Nelson Archives workers’ London protest over closure threat

Archives staff in London(S)
Archives staff in London(S)

Six members of the Public and Commercial Services union working for Capita at the soon-to-be-closed Department of Work and Pensions Filestores based in Brunswick Street, Nelson, took their case to the House of Commons and staged a protest in central London last week.

The low paid workers are angry at the decision by Capita to close the “Archives”, which stores sensitive data and the union has accused Capita of putting “profit before people” as the decision to close the Filestores will affect nearly 100 much needed jobs in an already depressed part of the country.

The union claims Capita wants to close the site as quickly as possible to maximise cost savings and despite owning their own training company, are using a local charity to pick up the cost of retraining workers.

PCS official Caroline Turner said: “We believe the public has been denied a say in whether companies should be allowed to profit from providing services. Capita is a hugely profitable company, currently receiving some £1.6 billion a year from public sector contracts.”

“Our members earn as little as £6.67 and many are reliant on food banks and in-work benefits to survive. Capita have refused to pay the living wage, saying it would cost jobs and make them uncompetitive. This means that the taxpayer subsidises Capita as a bad employer.

“The redundancy consultation process with Capita has been very disappointing, They have taken a penny pinching approach to dealing with the situation and refused to offer enhanced compensation and rejected our call for them to fund vocational training.”

The group also met Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and he agreed to support them by writing to Capita.

In a statement, a Capita spokesman said: “As of Thursday, July 11th, Capita’s record storage site at Nelson started to securely transition its manual file holding in line with the electronic platform that is in place across the rest of the contract.

“This will lead to the eventual closure of the site at the beginning of 2014.

“The transition will mean that files currently held in Nelson will be available via the same electronic system as the other files held and allow DWP to gain the significant service delivery benefits that this system provides.

“In addition, this will enable DWP and Capita to effectively streamline the file holding with the advent of the new benefit types, Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment, and rationalise the estates due to a decreased physical file holding.”