Laura Sharman 12 April 2016

School closures highlight danger of outsourcing warns union

Councils should stop subcontracting out routine work on housing and properties and ensure work is being done by in-house staff, said a trade union following the closure of ‘unsafe’ schools in Edinburgh.

The City of Edinburgh Council has been forced to close 17 schools after the body responsible for managing them was unable to guarantee they were safe to use.

Unite Scotland said the situation raises ‘serious concerns’ over the standard of work being carried out under public private partnerships (PPP) and private finance initiative (PFI) projects.

Mary Alexander, Unite deputy Scottish secretary, said: ‘For years trade unions have highlighted the financial burden caused by PPP/PFI and the potential for cost-cutting measures by contractors as they try to skim-off as much cream as possible from the taxpayer.’

Ms Alexander added: ‘For some period of time our representatives at the City of Edinburgh Council have been raising concerns about the running of Edinburgh Building Services. We believe that in-house staff should be carrying out all routine works in both housing and non-housing council property. Instead, we find that the council is spending millions every year in subcontracting out routine work.’

The union is calling for a national review of PPPs and PFIs to ensure contractors are not using cost-cutting materials and compromising health and safety.

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