Changes to youth services in Sheffield mustn't be rushed warns trade union

Trade unions representing youth workers in Sheffield have voiced concern over the council’s plan to take over the direct running of the city’s youth services on October 1.

Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 1:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th June 2020, 4:10 pm

Sheffield’s youth services have been run by Sheffield Futures for the last 15 years but under new plans the contract, which is due to end on September 30, will not renew.

It has been on pause since a fractious meeting between councillors in which Council Leader Julie Dore defended her decision to bring the service back in-house on October 1.

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As the Council’s Cabinet looks to meet today, June 17, to approve the plans, the trade union Unison is pleading with the authority to delay the transfer due to the current pandemic.

Unison Regional Organiser, Robin Symonds, said: “In general terms, Unison supports the in-sourcing of services by local authorities. However, we wrote to the Council in March to express our concern at the timetable that is being proposed in this instance and to ask that the transfer be delayed due to the Coronavirus.

“The in-sourcing will mean that more than a hundred employees will transfer from Sheffield Futures to the Council on October 1. The law requires consultation to take place ‘in good time’ with recognised trade unions.

“It is impossible to envisage how this legal requirement can be met during the ongoing Coronavirus situation.

“The vast majority of Sheffield Futures employees are currently working from home and there is simply no safe way to consult with over a hundred people in the timeframe that has been set out by the Council.

“Further to our request in March for the transfer to be delayed, the Council offered Sheffield Futures a six-month extension to their current contract, which was accepted.”

The council, however, withdrew the extension a few days later according to Mr Symonds.

He added: “The Council must not rush the change and must make sure everything is properly in place, including consultation with employees via their trade unions, before it goes ahead.”

“This is essential to ensure the service is fit for purpose but will be impossible to achieve by October 1 and we implore the Cabinet to delay the transfer by six months.”