Aberdeenshire UNISON

Save Our Services - Branch campaign against privatisation

Update January 2015
Design and photography services to stay in-house after UNISON pressure

Aberdeenshire Council has ditched plans to outsource its design and photography service after the branch sent a briefing out to all councillors making the case for in-house provision. The design service will now be formally reviewed by the council.

See the briefing below.

See press release

Click here for Aberdeenshire UNISON report on the benefits of insourcing.

Inez Teece

Inez Teece

Inez Teece, Branch Secretary said, “We are very pleased that the council listened to UNISON’s concerns and has agreed to keep the design and photography services in-house. We made the case that outsourcing rarely if ever saves money and often creates more expense if services, as often happens, have to be brought back in house.

“We are disappointed that the council still plans to outsource the print service and we will continue to make the arguments that this is a mistake which may very well come back to bite the council and council tax payers. We are also concerned that outsourcing the printing of confidential material risks breaches and we hope the council will not fall foul of this, given the sensitivity of some of its information both personal and commercial.

Morag Lawrence

Morag Lawrence

Morag Lawrence, Steward in Design and Print added, “We will also engage with the planned review of the design service to try and make sure that the council takes a realistic approach and that our members are protected.

"We know that job losses are being considered and we are very clear that if these go ahead the design service will be unable to provide the excellent service that it currently does and that other parts of the council – those that use the design service – will suffer.”


Update Nov 2014

Branch calls on council to reconsider privatisation of Design and Print Services

The Branch has called on elected members to reconsider their plan to privatise the Print and Design service alongside the renewal of the printing and photocopying contract.

In a Briefing to all councillors, the branch has commended Aberdeenshire Council for having not gone down the route of many others by outsourcing/privatising its services and urged it not to sell off their Print and Design Service for short-term gain. The full text of the Briefing is set out below.

Morag Lawrence

Morag Lawrence

A paper compiled by Morag Lawrence detailing the benefits of insourcing was also sent to councillors.

Inez Teece, Branch Secretary said, "We have launched a dialogue with the employers to continue over the coming months to campaign to keep services in house not only for print and design but for all council services.

"UNISON will not sit back and let our services and staff be sold off to the highest bidder when the people of Aberdeenshire will end up picking up the costs in financial terms and diminished services."


Dear Councillor


Aberdeenshire UNISON is asking you to reconsider your decision, agreed by Policy and Resources committee on 11th September 2014 item 34, to pursue the privatisation of not only the Photocopying Services, Printing Services but also Design Services.

Aberdeenshire Council, I am proud to say, has generally not gone down the route of many others by outsourcing/privatising its services.

Aberdeenshire in keeping in house, has provided excellent value for money services that meet the needs of the people of Aberdeenshire.

On a recent Survey of Colleagues in Local Government I asked each what their Local Authority position was.  Of the 14 that replied at the time of writing this briefing, only 1 had outsourced and the others remain with an in house print and design facility.

Aberdeenshire is proposing to be in a minority by pursuing outsourcing privatisation.

UNISON is aware that attempts to outsource and privatise services can lead to problems and often increased costs.  A report is attached and I ask you to consider its contents.

The current Print Service has made a profit over the last number of years and is responsive to the needs of the Council, with staff meeting deadlines and requirements seamlessly.

The question UNISON asks is – Will a private profit driven company be willing to provide the bespoke service we have come to expect? And if so, what will be the cost?

The Design Service provides all of Aberdeenshire publicity material from design ideas to a finished template dealing with the specific needs of the service and individual, they are always available and make changes as requested, up to the last minute, being available to communicate with.

Will a private Company be so willing to be so flexible?  Will they make changes at any time, let alone last minute, without charging?  How much is it going to cost when we have no option to use a private Company for simple design and publicity material? What about confidentiality? Many of the documents currently sent from printing include sensitive and confidential information.

I am aware the decision was made to pursue the option of outsourcing.


Is it not too late? You may ask.

Aberdeenshire can continue its proud tradition of being the provider of choice for the people of Aberdeenshire.

We can still keep these Services in house, where we have proven we can make a profit.

Is that profit not better in the Council’s hands than that of a private Company?

Do we want a flexible Service that meets the needs of the Council or do we want to be tied to the rules of a private Company and a contract, every time we need a photograph or leaflet printing?

Do we want to be one of the few Local Authorities that have sold off their Print & Design Service for short term gain?

This is an impassioned plea by UNISON on behalf of our members to reconsider.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Branch Secretary