Outsourced North West workers win statutory recognition

Social care staff saw the union de-recognised after PossAbilities won the contract earlier this year

UNISON members working for PossAbilities in Stockport have achieved a victory this week as the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) declared the union recognised for collective bargaining purposes.

PossAbilities is a social enterprise that delivers support to vulnerable adults across a number of local authorities. Staff working on the Stockport Council-commissioned learning disabilities contract will now be able to collectively negotiate their own pay and terms and conditions with their employer through their union, UNISON.

The Stockport contract was previously delivered by Choice Support, which did recognise UNISON. The contract changed hands earlier this year and PossAbilities, the new care provider, took the decision to de-recognise the union, despite widespread opposition from staff.

The union mounted a major campaign in support of union recognition, which was backed by many local Labour councillors.

Membership grew across PossAbilities as staff joined UNISON in support of union recognition. A statutory recognition claim was lodged with the CAC and, earlier this week, the committee declared UNISON recognised for collective bargaining purposes.

Regional organiser Dan Smith said: “This is a huge victory and testimony to the hard work and commitment of UNISON members at PossAbilities who were determined not to lose their independent voice at work.

“Union recognition gives staff security, but more importantly, it gives them ownership and influence over their work and the care they provide.

“This win shows what can be achieved when ordinary workers come together to fight for what they believe in. UNISON members worked together to build our membership and win this important victory.”

Mr Smith continued: “PossAbilities’ initial refusal to recognise UNISON demonstrates the dangers of outsourcing social care. Outsourced and fragmented social care threatens jobs, pay, terms and conditions and care standards. Privatisation is a cost-cutting exercise and ultimately it is staff and vulnerable service-users that pay the price.

“We look forward to working together constructively with PossAbilities in the best interests of staff and service users. However, our priority will always be to stand with our members in defence of their jobs and terms and conditions.”