Tag Archives: Cuts

Rotten Comrades – Redundancy Pay Cut Scandal Update

by Our Industrial Correspondent  -The Dwarf

I thought I would give you an update regarding the council’s recent attempt to slash the redundancy pay of its hard-working and undervalued members of staff.

It has gone remarkably quiet recently unless, that is, you happened to be passing the HR committee like I did, where it was certainly less than quiet. Having been given a great big fuck off by the unions – yes, I know, even a stopped clock is right twice a day – city council management refused to drop the matter.

Instead, they decided to get our councillors to force the cut through and that meant a request to the HR committee to recommend that their proposal goes to full council for debate. Bristol’s trade union warriors got wind of this and after a flurry of phone calls and whispered conversations in council corridors, Unison decided to write a letter of protest and Unite decided to go along to the committee and protest in person.

Of course when it came to Unison Bobo sitting down to write, he jabbed his eye with his pen because he was startled by Chuckles stepping on the comb end of a rake and hitting her nose with the handle. Needless to say the protest letter was never sent by our amusing circus friends, but someone from Unite did manage to turn up on the day for the committee.

As I said, I was passing and I was sure I heard swearing, the breaking of furniture, a squeak or two and the odd plea for mercy or might I just have imagined that? Management came out of the meeting angry and outmanoeuvred. ‘N’ (from Unite) had explained to the councillors on the HR committee exactly the sort of stitch up management was planning and the committee had sent management off with a flea in their ears.

I was told by top secret, back-channel sources that the HR committee members found the whole thing highly amusing. A just decision as well as amusing, I would say. Here’s hoping that management now see sense and drop such a highly damaging claim on their staff.

I’m not using N’s name because he doesn’t need his name all over the internet if he has to look for another job anytime soon. But if they do go for him, I think N will see them off. But it will not be thanks to the usual rotten comrades who consistently failed to back him up. N has previously been under attack and it hasn’t been pretty.

But N is in good company. Many of our bravest, most principled reps have been victimised, sacked, managed out of the business on dodgy grounds, or nobbled by their own unions and all had piss poor service from those unions. If this was the train company or one of the engineering firms in Filton, everybody would’ve been out the gates by now. But anyway, here is a partial list of some of our nobbled class warriors, I salute them all, even the ones who contributed to their downfall.

1. R victimised. It was alleged he called managers ‘corrupt bastards’ when they gave themselves pay rises and handed around opportunities to each other like sweets.
2. M who suddenly found himself outsourced after campaigning against cuts.
3. A who was sacked for sickness but really because he was a rep.
4. M forced out of his union position for not being complimentary to a woman by email.
5. J sacked for threats but he maintains it was because he stood by his principles.
6. S redundancy bought forward before union elections making it impossible for him to campaign to win.
7. T downgraded after his own union recommended (in writing) that his job be provided differently.

I’ll keep you updated regarding any further shenanigans.

CUT TODAY FOR LABOUR VICTORY TOMORROW

Some excellent sleuthing by Momentum in the lead up to the Reverend’s Tory cuts budget at the end of February UNCOVERED what appeared to be an extra £9million being hosed into the council’s cash reserves for NO APPARENT REASON.

This £9million was the difference between what the council’s published financial risk assessment said was NEEDED in cash reserves and the amount of cash actually being PUT IN THERE.

But lo and behold! Just the day before the council’s budget meeting, a new risk assessment suddenly emerged, explaining the council actually needed a FURTHER £9million in cash reserves.

All very convenient, although the stench of the Reverend building a personal ELECTION WAR CHEST for 2020 at the expense of our public services now remains hanging heavily in the air.

Do look out for those Labour election treats, baubles and bribes in 2019 – 20 but try not to forget what they really cost us in terms of lost services and wrecked lives

LEADERSHIP WATCH

The Reverend Rees continues to demonstrate the leadership skills and sure touch that earned him a MISERABLE little middle management equalities officer post paper shuffling for the NHS. Was it there he perfected that ability to wear a shiny suit and talk utter shite?

A brief glance through the Reverend’s weak and cowardly Tory budget for the coming year reveals virtually every department at the council will be making CUTS. Or “efficiency savings” as the Great Helmsman demands we call them. Deploying weasel words in a sad attempt to fool us that his atrocious cuts WRECKING our public services will somehow be improvements to these services if he applies enough heavy-handed PR spin to them.

However, if we’re being strictly accurate, all council departments are making “efficiencies” except ONE. The exception being the Reverend’s very own EXECUTIVE OFFICE, which is receiving a £600k boost to its budget for next year. Although, if we’re to be consistent, shouldn’t this 25 per cent uplift to his own budget be called an “INEFFICIENCY SPEND“?

Does the Reverend think CUTTING everyone else’s budget while BOOSTING his own to afford more trips to Manhattan, China and Cannes and run a junket for ‘World Mayors’ here in Bristol is a good example of the ‘city leadership’ he’s forever banging on about? Did they teach him to be a GREEDY self-serving bastard on his wanky leadership course at Yale? Or is his ‘I’m all right Jack’ approach to leadership just another one of his many embarrassing PERSONAL FAILINGS?

Surely leadership is about leading from the front and ensuring that he takes, at least, his share of any cuts to ENCOURAGE and LEAD his colleagues in these harsh times?

Got to be better than blathering on about leadership while blatantly showing none.

UNISON: THE SORRY STATE by The Dwarf

Despite being the union that campaigned for an end to tribunal fees and won. Despite being the union that strikes for hospital workers, wins equal pay claims for cleaners and tries to prevent the outsourcing of care workers everywhere except Bristol. Despite having nearly all the cuts in this round of austerity aimed at those areas only they really have members in – Bristol Unison still refuse to do anything to oppose the cuts. That is, unless Mayor Marvin asks them to go on a demonstration against his own cuts. In which case out comes the banner in what could only be described as a giant blow struck for irony.

The cuts are coming in social services, children’s services, libraries and community services. All areas that are almost exclusively Unison and all are areas where member engagement, information exchange and political activism are non-existent. Meetings with unions have been cancelled, barrack room lawyers silenced in staff meetings, management have denied a plan to outsource libraries but then put out an email about mutualisation.

Does anyone remember the battles of the past? When disabled residents and unions lobbied noisily on the ramps of the Counts Louse? Where day centres were occupied and workers broke the blockade passing them fish and chips through the windows? Where library workers struck for the right to a family life? Where have the activists gone? I’m reliably informed that Unison hasn’t enough activists to fill a Renault Espace when they once numbered in the hundreds. They’re voting with their feet comrades … Wake up and get a grip.

I was told that regional officers consider the cuts to have been democratically arrived at and that is that, nothing more can be done. We at The BRISTOLIAN reject that sort of democracy. We want an engaged, participatory democracy of mutual solidarity and so should the unions. If we don’t get it then protest and actions must rightfully take place.

But here we come to the nub of the matter and that is the risk social and industrial agitation poses to the electoral prospects of the Labour Party. Occupying day centres and striking for work-life balance is OK as long as the Liberal Democrats or an Independent is in charge but not when it’s Labour.

Last year there was a scandal at Unison’s AGM as to whether Unison should affiliate to the anti-cuts groups – a no-brainer in anyone’s world assolidarity with people against the cuts should be ingrained. A self-appointed standing orders committee, which no one knew existed because it didn’t, ruled the motion incompetent. This year, the union’s members ruled their own representatives’ incompetent over a scandalous redundancy pay cut ballot stitch-up. And this was in front of a firebrand assistant general secretary, from head office, who was so embarrassed he didn’t know where to look.

Sorry, Roger McKenzie, that you had to see the union in such a sorry state.

BOSSES WAGES UP: ‘SAVINGS’ DOWN

When Labour councillors voted in November for a TEN PER CENT pay rise for the council’s senior bosses as part of an organisational restructure, they assured us that £750k would be saved by employing less bosses.

Alas, just a month later and with an internal consultation on these management changes underway for the next few months, news is SNEAKED OUT that savings will now only be £500k. And, of course, there’s no guarantee this figure won’t drop further before the restructure is complete.

Looks like it’s another con to increase wages at the top in exchange for fuck all.

UPDATE:
Oddly, an entirely different story emerged directly from the mouth of the Reverend Rees regarding these ‘savings’ (as opposed to the traditional term ‘cuts’).

When questioned this week about how much his new senior management structure would ‘save’ us, the Reverend claimed the figure had risen to £830K. Somewhat different to the £500k savings figure stated in his own finance report he signed off in December.

Relevant sections of the reports are here:

Meanwhile a presentation to the HR committee just today still claims the savings are £750k:

So where did this magical new pr-friendly £830k savings figure the mayor’s spouting come from? And why are the HR committee still being fed an old figure discredited in finance reports in December?

And what – to use the Reverend’s own farcical management-speak bollocks – is the “single version of the truth”?

FLY ON THE WALL: The ‘Save St. Marvin from His Plummeting Popularity’ Rally on College Green

The Fly: savouring Marvin’s shite

Enormous deposits of BULLSHIT were detected and tasted by The BRISTOLIAN’s six-legged friend flying overhead at Marvin’s ‘anti-austerity’ march and rally on Saturday September 9.

According to our blue-arsed correspondent, the vicar of Bristol and his collaborators in UNITE, UNISON, The Peoples’ Disassembly, ACORNYJOKE and the Labour Party made up a DISMAL, rain-bedraggled charade of no more than 2,000 on College Green.

It even included a big bouncy castle for speakers to jump up and down on while they whined infantile DRIVEL about ‘diversity’, ‘inclusiveness’, “hey, my dad was a Welsh miner and I was born in Southmead”, or “why I love Bristol” and other IRRELEVANT TOSH. Some of it even recounted in verse by ‘the city’s poet laureate’!

Every subject under the sun (or rain) was covered in fact. Except the one the march and rally was actually supposed to be about, namely AUSTERITY and THE CUTS. This ‘difficult’ subject was raised NOT ONCE by any of the OVERWHELMINGLY MIDDLE-CLASS speakers. One of whom was a LAWYER who offered WAGE-FREE LABOUR in her office to “any of you principled, under-employed folk out there who’d like some work experience”.

The sole rebellion against this pretentious downpour of excrement was offered by a small group of DISSIDENTS. During The Reverend’s speech, despite all attempts by UNITE stewards to thwart them, they repeatedly called St. Marvin out on: the fakery of his much-publicised ‘anti-austerity green paper’ submission to Theresa May (which doesn’t mention austerity once); his craven compliance with the Tory austerity programme when he could legally set a NO-CUTS BUDGET; the libraries and public toilets he’s closing; the social care programmes he’s shutting down; the park/street maintenance departments he’s stripping to the bone and the ILLEGAL ‘gate keeping’ of homeless categories currently being enforced at BCC’s Housing Department.

And all to pay for the continuing Metro/contractor disaster, his GOLDEN HANDSHAKES to the Dirty Thirty bosses; ever more ‘public-private partnerships’ with thieves and parasites and the hiring of a new generation of incompetent, six-figure salary ‘consultant’ twats to make even more of a mess at City Hall.

The REBELS were sorely put upon. First by ‘stewards’ trying to rip down a banner opposing Marvin’s cuts and, later, an enraged Momentum youth in a Jeremy Corbyn sweatshirt who tried to start a fight, before wisely thinking better of it.

In between her feast on the LASHINGS of BS spewed out through the stage microphone, The Fly observed a laughable attempt by one of Marv’s acolytes to silence the uproar, claiming the rebels were ‘failing to be inclusive to the hard-of-hearing group’! All of whom were, of course, straining to hear The Reverend’s every word.

Two of the disgruntled were also overheard wishing that they’d brought along a stanley knife or drill (as in ‘Driller Killer’, 1979??) to DEFLATE the rain shelter/bouncy castle over Marv’s head*. “Come better prepared next time”, buzzed The Fly as she savoured more of Marvellous’s shite.

*Of course The BRISTOLIAN warns that such a violent act could feasibly constitute a new ‘credible death threat’ to the embattled Mayor, instigating an ‘immediate investigation’ by the Stasi (ie. the UK Special Branch) – ed..

NEW YORK – LONDON – BRUSSELS – HARTCLIFFE

There was a very LOW KEY decision from the Vicar last month to continue spending £351k a year to keep open his Bristol City Council office in Brussels and to provide a nice little slush fund for his aimless mayoral trips abroad.

This will no doubt come as especially good news for residents of HARTCLIFFE, SOUTHMEAD, LAWRENCE WESTON and FISHPONDS. As, following his destructive Tory cuts budget that closed all neighbourhood Customer Service Points, the Reverend can now proudly boast that his council has an office open for business in Brussels but not in, er, Hartcliffe!

How convenient for paying the rent …

PARK RAVING MAD

A nice little earner?

The Reverend Rees has kickstarted his amazing masterplan to CUT ALL FUNDING to Bristol’s parks and get them to somehow generate their own income with the help of local volunteers and the underemployed fairies at the bottom of his garden.

On 24 February the Rev’s Strategic Imbecile for Neighbourhoods, Alison “Three Jobs” Comley, presented a report to councillors – Parks and Green Spaces – moving towards cost neutral – about this parks finance CONJURING TRICK.

A brief glance at the report reveals that £130k a year council boss Comley and her hapless minion, £90k a year Service Director, Gemma “Ctrl-v” Dando have simply COPY AND PASTED sections of a recently published House of Commons Select Committee Report on parks into their own report and told councillors to read it and call it ‘scrutiny’

The parks privatisation pair also helpfully recommended that councillors take a look at 2006’s Paying for Parks by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, a Blairite Quango put out of its misery in 2011. The paper contains lots of ideas for New Labour politicians on how our parks can be PRIVATISED and MONETISED.

However, Three Jobs and Ctrl-v themselves are tight-lipped about how they will replace the £5 million budget they intend to cut for the Labour Party and how exactly our parks might achieve this deranged “cost neutral” FANTASY FUNDING MODEL by 2020.

Another parks fiasco is about to unfold. Watch this space …

HARTCLIFFE HOUSING OFFICE BETRAYAL

Although the Reverend Rees and his hapless Cabinet sidekick Asher “Close-It” Craig haven’t officially announced it yet, Bristol City Council’s housing office and Citizen Service Point, Symes House, in Hartcliffe will be CLOSING on 31 March 2017.

Councillors actually voted that things like libraries, Citizen Service Points and neighbourhood partnerships would close or be wound down over the NEXT TWO YEARS. So closing the Hartcliffe office immediately doesn’t seem in the spirit of the plan.

Especially as Councillor Close-It had told both BBC Radio Bristol on 17 February and residents at a well-attended Mayoral event held at the Withywood Centre on 9 March that there would be a CONVERSATION with the local community partnership before anything happened

Councillor Close-It had even mentioned that the popular Citizen Service Point could be incorporated into the library situated in the @Symes building next door. Although efforts to contact Councillor Close-It to start that conversation have failed as she’s NOT RETURNING CALLS!

The Reverend’s cuts consultation last year provoked an impressive response from the local community in Hartcliffe. More people took part in the BS13 area than most other areas in Bristol. There was also a community petition with over 1,400 signatures asking the mayor NOT to cut services in one of the most deprived areas in Bristol.

Many people in Hartcliffe now say they feel BETRAYED by the Reverend and Councillor Close-It as they clearly haven’t lived up to the undertaking they had given to people. Instead, council bosses have been given FREE REIN to do what the hell they feel like in Hartcliffe and shut down the office without an exit strategy, a long term plan or, even, an explanation.

Another Rees policy delivery shambles.

MY MAYOR LOLLIPOP?

Despite a huge OUTCRY during a POINTLESS public consultation about his cuts, the Rev Rees is going ahead and CUTTING his school crossing patrol budget by £155k a year.

The Reverend explains, “We will look at ALTERNATIVE METHODS for providing patrols for school crossings (lollipop people) outside 80 school sites around Bristol. This could include VOLUNTEERS or seeking alternative funding arrangements.”

What’s needed here is the kind of LEADERSHIP that is usually entirely lacking from Bristol City Council. So we look forward to the REV REES and his senior leadership team that earn all the big bucks showing us the way and putting in some SHIFTS at their local primary schools.

Look out for them at 8.00am every morning at a school near you?