The Workers Party of Britain deplores the failure of Norwich city council to deliver on its promise to harmonise outsourced employees with the terms and conditions of workers directly employed by the council.
Labour-led Norwich city council has had a love affair with the wonderful world of outsourcing ever since the millennium. Not since 2000 has the council taken any responsibility for the upkeep of its own social housing stock, and subsequent years have seen parks and gardens, street cleaning and other core functions of local government shunted in and out of one cut-rate outsourcing outfit after another.
In 2010, six months after the council signed a contract with Connaught, the company collapsed. Rather than learn from experience, the council plunged on, signing multiple contracts with Norse (another outsourcing venture, bizarrely owned by Norfolk county council).
And then in June 2018, after a secret meeting of seven councillors on the council cabinet, it was revealed that the plug was going to be pulled on Norse, running the risk of triggering financial penalties incurred by breach of contract.
The switch from Norse was falsely sold to the workers as a welcome return to the provision of services in house, but what it really meant was that the provision of services was being passed over to yet another company, Norwich City Services Ltd (NCSL), albeit one that was set up by the council itself.
The council gave repeated assurances that the new ‘arms-length’ outfit would honour council pledges to bring terms and conditions for NCSL employees into harmony with those of directly employed council staff. But now, with new contracts coming into operation from 1 April, NCSL shows no sign of proceeding with harmonisation.
Unison spokesman Jonathan Dunning reports: “Many of our members are on statutory minimum entitlement for annual leave, statutory sick pay and pay rates far below their city council colleagues. They have delivered services for Norwich city council for years and all they want is equality and fairness with their colleagues.
“After being told that was the council’s aim too, they are furious that the council now seems to be reneging on this commitment.”
Some workers have already been Tuped as many as five times in the last two decades as the council staggered from one botched outsourcing deal to another. Workers are now getting sick to the back teeth and calling for a strike ballot.
It is time for Norwich city council to deliver on its harmonisation pledges. Better still, let the Labour-run council stop shuffling off its responsibility for delivering council services and bring all its workers back on the council payroll on the same terms and conditions.