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TSSA letter to TfL Finance Board

22/11/2011

TfL Finance Committee
C/o Shamus Kenny
Head of Secretariat
5th Floor
Windsor House
42-50 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0TL

Date: 22 November 2011

TPH RAM Board Paper

I am writing to you on behalf of both TSSA and PCS trade union members about Transport for London’s plans to privatise the London Taxi and Private Hire Department which will lead to cuts in staff and cause safety risks for passengers.

Transport for London’s plans appear to be fairly well advanced, despite their lack of consultation with staff and the taxi industry, and they have already conducted a tendering exercise which has resulted in two short listed bidders, Capita and NSL. I am led to understand the scheme will be the subject of discussion at the company’s Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday 23rd November as well as at the TfL Board meeting in early December.

The whole scheme will mean more than 100 members of staff will be transferred to the successful bidder under the TUPE legislation, with as many as 68 people seeing their work moved to either Coventry or Northampton.

Workers are being told that there will be no redundancies, but we find that hard to believe given the additional travelling that many people will incur. This potential re-location will cut out the expertise and knowledge of London that the LTPH staff has built up. The employees that are to be relocated work closely with the Metropolitan Police on a regular basis and interact with cab drivers in relation to CRB and other security checks. Much of this work is done on a one to one basis, as many drivers do not have English as their first language. Many also do not have access to email and electronic means of communication, yet the proposed new privatised process will rely on on-line licence applications.

I am also advised that the Licensing Officers, who will remain in London, are to see the number of their posts reduced both on days and nights. This will have serious consequences, as any reductions will cut the number of licensing inspections that can be carried out. TfL’s own Website claims 6,000 unlicensed cab drivers have been arrested since the Safer Travel at Night Scheme began in 2003 whilst in 2009/10 there were 143 reported cab related sexual offences.
In just one example quoted by a Licensing Officer, an unlicensed private hire driver who became subject to various checks was exposed as wanted by the police for rape.

Without sufficient staff to carry out thorough inspections, there is the potential that the work done in the past will be undermined and people trying to avoid detection will be missed in the future, with all the consequences that that could entail.

TfL appears intent on carrying this project forward having briefed staff and held an initial consultation meeting with TSSA staff representatives. Out with the obvious concerns about loosing jobs for Londoners by moving them out of the Capital, we believe that this is an unsafe and dangerous privatisation that could unravel the purposes of the Safer Travel at Night Scheme. That is why some of the cab driver associations are opposed to the proposed outsourcing and are working with us, and several other organisations with an interest in safety are expressing interest our campaign.

I am also writing to draw your attention to a number of additional points that need to be addressed in relation to the manner and the content of this outsourcing proposal. In particular, we are concerned about:

  •  Inadequate and incomplete external consultation with interested organisations
  • Inadequate and incomplete internal consultation as well as meaningful trade union consultation
  • Failure to disclose the business case in a timely manner
  • Unrealistic deadlines with available Workstream trade union resources
  • Proposed IT improvements and subsequent deliverables are not completely dependant on outsourcing (cost savings will be achieved – see alternative option 4.4)
  • No reference to TPH PHV additional licensing conditions in the business case
  • Risk of catastrophic failure of the service provider during implementation, contract term and consequential detriment of service provision to customers
  • The overall financial service failure deductions are capped at 20% of the relevant monthly operational charges. Thus, if the service provider performs inadequately owing to ineffective financial forecasting, performance management tools do not appear to be vigorous to be able to cope with a high level of poor performance
  • TUPE requirement to relocate staff unreasonable distances meaning are all staff able to relocate with possible unfair dismissal issues?
  • Staff reductions, quality of staff knowledge and experience will affect quality of the service to customers
  • Previous Organisational Change (commenced March 2011) led to staff reductions and a loss of skills, knowledge and experience and in turn generated further recruitment post Organisational Change; there is the prospect of allocation of resources away from licensing applications to call handling resulting in unreasonable accumulation of licensing tasks
  • TPH outsourcing initiation costs appear to be greater than in house operating costs until 2015 which conflicts with the basic principle of Horizon, creating intangible effects on TfL skills, knowledge and experience.

It is for all of the reasons above that I am asking you to reject this ill thought out and unnecessary scheme.

If you wish to meet to discuss these points further, please contact me.

Yours sincerely

Manuel Cortes
General Secretary

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