Union GMB says it believes Thanet council is planning to outsource street cleaning, waste collection and open space services.
The union says it understands there are ‘secret’ plans to use either shared services or privatisation to provide the functions but claims the GMB and councillors do not appear to be aware of the proposals.
Thanet council refutes the claim of ‘secrecy’ saying the GMB regional organiser Frank Macklin had been made aware of proposals, although the authority admits there have been discussions over the future delivery of services.
Mr Macklin said: “Given the current chaos that is Thanet council, at this moment in time, and the recent collapse of public service outsourcing giant Carillion along with the possible collapse of another public service contracting giant, Capita, GMB is calling for all outsourcing to be stopped and for services to be brought back into the public domain.
“GMB believes that to act without the knowledge of elected councillors and the recognised trade unions is the beginning of a slippery slope that could damage democracy and the good working relationships that have been built up over decades.
“GMB would like to know if private discussions have taken place with the aim to move as many staff and services, as possible, to either a shared service or outsource services completely to the private sector without the knowledge of either the elected Councilors or the recognised Trade Unions.”
The union has written to Thanet council chief executive Madeline Homer to ask that the proposals are put on hold until a new council leader has been elected on Thursday, following the imminent resignation of Chris Wells which comes into force on Wednesday (February 28).
On February 1 private contractor Civica took over a shared service that deals with council tax, housing benefit, non-domestic rates, debt recovery and customer services for Thanet, Dover and Canterbury. The parking appeals service has also been outsourced for an initial one year period to Imperial Civil Enforcement Services.
A Thanet council spokesman said: “The East Kent councils are looking at options for the future delivery of this service which is something that has both been publicly documented and already shared with Mr Macklin. The Chief Executive has contacted Mr Macklin directly again as the conclusions drawn in his press release are alarmist and misleading.
“East Kent Leaders have had an initial exploratory discussion on whether waste & recycling and c could be delivered differently – that would also include in-house.
“There is no assumption or decision made on outsourcing. When and if there is something more substantive to discuss staff, members and the relevant unions will be informed.”