ServiceFirst staff walk off job in outsourcing protest

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ServiceFirst staff walk off job in outsourcing protest

Aim to stop contract being signed.

Staff at NSW shared services agency ServiceFirst will walk off the job today to protest the impending outsourcing of the services the agency provides to state government bodies.

The NSW goverment in December announced a Infosys and Unisys-led consortium had been down-selected to take over ServiceFirst's services.

The agency provides HR, IT, finance, payroll and other back office corporate services to a number of mid-sized NSW government bodies.

It was established in 2008 and employs around 300 staff.

The memorandum of understanding signed with Infosys and Unisys last year formed the foundation for final contract arrangements, which are scheduled to be signed next month.

But a number of ServiceFirst staff - who are members of the NSW Public Service Association union - will today walk off the job to protest the outsourcing and potential offshoring of their jobs.

The protests will take place in Parramatta and Haymarket at 12:30pm today. The PSA is expecting around 150 staff to participate in Parramatta and around 50 in Haymarket.

The PSA claims up to 240 of the agency's positions are likely to be sent overseas, to Indian multinational Infosys' offshore sites. The government is yet to detail the portion of services to be offshored.

NSW citizens will take to the polls on Saturday for the 2015 state government election.

“If returned on Saturday, this government will forge ahead with its ideological agenda of privatising more and more public services,” PSA assistant general secretary Steve Turner said in a statement.

“These workers have turned ServiceFirst into an award-winning business, yet the government is still planning to offshore their jobs.”

Turner said the protests signalled how "angry and disillusioned these workers are with their treatment by the government" as well as their level of concern for the future of the services provided by the agency. 

The government's plans to outsource the ServiceFirst services were publicly unveiled last March. The government formally opened registrations of interest the following month.

State shadow Finance minister Peter Primrose has committee to freeze all proposals to private the ServiceFirst work should a Labor government be elected on Saturday.

“We will review all MOUs and contracts entered into by the Baird Government and canvass all options to keep these jobs here in Parramatta. We will also scrutinise the safeguards proposed to keep NSW citizens’ personal data secure," Primrose said recently.

NSW Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet said no decision had been made to move the ServiceFirst work offshore.

“An outsourced model provides ready access to the latest trends and skills in service delivery, the ability to constantly refresh technology and the transition from fixed to variable costs," he said in a statement.

“An outsourced model also offers savings that can better be directed to frontline services that our citizens want  - we make no apologies for giving the citizens of NSW the best deal and managing our finances responsibly.”

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