Bargaining on Shared Services Briefing
In May 2006 the Scottish Executive published a consultation
paper A Shared Approach to Building a Better Scotland- A consultation
paper on a National Strategy for Shared Services. This paper
is part of the ongoing Efficient Government Initiative which aims
to improve services delivery and cut costs. The Executive's stated
aim is for "Public Sector organisations in Scotland to
receive their common business support services from a small number
of highly professional, customer focussed, national and/or regional
shared service operations".
The proposals contain clear delivery structures
and PSOs are already on their way to implementing these changes.
(See P and I briefing 137)
These proposals if implemented have serious long
term implications for UNISON members. Members could find their
post transferred to another employer for example a new body delivering
a service to a number of local authorities. Not only does this
have implications for terms and conditions of employment but the
post could be relocated to another area or employer.
European procurement rules mean that the provision
of shared services could be opened up to tender and therefore
Summary of responses to Executive
A number of groups supported the points made by
UNISON during the Scottish executive consultation.
Executive reform initiatives not joined up
Loss of jobs particularly from rural areas
moving to centre
Loss of local control and democratic accountability
Tensions between local and national initiatives
Local suppliers may be excluded from opportunities/Not
enough competition to prevent large companies gaining control
Savings figures not robust and costs underestimated
Privatisation via sharing with private provider
Privatisation via EU procurement rules forcing
the shared service provider to go to open bidding
Staff moving to new employer Change of employer,
changes in terms and conditions, relocation, job losses.
Focus groups run with members of the public for
the Executive also highlight these concerns
Shared services are becoming central to the public
sector reform agenda. Private companies are queuing up to take
over services. Employers are moving quickly with a range of schemes.
Moray Council has been meeting with up to eight others to discuss
shared financial services. Glasgow and Edinburgh have pathfinder
status; they are trying to make savings by standardising best
practice within and across organisations and are looking at increased
sharing of services. Orkney and Shetland are exploring many partner
agencies including the NHS in their attempts to improve efficiency.
There are plans to build national capacity for care procurement
and online service for shared recruitment and public notices and
moving the planning process to an electronic rather than paper
based system. Even if there are no detailed proposals as yet in
your area it is likely there will be soon. Branches need to be
planning now for detailed negotiation with employers and drafting
ideas for campaigns. It is vital that the key members of your
branch are up to date on shared services in general and the key
issues in your area with regard to potential reorganisations of
departments or sharing services with external partners.
When your employer produces plans read through the
detailed proposals. Work out which service/s are affected directly
Gather information in order to inform and
Collate and discuss key points in proposals
Decide on the make up of your negotiating
Key information checklist
There will be differing issues depending on the
choice of partner and your own local conditions.
A PSO can potentially share services with any
or a mixture of the following
Any public body
What are the proposed cost savings?
What are the costs incurred are these realistic?
Are they taking into account all costs?
Have these savings been realised elsewhere?
What problems have others encountered with
Key concerns: job losses, relocation, changes
in terms and conditions, deskilling, stress de-motivation of staff.
There will be others in your workplace depending on the detail
of the proposal.
Organising your campaign
Branches should inform and consult with members
about the proposals as soon as possible. Branches could also consider
joint meetings with branches in any proposed partner organisation
and other workplace unions to ensure a coordinated approach. Will
the local media be interested?
It is important to use a variety of communications
methods to contact members: branch meetings, newsletters notice
boards etc. This will be an excellent opportunity to recruit new
members so ensure you inform as many staff (and not just members)
as possible of concerns about any proposals and are prepared to
deal with membership enquiries.
Surveys of members can provide good evidence of
how people are feeling about proposals for meetings with management.
Do not just say no: take the opportunity to offer
alternative proposals. Staff delivering services are well placed
to put together proposals for genuine efficiency improvements
in service delivery. Consult with members to draw up alternative
proposals and research other solutions. What has happened elsewhere?
e.g. can IT be used to make savings without physically relocating
Section 52 guidance
Statutory Guidance to Local Authorities on contracting
(section 52) will apply to shared services contracts. The guidance
is available from: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/05/11160409/0)
This intended to protect the terms and conditions of transferring
employees and so reduce the scope for a two-tier workforce in
the public sector. If the shared service involves PPP then the
PPP protocol applies
Department for Communities and Local Government
Rethinking Service Delivery
Structures for service delivery technical notes
Structures for Collaboration & Shared services
technical notes http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1501226
Authority examples http://www.idea-knowledge.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=5098875
E government articles:
Scottish Executive http://www.publictechnology.net/print.php?sid=5215
Clackmannanshire & Stirling http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/6365
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