Protest over Garston call centre closure

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Protestors outside Cressington House ©JMU Journalism

Protesters outside Cressington House ©JMU Journalism

A protest was held by civil servants at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Garston contact centre over plans to close the site by March 2015.

Up to 153 jobs are at risk from the move, with some people having worked there for 39 years. While there are opportunities for relocation at sites in Bootle, Belle Vale and Birkenhead, that may not be feasible for everyone.

The protesters massed outside the call centre at Cressington House, St Mary’s Road, Garston on Wednesday morning, including members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) as well as other workers and members of the public.

Rob Morton, who works at the call centre and is a trade union representative, told JMU Journalism: “We want to keep this place open and keep as many options open as possible.

“Some people’s days revolve around work. Once this place goes, we’re going to be completely banjaxed.”

Video report by Richard Eves, JMU Journalism TV

Dave Owens, assistant branch secretary for PCS, added: “The meetings with national management show that it’s fairly clear they haven’t got an estate strategy. It hasn’t been thought through, with no national level of consultation.”

Ann Rimmell, a spokesperson for the DWP, told JMU Journalism: “By March, 2015, DWP will move all staff out of its office at Cressington House, Garston, and relocate them to Bootle Contact Centre.

“The relocation is to make the best use of all our office space and responsibly manage the cost of leasing sites. There will be no impact on our services or our customers.”

Businesses surrounding the call centre are widely used by staff members of DWP, which means the area could suffer economically.

The union points out that cuts have previously been made at other call centre sites in Old Swan and Breckfield.

About Josie O'Sullivan, JMU Journalism