Serco formed a joint venture, legally a LLP, …

Comment posted Northern Isles ferry contract sends signals to west coast by HMF.

Serco formed a joint venture, legally a LLP, with the pathology directorate of a large NHS hospital with which I was previously associated.
I was previously a sub-contractor to that NHS unit (providing IT support to a legacy computer system), and all parties wanted me to support the changeover of computer systems, but Serco were very difficult about recognising me and paying my final invoices (ok now).
I know that some staff in the pathology directorate were very unhappy about the details of the TUPE offer which was made to them; several senior staff left to go elsewhere, and I understand that many staff availed themselves of an opportunity to retain – in full – NHS terms of employment. (Of course, the latter opportunity couldn’t apply to any new employees, who would simply be employed by the LLP and not by the NHS.)
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I am sure it is not Serco’s policy to strip terms and conditions. But that sometimes can be the perception, at the working level.

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20 Responses to Serco formed a joint venture, legally a LLP, …

  1. Is it not the case that Shetland businesses were critical of Northlink’s service a few months ago, when it was down to one ship as each of the three went to Birkenhead for overhaul, and the winter weather further disrupted services? In the past Northlink used their CalMac connections to provide a ship for the Scrabster – Stromness service on occasion, avoiding the need to pull one of the Shetland ships off the Lerwick service.
    While Serco might only run the Woolwich ferry, in the past they’ve held the council contract to manage the Islay-Jura link.
    The idea of reducing speed to save fuel has been punted before – by the government – and withdrawn in the face of user objections.
    Keith Brown’s trumpeting of ‘improvements to the journey experience’ sounds very hollow coming from the government transport minister who has so far shied away from facing up to the shambles that is SPT’s maladministration of the Kilcreggan – Gourock ferry contract.

    ‘Cherry picking’ was always a central objection to breaking up the Calmac network for separate tendering.

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  2. Pingback: Argyll News: Northern Isles ferry contract sends signals to west coast … | Today Headlines

  3. Is this the same SERCO who manage the sickness for the councils and police forces and are now embroiled in the disability changes?

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  4. serco are a cowboy outfit ,only interested in money ,wait until after the next general election in 2 years and you shall see the northlink staffs pay and conditions stripped , i can also see the calmac routes unbundled for the friends of the snp goverment to profit from,why did the snp delay this news until election day ? they just cant be trusted .i believe northlink were making all these changes for the next contract if they where awarded it .

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    • There is no obvious reason why NorthLink could or would not have made these changes. They are state owned and will do as they are told.
      There is something obviously synthetic about giving these improvements as the driver of the change of contract.
      This sheer oddity of it is one of the contributory factors that lead us to see the decision as signalling a government stepping back from state ownership and preparing to unbundle the west coast routes.
      The irony here is that this is subject to an EU directive and the expert view is that the euro/eurozone will not survive a year – and it that proves correct, the EU will go.

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      • There’s also the question of how the contract was written by the government; it may be that Serco offered the service improvements as an ‘extra’ to what the specification required. It would be interesting to know what improvements Northlink offered, and also how their price compared with that of Serco.

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        • at the end of the day ,serco has shareholders who want a return on there investment ,northlink being owned by us would give any profit back to the goverrment .

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  5. Serco Marine Services is most certainly NOT a ‘cowboy outfit’. Furthermore, it is not, and never has been a policy for Serco to ‘strip’ pay and conditions. Serco is committed to ensuring that a high quality service is delivered on behalf of the taxpayer. To achieve this end, experienced and dedicated staff are retained at all times.

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    • Serco formed a joint venture, legally a LLP, with the pathology directorate of a large NHS hospital with which I was previously associated.
      I was previously a sub-contractor to that NHS unit (providing IT support to a legacy computer system), and all parties wanted me to support the changeover of computer systems, but Serco were very difficult about recognising me and paying my final invoices (ok now).
      I know that some staff in the pathology directorate were very unhappy about the details of the TUPE offer which was made to them; several senior staff left to go elsewhere, and I understand that many staff availed themselves of an opportunity to retain – in full – NHS terms of employment. (Of course, the latter opportunity couldn’t apply to any new employees, who would simply be employed by the LLP and not by the NHS.)
      .
      I am sure it is not Serco’s policy to strip terms and conditions. But that sometimes can be the perception, at the working level.

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      • We understand that there is a statutory minimum of positions to be filled on each speciifc size and type of ferry. We do not know whether NorthLink employed more than that or worked to the statutory number. If they employed more, then those jobs may be at risk under a different regime; and shore based jobs are clearly more vulnerable. A cynical question is whether the Transport Minister’s mention of ‘improved ticketing arrangements’ is a disguised note of warning to some shore staff.

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        • Since the contract is organised by the government for a service requiring massive injections of public cash, surely the ‘normal rules’ dictate that a change of operator with continuation of the same level of service requires wholesale transfer of existing staff at the same conditions of employment?

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          • This is what we understand – but evidnently TUPE allows for ‘offers’and, post-transfer, nothing can be guaranteed a little down the line.

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  6. The shift of the northern ferries from quasi-state to private operation is perhaps less radical than it seems, given that they had been operated by P&O before that (the co-founder of that shipping company was a Shetlander). What might happen in the future could be a lot more controversial; Serco used to run the Manchester Metrolink tram system, but it’s now in the hands of RATP – originally just the Paris city public transport undertaking, and still state owned. Down in England, as a result of electricity privatisation, a lot of people are customers of EDF – the French state electricity authority. So the British drive for privatisation can result in re-nationalisation, in these cases by France. Bizarre indeed, and it could happen to ferries.

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      • Talk of the devil – just this morning received through the post an offer from EDF Energy (Electricite de France) to switch to them and get ‘energy from low-carbon generation’.
        I could have sworn ‘the Hydro’ (aka Scottish & Southern Energy) produce extremely low carbon electricity in this part of the world, but EDF tell me that theirs is 3.9% from renewable and 61.8% from nuclear generation.
        That’ll include those state-run nuclear plants on the Rhone south of Lyon that had the choice of shutting down or melting down during the extreme heatwave a few years ago. Now’s the chance to renationalise our electricity service, but I think I’ll stick to the Hydro.

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  7. The BBC is now saying that the new Northern Isles ferry contract with Serco has been put on hold due to a legal challenge from another bidder – Streamline – who’s claiming to be more competitive. Heaven forfend that the government is as cack-handed as SPT in framing ferry contracts.

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  8. Pingback: Argyll News: Streamline challenge on Northern Ferries tender underlines paralysis of MacBrayne group | For Argyll

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