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

Managers unwillingness to engage more constructively

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Managers’ unwillingness to engage more constructively with TUPE rules is, in part, a pragmatic response to the cost pressures of contracting practices, but also reflects a lack of sector level initiatives - such as multi-employer framework agreements to set more reasonable baseline unit costs in contracting, which might be considered a precondition for sustainable improvements in terms and conditions of employment in this sector. Where clients are responsive to potential damage to their reputation as bad employers (associated with indirectly paying subcontracting workers the minimum wage or even less), cleaning firms and trade unions may be able to win improvements in the minimum rate of pay. The two London cases show the improvement can be considerable – the London living wage is almost £2.50 higher per hour than the statutory national minimum wage of £6.31. Nevertheless, workers (and cleaning firms) are likely to be required to make compensating adjustments; we found evidence of downsizing accompanied by work intensification. The freezing of the annual contractual price to the supplier in one case is likely to lead to further adjustments to working conditions. Drawing on the evidence of procurement practices and their pay effects we can identify the following policy implications which, if implemented would lead to better procurement and improved pay : 1. Encourage suppliers of cleaning services to agree a collective framework agreement that can be used by clients in the setting of baseline prices in contract tenders. 2. Promote the better practice of paying a higher service price for cleaning undertaken during unsocial hours so that pay enhancements are affordable. 3. Consider re-establishing the Two Tier Code for all public service outsourcing and build on the positive experiences of PFI-related collective agreements in the NHS. 4. Encourage the cleaning workforce to join and participate in trade unions, for example, through direct subsidies for staff time used to mobilise new members. 5. Consider strengthening TUPE rules to include procedures for the regular upgrading of terms and conditions, whilst balancing against the negative effects of a two-tier workforce. 121
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COMING CLEAN: CONTRACTUAL AND PROCUREMENT PRACTICES Better skills? As with many other areas of low-wage service work, the case studies provide considerable evidence of both underinvestment in training provision and development of career opportunities, and undervaluation of those skills and experiences that workers apply on the job. Two major influences on the underdevelopment of training and skill development are undoubtedly the feminisation of cleaning work, associated with a strong tendency among employers to presume that feminised work is low skill work (Grimshaw and Rubery, 2007), and the very limited union representation, which diminishes an important pressure on employers to incorporate wider and higher-level skill use into job design. These conditions define the context against which procurement and contracting practices, and the
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