Tag Archives: TUPE

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?

PLAYTIME IS CANCELLED – BY ORDER OF CITY COUNCIL

Kids to lose out as council plan to privatise play services and slash youth provision city-wide falls into crisis

Bristol City Council’s plan to save money by outsourcing the Youth and Play Service to new provider Learning Partnership West has COLLAPSED just days before responsibility was supposed to be handed over.

The madcap plan to slash the service’s budget by one-quarter had already caused concern when it emerged recently that this “transformation” of the service placed seven youth centres in the city’s most deprived areas and most of the city’s adventure playgrounds under THREAT OF CLOSURE.

The full transfer, scheduled to take place on 31 January, has not yet occurred, though at the start of February Windmill City Farm playground was SHUTTERED with the loss of half its staff following transfer to LPW. The rest of Bristol’s adventure playgrounds and the most vulnerable youth centres look set to close by July – shut in the face of kids just starting their summer holidays.

The youth centres facing the most immediate threat are Southmead, Brentry Lodge, Docklands, Lawrence Weston, Oldbury Court, Hillfields and Hareclive, whilst the adventure playgrounds staring into the abyss are Felix Road, St Paul’s, Southmead and the Lockleaze Youth and Play Space.

The reason for this shameful abandonment of services? The new private providers were only required to achieve a series of barely-defined “outcomes” rather than manage existing public buildings and assets more efficiently.

However, the council’s ballast-dumping rush to wash its hands of the Youth Service at any cost really started taking a turn for the worse late last year. It was then that Rose Richards, senior manager in Bristol Youth Links and the council officer overseeing the sell-off of our youth and play services, decided to EXCLUDE TRADE UNIONS from all discussions. This included talks on ‘TUPE’ arrangements – the laws and regulations protecting workers’ pay, terms and conditions when staff are transferred out of the public sector and into the private sector. Now why would she want to do that?

Complaints from staff and unions were consistently REJECTED OR IGNORED by Richards and the council continued headlong into its youth service giveaway. But just before the TUPE transfer was due to occur at the end of January, it became clear that neither the council nor Learning Partnership West had any idea who or what was actually being transferred – or what their legal obligations were. Employees with years of service discovered their pensions and other benefits were under threat. Understandably outraged, they threatened to take the council to court. On top of this it has emerged that Learning Partnership West does not want any of the council’s admin staff nor any of the youth centres and playgrounds.

Meanwhile, the council faces LITIGATION and the closure of vital public facilities in the city’s most deprived areas, with the whole sorry mess likely to cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds – completely undermining any savings that could have been made – in legal bills. All because one council officer would not listen to reason and wanted to conduct the transfer behind closed doors and stiff her own staff.

What a bastard outrage.

Apocalypse Row: Bristol Council closes down youth and play facilities

Apocalypse Row: Bristol Council closes down youth and play facilities