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BUNGLING privateers should be stripped of billions of pounds in taxpayers' cash that they were given to operate the government's failed "test and track" scheme, the Unite union is demanding.
The scheme had cost £10 billion by last month and that figure is still rising, according to government figures.
Unite is calling for the cash to be redirected for local councils to do the work instead when the government makes a decision on the contract later this month.
The union says that public contracts with private profiteers such as Sitel and disgraced outsourcing company Serco should be cancelled.
The companies recruit untrained and low-paid workers to carry out testing.
Unite said that giving the cash to local authorities could “herald a renaissance in local government.”
National officer for local government Jim Kennedy said: “This foolhardy and expensive reliance on private sector companies by the Tory government to deliver a comprehensive ‘test and trace’ programme is just another example of a misguided outsourcing policy that includes the ignominious failure of G4S to provide adequate security for the 2012 Olympics.
“Local government has a proven history going back to the end of the 19th century for delivering public-health initiatives to local communities — it is a scandal that it has been bypassed up to now in favour of controversial outsourcing companies where shareholders’ profits trump the public good.
“A new lucrative contract for Serco should be scrapped. Ministers should not fork out millions of taxpayers’ money when the decision is due later this month. Serco has failed spectacularly to find and isolate coronavirus cases in sufficient numbers.
“Boris Johnson’s so-called pledge to have a ‘world-beating’ test-and-trace system in place by June joins the promise of an ‘oven ready Brexit’ in the dustbin of empty rhetoric.”
Next Tuesday, August 18, Unite is holding a day of action in which members will be asked to visit a Serco site and take a picture or a video along with placards saying "Serco failed the test — local public health pass the test."
Serco’s contract is up for renewal on August 23.
Last year Serco was fined £19 million after it overcharged the government for carrying out electronic tagging for the justice ministry, which prompted an audit of its contracts.
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