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BSF Thread, BSF - Trying to drive us out before hand? in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; So, after nearly 3 weeks off work with severe back pain I finally returned to work and was filled in ...
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    Zoom7000's Avatar
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    BSF - Trying to drive us out before hand?

    So, after nearly 3 weeks off work with severe back pain I finally returned to work and was filled in on what had been a quiet few weeks. However, it was immediately apparent that what had been quiet on the network support front certainly hadn't been quiet on the "political" front.

    Behaviour from some of the management above is almost starting to seem as if there have been certain meetings at the TUPE discussions telling them to make our lives such a pain that we walk before it gets to that stage.

    I certainly am not one to walk. I can't afford to, have rent to pay and a family to look after, but it is starting to get more and more frustrating. No confidence being shown in our abilities. Being asked to take advice on all major purchases from the LA and RM before we buy, and if they disagree then we aren't allowed to do it. If anything major goes wrong, management demand we log everything and call the LA and follow their instructions. What the hell do they have to do with it? The funniest thing was we were asked to replace the SQL server for Sims by the LA. We recommended a spec and management asked that we get the LA's view. So, we asked them, and they spec'd a worser spec then what we already had and what they asked us to replace!

    Does anyone else have the feeling that BSF is all about "Get rid of those annoying techies before we have to take them on to our company? We don't want them, you deal with them, before it is too late!"

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    So they want you to be the LA and RMs puppet until the take over? Sounds fun. Maybe you should just do as you're told and buy that server which the LA recommended... a few months of idiotic decisions may change their evident oppinion that the LA and RM are "gods"

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    Gatt's Avatar
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    Isn't this bordering on Constructive Dismissal?

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    If they have suddenly changed their tune, ie. you never used to have to run things past the LA etc... and you're responsibilities are being eroded (not paying attention to your advice, and requiring all actions to be ok'd by the LA beforehand is just that), then you have a simple case of constructive dismissal.

    I would speak to your union, and present a case to your SMT with a union rep with you.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Don't bite my head off when I say this, but you are going to struggle with constructive dismissal.

    Let's take this from the top ... and correct me if I have some stuff wrong within this particular wave we are talking about.

    The contract is pretty much sorted (not sure about financial closure, but I think that is done and dusted now) and the procedures for how things are going to run after the contracts starts are nearly there ... they just have to sort out the TUPE and which staff are doing what jobs (possibly even where!)

    The school, LA and the MSP are going to try and get schools operating the new model as soon as they can to stop kit being bought that the MSP is not going to support (either because it is not stuff they are going to contracted to support or kit that they are going to be contracted to purchase and implement). The LA at this point have already started restricting money to the schools to stop things being purchased. So it is perfectly reasonable for the school to be told 'check with us first'!

    This is not saying that you are doing a rubbish job, or even ignoring you expert opinion ... it is just saying that it has to be passed by other criteria before a decision gets made and that decision may be different to yours for lots of reasons.

    The thing you need to establish with your union rep is whether you are being asked to do the 'new' job under the MSP contract and whether you should be made to do this before you are TUPEd across.

    If you have not had a close talk with your SMT then you should do so as soon as possible. They may already be aware that this is going to cause serious problems but due to politics they have opted for the route of 'it is the LA's problem and we are just going to have to keep a track of things then hit them with a hammer later' ... not much help to you but as has been said a number of times before the politics is going to get in the way of a number of things.

    Once you have clearly established what you are meant to do under your employed job by the school and whether that has changed at the instruction of the school or the LA (presuming that one of these is your direct employer). If this has changed without your consultation and before the new contract then it can be taken further ... but your union is likely to concentrate on making sure you have a job under the new contract, working as close to your old job description as possible and on the same, or slightly higher, salary.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    The issue is though, that if these conditions are new, ie. no consulatation/agreement to these new conditions, then it doesn't matter 1 bit what stage of the BSF process they are in.

    The issue is consultation with staff. No consultation, with significant changes to your job equals constructive dismissal.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    There are usually a few key things including in most JDs and contracts in schools ...

    The first is 'and any other task the headteacher deems appropriate' and the other is 'additional equivalent tasks may be substituted for the above tasks'.

    The first means that you can be asked to do stuff you are experienced or qualified to do if it does not mean that you will have to drop any existing work or be expected to do something that is usually done by someone else but you do it at a cheaper rate.

    The last means that they can take an aspect of your job and substitute it for a similar aspect that involves the same or less work, for the same or lesser level of responsibility but they have to pay you the same.

    Yes, this is meant to be done via consultation, but is not always (someone being off ill for a longer period that 10 days can mean that organised meetings may not have been attended). Tings to ask include whether there were meetings that you would have attended if you had not been ill (they should have either been re-arranged for you or one-to-one sessions about the meetings should have be conducted when you came back ... it sometimes depends on the custom & practice at your school).

    That brings us on to the last aspect. A large number of reasons that constructive dismissals fail is due the the lack of logging what went on by the complainant or that the complainant has neglected to discover how often activities within the schools that are regarded as 'custom and practice' are reviewed and assumed as 'policy'.

    Still ... union advice is a must anyway.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    The first is 'and any other task the headteacher deems appropriate' and the other is 'additional equivalent tasks may be substituted for the above tasks'.
    The first I've seen (and is on my own contract), the second, I've never heard of or seen. And I'd seriously wonder if it was legal under contractual law. It would allow for substantial variation of a contract without consultation, which is specifically discussed in contract law as being unfair and illegal.

    The last means that they can take an aspect of your job and substitute it for a similar aspect that involves the same or less work, for the same or lesser level of responsibility but they have to pay you the same.
    That's precisely why I question that clause. What you are saying is that a school can destroy your job without telling you - which is precisely what constructive dismissal is.

    That brings us on to the last aspect. A large number of reasons that constructive dismissals fail is due the the lack of logging what went on by the complainant or that the complainant has neglected to discover how often activities within the schools that are regarded as 'custom and practice' are reviewed and assumed as 'policy'.

    Still ... union advice is a must anyway.
    Agree with both thoughts here. You definitely need to document everything. And consultation with a union or a solicitor specialising in contract law/employment law is essential.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoom7000 View Post
    The funniest thing was we were asked to replace the SQL server for Sims by the LA. We recommended a spec and management asked that we get the LA's view. So, we asked them, and they spec'd a worser spec then what we already had and what they asked us to replace!
    I don't know what you specc'ed and what they specc'ed so it's not possible to say who's in the wrong here. It's quite possible they haven't got a clue and have just specc'ed the cheapest thing they could find on Ebay or they could have looked at what other schools are running successfully and chosen that.

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    You need to make SMT aware of the situation - if the LA has come back with a different specification than the one you produced, SMT may be under the impression that you chose an unwise specification, and think that forcing the LA to be involved was absolutely necessary.

    Email the LA - tell them that your puzzled that they recommended an upgrade, and then gave a specification that was below the specification of the system that you already have. You need to get them to confirm the situation, because if you can keep the original server, then that will be cheaper and less disruptive than changing it.

    Send a copy to your SMT - it will remind them you're still looking out for their interests (re cost and disruption).

    The LA may just have made a mistake - but until you know whether it was the first time round, or the second, you're stumped.

    BSF is happening regardless - take the moral high ground and be your usual professional self - they may start to realise what they're going to miss out on.

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    Zoom7000's Avatar
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    Most of the stuff here I don't really have a say in. It's stuff that is in my line manager's remit (Network Manager) i.e. He was asked to spec a new server etc etc. However, I do have input and we are feeling the "politics" as a department not just individually. I don't think we have any grounds for contructive dismissal, however, now that I know about it (thank you Gatt!) I will keep an eye out.

    The contract is pretty much sorted (not sure about financial closure, but I think that is done and dusted now) and the procedures for how things are going to run after the contracts starts are nearly there ... they just have to sort out the TUPE and which staff are doing what jobs (possibly even where!)

    The school, LA and the MSP are going to try and get schools operating the new model as soon as they can to stop kit being bought that the MSP is not going to support (either because it is not stuff they are going to contracted to support or kit that they are going to be contracted to purchase and implement). The LA at this point have already started restricting money to the schools to stop things being purchased. So it is perfectly reasonable for the school to be told 'check with us first'!
    It's annoying really. I have posted many a link and confirmation here on Edugeek that our LA have chosen RM as the preferred bidder. (Confirmed on the Borough's Website, RM's Website, Yahoo News and many, many other contruction journals) This was in April. We still, as employees, have not had any formal notification of this. The reason SLT and the LA give? The contracts haven't been signed yet! Hello? Why the confirmations on both parties websites? If so, why are RM doing health checks on our network?

    What is interesting is that whilst I was away, RM came in to do this health check. We have had numerous issues lately. Including a failing server that needs replacing and also we suggested clustering to try to avoid future downtime. I was told that the RM rep agreed with all our concerns and suggestions. Yet, the official RM report stated we have no major problems on the network and will not need to be spending any large sums of money.

    In addition to this. Our server room. When the AC was installed, we had around 4 servers + Coms Cabinet. Now there are nearly 15 servers and a damn lot more switched and fiber panels in the cabinet. We have been telling the SLT for nearly a year that the AC needs replacing, but were told we have to deal with it. Yet, RM stated it needed replacing on the report, and lo and behold, we're being told to replace the AC... Now if that is not a lack of confidence in our judgements, I don't know what is. Is this a case of listen to RM because they have PLC or Ltd after their name and don't listen to the Tech's because they don't?

    (someone being off ill for a longer period that 10 days can mean that organised meetings may not have been attended)
    I know I haven't missed any meetings, because simply put, there haven't been any. The SLT, LA and RM have had plenty of meetings, yet, they seem to have forgotton all about the people centrally involved in all of this - US!

    This is not saying that you are doing a rubbish job, or even ignoring you expert opinion ... it is just saying that it has to be passed by other criteria before a decision gets made and that decision may be different to yours for lots of reasons.
    The school has the budget. The LA have never had any input in our curicculum network and if the contracts haven't been signed yet, as they are saying, and yes, the LA have told us to continue as normal until we are told otherwise, which we haven't, then why should we have to consult with the LA. We are being told to consult with the LA on major expenditure "just to cover our backs" Why? We know what we are doing, we always have until an official embargo on expenditure is set, why should we need to stop now?

    I've come to terms with accepting the BSF and everything and like I said, I will never walk, because simply put I can't afford to. I just wish people in higher positions, who will never have to worry about finances like us poorly paid technicians, and never have to worry about job security or even what their job entails, would make our lives easier in an already messed up situation that is BSF!

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    We still, as employees, have not had any formal notification of this. The reason SLT and the LA give? The contracts haven't been signed yet! Hello?
    I just wish people in higher positions, who will never have to worry about finances like us poorly paid technicians, and never have to worry about job security or even what their job entails, would make our lives easier in an already messed up situation that is BSF!
    I'm afraid that the reason you haven't heard anything is because the people in higher positions are doing their job. They are making sure the service continues, if you and your colleagues find out about the implications of BSF then there is a risk that you would leave and the service could fall apart before the managed service arrives. It is saddening, I know. but the best you can do is either hang tight or find another job.

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    BSF is happening.... it is not going to be an easy journey for a lot of people.
    Once the decision has been made, even if contracts have not been signed the writing is on the wall.

    As far as I can see you (& the rest of us?) have two choices:

    1) Walk... which may not be an option for some

    2) Co-operate. Recognise who is going to be paying your wages.... Go along with what the MSP is recommending, be prepared to discuss issues or concerns with them in a positive way, provide 'local' knowledge, make yourself known to them & demonstrate your value to them, show willingness to be part of their team.

    The second approach may be counter to your feelings & it may be tough, but they are going to be your paymaster, and your job security (if any) will be influenced by your value to the MSP. If you are hostile, confrontational, negative they will do their best to see you on your way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by broc View Post
    BSF is happening.... it is not going to be an easy journey for a lot of people.
    Once the decision has been made, even if contracts have not been signed the writing is on the wall.

    As far as I can see you (& the rest of us?) have two choices:

    <snip>
    I've not been involved at all in BSF but is there no possibility of going to work for the managed service providers outside the school?

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    Unfortunately, one of the big things about outsourcing is that it changes the focus of your job, away from the things that you used to do (like the actual job!)

    Instead issues such as pay, who does what and when become a major focus of the job that does not go away for a considerable time.

    Patience and time will help prove some of the obvious things that you are seeing that are wrong.

    Many people often start looking for a new job, others actually like the new setup as they enjoy the politics etc that go along with this sort of transistion. Politics as you have already noticed has become a bigger part of your job than it used to be!

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