UNISON, along with the Unite union, has this week lodged a joint claim at the Southampton Employment Tribunal against a Hampshire County Council contractor for a failure to consult as required by law.
In spring of this year the children’s charity Action for Children successfully bid to take over the running of all but a few of Hampshire County Council’s 82 Sure Start Children’s Centres. As part of the contract the County Council required Action for Children to deliver savings through reorganisation of the service and redundancies of Sure Start staff (most of whom had had their employment transferred over from Hampshire County Council).
Action for Children were proposing to make over 100 Sure Start employees redundant or force them to accept new contracts on inferior terms and conditions, and should therefore have consulted with their recognised trade unions for at least 90 days before issuing dismissal notices. However, Action for Children consulted for just 30 days, the first dismissal notices taking effect on 23rd June 2012.
Commenting on the dismissals UNISON Regional Organiser Peter Terry stated:
“Even though they are a charity Action for Children is still required to comply with the law. The law states that employers must consult for no less than 90 days in these cases. As a result of Action for Children’s failure to consult for the required 90 days more than 100 hard-working and loyal Hampshire Sure Start workers have been dismissed much sooner than they should have been. This has left many of them thousands of pounds out of pocket. It is bad enough being made redundant or having to accept a cut in pay. Being unlawfully fast-tracked through the process in this way just adds insult to injury.”
“Action for Children was not forced to bid for the HCC contract – they chose to take the contract. If they can’t afford to comply with both the financial restraints of Hampshire County Council’s contract and the law then they should not bid and instead leave the running of public services such as Sure Start to the Public Sector.”