Carmarthenshire County Council (CCC) recently decided to outsource Trade Waste Services to Cwm Environmental. Our Unison Branch is opposed to this for a number of reasons. Outsourcing is a significant step towards privatisation. Cwm environmental was set up as an Arms-length company many years ago by CCC but no collective agreement was put in place with the trade unions. At a recent meeting with CCC senior management and Cwm management there was no undertaking from them to put a collective agreement in place and therefore the trade unions would not be able to negotiate on behalf of our members.
We are concerned that in the not too distant future CCC could decide to place all of Waste and cleansing into Cwm. Outsourcing ultimately puts jobs, terms and conditions at risk. While the transfer of Trade Waste to Cwm does not mean the transfer of jobs- if the above happens then a lot of jobs would transfer.
One of the reasons for the decision of the council is that Trade Waste is loss making. We assert that if Trade Waste had been efficiently and effectively managed it should have been generating income for many years. We previously highlighted concerns at the highest level, our concerns were vindicated by a report dated the 10th January 2016 produced by an Independent Investigator commissioned by CCC into the running of Trade Waste. This report was highly critical of the manner in which Trade Waste was managed, and amongst other criticisms refers to an ‘insular’ management team, a protective culture and issues being ‘swept under the carpet’.
The criticisms in the report are startlingly obvious even though the copy provided to Unison had been redacted to the point of being almost unintelligible. It seems apparent to us that the redaction was undertaken in the main to protect the failings of the department.
This culture meant that inefficient practices continued and were not challenged. For example no master list existed for collections. This is confirmed in a document in our possession which stated that there was ‘very compelling evidence of a lack of clarity regarding the communication, distribution, and accuracy of the ‘lists’ detailing the collection points on the round’. Later in the document systemic failings regarding the department are referred to.
Instead of outsourcing Trade Waste the public and our members have the right to know why management many years ago didn’t ensure Trade Waste was run efficiently. How can a senior manager write in 2015 when talking about Trade Waste ‘the spectre of malpractice in waste has been hanging over the Department for far too long. What is management’s solution outsource to Cwm instead of running it efficiently and generating income.
Plaid led CCC when in opposition used to talk about Cwm paying a dividend to CCC and even asked the then Labour led council to consider bringing Cwm back in-house. Now they are in power all these ideas have been ditched and now Plaid are proposing more outsourcing.