Friday, March 13, 2009

Guest post: Public sector workers made to pay the price - again

Here is a guest post from Caz. It exposes very well how top managers are squandering money then making workers pay the price. Workers in many public services - and no doubt the private sector too - will tell you that it seems that once you get to a certain level of management, you can make whatever cock-ups you like and get away with it. Meanwhile we mere workers get booted for the slightest mistakes and face redundancies even without making mistakes!

Today at work I came across this little gem. Another appalling misuse of money at the highest level - millions squandered on an incompetently handled, and then dumped, computer project for prisons and probation.

I happened to read the article with my 'risk of redundancy' letter sitting on my desk. Dozens of workers in my probation area have also received letters. Budget cuts from the Home Office our bosses tell us. We must all make sacrifices they say (well, apart from the managers who've feathered their own nests in the 'cuts' reorganisation). They assure us they'll protect the front-line (shame about the proposed cuts in front-line admin workers!).

But here in front of me is a report that tells me £155 million of tax-payers' money (and presumably in part probation funding) was just thrown away.

Obviously workers in probation can do the math. Over the next three years probation budget shortfalls will likely lead to redundancies, attacks on terms and conditions and a reduced service. And we'll be told it's because there just isn't any money.

So who is held to account for fiascos like the probation IT project?

Who's held to account for all the fees paid to 'consultants' in previous years?

Or the privatised contracts allowing cowboy outfits to make vast profits whilst delivering a poor service?

Ordinary probation workers face redundancy so that probation managers can save a fraction of the millions wasted at the top over recent years.

We can, and will, do our best to fight back at a local level. In my area both napo and Unison have already had a successful indicative ballot for action. Hopefully we can turn that into an official vote for action to oppose any compulsory redundancies.

Unfortunately there's no sign yet of a national campaign (not from Unison at any rate). Our union leaders should be fighting to hold those responsible for these scandals to account instead of sitting back whilst we pay the price for incompetence and greed.

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