Plans for mutuals should not be ‘forced through’

Council plans to outsource public service provision to ‘staff mutuals’ should be subject to a ballot of employees and not be ‘forced through’ against their will, Co-operatives UK and the TUC have warned. The two umbrella groups – representing co-operatives and unions – say that the views of workers should not be ignored in any drive to mutualise services. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said “The mutuals that are being formed often don’t meet the democratic and open criteria of genuine co -operatives. In fact, many are simply privatised services under the cover of mutuals.”

To date, around 70 public service mutuals have been formed, two of which are in West Sussex. The TUC and Co -operatives UK are concerned that not enough public sector mutuals offer employees a genuine voice in the formation or the running of the new business. This is a concern the West Sussex branch of UNISON would echo given our experience with ‘Aspire’ (Adult Education) and ‘West Sussex Music’ (Music tuition in schools).

The TUC and Co-operatives UK have signed up to a joint set of best practice guidelines setting out the conditions that should be in place to ensure that public service mutuals are based on employee support and offer genuine employee ownership and representation. West Sussex has similar in place, negotiated by the Branch with the Council. If you hear talk of a ‘mutual’ in your service, please contact the Branch office immediately for advice.