Opposed to trading company: Mark Evans UNISON’s Carmarthenshire Branch Secretary

THE Carmarthenshire branch of UNISON have opposed the establishment of a Carmarthenshire County Council trading company known as Llesiant Delta Wellbeing.

In a statement issued today, Wednesday (Mar 14) the union said: “On the 5th February 2018 Unison wrote to management in Communities, Carmarthenshire County Council raising a number of concerns regarding the setting up of a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC) for Careline, which Carmarthenshire County Council has named Llesiant Delta Wellbeing. At the time of writing 28-02-2018 we have not received a response. Recently the Executive Board of Carmarthenshire County Council confirmed the setting up of this company in April 2018 even before formal consultation has begun. While there has been informal consultation between management and the trade unions previously, as a number of serious issues of our members have not been responded to (given the timescales) we have decided to go public with our concerns.

“Our Branch and Unison are opposed to any outsourcing of Council services -this is a step towards privatisation and we all know privatisation does not work and represents a threat to jobs, terms, conditions and quality of service. While it is true that if the Local Authority wants to generate income from the private sector it would need to set up a LATC our members are sceptical of management’s projections of turnover and profits for the LATC as is our branch and we highlighted these concerns to management in our submission to the council (see above). We believe that the predicted turnover/profits in the business case for the next five years are over optimistic and it is particularly concerning that you (management) refuse to provide any detail or evidence of possible future contracts with the public sector, not for profit, private sector or individuals. We asked for evidence to justify the council’s projections for turnover and profits but this has not been provided. It seems to our members that they are taking all the risk without any reward. The setting up of a LATC is sold on the above basis and that to remain in-house would put jobs at risk.

“Our members and other Careline staff would prefer to remain part of the council. This is also our position. For this venture to have a chance of success management of the LATC should have employees on board but this is not the case. Our members have little confidence in Careline management to run a successful business- winning new contracts when they can’t keep the current contracts. Much has been made by management that Careline is running at a deficit the figure of £90,000 has been quoted by management. However our members state that as far as they were concerned when they were just answering PNC out of hours calls there wasn’t a problem with the budget it was when they were expected to answer and deal with IAA social service referrals/work that the problems began. In other words doing more work out of the same budget. So if this is correct it was the decisions of the local authority management that led to the deficit.

“Our members state that that staff numbers are down through sickness and on the day Unison reps visited Careline instead of 8 staff covering IAA (social services calls) there were 3! Our members report that morale is low and they do not consider they are providing a good service to the public. All mentioned the policy of Careline that they are expected to bat back 10% of IAA referrals to the community and that this is a competency -this was never agreed with the trade unions. We are extremely concerned that this is a target which we consider to be a form of rationing and not in the interests of the public . It does not auger well for the setting up of a LATC that so many staff are on sick and that staff turnover is so high. How will this be any better with an LATC?

“On page 30 of the business case it gives the option that if the LATC does not go well then Option 3 would involve going to the Independent market (code for privatisation). We do not accept that this is an option. But the council has refused to withdraw this option, giving a clear indication of the direction of travel and confirming our fears. We have requested a meeting between management and the trade unions (where both sides are given equal time)with all members present so that they can see and hear your responses to their concerns. We received no response to this request and since they have decided to go ahead with the LATC.

“We are also concerned that as of yet trade union recognition has not been agreed by the council and yet this company will come into existence on the 1st April. Yes all employees are transferring to the new company under TUPE Regulations but why if the council claims to working in partnership with the trade unions haven’t they put a trade union recognition agreement in place by now. This again is very concerning.

“Due to the above our branch opposes the setting up a LATC . Members would prefer to remain working for the council. We felt the public were entitled to know our members concerns and in particular the concerns they raised about the quality of the service the public are and will receive.”

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