Derry is to lose 14 civil service jobs to Belfast, it has emerged.
Workers at the Social Security Agency’s Bank Liaison team currently based at Lisahally were told on October 10 that they had three weeks to relocate to Belfast or apply for a post at the new Pension Centre in Derry.
Derry SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood says the Pension Centre positions had already been made available internally to civil servants, meaning the relocation plans result in a net loss of 14 Derry jobs.
“The manner in which these public servants have been treated is nothing short of abysmal,” Mr Eastwood says.
“To give staff a few short weeks to uproot their lives and their work is entirely unacceptable.
“This complete failure in reasonable consultation and communication has had a very real human cost on these public servants and their wider families.”
In response to a question asked in the Assembly by Mr Eastwood, the North’s Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said the relocation was originally planned to be phased in by October 2013 as part of a modernisation programme with the Social Security Agency.
The Minister said: “Whilst it was originally envisaged that the co-location would take place over 12 months, redeployment options have arisen earlier than anticipated due to increasing workloads in the new Northern Ireland Pension Centre.
“As a result, the Lisahally staff have been offered the choice of moving to Belfast or the Pension Centre.”
Mr Eastwood says the positions at the Pension Centre in Derry had already been made available internally to civil servants, meaning the relocation plans result in a net loss of 14 Derry jobs.
“It is essential that management at the Bank Liaison Centre now row back from their present position and engage in respectful negotiation with the staff at Lisahally,” he says.
“The recent announcements emanating from Stormont regarding decentralisation are also undermined by the centralisation of these posts to Belfast.
“It appears that the Executive is publicly giving some decentralisation with one hand and privately centralising jobs to Belfast in the other.
“This is why it is so essential that Stormont’s leadership initiate a fixed policy of decentralisation.”
The MLA says the current “piecemeal give and take of jobs, will not satisfy the needs of Derry and the wider North-West.”