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Re-tendering and the voluntary sector : implications for terms and conditions and workforce attitudes

Cunningham, Ian and Nickson, Dennis (2009) Re-tendering and the voluntary sector : implications for terms and conditions and workforce attitudes. In: 27th International Labour Process Conference, 2009-04-06 - 2009-04-08.

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The past twenty years has seen voluntary organizations take on the provision of delivering public services as the state has outsourced social services to the third sector (Kendall, 2003). Analysis of the employment implications of such outsourcing has revealed how work is deskilled and ‘leaned out’ leading to suffering deterioration in their terms and conditions of employment and becoming ‘burned out’ (Baines, 2004). Such conditions have been seen to apply even in countries such as the UK where successive governments have espoused a ‘partnership’ relationship with the third sector (Cunningham, 2008). One aspect of this dynamic which has not fully explored is the employee responses to outsourcing if this leads to and a transfer of employment to another agency, whether from public/private to voluntary or (or visa versa) voluntary to voluntary. More specifically, there have been relatively few studies that have explored the implications on employee morale and commitment from such transfers (Hebson, et al, 2003: Marchington, et al 2005). Such transfers are protected under EU law by the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations, but these are seen to have limited protection (Colling, 2000). It is the purpose of this paper to explore the above themes using the Scottish voluntary sector as its focus. This is particularly pertinent to the UK/EU Scottish non-profit sector as the EU’s Public Contracts Regulations 2006 (Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations, 2006 Directive 2004/18/EC has led to an intensification of retendering and outsourcing in the social care arena, where representative bodies have identified significant numbers of transfers of projects and staff as a consequence of these exercises (CCPS, 2008). This paper will be of interest to international audiences interested in the dynamics of inter-organizational relations and their impact on employment, worker orientations and commitment at work in networked forms, and those studying the employment implications of outsourcing to the third sector across the EU and beyond. The data from the paper is drawn from three qualitative case studies, that includes interviews with senior managers responsible for negotiating retenders, personnel specialists and front line staff.