PLANS by one of Southampton's biggest employers to axe 70 jobs have been criticised by a union official.

Mapping giant Ordnance Survey, which has its HQ at Nursling, says it is in talks with unions over a staff "restructure".

There are 838 staff based at Adanac Park, Nursling the bulk of its 1,100 workforce.

A statement issued by OS said: "The restructuring announcement forms part of a new business strategy which will see OS creating three distinct market facing units – consumer (serving our leisure users), OS Ventures (seeking competitive opportunities) and OSGB (serving the core needs of government and partners).

"The strategy will focus on delivering OS’s vision to be the world’s most inspiring and trusted geospatial partner."

A spokesman for OS said the the consultation with staff started yesterday and will run until the end of May.

In 2015 the OS moved from being a Trading Fund and Government Agency into a Government?owned Company - GovCo.

Richard Ferrett negotiations officer with Prospect, which represents around 700 staff at Nursling, said that since its change of status the OS had seen its government funding reduced while at the same time it had been required to pay a dividend to the government as its sole shareholder.

He said: "the OS needs to make around £3.5m in savings so job losses are not unexpected but we don't think they should be trying to all the savings through redundancies."

According to Mr Ferret around 350 staff would be affected by the OS restructure and around 125 staff had bene told their jobs were at risk.

he said his union would be working to see if other savings could be made to avoid job losses and would be striving to ensure that no enforced redundancies were made.

Mr Ferret said that many of his members had worked for the OS for more than 30 years and still regarded themselves as public servants.

"Even though there is an emphasis on being more market-facing the the OS must not lose sight of the fact that they are still a public service organisation,".

The OS reported revenue of around £140m in the year 2015/16 and is expected to do the same this year.

In addition to its conventional mapping work - which is digitally focussed these day - the OS is currently helping the government plan the sites for its 5G phone antennae and carrying out a feasibility study on driverless vehicles.

In recent years there has been speculation that the government will sell off the OS to a private buyer.

The OS, which celebrated its 225th anniversary in 2016, has been based in Southampton since 1841.