Wednesday, 24 September 2014
LOBBY THE COUNCIL ON 21ST OCTOBER TO STOP THE AGILISYS INVASION
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WHAT ARE AGILISYS PROPOSING AND WHAT WILL IT MEAN FOR YOU?
Agilisys have told the council that they can make savings by transferring what are described as Front Office (financial and transactional) and Business Support (admin) functions, and then transforming those functions by standardising and rationalising them, using technology and automation. Their proposal is to create a centralised Customer Services and Business Support Hub working across the council, rather than for individual directorates and teams. Within that hub they plan to create a specialist business support team, along with teams responsible for particular business support functions. Agilisys want to locate this hub centrally in one council building, and they want staff to access business support through a phone call or over the intranet – very much like we request ICT services currently. In UNISON’s view this proposal is bad for the staff transferring, because many of them are likely to be made redundant not long after the transfer, once Agilisys start transforming services – Price Waterhouse Cooper’s report suggested that the council could make £2.4 million of savings from about 70 full-time job losses. But it is also bad for the staff remaining, because we think it’s likely that professional staff will find themselves doing much more of their own admin, because in some cases it will be quicker to do that than fill out an e-form. Finally, we think the move to accessing many council services online will impact badly on some of our most vulnerable service users, and at this point none of these people, and the organisations that support them, have been consulted.
DOES YOUR JOB INCLUDE SOME ELEMENTS OF BUSINESS SUPPORT OR FRONT OFFICE FUNCTIONS?
Some UNISON members will have received letters from North Somerset Council telling them that their job is likely to be TUPE transferred to Agilisys, if the council vote to approve the contract extension on 21st October. Some UNISON members will have received letters from the council informing them that their job and team will be reviewed and restructured, and they may end up on the TUPE transfer list. UNISON’s advice is that all our members who have received these letters should respond with their comments to the email address provided on the letters, and copy firstname.lastname@example.org into your emails. You need to give your views on what will be the impact on you and your service of transferring to Agilisys, and you need to talk to your manager if you think you shouldn’t be on the TUPE list. You also need to start attending the UNISON members meetings listed in this newsletter, and attend our lobby on 21st October.
JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT ON THE TUPE TRANSFER LIST, DON’T THINK YOU WON’T BE AFFECTED!
Staff who remain with the council will have their jobs and services transformed, with the possibility of jobs being down-graded as job families are brought in, along with more redundancies. Agilisys have been very good at using new technology such as Itrent and Agresso to give more work to council staff, and their plans for the future use of technology, along with staff accessing business support via the intranet, is likely to lead to increased workloads for the staff that remain at the council. In addition pretty much every team at the council will be restructured if they lose their Business Support and Front Office staff to Agilisys. Agilisys are also being asked to help the council with wider transformation projects, including sharing services with other councils and the Integration of Health and Social Care – these are all likely to lead to further job losses and/or privatisations. You also need to start attending the UNISON members meetings listed in this newsletter, and attend our lobby on 21st October.
WHAT UNISON REPS HAVE BEEN DOING
UNISON sent out a special edition of our newsletter back in March to alert members to the dangers of the council’s Transformation Programme, including the possibility of more jobs and services being transferred to Agilisys. We have been running regular members meetings at both main locations since. We balloted our members on the Transformation Programme, with the result being 75% wanted to campaign against privatisations and redundancies, 20% would like redundancy, and 5% were prepared to transfer to Agilisys if it meant saving their job.
UNISON Reps have attended and spoken at the council’s Agilisys Contract working group on19th June, 1st and 16th September. A group of UNISON members lobbied the council meeting on 6th May, and a UNISON Rep spoke at the meeting. We also worked with opposition councillors and were successful at getting an amendment added to the Agilisys Contract Report – this amendment instructed officers to also look at other options, including an in-house plan, as well as outsourcing jobs and services to Agilisys. So far UNISON has seen little evidence that an in-house plan is being put together – this goes against the instructions of councillors, and UNISON continues to press for this to happen.
UNISON has signed an agreement with the council to allow us access to at least some of the Agilisys documentation. We have submitted our comments to the council officer in charge of the Agilisys evaluation, and also submitted a report to the Agilisys Contract working group. We have clearly told the council that in our view the transformation of Front Office and Business Support functions can be done in-house with much less risk to the council, and that because we know that some of our members would like redundancy, that the council can manage any job losses through voluntary redundancy, retirement, redeployment and retraining. We have also suggested that the council look at directorate hubs rather than a centralised hub, as this avoids the risk of losing specialist knowledge.
UNISON has been successful at persuading the council to postpone their vote on the Agilisys contract extension from 23rd September to 21st October. We attended the Agilisys Contract working group on 1st September and argued that the evaluation was being rushed through and that if the councillors voted on 23rd September they would be voting without knowing precisely what the terms of the contract extension would be. UNISON Reps will be attending and speaking at the Council meeting on 21st October, when councillors will be asked to vote to approve the extension to the Agilisys contract.
NOW IS THE TIME FOR UNISON MEMBERS TO STAND UP TO OPPOSE THE TRANSFER OF YOUR JOBS AND SERVICES TO AGILISYS
We need all UNISON members and all council staff to join the lobby of the council meeting from 5.30 pm on 21st October outside the old Town Hall in Weston super Mare, so that when councillors vote they can see that their staff don’t want their jobs and services transferred to Agilisys. Currently many of the councillors have concerns about extending the contract with Agilisys, particularly because of the proposal to transfer staff and then transform, rather than transform internally. In 2010 when councillors voted to approve the original contract with Agilisys, very few of the staff directly affected attended our lobby, and so the councillors thought that staff didn’t care whether or not their jobs and services were transferred to Agilisys. This time you need to show them that you do care, so be there!
UNISON MEMBERS MEETINGS
We also need you to come to meetings to stay up to date on what’s happening with the council’s Transformation Programme:
18th September at 12.30 pm at Town Hall, Hutton Suite
30th September at 12.30 pm at Castlewood, room 2.07
2nd October at 12.30 pm at Town Hall, room 1.05
21st October at 5.30 pm outside the Town Hall – UNISON Lobby
22nd October at 12.30 pm at Castlewood, room 1.08
4th November at 12.30 pm at Town Hall, Rickford room
20th November at 1 pm at Castlewood, room 2.07
4th December at 12.30 pm at Town Hall, Rickford room
11th December at 12.30 pm at Castlewood, room 2.07