Job cuts plan is postponed
A DECISION to cut what could amount to hundreds of jobs at Cambridgeshire County Council has been postponed until January. The plan is to outsource back office work to a private contractor in a proposed cost-cutting move that could result in hundreds of
A DECISION to cut what could amount to hundreds of jobs at Cambridgeshire County Council has been postponed until January.
The plan is to outsource "back office" work to a private contractor in a proposed cost-cutting move that could result in hundreds of jobs being lost across the county. The work could be "off-shored" to India, according to Unison, the 1.4m-strong union respresenting local government employees.
Regional union organiser Maggie Hendrick claimed that the move had been sprung on them by the county council in a report issued last week
"It came as a shock to the trade union," she said. "They (the cabinet) tried to get it in through the back door."
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The cabinet of the council had met on Tuesday with the aim of pushing through a decision to transfer hundreds of jobs to private contractor Xansa - a decision that could lead to jobs being done in India, according Mrs Hendrick.
In the event, the cabinet decided to postpone its decision to allow for consultation with staff and unions.
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Mrs Hendrick said Unison would be meeting with other unions, uncluding the General Municipal Boilermakers and the Transport and General Workers, in Cambridge on November 13 to finalise a strategy.
Meanwhile, Unison is calling on members of the public to safeguard their personal data by writing to the Data Protection Commissioner.
"If the County Council holds any personal data about them, that data will be transferred over to Xansa and then ultimately off-shored," Mrs Hendrick said. "We cannot be confident about the security of personal data in these circumstances."
Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Cllr John Powley, said: "Our budget, like those in many local authorities across the country, is under severe pressure because of insufficient Government funding and the growth in demand for services.
"It makes good financial sense to seek ways to reduce back office costs by sharing appropriate services with other similar organisations or by using external companies.
"What we are proposing in Cambridgeshire would generate a saving of at least £1 million by 2008/09 - money that will be re-invested in front line services such as caring for older people, the disabled and families or providing improved schools, public transport and community facilities such as libraries.
"Following the decision to pursue the development of shared services taken today by the county council's cabinet, we will now embark on a three-month period of formal consultation with the trade unions, staff and potential service providers - I would emphasise that no final decision will be taken until after the results of that consultation have been carefully considered.
"If the county council were to enter into a partnership with a private sector organisation, any employees that were to be transferred to a private sector company because of this decision would receive full legal protection and their terms and conditions of employment and pension entitlement would not suffer as a consequence.
"It is important to emphasise that this proposal does not have a direct impact upon the front line services that the county council provides. This proposal will not reduce the number of social workers, teachers or highways engineers. Indeed, this proposal is about seeking more efficient and effective ways to manage the resources available to us which could in fact result in the development of services, not reductions.