Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Agilisys Contract Extension - UNISON submissions to North Somerset Council

We can now publish our submissions to the council's scrutiny panel and Agilisys contract working group, because commercial confidentiality no longer applies.

UNISON Reps have attended and spoken at the council’s Agilisys Contract working group on 19th June, 1st and 23rd September. We have also made a number of submissions. Here they are:

UNISON Submission to Agilisys Contract Working Group 1st September 2014

UNISON Submission to Agilisys Contract Working Group 23rd September 2014

We have also attended the Council's Community and Corporate Organisation Policy & Scrutiny Panels on 8th July, 16th September, 8th October, 20th October, and made a number of submissions. Here they are:

UNISON submission to Community and Corporate Organisation Policy & Scrutiny Panel 8th October 2014

UNISON submission to Community and Corporate Organisation Policy & Scrutiny Panel 20th October 2014

Tory Councillors vote to privatise more services at North Somerset Council

UNISON members did themselves proud tonight with a brilliant turnout at our lobby of North Somerset Council , when councillors met to vote on extending the contract with Agilisys, including the transfer of 130 admin and front office staff. Recently the council's Head of HR told UNISON Reps that staff were happy to transfer to Agilisys - the turnout at our lobby proves him wrong.

The council's Chief Executive started the meeting by giving a presentation on the so-called benefits of extending the contract, including their ridiculous interpretation of the phrase in-house service plan - apparently they have asked Agilisys to provide their in-house service plan! Of course this means that the plan for services isn't actually being implemented in-house, because the last time I looked Agilisys are a private sector company, not a local authority.

Opposition councillors expressed serious concerns about the proposal, including the lack of an in-house service plan, the lack of information to enable them to vote and the impact on staff. The councillors who spoke up for staff and against the contract were Mike Bell, Tom Leimdorfer, Richard Tucker, Donald Davies, Geoff Combs, Deborah Yamanaka and Ian Parker. But 30 Tory councillors voted to approve the contract extension, with 13 Green, Independent, Labour and Lib Dem councillors voting against. There were 18 councillors absent. The named vote is published below.

The full council report can be found at:

The report was amended to include a third recommendation that councillors continue to scrutinise the contract negotiations through the due diligence period.

Here's a video and some photos from tonight's lobby.

How the Council voted:

30 Conservatives - all voted for the contract extension

Elfan Ap Rees, Nigel Ashton, Felicity Baker, Karen Barclay, Chris Blades, Jeremy Blatchford, Mary Blatchford, Charles Cave, Robert Cleland, Peter Crew, Bob Garner, Colin Hall, Ann Harley, David Hitchins, Jill Iles, David Jolley, Anne Kemp, Reyna Knight, Tony Lake, David Pasley, Dawn Payne, Nick Pennycott, Marcia Pepperall, Lisa Pilgrim, David Poole, Ian Porter, Sonia Russe, Clive Webb, Liz Wells & Roz Willis.

13 Opposition councillors voted against:

Green Party - Tom Leimdorfer
Independents - Geoff Combs, Donald Davies, Derek Mead
Labour Party - James Clayton, Catherine Gibbons, Ian Parker, Richard Tucker
Liberal Democrats - Mike Bell, Mark Canniford, John Crockford-Hawley, Robert Payne, Deborah Yamanaka

18 absent councillors:

Conservatives - Jan Barber, Peter Bryant, Bob Cook, Carl Francis-Pester, Stephen Fudge, Linda Knott, Tim Marter, Alan McMurray, John Norton-Sealey, Terry Porter, Arthur Terry, Annabel Tall
Independent - Andy Cole, Hugh Gregor, Tony Moulin, David Shopland
Labour - Bob Bateman
Lib Dem - Clare Kingsbury-Bell

Here's our speech from tonight's meeting:

On 6th May North Somerset councillors voted to amend the Agilisys contract report to add an instruction to officers to look at other options including an in-house service plan, alongside continuing the contract negotiations. Section 9 of tonight's report claims that an in-house option has been looked at, but this is not the case - managers have not been asked to look at how services could be restructured and savings made in-house. In fact managers have been silenced, and those who have spoken out have been given warnings. Councillors should therefore be very concerned that officers have failed to carry out their instructions.

The report you are voting on tonight is all about the money. It provides you with no information about the impact on council services, service users and staff. The equality impact assessment says nothing about the impact of the move to mainly online access for  council service users, the most vulnerable of whom will find this difficult.  There is nothing in the report to tell you that Agilisys are proposing to fragment teams by taking admin staff out and putting them into what amounts to a typing pool. Gone are the days when admin staff only typed, filed and answered the phone. These staff have specialist knowledge of the teams they work for - they are integral to the way teams work, and many staff fear the impact on services of centralising them.

There is also nothing in the report to tell you that Agilisys' proposals for how staff will access admin support are likely to create more work for already overloaded front line staff - Agilisys have already proved with Itrent that they're good at pushing work back on to council staff. Neither does the report tell you that 130 and maybe more council staff will transfer, and then Agilisys will make 40 full-time jobs redundant, although the equality impact assessment does tell you that the staff affected are disproportionately female, part-time, under 20 and between 50 and 65. The report contains no mention of the cost of monitoring this extended contract, and also no mention of Schedule 15 of the contract, which outlines the procedure for further services approval. In fact there are many aspects of the contract which will require further negotiation after your vote tonight - these include detailed service specifications, and the business cases for the transformation proposals, which have not been assessed for value for money. So to put it bluntly you are being asked to vote on a contract for which the final specification and terms have not actually been agreed. We think that you cannot possibly vote on extending a contract on this basis.

Tonight's report also makes clear that the savings target of £3 million which you set for these contract negotiations has not in fact been met - it falls short by £300,000. And you can only reach the target if you agree to an investment to help Agilisys with transformation projects. In addition the difference between the 22.9% savings Agilisys are promising, and the PWC benchmarking figure of 20% potential in-house savings amounts to £87,000 - a relatively small amount in terms of the council’s overall budget. Councillors will need to balance this against the risks that services fail, that vulnerable service users are badly affected and that the council's reputation is impacted.

We also think that councillors need to consider the timing of this decision. If you vote for it tonight, staff will transfer to Agilisys on 31st January. Councillors will need to consider how this will impact on your plans to further integrate health and social care and share services with other local authorities. The transfer will also come only a few months before the social care reforms, which will place even more obligations on local authorities and is likely to lead to a need for extra staff. Officers claim that the Agilisys contract is a flexible contract, but the council have been in negotiations with Agilisys since June 2013 - a  16 month negotiation doesn't sound very flexible to us.

Because you have so little information on what this extended contract is actually going to look like, and because in our view the timing makes this dangerous for services, we think that tonight the only recommendation you can vote on with confidence is recommendation (i) a - the re-specification of currently contracted services. We think that you need to postpone your vote on all the other recommendations until you have all the information you need, including the full and final details of the contract, and the in-house service plan which you requested, and which is now essential to ensure value for money given that the Agilisys proposals fall short of your savings target of £3 million.

Finally, as you can see there are many staff here listening to what you will decide for their future, and the future of their service users. In some cases these staff have given you 30 years loyal service, they want to continue working for the council, they don't want to work for Agilisys, and they fear that services and service users will suffer if you decide to transfer them to Agilisys. Please bear that in mind when you vote tonight.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Britain Needs A Pay Rise - March and Rally on 18th October

Members of North Somerset UNISON, along with a few comrades from UNITE the Union took a coach to London and joined 100,000 people on the TUC march for a decent pay rise for all. We had a great day out. Highlights included meeting former UNISON General Secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe, one of our members getting her photo taken with Russell Brand, hearing some great speakers including Frances O'Grady and Harry Smith, and ending the day with a few pints in a pub at the bottom of Edgeware Road.

Here's a few photos from the day.

Former UNISON General Secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe
with Terry Hutt - our latest honorary member

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady

Terry's Hat

Julie and Russell

Monday, 13 October 2014

NHS Strike 13th October

Members of UNISON, UNITE and RCM on strike today

Veteran Campaigner Terry Hutt joined us

Local government and school support workers suspend strike on 14th October

The three unions which represent more than 1.5 million workers in local government and schools – UNISON, GMB and UNITE – have today (9th October) decided to suspend strike action planned for 14 October and consult their members on new proposals put forward by the Local Government Association as the best achievable by negotiation.

The proposals cover the period from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2016.

In doing so, all three unions have made it clear that they want to strengthen the collective bargaining machinery covering local government and schools and move quickly to jointly tackle important issues facing their members with the Local Government Association. Members covered by the National Joint Council for Local Government have the lowest pay in the public sector and have suffered significant attacks on their conditions of work in recent years.

The unions will now move forward together to consult their members.

UNISON Head of Local Government, Heather Wakefield said:

“These have been tough negotiations, in a tough financial climate for local government and our members. It is right that those members - who are keeping councils and schools going in tough conditions - will now have the chance to make their voice heard by voting on the LGA’s proposals.”

NJC Pay - Outline of new proposals

Here are the final proposals on NJC pay for 2014-16, which UNISON’s NJC committee considered on Thursday 10 October and agreed to consult on. The final bullet point on the outline of the propsal is an additional proposal.

We will be issuing the detailed implications of the proposals for members on Monday 13 October, following an NJC joint secretaries meeting at which we will agree pay calculations for consultation.

The intention is to ensure that the three unions and the LGA consult on exactly the same basis.


The consultation on the pay proposals will begin in the week beginning 20 October.

It will be carried out in accordance with the local government service group’s pay consultation procedures agreed at local government conference.

We will be asking branches to carry out local ballots of all members covered by the NJC, as far as possible.

Regions will be asked to support branches in the consultation process.

All members whose pay is determined by the NJC will be eligible to vote, including those not balloted for industrial action.


•£1,065 (8.56%) on Spinal Column Point 5 with effect from 1 January 2015
•£1,000 (7.93%) on SCP6 with effect from 1 January 2015
•£800 (6.19%) on SCP7 with effect from 1 January 2015
•£550 (4.13%) on SCP8 with effect from 1 January 2015
•£350 (2.55%) on SCP9 with effect from 1 January 2015
•£325 (2.32%) on SCP10 with effect from 1 January 2015

•2.20% on SCPs 11 and above with effect from 1 January 2015

•Removal of SCP5 with effect from 1 October 2015

•£325 non-consolidated payment on SCPs 5, 6 & 7 to be paid in December 2014
•£150 non-consolidated payment on SCPs 8, 9 & 10 to be paid in December 2014
•£100 non-consolidated payment on SCPs 11-25 incl to be paid in December 2014
•0.45% of proposed new salaries on SCPs 26-49 inclusive, of which £100 to be paid in December 2014 and the remaining balance to be paid in April 2015

NJC future work

Both sides recognise that local government is undergoing a period of unprecedented change.

The way that public services are designed and delivered is evolving at a rapid pace and against this background the NJC agrees that councils and their workforce need collective agreements that:

•reward employees fairly and recognise the diverse needs of the workforce;
•attract, retain and train people with the skills needed for the future;
•enable local service providers to react more quickly to changing circumstances;
•facilitate effective partnership working and collaboration across organisations;
•remove or modify existing barriers to ensure employees can move more easily between different public sector employers.

The NJC remains committed to national collective bargaining and aims to ensure that the bargaining machinery can reflect and support new ways of working.

The NJC will focus on producing outputs that are relevant, fair and beneficial to both employers and those employed to provide public services