regional offices, are also forcing Whitehall organisations to look at how to make savings.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and Prospect are seeking assurances over job security and compulsory relocations.

The unions are concerned how the HSE intends to make up for the loss of skilled policy staff, as the business case assumes 40% of staff will move to the North-West, which the unions believe is an over estimation.

There is also concern that the changes come at a time when staffing numbers in the HSE have already been cut and could undermine the HSE’s ability to meet government targets.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “Whilst we are not against the HSE using its resources more efficiently, we have major concerns over the HSE’s business case behind the move.”

Prospect general secretary Paul Noon added: “HSE risks losing [staff with a] body of expertise as many will view redundancy as preferable to uprooting their families.”

A spokeswoman for the HSE said a final decision on the number of staff to be relocated would be made in the autumn.

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