Workers must be central in public service reform, not treated as puppets or pawns

Date: Wed 27 March 2013

UNISON will today (Wed) tell a committee of MSPs that redesigns of public services must not treat workers as pawns to be moved around recklessly, ignoring best practice lessons.

The public service union has warned the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee that new ways of delivering services must operate from a proper framework to deal consistently with staffing issues.

Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland’s Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, will tell members that workforce issues are too often neglected when planning reforms such as integrating adult health and social care.

He said in advance of giving oral evidence: “Consultation papers and legislation frequently give the impression the workforce is an afterthought. So we get last minute scrambled together agreements on important issues around staff transfer, pensions, secondment and so on, with no consistency or learning from best practice.

“It is just wrong to treat staff in this way, like puppets or pawns who can be moved around with no rules for how their rights and conditions are transferred and protected.

“Given that most public services rely on people, not machines, this is an extraordinary omission.”

He urged the Committee to recommend that the Scottish Government sets in place a broad staffing framework based on best practice. This would cover a range of key issues including: staff transfer, pensions, secondment, training and development, equality duties, governance and procurement – covering the protections that should prevent setting up a two tier workforce when services are contracted out.

Dave added: “We also want the Scottish Government to take on board one of the key recommendations from the Christie Commission. Redesigns of services must be based on genuine engagement with staff and users from the bottom up. It should not be about expensive management consultants imposing solutions from the top down.”



For information please contact:

Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser, 07958 122 409
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, 07508 877000

Note to editors:

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland.

2. Our evidence to the Local Government and Regeneration Committee is online at