Commission cuts could mean strike ballot

The Public and Commercial Services Union is considering a strike ballot of its members at the Charity Commission over the commission's proposal to cut staff numbers at three of its four offices by more than twenty per cent by 2010.

Over that period, the number of people employed at the Commission’s Liverpool office will rise by 13 per cent. But the changes mean a net loss of 44 jobs nationally.

The commission says it hopes the reductions can be achieved by natural wastage and redeployment within the civil service, and is guaranteeing that no compulsory redundancies before October 2008.

The biggest losses will come in Taunton, where the staff of 171 employees will be reduced by 46. Jobs in London will be cut from 132 to 110, while the commission’s small office in Newport will lose two of its 10 staff. Job numbers in Liverpool will rise from 195 to 221 as the commission concentrates its Charity Commission Direct and ‘fast turnaround work’ in one location.

A spokesman for the commission stressed that the figures were only proposals, and would be discussed with staff and unions over the next four weeks.

A spokesman for the union, which represents 357 of the commission’s 500 staff, said the union had “come up against a brick wall” in its attempts to negotiate a better pay deal for staff. He said a two-year below-inflation deal had been foisted on staff, and was another reason for the prospective ballot.

The commission spokesman said it had to take action because of pressure from the Treasury to reduce its expenditure by five per cent a year for the next three years, while also taking on the extra responsibilities given to it by the 2006 Charities Act.

He said: “By our best estimates, if we took no action to address these points now, we would be facing a deficit of £5.4m by April 2011. We have looked at everything else first, such as moving to cheaper offices in London and having more electronic interaction with customers.”

The proposal to move to a smaller and cheaper London office was first mooted in April this year. In February about 350 commission staff went on strike for a day over fears about compulsory redundancies.

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