THE Finance Minister has been called on to give a commitment he will protect the jobs of Civil Service pension staff following the start of a process to privatise the service.
Up to 80 jobs are at risk at Waterside House in Derry following the commencement of a process that could see the jobs outsourced.
Derry MLA Pat Ramsey said there were growing concerns among staff about their future with the commencement by the Department of Finance’s “Future Delivery Project” to determine how the pension service would be delivered in the coming years.
The SDLP representative, who met recently with staff and trade union representatives, said: “A number of options I have seen include the outsourcing of the work from Waterside House which would put up to 80 jobs at immediate risk in our city.”
Mr Ramsey added: “The staff at the Pension Service Branch in Waterside House have always provided a first class service, they are well within any range of sickness or absence targets set by the Minister, and it is now time for the Minister to repay that dedication by ensuring that the staff have their jobs secured.
“The commitment in the Programme for Government to addressing regional imbalance is something I have asked the Minister about in this instance – if we are to have any faith in that commitment the Minister must ensure that staff are consulted with fully, that there is openness and accountability around the entire process, but above all, his overriding priority must be job retention in Derry.
He concluded: “As Finance Minister, Mark Durkan brought these jobs to the North West, something the SDLP is very proud of, and we must now do all we can to protect them.”
NIPSA is to hold a public meeting at 7.30pm in the Tower Hotel this Thursday to discuss how the jobs can be protected and Mr Ramsey urged anyone interested in saving the positions to attended.
He added: “I would urge anyone interested in fighting for these jobs to attend, we cannot afford to lose these jobs and the money they inject into the local economy.”
He concluded: “I know the SDLP will not be found wanting in our unwavering support for the retention of these posts.”