Probation jobs in Lancashire face the axe

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More than 400 probation jobs are threatened with the axe under “drastic” cuts in a number of centres across the country, including Lancashire, according to unions.

Sodexo was said to be planning to lay off 436 staff at six community rehabilitation companies it runs.

Unions said jobs would be lost in Northumbria, Cumbria, Lancashire, South Yorkshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

The company was accused of seeking to impose a severance package worth less than half what members are owed.

Sharon Holder, national officer of the GMB said: “Sodexo was well aware of our members’ contractual entitlement to redundancy pay when it bid for, and was awarded the contracts.

“Who will ever believe Sodexo’s claim to be an ethical employer when it’s pulling a fast one on redundancy pay.”

Ian Lawrence, Napo general secretary, said: “Sodexo’s claim that it follows high ethical standards is in tatters following the company riding rough-shod over our members’ contractual entitlement to a decent redundancy package. We demand the company pays what our members are due.”

Ben Priestley, national officer for Unison, said: “Sodexo made £39.6 million operating profit last year, so the company’s pleas, that giving staff their contractual entitlement to redundancy pay is too expensive, rings very hollow for our members. The company should do the decent thing and pay up now.”

A Sodexo Justice Services spokesman said: “We have shared details of a voluntary severance offer and our proposed staffing levels with employees at our six community rehabilitation companies.

“Given that we are formally consulting on plans, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”