Privatisation of public services and TUPE

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2013 National LGBT Conference
1 August 2013
Carried as Amended

Increasing privatisation of our public services means that many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members are being transferred into the employment of the private sector. For many, TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection in Employment Regulations) has been a saviour to maintaining hard won employment terms and conditions and the protection from discrimination, with sound public sector equality policies and procedures.

TUPE means that the new employer “steps into the shoes” of the old employer and is bound by the terms of the contracts of existing employees, with the exception of pensions (although the new employer still has to provide a minimum level of benefits) and employees retain their continuity of employment.

Increasingly though, TUPE is being challenged and eroded, ignored by cavalier private sector companies eager to take over swathes of the public sector in order to make profit for their share holders.

With this privatisation agenda and the erosion of TUPE, LGBT members face draconian changes and decimation of their fairly negotiated terms and conditions.

Our LGBT members are caught in the glare of these privatisations, losing income, losing the equalities protections, policies and procedures that made it safer to be an out LGBT employee.

For those of us who are LGBT this is particularly worrying as our concerns may be low on the new private company agenda.

Employers may be looking to cut costs in whatever way they can and it has often been the case that Equality & Diversity policy and practice is one of the first areas to be cut. Examples include changes to pay rates, job descriptions, recognition and collective bargaining, hours of work, place of work, overtime payments and reporting procedures, almost anything can be changed so long as it is deemed to be an Economic, Technical or Organisational reason.

Challenging privatisation and the erosion of long standing terms and conditions is an issue for all our LGBT members.

Conference believes that an organised workplace, with high density of members, an informed and engaged membership will ensure greater influence and raised levels of influence in local and national bargaining forums to protect our members’ rights.

Ensuring our LGBT membership is effectively trained and organised within the workplace is crucial to achieving this aim.

Therefore, in the light of the impact on LGBT members of the attacks on TUPE by the private sector Conference instructs the National LGBT Committee to:

1. Work with relevant service group committees to challenge privatisation of our public services;

2. Publish information about the relevance of TUPE in a forthcoming Out in UNISON;

3. Encourage our LGBT membership to increase their activism and knowledge of employment rights.