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NEWS

BRANCH MEETING REPORT - SEPTEMBER 2006

BRANCH MEETING

The two Branch Meetings were held on 12th and 13th September, with a total of 123 people attending, many thanks to those of you who did.  This meant that all the important business on the agenda was dealt with. 

The Good Old Days - Picture from the Branch Archives

The items included were the Dress Code, Sickness Absence Policy and Added Years, which because of the current industrial relations climate, were brought together under one motion, which you can read here. 

The general feeling at the Meeting was one of complete exasperation at the way in which long established procedures for consultation were being flouted and ignored.  Policies that have not been agreed by all parties are now being imposed and it would appear that HR have absolutely no respect for our Trade Union Representatives, and therefore ultimately, means they have no respect for staff as a whole. 

Updates on all the agenda items discussed at the Meeting, appear below in this report. Also on the agenda was the Pension Dispute, the UNISON Social Club, Single Status and the Whipps Cross Hospital Dispute. 

DRESS CODE

It was reported to the Branch Meeting that all three trade unions, UNISON, GMB and TGWU lodged a Collective Grievance against this policy at the meeting of the Croydon Staff Partnership Panel (CSPP), the forum for the Trade Union Side to meet with Councillors, on 1st September.  To read the Grievance in full click here.    

On the afternoon of 13th September a letter from Pam Parkes, Head of HR & OD, arrived in the UNISON Office, dated 8th September.  In this letter she stated that the Grievance Procedure could not be used to challenge the introduction or existence of a policy.  She further stated that the corporate consultation machinery is established for this purpose.  This seems to be a rather strange response, given that part of the grievance concerns the flouting of the procedure!

The letter goes on to say that the “Acceptable Standard of Behaviour” (the name itself is erroneous as it should read “Acceptable Standard of Appearance at Work”) would be implanted on 11th September - 2 days before I received the letter!

It should be noted that the wording of the Dress Code contains reference to it forming part of the Contract of Employment.  As such, it cannot be implemented without either:  1. The agreement of individuals to a change in their contract.  2. Notice of termination of contract.  Neither have these have happened so it’s every individual’s right to carry on as we were.

I will be submitting a Stage 2 Grievance on behalf of all 3 unions.

WHIPPS CROSS HOSPITAL DISPUTE

Unfortunately a speaker from the Whipps Cross Hospital Dispute was unable to attend the Meeting on Tuesday.  However the meeting heard the background as to why UNISON members at the Hospital have been taking Strike Action. 

Their employers, Initial Services, have failed to honour an agreement that was negotiated between UNISON and the previous employers.  UNISON members are still owed £900 each. 

Many of these workers are low paid, whilst a Chief Executive for the Company earns around £2.2 million per year, after paying his bills - he’s not likely to be scratching around for money to spend on life’s little luxuries! 

The Branch supports the courageous stand taken by our fellow UNISON members in their fight to receive what is rightfully theirs and the motion to donate £500, which you can read in full here, to their Strike Fund, was carried unanimously.  A collection at both Meetings raised £55.00 to add to the donation, thank you to all those who contributed.  We will keep you informed of further events.

ADDED YEARS

Up until now and according to the Staff Handbook, staff over 55 finding themselves in a redundancy situation, have had the option of taking early retirement with “added years”.  This is a “notional service enhancement” that bumps up their pension a bit.  This used to be open to all staff over 50 who wanted to take early retirement but had been changed to 55 a few years back.

Now, suddenly the Director of Finance, Nathan Elvery, has unilaterally decided that as it’s discretionary it’s now going to stop!  So determined was he, that people who were in negotiations about leaving the Council and who already had been presented with their figures were told that they could no longer have the added years.  One member of staff was told on their very last day of service!

Once again there was absolutely no consultation over this and it has been implemented.  

As the provision for added years appears in the Staff Handbook, and it is a very long standing “Custom and Practice” we believe this may constitute a breach of Contract.  The Branch has therefore decided to add this issue, along with the Dress Code and Sickness Absence and will be seeking legal advice to challenge this.

PENSIONS

A motion presented to the Branch Meetings addressing the dissatisfaction of many activists regarding the way in which the dispute has been handled by our national negotiators, was carried unanimously and can be read here.

Our Pension Update Page explains the four options for the new scheme that the employers have now put forward.  You can also log-on to the UNISON National Website www.unison.co.uk for more information. 

Take the Pension Test you might just be surprised at the answers!

SINGLE STATUS

Background

Nine years ago Manual Workers and APT&C Staff were brought together on a single set of conditions.  The Manual Workers where on conditions known as The White Book and Admin Staff on Purple Book.  These have now been brought together under “The Green Book”.

When introduced in 1997 Councils were given until April 2007 to get all staff fully onto one set of conditions, grades and pay scales.  The Council and the Trade Unions initially met regularly to see this through.  However these meetings dropped off as other priorities took up both sides’ time.  Belatedly, the Council are now very keen to get back on track and as a result are calling weekly meetings to progress things.

Originally there was a joint-steering group looking jointly at issues.  Now, though, Council Officers are making decision and informing the Trade Unions what they are going to be doing.  Obviously the Trade Unions are not happy about this and are making protestations.

Job Evaluation

As part of the Single Status agreement all posts are supposed to be Job Evaluated, also by 2007.  Obviously the Council are not going to evaluate every post so they have selected 200 “Benchmark” posts to evaluate.

The Unions are co-operating with this and training is being undertaken.  Panels of Council Officers and Trade Union Reps will evaluate the posts and sit on appeals panels for individuals and groups of staff who don’t agree with the outcome.  This will be taking place over the coming few weeks.

The likely scenario will be that following the evaluations should any jobs require upgrading, money for this will have to be found from somewhere else.  It is highly likely therefore that they will want to cut bonuses and allowance to pay for it.  The changes are that the very people who are likely to be upgraded are the ones to lose the bonuses and allowances!  So what they give with one hand they will take away with the other!

So, we are in for a long hard slog over this too.  In the light of the current industrial relations meltdown, it’s going to be a bumpy road ahead!

UNISON SOCIAL CLUB

 

The Club has proved over the years to be an invaluable asset to the Branch not only for Social and Fund Raising events but during times of Industrial Action as a place for members to meet.  However due to the falling number of our members making use of the Club, it has found itself recently on hard times.  Members of the Management Committee, who are also members of the Branch, felt it necessary to try and address the financial situation.  A motion they submitted, which you can read here, was carried unanimously at the Meeting.

 

Phil Young, Management Committee Member, urged those attending the Branch Meeting to make more use of the Club’s facilities, he also invited people to submit any ideas they may have to make the Club a thriving concern once more.

 

Please let the Branch Office know via branchoffice@croydonunison.co.uk if you have any ideas that would make the Club more attractive to you.  We will gladly pass them on to the Club Committee.

 

RECRUITMENT

 

At UNISON Conference a recruitment campaign called “Challenge X” was launched.  This involves members signing a pledge to recruit ten new members (think Roman numerals) over the next 12 months.  Do so, and your name will be added to a UNISON Roll of Honour.  There was no mention of what happens if you fail – public flogging perhaps?

 

There is still a huge recruitment potential for the Branch within the local authority, if you know someone who isn’t a member, either let us know or ask them to join.  For more information regarding “Challenge X” visit UNISON’s Website www.unison.co.uk

 

CALLING ALL DISABLED MEMBERS…….

The Branch is in the process of setting up a Disabled Members Group.  A meeting to launch the group took place at 12.30 pm in the Council Chamber on 1st February.  The post of Disabled Members Representative to be Branch Executive Committee is to be job-shared by Kay Kakad, Finance & Resources and Julia King, Housing.  More information on the Group will be posted when available.

YOUNG MEMBERS IN UNISON

We will shortly be calling a meeting for all Young Members in the Branch, further details will be posted.  If you are 26 or under let the Branch Office know at branchoffice@croydonunison.co.uk and we will add you to our mailing list.

CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS

We are always looking for more members to get actively involved in the Branch. There are many areas where members don't have a local Steward.

So if you would like to get more involved in the Branch and its decision making, take part in negotiations with management and represent members, why not become a Steward or Health and Safety Rep?

We won't throw you in at the deep end. There are many courses available that are organised through the TUC or UNISON and they run throughout the year. You will also have the support of the Branch Office. Time off for full training is available, please contact the Branch Office for more details or e-mail branchoffice@croydonunison.co.uk

ARE YOU GETTING IT?

It has recently come to light that some members are not getting information about the Branch and its activities. If this is the case please let us know in the Branch Office either by phone on 8760-5435 or via e-mail to branchoffice@croydonunison.co.uk

If you are prepared to be a workplace contact for us, which involves handing out UNISON information, Newsletters etc to your fellow UNISON members again please let us know in the Branch Office.

We want to make sure all our members are informed on what's happening in the Branch.

EVENTS

Croydon UNISON Social Club

Don’t forget, as a member of Croydon UNISON you are automatically a member of the UNISON Social Club. 

The Club recently held its very first Beer Festival, with over 20 different beers on offer.  It was a very successful event and it’s likely that another will be held later in the year.  Full details will be given when known.

The Club is an ideal place to hold a summer party.  The Committee has recently purchased a gas barbeque, which is available for members use.  Just contact the Club for booking details.

MONTHLY QUIZ NIGHTS

The regular monthly Quiz Nights are still proving to be very popular. It costs £4.00 for a team (maximum of 4) to enter and starts at 7.30 pm. They are held on the first Tuesday of every month. If you require any further details please contact the Branch Office.

The Club is available for departmental celebrations, leaving and retirement parties and birthday parties as well as private functions. As a UNISON member you can hire the hall at very cheap rates. You may also want to challenge another department to a pool, snooker or darts match there is also a table tennis table. For availability contact the Club Steward John Brooks on 020 8688 8142.