Westminster staff fear outsourcing plans

24 Jan 02
Capita Business Services is in line to win a controversial £1bn outsourcing contract from Westminster Council but fears are growing over the number of job cuts involved in the deal.

25 January 2002

Simon Norbury, head of the council's customer services initiative, told Public Finance that Capita is one of two preferred bidders for the contract to operate a call centre. Unions believe this could result in the relocation of two-thirds of the council's staff outside London.

Capita will compete with a consortium led by Vertex Data Sciences in the final selection, due to be completed by May.

A separate council source indicated that Capita was viewed as the stronger of the two bidders.

Norbury confirmed that the council is 'entertaining the idea' of outsourcing 'customer interface' services – such as telephone enquiries – to a call centre outside the borough.

Council workers have fought to prevent the deal because they fear it would lead to massive job cuts among Westminster's 3,000 staff and affect the quality of services.

One senior officer said: 'There is a feeling that information on the location of the site has been purposely withheld because it would stir up opposition.'

Unison representatives said that establishing a call centre outside London would depress staff wages and ensure a 'brain-drain' because trained personnel would not want to move away from the capital.

Norbury said: 'We expect cost savings… but the deal we are seeking is likely to protect jobs. The winning bid will be judged on the quality provision of services and the quality [of conditions] offered to our staff. We will be consulting all staff prior to making a decision.'


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