Sheffield BIS staff to strike over office closure plans

A one-day walkout will be held by policy staff at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) office in Sheffield in protest at plans to close the office and move it to London.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCSU) will lead the strike on 19 May, which was backed by a 96% vote in favour from a 53% turnout among 150 union members.

It is also considering a timetable for further strikes.

Mark Serwotka, PCSU general secretary, said: “This vote sends the clearest possible message to BIS ministers and senior officials that these plans are wrong and must be reversed.

“The closure of this office is precisely the opposite of what the government claims to want for the north and the wider civil service.”

Martin Donnelly, permanent secretary at BIS, has refused to reveal details of potential job losses from the move despite questions from MPs Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, and Iain Wright, chair of the BIS committee.

On Monday, the House of Commons voted in favour of a proposal from Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield for the National Audit Office to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the move.


A BIS spokesperson said: “Whenever a proposal such as this is made, people’s livelihoods and families are directly affected, and these decisions are never easy. It remains our top priority that all our staff are fully briefed and consulted during the process.

“We take their future and the contribution they have made very seriously, and will provide comprehensive support to all those facing a potential change or loss of job.

“BIS officials, board members and the Permanent Secretary have engaged with staff and unions as part of the formal consultation which ended on 2 May. The board are now in the process of giving full consideration to responses received, and a decision will be communicated to staff during the week beginning 23 May.”

(Image c. Stefan Rousseau from PA Archive/ Press Association Images)

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