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

Iv executive summary executive summary a focus on the

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Executive summary A focus on the nature and influence of procurement is vital for an understanding of employment practices and working conditions in the commercial cleaning sector for several reasons: Like other business services, cleaning activities are often procured from specialist subcontractors rather than managed in-house. The strong cost focus of competition for contracts can exacerbate the vulnerable position of low-wage cleaners. Client organisations’ procurement and HR practices can filter through the supply chain to shape employment practices in the contractor firm. Using a novel analytical framework for understanding how procurement shapes employment, this report presents the results of six case studies of outsourced cleaning services and draws out key implications for improving policy and practice. Each case study is reported in the form of a narrative that highlights the specific characteristics of procurement practices and employment conditions. In addition, key thematic issues are explored by comparing the results across the six cases. The themes consider pay, working time, skill and job design, integration and employment insecurity. Research issues Evidence from international research confirms the significant effects of business strategies of procurement on many aspects of employment, including pay, working time, training provision and job security among others. Under certain conditions these effects destabilise employment, introduce new inequalities among workers and reduce worker integration. The varying conditions include: Differences in the nature of contracting practices (including levels of trust between contracting parties, relative dominance of the client or the supplier, price and duration of contract). Pressures to tailor employment practices to the needs of the client (that is, the adaptation of employment practices to fit client needs or requirements, versus the application of standard supplier employment practices). The role of trade unions (including innovative coalitions with suppliers and community groups). The wider institutional rules that can both protect workers from instability and level the playing field for labour costs (especially employment protection rules for workers transferred from one organisation to another). v
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COMING CLEAN: CONTRACTUAL AND PROCUREMENT PRACTICES Labour market context The research for this report was undertaken during early 2014 at a time of recovery in job growth and signs of relatively stable economic growth and business confidence. Both male and female employment rates began to rise in 2012, some four years after the start of the recession, but unemployment rates have been slow to fall (especially long-term unemployment).
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