Unison loses Somerset County Council outsourcing tribunal case

Unison has lost a tribunal case over allegations that Somerset County Council failed to consult properly with staff as part of a £400m shared-services deal.

The trade union took the council to an employment tribunal claiming there was a failure to properly consult staff over pay and conditions when a joint venture was set up in September 2007. The council faced a potential compensation bill of £75m if it lost the case.

Southwest One is a joint venture between Somerset, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and technology giant IBM.

The project aims to deliver a range of services, including HR, and involves more than 1,000 public sector employees being seconded to the new venture. Local union officials claimed the deal was never fully debated and expressed concerns that partnerships with private companies raised major conflicts within the culture of local government.

But the tribunal has now dismissed the case.

Richard Crouch, head of HR at Somerset County Council, welcomed the decision. “The tribunal has hung over us for the past year and we now want to move forward, improve efficiency and service for residents,” he told Personnel Today.

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