Stoke & Staffordshire

Fears for 5,000 Staffordshire council workers over job transfer plans

Plans to transfer 5,000 council jobs in the West Midlands to a private company have been challenged by a public sector trade union.

Staffordshire County Council is looking for a partner to help it provide £75m worth of services to 400 local schools.

Unison spokesman Steve Elsey said the plans were for "privatisation" and feared for job security.

Councillor Ian Parry dismissed those fears and said the move would help safeguard services in the future.

Mr Elsey said there had been no contact from the council over the proposals which would affect cooks, cleaners, and ground staff working in the county's schools.

'Rationale unclear'

He said he was worried the authority could withdraw their stake in the proposed partnership, which would leave the council workers employed solely by a private company.

Mr Elsey said: "The rationale for this at the moment is a little unclear. I would assume the aim is to find a private partner.

"If there is any profit in this I would be very surprised if the Staffordshire taxpayers see any slice of this.

"There's no saying that in time this company... would actually keep the jobs local.

"We're getting a very clear steer from this authority that their intention is to become a commissioning authority. This is the thin end of the wedge.

"It's very easy for a private company to claim that services are going to get better."

Mr Parry, portfolio holder of transformation at the Conservative-led council, said the plans were not for full privatisation because the authority was still going to be involved.

He added: "We think with private sector innovation around these services that they can be made more profitable."

Staff and services would not be affected until late summer 2013 at the earliest if the proposals go through and a suitable venture partner is found.

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