STAFF at the Enniskillen Jobs and Benefits Office, some of whom have been working there for decades, are being re-interviewed for their own jobs, it has been revealed.
This has resulted in growing fears staff may be relocated elsewhere from the Queen Elizabeth Road site, which currently houses approximately 80 workers.
Concerns over what was happening were raised by Cllr Raymond Farrell when the issue of welfare reform came up at the June meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC), held in Enniskillen last week.
Cllr Farrell said he understood staff at the office were having to re-interview for positions they already held. He said this was understandably causing “significant anxiety” among workers, and said there were concerns over the possible relocation of some staff.
“Having to be re-interviewed for a job you have, in many cases, held for over 20 years is concerning,” he said.
Cllr Farrell said staff at the office did a wonderful job not only providing advice for the public, but also often acting as counsellors, with clients coming in distressed.
“We very often underestimate the job they do,” he added.
Doubts over the future of up to 50 jobs at the Enniskillen office first emerged late last year, following a range of sweeping changes to the benefits system.
The introduction of Universal Credit meant the processing Jobseekers Allowance claims, which was the responsibility of around half the 80 staff members at the office, would be wound up and the staff no longer needed in that area.
The Department of the Communities stated at the time that those who were affected by the changes would be relocated, and no jobs would be lost.
At the FODC meeting at Enniskillen Townhall last Tuesday evening, Cllr Farrell proposed a meeting be arranged with representatives from the Department so councillors could be briefed on what was happening. This proposal was backed by Cllr Howard Thornton.
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Posted: 7:03 pm June 16, 2017