by Less-Than-Pragmatic Dwarf
Another month, another shambles as Bristol City Council’s dodgy unions bend over backwards to help the employer. This time it’s redundancy pay that’s at risk but, instead of telling the employer to go “do one”, our comrades have, er, bravely thrown in the towel.
Citing the obvious line that if unions don’t go along with the cut, the employer will change their contracts anyway, our reps have come up with a piss-poor, face-saving formula that they will add “checks and balances” to the proposals.
Management would threaten unilateral changes to contracts, wouldn’t they? It’s the first – and oldest – trick in the book. Instead of saying “nice try sunshine!”, our not-so-bright colleagues scratched the top of their heads, fell over their clown shoes and surrendered.
One of the “checks and balances” reported to our Industrial Correspondent is an increase to voluntary severance payments. A windfall that, for ordinary workers, is as rare as hen’s teeth. Besides, what manager proposing a restructure will choose the more expensive, but more equitable, voluntary route to redundancy when it’s cheaper just to choose who to fire?
Back when they had experienced reps, the unions argued that it was better to let volunteers go than to fire people who are desperate to keep their jobs. This will strike a death knell for such an idea. Unions agreeing to this proposal will change the contracts of thousands of staff, even non-union members, which is actually worse than doing nothing.
If nothing is agreed and the proposals are imposed, at least one or two brave members of staff could challenge it. Perhaps with the help of an ambulance chasing lawyer or a union that has somehow managed not to compromise itself? Because, of course, redundancy pay is part of your contract and enforceable in law. “Checks and balances”, even placed in a policy, won’t be.
However, it’s not a done deal yet. Although the reps are agreeing it in principle, the unions will need to consult with their members (watch out for some frighteningly Orwellian fact distortion in your inbox). They want the effects of this not to kick in for a couple of years. But they intend to agree it now and tie it down in such a way that nobody can claim, in say three years’ time, that it was a surprise.
It’s not just Unison this time, the blame lies with Unite and GMB as well. They’re all complicit in this. If you catch anyone from the unions defending or promoting these proposals, in the Counts Louse or elsewhere, do yourself a favour: make them a dunce’s cap to wear and ask them to resign.