Sunday, December 29, 2013

Carry On Cutting - With Carrion Carillion

WHILE people in the London Borough of Brent have seen their local libraries "reorganised" out of existence by a so-called Labour council that brushed aside public protests, what is happening in the neighbouring borough of Harrow?

Surrounding the picturesque hilltop village with its straw-boatered public schoolboys, a privileged island, the rest of Harrow is just like any other borough, with similar problems, not helped by industrial decline. The council had a Labour majority until a split in the Labour group gave it no overall majority and opened the way for Tory control.

This year the council announced it would pay council tenants to move out and get homes in the private sector, so as to free council housing. Harrow has also been handing over council services to private interests, though this was not just something the Tories began.

A friend posts an item on Brent Fightback's Facebook page:

    Harrow braced for cuts in library staff under new manager

Carillion, which has taken over the running of Harrow's 11 libraries, is to review staffing with job losses likely  

By John Shammas 27 Dec 2013 09:39

Cutbacks in staff at libraries in Harrow are on their way despite new management, the Harrow Observer has learned.

Harrow Council transferred the day-to-day management of its 11 libraries to an arms-length management company in September, John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS), that was taken over by construction giant Carillion only the following month.

Tony Henderson, group media relations manager at Carillion said: “Announcements were made to staff on the November 20. The number of roles at risk will be confirmed during the consultation process. There are discussions with staff and their trade unions and no decisions have been made yet."

The announcement has sparked outrage from local trade union representatives, who have claimed they were not adequately consulted, and the Harrow branch of public sector UNISON claimed 29 posts would be lost.

A Harrow UNISON spokesman said: “It appears that drastic staffing reductions seem to be the only way in which private companies can seek profit from local authority services signalling a recipe of reduced service quality when public services are outsourced.”

A spokesman for Harrow Council said: “John Laing had already begun a review of staffing when the change to Carillion occurred – the arrival of Carillion has had no effect on the jobs review. The quality of the contract has remained unchanged and Harrow Council sought guarantees on that during the changeover.

“Even if the libraries service had remained in-house, the financial climate would have meant Harrow Council having to review the staffing position.”

There were 107 library staff who transferred from the council’s employment to JLIS as part of the outsourcing of the library management.

When Harrow Council’s then cabinet member for community and culture Councillor Nizam Ismail (Independent Labour) signed the contract with JLIS, he said: “We’re delighted that we have managed to secure a positive future for our library service.”

The "Independent Labour' councillors in Harrow originately split with the main party in a row that was supposed to be about alleged racialism. It is ironic that an "Independent Labour' councillor signed the contract which Carillion has now taken over, considering some of the allegations that have been made against Carillion.

That was in Swindon, where this same company took over management of hospital services, and has since been making cuts.

But Carillion has also been at the centre of the row over blacklisting in the construction industry, with the GMB union taking legal action against the company, and trying to persuade councils to block it from contracts. The company had been due to have a stall at the 2013 Labour Party conference, but was kicked out because of the blacklisting issue.

Here is a report from the GMB in September about its battles with Carillion:

GMB Carillion Swindon Protest Over Cuts

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
GMB Protest Tomorrow ( Wed 18th September) At Great Western Hospital In Swindon In Dispute Over Job Losses And Pay Cuts For Members Employed By Carillion
The members will not accept further high handed behaviour from Carillion and the protest at the gate is just a first step in this new dispute says GMB.

There will be a lunchtime protest by GMB members employed by Carillion at the gate of Great Western Hospital in Swindon tomorrow at 12.40pm on Wednesday 18th September in a dispute over job losses and cuts in pay arising from changes to shift and rota arrangements without consultation.

At the protest GMB members will unfurl a 9 metre banner revealing that almost unanimous rejection by GMB members working for Carillion at the hospital of proposed new shift and rota changes in a workplace ballot. The vote was 99.2% to reject the new arrangements.

The changes will mainly affect housekeeping staff and ward hostesses, though all staff will lose paid breaks. Of the current cleaning workforce of 200, around 20 will be made redundant, but every member of staff will be doing 80 hours less cleaning each year.

GMB members stand to lose on average £650 per year, due to loss of unsocial hour’s payments, and some staff will lose up to 11 lieu days. The new arrangements introduce 12 hour shifts; with a one hour unpaid break in the middle. There are particular problems for staff with childcare commitments, or second jobs. The new longer shifts will also mean that staff will not be able to get to and from work by public transport on Sundays, and few of the staff own cars.

In 2012 there were 21 days of strike action by these workers in protest against bullying and discrimination by Carillion at the hospital. GMB members demanded that Carillion management act to stop the culture of bullying on the contract and for an end to discrimination in the application of pay and conditions on the contract.

That dispute is still on-going as Carillion refused to acknowledge the continued discrimination and victimisation of employees. This has so far resulted in fifty seven cases filed against Carillion in the employment tribunal. GMB are extremely confident of a just resolution through litigation.

In a seperate case GMB lawyers in June 2013 lodged claims in the High Court in London seeking compensation for 70 GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers. Liz Keates who is still employed  in the Carillion HR department was named in the House of Commons as one of the managers who administered the blacklisting of construction workers for Carillion.

Carole Vallelly, GMB organiser, said “There will be fewer cleaners per ward, and those cleaners will have fewer hours to maintain the cleaning standards on those wards”.

 Carillion are seeking to get the same amount of cleaning done with fewer staff, and the longer shifts will inevitably lead to a reduction of work quality.

 During 2012, the Great Western Hospital NHS trust conducted an external audit of cleaning standards by Carillion, and GMB has been advised that the report concluded there was room for improvement.

 GMB is particularly concerned that there has been no consultation. GMB has more than three quarters of the affected staff in membership but Carillion has not spoken to the union.

There are a number of areas where the concerns of our members could be resolved by negotiation but Carillion management at GWH continue to refuse to consult with GMB who speak for these members. Carillion is duty bound to consult with the members individually and GMB will insist that they do so.

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