Finland: Many municipalities plan to recall work that has been outsourced

(December 2011) Many municipalities and joint authorities (set up by two or more local authorities to tend to specific tasks on a permanent basis) are disappointed with the results of outsourcing. And the dissatisfaction is so great that up to a fifth of these public organizations plan to take back outsourced work so that it can be done once again by their own personnel.

This is one of the major findings from the latest questionnaire directed at JHL (Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors) shop stewards in local and joint authorities. Replies to the questionnaire came from 210 shop stewards in 140 municipalities and 47 joint authorities or municipal share companies. The reply rate was 49 per cent.

The most common form of work where this take back option is under consideration is cleaning. Many shop stewards also mention in this connection social and healthcare services, catering, accounting, property services, messenger services, heat utility, switchboards, sick transportation, electronic data processing together with several other sectors.

The logic and goal behind this take back manoeuvre is often to make savings. Many respondents refer also to quality problems with outsourced work.

Notwithstanding the growing dissatisfaction a full one third of the shop stewards warned of plans to transfer services to municipal share companies. Such plans concern, for example, cleaning, catering, property services, water and energy utilities and pay and financial administrations. The long list also includes health services, ports, transport and teaching and secretary services. Those plans are much more common in larger towns and municipalities next to them than in small rural municipalities.

In at least half of these cases planners promise that by converting municipal organizations into municipal share companies or outsourcing work in other forms will provide savings. But replies to the questionnaire clearly show that better quality is not guaranteed.

Article by Juhani Artto