Tag Archives: GMB

ROTTEN COMRADES

It’s all been kicking off amongst the council’s sleepy unions who appear to have been rudely awakened by problems that don’t seem to be solvable by business-as-usual toadying.

Showing a surprising turn of speed for reps normally found dozing with their heads up management’s arse, the council’s comrades have suddenly realised they themselves are facing the chop and have started some frantic, if clumsy, lobbying.

One council union, Unison, has discovered that the recently completed  public consultation proposes devastating cuts in areas where only it has members. Libraries and Community Links are supposed solidly Unison and have traditionally supplied the union with its (in-)”activists”.

Unison have belatedly woken up to the fact that they chose the path of least resistance when the Labour Party and council bosses were planning their latest cuts. While their opposite number, Unite, spent a lot of time lobbying the Mayor when he was first elected. Unison reps were reported to have said they didn’t see the point of lobbying anyone. Quelle Surprise, the latest cuts seem to have fallen disproportionately on them then.

This comes weeks after there was muted Unison laughter aimed at the GMB for fading so drastically in numbers that management were mumbling about de-recognition. Facing possible decimation in the coming restructures, Unison is no longer laughing. After all, with de-recognition comes going back to your regular job and actual work.

So, blowing dust off old copies of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist (which some real socialist left in a box, years ago), our rotten comrades have been frantically lobbying, campaigning, actually talking to members and – heaven forfend – threatening disputes! There is hope yet.

Rumours are that disputes are brewing in Reablement, Night Care and the Community Links. Meanwhile library workers have been warning darkly that their strike in 2016 supported by Marvin and Labour when they were seeking votes in the mayoral election was never resolved by Marvin once elected and as far as they know their original ballot is still live.

Mobs have been reported stalking the corridors of Temple Street looking for customer services managers. Even the city’s team managers are looking for an Arthur Scargill-type character to lead them out the gates due to overwork and stress.

Meanwhile, Unite has been seen cheering it all on, shouting ‘fight, fight, fight’ from the sidelines. Cheerful in the knowledge that someone’s going to get it and it’s certainly not going to be them.

-Cheerful Dwarf

GREEDY BOSSES SCORE THEIR MASSIVE CASH BOOST

PF-loadsamoney_2177214bRejoice! It has come to pass! Two thirds of Bristol’s councillors have voted to RAISE the council’s senior bosses’ salaries by up to 20 PER CENT. Just as we revealed they were conspiring to do in the last issue of The BRISTOLIAN.

An elite group of bosses – already in THE TOP ONE PER CENT OF EARNERS in the city – can now look forward to enhanced pay packets from this month. The council’s three strategic directors will now be struggling along on £136K A YEAR while 29 service directors can look forward to pay packets of up to £110K A YEAR. Up from £90k!

Meanwhile councillors made NO PAY OFFER whatsoever to the rest of their long-suffering, low paid staff  whose salaries have STAGNATED for at least eight years. The little people who do all the work can fuck off as far as Bristol City Councillors are concerned.

Many from the establishment political parties – LABOUR, TORIES and GREENS – with the exception of a few maverick Lib Dems, supported this insane salary rise for bosses. Delivered under the guise of a pay policy claiming to REDUCE INEQUALITY between the lowest paid and the highest paid at the council by, er … Increasing the wages of the best paid!

While you expect bent Tories to stuff the pockets of the wealthy with public money, it’s extraordinary that the so-called progressives of the Labour and Green parties back these pay rises for the ONE PER CENT OF HIGHEST EARNERS. Especially when both parties are pretending – during the mayoral elections at least – that they are going to tackle inequality in Bristol.

Both parties also happily supported the unproven claim by Mayor Toryboy that these fat cat salaries have to be increased to attract “THE BEST TALENT“. Because obviously you need “talent” to shuffle paper, sit in meetings and fail to deliver a transport plan for your key capital project don’t you? It also takes “talent”, presumably, to keep your work and its finances TOP SECRET at all costs from the public you serve.

In reality, there’s ZERO EVIDENCE to show higher salaries to bosses improves anything at all. It’s as big an economic myth as the Tories’ notorious “TRICKLE DOWN THEORY“, which claims making the rich richer will make poor people wealthier.

Even the trade unions seem to be in on this CRUDE SCAM to benefit the bosses and not the workers. We’ve seen no public objection from the three main unions at the council – Unison, Unite and the GMB – to this scandalous pay rise for the rich or any attack on the LIES AND DISTORTIONS used to implement it.

Perhaps it’s time for workers at the council to organise themselves?

WORKERS REVOLT AGAINST HORSEWORLD BOSSES?

After having their ridiculous plan to sell off land to developers (who planned to build more than a hundred high-end houses on the site) turned down by BANES council, in February HorseWorld’s bosses threw a hissy fit and shuttered the charity’s visitor centre.

Managing Director Mark ‘Not That One’ Owen and his team also started doling out redundancy notices to long-suffering staff – as well as setting the legal rottweilers onto The BRISTOLIAN for publishing the truth.

Yes, just as Pinocchiowen and his clique were getting down to making some of the strangest business decisions ever – such as closing down a vital  revenue stream and the charity’s strongest connection to the wider public – they also decided to try and impose a media blackout. To achieve this they hired tinpot law firm Burges Salmon to try and put the frighteners on local news sources, threatening all sorts of badness to anyone who dared to report on Owen’s crazy antics.

But whilst this might have worked on the student hacks of Bristol University’s Epigram paper, it did not on your super soaraway ‘Smiter’. We called their bluff and pointed out that in ten months of highly accurate, detailed reporting on HorseWorld we had heard not a peep from  them claiming anything we printed was wrong.

Since then the legal threats have dried up, and a number of other outlets, including the Nazi Post, BBC Bristol, ITV West, The Week In and the Western Daily Press have all since published critical pieces. Funny, that!

Meanwhile, the situation for those who actually look after animals is looking increasingly rocky. Twenty-four workers face the boot, for no reason other than their bosses made a balls-up of the management of the  charity. On a positive  note, despite Owen & Co trying to keep all of this under wraps, staff are fighting back, with around half those under threat now represented by the GMB union.

Owen might yet lose that prized Audi…

HORSEWORLD MANAGEMENT DITCHES VISITOR CENTRE…

Web ExclusiveA sad day for HorseWorld today, with news coming in on what was meant to be the last day of a “consultation” into the options open to the Whitchurch equine charity to secure its financial future: it seems that the VISITOR CENTRE WILL DEFINITELY CLOSE this Friday 28th February.

Sources tell us that embattled managing director Mark ‘Not That One’ Owen “didn’t even have the balls to do the deed himself”, preferring instead to send out a staff representative to spread the bad news to employees.

It is understood that today’s dark announcement confirms the decision to shutter the visitor centre made at a meeting last week of the charity’s trustees “in a SECRET LOCATION”. As one angry source told us:

[The trustees] usually meet at HorseWorld in the visitor centre cafe, but that’s a no-no for them now, of course, lest the staff actually get to meet the trustees who NEVER visit the place and, worse still, have a chance to influence their daft decision making…

As the GMB union’s Rowena Hayward – who has been acting for those facing redundancy – notes, staff “feel very pressurised, very stressed, very anxious…and VERY LET DOWN” about how the situation has been handled.

Meanwhile word reaches us that a wide variety of people connected with HorseWorld’s important animal welfare work – including staff, former volunteers and financial supporters – “have had SEVERE PRESSURE put on them, in various ways, to keep shtum and not whistle-blow these last couple of weeks.”

Taken together with recent efforts to prevent critical media coverage, it gives the impression of a coordinated effort to silence dissent in the lead up to today’s sad news – though ITV West was able to screen a news package on the threat to jobs, with papers including the Bristol Post and The Week In joining The BRISTOLIAN in shining a light on the running of the charity.

With the curious decision to close the visitor centre – and so lose a valuable point of contact with the public, and an important revenue stream – now rubber-stamped and announced, it seems likely that those who until now kept quiet will instead voice their concerns publicly.

One question remains:

Why are those at the sharp end of HorseWorld’s animal welfare work – both human and equine – the ones currently bearing the brunt of bad business decisions, and not those in senior management who actually made them?

PANTO HORSE GATE: WILL PINOCCHIOWEN BE THREATENING TO SUE THE ‘WESTERN DAILY PRESS’ OR G.M.B. UNION NEXT?

BEOFPantoHorseGateWith HorseWorld’s senior management so concerned about public criticism of its decisions – decisions, it should be noted, that have cost the charity a lot of its money, and which currently threaten the livelihoods of dozens of hard-working staff – will it be widening its innovative ‘economic growth through legal threats’ strategy beyond The BRISTOLIAN and a student rag?

And if so, where does that leave Rowena Hayward, the GMB union official now representing around half of HorseWorld’s staff, whose letter published in the Western Daily Press on Saturday 15 February contains some stinging implied criticism of how the Pinocchiowen regime has managed the crisis at HorseWorld? Will she too be on the receiving end of a poorly drafted screed from Burges Salmon’s latest work experience? And how about Tim Dixon, the editor of the Bumpkinshire Post?

Will the threats ever end?

Union’s concerns over HorseWorld

The GMB is extremely concerned about the recent announcement from HorseWorld Trust with its intention to make 27* staff redundant out of a total of 56 workers. It does seem “odd” when it is closing its visitor centre, getting rid of two of its marketing, media staff and volunteer co-ordinator which actually enable the public to come along and help boost the trust’s coffers, to promote the work of the trust and ensure a proper volunteer structure is in place.

The trust has been running at a loss over the last five years or so leading to a net loss over that period of £2 million. Surely this can’t be down to bad management as, according to HorseWorld’s own website there are a number of very successful businessmen on the trust’s board.

The questions the GMB are asking include:

  • Why were HorseWorld accounts in deficit over the last five years?
  • What financial recovery plan is in place during the past five years?
  • How much is paid to the chief executive and the senior management team? Many of the 24 workers facing redundancy are on the minimum wage or just above
  • How much is the trust likely to save by making staff redundant, closing the visitor centre and leaving the buildings boarded up to go into disrepair?
  • The visitor accounts used to be kept separate. In 2012 this was changed and all areas of HorseWorld’s accounts were put together – why?
  • How does senior management and trustees propose to recoup income lost from the closures?
  • HorseWorld claims the only reason for the redundancy of just under 50 per cent of its staff is the rejection by Bath and North East Council of its plan to build houses on the existing visitor centre site and to seek planning permission to build a bigger visitor centre on green belt land. Yet as the charity has lost some £2 million in the last five years, the financial problems cannot be attributed solely to one decision by the local council.
  • If the board of trustees and the managing director are unable to run the trust with the current financial constraints, how will they be able to manage it in the future?
  • The GMB is unsure if some of the legacies left to the trust stipulate the land currently used by the visitor centred was bequeathed to the ‘horses’ rather than for domestic property usage.

The GMB is urging the public and supporters of HorseWorld to ask these questions and more to ascertain why 24 dedicated workers are being forced into redundancy.

The GMB is calling on the board of trustees to call a halt to this process until these questions are answered.

Rowena Hayward
Membership development officer, GMB

* We understand from contacting Ms Hayward that this first figure is a typo and that it should read ‘24’ – the most up-to-date number of jobs under threat.