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When privatisation goes wrong

Short stories about problems with privatised services

Click here to tell us about any bad privatisation experience you know about.

All the evidence indicates 'Commissioning' is a risk not worth taking but it keeps on happening...Tory Ministers think 'contractor failure' is just a normal part of the process! What is evident is that the public sector has not and never will have the capacity to let and manage contracts on this scale.....

'The New Statesman' scrutinises commissioning failures

Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL)

The privatisation of municipal leisure services provides lesson after lesson on why privatisation is so wrong. Across the region, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) have been awarded a number of contracts. Set up through funds from Greenwich Council, GLL promotes itself as a "Social Enterprise" and claims that its non- profit making status means that when it takes over a contract, its not privatisation and that therefore the concerns associated with privatisation do not apply. The truth is very different.

Just like any other company, the primary motive is cost. Just like any other private company, things are not quite what they seem on the surface. Two thirds of its staff are on zero hour / casual contracts. The low pay rates and generally poorer terms and conditions are exposed when compared with staff who TUPE transfer into the company. They claim that the company is owned by the staff and that decisions are made by a board elected by those who choose to join the "society".

What they fail to mention is that the zero hour /casual staff can not join the society. So two thirds of staff actually have no say at all. Greenwich Council decided in 2012 to hand over its library service to GLL.

Among the proposals from GLL were that pay and conditions would be harmonised to GLL levels - this of course would have led to cuts to pay and conditions. Harmonisation under TUPE is outlawed. But it was obvious that GLL were going to instigate a reorganisation post transfer that would hit pay and conditions.

Unite members in the Library Service took strike action, which eventually led to the employer agreeing not to attack pay and conditions. But what did happen was that a library closure was sneaked through.

The Council continually claimed it would not close libraries. It just forgot to mention the Ferrier Library in the transfer specification documents. It latter came out that GLL had made clear that it would not run the library - so between them, the Council and GLL made the library disappear! Since the transfer, GLL have failed to fill front line vacant posts and instead created new management posts on GLL conditions. It may also be worth mentioning that the Director of this so called "Social" Enterprise earns over £100,000.

Fusion Leisure - when privatisation goes really bad!

Fusion leisure, who have contracts across London have shown why the Unite fair deal campaign is so important. Recently, the Croydon Unite branch had to fight hard to press the company to pay TUPE staff the national pay award made to NJC staff. But in addition, the contract agreement with the company and Croydon is that the company move toward putting all staff on to the NJC conditions as the bulk of staff are on lower pay and conditions than those who transferred in.

It turned out that non-TUPE staff had not had a pay rise since 2007. Clearly, the company are more interested in TUPE staff conditions eventually eroding away. The fair deal campaign calls for a Council Oversight Committee to oversee contracts once they have been awarded with its purpose to protect pay and conditions.

Fusion Leisure staff are now preparing for industrial action.


Sometimes you get sent to Coventry - Privatisation can send you to Belfast, Blackburn or Carlisle!

Barnet Council has undertaken mass privatisation under its "One Barnet Project". This has led to jobs disappearing, public services being run for profit and attacks on the trade unions. The next scandal in Barnet just shows how little the privateers care about those who actually provide the service and how workers are seen as little more than a commodity, where wrecking lives I seen as collateral damage - or "regrettable" to use the words of the Council. But obviously the Tories in Barnet are not so full of regret as to reverse the privatisation project.

The latest attack impacts on 130 workers employed in what was "Customer and Support Services", which was handed over to Capita last year. The staff, all based in London, have been told to either accept jobs in Belfast, Blackburn or Carlisle, or face redundancy. The staff were unable to secure jobs in Barnet and must now transfer out of London if they want to keep their jobs.

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