Anger as LEA staff given stress balls and redundancy threats

2 Aug 01
A private firm has angered unions by following its takeover of school support services in Bradford with an immediate warning to 1,000 former council employees to expect staff reductions.

03 August 2001

Private education company Serco QAA, operating as Education Bradford, has taken over the provision of services in the city's local education authority.

The first edition of an Education Bradford pamphlet – sent out to staff with anti-stress toys – outlined the company's plans to cut numbers by January.

It said: 'Our proposal includes a reduction in the number of people employed. Redundancies cannot be discounted. We will firstly try to do this by natural wastage and then by voluntary means.'

Unison predicted that 51 staff would be identified for redundancy. It called on Serco to honour the redundancy and redeployment agreement agreed with City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.

Paul Wiehl, of the Association of Education Psychologists, which has 20 staff in the education service, said of the stress balls packaged with the pamphlet: 'I don't know whether this is a message from Serco: expect stress. People feel a bit patronised.'

But a spokesman for Education Bradford defended the gift: 'We wanted to give everyone something with Serco's name on it. The fact that they are stress balls is an indication that we are going to take the stress away from people.'


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