Tag Archives: Security

Outsourcing of Bristol City Council Staff to Bristol Waste

 Via Bristol Branch of Unison

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.

ARSELICKERS TO SUE GOBSHITES AS FAVOUR TO REES?

HR meeting
“The best HR Committee meeting in years”

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 BRISTOLIAN at 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.

What will M’Lud make of it all? 

TUPE TRANSFER WATCH #3: IS IT RACIST (SLIGHT RETURN)?

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:

EqIA

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?

TUPE TRANSFER WATCH #2: IS IT RACIST?

HR meeting
The great white masters decide the fate of the black workers

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?

TUPE TRANSFER WATCH #1

THE REVEREND’S ATTEMPT TO OUTSOURCE VULNERABLE CLEANING AND SECURITY STAFF TO BRISTOL WASTE GOES NUCLEAR DURING HR CONFLAB

HR meeting
Handsworth Parish Council talk HR

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.”

MORE OUTSOURCING NEWS

outsourcing-it-e1601990841992

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.

MARV’S KINGDOM CON, WORKERS WILL BE DONE

Another win for our on-the-ball Reverend Mayor. His new force of outsourced Environmental Enforcement Officers recruited to fine locals for littering and anti-social behaviour – and launched in a blaze of publicity – are being paid BELOW his own living wage!

Adverts all over the internet from dodgy outsource specialist security firm Kingdom are offering the jobs for £8.00 AN HOUR when the Reverend’s formal living wage rate for all council workers and their contractors is £8.45 AN HOUR!

Adding to the sense gross incompetence emanating from the Reverend’s witless LABOUR ADMINISTRATION, the living wage rate was introduced by them just last year with much song-and-dance. Not least when Labour councillors claimed they had to raise senior bosses’ salaries by up to 20 per cent to get their FLAGSHIP living wage policy through.

A year later and their policy for the low paid is in TATTERS while the huge pay increase for bosses not only remains firmly in place but has been INCREASED by another 10 per cent by Labour councillors this year!

Meanwhile, reviews from Kingdom’s former Environmental Enforcement Officers from around the country do not bode well and suggest workers’ rights may be a low priority in the Reverend’s new LITTER FREE PARADISE.

“Worst company ever,” says a former Kingdom officer in Canterbury. “Diabolical company. Work long hours with hardly any break and get pushed to issue a certain amount of tickets when targets are illegal … Managers and colleagues disrespectful and ignorant. Did not even speak to me properly if at all.”

“Run by Neanderthals!” claims another former employee from St Helens. “Worked here only because I was desperate. You must record when you have had conversations with “management” as they deny you ever contacted them. No one can take responsibility or make a decision. No support. Do not bother, you deserve better.”

 “Make sure you read your contract,” advises another former employee from Hampshire. “Told it wasn’t targeted and is to extent. But they try to performance manage you out. Was not allowed to take breaks in an 8 hour shift. Have to pay for second hand uniform.”

Yet another emerging shambles from the Reverend’s useless council. Will anyone be taking responsibility for this?

PROPERTY-MANAGEMENT COMPANIES, MY ARSE! SLUM LANDLORDS MORE LIKE …

You’re in the boozer and someone you don’t know proposes a business idea to you.

“Hey mate, a dicky bird told me you got an empty garage. You know it could be broken into by squatters or vandals and you wouldn’t want that, would you? I’ll tell you what, my security company can protect your property. Pay me a fee for protection and I’ll fill your garage with people who need somewhere to live. I’ll call them ‘property-guardians’ and they’ll pay me rent. If the garage gets any leaks or if the door gets broken off then my handy-man Jim’ll fix it for a fee which you pay me. Whaddya say? A win-win for both of us, and and everything’s sweet!”

If someone suggested this across a pub table you would just laugh (or punch them) in their face. “You take over my property, charge me for the privilege and then extort rent from others staying there? Hahaha. You’re a fucking Del Boy taking the piss.”

But this is exactly the business model used by over forty companies, operating across the UK as ‘Property-Management’ enterprises. Ironically the brain-child of some ‘entrepreneurial squatters’ in Amsterdam, Property-Management companies and their ilk have become as common as flies on shit in contemporary, austerity-ridden Britain.

After the economic crash of 2008, property prices fell – leaving empty offices, factories and warehouses all over the UK. In Bristol it was estimated that half the city-centre office space was ‘To Let’ in 2010. As the recession continued the Tories came to power and began a brutal set of cuts to local government budgets that led many councils to close down fire stations, police stations, elderly people’s homes and council offices to save money. Any attempts to build social housing were halted, and some councils (like Bristol) even began to sell their own social-housing stock off to raise money. This process continues today.

As well as this, the Tories also attacked welfare benefits, reducing them or even forcing people off them altogether. As wages stagnated or fell, particularly for the young, rents began to rise as the demand for housing grew, while middle-class kids with ‘Trustafarian’ inheritances gentrified the inner-cities.

This triple whammy of high rents, no available social housing and plenty of empty buildings should be the perfect environment for ‘squatting’, an immediate and traditional solution to a housing crisis for the less well off. After World War 2, and once again in the 1960-70s, working class people took over empty buildings to solve their housing problems.

However, in 1994 and 2001 the law was tightened up, making ‘squatting’ more difficult and in 2012, thanks to the Tories (again) – squatting in residential buildings became a criminal offence subject to arrest, fine and imprisonment. This meant that empty commercial properties became the only remaining possibility for the homeless, creating the perfect environment for a new swarm of parasites to emerge from the neo-liberal swamp…‘Property-Management’ companies.

IT’S A FUCKING SCAM

These cheapskate corporations offer ‘security solutions’ for big property owners, providing ‘guardians’ to protect ‘vulnerable empty properties’ from ‘squatters’. But this is complete bollocks. Instead, their business model is based on taking over privately or public owned buildings and letting them out to people desperate for accommodation at a lower rent.

Costs are minimal, run through a single office, a website and a maintenance worker or two to do (or not do) minor repairs. With no normal business liabilities like rent, mortgages, insurance, loans or maintenance and on average twenty ‘property-guardians’ paying rent to them in each building, they can just rake it in. Add to this ‘cash cow’ the fees levied on the real owners for ‘security services’ and repairs, the stage is set for MASSIVE profits!

However, vital to the entire con was to get round tenancy laws – which after a long series of protests and legal battles in the 20th Century provided tenants with environmental and health & safety regulations, and also protections against illegal evictions, threats and extortionate rent increases. So ‘Property-Management’ companies hired lawyers to find loopholes in the web of laws protecting tenants. Central to this tactic was to never mention the three terms, tenant, landlord or rent in any contract. Instead the tenant became a ‘property-guardian’, the landlord became ‘the property management company’ and rent became a ‘fee’. On top of this, the tenancy agreement mutated into a ‘licence’.

LICENSED TYRANNY

The typical property-guardian ‘licence’ issued by a property-management company is an interesting document indeed. You’d expect a ‘security company’ hiring ‘security guards’ to have contracts with their employees that clearly stated their duties in the building, such as – clear guidelines on their power to deal with intruders, how to interact with police, fire and ambulance services etc etc. Instead, what you do find on the front page is ‘This is not a tenancy’, followed by pages of weird and wonderful ‘rules’ aimed at getting round tenancy law, interspersed with illegal threats of fines and evictions for not following them. In order to keep the so-called property-guardians isolated from the outside and from each other the following ‘rules’ are common:

    • The Guardian will not hold meetings, parties or other similar gatherings in the property
  • The Guardian will not permit any other person (other than other Guardians) to stay overnight in the property
  • The Guardian will not display any sign, poster, document or sticker without property-management company’s consent
  • The Guardian will not attempt to contact the owner of the property
  • The Guardian will not speak to the media about the owner, the property-management company or the property
  • If the Guardian becomes aware that anyone else is doing something prohibited by this clause, the guardian will inform the property-management company immediately he Guardian will notify the property-management company if they cease to be employed
  • The Guardian will not seek to claim housing benefit, job-seekers allowance or any related benefit without the prior consent of the property-management company

Apart from sounding like regulations issued by a crazed fascist-dictator, these rules are in place to prevent Guardians from organising by creating a climate of fear, to isolate and ‘gag’ them and to hinder contact with a local authority who might uncover the shit conditions they’re living in. In Bristol, property management company Camelot used its gagging clauses to threaten tenants with eviction if they spoke to the local council or their political representatives! It was also these draconian rules which allowed Camelot to get away with putting Guardians in Bristol City Council properties without licences for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) for several years. HMO’s are there to ensure residential properties meet certain health and safety standards, particularly in relation to fire. It seems many property-management companies like Camelot (and City Councils) ignore HMO’s to save money whilst putting the Guardians at risk.

Not satisfied with flouting laws which are there to protect tenants, property-management company ‘licences’ are also full of extra penalties and ‘administration’ fees which along with the ‘damage security payment’ (the deposit in other words), add up to hundreds of pounds of extra costs for the ‘Property-Guardian’.

In the final paragraph of the endless pages of loopholes and threats in the ‘licence’ come the two statements which give the whole game away:

  • It is hereby expressly acknowledged by all parties that the Guardian has NO security responsibility as defined in the Private Security Industry Act 2001
  • The Guardian expressly acknowledges that they only have the powers of an ordinary citizen and they will not assume the powers of security officers or the police or any governmental authority

So the ‘Property-Guardian’ is NOT there for security purposes and has no powers as such. So despite all the pseudo-legal flannel in the licence it’s fairly obvious the Property-Guardian is actually just a tenant paying rent to a landlord. The disguise these companies use to hide this obvious relationship is compounded by the use of corporate legal devices to protect them from legal challenges and compensation claims by tenants.

SLUM LANDLORDS (ON SOMEONE ELSE’S PROPERTY)

Camelot has used (at least) four different companies to run their ‘property-management’ operations in the UK. Typically, this involves creating asset-less corporate entities in the frontline of dealing with ‘property-guardians’, and to protect the owners and core business from claims if, say, a building burned down, killing and injuring the residents. It was precisely this kind of slum landlordism that the tenancy laws were brought in to deal with in the 1960s and 70s and which these companies are flouting.

Property-management companies profit from the numerous empty local authority buildings – particularly elderly peoples’ homes and to a lesser extent schools, fire/police stations and public offices, all produced by austerity. In Bristol, Somerset and Gloucester in 2017 there are more than 40 local council owned properties ‘run’ by property-management companies, bringing in millions of pounds of rent from ‘Guardians’. Like leeches sucking blood from an injured animal they have exploited ‘cuts’ to local government spending and the concurrent housing crisis. And they have done all this whilst unbelievably harping on in the media that they are some kind of charity ‘helping the homeless’ out of the goodness of their hearts!

***

However, on Friday 24th February 2017 a groundbreaking legal judgement was made in Bristol County Court, where Guardians were established for the first time as tenants and NOT licensees by the judge ruling on a dispute between two aggrieved guardians and Property-Management Company Camelot. This a massive victory.

The BRISTOLIAN says:
Paul Smith (BCC Housing) must now DISMISS ALL Property-Guardian companies from their contracts with Bristol City Council AND FIRE THE BCC OFFICIALS like Chris Woods and Rupert ‘Spunkface’ Orett who signed them up in the first place. He must ALSO DEFEND ALL TENANTS (as Guardians are NOW ESTABLISHED IN COURT to be) on YOUR PROPERTY, allowing them to FORM CICs or self-managing collectives wherever possible and if this is their wish, or rehouse them if not. Furthermore, we call on BCC to introduce a CITY WIDE RENT-CAP on the runaway private sector, START A MASSIVE REGENERATIVE SOCIAL HOUSING PROJECT, and REPOSSESS all BCC properties
leased to Property Management Companies