Unison vows to fight over changes

UNIONS today pledged to fight any move for wholesale job privatisation at Suffolk's largest employer.

UNIONS today pledged to fight any move for wholesale job privatisation at Suffolk's largest employer.

As revealed in yesterday's Evening Star, a report from accountants KPMG recommends cutting the number of staff directly employed by Suffolk County Council from more than 11,000 to just 700.

All services would be contracted out to the private or voluntary sectors - leaving just a few hundred administrators deciding where to award contracts.

But today Unison, the union representing most staff at the council, said it would fight any widespread moves to shift jobs to outside bodies.

Paul Charlton from the union said: “We would be totally opposed to changes on this kind of scale. This envisages shifting the whole ethos of the organisation away from it being a public service.

“I have had a meeting with the chief executive who said he could not say what the scale of transfer might be - but we are very concerned about the need to retain the public service element.

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“There is no evidence that transferring services away from county council direct management will make them any better for the people of Suffolk or save money for council taxpayers.”

County council spokesman Francis Thomas insisted that the KPMG report did not represent council policy, although chief executive Mike More would be looking closely at the recommendations and seeing how many of these could be implemented in the council.

Sue Sida-Lockett, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “The work from KPMG is simply advisory and it is up to us what we decide to do with it.

“To give details of estimated staff changes before they have been properly researched just destabilises people and creates unnecessary concern.

“We will not comment on any potential redundancies or particular changes in the way we organise services, until proper, thorough work on potential changes has been completed. The only numbers that count are the ones the chief executive produces as part of this work.”

Should Suffolk's services be sold off by the county council? Write to: Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The KPMG report suggests:

Setting up “Community Library Trusts” to take over library services.

Setting up a fire authority to cover the whole of Suffolk which would be “commercialised”

Merging trading standards with district councils' environmental services and “commercialising” the services

Privatising all road maintenance and road safety work

A new agency would be set up to deliver passenger transport