Council management still failing Welfare, Employment and Skills staff

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 –

  1. 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.
  2. Giving staff reports to write or tasks to do within unreasonably short timefames.
  3. Refusing staff to work flexibly although managers do.
  4. Showing no compassion or support from their managers when staff have urgent family matters.
  5. 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

Council wasting money on keeping library closed

carnegieoccupation Lambeth Council is wasting thousands of pounds on security guards in the closed Minet and Carnegie Library buildings. The cost of these security guards is more than it would have cost to keep them open in the first place.

A freedom of information request from the Guardian reveals the figures;between the closure of the libraries on 31 March and the 15 April when the request was made the council has wasted £35,392.68 on security, costing over £2,200 a day. Last year the libraries cost just £874 a day to run.
The decision by Lambeth Council to close several libraries in the borough was so unpopular it inevitably led to large demonstrations and an occupation of Carnegie Library. They could have avoided this entire mess if they had worked with the residents and staff to come up with an alternative that kept the libraries open.
As it is the reputation of the council has been ruined – the Progress dominated cabinet stand before the people of Lambeth as unaccountable and uncaring austerity pushing careerists who are happy to ride roughshod over the aspirations and wishes of local people.
And instead of saving money, this entire exercise is costing local people even more. Welcome to the Co-operative Council.

UNISON’s guide to lobbying Councillors in Lambeth

Lobbying Councillors against the Cuts – a Guide for UNISON members

Lambeth Council is a democratic local authority and elected Councillors are accountable to local people for the decisions of the Council – including decisions to cut jobs and services.

One of the most important ways in which we can influence our employer is to organise lobbying of Councillors. However, as Council employees we must be careful not to breach the Council’s Code of Conduct.

Paragraph 11.2.2 of the Code states that; “employees must not seek to involve Members in personal matters which relate to any

aspect of their employment, for example, pay and grading, grievances etc.” and this could cover lobbying individual Members of the Council about particular job cuts.

UNISON members as citizens have the right to lobby Councillors however, and UNISON representatives (including shop stewards) can – with the support and approval of Branch Officers – lobby Councillors on behalf of UNISON.

Most importantly, as trade unionists, we can encourage local people to lobby their Councillors. This document lists all Lambeth’s Councillors and gives details of their regular surgeries where their constituents (people who live in the Ward they represent on the Council) can go and see them about any issue – including to object to cuts in jobs and services being made by the Council.

Local people can also contact Councillors by telephone or email. If you are reading this document on a computer you can click on links from the names of each Councillor to their contact information on the Council Website. Otherwise you can search the website (or phone the switchboard) for contact information. In this online version of the guide the Councillor’s photographs do not appear but if you want to see what a Councillor looks like you can click on the link to their page on the Council website!

Remember – the best people to lobby any Councillor are the people who live in the Ward they represent on the Council and who will have a vote in the next local elections to decide whether or not they stay on the Council.

For more advice or information about lobbying Councillors contact your Branch Secretary, Jon Rogers at j.rogers@unison.co.uk or Ruth Cashman on RCashman@lambeth.gov.uk

Click here to find out who your councilors are LAMBETH COUNCIL