Another bad day for the Merchant Venturers. How much longer must the city put up with a slave trade clown show running our public services?
The fight at St Monica Trust against fire and rehire and cuts to pay and conditions continues. Management have refused to meet for negotiations and so the workers have been left with no other option but to stand up for themselves and strike.
Five days of strike action have been announced starting tomorrow, Wednesday 29th June.
* Wednesday 29th June at 7.30am for 24 hours
* Saturday 2nd July at 7.30am for 24 hours* Tuesday 5th July at 7.30am for 24 hours
* Sunday 10th July at 7.30am for 48 hours (ending at 7.30am Tuesday 12th July)
We will be holding pickets on these days which you are encouraged to come along and support. They will run at the 4 homes on each of the strike days at the following times:
* 7:00am – 3:00pm
* 8:00pm – 10:00pm
At these addresses:
* Sandford Station Retirement Village, Sandford, Winscombe, BS25 5AD
* Cote Lane, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, BS9 3TW
* 6 Charlton Rd, Bristol, BS10 6NG
* Trajectus Way, Keynsham, Bristol, BS31 2GL
If you’d like to know where your support is best placed, check out the public pledge sheet and put your name down for some of the slots. Green ones are the best priority to go to then yellow then orange, but your support is welcome at any!
Public day of action – Saturday 2nd July
On Saturday, following the 7am pickets, there is a rally in support of the strikes at the Greenway Centre in Southmead which is a short walk from the Westbury Fields site. We have a Facebook event page with all the info here: Facebook Event
The rally will start at 11:30am in the sports hall with a variety of speakers from the trade union movement including UNISON’s regional secretary, Joanne Kaye. They will give short speeches in support of the action and share stories of other workers who are standing up and fighting. This will be followed by some food.
A minibus with around 15 spaces will be put on to transport members from Sandford Station. Striking members will be prioritised but if you want to be on the reserve list should there be extra space then contact Joshua.firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll let you know if you’ve got a space by the end of the week.
The current cost of living crisis will have an impact on our ability to undertake effective strike action. It’s going to be vital that we’re able to support our members, many of whom are low paid. We have a healthy fighting fund but the more available, the longer and harder we can fight.
Union branches are encouraged to donate to our strike fund. You can make your own request to your branch committee or use this letter from our branch secretaries to make the request. We’d of course welcome donations from any other groups or individuals if you can afford to. Donations can be made by transfer to the following details with the reference SMT and will be split between the two branch hardship funds.
Account name: UNISON South West
Account number: 49021079
Sort Code: 60-83-01
Jack Horwood (he/him)
Area Organiser | Press & Digital
UNISON South West
Care workers at the St Monica Trust, the notorious Merchant Venturer-run care home operation, have announced the dates of their first wave of strikes:
They will be on strike for 24 hours on June 29, July 2 and July 5
They will be on strike for 48 hours 10 – 11 July
The workers are going on strike as the management of the care homes attempt to ‘fire and rehire’ them by ripping up existing contracts and replacing them with worse ones. The wealthy Venturers plans include substantial cuts to pay by reducing night and weekend enhancements; slashing weekly hours and removing paid breaks.
Details on picket lines, strike funds etc to follow
Victory to the workers! Down with the capitalist scum Merchant Venturers pigs!
From: Bristol Unison
Sent: 14 February 2022 07:58
To: All councillors
Cc: Bristol Unison; Branch Secretary; Branch Secretary, Unite
Subject: full council and collective disputes
Good Morning Councillor
I am emailing you regarding the budget proposals for Full Council on February 15th.
I am unsure if we are allowed to speak, but even if we are if will only a minute. Hardly sufficient.
I have to inform you that we have raised two collective disputes. One regarding museums, is by UNISON, the other one is unsurprisingly regarding the cut to trade union facility time. With the latter, we are joined by UNITE.
The collective dispute regarding museums relates to the paperwork that was submitted to Cabinet and scrutiny prior to the full council. The equalities impact assessment ( EQIA) was wrong and out of date. Full details of this, is within out statements. Furthermore, on meeting with Senior officers they confirmed this and apologised.
The EQIA should not be a paper exercise, but a robust evaluation. I would suggest that this is especially important within culture and particularly in relation to museums and archives. This remains the last free event that a low waged family can undertake on a rainy day. With the cost of living increases and the low wage economy this is essential to many of your citizens.
The cuts in the papers suggested only £85k, when the true figure of nearer £420k has now arisen. This will decimate the staff group.
There are other issues, but with the speed of the consultative process prior to budget setting and inaccuracies within the paperwork, we are unable to engage properly. We are asking for this report to be withdrawn, so it can be written properly and we can engage with our ideas on raising revenue to offset damage to this service. Furthermore, has Cabinet been misled?
Our other collective dispute with UNITE, involves the intention to cut trade union facility time. We expect that the intention is to hamper us being able to represent member’s views in situations like this, and allow budgets and similar to pass through unmolested by democracy.
I have spent days trying to get to the bottom of this, unsuccessfully. I was first directed to the office of Kevin Slocombe, after a few days. He engaged for a bit, and then handed me and our collective queries to John Walsh. I have only received platitudes, not concrete assurances that this cut will not decimate trade union’s ability to function. I have been told that this not a cut, but a realignment of funds. If that is the case, then why is it in the budget proposals dealing specifically with cuts?
We ask you to vote against this and withdraw it for proper consultation. If it is not a cut, then it can be dealt with at the HR committee. We will be discussing these collective disputes at this afternoon’s CJCC, with a view to them being heard at the next HR committee.
We have also been informed from other sources that Councillors have been told to vote this budget through, or fall foul of the Code of Conduct. There is a letter circulating on social media, showing this. We believe that this undermines democracy in our city further. We would support any councillor who votes with their conscience on the 15th. The press would be interested in such a threat, as would the citizens of Bristol. Who voted you in, to represent their wards and constituencies.
Lastly, I need to make a point about waste of finances. We are told about Central Government reducing funding and putting us in such a position, that we need to cut services and outsource. However, it is our opinion that BCC has not been entirely prudent with the budget. For example the recent giving away of land at Temple Island to L and G, with a further £34m in improvement works. To our knowledge, there was not a procurement process or open market tendering. We are unclear what benefits there are for BCC or Bristol citizens. City Leap has cost £7.4m, with a further £3m in reserves. Bristol Energy lost £43m. Colston Hall has now cost the council tax payer £54.4m. I could go on, with salary increases for senior officers being one example. We are in the process of collating evidence of this type of possible financial mismanagement. If you are interested, then please get back to me and I can provide the list.
We firmly believe that our City should not be subjected to cut after cut and revenue should be more carefully managed, and utilised to deliver services.
Thank you for taking time to read this email and we hope you join us in defending our city. It deserves much better.
Area Organiser, Unison Office, The Create Centre
Just what is up with Unison South West Regional boss Joanne “Priti” Kaye, Bristol’s answer to Priti Patel ? Why does she seem to dedicate her life to wrecking trade unionism at Bristol City Council where lots of her members work under appalling pressure for little money and less thanks.
The Reverend’s PA, “Slo” Kev Slocombe – completing a predictable trade union bureaucrat journey from Militant Tendency to right wing cunt – now wants to cut trade union facility time at the council. A move that effectively destroys trade union representation at the council by ensuring there’s no full time professional union workers around to represent members to bosses.
“We’re cutting the head off the snake” is how Slo Kev likes to tell it in front of the crowd of simpering senior council officers he tries to impress at the Counts Louse with a ridiculous prolier than thou geezer act that trousers him over £90k a year.
Some of the many people unimpressed with Slo Kev’s right wing antics over the unions are members of Labour’s South Bristol Constituency Party. Some even approached the chair of the constituency party and demanded a debate on these blatant anti-union attacks disguised as cuts cooked up by Labour. Only to be refused by the party chair.
And who might this chair, backing Slo Kev to the hilt and not fighting for trade union rights at Bristol City Council, be? Please step forward,er, Unison’s Joanne Kaye.
Who needs bosses screwing you over when we’ve got trade unionists like Joanne and Slo Kev doing their job for them?.
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.
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?
THE REVEREND’S ATTEMPT TO OUTSOURCE VULNERABLE CLEANING AND SECURITY STAFF TO BRISTOL WASTE GOES NUCLEAR DURING 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.”
More problems for Bristol City Council’s beleaguered and failing Director of Workforce, John “Bedwetter” Walsh?
However, as further oppressive practices and anti-union activity against council staff by Tory-boy bully boy Bedwetter and his HR team emerges, a question arises. Is Bedwetter actually the Reverend Rees and his administration’s personal workforce enforcer? Employed on a handsome six-figure salary to shaft the council’s workforce?
The evidence from a leaked letter from Unison suggests Bedwetter is no maverick looney but, instead, is implementing an agreed suite of right wing employment policies on the instructions of his political masters. Read this letter to Labour councillors from the Secretary of the Bristol Branch of Unison and weep:
It is a matter for regret for me that the links between this council’s senior union branch and the city’s Labour Party are as wafer-thin as they are and I suppose it is not going to get better anytime soon. However, in the hope of getting a better deal for our members, I still need to try to steer discussion to somewhere that coincides with our priorities and matches your aims and objectives. Here are some matters of concern for us.
Yes, we are setting up some sort of work programme with Helen regarding the sick pay situation for care workers that work for organisations contracted by the council. The latest news on this was welcome. However, the mere fact of outsourcing has at best coincided, and at worst has led to, reductions in what we think are basic protections for staff who, ultimately, work for an organisation that is led by the Labour Party.
So, regardless of efforts to improve the sick pay for care staff we still have Bristol Waste who mostly do not receive occupational sick pay (some might have it because of TUPE) and who have suffered loss of pay over this trying period. Some are scared rigid putting themselves in danger each day; and we now see further moves to set up arms-length organisations (or contract out) where terms and conditions are pegged only to legal minimums.
There seems to be an accepted view that the public sector cannot run services as efficiently as arms’ length companies and contractors. We disagree with this. But even if we accepted your privatising agenda there should be no reason to suppose that a Labour administration making these decisions would not protect and uphold decent standards for those organisations’ staff.
We stand for public services delivered by local government and it is within local government that decent standards can be maintained for staff (notwithstanding the problems being faced by council staff). In English law, labour protections are so small and regulation is so light that organisations that proudly say that they are upholding legal standards are really only upholding basic just-above-poverty entitlements.
The unions have struggled to lift people from poverty but there is a constant traction that draws wages down to minimum wage and reduces other benefits such as redundancy pay to statutory minimums. Management made an “offer” two years ago whereby we saw no tangible offer to compensate us for a loss of redundancy pay. We balloted and rejected it, but we shouldn’t have had to if there had been someone at a senior level who was prepared to stick up for ordinary staff. Decent redundancy pay does two things: it compensates the staff member and makes the employer think more carefully before letting people go, which is what we in the Labour movement should be supporting, not undermining.
Our staff are frustrated because they know they can deliver in-house (they already are) and are worried about being spun out to another third-party organisation where the risk of failure can appear as likely as it was before. Please see my points about outsourcing and sick pay above. UNISON remains opposed to TUPE transfers and outsourcing. This position was not decided on by this branch but by conference and is the national position of the union.
It is not my place to put pressure on you to find someone not guilty but I respectfully request that you listen to the evidence and make a just decision. I have, however, been placed in farcical situations that were unjust. The last time was before three Labour councillors.
Under the heading ‘appeals’ ‘what you can do in the hearing’ on the Acas website is ‘present new evidence if you have it’. It can be found here for you to check for yourself: https://www.acas.org.uk/appealing-a-disciplinary-or-grievance-outcome#:~:text=The%20right%20of%20appeal%20and%20the%20law%20The,them%20if%20the%20case%20goes%20to%20employment%20tribunal.
It goes on to say that employers should “look at new evidence, if there is any”. Unfortunately, Bristol City council’s position is that new evidence is not allowed at appeals and this was upheld by three Labour councillors – a position that is below the basic standards of Acas. It is fair to say I was taken aback. If we are not allowed to present new evidence what is the point?
Breach of Contract
With a section of our surveyors, management freely entered into a new contract, in writing, with our members to pay a ‘market forces supplement’ for between one and three years. A few months later, they then withdrew from that contract, which of course we are unwilling to allow them to do. We, alongside Unite the Union, have entered a dispute with BCC.
Management realising that this may end up in county court seem to have consulted a solicitor or two who know that they may be allowed to argue that three months wages is the award for breaking a contract such as this. We argue that it has a fixed term (at least one year) and we will see who wins.
In the meantime this places BCC’s commitment to honour its agreements in doubt. Again, it is not my role to press you to make decisions, but I want you to know that BCC is not a playground utopia for hard-leftists (as it is presented, I am told) but a battleground over basic bourgeois rights such as upholding a contract of employment.
Unilateral Policy Changes
I have been arguing for months now that BCC needs to put its policies back to the last position where it was agreed with the unions. HR are attempting to reduce our employment rights further. Management have insisted that none of this is part of our contract and they can do this but when it coincides with dismissal (and other matters such as appointments) then we have insisted it is and they can’t.
None of this is minor: the sickness policy now says that you no longer have to be taken through the warnings consecutively – they can jump straight to the last stage (and dismissal) if they want. And there are no longer minimum periods for consultations.
We recently saw a one-week consultation that led to a contract change, which means restructures can be rushed through. There are many more minor changes that staff relied upon to get fairness at work. I can’t find anyone who will admit to okaying any of this so why is it still up?
The number of complaints I have are much greater than what I have set out above, but further matters will have to come later. It is fair to say, I can’t understand why our members are under attack like this but we are now going to start campaigning over these issues.
Thanks, Tom Merchant, Branch secretary, Bristol UNISON