Just six months after Siemens took over the running of government bank National Savings, more than half the staff are looking to leave.
National Savings is the government-owned bank. The staff trade union told vnunet.com that 2022 of a total of 3900 staff have expressed interest in taking voluntary redundancy following a redundancy package offer by Siemens on 2 September.
It is not clear how many of these are IT staff, which comprise 450 of the total.
Government IT watchers noted that this could be the first sign of yet another PFI disaster in the offing.
Danny Williamson, group president of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: "It's hardly an indication that staff morale is high."
National Savings' operations were outsourced to Siemens in April following a surprise win over services giant EDS. The deal is worth up to £1.5 billion and will last as long as 15 years.
It is one of the largest contracts signed under the terms of the private finance initiative, in which the private sector owns and develops assets and leases them back to the government.
Siemens has been asked to substantially reduce operating costs at National Savings, but in return create jobs to make up the shortfall. At the same time as the voluntary redundancy announcement, Siemens struck a deal with American services house Tier Technologies to create jobs on National Savings sites.
Not all the staff who have expressed interest will want to leave. A previous request for voluntary redundancies, before the Siemens takeover, saw 1500 express an interest but only 600 actually applying to leave.
When contacted by vnunet.com, National Savings brushed off concerns about the possible loss of so many staff.
It said in a statement: "We are confident that Siemens will manage the voluntary redundancy programme to ensure that the high standard of service NS and our customers enjoy is maintained."
Special Report: Prime minister Tony Blair's review of government IT, quietly revealed by the Cabinet Office at the end of last month, will open up a Pandora's Box of disaster, delay and dropping morale, vnunet.com reveals in an exclusive report today.
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