PRISON workers who claim they were ‘dumped’ as part of a new contract say they have been offered their jobs back but with less money.
Union bosses are preparing to launch industrial tribunals for 18 drug and alcohol workers who were not transferred to a new provider when Staffordshire County Council awarded the contract.
South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which held the contract until last Friday, has also taken legal advice about the situation.
The staff turned up for work on Monday to be told they weren’t needed. While there, one said a letter from Manchesterbased Lifeline, which took over the contract, said they were welcome to apply for jobs they were advertising to fulfil the service.
The company refused to transfer 30 workers from prisons across the county saying legislation, known as Tupe — transfer of undertakings (protection of employment) — didn’t apply because the jobs were changing. Some of the workers were redeployed by the trust, leaving 18 jobless.
One worker told the Newsletter she had been offered a job with Lifeline for less money.
“I have been offered the job through an agency. The staff I worked with have all been approached quite desperately. They are looking to interview next week.” The tearful mum said: “It’s distressing having to sign on the dole. People have been very, very low and anxious and depressed.” Another woman said she had been angered by comments made last week by county Councillor Robert Marshall who said Lifeline was changing the jobs.
“The thing that incensed me is Councillor Marshall saying the new providers were changing operating processes and that’s why we wouldn’t be (transferred).
“We have all seen the job specification and they are exactly the same. Most of the people I worked with were on £27,000.
Some went for interviews out of curiosity and the most they would pay was £19,000.
It’s all about money. We are supposed to be protected by Tupe.” Nick Jennings, Unison’s south Staffordshire branch chairman, said: “I think it’s common knowledge the posts are less money.
"One woman told me it was in the region of £14,000 less for her. On average it’s probably about £7,000 less.”
Union bosses have confirmed they will be starting industrial tribunal proceedings on behalf of the 18 people who lost their jobs last week.
Mr Jennings said: “As of Friday 18 staff are now without work. They presented at the prisons on Monday morning to be told they were no longer welcome there.
“The next steps are the union solicitors will be having a meeting with all 18 of our members and will be looking at the next steps towards an employment tribunal.
The union will be making claims against Lifeline and the trust for unfair dismissal and redundancy payments by one or the other.”
Councillor Marshall said: “The purpose of this change is to deliver a fully integrated drug and alcohol service in Staffordshire prisons and thus deliver better