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Friday 4 July 2003

UNISON cries 'foul' on Argyll's bid to privatise schools

The exclusion of an in-house option from Argyll & Bute Council's controversial school's PPP, is against both the principle of the Scottish Executive's Protocol on Staffing Matters, and the commitment of the Council Leader, Allan Mackaskill, said the main council union, UNISON yesterday.

UNISON has written to the council leader, pointing out that the issue of tender documents to three private consortia with no in-house bid and before trade union representatives were informed, flies in the face of Scottish Executive guidelines and the council's own assurances to staff last December.

John Gallacher, UNISON's Regional Officer said "Despite clear commitments in the staffing protocol that the process should be open to bids incorporating the use of in-house staff, there is no provision for an in-house bid."

Unions are asking for a meeting with the Leader of the Council, asking him to return to his commitment, made in December that 'the council is committed to retaining service delivery in-house as far as is possible.

John Gallacher said "It would be an act of naked privatisation, unseen before in Argyll Local Government. Hundreds of loyal school janitors, cleaners and catering workers, would be simply farmed out to commercial companies who will run these schools for the profit of their shareholders.

"The sad thing is, that it is unnecessary. The Scottish Executive are clear that in-house staff should get the opportunity to either bid for the service delivery work themselves, or to partner one of the private consortia. All we are asking is for the council to stick to the principles it claimed to have in December.

"If the council cannot be deflected from this course, the unions will be seeking to quiz these firms on their policies on trade union recognition, best practice on health and safety and equalities and on their commitment to a fully-funded, final salary pension scheme, comparable with the existing conditions of the support staff."


For Further Information Please Contact: John Gallacher (Regional Officer) 07930 939 520(m) Donald Brown (Branch Chair) 07770 308 062(m) George Craig(Branch Treasurer) 07770 308 064(m)