Workers who devote their working lives to providing quality public services deserve to be employed by organisations that share that same sole objective.
Consecutive governments have allowed outsourcing firms to take a central role in the delivery of our public services.
We know that this invariably has negative effects on workers – as terms and conditions are attacked, on the public – as service quality worsens, and on taxpayers – as money leaks out in profits.
The collapse of Carillion is a dramatic example of how outsourcing also involves the risk of a sudden crisis that can cause great worry for public service workers and unnecessary disruption to services.
UNISON in the North West has members who are employed by Carillion in schools, estates management, the police service and the energy sector. Carillion are also involved in building facilities that our members need to do their job – such as the new Liverpool Royal hospital. Our union is in direct contact with members who are directly affected by Carillion’s failure – working to defend their jobs, conditions and pensions in difficult times.
The Carillion collapse shows how ridiculous it is that the organisation of public services and the livelihoods of our members should be tied to the fortunes of a distant and unaccountable multinational company. Why should mismanagement by Carillion executives lead to any uncertainty about the provision of school meals in Stalybridge? Why should bad investment decisions in the Middle East have any effect on the cleaning of police stations in Manchester? Why should excessive dividend payments to shareholders cause potential delays in Liverpool getting its new hospital?
Workers who devote their working lives to providing quality public services deserve to be employed by organisations that share that same sole objective. The Carillion debacle underlines the need for public services to be provided in the public sector. This needs to be a watershed moment – and we need to take back democratic control of our public services.