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We had no choice over 45% pay cut; ONS staff say outscourcing of work to Ireland was done deal before bosses began consultation.

Byline: ALEX HICKEY

CIVIL servants face an effective 45% pay cut after a government department confirmed it has outsourced work to the Republic of Ireland.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has awarded a contract to an Irish market research firm to gather migrant data on people entering the UK at Holyhead.

Last week the ONS told the Daily Post its North Wales based field workers have been asked to "voluntarily" accept a 45% cut in their hours from 572 to 312 per annum.

The ONS wants the Irish firm to collect international passenger survey data from the Republic's ports to save on the travel and accommodation costs of sending the Holyhead workers across the Irish Sea.

A source close to the four workers affected by the change accused the ONS of deliberately giving the wrong impression by implying that the deal was dependant on staff volunteering to have their hours slashed.

The source, who doesn't want to be identified, said: "Last week an ONS spokesman said a meeting had taken place with staff to discuss a possible hours' cut and to allow workers to table their proposals.

"The contract for the Irish work was awarded before the so-called 'exploratory meeting'. There was no scope for staff to put forward any alternative proposals because it''s a done deal. " "It''s unfortunate that the information given by the ONS spokesman was incorrect and the scenario they painted is different to the actual state of affairs."

The source went on to dismiss the ONS claims that wages wouldn't be cut and that the outsourcing wouldn't affect the work which takes place in Holyhead.

"At the end of December the ONS will claw back pay and that is in essence a pay cut by any definition."

Contrary to the ONS statement there will be a reduction in the work available at Holyhead, he added.

"In the past foot passengers have been interviewed arriving at Holyhead as they come off the ferry. This work has been included in the contractors' workload and will be done in Dublin as passengers get on the ships instead."

An ONS spokesman confirmed that the contract has been awarded and is due to start on July 2011.

"ONS is currently in the process of working out with staff how to manage this change. This process started at the end of 2010 when the union representing interviewers was made aware that we were pursuing this option.

"Staff at the site were subsequently informed at the start of 2011, with formal notification given of the reduced work on April 14.

"The first option was to see whether staff would reduce their hours on a voluntary basis.

"Interviewers will still be paid for their guaranteed contracted hours until a formal agreement has been reached to alter these hours.".

alex.hickey@dailypost.co.uk

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Passenger surveys will now take place in Ireland rather than at Holyhead port (left)
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Jun 10, 2011
Words:486
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