PCS campaigning to save jobs and sites in the North West
The 2015 strategic defence review committed to reducing the size of the MOD Estate by 30% by 2040. This was followed by 'A detter defence estate strategy' in 2016, which identified a number of sites to be disposed of, this included the 3 Defence Business Services (DBS) North West sites at Cheadle Hulme (Manchester), Walker House (Liverpool) and Tomlinson House (Norcross, Blackpool).
DBS staff working for MOD in the North West of England were informed on 10 February 2021 that a decision had been made to consolidate to a single site within the North West. This decision was made without a fully worked-up business continuity risk assessment and without trade union consultation.
In response the unions tabled 6 assurances for negotiation at the DBS Whitley committee that DBS would agree:
1. There would be no enforced staff moves
2. There would be no unagreed redundancies
3. Permanent and public interest terms would apply
4. That blended / smarter working would be available as an employee option for minimising impact on home / work life balance and as surplus mitigation.
5. The stand-up of all reasonable adjustments for office and blended / smarter working, and
6. Funding for re-skilling and training.
To date the DBS has failed to engage on these points. The campaign has been extended to local MPs to require DBS to engage with the unions.
On 20 Sepember, DBS announced that it had chosen to consolidate all 3 sites at the proposed Talbot gateway local government hub in Blackpool. The hub is not due to open until 2025. It has been proposed that work could be moved to Norcross in the interim, with dates to be decided. For staff based at Cheadle Hulme and Liverpool the proposal is seismic. A consultation document has not been raised with the unions in respect of a move to Talbot Gateway as the final decision has not been announced and a fully-costed business case has yet to be produced.
Note: The North West DBS footprint contains approximately 50% of the total staffing. The staff on the three NW sites are involved in a broad spectrum of work but, in broad strokes, the Liverpool staff belong to the finance and payments service pillar – paying defence bills, the Cheadle Hulme staff belong to the civilian personnel pillar – holding responsibility for the HR enquiry centre, staff payroll and HR casework services, and the Norcross staff are primarily engaged in Veterans UK pillar – processing armed forces compensation and war pensions.