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To want to ban all outsourcing , tendering and rediscover the joys of institutional cohesion?

(115 Posts)
Otw10413 Sun 11-Aug-13 15:58:00

I am fed up with hearing that outsourcing leads to greater levels of efficiency , reduced costs and higher levels of service . Every single profession and public service is now forced to use this costly method of procurement . It has been part of what has made the US great ........ At developing the most enormous divide between rich and poor and an appalling two tier health and education system. I remember cleaners, responsible Sisters and visible nurses in hospitals (not MRSA or norovirus ) , I remember grammar schools which produced the greatest shift in social mobility and I remember health care, free at the point if delivery .... And I'm sad to know that my GC won't ever see this ( it wasn't perfect but it worked ) Right, well I'll step off my soap box now ... If someone promises me that we aren't going to become an American state ( and by the way why are our medical records being sold to private companies for just a pound , whilst they are allowed to profit from sales through the prescription service ????? ) . Sorry .

HildaW Sun 11-Aug-13 16:13:27

Its a soap box that needs shouting from, do not apologise for your views. I too loathe the modern 'fashion' for outsourcing everything from prisoner care to elderly care - from child protection to cleaning streets. So many vital services are so divorced from the people they need to serve, and have simply become a matter of balancing the books and earning large profits for huge impersonal financial institutions.

Otw10413 Sun 11-Aug-13 16:22:06

I agree; have heard that outsourcing was used for recruitment to territorial army - but it has failed to get the numbers . Quite remarkable that anyone would think it intelligent to bypass the experienced soldier as a recruitment tool and instead pay a recruitment agency !

Otw10413 Sun 11-Aug-13 16:24:21

Also has anyone made the connection between needing to impose a minimum wage and the growth of contract crazed firms trying to increase their bottom lines at the expense of lower paid staff ? I must get off my box now .

Ariadne Sun 11-Aug-13 16:40:05

I understand the points you are making, and agree with most of it. Private companies can only be out to make profit, surely, and at what cost? Maybe the powers that be have found that people with a real vocation, and a long term contract, were likely to be a nuisance and object to futile innovations?

However, one point that I'd like to make is that grammar schools themselves were a cause of social division. (I'm assuming that when you say "two tier" you meet private and state funded education and health care?)

Tegan Sun 11-Aug-13 16:53:16

Aren't there cases of people losing their jobs when it has all gone to tender but being offered the job back at a much lower wage? And I'm sure that when maintenance on schools started going to private companies, the people employed were'nt as rigorously checked [police records etc] as they had been when working for the council?

Ariadne Sun 11-Aug-13 16:57:55

Yes, I have heard that, Tegan! And, in schools - academies usually, I think- teachers are being offered one year contracts only.

JessM Sun 11-Aug-13 17:07:40

TUPE legislation is supposed to protect against such things tegan.
Bit mystified as to where grammar schools fit into the outsourcing picture. Also most nurses in the NHS work... for the NHS.

HildaW Sun 11-Aug-13 18:31:17

Classic case of this was my daughter's primary school (20 years ago). They had an excellent cook and well equipped kitchen producing very good 'from scratch' school lunches. Local authority decreed that it was shut down and centrally prepared food shipped in. Result was jobs lost, decent food lost, school lunches dropped by most children yet no overall monetary saving was made!! Bizarre!.

janeainsworth Sun 11-Aug-13 18:42:42

One of the main reasons for outsourcing, as well as the opportunity to pay people less, and have less pension liability, is transference of risk.
This means that instead of say a council being sued because a council employee has suffered an accident at work, liability will fall on the private company instead. Similarly, if an employee feels they have been unfairly dismissed, or discriminated against, it will be the private employer facing the tribunal and not the council.
Ariadne I know that grammar schools are generally regarded as socially divisive, but is it also not the case that there was more social mobility in the fifties and sixties than there is now?

Otw10413 Sun 11-Aug-13 18:51:24

On a good day, I trot off to John Lewis, where everyone working there is a partner - what is so wrong with that idea ? Grammar schools and apprenticeships and valued and valuable technical qualifications were not perfect but I still see the difference between the builders who did a 5 year apprenticeship . Just upset that America is held up as the perfect system - ours could be so much better ! Sorry again , I am going to get a soap box - and a mirror to yell at . In the private sector, I know folk are being sacked unless they take unpaid leave for sickness and holidays , zero hours contracts , please someone tell me why we don't scratch out the layer of management required to manage the layers of tendering and allow our institutions to function on decent inspired principles of fairness - or would that be too bigger leap for mankind ?

Greatnan Sun 11-Aug-13 19:04:26

Not unreasonable at all, although I see grammar schools as increasing social divisions.
I think many hospitals are forced to use agency nurses at great expense and the ridiculously generous terms offered to GPs by the last government mean that most out-of-hours care is done by agency locums (with fatal results in one case, when a doctor who had worked a full day abroad flew over in an exhausted condition).
Companies that have failed time and time again to deliver on-time, efficient services are still being awarded contracts. I detect a whiff of corruption. It's not what you know..............

nanaej Sun 11-Aug-13 19:31:15

I see a great big circle.. working conditions ( eg zero hours etc) getting so bad that there will be a rise in unions again...every cloud.....

Ana Sun 11-Aug-13 19:35:02

A rise in unions would be a good thing then, would it, nanaej? confused Back to the 70s...

HildaW Sun 11-Aug-13 20:52:53

Zero hours contracts can have a place......people who only want to do a few hours BUT just using them to bypass decent contracts is morally wrong.
The rise of the Unions was an important step to ensuring employees were no longer seen as a disposable commodity - but I do not think we need to go back to the worse of the Union style excesses. Its all about balance - people should do a decent job, be dependable and trustworthy and be responsible AND so should an employer.

Otw10413 Sun 11-Aug-13 22:22:09

I agree Hilda, but the problem is there are no boundaries for private companies. Trade unions , like every powerful institution , became tools for those who sought power not progress ( they were necessary because the labour force was exploited) I wonder whether there is a way that , as consumers , we can obtain a list of ethical co-operatives- Fair trade for the UK if you like . Perhaps employees could be allowed to rate their companies ....... anonymously, obviously because otherwise there would no doubt be dismissals by the bucket load ! How about making employees' views part of the service offered . If we know employees are valued , we will doubtless see it in the quality of service provided. If you have any sources of such information , let me know , otherwise perhaps Gransnet could start one?

Greatnan Mon 12-Aug-13 08:02:10

Ana - do you believe that any workers' rights would have been granted without the unions? Employers ran their own 'union' - a person who fell foul of one would be blacklisted by all of them.
Certainly some unions were taken over by people with their own personal agenda, but the answer was for more members to attend meetings and vote. A few hot-heads gave the general public the idea that teachers were largely communists, whereas as any ex-teacher will know, most classroom teachers tended more to political apathy or were slightly right wing. However, most primary school teachers were working mothers who felt they had attended enough meetings during the day and did not feel like going out again at night for a union meeting. (The union leaders were mainly young, childless people.) With the amount of extra paperwork they have to do now, I doubt whether many would have an evening to spare!

HildaW Mon 12-Aug-13 09:49:20

Otw10413, you are so right about people using perfectly decent organisations to create personal power - most systems can be twisted by those who shout loudest and bully the rest of us.
There are lists of companies who are seen by their employees as doing a decent job - I believe its published every year - have certainly cast my eyes over it from time to time.
Organisations like the Co-op also have ethical views (however I am rarely impressed by their service levels when I use their supermarkets, and their Retail banking sector is having a few problems).
Consumers can do a lot by 'voting with our purses' but I accept that its not always convenient or affordable.
I have made a few consumer choices of late, that I doubt do much but they salve my conscience just a little. I have totally abandoned Tesco. Rarely buy cheap clothing (went into Primark once and came out inwardly screaming) - have actually starting 'up cycling' or I buy better quality clothing in seasonal sales. Use small local shops and services as much as I can. Research new firms a little before I use them e.g. was attracted to a holiday company but on closer examination realised they were part of a huge global company with a poor overall customer service (which usually indicates they cut corners in other aspects of their trading)

Mishap Mon 12-Aug-13 11:12:06

"Institutional cohesion" - indeed. We have lost this. Hospital staff all working together as a team with their hearts in it. Now there are endless private organisations providing aspects of the "care." And it is a pig's ear.

The basis of the system is political and has nothing to do with what works best.

Otw10413 Mon 12-Aug-13 14:28:37

Dear Hilda,
What is the list called? I do shop at the co-op and JL but I also shop at Aldi ( only way I can afford to shop at Waitrose) . I think, as I get older , it is only my conscience that counts and whilst I buy my clothes from expensive outlets ( East etc. in the sales ) I can't be sure they aren't coming from sweatshops.

Greatnan , and Mishap , I completely agree . Anyone who tried to catch a bus after denationalisation realised that treating everything like a market simply doesn't work . My beloved husband made the point that g4 , a private company who tendered for security at the Olympic games , cost the country millions as we had to draft in police and the armed forces to do what they had tendered for .

Ana, in the seventies both sides had points to be made but neither side were listening . I don't like the fact that our governments and unions can be dominated by deaf , power-crazed opportunists , but that's humanity for you . I like even less , however, that millions of perfectly good hard-working people can be treated with no respect for their contributions to a profitable business and have their working contracts and conditions made under an ' if you don't like it, you know what you can do ' philosophy .

I know I'm old now , because so many things seems to have changed without any real ethical or moral progress . The NHS and welfare state ( not perfect but humane) will be gone and that will remove , in one swift chop, a truly noble and morally superior human development through government . Our university fees are ensuring that upper middle class families regain their domination of higher education and too many of our young people are left on the scrap heap .

Deeply saddened , otw !sad

Greatnan Mon 12-Aug-13 14:56:47

In the latest Private Eye - in the Ministry of Justice's prison ratings, two of the three in the worst category are run by G4S and Serco. Cost cutting to obtain contracts means that prisoners are not being treated humanely - some are in their cells for 23 hours a day.
Revolving door - Lieutenant General Gary Coward, KBE who was in charge of supplies and logistics for land forces until last October will now work 20 days a year for Telereal Trillium as it bids to run the army's barracks and bases in the UK.

JessM Mon 12-Aug-13 15:49:32

Oh my goodness otw is there nothing about UK organisational life that has improved since the so called "good old days"?

JessM Mon 12-Aug-13 15:50:24

Oh my goodness otw is there nothing about UK organisational life that has improved since the so called "good old days"?

whenim64 Mon 12-Aug-13 15:50:53

HMP Northumberland is being privatised to be run by Sodexo, a facilities management company that used to supply catering and building maintenance for probation, before being bounced. That's the one whose hanyman I remember leaving a ladder propped up against the wall of a curfew-locked hostel, down which the majority of the residents disappeared befre being spotted by staff. Oh yes, and there was the cook who insisted on leaving the back door open because she was so hot (the fan did work), with all her knives out on the counter top. I say all.......the daily knife count found they were one down! Not found when rooms and grounds were searched. There were many more such incidents. That prison will be in such good hands! hmm

nanaej Mon 12-Aug-13 16:20:04

Yes I do Ana

I think that if people are being exploited by people more powerful then they should work together for fairer and better conditions that benefit everyone.

There will be examples that anti-unionists will quote about instances of unions 'holding the firm /company to ransom'etc. Unions only happened because industrialists and bosses held the workers to ransom! ie put up or lose your job!

If the workforces had been treated well and paid fairly by bosses then there would be no need for a lobby group to improve things.