UNISON took out a collective grievance on behalf of three members of the WSCC Harm Reduction Team who work with drug and alcohol users to stabilise and improve their lives.
The UNISON members found out – through a Cabinet decision paper – that they were due to be outsourced to a charity. They had not been informed by their managers or consulted. Nor had UNISON been involved, despite the extensive consultation and involvement protocols we have in place.
The grievance was upheld in all its key respects. The grievance officer, a very senior manager at WSCC, made a number of recommendations. These include:
- better induction and guidance for managers about staff and union involvement in commissioning;
- more emphasis on communications with staff;
- a review of how service user views are utilised; and
- the creation of additional guidance for managers on how to consult in the precise circumstances of this outsourcing.
Judith Taylor, the rep who supported our members, said: “We are pleased with the outcome and believe it will improve the situation for members faced with similar circumstances in future.”
In the end, two of the three staff found jobs with the NHS and so did not TUPE-transfer. The whole episode was a salutary lesson for the council of the expense of outsourcing and the risk to its services if staff decide to go and work elsewhere, rather than be treated poorly and TUPE-transferred.