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Procurement of Goods and Services

Assembly Commission – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:00 am on 21st January 2008.

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Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin 4:00 am, 21st January 2008

3. asked the Assembly Commission to outline what consideration it gives, when contracting and procuring services and goods, to the arrangements that will be made for trades union and staff representation; and to detail the processes that are put in place for monitoring and reviewing these conditions, to ensure that agreed terms and conditions for staff are adhered to by the provider of the services or goods.       (AQO 1438/08)

Photo of Stephen Moutray Stephen Moutray DUP

The Assembly Commission does not specify that an organisation selected as a provider of goods or services must have either trade union or staff representation. When selecting a service provider, the Commission considers the relevant competencies required to meet service provision. It cannot exclude a contractor who does not have a trade union. Each company has the ability and flexibility to decide how to achieve desired industrial relations. However, the Commission recognises that a high standard of industrial relations is necessary, so it includes a clause in the terms of all contracts to ensure that staff are not treated in a discriminatory or unfair way. The Commission also considers staff turnover rates during the procurement process, as that is a robust and effective method of measuring employee satisfaction.

The staff relations of a contractor can also be measured by how well the contract is performing. It is unlikely that a supplier with inadequate staff relations will be able to perform the contract consistently to a satisfactory level. Furthermore, contractors are formally evaluated in contract review meetings — such as the recent support services contract review — which are held twice a year.

If a contract manager becomes aware of a contractor failing to comply with either statutory or contractual obligations, the matter will be treated seriously. If the situation is not remedied, the contractor might be found to be in breach of contract.

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

I thank the Member for answering on behalf of the Commission, and I am delighted to hear the response. I previously raised an issue with the Commission regarding the cleaning staff in Parliament Buildings, and there was an understanding that the cleaning staff are not entitled to trade union representation. I am also delighted that the conditions and contracts are reviewed.