Unions Gagged By Council (22 July 2011)

The Joint Trade Unions of Waltham Forest were banned from speaking to Full Council as staff lobbied the Council Meeting over cuts to Pay, Terms and Conditions

UNISON, GMB and UNITE members lobbied Waltham Forest Council last night. The trade unions had requested to speak to the Council but were refused permission to do so. The trade unions also asked to hand in their petition, containing the signatures of over 2,000 Council employees. The Council refused to accept that petition at the meeting, despite the fact that the Council website does say that anyone who lives, works or studies in Waltham Forest may hand a petition in at a Council meeting.

The assembled crowd attempted to discuss the issues with councillors as they entered the Town Hall but were thwarted by many councillors who refused to engage in any dialogue and strode through the crowd ignoring their staff, one even blew ironic kisses at the demonstrators.  One councillor though did speak to the assembled throng. Councillor Lyons told the crowd that he would ask his colleagues on the Council to enter into meaningful negotiations with the trade unions over the Council’s proposed attacks on Terms and Conditions of Council workers.

The Council’s proposals include the ending of all premium payments, like overtime, weekend pay and shift leader payments. They also propose serious cuts to the sick pay scheme and a freeze on all incremental pay rises. On top of that they propose to drastically cut the car user allowance and to introduce a different system of job evaluation which will be at the Council’s discretion.

Trade union speaker railed against these proposals that will impact mainly on lower paid, operational staff. For example, Meals on Wheels Delivery Assistants who drive their own cars to deliver meals at weekends to the elderly, the sick and the vulnerable will lose something like 50% of their pay. Residential Staff who care for elderly people and children lose all their unsocial hours payments, their shift leader premiums, their weekend enhancements, their overtime rates and their incremental pay rises. For these staff cuts of £3,000 to £4,000 to a pay packet of £17 to £20,000 a year will be imposed.

The cuts will be imposed on a staff by the Council who say they will sack any worker who refuses to sign up to the new contracts of employment that will be issued in October. The dismissals are set to take place during the Christmas period.

The trade unions vow to continue the pressure by campaigning and threatening possible strike action.

Thanks to all our members who supported the demo last night. It was a good event and the Councillors certainly heard our message.

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