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Date: Thur 13 December 2007

Glasgow Joint Venture savings queried

A proposal by Glasgow City Council to establish a joint venture company with private firm SERCO, is being criticised by the main council union, UNISON.

A submission by the union to the Council's Executive Committee that will consider the proposed transfer tomorrow (Friday), says that this type of joint venture in authorities in England has often meant, expensive subsequent additions to contracts once the in-house expertise had been moved to the private sector; little or no evidence of service improvement; little or no engagement of staff or unions in the new bodies; jobs being off-shored away from the local workforce; contract defaults; confidentiality agreements that hide public information; and an large increases in costs in later years of contracts.

Mike Kirby, UNISON Glasgow Branch Convenor said "Privatization is not a proven route to improved service delivery, and we are seriously concerned that - once these services are outsourced - the expertise will be lost to the public sector, and private contractors then have the council hostage.

"We want the council to continue to monitor the impact of this contract in jobs for the city, costs to the council, and services to Glasgow. We also urge the council to make the Public Sector Comparator report public, so people can assess whether this deal is as good for Glasgow as is being claimed. "We are concerned that the company is putting in a bid as a loss-leader, and it is difficult to see how the savings promised will be achieved while maintaining the service. The project may be being subsidised by selling off the property portfolio, and experience elsewhere has shown that initial savings figures move later to charge much more than the internal market rate.

"We have had welcome guarantees of protection of employment rights and pensions for staff affected, but are still concerned about the impact of the deal for Glasgow and its jobs and services."


Note for Editors: The full report from UNISON is available from Chris Bartter - below For Further Information Please Contact: Mike Kirby (Convenor - Glasgow City Branch UNISON 07803 952 261 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)