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GUMMER URGED TO ACT AMID GROWING FEARS OVER TUPE

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Councils have joined contractors in voicing deep concern over a European Court of Justice case which could see TUPE...
Councils have joined contractors in voicing deep concern over a European Court of Justice case which could see TUPE scrapped for public service contracts.

Leicester City Council chief executive Rodney Green has written to environment secretary John Gummer over the Suzen case, urging him to take action urgently to clarify matters.

Advocate General Antonio La Pergola has already delivered his opinion on the case: 'It is unjustifiable that the operator, on whom the contract was conferred, should be obliged to retain the personnel who previously provided the service.'

In his letter, Mr Green said: 'Local authorities, contractors and employees are all placed in a difficult position while uncertainty remains as to the application of TUPE and the acquired rights directive to local authority externalisation.

'It is clear that councils are likely to be deterred from considering voluntary externalisation as an option and the current legal uncertainty confuses the CCT process to the financial peril of contractors and councils alike.'

Hyndburn BC head of legal service Linda Comstive has written to the Public Contractors Association, the group which first raised concerns over Suzen, stating that, if TUPE did not apply to its next round of tendering and the council lost its in-house contracts, 'the costs of redundancy and termination would I think be quite devastating for this authority'.

Elsewhere, Bedfordshire CC chief executive Denis Cleggett said consistency and certainty were needed in European court rulings, a sentiment echoed by Hertfordshire CC personnel director Alan Warner and Shrewsbury and Atcham BC borough solicitor Andrew Footner.

Havant BC borough solicitor Christopher Duggan said he agreed with the PCA's position on the case and the council is to consider endorsing a statement of support for TUPE.

But the Labour Party does not appear to share the immediate concerns of local authorities.

A letter from shadow employment minister Stephen Byers to the PCA said Labour's preliminary view was that the case related to secondary transfers and 'does not necessarily undermine previous decisions about primary transfers'.

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