800 council workers to be transferred to private firm

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Hundreds of Wakefield Council staff will be transferred to a private company under a 10-year outsourcing deal.

Cash-strapped Wakefield Council will transfer 800 workers to French-owned Engie Services, the winner of a contract to provide facilities management services.

School meals, cleaning, property management and architectural design are among services which will be taken over by the company in the biggest ever privatisation by the local authority.

A report to the council’s cabinet said the deal would save £10m over the ten-year contract and avoid the need for redundancies at the local authority.

But it suggests Engie could cut jobs as it seeks to provide the service a cheaply as possible.

The report said: “Engie has identified that there will be changes to the way services are provided and therefore to job roles, however it has committed to doing everything possible to avoid compulsory redundancies.”

Employees’ existing pay and conditions are protected under legislation which covers outsourcing from the public to private sector.

Unions UCATT and Unison were consulted during the procurement process.

The cabinet report said: “Entering into a partnership for the delivery of property and facilities management and related services will enable a more efficient and commercial approach to be taken which will secure local jobs for local people within a more sustainable environment.”

Engie, formerly Cofely Workplace Ltd, and Carrillion were both considered for the contract. Engie was deemed to be offering the best value for money.

Up to 200 casual workers could also transfer to the private firm, along with 800 permanent members of staff.

Michael Clements, the council’s assistant chief executive of resources and governance, said: “In common with other councils, Wakefield faces pressures in balancing its budget in the years ahead.

“Through a more efficient and commercial approach, the Property and Facilities Management Partnership is expected to save Wakefield Council £10 million over the life of the contract, whilst maintaining and improving the quality of services.”