Date: 14 August 2008
De-recognition threat after East Ayrshire awards care contract
to cheapest bidder
UNISON Scotland today launched a petition aimed at East Ayrshire
Council following a move by Lifeways, a commercial care company,
to derecognise the union. The council awarded a contract for looking
after adults with learning disabilities to Lifeways, after the private
company undercut the existing provider - Cornerstone Community Care,
a voluntary organisation with 28 years experience in the field and
which was formed by concerned parents and professionals.
From 1st July the staff and care packages transferred from Cornerstone
to Lifeways. As the sole recognised union, UNISON have tried to
enter in to constructive dialogue with Lifeways, pointing out that
the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) regulations
protect transfer of union recognition. Despite this from day one
Lifeways have indicated they do not intend to recognise UNISON for
collective bargaining purposes.
Simon Macfarlane, UNISON Regional Officer said "We are launching
a petition calling on the council to ensure that Lifeways treats
our members and the people they care for with respect. The council
cannot be allowed to wash their hands of the situation, as they
have been trying to do. They should be telling Lifeways in no uncertain
terms that they have a duty and obligation to recognise UNISON and
enter in to meaningful discussions with us.
"What particularly concerns us is what does this company have to
hide that they don't want staff organised and represented by an
independent trade union? Since we began raising Lifeways' attitude
we have been contacted by parents and carers of adults with learning
disabilities who are complaining there was little or no consultation
over the awarding of this contract. They feel that the care needs
of their relatives have been bought and sold to the lowest bidder
with no consideration of their views or of the quality of service."
UNISON is also gravely concerned that the council didn't carry
out an Equality Impact Assessment which is required to assess the
impact of this decision on people with disabilities. Simon said
"UNISON will fight for justice for the carers and the people they
care for. It remains to be seen if East Ayrshire Council cares about
this service and the people who provide it."
Note to Editors
1) Lifeways was one of a number of companies who won contracts
to provide care services to East Ayrshire Council this year; it
is the only one who has moved to derecognise UNISON.
2) The complete wording of the petition is: 'We the undersigned
are appalled by the attempt by private company Lifeways to derecognise
UNISON. UNISON members in Lifeways provide care and support to adults
with learning difficulties. Up until 1st July 2008, when East Ayrshire
Council awarded the contract to Lifeways, they were employed by
Cornerstone, a voluntary organisation, who recognised UNISON. Lifeways
have from the moment they took over attempted to derecognise the
union. UNISON members look after some of the most vulnerable in
our community; they should have access to an independent union.
What have Lifeways got to hide that they don't want staff organised
in a union? East Ayrshire Council are trying to wash their hands
of the situation. We the undersigned call on Lifeways to recognise
UNISON and demand that our Council exerts the maximum pressure to
3) We have contact details of a concerned parent of an adult with
learning disabilities who would be prepared to outline these to
the press. (please contact Simon Macfarlane for access).
4) Lifeways is funded by private equity company August Equity (See
-backs-management-buy-out- lifeways-co ). The practice of Lifeways
does nothing to enhance the low reputation private equity firms
have for staff and trade union rights.
For Further Information Please Contact: Simon Macfarlane
(Regional Organiser) 07703 194 132(m) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)