Tag Archives: HR

WEST WING WATCH

west wing ii

Efforts by the Reverend Rees and his point man ‘Slo’ Kevin Slocombe to create their own new season of THE WEST WING up on the third floor of the Counts Louse brings predictable results.

Having EXPANDED the Mayoral Office budget to the best part of £1MILLION A YEAR and styled themselves as fast talking power dressing power players who get things done, their efforts to slickly command and control a council of 7,000 employees SPENDING A BUDGET OF A BILLION is more Jedward than Jed Bartlet.

The latest MAYORAL FAILURE finds the Reverend unable to get a simple ‘corrective’ brass plaque attached to the statue of Colston in the Centre. This might be because following the original mayoral decree for a plaque, there was NO MEANS to communicate back to the Mayor or his team what was going on with a project easily highjacked by the Merchant Venturers from council officers.

Similar problems have haunted the Reverend’s response to institutional racism at the council where the HR officers and managers responsible for the problem have filled any MANAGEMENT VACUUM by stepping in to solve their own problem to suit themselves.

The most recent fiasco followed the removal of valuable 1930s street lamps from south Bristol to leafy Stoke Bishop. “THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN,” insisted Slo Kev on Twitter. “Any street lamps removed are used for spare parts only,” he explained. Alas, within minutes of Slo Kev’s claim, a photo appeared on Twitter of a newly installed street lamp from south Bristol in Stoke Bishop!

The obvious solution of appointing one of 40-odd Labour councillors to oversee something like the plaque project through to completion has been OVERLOOKED by both the Reverend and Slo Kev. Both naively believing they can achieve anything at the council, no matter how minor, by SWAGGERING COMMAND or LENGTHY PRESS RELEASE fired out from the third floor executive suite.

In reality simple projects are FAILING and poor decisions are MULTIPLYING due to the Reverend’s West Wing fantasy. There’s a bottleneck at the top of the council. Too many issues for too few mayoral staff to cope with and council officers end up running the show with little oversight. Labour councillors, meanwhile, the natural workforce to force Labour policy through a recalcitrant council, hang about IDLE, BORED and IGNORED.

When will the Reverend figure out how to run his council?

WHISTLING IN THE WIND

WHISTLING IN THE WIND

Council bosses continue to deliver a pile of NONSENSICAL CRAP instead of working WHISTLEBLOWING ARRANGEMENTS for their staff.

Delivering their ‘Annual Review of Whistleblowing Arrangements’ to the Audit Committee, bosses trumpeted to councillors that their review included “a survey of 100 CITY COUNCIL EMPLOYEES“.

Although the sheepish bosses went on to admit “the response rate to the survey was limited with only 22 RESPONSES RECEIVED“. This means around 0.3 per cent of council staff were actually surveyed, which seems a rather small amount to be building a working policy around.

The information gathered from the small amount of staff brave enough to respond was, however, deeply worrying. As staff admitted they have not reported concerns due to “FEAR OF REPRISAL” and “CONCERN THAT NOTHING WOULD BE DONE.”

Audit bosses response to this, supported by the city council’s hapless HR department, was to advise the Audit Committee that they needed to “REINFORCE THE MESSAGE“. Even though “the message” coming through to staff appears to be “don’t you dare blow the whistle at Bristol City Council”

After discussing the matter for a while, councillors concluded that their HR department needed to take responsibility for “REINFORCING THE MESSAGE” so that staff understood that whistleblowers have legal protections and any allegations of malpractice are taken seriously (honest guv, ed).

An odd decision since their current Director of HR and Workforce, John “Bedwetter” Walsh, appointed last year, was working as a senior HR consultant in Wakefield in 2006 when six social workers were SUMMARILY DISMISSED for trying to reveal serious children’s SAFEGUARDING CONCERNS.

The concerns were regarding children living in care homes run by Wakefield Council who were being exposed to DRUGS and were at risk of SEXUAL EXPLOITATION. Within a month of making their complaints in January 2006, the whistleblowing workers were FIRED. Wakefield Council then tried to get the six workers placed on a government blacklist usually reserved for SEX OFFENDERS.

Bedwetter scarpered from Wakefield in March 2006, before the fallout from the affair, which cost the council £1 MILLION in an out of court settlement to the exonerated social workers. There was also red faces all round at the council when it publicly emerged that they had sought to protect potential CHILD ABUSERS at the expense of WHISTLEBLOWING SOCIAL WORKERS.

Is Bedwetter Walsh really the best person Bristol City Council can find to promote a better deal for whistleblowers?


Rotten Comrades: Disability, Part One By the Dwarf

I had no idea that two weeks after my last article about the (bad) experience of (quite a few) black and ethnic minority staff that the council would hold a ceremony celebrating the council’s, er, success in supporting people from marginalised backgrounds (otherwise known as the ‘Stepping Up’ program). I might not have helped.

So it is with that recognition that I am hoping that the council aren’t about to announce some sort of ceremony celebrating the Council’s success in supporting people with disabilities, because today – hold on to your hats – I have quite a few things to say about how the Council treats its disabled staff, too.

The Council is bad on disability. Its worst offender is Adult Social Care (the “caring” profession), but other departments get a dishonourable mention as well. It’s not always the manager’s fault, because sometimes they want to help their staff, but pressure from more senior managers and woeful advice from HR makes it inevitable that staff don’t get the help they need.

Let’s be clear about this: the employer MUST make reasonable adjustments to help disabled staff overcome organisational, operational and physical obstacles. The Council – or at least its managers – treat any adjustment that requires them spending any of their budget on it, as unreasonable, which is quite wrong.

So what happens is that a person who has deteriorated in physical or mental ability takes some time off – perhaps they have an operation or a spell recovering from a breakdown of some kind. They consult their doctor who says, ‘I’ll write you a fit note saying you must have light duties. Here you go, they have to give it to you – it’s the Equality Act 2010.’

Except, when that person does return to work they get told: ‘we don’t have light duties.’ So the staff member goes back on the sick. They don’t have any choice, they have a disability, they aren’t as able as they were before.

A few months later, the sick pay has run out, management have popped round twice and very nicely, over a cup of tea and a digestive, given you a level one and then a level two ‘notice of unacceptable attendance’ and you have to go back to work or face ruin. The HR adviser was a very nice woman who nodded whenever you spoke and frowned in all the right places.

That HR adviser is the one who will tell you, when you get back, that because of ‘the needs of the business’ there are no light duties and that we will now need to give you a ‘stage three final review of attendance’. You reply that there is always paperwork that needs doing, or perhaps it is just visiting people’s homes that you can’t do anymore and perhaps you could do triage instead? And why are you giving me a stage three when I have done what you wanted and come back to work? But the answer is no and the stage three is just policy.

One of three things happen next: you go back to work on their terms and have a fall; you go back on the sick and they hold the stage three in your absence, dismissing you; or you phone the union and try and get what is supposed to be an ethical employer to accept its responsibilities.

There is another pitfall that unwary staff fall into that the employer is only too happy to lay. If there are no adjustments that can reasonably be done – and scepticism would be my default position on this – then medical redeployment is a reasonable adjustment. What if there are no suitable jobs? What if I get no help? Well, at the end of the redeployment, if you haven’t found another job you are then on the dole.

What sort of impairments are we talking? Cancer, musculo-skeletal injuries, fibromyalgia, depression, macular degeneration – those sorts of things. All serious and all debilitating unless you get the support you need to work with less pain; happy and productive in your occupation. You may have seen them struggling their way around City Hall, terrified of being managed out of the business.

It didn’t use to be like this. In the old days, if you had seen better days your manager would’ve done his best to look after you. Something bitter and hard-hearted has happened to the Council.

SOME STAFF DO ‘AVE ‘EM

Spencer

The ever-resourceful Human Resources Department of Bristol City Council has come up with a new wheeze to SCREW its lowest paid workers.

James “Betty” Brereton, masquerading under the poncey job title ‘People and Culture Manager‘, wrote out to low paid staff who work term times only in May announcing he has been “checking the calculations we use to work out pay”. And lo and behold! He’s discovered some “ERRORS“.

“Any overpayment or underpayment in April will be added to or DEDUCTED from your pay in May,” Brereton cheerily announced to people taking home small sums of money who thought the small increase in their pay packet in April might be their pay rise!

Unfortunately not. Instead money was REMOVED from pay packets a few weeks later at the end of May with NO REGARD for anyone having to manage on a tight budget or anyone wishing to know exactly what their monthly income from Bristol City Council might actually be.

Betty Brereton’s letter in May then added, “we will work out if there has been an overpayment or underpayment IN THE PAST. Where there has, we will negotiate with the trade unions on how we deal with this. We will then be in touch with you.”

In other words, Bristol City Council will be deducting EVEN MORE MONEY from the pay packets of the low paid at undisclosed some point in the future with little notice or explanation.

How are workers on low incomes supposed to plan their finances like this?

GOTCHA! YOU NAME ‘EM, WE SHAME ‘EM!

All was not well in the department of endless lies and cover-ups run by Bristol City Council housing boss GILLIAN “Irma Grese” DOUGLAS after our last issue.

We hear Ms Grese was less than pleased at our REVELATION that her department was slyly signing off eviction threats to homeless families who had fallen behind on a dodgy service charges demanded by Grese’s favoured landlord for the city’s most vulnerable – Connolly & Callaghan (Bristolian 40).

We’re reliably informed that an especially sour-faced Grese marched long suffering managers and supervisors into a meeting room and began waving a copy of The BRISTOLIAN above her head while screeching, “THERE’S BEEN A LEAK, THERE’S BEEN A LEAK.”

The scene, we’re assured, was “completely and utterly hilarious and it was hard to keep a straight face as this ludicrous Scottish banshee whined her dismal song of the thoroughly EXPOSED.”

Meanwhile, over in HR, President Assad look-a-like, HR Director Mark “BASHAR” Williams has been telling anyone who will listen (which isn’t many) that, “The BRISTOLIAN has been giving me sleepless nights.”

No, we’ve no idea why either. But if your caring, sharing BRISTOLIAN is inducing nervous breakdowns in pointless Bristol City Council middle managers, who are we to complain?

 Heard a boss whinging about The BRISTOLIAN? Get in touch.

REVEREND BRINGS IN THE THOUGHT POLICE

What the fuck is going on with the Bristol Labour Party Members Group on Facebook? You may recall that back in November material from this private Labour members-only Facebook page appeared on the Operation Black Vote website plastered with the headline ‘LABOUR PARTY MUST EXPEL BRISTOL’S RACIST MEMBERS’ under the byline of the Reverend’s good friend Simon Woolley “Wanker”.

That episode had all the characteristics of a shameless attempt by the Reverend and his small gang of desperate right wing Labour supporters to TARGET Corbynites in his local party and get them expelled from the party on trumped up charges of racism. Alas, the whole POORLY EXECUTED PLOT collapsed when a large majority of the local Labour Party and the city at large piped up and effectively told Rees to stop being a prick.

However, the Reverend and his supporters still seem unhealthily obsessed with this Facebook group. Now we learn that Labour members unknown have granted the city council’s HR Department FULL ACCESS to this Facebook page so that they can try to target any members of their staff who happen to be in the Labour Party and supporting Corbyn.

The city council’s HR honchos, not being ones to pass up a golden opportunity to create a MONUMENTAL FUCK-UP, have, we’re told, even gone to the expense of procuring a private company to do their dubious spying for them and start disciplining staff for, er, being in the Labour Party!

All slightly odd, as being a member of the Labour Party is not usually a disciplinary offence. Since when have teachers, social workers and street cleaners been BANNED from being in the LABOUR PARTY? Indeed our friend with a copy of Butterworths Employment Law Handbook (25th edition) assures us such disciplinary actions have “LITTLE PROSPECT OF SUCCESS“. Not least for obstructing council staff’s Article 11 rights under the Human Rights Act to Freedom of Assembly.

But perhaps the bigger question is why is the Reverend handing large sums of PUBLIC MONEY and resources to a private sector firm to target his opponents in the Labour Party? Is this a lawful use of public money?

Should the Local Government Ombudsman be taking a look at this?

MEET THE UNION TRYING TO CON ITS MEMBERS

With all the class and integrity of a sleazy payday loan company, the Bristol Branch of Unison, which represents council workers, is BALLOTING its members.

They’re asking their members whether they want to accept the Reverend’s MEAN-SPIRITED changes to their terms and conditions. According to the council, the key changes the Reverend wants are to:

“Update the Council’s Managing Change Policy to strengthen the provisions in relation to redeployment and re-training and so reduce the need for staff to leave the Council on voluntary or compulsory redundancy. As part of these reforms, the maximum period of pay protection will be REDUCED from TWO YEARS to 12 MONTHS and the redundancy scheme will be REDUCED from TWICE to 1.5 TIMES the statutory minimum.”

However, on Unison’s website, where they’re supposed to communicate these proposals to their members and ask them to vote on them, the text has been SEVERELY CUT to say:

“Update the Council’s Managing Change Policy to strengthen the provisions in relation to redeployment and re-training and so reduce the need for staff to leave the Council on voluntary or compulsory redundancy.”

How convenient for the Reverend. The union best known for being a permanent fixture up his rectum has REMOVED the most controversial features of his proposals – and information that could cost their members a lot of money – and asked them to vote on a bland and vague proposal instead.

Unison members, don’t fall for this sleazy trade union/Labour Party STITCH-UP! Vote NO to the changes. All it will do is COST YOU MONEY – for NOTHING in return – if you get made redundant, which is increasingly likely as the Reverend  continues to deliver even more Tory cuts over the next year.

Unison members can vote here (while anyone else can view the union’s disgraceful sharp practice for themselves): http://www.unisonbristol.org.uk/bcc-consultation-proposed-changes-to-redundancy-and-pay-protection/

ROTTEN COMRADES: Redundancy pay and, now, pay protection too

by Our Industrial Correspondent  -The Dwarf

I was going to talk about a multitude of issues (including management calling in the enforcement officers on their own smokers and timing staff on the bog) but today there is only really one thing on the agenda: the slashing of redundancy pay and pay protection and the unions’ inability to show any backbone whatsoever. Vote this out now!

The latest spin being applied to the redundancy pay reduction plan is that the money saved from redundancy payments could be used to give those remaining in work a pay rise. One of the union reps who told us that looked surprised when he was told that that would mean they could make even more people redundant. He had the grace to look embarrassed. Then, needing a distraction to make his getaway, he set his bow tie spinning before jumping into his tiny car, which collapsed.

But now, finally, after plenty of rumours and leaks, having consulted absolutely nobody, having absolutely no debate whatsoever, the unions are putting it to the vote. The last time we balloted over a change to terms and conditions about 45 people took part (out of thousands) and the unions used that “mandate” to agree to slash our evening and weekend pay. And lo and behold, restructures took place forcing more of our workers to work more unsociable hours. These terms and conditions protect workers and compensate them if things go wrong. Of course, none of our union reps work evenings and weekends, heaven forfend, and are confident they shall be the last people to be laid off, being so useful to the business.

My fear is that a handful of politically motivated idiots, feeling only pity for their work mates and only admiration for their betters, will fall for this, dragging us all down with them.

The details can be found on the council’s intranet – The Source – though at the time of writing it was hidden away somewhere in a dusty corner. Unison have some details here. Why not print off a hundred or so copies, roll them up and use the resulting tube in a way that would make it difficult for some of our comrades to sit down?

But remember, don’t have a go at your local shop steward. The unions are using them to take the flak. He or she is as surprised as you are by this turn of events. Give your branches and regions a call and ask them what the hell they are playing at.

Unison’s Bristol office number is 0117 353 3956.

Unite’s Bristol office number is 0117 923 0555.

Say no to this awful example of incompetent negotiation, for heaven’s sake!

The unions’ have been hopeless, is there no organisation that can come to our aid? We’ve had the Bristolian Party, is it not now time for ‘Bristolian the Union’? Now there’s a thought. Can you imagine us at the Council’s top table?

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”?

WORLD OF THE USELESS UPDATE

Keith Barrow: company expert Beardmore didn’t notice he was shagging the auditor!

Congratulations to Nikki “Chocolate Fireguard” Beardmore. She’s ascended Bristol City Council’s greasy pole at remarkable speed to joins the council’s official REALM OF THE STUPID and claim a prized six-figure salary as the fancy-sounding ‘Interim Strategic Director of Resources’.

Ms Fireguard pitched up in Bristol last April as ‘Interim Commercial Director’ for the council and Bristol Holding Ltd – part of Mayor No More Ferguson and Nicola “Lady Gaga” Yates’s bizarre network of UNACCOUNTABLE and FAILING private companies set up with our cash.

Ms Fireguard’s first move was to hand £3million more of our money to the council’s energy reselling business shambles, Bristol Energy, who used it to get themselves 10,000 customers and post an immediate £3million LOSS … Charged to us!

With this success under her belt, Ms Fireguard was immediately promoted to ‘Interim Director – HR, Change, ICT, Communications & Culture’. Here, the great strategist – having overseen a RANDOM and DISORGANISED voluntary redundancy process last year (surely she “led a programme of change using a rapid redesign methodology to drive and deliver major and complex change at pace”? Ed.) – set the council on course to spend £10million this year employing 15 per cent of its workforce on expensive temporary contracts.

Now, just four months into this role, Ms Fireguard has hit the jackpot and has been PROMOTED by the Reverend’s under-powered new Chief Exec, Anna “Big Wedge” Klonowski, to the Counts Louse’s top table and been issued with a long spoon.

Nobody at Bristol City Council bothered to research Ms Fireguard’s CV then? Had they done so they might have noticed that she has a record of, er, APPALLING FAILURE allied to ZERO entrepreneurial skills and a wholesale INABILTY to oversee and scrutinise the work of senior colleagues!

Ms Fireguard’s previous employer was Shropshire Council where she rose to the giddy heights of Director of Resources & Support in 2013. She then got a taste of the really big time in December 2014 when she was also appointed Chief Operations Officer of ip&e, a wholly owned council company notorious locally for continually LOSING MONEY, disliking disclosing information to councillors and the public and trying to UNLAWFULLY DODGE FoI requests!

Somehow things managed to take a TURN FOR THE WORSE on Ms Fireguard’s watch, however, when Shropshire’s council leader Keith Barrow hurriedly resigned as chairman of the board of ip&e in September 2015 after a conflict of interest SCANDAL. Apparently the dubious Tory twit was in a “personal relationship” with one of the auditors he had appointed to ip&e in 2012!

Is this not something a competent ‘leader’ might have noticed while a senior boss at an organisation for all those years? Apparently not. Instead Ms Fireguard sloped off in DISGRACE from Shropshire in December 2015 to enter the world of local government consultancy. Three months later she popped up in Bristol as an expert in local authority trading companies!

Last spring, with the ink still drying on Ms Fireguard’s lucrative consultancy contract in Bristol, ip&e was wound-up in Shropshire as an EMBARRASSING FAILURE. Although we understand there’s an ongoing fraud case at Shrewsbury Crown Court relating to the company and FALSIFIED INVOICES. Another unfortunate incident their expert Chief Operations Officer managed to miss!

To add to the sense of absolute farce surrounding this latest appointment to a senior post in our city, oddly – for someone employed to sort out a crisis hit FINANCE DEPARTMENT – Ms Fireguard is qualified in, er, MARKETING!

Don’t believe the Reverend’s bullshit, hype and spin. The pieces are already falling into place for yet another Bristol City Council financial scandal within the next few years