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

43 regulating and bargaining for improved working

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4.3 Regulating and bargaining for improved working conditions Regulating for better work Besides the minimum wage legislation there have been few successful initiatives to improve working conditions within the industry. Previously, the Two Tier Code provided a basis for extending the pay and working conditions in the public sector to its contractors through local collective agreements (see section 2). The Code was abolished in 2010 but has been sustained in many agreements characterised by a long duration of the outsourcing contract; we explore this important policy issue in the HospitalE case study in Part Two. The significant form of protection in the context of outsourcing and recurrent contracting takes the form of TUPE legislation, that is the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations. As we described in section 2, TUPE aims to ensure that workers are not dismissed and maintain their terms and conditions of employment (excluding pension conditions) when they are transferred to another organization in contracting arrangements. However, the share of employees 28
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OVERVIEW OF THE COMMERCIAL CLEANING SECTOR protected through TUPE is likely to diminish over time as new recruits are hired under different conditions. In addition, the working conditions of subcontracted agency workers, if present, have since 2010 been shaped by the Agency Worker Regulations which aim to increase their equality of treatment with directly employed employees. We will explore these regulatory issues in our data analysis in Parts II and III. The evolving role of trade unions In the outsourced low-wage service sector in Britain, trade union presence is weak. There are no sector collective bargaining agreements and only few company agreements as illustrated by evidence that the national minimum wage has become the main determinant of wages (Weinkopf et al., 2013). Unions face several challenges in this sector. They struggle to mobilise workers who are mostly on short, part-time contracts and organised in small teams across multiple worksites. Also, many of the fast-expanding facilities management firms have little tradition of a union presence. Nevertheless, several trade unions are very active in the industry, including Unison, GMB and Unite. Unison, the public services union, has a relatively strong presence among contractors to the public sector as they have followed cleaners who have been transferred from the public sector to private companies as part of outsourcing contracts. At the same time, since the success of the ‘Justice for Janitors’ campaign in the United States during the 1990s (see section 2), cleaning has become an arena for union growth and cleaners have been described as 'an unlikely vanguard' of the labour movement (Wills, 2008: 306). In the UK there has been a growing Living Wage campaign in recent years. The campaign was launched in 2001 by an alliance of faith, labour and community organizations called the East London Communities
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