A delegation of local MPs have met with the head of the Equality Commission over the threat of job losses at local Revenue and Customs offices.
Newry and Armagh’s Conor Murphy, together with Michelle Gildernew, Margaret Ritchie and Mark Durkan, along with PCS union representative Barney Lawn, also met senior Equality Commission officials in relation to the proposals for office closures by HMRC in Newry, Enniskillen and Derry.
Although London based, the HMRC are a designated body in the Province and are subject to the equality requirements brought about by the Good Friday Agreement. This means they are obliged to properly assess the impact their proposals will have on the workforce and the community in the border areas who avail of their services.
Speaking after the meeting, Newry & Armagh MP Conor Murphy said: “HMRC are required to produce a robust Equality Scheme here and to ensure that any restructuring proposals they have do not adversely impact on particular communities or sectors of society.
“To make Newry, Enniskillen and Derry the target for closure and redundancies impacts mainly on women in predominantly nationalist areas and must be challenged on equality grounds.
Our meeting with the Equality Commission follows on from a meeting the four MPs had with the Treasury Minister responsible for HMRC and his officials and we will continue to press the case wherever we can to ensure a fair and positive outcome for the workforce.
“Newry can ill afford to lose over 100 jobs and an annual contribution of £3m in wages to the local economy and we, along with the staff and the union, are determined to fight for the retention of these jobs.”
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