Wiltshire council workers are being denied their trade union rights

Written by Jeff Osborn on .


Your readers may remember that over a year ago I raised the matter regarding the performance of Wiltshire Council’s new main contractor, Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP) on grass cutting, pot holes, street cleaning, etc.   This resulted in the establishment of a Council Scrutiny Task Group which examined the whole issue in some detail.

The major problem revolved around the need for improved communication with parish and town councils plus the public.  I am happy to say that recent experience indicates ongoing improvement. The start of grass cutting this year has worked well.  

However, we must not be complacent.  BBLP has a wide range of contractual responsibilities, therefore then Task Group will continue its monitoring.  Council and BBLP workers all deserve credit for the extraordinary effort they put in the recent weeks of flood emergency.

During my involvement with the scrutiny process further information emerged.  When the new BBLP contract came into being various council workers transferred across to the new contractors.  

This took place under the TUPE legislation, which means that workers move across with their length of service and terms and conditions intact.  Part of their council employment was official trade union recognition.  Hence their trade unions could negotiate with their new employers – BBLP.

It now transpires that BBLP, using some legal loophole, will no longer recognise trade unions.  Consequently, the terms and conditions of the transferred workers have deteriorated.  

This, for two reasons, I consider to be a disturbing development.  First, the right to belong to a trade union to represent workers should be seen as a basic democratic right in a free society.  Second, such lack of trade union recognition can only sour industrial relations within what is now a major county employer.


Jeff Osborn
Independent Wiltshire Councillor