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Sunday 18th March 2012 | 09:27
Commenting on a report in today's (18) Observer newspaper that the DVLA has given the go ahead for the private data of millions of drivers to be offshored by IT company IBM, Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka called for an immediate halt to a consultation by the driving agency to close its 39 registration and enforcement offices in the UK.
"We're doubtful it's a mere coincidence that this comes as the DVLA is planning to close these offices and we fear it could pave the way for further privatisation and offshoring of DVLA services.
"It therefore casts the public consultation on these proposals in a whole new light as it appears neither IBM nor DVLA were planning to tell anyone about it. The government should call an immediate halt to the DVLA's plans and ministers should explain to MPs and the public exactly what has happened and what are the implications.
"As well as the threat to people's jobs and livelihoods, there are serious questions about the security of the personal information the company holds and has access to, and if the transport secretary has indeed signed this off we need to know why given it appears to be at odds with the commitment his cabinet colleague Chris Grayling gave to parliament."
Plans to close the 39 offices, threatening 1,200 jobs, were announced by the DVLA in the run-up to Christmas.The consultation is due to end on Tuesday 20 March.
In November 2011, after the union fought off an attempt by Hewlett Packard to offshore sensitive data they hold about people entitled to benefits and pensions payments, employment minister Chris Grayling told parliament:
"We have a policy to control contracted work being offshored. Our suppliers are required to seek approval before they offshore any contracted work. Those approvals are predicated on their meeting stringent guidelines. I should also say that, as a team of Ministers, we have indicated very clearly to our suppliers that we will not countenance seeing existing UK employment offshored."