AROUND 300 jobs are to be axed at the Government's central storage facility for birth, death and marriage certificates in Merseyside.
The Office for National Statistics last night said the cutbacks are part of a drive to improve efficiency at its General Register Office.
In excess of 250m records will be transferred on to a computer database from microfiche currently stored in Birkdale near Southport.
An ONS spokesman said the best estimate was that around 300 of the 1,000 jobs would be phased out by 2007.
But he stressed there would be no redundancies. The ONS is negotiating with other Government departments to find alternative jobs for the existing Merseyside staff.
Alex Flynn, national spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), confirmed members had been kept informed of the proposals.
He said: "The fact that the ONS say their 'best estimate' is that 300 jobs will go doesn't inspire much confidence that they have the staff's best interests at heart.
"There is great uncertainty among our members. We are worried about the ONS all over the country, not just in Southport.
"Five hundred more jobs are earmarked to be moved from London to Newport, and 200 from Titchfield in Hampshire to Newport."
Mr Flynn also raised concerns a computerised system could increase the scope for identity fraud.
He said: "What we are worried about is the type of service that will exist once this is computerised.
"These are sensitive documents and currently they are handled by civil servants with a civil service ethos.
"Clearly there could be a security issue if the records are kept in a computer database.
"We don't even know yet who will operate the new computer system, and if it will be outsourced or not."
But the ONS insists the changes would result in an enhanced service for thousands of amateur genealogists trying to research their family histories.
At the moment anyone wanting to see a copy of a birth, death or marriage certificate has to apply by phone and receive a copy by post.
The ONS spokesman said it was unclear if the new computer database would be available on the internet.
He released a statement, which read: "As part of the cross Government modernisation programme, the ONS is committed to improving services to the public.
"For some years now, the General Register Office (the main occupier of the Smedley Hydro site) has been actively planning an investment in new technology which will significantly improve efficiency.
"As a result, some reductions in the number of staff employed by the GRO have been long anticipated, as reflected for example, in our recruitment of staff on fixed term contracts.
"Our staff and trade unions have been kept fully informed of developments throughout and the main impact is unlikely to be felt until 2007. "We do not currently anticipate having to make compulsory redundancies." "