The staff in the Welfare, Employment and Skills (WES) Team are again fighting to be treated fairly and with equality.
Since the January 2017 restructure proposals which put the jobs of the majority of WES staff at risk, while saving the jobs of senior managers, the staff together with UNISON have fought against bullying, victimisation and racism. Despite petitions, demonstrations, collective and individual grievances and direct appeals to WES managers, to directors, to strategic directors and to the Chief Executive for urgent intervention, the Council have systematically backed the conduct of WES managers.
In February UNISON wrote to the Chief executive in support of WES staff. This is an excerpt – ‘UNISON strongly supports the positive work which you yourself initiated to increase BME representation at senior levels in the organisation. However, that positive work can all too easily be undermined when management disregard serious concerns expressed on behalf of a majority BME workforce about a restructure threatening most of that workforce with redundancy under the direction of (white) managers not themselves at risk. Lambeth has much to be proud of in its approach to the implementation of the Council’s public sector equality duty, but in this case that duty is being treated with disregard and staff and the trade union with disrespect.’
Since then things have deteriorated resulting in a further six staff leaving the WES and others with work related stress citing bullying and racism.
In June UNISON again appealed to the Chief Executive to intervene. We pointed out that managers in WES are abusing their positions by –
- Micromanaging staff – asking that they explain where they are going if they simply walk away from their desks; asking who they are speaking to on the telephone; not permitting staff to go to the shop for water in the hot weather etc.
- Giving staff reports to write or tasks to do within unreasonably short timefames.
- Refusing staff to work flexibly although managers do.
- Showing no compassion or support from their managers when staff have urgent family matters.
- Using review meetings to ‘manage staff out of employment’.
The weak response from the Council is evidence of their steadfast support of WES senior managers.
UNISON are equally steadfast in standing together with WES staff. We will continue to demand they are treated with respect.
If you would like to find out what you can do to support these staff or would like to send messages of support, please contact Hassina Malik Hmalik@lambeth.gov.uk