research-report-96-coming-clean-contractual-and-procurement-practices.doc

Specific staffing needs that may be lost once the

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specific staffing needs that may be lost once the contract switches to another supplier. On the other hand, the approach may be interpreted by the client organisation as a rather non-cooperative approach, increasing the risk of non- 2 In a Working Paper for the ILO, Bibby writes: ‘In any contracting arrangement, the details of the agreement (including the price being charged and therefore, indirectly, the wages which will be paid) are made under contract law, and therefore the client company is generally entirely removed from having to concern itself with employment law in relation to staff who may, nevertheless, be working in the same premises as its own staff. ... Contracting can be seen as an effective way to avoid employer responsibilities.’ (2011: 7). 6
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FRAGMENTING WORK renewal of contract and instability for workers. Company-wide standards may also of course be worse, from the workers’ perspective, than those associated with the client organisation’s approach to employment. For example, UK research on outsourcing of public services employment since the early 1990 suggests that rates of pay and pay enhancements for unsocial hours set by contractor companies in facilities management services are generally worse (Escott and Whitfield, 1995; Hebson et al., 2003). 2.3 The role of trade unions Fragmentation of work has exacerbated the difficulties faced by trade unions in organising workers in the UK over the last three decades. An internalised workforce offers unions the opportunity to organise workers of different occupations, skill-sets and wages under one collective agreement. With the outsourcing of activities to multiple employing organisations - perhaps including back-office administration, security, cleaning and catering services, as well as agency workers - the unions must work with several employers to gain recognition agreements and then negotiate separate collective agreements where possible, in keeping with the single employer legal framework in Britain. As such, unions need to be far more attentive to the multiple strategies and overlapping interests of the different employers that are parties to outsourcing contracts; as Wright (2011: 26) argues in a specially commissioned study for the TUC, ‘Union strategies focused on single employers are largely unviable in the context of this blurring between organisational boundaries.’ Even information and consultation arrangements do not address the presence of multi-employers on the same site, such that workplace consultation is limited to only direct employees. In Australia, the United States and other European countries, researchers make a similar point and press for union strategies, and where relevant support from employers or the state, that recognise the limited autonomy of a single employing organisation and the need to construct a bargaining structure and agenda that assigns a balance of accountability to all organisations in a network of contracting (e.g. Doellgast, 2012; Holmes, 2004; Wills, 2008). While unions face considerable
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