From: Bristol Unison
Sent: 14 February 2022 07:58
To: All councillors
Cc: Bristol Unison; Branch Secretary; Branch Secretary, Unite
Subject: full council and collective disputes
Good Morning Councillor
I am emailing you regarding the budget proposals for Full Council on February 15th.
I am unsure if we are allowed to speak, but even if we are if will only a minute. Hardly sufficient.
I have to inform you that we have raised two collective disputes. One regarding museums, is by UNISON, the other one is unsurprisingly regarding the cut to trade union facility time. With the latter, we are joined by UNITE.
The collective dispute regarding museums relates to the paperwork that was submitted to Cabinet and scrutiny prior to the full council. The equalities impact assessment ( EQIA) was wrong and out of date. Full details of this, is within out statements. Furthermore, on meeting with Senior officers they confirmed this and apologised.
The EQIA should not be a paper exercise, but a robust evaluation. I would suggest that this is especially important within culture and particularly in relation to museums and archives. This remains the last free event that a low waged family can undertake on a rainy day. With the cost of living increases and the low wage economy this is essential to many of your citizens.
The cuts in the papers suggested only £85k, when the true figure of nearer £420k has now arisen. This will decimate the staff group.
There are other issues, but with the speed of the consultative process prior to budget setting and inaccuracies within the paperwork, we are unable to engage properly. We are asking for this report to be withdrawn, so it can be written properly and we can engage with our ideas on raising revenue to offset damage to this service. Furthermore, has Cabinet been misled?
Our other collective dispute with UNITE, involves the intention to cut trade union facility time. We expect that the intention is to hamper us being able to represent member’s views in situations like this, and allow budgets and similar to pass through unmolested by democracy.
I have spent days trying to get to the bottom of this, unsuccessfully. I was first directed to the office of Kevin Slocombe, after a few days. He engaged for a bit, and then handed me and our collective queries to John Walsh. I have only received platitudes, not concrete assurances that this cut will not decimate trade union’s ability to function. I have been told that this not a cut, but a realignment of funds. If that is the case, then why is it in the budget proposals dealing specifically with cuts?
We ask you to vote against this and withdraw it for proper consultation. If it is not a cut, then it can be dealt with at the HR committee. We will be discussing these collective disputes at this afternoon’s CJCC, with a view to them being heard at the next HR committee.
We have also been informed from other sources that Councillors have been told to vote this budget through, or fall foul of the Code of Conduct. There is a letter circulating on social media, showing this. We believe that this undermines democracy in our city further. We would support any councillor who votes with their conscience on the 15th. The press would be interested in such a threat, as would the citizens of Bristol. Who voted you in, to represent their wards and constituencies.
Lastly, I need to make a point about waste of finances. We are told about Central Government reducing funding and putting us in such a position, that we need to cut services and outsource. However, it is our opinion that BCC has not been entirely prudent with the budget. For example the recent giving away of land at Temple Island to L and G, with a further £34m in improvement works. To our knowledge, there was not a procurement process or open market tendering. We are unclear what benefits there are for BCC or Bristol citizens. City Leap has cost £7.4m, with a further £3m in reserves. Bristol Energy lost £43m. Colston Hall has now cost the council tax payer £54.4m. I could go on, with salary increases for senior officers being one example. We are in the process of collating evidence of this type of possible financial mismanagement. If you are interested, then please get back to me and I can provide the list.
We firmly believe that our City should not be subjected to cut after cut and revenue should be more carefully managed, and utilised to deliver services.
Thank you for taking time to read this email and we hope you join us in defending our city. It deserves much better.
Area Organiser, Unison Office, The Create Centre