Date: Fri 25 January 2008
Minister 'worse than Forsyth' in failure to protect staff pensions
The refusal by Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson MSP, to step
into the row over the botched transfer of the Traffic Scotland transport
information system to the private sector, may lead to a large financial
compensation claim from the transferring staff, UNISON claimed today.
Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government agency responsible
for the service, have refused to accept their responsibilities under
Cabinet Office guidance to ensure that the pension provided by the
new operators is comparable to the staff's existing provision.
The union also cast doubt on whether the system, due to transfer
from Glasgow City Council to a range of private firms today (Saturday)
will be able to operate effectively in the short term, as over half
the operators involved have either managed to move to other jobs
in the council, or have left the service rather than transfer under
Mandy McDowall, Regional Organiser for UNISON, said "Despite UNISON's
consistent attempts to contact Stewart Stevenson since December,
he has refused to meet or even respond to us, leaving his agency
managers to try and wriggle away from their clear responsibilities
to provide equivalent pension coverage for the staff they want to
deliver this essential service.
"It is now clear that the Minister intends to allow the transfer
to take place with no thought about the thousands of pounds in lost
pensions that staff face. Even Michael Forsyth ensured that staff
transferring to the private sector had pensions protected, so it
is appalling that Mr Stevenson has washed his hands of these people.
Many of them have long service providing safe traffic systems for
Scotland, but this apparently counts for nothing with the Minister
and his agency."
UNISON will now be taking legal advice on the submission of a claim
to compensate the staff forced to transfer under these conditions.
Given the long experience and service of the staff, this could run
into many hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The union also points out that the lack of protection has led to
many experienced staff applying for other jobs within the council,
or even leaving their jobs, in order to avoid the transfer. This
may have serious implications for traffic, public safety and Police
support in the short term.
Chris Stephens, UNISON's Land and Environmental Services Convenor,
in Glasgow said "It is hardly surprising that when people are being
treated so shabbily, they don't want to work under such conditions.
The number of staff transferring has now dropped, and we believe
that numbers are likely to be made up by untrained temporary staff.
This cannot be the way to maintain a safe and effective service."
Notes for editors:
1) Around 15 staff were due to transfer this weekend from Glasgow
City Council, which used to hold the contract for the service, formerly
known as NADICS, to Atkins. This has now dropped to 8 - only 6 of
whom are controllers. Requests to postpone the transfers have been
rejected by Transport Scotland
2) Most will transfer to new contractor Atkins, with managers moving
to Transport Scotland and others moving to SERCO, which holds an
IT part of the contract and to Amey, which holds another part of
3) Staff affected are available for interview. To arrange this,
please telephone one of the contacts at the end of the press release.
4) Protocols covering Public Private Partnerships over staff transfers,
and Cabinet Office Guidance on staff pensions apply to this situation,
on top of TUPE regulations.
5) The NHS Building Division was outsourced by the last Conservative
Government to WS Atkins (the contractor's previous name). The contract
required a GAD (Government Actuarial Department) certified comparable
For Further Information Please Contact: Chris Stephens (Land/Env
Servs Convenor - Glasgow UNISON 07818 487 060(m) Mandy McDowall
(Regional Officer) 07903 846 427(m) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)