Sunday 28 February 2010

Brighton and Hove Council's cheap labour scheme

Council cutting jobs and replacing them with "apprenticeships"

Anyone reading City News will be aware that the Council is trumpeting its Apprenticeships Strategy, claiming to have already created 70 apprenticeships with an aim of creating 500 by 2012 with other city employers.

Indeed, no-one could argue with the idea of creating genuine apprenticeships where young people can learn the skills they need for the labour market - even though this sits a little awkwardly with the simultaneous cutting of 100 jobs.

But there is now clear evidence that the Council is using apprenticeships to actually replace jobs - getting rid of skilled employees and getting apprentices to do their work at a fraction of the cost.

As a trade union rep it falls to me to be consulted on management proposals for the restructuring of services and departments, and I received a briefing on just such a restructure last Thursday. I was presented with a paper which showed quite clearly the cutting of posts alongside the increasing of the number of apprenticeships. Now, I could of course have misunderstood what the paper appeared to be suggesting, but the manager concerned was very helpful and quite happy to spell out the message......"we're cutting too-expensive full-time permanent posts and covering the work with apprentices".

Staff in the service concerned will find this out on Monday 1st March, and I will post again with more detail after that.

But perhaps people might be wanting to ask the Council what their agenda in creating apprenticeships actually is.

Creating opportunities for young people? Or cutting costs and getting work on the cheap on the way to zero tax-rise Nirvana?

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