STAFF working at Wirral’s Land Registry office have walked out in a bid to protect 300 jobs.
The 48-hour strike, held at the agency’s office in Birkenhead, has been called over plans to sell off the trusted 150-year-old agency and cut jobs.
The walkout, on Wednesday May 14 and Thursday May 15, by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union’s 340 members in the office is part of action taking place in 14 locations across England and Wales.
Dave Lunn, Chair of the PCS Land Registry Birkenhead Branch said: "It is an absolute scandal that our members who have contributed to record Land Registry performance, which in turn has put millions back into the public coffers and has allowed us reduce fees to customers, are now facing the threat of their office closing and a future out of work"
"Land Registry is a trusted organisation that operates independently away from the conflicting financial interests of the market to register your property details and makes legal judgements on differing interests between sellers, buyers, lenders and neighbours.
"We have very real concerns that Privatisation of Land Registry and cuts to jobs will threaten the integrity of the Land Register, drive up the cost of house buying, threaten the stability of the housing market, threaten the state guarantee of title and could even force local high street solicitors out of business."
"An area such as Wirral can ill afford to lose relatively well paid skilled and quality jobs, which will have a knock on effect on the private sector economy.
"We call upon local politicians, local businesses and indeed the general public to join in our campaign to save local jobs and a vital national asset.
"We are not prepared to sit back and watch while 150 years of trusted public service is handed to a private company to make a profit at the expense of our members and the public. This is why we will be striking on May 14 and 15.”
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is officially still considering responses to its consultation into the future of the Land Registry, with options being to move it from the civil service to a “government owned company”, into a joint venture with a private company, or maintain its current status.
The union believes the majority of respondents, including professionals and lawyers in the property industry, are opposed to any change of status.
The Land Registry, which is self-financing and receives no public funds, enjoys a 96% customer satisfaction rating and in 19 of the last 20 years has made money for the Treasury. Last year, it handed more than £96 million to the exchequer and is expected to top £100 million this year.
A spokesman for the Land Registry said they will "endeavour to ensure that there is minimal disruption to the services we offer to our professional customers and the public".