Shared Services

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2010 Local Government Service Group Conference
25 May 2010

Conference notes that Shared Services are becoming a major issue for our members in Local Government – with the recession privatisation proposals are inevitable.

The London Boroughs of Sutton and Merton has direct experience of shared services through a shared HR function. Despite resistance and arguments against the management proposals the Councils went ahead and consequently posts were made redundant.

This is primarily a cost cutting exercise in spite of the Council’s argument that it is about ‘doing things better’. Economies of scale, in simple terms, mean budget reductions and the loss of our members’ jobs.

We are in no doubt that others will follow and fear that:

1)Sutton and Merton will not stop at a shared HR function, but will use the model for other shared services across the two Boroughs and beyond

2)Other local boroughs, as well as other public sector employers, will join in and seeing Sutton as a leading player seek to establish Shared Services based on the Sutton or their own models

3)Unions are often not only excluded from the decision-making process about service reviews, but often do not even know when contracts are issued to privatise services.

Conference reiterates our twin track policy of opposing privatisation outright, and engaging and influencing the process. Our aim is always to keep services in the public sector and to oppose compulsory redundancies.

Conference further notes the success of three local government branches in Lincolnshire (South Holland, East Lindsey and Boston) in fighting off a privatised shared services proposal for “back office” functions.

This as an organising opportunity. Conference therefore instructs the Service Group Executive to further develop the excellent work the national office has been doing to support branches on this issue to:

a)Identify those instances where privatisation / shared services has been successfully fought off

b)Produce a summary of those successes along with the reasons for the success and promoting this with branches

c)Provide training to help branches to understand the real shared services agenda and the ways in which they can protect jobs and terms and conditions

d)Provide training on how branches can involve the community in any shared services campaigns

e)Conduct research on existing privatisations / shared services that have been implemented for some time to identify if they have achieved the savings they promised; and to establish if there have been improvements or reductions in service quality

f)Produce a suitable document from the results of the research above so that branches can use this as evidence when arguing against shared services

g)Provide further training at regional level in local government finance

h)Providing guidance to regions and branches on how organisations such as APSE and the European Services Strategy Unit (ESSU) can be used to help challenge privatisation proposals, business cases, consultants reports.

i)Develop e-mail networks and contact lists of Councillors from all parties to whom the union can send information to counter the misinformation Councillors get in those councils which are officer led

j)Provide updated negotiating advice on how to deal with Shared Services and staff transfers between public bodies and outsourcing and publicise existing resources to help branches and regions tackle Shared Services, including existing UNISON advice on:

·Shared Services

·Efficiency Savings

·Campaigning and Negotiating around Procurement

·Organising around transfers of employment


k)Encourage branches to work together across service group boundaries and with other public and private sector unions to keep services in-house and bring privatised services back in-house

l)Continue to support the involvement of branches in Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) and regions in Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships (RIEPs) in order to influence the process.