Tag Archives: Unite

Rotten Comrades: Ethical Care Charter, Libraries and the Sirona Strike

by The Dwarf

A nice little bonus for Bristol’s overworked home care workers was unveiled last week to absolutely no fanfare whatsoever. A commitment to spend some new money on extra wages, matching and eventually exceeding the Living Wage, was followed up by a commitment to meeting other aspects of the ethical care charter such as paying staff travelling between clients.

When I mentioned this at home, Mrs Dwarf pointed out that it was funny how the Mayor could find a bit of money when he wanted to. After all, he found a few quid to keep the libraries open as well. Am I looking a gift horse in the mouth, I wondered aloud? Am I being a bit churlish treating this with my customary scepticism? Well, she snorted at this and started going on about privatisation, all the while pointing angrily at me with a rolled up copy of the Morning Star. She’s a bit more militant than me.

Finding a few quid down the back of the sofa to keep the libraries and home care going can only be a good thing if you forget it didn’t need to be this bad in the first place. But when you realise the problems are caused by privatisation and outsourcing, it becomes only a sticking plaster. Home care nationally only has a problem at all because it has been nearly all outsourced to private organisations.

Those teams that still belong to councils spend enough time with the old and disabled to help with disabilities, with personal care, help a little around the house and even have a little chat. It’s called dignity. And it’s called democratic control and oversight. I have seen work schedules for the private sector where as little as fifteen minutes is spent with the client and not enough time is given to travel to the next client, which is a sore temptation to shave a little of what little time there is with them.

Part of the announcement was that Unison, Bristol’s most hapless union, was involved in all this. I couldn’t believe the Chuckle Siblings had it in them to actually achieve a pay rise for someone. But then I noticed that it was a national campaign – the Ethical Care Charter – which isn’t all that bad a campaign and therefore nothing Bristol’s button-hole water-squirting brigade can screw up. I’m told they didn’t bother to tell anyone with a spinning tie they were doing this, which either just about sums up the secretive little cabal the union has become or that head office has just given up on them.

Needless to say no one sent an email out telling the members or put it on the website or anything like exploiting it for organising or recruitment purposes. At least I haven’t seen anything and neither have my little spies. Unison was also described as the union for care workers, which I can assure you was quite a surprise for Unite who had recruited nearly all of home care when Unison stopped talking to, thinking of, and involving them, several years ago.

So, my message to the Council (and the unions) is to bring home care back in-house if you really want to solve home care’s problems. And, it goes without saying, don’t privatise or outsource the libraries. The same sort of debacle is just as foreseeable with the library service as it was with home care.

While we’re on private provision of care, Unison members in Sirona in Bath are in an industrial dispute. I would like to wish them all the best in their fight and remind them to control their own struggle if they possibly can. If you see anyone coming towards you with a Unison badge, a flashing red nose, a car horn, and trying to tell you black is white: tell them to jog on.

 

Rotten Comrades – Redundancy Pay Cut Scandal Update

by Our Industrial Correspondent  -The Dwarf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll keep you updated regarding any further shenanigans.

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?

ROTTEN COMRADES: ‘REDUNDANCY PAY CUT SHOCKER’

by Less-Than-Pragmatic Dwarf

Another month, another shambles as Bristol City Council’s dodgy unions bend over backwards to help the employer. This time it’s redundancy pay that’s at risk but, instead of telling the employer to go “do one”, our comrades have, er, bravely thrown in the towel.

Citing the obvious line that if unions don’t go along with the cut, the employer will change their contracts anyway, our reps have come up with a piss-poor, face-saving formula that they will add “checks and balances” to the proposals.

Management would threaten unilateral changes to contracts, wouldn’t they? It’s the first – and oldest – trick in the book. Instead of saying “nice try sunshine!”, our not-so-bright colleagues scratched the top of their heads, fell over their clown shoes and surrendered.

One of the “checks and balances” reported to our Industrial Correspondent is an increase to voluntary severance payments. A windfall that, for ordinary workers, is as rare as hen’s teeth. Besides, what manager proposing a restructure will choose the more expensive, but more equitable, voluntary route to redundancy when it’s cheaper just to choose who to fire?

Back when they had experienced reps, the unions argued that it was better to let volunteers go than to fire people who are desperate to keep their jobs. This will strike a death knell for such an idea. Unions agreeing to this proposal will change the contracts of thousands of staff, even non-union members, which is actually worse than doing nothing.

If nothing is agreed and the proposals are imposed, at least one or two brave members of staff could challenge it. Perhaps with the help of an ambulance chasing lawyer or a union that has somehow managed not to compromise itself? Because, of course, redundancy pay is part of your contract and enforceable in law. “Checks and balances”, even placed in a policy, won’t be.

However, it’s not a done deal yet. Although the reps are agreeing it in principle, the unions will need to consult with their members (watch out for some frighteningly Orwellian fact distortion in your inbox). They want the effects of this not to kick in for a couple of years. But they intend to agree it now and tie it down in such a way that nobody can claim, in say three years’ time, that it was a surprise.

It’s not just Unison this time, the blame lies with Unite and GMB as well. They’re all complicit in this. If you catch anyone from the unions defending or promoting these proposals, in the Counts Louse or elsewhere, do yourself a favour: make them a dunce’s cap to wear and ask them to resign.

 

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

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

The Fly: savouring Marvin’s shite

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROTTEN COMRADES by -The Dwarf

Bristol Unison in action

A certain UNISON branch secretary was spotted lurking in the depths of City Hall last autumn.

UNITE reps – having been tipped off that devious shenanigans were in the offing from their opposite numbers in UNISON – were posted at strategic locations to intercept and follow him. The ensuing sneaking around was likened to something that might be achieved by Japan’s finest ninja assassins. Others likened it to a chase scene from Benny Hill.

Regardless, the upshot of it was that UNITE managed to find the location of a secret meeting with the Mayor. A meeting that they had every right to attend but the invites to which the UNISON branch secretary had mysteriously forgotten to send to UNITE! The branch secretary had a duty as “employee side secretary” to invite all the attendees but had conveniently forgotten to do so when an important discussion was to take place.

A discussion concerning the fate of thousands of employees and many services that might face cuts. It has been alleged that said secretary wanted time alone with the mayor to finesse things to his union’s advantage. It’s now being reported to us that shortly after this shoddy episode, the UNISON branch secretary now no longer holds the post of employee side secretary.The post is instead held by UNITE.

It’s also has been reported that UNISON is now finding it difficult to arrange meetings with the mayor. Strange, because the mayor seems to be meeting every Tom, Dick and Harry that asks. Only last week the mayor met with a couple of commies from an anti-austerity group that were hanging around trying to sell a few copies of the Morning Star. They were whisked inside and afterwards said the meeting had been “quite productive”.

MAYORAL ELECTION: HUSTINGS FARCE

The absolute fiasco of SECRET and CLOSED hustings featuring only carefully selected candidates from the establishment political parties continues to blight the mayoral elections.

We have already reported in The BRISTOLIAN how BUSINESS WEST invited just the Tories, Labour and George Ferguson to some very hush-hush hustings at their Leigh Court Mansion in March where, no doubt, the Merchant Venturers issued their orders to candidates.

We also reported how, at least, one hustings on housing run by crappy homeless charity, ST MUNGOS, was kept secret to keep independent candidates and their opinions out of the way and tricky questions at bay.

Now we’ve uncovered a whole series of hustings where independent candidates, UKIP and TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Colaition) have been DELIBERATELY EXCLUDED by the organisers.

Among these was a hustings instigated by the TUC at the Unite Union HQ, Tony Benn House, on Victoria Street in early April. This turned into a major humiliation for the TUC, however, when the excluded candidates organised a PROTEST outside Tony Benn House (pictured).

tu protest web

“Who made the TUC gatekeepers of democracy”

Surely this protest marks a significant NEW LOW in this city’s fine trade union tradition? And maybe it’s something the union bureaucrats and bosses responsible need to think long and hard about. Once ordinary people are protesting about you isn’t it time you carefully considered your position?

Especially after the TUC’s shitty little BIASED and MANIPULATED hustings only managed to attract about 30 people from a trade union membership in the tens of thousands in Bristol. Are these self-appointed trade union bosses in touch with anyone in the city outside their FRIENDS in the local Labour Party?

On the plus side, it seems the teachers union, the NUT, learned from the TUC’s huge EMBARRASSMENT and avoided a further HUMILIATING protest against trade unions. They hurriedly arranged invites for ALL the candidates for their hustings at Tony Benn House a few weeks later.

Not so, however, from other so-called progressive organisations in the city who seem desperate to control any political debate and EXCLUDE any troublesome views that might fall to the left of Labour’s right wing candidate Marvin “Luther” Rees.

Hustings organised by the CREATIVE YOUTH NETWORK for young people; VOSCUR for community and voluntary organisations; ACORN, the direct action tenants organisation and even hustings on disabilities organised jointly by The National Autistic Society, Royal National Institute for the Blind, Mencap and the Bristol Centre for Deaf People all EXCLUDED legitimate mayoral candidates.

In the case of the disability hustings, it’s nothing short of extraordinary that organisations supposedly dedicated to preventing exclusion should OPENLY EXCLUDE people! The other organisations involved are, mainly, thinly disguised LABOUR SUPPORTERS obviously petrified of giving a platform to any of the many left wing critics of Marvin “Luther” Rees among the mayoral candidates.

Mayor Loser’s supporters appear to have been getting in on this act too. A hustings at the Analphoney art gallery organised by the RIDICULOUS POSH BOYS running the POINTLESS Bristol Pound project also FAILED to invite most candidates because there wasn’t “enough time”. Although it looked more like a last ditch effort to keep the wheels on Mayor Massive Defeat’s car crash campaign by banning all his more open and aggressive critics.

Welcome to progressive politics in Bristol where dissent will be quietly suppressed and democracy overlooked due to time constraints.

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?

#RIGHT2STRIKE: PROTEST IN BRISTOL CITY CENTRE, MONDAY 2 NOVEMBER

On Monday 2nd November, Bristol will voice its opposition to the government’s ‘Trade Union Bill’, in a vibrant protest with music, giant banners, spectacle and speeches!

The protest coincides with the TUC lobby of parliament as it votes on this bill, which seriously attacks the hard-fought-for rights to strike or organise for proper standards, pay and conditions at work.

PeoplesAssembly

Whether you’re in a union or not, this Bill is designed to undermine resistance to the Tory austerity agenda, to privatisation and a low-pay – and move towards a rights-free workforce: so let’s all show our solidarity!

Bristol People’s Assembly are hoping for a massive turn-out: invite all your friends and colleagues to join the protest. The theme for the protest will be Workers’ Rights, or What Have The Unions Ever Done For Us?, a tongue-in-cheek nod to Monty Python…

Bring your home-made placards and banners – as well as your trade union gear – to say YES for what unions and workers’ rights have done for you: YES TO SICK PAY, YES TO WORKERS’ RIGHTS and YES TO OUR RIGHT TO STRIKE – and NO TO THE TRADE UNION BILL.

If you can’t make it on the day, show your support on social media with hashtag #NoTUBill – or update your status with what workers’ rights means to you and have done for you, using #RIGHT2STRIKE

See you there!

Contact: bristolpeoplesassembly@gmail.com / http://www.bristolpeoplesassembly.org/