44 workers are surplus labour, says Minister

Orchard House.
Orchard House.

Almost fifty workers at the Department of Social Developments (DSD) North West Development Office (NWDO) at Orchard House will become surplus labour next year.

The urban regeneration work they do is due to be devolved to local Councils in April 2016.

None of the workers will be transferred from DSD to local authorities.

Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey said: “As the Department is transferring powers rather than functions, there will be no compulsory transfer of DSD staff to councils.

“Staff exercising urban regeneration and community development powers that are to be transferred to local government will become surplus when the powers are transferred.

“The staff in the Department’s urban regeneration and community development group include the 44 people in the NWDO.”

Despite their imminent obsolescence and a will across Government Departments to slash staff numbers the Minister promised in collaboration with colleagues to perform a magic trick and find them work elsewhere.

“Staff will be redeployed in line with the Northern Ireland Civil Service redeployment policy.

“The voluntary exit scheme and subsequent redeployment opportunities will be the means by which the surplus in the NWDO will be managed. I will just say in conclusion in relation to that issue that I pay tribute to the staff in that office and, indeed, to all my staff in the development offices, particularly for what they have achieved in the city.

“I know from working with many of the organisations and from the feedback that we have received that it is appreciated and valued and that their contribution to the city has been worthwhile and has been recognised.”

Foyle SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood raised the matter, asking the Minister what would become of the 44 staff employed in the NWDO office given the coming transfer of urban regeneration and the office’s closure.