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From The Socialist newspaper, 25 March 2009

PCS Land Registry jobs and pay campaign

Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) members in Land Registry, have voted 2,472 to 68 in support of the union's campaign to rebuild Land Registry as a public service for the 21st century.

A Land Registry worker

This represents an encouraging 47.8% turnout and is an overwhelming endorsement of the union's stance. For several years now, Land Registry has been operating as a trading fund.

This means it is has to generate its own income and although it is a public service with no competitors, it is being run along increasingly market based lines. Now, wholesale or partial privatisation of non core functions seems a real possibility.

Land Registry management are also drawing up plans to 'modernise' the department. This is likely to mean further attacks on workers.

Already seven offices have been marked for closure and it is possible that this figure may rise.

The recession has hit Land Registry because of the struggling property market. This has given management the excuse to accelerate plans to reduce the size of the workforce. Hundreds of staff are currently set to leave under voluntary severance packages.

Only the agreement negotiated between PCS and the Cabinet Office following a programme of industrial action in 2008 has prevented these from being compulsory redundancies.

The main demands of the campaign are that Land Registry must remain part of the civil service and deliver an impartial and accountable service in the public interest. There must be no compulsory redundancies and jobs must be worthwhile with good terms and conditions. There must be no further office closures.

The PCS Land Registry group executive will be pursuing the campaign in negotiations, bolstered by the strength of the ballot vote.

There is confidence that the Land Registry of the future can be a public service rather than for big business or wealthy landowners, providing its workforce with secure and meaningful employment.

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