I have just read an article in the Financial Times about the new "employee owned" privatisation of the civil servants pension fund. As an exponent of worker co-ops and employee ownership should I be happy?
I can't speak on behalf of the movement, but my own personal feeling is best described as 'uneasy'. I have no personal problem moving the means of production from the state direct to the workers (this may well get a lot of bad comments from trade unions, but so be it). I'm also in favour of experimenting with new models, innovation and the like.
So I'm interested, but also uneasy; there are elements of employee ownership, enough so that if the experiment fails employee ownership will get stained with that failure, Like the Tony Benn's worker co-ops of the 70's, and privatisation of bus companies in the 80's.
But are there enough elements of employee ownership or "John Lewis-style mutual" in place so that this new entity Ministers are poised to launch is a success? Will the employees get a real stake in ownership and control, driving up productivity and customer service? Will it create good jobs, motivated staff and probably most importantly for the Govt. Will it get public acceptance as a more palatable form privatisation, giving workers a more equitable share of the wealth? Lets have a read.
500 staff in the Department for Work and Pensions
will leave the public sector in March and become stakeholders in MyCSP, a
privately held company that will handle the retirement funds of 1.5m
civil servants, disbursing £4bn ($6.3bn) in pension payments each year.
Is it employee owned?
The MyCSP model, profits will be shared between a private sector
provider, which will hold a 42 per cent stake; the government, with 33
per cent; and employees, who will own 25 per cent of the shares. A shortlist of 16 private sector
providers has been narrowed to four – Xafinity, Capita, JLT and Wipro.
With a 25% stake I would say no, also its not clear if employees get 25% of the profits (and how this is distributed between employees).
Is it employee controlled?
Clive Bryant, PCS branch secretary in Worthing, said staff would have
no real say in the running of the company as they were represented on a
shareholder trust by a professional, experienced director, whose
position would be advertised, rather than a staff member. The director,
advised by employees, would influence decisions over bonuses and
charities but would have no control over company strategy. “In reality
staff will have an arms-length relationship,” he said. “It’s not as if
this is a workers co-op.”
There is an employee partnership council, but information is sketchy, information from PCS the Trade Union is of course bias. If anyone has details of governance and management information I'll be happy to post.
On the face of it I'd say no again.
Will this motivate & empower staff driving up performance?
The Government view taken from Francis Maudes response to a question about consultation with employees is below. Full details here.
Mr Maude: MyCSP is keen to transform its business into an innovative mutual joint venture that offers extensive benefits to employees, customers and the Government.
The Government support this endeavour. Extensive consultation with the employees of MyCSP has been carried out, led by the CEO, including face to face, written and telephone communications. Trade Unions have been consulted and I have met with them personally.
Elections are already under way for employees to sit on the Employee Partnership Council. This body will strengthen the voice of employees and involve them directly in the running of the company.
The view from the Trade Union: "The
vast majority of MyCSP members are opposed to leaving the civil service
and becoming part of a ‘mutual joint venture’. Ian Pope, PCS DWP group
negotiator, told PCS Voice: “MyCSP management
has consistently refused to canvass staff views on the decision to move
them out of the civil service and into a mutual joint venture. PCS
balloted its members in MyCSP and received overwhelming support for
Added to that 94% of members in an independent survey conducted by
PCS – from a high 55% response rate – said they did not agree with
Francis Maude that turning MyCSP would ‘empower staff and drive up
performance’.” Full Details here. Their specific response to Employee Partnership Council here.
I'm still interested, but still uneasy.
What do you think?