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  • Campaigners notch up important win to keep Bromley’s libraries public

    Thursday 2nd March 2017

    Unite members and Bromley residents notched up an important win in their campaign to stop the privatisation of Bromley’s libraries after the building firm Carillion confirmed it had withdrawn a bid to run the libraries on behalf of Bromley council.

    The confirmation follows a concerted campaign by concerned residents to defend Bromley’s library service which has also seen Bromley Community Link withdraw its bid to run Bromley libraries with volunteers.

    The campaigners understand that the only bidder left in the running for Bromley libraries is Greenwich Leisure Limited.

    Commenting Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “This is a significant step in our campaign to keep Bromley’s well-loved libraries out of the clutches of privateers looking to make a quick buck out of an essential service.

    “Bromley’s libraries are well used by people from all walks of life right across the borough. An essential point of social contact they provide learning and enjoyment for all ages.

    “We will not rest until Bromley council ditches its privatisation plans and will now focus our campaign on the remaining bidder which we believe is Greenwich Leisure Limited.”

    ENDS

  • Double blow for Bromley council over library sell-off plans

    Tuesday 4th October 2016

    Bromley council has been dealt a double blow to its plans to sell-off the borough’s treasured libraries.

    Bexley council has informed Bromley council that it will no longer be looking to privatise its libraries in the joint tendering process with Bromley and will instead “take the library forward through continued in-house management.” Earlier this month Bromley Community Link the preferred bidder for the volunteer library contract decided to withdraw from the tender process.

    The council intended to use volunteers instead of paid, professional staff for six community libraries and privatise the remaining ones in a joint tendering process with Bexley council.

    Bromley’s plans to sell-off and fragment the borough’s libraries is now in tatters. Bexley has realised that the privatisation of its libraries are not the answer, now it’s time for Bromley to wake up and make a commitment to keep its libraries under public control and ownership.

    The fight is on to keep Bromley’s libraries in public hands but library workers will be able to campaign as a single united force rather than a fragmented one. Unite will be holding a lobby on 12 October at the Executive meeting of the Council to keep the pressure on in the battle to save our libraries and defend jobs, pay and conditions.

    Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “This is another blow to Bromley council’s plans to sell-off the borough’s treasured libraries. Surely it’s time for the council to drop its misconceived privatisation. Let’s not forget that 80 per cent of the public who responded to the public consultation on the future of the libraries disagreed with the council’s plans.

    “Workers have been fighting against the cuts and the privatisation since April last year and they will continue to fight the cuts. Many council workers have taken over 30 days of strike action in this long campaign. It’s a testament to their determination.

    “The residents group called Backing Bromley is growing by the day. Thousands have joined up in order to make the Tory council answer for its many failings. The workforce, and the people of Bromley are not going to give up the fight to stop the cuts and privatisation.”

    ENDS

    For further information please call Ciaran Naidoo 07768 931 315

    Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org

    Notes to editors

    • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

  • Unite has won staff working in schools in Hackney the London Living Wage following a year long campaign.

    Friday 24th June 2016

    Catering and cleaning staff employed through OCS, a subcontractor, have been promised a wage increase of £2.20 an hour backdated to April 1 2016.

    The London Living wage was increased to £9.40 per hour in October 2015 and Hackney council is committed to paying their staff it. Yet cleaners and catering staff working in schools within the borough were earning as little as £6.70 an hour (the minimum wage at the time).

    All Hackney council employees receive the London Living Wage, as do all staff employed directly by schools within the borough.

    The campaign came about when Unite went out to organise in schools in Hackney and did an initial survey of staff to find out their concerns.

    “The survey showed us that people’s biggest concern was that they were not receiving the London Living Wage,” said Onay Kasab, Unite regional officer.

    Hackney council had negotiated the council facilities management contract with Babcock International, which is also committed to the London Living Wage. However Babcock had then subcontracted the work out to another company called OCS – who turned out not to be committed to it.

    The survey had been an initiative to see what people wanted the union to campaign on and how it could help them.

    “We visited schools across the borough and recruited members and some excellent activists along the way,” said Onay.

    One of the activists recruited was Gloria D’Costa, a cleaner from Cardinal Pole school who went on to become a union rep and a central driving force in the campaign.

    Gloria went school to school recruiting a significant number of new members helping to strengthen the campaign.

    “When Hackney council had negotiated the contract with Babcock they had not specified that all staff must receive the London Living Wage,” said Onay.

    This is why catering and cleaning staff employed through OCS were not being paid what they should.

    “The majority of staff employed through OCS on the lower rate of pay were part-time women. The London Living Wage is the minimum rate of pay people need in order to survive in London,” added Onay.

    Unite began to pressure the council to make a political decision to commit to getting these people the pay increase that they needed.

    “While the council were supportive at first their commitment did not go far enough,” said Onay.

    The council wrote to all the schools saying it would be nice if they could make sure all staff were being paid the London Living Wage but did not enforce the minimum pay level.

    “We then discovered that the OCS contract was due for renewal this year,” said Onay.

    Unite stepped up pressure on local councillors and the Mayor to get behind the campaign, which they did.

    “We were just short of looking at a ballot of our members in support of the claim when we got a message from the council that they were renegotiating the contract,” added Onay.

    Hackney council have now confirmed that the new contract has been agreed and all staff will receive the London Living Wage.

    “We are incredibly pleased with the result. A £2.20 an hour pay increase will make a significant difference to the quality of these people’s lives,” said Onay.

  • Unite has won staff working in schools in Hackney the London Living Wage following a year long campaign.

    Friday 24th June 2016

    Catering and cleaning staff employed through OCS, a subcontractor, have been promised a wage increase of £2.20 an hour backdated to April 1 2016.

    The London Living wage was increased to £9.40 per hour in October 2015 and Hackney council is committed to paying their staff it. Yet cleaners and catering staff working in schools within the borough were earning as little as £6.70 an hour (the minimum wage at the time).

    All Hackney council employees receive the London Living Wage, as do all staff employed directly by schools within the borough.

    The campaign came about when Unite went out to organise in schools in Hackney and did an initial survey of staff to find out their concerns.

    “The survey showed us that people’s biggest concern was that they were not receiving the London Living Wage,” said Onay Kasab, Unite regional officer.

    Hackney council had negotiated the council facilities management contract with Babcock International, which is also committed to the London Living Wage. However Babcock had then subcontracted the work out to another company called OCS – who turned out not to be committed to it.

    The survey had been an initiative to see what people wanted the union to campaign on and how it could help them.

    “We visited schools across the borough and recruited members and some excellent activists along the way,” said Onay.

    One of the activists recruited was Gloria D’Costa, a cleaner from Cardinal Pole school who went on to become a union rep and a central driving force in the campaign.

    Gloria went school to school recruiting a significant number of new members helping to strengthen the campaign.

    “When Hackney council had negotiated the contract with Babcock they had not specified that all staff must receive the London Living Wage,” said Onay.

    This is why catering and cleaning staff employed through OCS were not being paid what they should.

    “The majority of staff employed through OCS on the lower rate of pay were part-time women. The London Living Wage is the minimum rate of pay people need in order to survive in London,” added Onay.

    Unite began to pressure the council to make a political decision to commit to getting these people the pay increase that they needed.

    “While the council were supportive at first their commitment did not go far enough,” said Onay.

    The council wrote to all the schools saying it would be nice if they could make sure all staff were being paid the London Living Wage but did not enforce the minimum pay level.

    “We then discovered that the OCS contract was due for renewal this year,” said Onay.

    Unite stepped up pressure on local councillors and the Mayor to get behind the campaign, which they did.

    “We were just short of looking at a ballot of our members in support of the claim when we got a message from the council that they were renegotiating the contract,” added Onay.

    Hackney council have now confirmed that the new contract has been agreed and all staff will receive the London Living Wage.

    “We are incredibly pleased with the result. A £2.20 an hour pay increase will make a significant difference to the quality of these people’s lives,” said Onay.

  • March To Save Our Services

    Friday 20th May 2016



  • CAMPAIGN TO SAVE GREENWICH MOBILE LIBRARY

    Thursday 19th May 2016

    Unite members working in Greenwich Libraries lobbied the Council AGM on 18th May in the latest stage of the Unite campaign to save the Mobile Library. This much loved service issues over 30,000 books to children in the borough every year – that is what is at stake if the proposal to close the Library goes ahead. The union has handed in a petition signed by over 1000 residents in just a few days. A public consultation finished on 18th March – but the Council has refused to release the results. Originally, a decision was due to= be made by the Council on 19 May – but this has now been postponed. Unite has so far taken four days of strike action in a determined campaign.


    “We know the public support the campaign. We have made our case by answering all the points in the Council report. We have shown our determination – now it’s time for the council to listen”

    Sara Kasab

    Unite Convenor

    Greenwich Libraries

  • LIBRARY CAMPAIGNERS TELL THE REAL STORY

    Thursday 31st March 2016

    Unite members in the Socialist Party led Greenwich branch defending the Mobile Library from closure held an open air story time on the steps of the Town Hall. The Council claim that a library is within walking distance of every school. Not true. The Mobile Library issues 22,000 books to children every year. Also not true - but only because this has now gone up to over 30,000! The Council said that they would not close libraries - also untrue, because the Mobile is a library! The clue is in the title "Mobile Library!"

    Unite Libraries Convenor and Socialist Party member Sara Kasab read passages from Matilda - all about her first visit to a library, emphasising the importance of libraries to a child's formative years. Unite members then went into the Council meeting where Unite steward Sian Stringer made the case to Councillors in no uncertain terms.

    The Council responded that they will make a final decision in May - in response the campaign will escalate over April and in the lead up to the May meeting behind the slogan "No If's No But's No Library Service Cuts!"













  • A UNITE STRATEGY TO FIGHT LOCAL GOVERNMENT CUTS

    Friday 8th January 2016

    The Unite local government National Industrial Action Committee on 7th Jan 2016 agreed the resolution below which sets out a strategy for fighting Council cuts. The resolution calls on Labour Councils to set needs based, no cuts budgets while at the same time building a campaign to demand the funding needed to provide services. Councils are currently setting budgets – many will have agreed them at Labour Group already. But even where budgets have already been set or are part of a multi - year programme, there is nothing, technically to stop a Council agreeing to reverse previous decisions.

    Union branches will now be urged and supported to put the strategy forward in local branches. The full resolution is below:


    This NISC notes:


    The eradication by the Chancellor of the £6.1 billion Central Government Grant.

    That the National Audit Office estimates that funding for local councils will have dropped by 37% in real terms compared to 2010.

    That the impact of local government cuts on services extends from children to the elderly. Across the country there are campaigns to save Libraries, Youth Services, Day Centres, Swimming Pools, Nurseries, Adventure Playgrounds, Homecare and Services for the Disabled to name just a few.

    That Unite policy is to oppose all cuts and privatisation.

    The Local Authority Trade Union pledge which this NISC fully supports.

    This NISC agrees:

    That in addition to the pledge, the Union has to have a clear strategy on how it intends to oppose all cuts and privatisation. Individual branches have fought heroically. However, there is a lack of clarity on what demand we as a union are making on Labour Councils. This cannot be limited to the issues set out in the pledge – nobody has argued that this is a strategy to stop cuts. Instead it seeks to agree general principles between the employers and trade unions to mitigate the impact of cuts. What is missing is a strategy that builds on the resistance taking place in branches and communities.

    These need to be joined up nationally. A key issue will be what we demand of Labour Councils. There is a danger, that we are defending some areas and in effect accepting cuts elsewhere. So for instance in Southwark we are fighting cuts against the Youth Service – but our position cannot, by default, become one where we say cut something else instead to save the Youth Service. We also have to deal with the question asked by Councillors when we lobby them against cuts – “What can I do? We have to make cuts”. It’s time for the union to have a strategic position that deals with these arguments.

    This NISC notes:

    That this NISC has heard how the Bromley Branch in its heroic fight against the Tories has during the campaign highlighted reserves held by the Council in excess of £300 Million. English Councils control £114 billion pounds. The combined budgets of the 58 labour – led Councils standing in the May elections come to £32.7 billion. They hold around £4.5 billion in general fund reserves and another £1.36 billion in Housing revenue Account and capital receipt reserves. This does not include the vast reserves held by Labour controlled Councils in London.

    That there is no legal impediment stopping Labour Councils pooling reserves.

    That local authorities have significant borrowing powers. This includes “Prudential” borrowing (unsupported borrowing) alongside capital borrowing. Local authorities have and continue to use these powers.

    That under the Localism Act, local authorities have a “power of competence” to do “anything apart from that which is prohibited”.

    That even with the above procedural points, a campaign is needed to unite service users, communities and trade unions in a fight against the Tories to protect local government.

    That the factors above show that Councillors do in fact have options.

    This NISC agrees that our position is:

    To call on Labour Councils to set legal no cuts budgets, use reserves, capitalise eligible general fund expenditure and borrow prudentially to generate resources so that no labour Council need make cuts. These are short term measures to buy time to build a national campaign.

    That the financial measures must be combined with a national campaign, linking Councils, trade unions and communities in a fight against the Tories austerity programme.

    To call on the unions political officers/department to prepare a strategy to take the points in this motion forward.

  • Bromley council accused of targeting union reps in bid to silence privatisation critics

    Monday 27th July 2015

    Conservative-controlled Bromley council is racking up the pressure on opponents of its privatisation programme by suspending a union rep in a bid to silence critics of its privatisation programme, claimed Britain’s largest union, Unite.


    Unite, said that ‘a curtain of secrecy and fear was descending’ over the council’s plans to become a commissioning council and reducing the number of council employees from 4,000 to 300 – despite having £130 million in reserves.


    The union said the council had suspended Unite representative Alan Brown on Friday (17 July). The details of the allegations are unclear, while the council investigates. This follows Unite branch secretary Kathy Smith having all her trade union facility time removed. She is now not being invited to trade union liaison meetings that the employer is setting up.


    Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “The council has been ratcheting up the attacks on Unite by suspending our representative Alan Brown on Friday (17 July). It can be no coincidence that Alan works at the Astley day centre and the suspension comes after the council was exposed as planning to close the service.


    “Let me make it very clear - we will continue to fight to defend services and, just as importantly, we will fight to defend those, such as Alan Brown and Kathy Smith, who are brave enough to stand up for what is right. Alan works tirelessly to defend others – it is now time to defend Alan.


    Bromley council is considering the privatisation of 14 libraries, replacing staff with unpaid volunteers and handing the libraries over to charities.


    The remainder of the parks service was transferred to the Landscape Group, which announced that immediately after the transfer on 1 June, it will be making redundancies. Despite this transfer, council taxpayers will be bailing out the Landscape Group by footing the bill for the redundancies.


    Last week, the council also made the decision to begin the process to transfer services for disabled adults to private company, Certitude which could lead to more job losses.


    Unite’s members have already held four waves of strikes against privatisation. They voted by 87 per cent to take strike action in protest against the privatisation programme, cuts to pay and conditions, and the withdrawal of facility time from the Unite trade union representative, Kathy Smith.


    The dispute comes against the backdrop of a Fair Deal For Local Government campaign by Unite’s London and Eastern region which has almost 300,000 members. The campaign is aimed against privatisation and austerity in local government.


    The campaign is a set of proposals that Unite is putting to councils in the region. It is a procurement strategy to ensure that quality services are maintained and that there is no ‘race to the bottom’ for pay and conditions post any transfer.

  • Hackney traffic wardens vote to strike over lack of company sick pay

    Monday 27th July 2015

    Traffic wardens in Hackney, east London will take two days of strike action next week in a bid to get a proper sick pay policy provided by their private sector employer.

    The 30 employees, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, will strike against APCOA Parking, which has the contract from Hackney council to run the service, for 48 hours from 00.01 Monday 3 August. The vote for strike action was 100 per cent.

    Unite warned that the council will lose revenue from parking tickets not being issued and said that the chances of car users in the borough getting booked for a parking offence will be much reduced.

    The focus of the dispute is that the traffic wardens, known as civil enforcement officers, have worse pay, and terms and conditions than council staff – employees of the same authority that hands out the contracts to private companies.

    Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “We call on the APCOA management to get around the table to negotiate a pay and terms and conditions’ package that gives our members equality with council staff.

    “If the strike goes ahead, the council will suffer a substantial loss of revenue accrued from issuing parking tickets and that car users in Hackney will have their chances of getting a ticket much reduced for two days next week.

    “The main issue is that there is no company sick pay policy with APCOA Parking – our members only get statutory sick pay (SSP). They have also rejected a 1.5 per cent pay offer for this year.

    “The case that our members are making is that in their role, sickness absence is not uncommon because of the many incidents of abuse and assaults they suffer. Yet all they get is SSP – it is not good enough.

    “In Hackney, the traffic wardens are on poorer pay and conditions than the staff in the local authorities that hand out the contracts to the private companies – this grossly unfair two-tier pay policy must cease.”

    The dispute comes against the backdrop of a Fair Deal For Local Government campaign by Unite’s London and Eastern region which has almost 300,000 members. The campaign is aimed against privatisation and austerity in local government.

    The campaign is a set of proposals that Unite is putting to councils in the region. It is a procurement strategy to ensure that quality services are maintained and that there is no ‘race to the bottom’ for pay and conditions post any transfer.

  • People and Services First!

    Monday 13th July 2015




    Unite members at Bromley Council have already taken over 20 days of strike action – but they need your support to keep up the fight.

    Workers are striking against mass privatisation and a vicious attack by the Tories on our trade union, in the form of the withdrawal of all facility time from Kathy Smith our Branch Secretary.

    The council are outsourcing all parks, libraries, adult and passenger services. This will see cuts to services and a race to the bottom for the terms and conditions of our members.

    These members are at the forefront of the fight against austerity and are setting a fantastic example of a fighting back union. Local government will be one of the big battlefields in the fight against privatisation and the defence of trade union rights.

    There was a hugely successful march through Bromley on the 13th June and local support for the dispute has been tremendous with the clear message – People and Services First!

    Further strike action has taken place this week with a delegation at the rules conference in Brighton and a demonstration outside Parliament on 8th July prior to Osborne's budget speech.

    There are two ways you can help:

    Financial help is crucial - Unite must do all it can to win this campaign - including financially supporting the strikers. I am asking you urgently to get your Branch to make a donation to the Bromley Campaign - to defend jobs, services and trade union rights in local government.

    Please send donations to: Kathy Smith, London Borough of Bromley, Unite Office R58, Civic Centre - Stockwell Close - Bromley BR1 3UH and the cheque payable to Bromley Unite.

    You can sign our petition by clicking

    http:/ / www.unitetheunion.org/ how- we- help/ list- of- sectors/ local- authorities/ bromley- unite/ ?&utm_ medium=email&utm_ source=unitevol&utm_ content=2+- +You+can+sign+our+petition+by+clicking+he&utm_ campaign=source%3Dwelcome&source=source%3Dwelcome

    and ask your friends and family to sign, share and tweet – here's the link - http:/ / bit.ly/ 1LZvBeB

    The petition will be sent to the Chief Executive and the Leader of the Council at Bromley.

    You can find lots more information about the campaign here.

    Many thanks for your support and solidarity.

    Fiona Farmer

    National Officer Local Authorities, Unite the Union

    www.unitetheunion.org

    Twitter @FionaUnite

  • PEOPLE AND SERVICES FIRST! MARCH TO SAVE OUR SERVICES!
    13th June
    Assemble 12 noon, Norman Park, Bromley Common, BR2

    Wednesday 20th May 2015

    See 'Campaign Bromley' for more information

  • Second wave of strikes over Bromley council’s mass privatisation

    Monday 20th April 2015

    Bromley council’s plans to carry out a mass privatisation of services are being challenged by members of Unite, the country’s largest union, with a second wave of strikes.

    The selected strikes from 27 April to 18 May dovetail with the stand of the council’s Labour group which has accused the Conservative-dominated authority of being ‘openly committed to being a ‘commissioning council’ and to reducing the number of council employees from 4,000 to 300’.

    Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said “The aim of the strikes is to stop and roll back the privatisation of council services. Such a privatisation process has been shown to fail when it has been implemented in Bromley over the last 12 months.

    “The previous two days of strike action earlier this month led to libraries shutting, the care centre closing and the passenger services not running.

    “While this was inconvenient to local people, the bigger picture is that if a stand is not made now against privatisation, there will be a gradual deterioration in what people have been used to expect from their council, leaving just a skeleton of services.”

    Unite’s selected strike action will hit libraries (27 April-30 April); the parks (5 May); strikes by all the branch members, except school staff, on 1, 7 and 19 May; and at the Astley care centre and the passenger services (13-18 May).

    Despite having £130 million in reserves, the council is privatising the bulk of its services, including services aimed at vulnerable members of the community, parks, passenger services and libraries.

    The Labour group said in a statement: “During the last year in Bromley, Capita and Liberata have missed numerous performance targets and are struggling to do what they are contracted to do for the contract price.

    “People have been evicted from their homes and forced to sleep on the streets because the benefits to which they are entitled have not been correctly processed. Another contractor has been found to be employing illegal immigrants. Many of our roads and pathways are not being cleaned as they should be.”

    The Labour group also allege that many of the privatisation proposals going to the council’s committees ‘are written by the contractors themselves and contain highly complex information so it is hard to see the truth beneath the technical terminology’.

    Onay Kasab said that the Labour analysis of what was happening regarding privatisation and the ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of services, and pay and conditions was ‘spot on’.

    He added: “Unite is, once more, drawing a line in the sand against privatisation and austerity in local government. Council services should be for the public good – and not be used as a milch cow for the private outsourcing companies benefiting from generous contracts.”

    Unite’s members voted by 87 per cent to take strike action in protest against the Bromley mass privatisation programme, cuts to pay and conditions, and the withdrawal of facility time from the Unite trade union representative.

    The dispute comes against the backdrop of a Fair Deal For Local Government campaign by Unite’s London and Eastern region which has almost 300,000 members. The campaign is aimed against privatisation and austerity in local government.

    The campaign is a set of proposals that Unite is putting to councils in the region. It is a procurement strategy to ensure that quality services are maintained and that there is no ‘race to the bottom’ for pay and conditions post any transfer.

    The Labour Bromley group added: “We also believe that Unite’s proposals for a procurement strategy deserved proper consideration and not instant dismissal.”

    ENDS

    Notes to editors:

    For more information please contact Unite regional officer Onay Kasab on 07771 818637 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2061 or 07768 693940.

    The main points of Fair Deal For Local Government campaign are:


    if services are performing well, leave them in house

    if they are not performing well, look at ways of putting it right in house

    when contracting out services, over 50 per cent of the consideration should be about quality rather than cost

    fair employment rights for transferred staff – no zero hours contracts, pay the ‘living wage’, no downward pay and conditions harmonisation


    The campaign website is http://uniteforpublicservices.org/index.php

    Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org

    Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

  • Second wave of strikes over Bromley council’s mass privatisation

    Monday 20th April 2015

    Bromley council’s plans to carry out a mass privatisation of services are being challenged by members of Unite, the country’s largest union, with a second wave of strikes.

    The selected strikes from 27 April to 18 May dovetail with the stand of the council’s Labour group which has accused the Conservative-dominated authority of being ‘openly committed to being a ‘commissioning council’ and to reducing the number of council employees from 4,000 to 300’.

    Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said “The aim of the strikes is to stop and roll back the privatisation of council services. Such a privatisation process has been shown to fail when it has been implemented in Bromley over the last 12 months.

    “The previous two days of strike action earlier this month led to libraries shutting, the care centre closing and the passenger services not running.

    “While this was inconvenient to local people, the bigger picture is that if a stand is not made now against privatisation, there will be a gradual deterioration in what people have been used to expect from their council, leaving just a skeleton of services.”

    Unite’s selected strike action will hit libraries (27 April-30 April); the parks (5 May); strikes by all the branch members, except school staff, on 1, 7 and 19 May; and at the Astley care centre and the passenger services (13-18 May).

    Despite having £130 million in reserves, the council is privatising the bulk of its services, including services aimed at vulnerable members of the community, parks, passenger services and libraries.

    The Labour group said in a statement: “During the last year in Bromley, Capita and Liberata have missed numerous performance targets and are struggling to do what they are contracted to do for the contract price.

    “People have been evicted from their homes and forced to sleep on the streets because the benefits to which they are entitled have not been correctly processed. Another contractor has been found to be employing illegal immigrants. Many of our roads and pathways are not being cleaned as they should be.”

    The Labour group also allege that many of the privatisation proposals going to the council’s committees ‘are written by the contractors themselves and contain highly complex information so it is hard to see the truth beneath the technical terminology’.

    Onay Kasab said that the Labour analysis of what was happening regarding privatisation and the ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of services, and pay and conditions was ‘spot on’.

    He added: “Unite is, once more, drawing a line in the sand against privatisation and austerity in local government. Council services should be for the public good – and not be used as a milch cow for the private outsourcing companies benefiting from generous contracts.”

    Unite’s members voted by 87 per cent to take strike action in protest against the Bromley mass privatisation programme, cuts to pay and conditions, and the withdrawal of facility time from the Unite trade union representative.

    The dispute comes against the backdrop of a Fair Deal For Local Government campaign by Unite’s London and Eastern region which has almost 300,000 members. The campaign is aimed against privatisation and austerity in local government.

    The campaign is a set of proposals that Unite is putting to councils in the region. It is a procurement strategy to ensure that quality services are maintained and that there is no ‘race to the bottom’ for pay and conditions post any transfer.

    The Labour Bromley group added: “We also believe that Unite’s proposals for a procurement strategy deserved proper consideration and not instant dismissal.”

    ENDS

    Notes to editors:

    For more information please contact Unite regional officer Onay Kasab on 07771 818637 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2061 or 07768 693940.

    The main points of Fair Deal For Local Government campaign are:


    if services are performing well, leave them in house

    if they are not performing well, look at ways of putting it right in house

    when contracting out services, over 50 per cent of the consideration should be about quality rather than cost

    fair employment rights for transferred staff – no zero hours contracts, pay the ‘living wage’, no downward pay and conditions harmonisation


    The campaign website is http://uniteforpublicservices.org/index.php

    Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org

    Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

  • Friday 10th April 2015

  • Bromley Labour Councillors Publicly Support Unite Strike Against Privatisation!

    Wednesday 8th April 2015

    Bromley Labour Group response to UNITE strike action.

    Labour Councillors in Bromley are supporting the strike action to be taken by UNITE on Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8 April 2015.



    Speaking on behalf of the Labour Group, Cllr Angela Wilkins (Leader of the Opposition) said:

    "We support this action for a number of reasons:

    Tories in Bromley are openly committed to being a 'commissioning council' and to reducing the number of council employees from 4,000 to 300. For them this is not about delivering the best levels of service for Bromley residents, it is a purely political and ideological commitment to privatisation.

    Since the days of Margaret Thatcher, Tories have always promoted the private sector over the public sector, and they have always tried to destroy trades unions, so this situation is no surprise. It is, however, extremely worrying because the lives and welfare of local people are at risk.

    The reality of privatisation is that contractors have to keep their prices low to win the contract in the first place. They then struggle to deliver the contract specification and to make a profit for their shareholders. Experienced staff are replaced by others on lower wages. Key performance indicators are not met because these lower-paid staff are not suitably qualified or are not properly trained. Service levels deteriorate. The public suffers whilst the shareholders get richer.

    During the last year In Bromley, Capita and Liberata have missed numerous performance targets and are struggling to do what they are contracted to do for the contract price. People have been evicted from their homes and forced to sleep on the streets because the benefits to which they are entitled have not been correctly processed. Another contractor has been found to be employing illegal immigrants. Many of our roads and pathways are not being cleaned as they should be.

    Councillors are supposed to scrutinise contracts and whether they are being properly fulfilled. Yet many of the reports that go to Bromley's committees are written by the contractors themselves and contain highly complex information so it is hard to see the truth beneath the technical terminology. We just don't think this system is working in the interests of the public.

    Bromley Tories argue that they don't always choose the cheapest contract. But one contractor who was rejected by Bromley Tories on grounds of quality of service then bought out and took over the company that did win the contract. This is what happens in the private sector where money matters most.

    Labour councillors believe that proposals to change the arrangements for union officers to represent their members are based on political prejudice not common sense and that this could end up costing the council more. We also believe that UNITE's proposals for a procurement strategy deserved proper consideration and not instant dismissal.

    We are also shocked because legally it is the councillors who employ council staff, and councillors have not been told by officers that this strike is taking place."

  • Wednesday 1st April 2015

  • Drivers facing a 50 per cent pay cut at Hackney council to strike on Thursday

    Tuesday 31st March 2015

    Costing-cutting by Hackney council, which is planning a 50 per cent pay cut for drivers that transport disabled children to school and play clubs, has prompted a 24-hour strike on Thursday (2 April).

    The drivers, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, will strike from 00.01 on Thursday in protest against the cuts which could see salaries slashed from £24,000 a year to £12,000. The vote in favour of strike action was 100 per cent. A further stoppage is scheduled for 16 April.

    Another separate strike involving Unite passenger transport members in Croydon, who also transfer disabled children, has been called on 16 April at Impact, the private company which runs passenger transport services for the council.

    Impact is refusing to negotiate a pay claim made by Unite which proposes that the company pay all its workers, at least, the London ‘living wage’ which is currently £9.15-an-hour. The vote was 92 per cent in favour of strike action.

    The disputes come against a backdrop of the launch a Fair Deal For Local Government campaign by Unite’s London and Eastern region which has almost 300,000 members. The campaign is aimed against privatisation and austerity in local government.

    The campaign is a set of proposals that Unite is putting to councils in the region. It is a procurement strategy to ensure that quality services are maintained and that there is no ‘race to the bottom’ for pay and conditions post any transfer.

    Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Our overall campaign calls for a Fair Deal For Local Government and these two separate strikes are vivid, living, breathing examples of why our campaign is so important.

    “We regret that disabled children will be inconvenienced by Thursday’s strike, but if we don’t draw a line in the sand now, future cuts will be even worse. Councils should not be jumping to the Tories’ tune of privatisation and austerity – the public good should always come first.”

    ENDS

  • BUDGET 2015 – THE REALITY FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT – BALLOTS FOR STRIKE ACTION IN CROYDON, HACKNEY, BROMLEY AND LEWISHAM – WITH MORE BOROUGHS TO FOLLOW

    Thursday 19th March 2015

    The reality for local government is one far removed from the triumphalist grand standing of George Osborne in parliament yesterday. There is no hint of recovery for London Councils who continue to drive through austerity measures that are hitting council workers and the services they provide – and hitting them hard.

    But these workers are fighting back. Unite The Trade Union has begun co-ordinating action across the capital in a fight against austerity and is calling for “a fair deal for local government”. Council workers in Hackney, Bromley and Croydon are currently being balloted for strike action. Preparations are also under way to begin a ballot at Lewisham Council. The union is now consulting its branches in its London and Eastern region with a view to adding to the list. Unite Regional Officer Onay Kasab stated:

    “ We make no secret of the fact that we are building toward co-ordinated action to defend jobs, pay and services in London – because that is what is required. There is a co-ordinated attack on public services – it needs the appropriate response”

    Hackney

    Drivers working in the Passenger Services section of the Council have been told by the employer that pay will drop from £24,000 a year to £12,000. The service ensures disabled children get to school – yet for performing this essential service, drivers are to get a pay cut! The ballot for strike action is due to close on 20th March.

    Croydon

    Passenger Services in Croydon have been transferred out to “Impact” a private company who refuse to pay the London Living Wage (£9.15) per hour. The employer has refused to negotiate with the trade union – claiming it does not recognise trade unions. The ballot for strike action is due to close on 26th March.

    The union is also in dispute with Eldon Housing who have a contract in Croydon to run resource centres caring for vulnerable adults. The company are proposing a restructure that will lead to redundancies, cuts to pay and conditions and an impact on pensions.

    Bromley

    Unite is balloting its members across the Council for strike action. This will include libraries, gardeners, planners and social services. The Council is proposing to privatise the majority of its services, leaving the Council with a limited “commissioning role”. A public campaign led by Unite has led to nearly 1000 residents demanding that the Council drop its plans to privatise the library service and replace professional staff with volunteers. The Council will next week consider handing the remainder of its Parks Service to “The Landscape Group”. This is owned by an Equity firm – whose reason for existence is to take over companies and services, asset strip them and sell them on for a profit. The ballot closes on 27th March.

    Lewisham

    Glendale run the Parks Service for Lewisham after the Council privatised the service. The company have failed to give a pay rise for most of their workers for 5 years and continue to refuse to negotiate with the trade union. Glendale’s miserly actions are not limited to Lewisham – they run Richmond Park Golf Course where some workers have had pay cut by £60 a month – again, the company refuses to discuss this with the trade union. According to company accounts, the company has a turnover in excess of £70 million. The Chief executive of the company is on £151, 264 and a pension of £205, 484. Unite is now preparing to ballot its members at Glendale Lewisham for strike action.

    Thurrock

    The Council have a contract with Mears Group. The company, as has been normal for years, awarded its TUPE (transferred staff) £100 to replicate the award given to local government workers. Traditionally, this has always been part of the protection for staff transferred out. Now, new legislation allows companies to use discretion and no longer make such a pay award if they choose. Mears now want to use this discretion and are demanding the £100 back from each employee! Unite is opposing this disgusting penny pinching act.

    Unite Regional Officer Onay Kasab stated:

    “This is the reality – where is the recovery for these workers? The nonsense that wages are now on the up is shown up as a lie, backed by dubious statistics. We will not stand back while our members continue to take the double dose of austerity followed by lies. We will organise co-ordinated strike action to defend pay, conditions and services – we will ensure that workers take action together as more and more workers join the campaign”

    For further details, contact Onay Kasab - 07771818637

  • Unite Unites Branches Fighting For A Fair Deal

    Monday 9th March 2015

    This week, Unite members in Bromley, Croydon and Hackney will be balloted for strike action in the first phase of a region wide industrial action campaign to defend jobs, services and pay in local government. Bromley Council is fast moving to privatise every service it can. In the immediate firing line are Passenger Services, Adults Services, Parks, Planning and Libraries. In Hackney, under the threat of privatisation, Passenger Service workers are being told by the employer that they must accept a £12,000 pay cut and in Croydon the privatised Passenger Services section, run by Impact, is refusing to pay workers the London Living Wage.

    The ballots follow a conference of local government branches who came together and agreed a joint campaign across the London and eastern region.

  • Unite joins week of action to save council housing from London's mayor

    Friday 13th February 2015

    Britain’s biggest union is backing a week of action across the capital designed to stop the further destruction of London's council housing stock.

    With housing now the third most important issue for voters in London, yet housing insecurity growing, Unite will help roll out events across the city, beginning this Saturday (14 Feb), with the aim of blocking Boris Johnson’s budget.

    City Hall will vote on the London mayor’s budget on Monday 23 February, but Unite believes 'Boris's budget' will mean further rent-hikes and more sell-offs of council housing and vast tracts of public land.

    On Boris Johnson's watch the story is one of 'affordable homes’ that few can afford, a growing number of evictions and the destruction of communities – all overseen by a major determined to accelerate London’s housing crisis.

    Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary with responsibility for community, said:

    “The situation for ordinary Londoners is getting desperate. Politicians need to wake up to the crisis that they are creating – truly affordable homes for London's workers are being destroyed by a mayor that goes globe-trotting to flog our capital to the highest overseas bidder.

    “Social housing and swathes of public land are being sold off to private developers who have not one iota of interest in providing affordable and sustainable homes for people.

    “The £1.8bn at the mayor’s disposal for affordable housing over his term in office means there is plenty in the housing pot to ensure that London is making homes for people not for profit.

    “Boris Johnson has billions available for housing but is acting and speaking only on behalf of rich developers.

    “We call on Londoners to send a message to this mayor that we will not be forced out of our homes on a tide of greed which will blight this city for generations to come.”

    Unite has been actively fighting to defend affordable and council homes in London including opposing the social cleansing of the West Hendon estate in Barnet; raising the plight of residents facing eviction from the New Era estate in Hoxton and backing the E15 campaigners in Newham. Unite led the demonstration at Mipim last year, when the world's largest private money fair came to London to feast on UK council housing.



    Numerous events are taking place during the week of action culminating in a Block the Budget protest – 09:00, Monday 23 February, City Hall, the Queen’s Walk, London, SE1 2AA.

    Other events include:

    Saturday 14 February – Lambeth Housing Activists are holding ‘love council housing’ stalls around Lambeth, including outside Brixton tube station at 11:00. Similar events are also being held in Lewisham and Tower Hamlets, while West Hendon is hosting a ‘love your estate’ celebration of community spirit.

    Sunday 15 February – Aylesbury estate occupation and Brick Lane Debates are hosting a community debate.

    Wednesday 18 February – Unite Community Waltham Forest is holding a ‘show me the way to go home’ demonstration in protest at the scandalous treatment of thousands of residents forced out of the borough, having been made homeless.

    Thursday 19 February – Stop bailiffs evicting a family. Meet 09.30 at Elveden House, Loughborough Park, Brixton, SW9 8NN.

    Full details of the Radical Housing Network’s week of action can be found here:

    http://radicalhousingnetwork.org/events/



    ENDS

  • Unite takes action against government attacks on vulnerable benefit claimants

    Wednesday 4th February 2015

    Britain’s largest trade union, Unite, will kick start a nationwide campaign tomorrow (Wednesday 4 February) against benefit sanctions which are pushing people into poverty and punishing debt.

    The campaign, to stop benefit sanctions, will be launched on the same day that the House of Commons work and pensions committee questions Esther McVey, the minister for employment, over the government’s sanctions regime.

    Unite is angry over the way the government imposes benefit sanctions to ‘vulnerable’ claimants – leaving millions of people in poverty, debt, ill health and angry.

    On Thursday 19 March, Unite is calling for trade unions, charities and community campaigners up and down the country to take part in a ‘National Day of Action’ with Unite Community Membership, as part of the campaign.

    Unite head of community membership, Liane Groves, said: “It is no wonder people are angry. The government has hit millions of vulnerable people and their families with benefit sanctions – causing the rise of food bank Britain.

    “Sanctions are cruel and ineffective – often handed out for no good reason.

    “We want to send a message to Esther McVey and Westminster that the government is failing to support vulnerable people in our society. More needs to be done to support us all in time of need – not make personal situations worse.

    “Thursday 19 March is a national day of action to highlight the ‘shocking’ impact of government benefit sanctions – we must join forces to stop this now before more people are forced into poverty.”

    ENDS

    For further information please contact Unite communications officer Karen Viquerat on 07768 931 316 and/or Unite press office on 0203 371 2065.

    Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org

    Notes to editors:



    Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

  • “A Tale of TUPE”

    Wednesday 24th December 2014

    There are those who try and argue that private companies are more efficient. While the scandals involving SERCO and G4S grab the headlines, here’s a story from a Unite rep that did not make the national press:

    In 1989, I began working for Hillingdon Council at the Haste Hill Golf Course. In 1993, we had our first transfer out. It was not long before our pensions took a hit along with our sick pay – which was reduced to 60 days per year. But over the years, the company still ran into difficulties. Two days before Christmas 2005 we were told by the Director “as from midnight tonight, you are all unemployed”.

    Our commitment to the jonb meant that we still came into work to keep things ticking over. The company went bankrupt, owing the Council £750,000. The Council found another company to run the service in a caretaker capacity. But the company then told us they were changing our terms and conditions and that TUPE did not apply. But we fought back, refusing to sign the new contracts. The union engaged lawyers to fight our case. The result was a “compromise” settlement which was TUPE in all but name. In August 2008, an anti - union company took over. The day our trade union rep retired, our line manager came into the mess room and said “now he has left, all this union nonsense can stop”. Up until that point I had not really been very involved in the union – but that comment changed things. I was absolutely furious. I decided I was going to get active and was elected as the union rep. I also became a Health and safety rep. I launched into them big time, making sure I was always on the case. The employer responded by reducing my allocated work, with the resulting impact on pay. The company continued to victimise me – including moving me on to different work roles which impacted on my personal life – especially my role as a carer.

    I made grievance complaints and had legal support through the union. The company responded by making allegations of gross misconduct – namely that I was not following instructions. The company then sacked me. But what followed was amazing. The union leafleted the customers who use the golf course. Petitions were signed, complaints sent to the company and the press alerted. This led to my reinstatement. Eventually the company were evicted owing rent of £500,000. The Council took the courses back in house in 2011. We then started addressing our pay and conditions which had fallen behind so badly. What was agreed was a process that led to average pay increases of 30%.

    My experience is that whatever the service, it is better in the hands of the public sector than private companies.

  • Pathology sell-off sparks strike action ballot at London’s leading hospitals

    Monday 15th December 2014

    Pathology staff at three of London's largest NHS hospitals are being balloted for strike action from today (Thursday 11 December) over the looming transfer threat to Serco-linked private healthcare firm Viapath.

    Unite, Britain’s biggest union, warned that the transfer of more than 700 NHS laboratory staff from Guy’s, St Thomas’ and Kings College hospitals to private firm Viapath on 1 January 2015 is a ‘patient safety time bomb’, that marks the full-scale privatisation of the hospitals’ pathology services.

    The ballot of Unite members closes on 22 December setting the stage for strike action by the end of the month.

    Viapath which took over pathology management at the hospitals four years ago has been beset by problems and complaints, including accusations of poor management and bullying. Last year an audit revealed Viapath may have overcharged the hospitals by over £1 million.

    Unite is calling for the 1 January transfer of NHS staff to be stopped and for pathology services at all three hospitals be brought back into the NHS with immediate effect.

    Sarah Cook Unite regional health officer said: “It is an utter scandal that a highly skilled and dedicated workforce is being forced out of the NHS into the hands of a Serco-linked private company with such an appalling track record. We fear that this will lead to a race to the bottom in pay and terms and conditions.

    “Since Viapath’s takeover of pathology management important services, such as the toxicology laboratory have been closed, and repairs and upgrades of equipment are slow or non-existent. A culture of bullying and poor management has led to the mass exodus of skilled NHS staff with staff turnover rising from 7.9 per cent under the NHS to over 24 per cent.”

    Frank Wood Unite representative at King's College Hospital said: "The past four years of private sector management have transformed two of the UK's best pathology labs into costly disasters. To press ahead with the transfer of more than 700 staff is a patient safety time bomb.

    “Over 90 pathology staff have written a whistleblowing letter to the trust board highlighting their concerns about the service. They are awaiting an official management response.

    “Unite is calling for the transfer to be stopped and that pathology services at all three hospitals be brought back into the NHS. Unite believes only fully publicly owned and run pathology services can guarantee a safe service for patients.”

    The NHS scientists have been holding protests outside St Thomas Hospital against the staff transfer. They believe it poses a danger to patient safety and will possibly lead to the failure of pathology services at the hospital.

    For further information contact Unite communications officer, Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777/ 0203 271 2063 or Sarah Cook Unite health regional official on 07768 69 3949 or Mark Boothroyd at 07812 936 466 gsttunite@gmail.com.

    ENDS

    Notes for editors:


    Pathology laboratories are central to the NHS, with blood and tissue analysis used in 70 per cent of all patient diagnoses. Viapath – a joint venture between Serco and Guy's and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust and King’s College Hospital – is the largest pathology service provider in the UK, processing more than 22 million tests a year in London and Bedford.


    There has been a rise in errors and clinical incidents under Viapath's management. In 2011 the service exceeded the agreed monthly turnaround times for tests 46 times, with critical risk levels breached 14 times. Clinical incidents recorded in 2012 included one patient being given “inappropriate blood” and kidney damage results bring calculated incorrectly: http://www.corporatewatch.org/?q=node/4550%3f


    In 2011 Viapath made a loss of £5.9 million and had to be bailed out with funds from both Guy's and St Thomas and King's College Hospital. In 2012 Viapath only recorded a profit following a £1.3 million loan from parent company SERCO.


    A 2013 internal audit of accounts uncovered by Corporate Watch, found that in 2012 Viapath may have overcharged Guy's and St Thomas Hospital's by over £1 million pounds. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-overcharging-by-outsourcing-giant-serco-costs-nhs-millions-9695342.html


    Serco is currently being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office for overcharging on contracts with the Ministry of Justice. http://www.theguardian.com/law/2013/nov/04/serious-fraud-office-inquiry-g4s-serco-overcharging


    In 2013, The Public Accounts Committee found Serco guilty of data manipulation, a bullying managerial culture and not meeting national standards resulting in the termination of it's out of hours GP contract in Cornwall.


    Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org

    Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey

  • STRIKE BALLOTS TO PROTECT PAY AND CONDITIONS UNDER THREAT FROM TRANSFER

    Wednesday 10th December 2014

    Unite members working for Greenwich Council are preparing for strike action to protect pay and conditions that are under threat from a transfer to Greenwich Service Plus (GSPlus). The company was set up by the Council who have been steadily outsourcing services to the company where pay and conditions for staff are poorer than the Council.

    This Council see this as an alternative to privatising to companies such as SERCO, yet all the threats to pay and conditions remain. Unite in Greenwich is demanding that services are brought back in house. But in the meantime, the branch will be supporting members working in the “Cash In Transit” section who the Council have indicated are being considered for transfer to the company.

    Unite members in Bromley are also now gearing up for strike action in the new year. The Council are moving full steam ahead with proposals to privatise anything that moves. The region and reps are preparing a strike campaign for the new year that will include libraries, planning and adults services – all areas under immediate threat from the Councils determination to outsource everything that they can.

    Unite members working on the Woolwich Ferry are preparing to ballot on a number of issues. The workers are employed by Briggs Marine who run the ferry. The service was previously Council run, till it was handed over to SERCO, followed by Briggs. The issues in dispute have arisen because the employer has attempted to erode away conditions left over from TUPE transfers.

    These examples illustrate the dual purpose of the campaign; preventing privatisation where we can but where it has happened, we are taking action to defend pay and conditions.

  • Unite hails ‘victory’ in Greenwich library dispute

    Wednesday 12th November 2014

    The dispute over pay and staff cuts affecting Greenwich’s 12 libraries has been settled in what Unite, the country’s largest union, described as ‘a great victory for employee solidarity and for the preservation of an important public service’.



    More than 80 senior library assistants and library assistants were taking strike action yesterday (Thursday 30 October) when they agreed to suspend their action after the new deal was hammered out. Today’s (Friday 31 October) strike has been suspended and Unite members are working normally.



    The crux of the dispute was the behaviour of Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), the social enterprise company, awarded the contract in 2012 by Greenwich council to run the borough’s library service. GLL had presided over staff cutbacks and had said that it would not replicate pay awards given to local government workers.

    The settlement, which is subject to further talks, has three elements:


    Unite estimated that 13.5 full-time equivalent library posts (FTE) were needed. GLL has now offered 12.5 FTE jobs. The union estimates that this equates to 17 new staff.


    GLL said it will adhere to whatever is agreed in the current local government pay round.


    GLL agreed that there would be no cuts to the borough’s library service, unless instructed by its client, Greenwich council.



    Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Unite members in Greenwich have won an important victory in defence of libraries as a public service and by showing solidarity, they have made large gains on the staffing and pay issues.

    “They have shown that the bosses can be taken on and be forced to back down, if you are well-organised and determined enough. I congratulate every one of our members who won this victory.

    “Members have agreed to suspend the action as clearly the proposals meet our demands as near as possible to 100 per cent. The next stage is to meet the employers and agree the timetable for the recruitment process and also establish a system for ensuring that, in future, all vacant posts are filled.”

    GLL runs a number of leisure centres across the capital and uses zero-hour contracts for two thirds of its staff - yet the company claims to be a ‘social enterprise’.

    ENDS

  • Greenwich library workers vote to strike

    Friday 10th October 2014

    Greenwich libraries (see notes) face the prospect of severe disruption or closure on Tuesday 14 October when staff strike in a dispute over staff cuts, reduction of service and pay.


    The 84 library assistants and senior library assistants - members of Unite, the country’s largest union – are taking strike action for 24 hours from 00.01 on Tuesday against Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), the social enterprise company awarded the contract in 2012 to run the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s library service.


    The strike on Tuesday will be followed by a ‘work to rule’ from Wednesday 15 October 2014.


    The dispute revolves around GLL saying that it will not replicate any pay rises that are awarded to local government workers, which was previously the case until a change in the law. Unite believe that reductions in front-line staff numbers will have a negative impact on the service provided to Greenwich residents. Unite estimate 12 staff have been lost since GLL took over in 2012.


    Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “This shows once again is that "social enterprise" is not a soft alternative to privatisation. GLL is behaving as badly as any profit hungry company.


    “Since GLL took over the service one library has closed, the mobile service is under constant threat and staffing has been cut. On top of these cuts GLL have said it will not be replicating any pay rises that local authority workers get, which amounts to a kick in the teeth for those workers left to provide the service.


    “Greenwich councillors need to take a long hard look at GLL - libraries are a public service and belong in the public sector.


    “Our members will strike on 14 October - the work to rule from 15 October will prove our point – front-line staffing has been cut to the bone."


    Unite is preparing a London-wide campaign in defence of leisure workers claiming that in company after company the same poor employment practises exist.


    Greenwich Leisure, which runs a number of leisure centres across the capital and uses zero-hour contracts for two thirds of its staff – yet the company claims to be a ‘social enterprise’.


    For further information please contact Unite regional officer Onay Kasab on 07771 818637 and/or Unite communications officer Martin Scanlon on 07764 655751 and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.


    Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org


    Notes


    Libraries affected:

    Abbey Wood, Blackheath, Charlton, Claude Ramsey, Coldharbour, Eltham, East Greenwich, the Mobile Service, New Eltham, Plumstead, Slade and Lewisham.


    Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

    Martin Scanlon

    Campaigns and Communications

    Unite the union

    128 Theobald's Road

    London

    WC1X 8 TN


    T: 020 3371 2050

    M: 07764 655 751

  • Taking Action for Fair Pay in Croydon

    Thursday 25th September 2014

    Unite members in Croydon took action on 18th and 19th September to demand fair pay. Workers at Fusion Leisure who have the Croydon leisure contracts too strike action on both days. Fusion paid no increase for some workers for 5 years, then refused to negotiate before imposing a pay proposal without getting agreement. The company also operate a multi tier work force, this is despite the contract being single tier. The effect is that workers doing identical jobs are on wildly varying pay and conditions. Many members of the public who turned up at leisure centres in the borough and who were greeted by Unite members turned away and refused to use the centres in support of the strikers. In addition, Unite members lobbied outside the main Council building. The union made the point that the employers offer is not enough to buy you breakfast - so Unite gave away breakfast bags to workers! This determined action shows that Unite members are ready and prepared to fight. Unite Regional Officer Onay Kasab stated "The Croydon branch, along with Thurrock, Greenwich and Lewisham, all of which took action or protested over the last month in support of the campaign for fair pay have done the region proud and are leading the way in building for strike action on October 14th and the march for a pay rise on 18th October.























  • UNITE PIRATES STORM CUTTY SARK!

    Thursday 18th September 2014

    Unite members working in Parking Services took strike action on 5th and 6th September to protest about low pay – the action coincided with a “Tall Ships Regatta” organised by Greenwich Council. The regatta cost in excess of £2 million. Unite made the point that while the Council fails to support the campaign for fair pay for local government workers, it nevertheless finds the money for a regatta.


    The fight for fair pay is intrinsically linked to the fight against privatisation. Private companies are refusing to honour NJC awards for TUPE staff and see the workforce as being available on the cheap. That is why Unite is fighting to stop any race to the bottom.


    Greenwich Unite members made the point, by dressing up as pirates, that the Council are in fact the biggest robbers on the high seas!!











  • Secret government contracts stop citizens knowing if outsourcing works
    Opening up information about contracts is an essential step towards an evidence-based debate about UK public services

    Friday 22nd August 2014

    The past few months have seen a significant backlash against government outsourcing and the privatisation of public services.

    A series of high profile controversies around outsourcing giants such as Atos, G4S and Serco have shaken the public’s faith in politicians’ claims that privatisation gives citizens a better deal.

    While its advocates continue to argue that outsourcing leads to increased competition, greater efficiency, reduced costs and better public services, citizens are currently deprived of the evidence that they’d need to be able to evaluate whether or not this is true for particular contracts.

    Unfortunately it is very difficult to know what actually happens with a public contract unless you are the contractor or the budget holder as the paper trail of documents surrounding most outsourced projects are shrouded in secrecy.

    While we may know basic details about the total budget and who the contractor is, the public cannot usually access more detailed data about bidding, cost and performance – information that is needed in order to tell whether or not it was money well spent or a job was done well.

    Freedom of information rules that apply to public sector bodies do not apply to private providers of public services – leaving citizens in the dark.

    That’s why we are calling on governments around the world to give citizens the information they need to hold contractors to account. The Stop Secret Contracts initiative asks governments to open up information around public contracts so that citizens can see how public money is spent and what it buys for them.

    We think that public bodies and private contractors should be mandated to disclose essential information about public contracts, including the full texts of contracts, bid documents and information about contract formation and performance evaluation. At the moment we’re supporting local campaigns around Berlin’s new airport (so far three years overdue and six times more expensive than planned) and a major new infrastructure programme in Brazil.

    Contrary to decades of political support for privatisation, an increasing number of researchers and campaigners are arguing that outsourcing does not give citizens the better deal that its proponents said it would.

    The recent crisis of confidence in government outsourcing has fuelled widespread calls for renationalisation and a revival of public ownership of essential public services and infrastructure – including health, utilities and transport systems. Recent polls suggest that moves to renationalise are supported by the majority of the British public and Labour are debating whether to renationalise the railways ahead of the 2015 general election.

    Meanwhile, public sector bodies continue to heavily depend on bringing in private contractors to deliver public services. If recent reports are anything to go by there is little sign to suggest that the general trend towards government outsourcing (which has doubled under the current government) is slowing down.

    Increasing transparency around public contracts would enable greater accountability around how public services are being delivered to citizens. And not just in relation to big contracts and services in headlines and political speeches, but across the whole gamut of government funded goods and services for citizens.

    The current government has been keen to increase transparency around the spending and performance of cash-strapped public services, urging citizens to “join the hunt for government savings”. But they have been much slower to take measures to extend transparency to private companies in receipt of public money.

    Opening up more information about government contracts is an essential step towards a broader, evidence-based public debate about the future of Britain’s public services. Until these asymmetries in information are addressed, all the public have to go on are politicians’ promises.

    Jonathan Gray works at the Open Knowledge Foundation

    Read more:

    • David Walker: ‘There’s no evidence that outsourcing works’

    • Which private companies get the most government money?

    Source: Jonathan Gray

    Guardian Professional, Monday 18 August 2014 07.00 BST

  • Serco to withdraw from UK clinical services market

    Wednesday 20th August 2014

    Outsourcing giant Serco has announced plans to withdraw from the clinical health services market in the UK after making a multimillion pound loss on its NHS contracts. The move follows a review of the cost of delivering “improved service levels” and meeting the performance requirements of several existing contracts, the company said in a stock market statement. Serco’s planned withdrawal could influence significantly how other private firms view the prospect of bidding for contracts involving patient facing services. It also follows months of speculation about the outsourcing giant’s clinical operation. The group had already made an early exit from its contracts to provide Cornwall’s out of hours services and clinical services to Braintree Community Hospital, the statement said. A third “loss making” contract with Suffolk Community Health will end next year, after running its full term. As reported in LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal, Serco announced in February it had signed a deal with another care firm, Bromley Healthcare, to help improve performance on the Suffolk contract. A Serco spokeswoman told HSJ at the time that it was “committed to directly providing community care services”. “Our commitment to the community healthcare market in the UK is undiminished,” she said. Serco’s former managing director of health services Valerie Michie, who left the firm in April, has previously denied claims its £140m bid to run the Suffolk contract was unrealistic.

    Source: Tuesday 19th August 2014

    Local Government Chronicle

  • Islington housing move will help `clean up construction’, says Unite

    Wednesday 6th August 2014

    Moves by a leading local authority, Islington council to bring its housing repairs service back in-house have been welcomed by the country’s biggest union, Unite today (Friday 1 August).

    The council has broken the £16.5 million-a-year contract with construction firm Kier, which had been running the service for 14 years. The 140 staff involved will now become council employees.

    Unite hailed the move as a significant step forward in the campaign to clean up construction and called on other councils to follow suit. Kier is one of several companies accused of being involved in the notorious practice of blacklisting which saw thousands of construction workers frozen out of work by anti-union employers.

    Unite called on other councils to audit their contracts for blacklisting and rogue practices - and where services can be brought back in-house from companies abusing the law, they move to do so.


    Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Today’s move by Islington council is extremely significant. Residents of that borough can now look forward to a housing repair service that is publicly run with no profit-motive.


    “Taxpayers are not only getting the best level of service and value for money, but they can have the peace of mind that their council is preventing their taxes going towards the funding of illegal practices.


    “Companies involved in the despicable practice of blacklisting have ruined lives through their actions over decades, and it should not ever be acceptable for blacklisters to profit from public contracts.


    “We call on other councils and public bodies to follow Islington’s lead and look at ways of bringing services in-house from blacklisters.”


    In March this year, following a similar move by the Welsh Assembly, Islington council passed a motion to bar companies involved in blacklisting from council contracts.

  • A free resource for people who are interested in social value and the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012

    Tuesday 5th August 2014

    http://socialvaluehub.org.uk/

  • Luton says "Yes"" to the 'Fair Deal'

    Thursday 24th July 2014

    Kelvin Hopkins MP for Luton North MP, the Leader of Luton Borough council and the WHOLE of the Luton Labour group have all signed up to support the 'Fair Deal' initiative! What Luton can do so can others.

  • Luton says "Yes"" to the 'Fair Deal'

    Thursday 24th July 2014

    Kelvin Hopkins MP for Luton North MP, the Leader of Luton Borough council and the WHOLE of the Luton Labour group have all signed up to support the 'Fair Deal' initiative! What Luton can do so can others.

  • Eldon Housing to apply the 1% increase for TUPE staff, backdated to 2013!

    Wednesday 9th July 2014

    Thanks to the effiorts of the local government branch who did not take 'no' for an answer when told thatt TUPE is “static” – you get what you came with, rather than “dynamic” where you get future improvements that apply to your TUPE conditions such as pay rises.

    This is a victory for fairness and a useful precedent where privatised companies are refusing to pay TUPE based pay awards.

  • A great resource about privatisaton

    Wednesday 25th June 2014

    There is a lot of useful information here: weownit.org.uk

  • Gavin Shuker MP for Luton South supports UNITE's Fair Deal for Local Authorities

    Friday 20th June 2014

    Gavin writes 'I am of course extremlely supportive of this campaign and would be deliighted to put my name to it'.

  • Glendale Gounds Maintenance - No Pay Rises For TUPE Staff

    Friday 20th June 2014

    Glendale Grounds Management Services run the parks contract in Lewisham. The company have taken every opportunity to avoid making pay rises to TUPE staff, including using recent case law which allows private companies to state that the contract is "static". This means that you transfer over on current pay and conditions, but if there is a local government pay rise, TUPE staff do not get it. In response, Unite has been organising the workforce at Lewisham Glendale. Following widespread consultation with the workforce, Unite members are now being balloted for strike action on the issue of pay. The result of the ballot is expected around June 30th.

  • Members Vote to Strike at Croydon Fusion Leisure

    Friday 20th June 2014

    Unite members working on the privatised leisure contract at Croydon have voted for strike action in protest at a multi tiered workforce that has developed after privatisation. Workers doing the same job for the same employer are on different pay and conditions. This is despite the fact that when the contract was given to Fusion Leisure by Croydon Council, the contract was on a single tier basis. Unite is finding that this is a wide spread problem. But we have also found that companies with leisure contracts such as Greenwich Leisure Limited are making extensive use of zero hour contracts and using back hand methods to force staff to move away from TUPE contracts. We have therefore made a decision to launch a London wide campaign on behalf of leisure workers in privatised companies.

  • Lewisham Update
    Unite Strikes against Outsourcing

    Sunday 16th March 2014

    Unite members working in the Attendance and Welfare Section at Lewisham Council took strike action on 12th March to protest against plans to outsource the service by stealth. The Council plan is to cut the staffing by 50% and suggest that schools buy in the service - while also admitting that schools will be able to buy in from private providers if they wish.

    The strikers made sure their presence was felt by picketing and protesting outside the main Council building, which obviously spooked the employer. This was illustrated by the human resources officer who came out and asked the regional officer how many people were on the protest - he replied that she should count the numbers herself. {pdf}She then replied that only those who voted to strike should be on strike - she was of course corrected on this point. However, not taking the hint, she then stated that only those who voted to strike could stand on the picket line! At this point, the Regional Officer questioned her HR qualifications, leading to her making a quick exit!

    This is the first time in 23 years that workers at Lewisham have taken strike action that is not part of a national strike campaign - it is a warning of our intention, our seriousness, to win a fair deal for local government.

  • Wholesale Sell Off in Bromley Unite members fighting wholesale privatisation of Council Services

    Monday 24th February 2014

    Bromley Unite have launched a series of activities aimed at opposing plans by the Council to privatise every service it can. The campaign kicked off with a lobby of the full council meeting on 24th February.

    This will be followed up with further activities including stalls and leafleting.

  • Lewisham Council Unite fight back against creative outsourcing!

    Monday 24th February 2014

    Unite members in Lewisham have been campaigning against plans by the Council to cut the Attendance and Welfare Service by 50%. The end result, if allowed to go through is that the service will be transferred out to schools or schools may even look to private providers.

    The service has an excellent record in fighting truancy rates. Yet the Council intend to cut the service and to look to other providers. This case just highlights the many forms that that outsourcing can take.

    Managers have been trying to convince Councillors that other providers will pick up the work – this is simply not true.

    The Unite proposal for a fair deal for local government services makes clear that a Service Review should be carried out, taking into account social needs and current performance. Any real consideration of the impact on the community would have stopped this proposal in its tracks.

    Instead, the Council admits that the motivator for the cut is money. Unite members are now preparing for strike action to defend the service.

  • Strike Action at Lewisham

    Monday 24th February 2014

    Unite members have begun voting in a strike ballot in protest at plans by Lewisham Council to transfer responsibility for combatting truancy services to schools.

    The ballot began on 19th Feb and will close on 4th March.

    The Council have admitted that no school has expressed a clear interest in running the service and that instead private providers may be engaged by schools.



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