Nov 22 2012 by Ian Proctor, Harrow Observer
WORKERS have formally lodged a dispute with Harrow Council over proposed job losses caused by the introduction of money-saving technology.
Public sector union Unison submitted the grievance over plans for Public Realm Integrated Services Model (PRISM), the merger of the waste, street cleansing and grounds maintenance, community safety services and highways departments and the equipping of employees with handheld computers to record their work in real time and for workers’ whereabouts to be remotely monitored.
Fifty-nine redundancies – more than 10 per cent of the directorate’s workforce – are planned, four more than originally projected, and a Harrow Unison branch spokesman called the project ‘much maligned’ and warned the numbers of bin men and bin lorries could be reduced.
He said: “Unison have requested how the proportion of 59 jobs will be cut across the civic and civic amenity sites as the HR1 [redundancy notification] form fails to identify this, but we believe the majority of cuts will be across the frontline in direct contradiction to the Labour group’s manifesto commitment to ‘protect frontline services’.
“This project also seeks to cut salaries and wages through a back door exercise as all posts are to be evaluated.
“This in addition to the basic one per cent pay cut and loss of contractual enhancements staff will suffer through the recent signing of the modernising collective agreement.”
The council has challenged Unison to produce evidence to substantiate its more extreme criticism, contained in a press release issued on Tuesday, of the quality of the information provided by the Labour-run authority as well as its handling of PRISM’s implementation.
Harrow Council’s divisional director for environmental services, John Edwards, said: “Harrow Council strongly refutes these baseless accusations.
“The council is currently in a period of formal consultation and we are disappointed that the trade union has not used the channels available during this consultation to raise any rational concerns they may have.
“Harrow Council, like others around the country, must take huge sums of money out of its budget and the PRISM project is a genuine and innovative way of doing this that is fair to staff whilst protecting the services that our residents value.”