Outsourcing, procurement and shared services – the adverse impact on disabled workers

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2012 National Disabled Members' Conference
6 July 2012
Carried as Amended

Conference views with increasing concern, the acceleration of the outsourcing, procurement and sharing of public sector services.

In many cases the default position of most public sector service providers it to “soft market test” their services in order to identify a “preferred bidder” for the eventual privatisation of services. This will normally be the prelude to a perfunctory consultation with the local union branches while cynical employers have already resolved to tender the service in order to procure a private sector company.

In terms of shared services we have already been taken down the road of public authorities establishing shared service provision within their own region. However, there are now a large number of schemes being prepared throughout the United Kingdom that will transcend regional borders and or sectors. It is logical to foresee a shared service for two or more providers who may be many miles apart and not having co-terminus borders with each other.

In general, the staffs affected by any such proposals are given scant regard by their employers and as a result end up working under intolerable conditions that cause great stress that can lead to mental ill health and contribute to physical impairment’

Conference therefore recognises that situation for disabled workers are so much worse. There can be incidence of a disabled worker being forced to travel for an extra three or four hours a day to a distant work place in order to carry out the same duty that they carried out in the original work place. There will be cases where workloads can increase three-fold where an economy of scale needs to be achieved in order to make a shared or privatised service in order to make it profitable.

Conference urges the National Disabled Members Committee to strengthen agreed policy to fight public service cuts to take the following action:’

1. To put Outsourcing, Procurement and shared public services and the adverse effect on disabled workers as one of its top priorities in the 2013 Workplan.

2. Refer our concerns about these issues with the National Executive Committee and the relevant Service Group Executives.

3. In conjunction with the National Executive Committee and the relevant Service Group Executives, produce a toolkit or briefing document for all UNISON branches and regions that will draw attention to how disabled workers could be disadvantaged when public services are reconfigured under outsourcing, procurement and shared services’

4.. Liaise with appropriate bodies to campaign to ensure reasonable adjustments are implemented where necessary for disabled members.”

Conference also recognises that disabled members are more likely to face capability proceedings as a result of the extra pressures placed on them by changes arising from these schemes/changing work patterns.”