Will claims from councillors earlier this year that the real reason for the rush-job outsourcing of Bristol City Council cleaners and security staff to Bristol Waste was to address urgent cashflow issues at the stumbling council-owned company turn out to be accurate?
Last week came the bizarre announcement that Bristol Waste are suspending Green Waste collections for at least ten weeks. The reasons given for this decision were confusing to say the least. Oscilating between claims of a national shortage of skilled drivers and the alleged impact of Bristol Waste drivers self-isolating from Covid-19. We’re also fast learning that Bristol Waste is no longer able to guarantee collecting general waste and recycling on the day they are contracted to do so.
Now we hear that bailiffs acting on behalf of SITA visited the offices of Bristol Waste earlier this week to demand overdue payments for the clearance of waste from larger blocks of flats in Bristol. What on earth is going on?
Adding to this sense of a company and management spiralling out of control comes news that the struggling firm’s Finance Director Adam “Because I’m Worth It” Henshaw received a 50 per cent pay rise last year. Tidily uplifting Worth It’s pay packet from £73k in 2020 to £110k this year.
What was this enormous pay rise for and who authorised it? Is this a reward for failure? Or do Bristol Waste view their increasing inability to collect waste and pay their bills as a sign of management success?
Bristol Waste mainman, Managing Director, Tony ‘I Am The’ Lawless, had to rub along on a pay rise of just five per cent this year, which saw his pay packet exceed £125k for the first time. A rise rather more generous than he allowed his long-suffering staff.
Operations Director Jason “Fatty” Eldridge, meanwhile, trousered a cool seven per cent rise. Crashing his salary through that all-important six-figure barrier to £104k a year.
Bristol Energy-watchers may recall executive salaries there rose the more the company failed. Culminating in Managing Director Mark ‘Magic’ Majewicz pocketing an obscene compensation package of £306k while the company racked up huge losses in 2019 – 20.
Around two-hundred Bristol City council staff will be transferring to the Teckal company Bristol Waste on 1 June (Bristolian Passim). UNISON remains wholly against it.
After failing to persuade the Labour administration not to go ahead with this, UNISON and the trades unions Unite and GMB have tried to persuade the two employers to adopt a position colloquially known as TUPE++. That is TUPE with further protections based on the protections they had previously enjoyed.
The employers have refused all our requests. The decision to not meet us half way or make any concessions at all pretty much sums up not just UNISON’s relationship with the employers but the other unions’ as well.
In previous statements we pointed out that ‘Terms and Conditions’ are only some of the rights held by staff and that other rights written into policies will not transfer. So we have just been told that the rights within the ‘Code of Practice on Investigations’ (if you remember the Greens tabled a question to full council about it recently) will not transfer to Bristol Waste. So the right (in black-and-white) to see evidence against you in an investigation before you are interviewed is removed.
The matrix for what you will and won’t receive is quite complicated and although we are not saying you won’t receive fairness at Bristol Waste, we can’t see any compensatory policy for our staff for the removal of such a right.
Nor will the sickness policy transfer. How many absences someone can have before being dismissed will be based on Bristol Waste and not BCC policy. The Bristol Waste policy is based on the’ Bradford Factor‘ which we don’t think has a very good reputation.
We have been accused of not knowing what we are talking about (even by the press) and we will take no pleasure in saying ‘we told you so’, which we expect to be saying often in the months to come.
We discussed ‘measures’ transferring to Bristol Waste and we failed to persuade them to make any changes at all. We agreed that Bristol Waste is ACAS compliant. but we see ACAS compliancy as an absolute minimum a civilised society should tolerate. We are dismayed to find that the powers-that-be find ACAS minimums to be satisfactory.
Our call to our members in cleaning to contact us has had very little response. We can’t go forward without consulting with you, so please get in touch if you want us to take action. Our response from security has been pretty good and we will be organising further action with you – if you give us your consent – in the future.
With the election safely over and the Reverend Rees restored to his rickety pulpit held together with gaffer tape and the prayers of his best friends, including Bristol City Council Chief Exec Mike “Billie Jean” Jackson and Monitoring Officer, “L’il” Tim O’Gara, it’s time to get down to the serious business of governing Bristol.
And the first item on the agenda? Is, er, getting a couple of gullible council managers to sue the Reverend’s chief political critics, Councillor Gary “Meathead” Hopkins and Councillor Richard “Bunter” Eddy for defamation!
It’s been alleged in the Nazi Post that our dear old friend, the council’s useless pillock of a Director of Workforce, John “Bedwetter” Walsh, and his latest dimwitted sidekick, Facilties boss David Martin “Bore-mann”, have “served [Bunter and Meathead] with a defamation claim demanding a retraction, public apology and damages”!
This appears to be in relation to comments Meathead and Bunter made at at a Human Resources Committee Meeting on February 18 and reported in The BRISTOLIANat the time.
In response to ludicrous claims from Walsh and Martin that cleaning and security staff that they had formally consulted were entirely in favour of being outsourced to Bristol Waste from Bristol City Council, Bunter replied that the bosses’ comments were “worthy of Dr Goebbels and the Third Reich.”
Meathead also frankly responded to Walsh and Martin’s unevidenced claims with “I don’t believe a word of what’s been presented to us by the management side.”
Get on standby, then, for the trial of century as two idiot council managers attempt to sue two councillors for making fair comment on the basis of the evidence presented to them.
On the one hand there was ZERO evidence presented by Walsh and Martin to back their claims. On the other there were TWO trade union written statements that the staff involved were deeply unhappy with the management outsourcing proposals.
Further analysis of the Equalities Impact Assessment (EqIA) for the transfer of Bristol City Council cleaners and security to Bristol Waste reveals that over 36 per cent of the staff involved are black, not 34 per cent as we claimed last week. The increase is because we didn’t include groups such as Pakistani and Black Caribbean/White who are underrepresented among cleaners and security.
It is also noteworthy that, despite allegedly running a ‘comprehensive’ consultation with these staff, the council does not know the ethnicity of 42 out of 215 of them. That’s 19.5 per cent of this workforce. This is over double the ‘unknown’ figure for the whole city council workforce, which stands at 9 per cent. Could more work have gone into the council’s ‘comprehensive’ consultation of cleaners and security?
The EqIA is also unfinished. Here’s what we find at the end of the report:
Will Bristol City Council go ahead and outsource staff on the basis of an unfinished EqIA and a one page ‘comprehensive’ consultation that fails to state what staff said about the transfer? Is such a set of circumstances even policy compliant?
Meanwhile, the council’s Equality and Inclusion Progress Report 2019-20 tells us ,“a review of our Equality and Diversity Function in 2018 identified that equality impact assessments were often undertaken after, rather than before, service design or service changes have been proposed.”
Nothing’s changed since 2018 then.
Maybe proper EqIA’s are only needed for jazzy management and professional job changes at Bristol City Council?
The transfer of Bristol City Council’s lowest paid staff in security and cleaning to Bristol Waste to save the authority a few quid and prop up their cash-strapped waste company looks racist.
One thing left unexplored by the council’s HR Committee last Thursday was the fact that, at least, 34 per cent of the staff involved are black and many have English as a second language. Although that’s not the full picture as ethnic data on this section of the council’s workforce is incomplete.
Many observers see this as a text book case of institutional racism as well-paid white male bosses assure councillors that these voiceless staff are happy to be transferred over to Bristol Waste on poorer terms and conditions than the ones the bosses will continue to enjoy.
Director of Workforce John “Bedwetter” Walsh – who gets by on £122,475 a year plus £20,835 pension contributions – didn’t mention to the HR meeting the make-up of this section of his workforce. Was he embarrassed to admit that he’s forcing one of the lowest paid sections of his workforce with one of the highest numbers of black employees on to second class terms and conditions?
An Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) has been produced for a Cabinet meeting on Thursday and it confirms that 34 per cent of this workforce is black as well as showing that data on ethnicity for this section of the workforce is incomplete. The assessment also contains plenty of weasel words that try to excuse management.
For example, it claims any ‘potentially adverse impacts on people with protected characteristics’ are ‘indirect’. As if poorer terms and conditions do not directly affect those concerned? The EqIA also claims, ‘contractual terms and conditions (including pay and pension) are protected in law, and it would be unlawful for the new employer to seek to change these for any reason connected with the transfer.’
Then comes the caveat, ‘unless they have a justifiable Economic, Technological or Organisational Reason for doing so’. In other words, Bristol Waste have loopholes on hand to set about attacking these workers’ terms and conditions from the day one.
The assessment also explains that ‘Non-contractual elements – such as HR policies – would change to those of the new employer, which may be more or less generous than those currently in place’. Why so coy over whether these conditions are more or less generous? The council know. It’s a simple exercise for HR bosses to read Bristol Waste’s HR policies and compare them to their own. Why hasn’t this been done?
On the question of whether these workers’ existing HR terms and conditions will be protected, we’re told ‘BCC and BWC may secure greater protection of noncontractual terms, subject to this being affordable within the overall business case for the proposal’. In other words, terms and conditions will be traded away on the basis of a mysterious business case that hasn’t been published.
Last year the council published a worthy ‘Transforming race and equality at BCC’document to help them tackle their ongoing problems with institutional racism. The report’s recommendations under the heading ‘Corporate Leadership’ addressing Equality Impact Assessments say, ‘In the event of there being likely disproportionalities in relation to BAME staff, a corporately agreed mechanism should be established to explore the reasons; and to determine whether there may be ways of mitigating against this.’
So where’s Bedwetter’s corporately agreed mechanism exploring the reasons why black staff are being disproportionately affected by an outsourcing plan that’s attempting to save a few quid at the expense of workers’ dignity?
THE REVEREND’S ATTEMPT TO OUTSOURCE VULNERABLE CLEANING AND SECURITY STAFF TO BRISTOL WASTE GOES NUCLEARDURING HR CONFLAB
The passing resemblance of last Thursday’s HR Committee Meeting of Bristol City Council to a Handsworth Parish Council Zoom session wasn’t just down to useful-idiot HR Director Mark “Bashar” Williams’ accidentally misinforming himself over whether or not he was still paying Colin “Head Boy” Molton the second highest local government salary in the country.
The meeting also had a special ‘Chair’s Business’ section dedicated to Director of Workforce John “Bedwetter” Walsh’s half-arsed plan to outsource his low paid council security and cleaning staff to Bristol Waste to save money.
It was this issue that had barking Tory nutjob Councillor Richard “Bunter” Eddy telling Bedwetter that his description of the outsourcing proposal was “worthy of Dr Goebbels and the Third Reich.”
The comment drew a weak Claude Rains impression from Bedwetter as he attempted to feign shock at being branded, on the public record, as a liar by a senior councillor. It’s also noteworthy that staunch right winger, Bunter managed to outflank the Reverend Rees on the left with his views on this outsourcing issue,
Bunter’s comments came partly in response to Bedwetter’s ludicrous claim that the staff he had formally consulted were entirely in favour of a move to Bristol Waste and Bedwetter didn’t recognise Bunter and the trade unions’ version of events.
Versions outlined in a series of public statements and comments to the meeting. Bunter said that the staff he had spoken with were “scared and mystified” and were “terrified of losing their job” if they spoke directly with councillors or made public statements, as is their right, at council meetings.
The GMB told the meeting “Not one member of BCC staff … has expressed a wish to move across” and “the vast majority, many of whom are long service, wish to stay with BCC”.
Unison’s Tom “The Red” Merchant got even more to the point. He told the meeting, “The affected staff are very angry indeed over this and we don’t see why we should be shielding anyone from what is an understandable disaffection on the part of our members”
Tom the Red was also bemused that Bedwetter had managed to consult with cleaning staff, many of whom did not speak English and require an interpreter for Unison to be able to speak with them. He summed up, “staff who face transfers feel like they are bought and sold like cattle and though this phrase really upsets HR it is how the staff feel and I don’t see why I should be shielding the organisation from this level of disappointment from so many staff.”
Who’s telling the truth then? Bedwetter or the unions and councillors? One way to find out could be to read Bedwetter’s formal “best practice in consultation” document. It’s published with cabinet papers about the outsourcing and is scheduled to be rubberstamped by the Reverend and his Labour Cabinet next week.
Bedwetter’s consultation report is just one page long and while it goes into some detail about the process Bedwetter used to consult staff (which didn’t include using interpreters), there’s no mention anywhere about what staff actually said about his proposed transfer.
It’s an odd omission for a consultation report to have no content. It also means Bedwetter is unable to provide a shred of evidence, despite having apparently canvassed their opinion in a month long formal process, to back his claim that staff he has subsequently tried to gag are in favour of his plan.
Who should we believe? Notorious Director of Workforce, John “Bedwetter” Walsh, called out at the meeting as a liar and unable to produce written evidence from his own consultation for his self-serving claims, or councillors and elected trade union officials who directly represent the workers in question?
Chair of the meeting, limp Rees brown-noser and University of Bristol PhD perpetual student prat, John “Welly” Wellington, did manage to apologetically squeak at one point, “I don’t think you’re a liar John.”
Although the Labour Councillor for Windmill Hill, who’ll be quitting in May after a futile term of unquestioning loyalty to the Reverend’s right wing crap, didn’t offer any explanation as to why Bedwetter had attended his meeting and talked his typical brand of bollocks.
But let’s leave the last word to professional Lib Dem gobshite Councillor Gary “Hefty” Hopkins who told Welly’s HR meeting, “I don’t believe a word of what’s been presented to us by the management side.”
News that the Reverend Rees has decided to ‘co-source’ (that’s the same as out-sourcing but with ‘out’ replaced with ‘co’ to fool the very gullible indeed) security and cleaning jobs at the council out to one of their badly governed and unaccountable private company arms, Bristol Waste, has been met with dismay from just about everyone. Even the city’s number one raving proto-fascist, Richard “Bunter” Eddy, Tory Councillor for Auschwitz (surely Bishopsworth? Ed.) has criticised the move.
Our man on the picket line, “I’m all right” Jack Stalin, tells us, “The only possible reason for doing this is, in the long term, to cut the terms and conditions of low paid cleaners and security staff and outsource the council’s risk to a third party who can operate public services without being accountable to the public. The simple fact is that these low paid staff will be forced on to Bristol Waste contracts where terms and conditions are not as good as at the council.
“They also lose any democratic oversight of their terms and conditions. Instead, they’re now part of the private sector and subject to the whims of the council’s shadowy unaccountable company directors, corporate bean counters and highly paid consultants who want to squeeze every last penny out of the workforce while awarding themselves fat fees as a reward for their ‘efficiencies.'”
Is the council’s new “Build Back Better” post-Covid plan to put all their staff on crap “Built Much Worse” contracts? How many Labour supporters in Bristol voted for this latest piece of right wing toxic Tory shit from the Reverend Rees?
Unison, the GMB and the Unite unions have all raised a formal dispute with the council about this latest assault on the lowest paid by the highest paid. It’s one of ELEVEN separate disputes the unions now have with our shambolic Labour-run council. Security staff, meanwhile, have already managed to collar Rees and ask “How would you like it”?
They got no useful response from this bosses’ lackey, we’re told.