The following response to the Draft Programme for Government 2011-15 submitted by SIPTU.
http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/draft-pfg-2011-2015.pdf (Link to Draft PfG)
We will not comment upon each commitment, although the vast majority we welcome such as “invest in social enterprise growth to increase sustainability in the board community sector” however another such as “press for the devolution of corporation tax and reduce it’s level” are not. However we are limiting our response to one commitment in the PfG and one omission.
Priority 5: Delivering High Quality and Efficient Public Services.
Social Clause “Include Social Clauses in public procurement contracts for suppliers, services and construction”
SIPTU has welcomed the publication by the Northern Ireland Executive of the Draft Programme for Government 2011-15, and in particular its pledge to “include social clauses in public procurement contracts for supplies, services and construction”. While the term social contract covers a multitude of areas, all of which we also welcome, we are limiting our response to the clauses offering protection of people working for companies or organisations who are funded from the public purse. In this regard we trust that the provision of a social clause into public procurement contracts will ensure these contracts contain ‘a threshold of decency clause’ in relation to terms and conditions of employment for any organisation employing staff and securing government funding.
We are aware from contact with our membership and organisations in the Community and Voluntary of growing concerns that Government Departments are seeking ever increasing ‘efficiencies’ from the Sector in funding. Some organisations have regrettably addressed this conundrum by reducing the pay or hours of work of the staff they employ. This, if not adequately addressed will result in a race to the bottom in the terms and conditions of employment in the sector. It will also result in the loss of experienced, skilled and committed staff. This will then lead to a reduction in the quality and level of community and voluntary services.
SIPTU believes the insertion of threshold of decency clauses as a Social Clause will provide organisations with a level playing field to compete for Government contracts based upon the solely upon the quality of service they provide. We believe workers providing key services deserve the inclusion of a social clause and the Northern Ireland Executive needs to be applauded for this commitment. We hope that this commitment when implemented into policy will result in appropriate protection for workers and services provided to the public.
We also seek that these clauses be reviewed periodically by representatives of the Government Departments issuing public procurement contracts, the employers organisations and the trade union representatives.
SIPTU notes that policy makers have many competing demands for commitments to be included in the draft PFG. We are nevertheless disappointed that a commitment to secure Peace 4 funding was not included in the draft PFG. Noting the valuable work undertaken by Peace 1,2,and 3 Programmes and also aware that our society requires much more assistance as we attempt to resolve the legacy of the troubles. We hope the Executive shares our understanding in this regard.