Cost-cutting move puts staff ‘into the unknown’

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AROUND 20 workers are ‘going into the unknown’ with the privatising of building services at Dacorum Borough Council, it has been claimed.

Union bosses say not enough information has been provided about pay and conditions ahead of the move, which is expected to save £435,500 over the four-year period of the contract.

Under the deal outsourcing giant Serco will take over facilities management and cleaning of civic centres in Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring.

Elio Gomez, service and conditions officer for the Dacorum branch of Unison, told a council cabinet meeting: “Twenty people are going into the unknown. We have a business case that’s not worth the paper it’s written on.”

Despite the concerns cabinet members have agreed to go ahead with the move, though the start date of the contract has been moved to May 1, allowing time to address Unison’s points.

Councillor Nick Tiley, cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “Our job is not running buildings, it’s serving the public and providing services on the streets.

“Terms and conditions will be respected and sustained because we respect those staff and we will make sure they are dealt with properly.”

The council plans to make total savings of £3.8 million by 2015. £2 million has been budgeted to spend on agency staff for environmental services.

The council’s assistant director for neighbourhood delivery David Austin said: “The current estimated value of the contract is £2 million over four years, but this is a generous estimate and we anticipate that this year the spend will be considerably lower, approximately £250,000 each year.”

The council has also created eight new permanent waste collection posts.