Published: 25 March, 2010
by RICHARD OSLEY
A LEADING parking company which scooped a massive £46million deal to run Camden’s warden service is set to lay off staff just months after scooping the lucrative contract.
NSL Services said that more drivers were steering clear of penalties, meaning there was less work for staff to do. Months earlier, the company had remarked on the borough’s streets being among “the busiest”.
NSL sealed a new six-year deal with the council in January and union members had expected jobs to be protected in the negotiations.
One source said that although universal job protection was not written into the fine print of the contract, there had been a “tacit agreement” between the council and its contractors that people would not lose their jobs when the company renewed its arrangements with the Town Hall.
The company, previously known as NCP, has been in charge of the warden and enforcement team since 2004 when Camden replaced former contractors Apcoa.
Its new deal is the longest ever granted by Camden and was highly coveted by rival firms.
Just four months in, staff in the CCTV unit have been canvassed for voluntary redundancies and warned that staff cuts are imminent.
Unison, the largest union at the council and who represent many of the workers in the unit, were protesting on the steps of the Town Hall last night (Wednesday).
It is one of the first battles in a series of confrontations that unions fear they will have with the council over the job cuts, across departments, in the next year.
George Binette, the union’s branch secretary, said: “We think savings should be found in NSL’s profit margins, not with our members’ jobs. The company has just signed what is a very lucrative deal with Camden and the levels of enforcement here give the company the opportunity for high revenue, so we don’t see why our members should be losing their jobs. The council should have made sure people were protected when the negotiations for the new contract were taking place.”
The union was in meetings with the company’s management yesterday and more talks are likely today.
Mr Binette added: “We will be pushing for people to be able to keep their jobs or much better redundancy settlements than the ones being offered so far.”
When the deal was signed earlier this year, NSL’s commercial director Graham Williams said: “Camden’s streets are among the busiest in the UK, so managing parking on them is a high profile and challenging service.”
A joint statement issued by NSL and Camden Council, released on Tuesday, said: “We understand that changes within an organisation can be stressful to staff and we hope that all those affected can be accommodated. However, increasing numbers of drivers are complying with the rules and as a result fewer penalty charge notices are being issues, which means we need less enforcement in the contract.”
It added that nine jobs from a pool of 71 were “potentially at risk”.
“Currently we are consulting with potentially affected staff, and several members of staff have expressed interest in moving to other available jobs within the company,” the statement added.
“We are also discussing voluntary redundancy, and at the moment a number of people have expressed an interest, so we are hopeful that we will not have to make anyone compulsorily redundant.”