28th Oct, 2016

Privatisation losses lambasted by union

Rob George 26th Aug, 2016 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

A LEADING union has slammed county council chiefs after ‘substantial’ compensation for around 80 council workers made redundant when education support services were privatised was confirmed.

Unison reached an agreement with Worcestershire County Council on the redundancies caused by the transfer of staff and education support services to Babcock earlier this year.

The agreement was reached after protracted legal negotiations between Unison, the council and Babcock.

The case centred around when organisations were first aware 81 members of the 391 workforce would be made redundant following the transfer

County council chiefs have now agreed a settlement, which cannot be revealed for legal reasons, to compensate the redundant workers and have admitted the council would look at what lessons could be learned.

The agreement didn’t stop Unison Regional Organiser Charlie Sarell branding the transfer of staff and services to Babcock from Worcestershire County Council as ‘badly handled’.

“At no point prior to the transfer were the union or our members aware that they would be facing redundancy after the transfer,” he said.

“The settlement that Unison has been able to reach with the council reiterates the importance of open and frank negotiations between the council and the union over difficult issues such as this.

“Unison members who lost their jobs will at least see some compensation as a result of this settlement,” he added.

And Jim Price, branch secretary of Unison’s Worcestershire Branch, said: “We hope Worcestershire County Council will have learned valuable lessons from this process.

“We call on them once again to look again at the benefits of maintaining in-house services, for the good of staff and our communities”

In response, Coun Andy Roberts, cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, said: “Our number one priority has always been to improve outcomes for Worcestershire’s children.

“We commissioned Learning and Achievement services in order to deliver those improvements.

“To avoid any further stress associated with a tribunal and to minimise the disruption that it would have caused, we are pleased to have reached an agreement with Unison.

“We will look at what lessons can be learned.

“We are not able to comment any further because of legal reasons,” he added