Tag Archives: Outsourcing

HR BOSSES LAUNCH BENT COMPLAINT ABOUT COUNCILLORS AS ELECTION APPROACHES

Two Bristol City Councillors are the subject of a formal complaint from the council’s ridiculous pair of senior Human Resources bosses Mark “Bashar” Williams and John “Bedwetter” Walsh. This is the result of the councillors standing up for the Council’s cleaning and security staff, which Cabinet agreed last month should be outsourced to Bristol Waste Company to help disguise a large hole in the company’s budget.

The BRISTOLIAN hears that Tory councillor Richard “Bunter” Eddy and Lib Dem leader Gary “Meathead” Hopkins are presently being investigated by the Council’s Legal boss “L’il” Tim O’Gara after complaints were received from senior officers about the conduct of a Human Resources Committee on 18 February 2021. Both councillors expressed robust concerns about the outsourcing at the meeting.

The same two councillors were the subject of a formal complaint alleging breach of confidential information three-and-a-half years ago following the controversial departure of former Chief Executive Anna Klonowski. who bagged a reported ‘Golden goodbye’ from local taxpayers of £98,000. Following an expensive independent investigation, both councillors were cleared of the daft allegation made by present Cabinet Member Cllr Kye “The” Dudd.

Bunter has confirmed to friends that he is the “subject of a complaint under the  Members’ Code of Conduct” and denies any wrongdoing. He also told friends, “I am particularly surprised to receive a complaint from senior officers with telephone-digit salaries with reference to my attempt to defend the interests of some of the Council’s hardest-working and poorest-paid staff at the Human Resources Committee in February.

The timing of the complaint has also raised eyebrows. No complaint was made in the month following the HR Committee or the outsourcing decision made by Cabinet on 18 March 2021. Instead the managers have waited until the Local Elections to lodge a complaint.

Are this pair of HR scrotes trying to interfere in our election?

y.

TUPE TRANSFER WATCH #3: IS IT RACIST (SLIGHT RETURN)?

Further analysis of the Equalities Impact Assessment (EqIA) for the transfer of Bristol City Council cleaners and security to Bristol Waste reveals that over 36 per cent of the staff involved are black, not 34 per cent as we claimed last week. The increase is because we didn’t include groups such as Pakistani and Black Caribbean/White who are underrepresented among cleaners and security.

It is also noteworthy that, despite allegedly running a ‘comprehensive’ consultation with these staff, the council does not know the ethnicity of 42 out of 215 of them. That’s 19.5 per cent of this workforce. This is over double the ‘unknown’ figure for the whole city council workforce, which stands at 9 per cent. Could more work have gone into the council’s ‘comprehensive’ consultation of cleaners and security?

The EqIA is also unfinished. Here’s what we find at the end of the report:

EqIA

Will Bristol City Council go ahead and outsource staff on the basis of an unfinished EqIA and a one page ‘comprehensive’ consultation that fails to state what staff said about the transfer? Is such a set of circumstances even policy compliant?

Meanwhile, the council’s Equality and Inclusion Progress Report 2019-20  tells us ,“a review of our Equality and Diversity Function in 2018 identified that equality impact assessments were often undertaken after, rather than before, service design or service changes have been proposed.”

Nothing’s changed since 2018 then.

Maybe proper EqIA’s are only needed for jazzy management and professional  job changes at Bristol City Council?

TUPE TRANSFER WATCH #2: IS IT RACIST?

HR meeting
The great white masters decide the fate of the black workers

The transfer of Bristol City Council’s lowest paid staff in security and cleaning to Bristol Waste to save the authority a few quid and prop up their cash-strapped waste company looks racist.

 One thing left unexplored by the council’s HR Committee last Thursday was the fact that, at least, 34 per cent of the staff involved are black and many have English as a second language. Although that’s not the full picture as ethnic data on this section of the council’s workforce is incomplete.

 Many observers see this as a text book case of institutional racism as well-paid white male bosses assure councillors that these voiceless staff are happy to be transferred over to Bristol Waste on poorer terms and conditions than the ones the bosses will continue to enjoy.

 Director of Workforce John “Bedwetter” Walsh – who gets by on £122,475 a year plus £20,835 pension contributions – didn’t mention to the HR meeting the make-up of this section of his workforce. Was he embarrassed to admit that he’s forcing one of the lowest paid sections of his workforce with one of the highest numbers of black employees on to second class terms and conditions?

 An Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) has been produced for a Cabinet meeting on Thursday and it confirms that 34 per cent of this workforce is black as well as showing that data on ethnicity for this section of the workforce is incomplete. The assessment also contains plenty of weasel words that try to excuse management.

 For example, it claims any ‘potentially adverse impacts on people with protected characteristics’ are ‘indirect’. As if poorer terms and conditions do not directly affect those concerned? The EqIA also claims, ‘contractual terms and conditions (including pay and pension) are protected in law, and it would be unlawful for the new employer to seek to change these for any reason connected with the transfer.’

 Then comes the caveat, ‘unless they have a justifiable Economic, Technological or Organisational Reason for doing so’. In other words, Bristol Waste have loopholes on hand to set about attacking these workers’ terms and conditions from the day one.

 The assessment also explains that ‘Non-contractual elements – such as HR policies – would change to those of the new employer, which may be more or less generous than those currently in place’. Why so coy over whether these conditions are more or less generous? The council know. It’s a simple exercise for HR bosses to read Bristol Waste’s HR policies and compare them to their own. Why hasn’t this been done?

 On the question of whether these workers’ existing HR terms and conditions will be protected, we’re told ‘BCC and BWC may secure greater protection of noncontractual terms, subject to this being affordable within the overall business case for the proposal’. In other words, terms and conditions will be traded away on the basis of a mysterious business case that hasn’t been published.

 Last year the council published a worthy ‘Transforming race and equality at BCC’ document to help them tackle their ongoing problems with institutional racism. The report’s recommendations under the heading  ‘Corporate Leadership’ addressing Equality Impact Assessments say, ‘In the event of there being likely disproportionalities in relation to BAME staff, a corporately agreed mechanism should be established to explore the reasons; and to determine whether there may be ways of mitigating against this.’

So where’s Bedwetter’s corporately agreed mechanism exploring the reasons why black staff are being disproportionately affected by an outsourcing plan that’s attempting to save a few quid at the expense of workers’ dignity?

MORE OUTSOURCING NEWS

outsourcing-it-e1601990841992

News that the Reverend Rees has decided to ‘co-source’ (that’s the same as out-sourcing but with ‘out’ replaced with ‘co’ to fool the very gullible indeed) security and cleaning jobs at the council out to one of their badly governed and unaccountable private company arms, Bristol Waste, has been met with dismay from just about everyone. Even the city’s number one raving proto-fascist, Richard “Bunter” Eddy, Tory Councillor for Auschwitz (surely Bishopsworth? Ed.) has criticised the move.

Our man on the picket line, “I’m all right” Jack Stalin, tells us, “The only possible reason for doing this is, in the long term, to cut the terms and conditions of low paid cleaners and security staff and outsource the council’s risk to a third party who can operate public services without being accountable to the public. The simple fact is that these low paid staff will be forced on to Bristol Waste contracts where terms and conditions are not as good as at the council. 

“They also lose any democratic oversight of their terms and conditions. Instead, they’re now part of the private sector and subject to the whims of the council’s shadowy unaccountable company directors, corporate bean counters and highly paid consultants who want to squeeze every last penny out of the workforce while awarding themselves fat fees as a reward for their ‘efficiencies.'”

Is the council’s new “Build Back Better” post-Covid plan to put all their staff on crap “Built Much Worse” contracts? How many Labour supporters in Bristol voted for this latest piece of right wing toxic Tory shit from the Reverend Rees? 

Unison, the GMB and the Unite unions have all raised a formal dispute with the council about this latest assault on the lowest paid by the highest paid. It’s one of ELEVEN separate disputes the unions now have with our shambolic Labour-run council. Security staff, meanwhile, have already managed to collar Rees and ask “How would you like it”? 

They got no useful response from this bosses’ lackey, we’re told.

OUTSOURCING WATCH

A readers writes …

H&S

“Please find attached photo (courtesy of Bristol Post today) of a contractor working for Bristol City Council on the Centre. For a council that states it is a leader in health and safety, surely they should know anybody using the tip of a chainsaw to cut timber without safety trousers is asking for an accident?”

How easy it is to save money and outsource risk by using the private sector to risk lives instead …

LEAKED DOCUMENT: UNION SLAMS REES ADMINISTRATION FOR SHIT EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS

More problems for Bristol City Council’s beleaguered and failing Director of Workforce, John “Bedwetter” Walsh?

However, as further oppressive practices and anti-union activity against council staff by Tory-boy bully boy Bedwetter and his HR team emerges, a question arises. Is Bedwetter actually the Reverend Rees and his administration’s personal workforce enforcer? Employed on a handsome six-figure salary to shaft the council’s workforce?

The evidence from a leaked letter from Unison suggests Bedwetter is no maverick looney but, instead, is implementing an agreed suite of right wing employment policies on the instructions of his political masters. Read this letter to Labour councillors from the Secretary of the Bristol Branch of Unison and weep:

Dear Councillors 

It is a matter for regret for me that the links between this council’s senior union branch and the city’s Labour Party are as wafer-thin as they are and I suppose it is not going to get better anytime soon. However, in the hope of getting a better deal for our members, I still need to try to steer discussion to somewhere that coincides with our priorities and matches your aims and objectives. Here are some matters of concern for us.

 Sick Pay 

Yes, we are setting up some sort of work programme with Helen regarding the sick pay situation for care workers that work for organisations contracted by the council. The latest news on this was welcome. However, the mere fact of outsourcing has at best coincided, and at worst has led to, reductions in what we think are basic protections for staff who, ultimately, work for an organisation that is led by the Labour Party.

So, regardless of efforts to improve the sick pay for care staff we still have Bristol Waste who mostly do not receive occupational sick pay (some might have it because of TUPE) and who have suffered loss of pay over this trying period. Some are scared rigid putting themselves in danger each day; and we now see further moves to set up arms-length organisations (or contract out) where terms and conditions are pegged only to legal minimums. 

Outsourcing Agenda 

There seems to be an accepted view that the public sector cannot run services as efficiently as arms’ length companies and contractors. We disagree with this. But even if we accepted your privatising agenda there should be no reason to suppose that a Labour administration making these decisions would not protect and uphold decent standards for those organisations’ staff.

We stand for public services delivered by local government and it is within local government that decent standards can be maintained for staff (notwithstanding the problems being faced by council staff). In English law, labour protections are so small and regulation is so light that organisations that proudly say that they are upholding legal standards are really only upholding basic just-above-poverty entitlements.

The unions have struggled to lift people from poverty but there is a constant traction that draws wages down to minimum wage and reduces other benefits such as redundancy pay to statutory minimums. Management made an “offer” two years ago whereby we saw no tangible offer to compensate us for a loss of redundancy pay. We balloted and rejected it, but we shouldn’t have had to if there had been someone at a senior level who was prepared to stick up for ordinary staff. Decent redundancy pay does two things: it compensates the staff member and makes the employer think more carefully before letting people go, which is what we in the Labour movement should be supporting, not undermining.

Our staff are frustrated because they know they can deliver in-house (they already are) and are worried about being spun out to another third-party organisation where the risk of failure can appear as likely as it was before. Please see my points about outsourcing and sick pay above. UNISON remains opposed to TUPE transfers and outsourcing. This position was not decided on by this branch but by conference and is the national position of the union. 

Staff Appeals 

It is not my place to put pressure on you to find someone not guilty but I respectfully request that you listen to the evidence and make a just decision. I have, however, been placed in farcical situations that were unjust. The last time was before three Labour councillors.

Under the heading ‘appeals’ ‘what you can do in the hearing’ on the Acas website is ‘present new evidence if you have it’. It can be found here for you to check for yourself: https://www.acas.org.uk/appealing-a-disciplinary-or-grievance-outcome#:~:text=The%20right%20of%20appeal%20and%20the%20law%20The,them%20if%20the%20case%20goes%20to%20employment%20tribunal.

It goes on to say that employers should “look at new evidence, if there is any”. Unfortunately, Bristol City council’s position is that new evidence is not allowed at appeals and this was upheld by three Labour councillors – a position that is below the basic standards of Acas. It is fair to say I was taken aback. If we are not allowed to present new evidence what is the point? 

Breach of Contract 

With a section of our surveyors, management freely entered into a new contract, in writing, with our members to pay a ‘market forces supplement’ for between one and three years. A few months later, they then withdrew from that contract, which of course we are unwilling to allow them to do. We, alongside Unite the Union, have entered a dispute with BCC.

Management realising that this may end up in county court seem to have consulted a solicitor or two who know that they may be allowed to argue that three months wages is the award for breaking a contract such as this. We argue that it has a fixed term (at least one year) and we will see who wins.

In the meantime this places BCC’s commitment to honour its agreements in doubt. Again, it is not my role to press you to make decisions, but I want you to know that BCC is not a playground utopia for hard-leftists (as it is presented, I am told) but a battleground over basic bourgeois rights such as upholding a contract of employment. 

Unilateral Policy Changes

I have been arguing for months now that BCC needs to put its policies back to the last position where it was agreed with the unions. HR are attempting to reduce our employment rights further. Management have insisted that none of this is part of our contract and they can do this but when it coincides with dismissal (and other matters such as appointments) then we have insisted it is and they can’t.

None of this is minor: the sickness policy now says that you no longer have to be taken through the warnings consecutively – they can jump straight to the last stage (and dismissal) if they want. And there are no longer minimum periods for consultations.

We recently saw a one-week consultation that led to a contract change, which means restructures can be rushed through. There are many more minor changes that staff relied upon to get fairness at work. I can’t find anyone who will admit to okaying any of this so why is it still up? 

Conclusion 

The number of complaints I have are much greater than what I have set out above, but further matters will have to come later. It is fair to say, I can’t understand why our members are under attack like this but we are now going to start campaigning over these issues. 

Thanks, Tom Merchant, Branch secretary, Bristol UNISON  

ARUP’S PLANNING CONFLICT

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Another example of the Reverend Rees’s WEIRDO corporate free market Christian evangelical ideology appears with news that the CORPORATE PRIVATE SECTOR are moving into the city council’s planning department to deal with planning applications.

Corporate consultancy firm Arup, who specialise in picking up OUTSOURCED PUBLIC SECTOR work, will soon be, “processing a range of planning applications and associated work within reasonable timescales and will contribute towards housing delivery amongst other objectives.”

Will this contribution towards housing delivery include Arup overseeing the Reverend’s major development plans for the CUMBERLAND BASIN? The one where the company delivering the masterplan is, er, Arup!

The contract has been awarded with no political oversight or input from councillors.

Rotten Comrades: Ethical Care Charter, Libraries and the Sirona Strike

by The Dwarf

A nice little bonus for Bristol’s overworked home care workers was unveiled last week to absolutely no fanfare whatsoever. A commitment to spend some new money on extra wages, matching and eventually exceeding the Living Wage, was followed up by a commitment to meeting other aspects of the ethical care charter such as paying staff travelling between clients.

When I mentioned this at home, Mrs Dwarf pointed out that it was funny how the Mayor could find a bit of money when he wanted to. After all, he found a few quid to keep the libraries open as well. Am I looking a gift horse in the mouth, I wondered aloud? Am I being a bit churlish treating this with my customary scepticism? Well, she snorted at this and started going on about privatisation, all the while pointing angrily at me with a rolled up copy of the Morning Star. She’s a bit more militant than me.

Finding a few quid down the back of the sofa to keep the libraries and home care going can only be a good thing if you forget it didn’t need to be this bad in the first place. But when you realise the problems are caused by privatisation and outsourcing, it becomes only a sticking plaster. Home care nationally only has a problem at all because it has been nearly all outsourced to private organisations.

Those teams that still belong to councils spend enough time with the old and disabled to help with disabilities, with personal care, help a little around the house and even have a little chat. It’s called dignity. And it’s called democratic control and oversight. I have seen work schedules for the private sector where as little as fifteen minutes is spent with the client and not enough time is given to travel to the next client, which is a sore temptation to shave a little of what little time there is with them.

Part of the announcement was that Unison, Bristol’s most hapless union, was involved in all this. I couldn’t believe the Chuckle Siblings had it in them to actually achieve a pay rise for someone. But then I noticed that it was a national campaign – the Ethical Care Charter – which isn’t all that bad a campaign and therefore nothing Bristol’s button-hole water-squirting brigade can screw up. I’m told they didn’t bother to tell anyone with a spinning tie they were doing this, which either just about sums up the secretive little cabal the union has become or that head office has just given up on them.

Needless to say no one sent an email out telling the members or put it on the website or anything like exploiting it for organising or recruitment purposes. At least I haven’t seen anything and neither have my little spies. Unison was also described as the union for care workers, which I can assure you was quite a surprise for Unite who had recruited nearly all of home care when Unison stopped talking to, thinking of, and involving them, several years ago.

So, my message to the Council (and the unions) is to bring home care back in-house if you really want to solve home care’s problems. And, it goes without saying, don’t privatise or outsource the libraries. The same sort of debacle is just as foreseeable with the library service as it was with home care.

While we’re on private provision of care, Unison members in Sirona in Bath are in an industrial dispute. I would like to wish them all the best in their fight and remind them to control their own struggle if they possibly can. If you see anyone coming towards you with a Unison badge, a flashing red nose, a car horn, and trying to tell you black is white: tell them to jog on.