Category Archives: Our comrades

Rotten Comrades: “Values and Behaviours”

Endeavouring to compete with other paragons of corporate responsibility, Bristol City Council now has a corporate philosophy and it calls it ‘Values and Behaviours’. Plastering them all over the inside of City Hall in ten foot high letters, the mayor is hoping some of it will rub off on his staff.

So what have we got? Do these values and behaviours reflect the council’s values or are they aspirations as to how council officers should behave? Well, if it was based on actual management behaviours we would expect back-stabbiness, passive aggression, brown-nosing and cronyism to be high up there in behaviours. Thankfully, the council has chosen aspirations instead.

Instead, we have ‘respect’, ‘dedicated’, ‘collaborative’ and various other reasonable aspirations and their sub-headings. Nobody could argue with any of them.

So what does this mean for the “scores” of workers who recently had their pay calculated incorrectly? This problem was identified a few months ago but still the shortfall has not been paid. The longer it takes, the less time will be available for a class-action claim.

No doubt this is the reason for the delay – perhaps management are hoping the staff affected run out of time to sue? Or perhaps management are hoping for a cheaper settlement and a few non-disclosure agreements? Is this what Marvin meant when he said ‘we are collaborative; we come together to reach shared goals’?

What does this mean for M, who as a caretaker in a residential tower block, raised safety concerns and was immediately moved to another building. How does this behaviour fit into the post-Grenfell Tower world? Victimisation? Or is this ‘ownership’ where we ‘accept personal accountability’?

Or what about R who was stood outside Temple Street having a crafty fag when Work-Place Support phoned the litter police, who promptly slapped a fine on him. All his own fault, perhaps, or was it the petty act of a spiteful, vindictive arm of management?

As Marvin says, ‘we show respect; we treat each other fairly.’

ROTTEN COMRADES: ‘REDUNDANCY PAY CUT SHOCKER’

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.