Monday, 18 June 2012

Join the Lobby of Bromley Council on Monday, 25th June, 6:30pm

Bromley Cuts Concern supporters post news that Unite and other Bromley Town Hall unions are calling for a mass lobby of the Tory Council Meeting at Bromley Civic Centre, 6:30pm, Monday 25th June. They write -
Bromley Tories are proposing to rip up and ignore the long standing employment contracts & related conditions of service of 4,000 council employees by trying to pull out of Nationally agreed pay & conditions.
Not only will this lead inevitably to lower pay, pensions and more dangerous working conditions for Council staff it will also lead to vastly inferior services for local residents.
Bromley Council will be unable to attract and maintain quality and experienced staff as they will go to better and safer local authority employers in the neighbouring areas.
Not content with unnecessarily destroying essential local services for the sick, elderly.disabled and injured children, Bromley Tories want to undermine the quality and morale of local public servants and services all the more with these ideologically driven proposals.
The Tories tried to opt out like this recently in Southampton and as a result lost control of the Council in the May local elections.The Bromley Tories may have forgotten that in 1999 they lost control of the Council. to Labour /Lib Dem Coalition. No doubt the Bromley Tories if they continue like this want a rerun of that result.

Glenn Kelly, representing the trade union interests of Bromley Council staff, has written a summary of the Council's threat to staff pay and conditions. Glenn is supporting trade unions and Bromley Cuts Concern's plans for a mass lobby next Monday, June 25th. He writes -

Council threat to Withdraw
From National Terms and Conditions

Update – June 2012

Yesterday I met for talks with the Senior HR officers and the Deputy Chief Executive with regards to their proposals to take us out of the National terms and conditions and to set up Bromley Pay and conditions.

As you know the council continually say we have nothing to fear from their plans. However as more details emerge it only strengthens my reasons why we must all oppose it.

The Annual Pay award

At the moment if a pay award is awarded nationally the council is contractually bound to pay it to every worker regardless. 

Originally the council’s indicated that all it intended to do was to replace the national negotiations over pay and replace them with a decision to pay a pay award taken by the council alone. That was bad enough however it is now clear the council wish to go even further.

They are now proposing that if a pay award is agreed locally by councillors in February each year then it will be paid to all staff in April, BUT they will withhold the pay award from “underperforming staff”.

So a pay award that is supposed to deal with the increase in cost of living is now to be used as a stick to beat staff with to work harder of face having pay rises denied to them.

It is a recipe for staff to be picked on or used as an excuse to save money for a department or section particularly when mangers are under pressure to come up with another £15m to save.

If staff were “underperforming” the council already has policies and procedures it can use, ultimately it can discipline staff for poor performance. This proposal could lead to double punishment for staff.

In the meeting It was alleged that there is often a call from staff that “under performance is not being dealt with by management”, (despite the fact that I don’t believe that there is any evidence to back this up), even if this was the case then that is the fault of management in not dealing with it, not an excuse to hold back a workers pay rise. 

Currently if management believe that your performance is so poor you should be punished, they have to prove their case in a disciplinary hearing where the worker has rights of appeal and representation.
This begs the question how and by whom would a worker now be able to be punished by being refused a pay rise? The council policy document makes no reference to the process at all!

When I challenged this I was told it would be done through the “PADS” scheme. To judge the pay of a worker on what for many can be a five minute meting a year ticking boxes, if it happens at all, is not acceptable. I do not believe that the majority of staff have confidence in the PADS scheme to measure their performance. 

Performance related Pay rises - “a life sentence”

This proposal would mean that if in one year of your working life with the council you have been deemed to have “underperformed” you would end up paying for it for the rest of your working careers with the council, always earning less than your colleagues doing the same job no matter how good your work is!

This proposal alone shows that the opt out of the national terms and conditions are not in the interests of council workers and must be resisted. 

The New Bonus scheme – A Divisive Dangerous Gimmick

The council have now come forward with their bonus scheme proposals called “A scheme of discretionary non consolidated non pensionable rewards scheme for exceptional performance” or as I like to call it “jelly beans for the favoured ones”!

They are proposing to make a payment for those deemed to “delivered exceptional performance which goes well beyond the normal expectation of the role”.

However it is not to be a pay rise or a re-grading, it is in fact not even going to be paid in cash but will be a “Non cashable voucher”! This voucher will not count to your on going pay or pension. I am reliably informed that there is no truth in the rumour that it will be shares in a Greek bank!

There has been no budget set aside for this scheme.  It is suggested that this will be set each year by the council. It has not been decided whether it’s a fixed figure or to be done as a percentage of your salary. So one year it could be worth for instance five bob another £100. Either way a limited pot will either mean smaller payments made or less people get it.    

To qualify you have to deliver exceptional performance but this won’t be measured by how much “effort” you put in or “hours worked” but on the “outcomes” of your performance. 

Even if you meet this superman status you could still be denied it if your sickness level is deemed unsatisfactory, so if you end up making yourself sick working to hard, tough luck!

The reality is this sort of scheme is divisive and can act to demoralise the majority of hard working staff for pennies given to the few. For every one person given Bruce’s bonus a hundred or more won’t get it.

Bonus scheme is a risk to annual pay rises for all

There is another danger in this scheme. We are told the councillors will determine the pot of money for the pay award and the bonus scheme each February and decide how much to give to each.

Having the two schemes opens the door to the council placing more money in the bonus scheme (which is not linked to pay and is paid for one year only) as opposed to putting money into a pay award (which is part of your ongoing pay, paid every year and is pensionable).

Ask yourself at a time of massive cuts, if councillors are given the option to choose to whether to give the staff a permanent pay rise or a one off payment to some what will they want to do!

The risk is the bonus scheme could spell the end of pay rises altogether to be replaced by a non consolidated bonus scheme seeing our pay shrink further and further.   

 What next

On 25th June the full council has been forced to debate the issue by the hundreds of staff who signed the UNITE petition. At that meeting staff will get to move a resolution calling on the councillors to drop their proposals, it is vital that as many staff are at the meeting as is possible.

The council are not confident over this issue and the more pressure that can be exerted early on the better, they need to see physically that it’s not just the staff side and union officials who are complaining.

The council then intends to start its road shows to win us over, first by briefing all its managers no doubt to tell them to go out and “sell it”.

Given how the senior mangers were treated over their own pay scheme and the fact that they too will lose out under this proposal, it will be interesting to see if they take up the call to arms enthusiastically or feel like they are being asked to go and out and sell tickets for a trip on the titanic, for which their seat is already booked!     

It is interesting to note that I was informed that the council “road shows” will not be like the single status ones where staff were allowed to hear both sides of the argument in order to make their mind up. This time they are refusing to go head to head in an open debate, but will call their own meetings to which the staff side won’t be invited to put the alternative case.

If local terms and conditions are good for us what have they got to hide?

In light of this staff must make sure that meetings are called in your workplaces to hear the other side and I am happy to come and speak to any group of staff.

Glenn Kelly
Staff Side Secretary

25TH JUNE 6.30PM

Friday, 15 June 2012

Creating Alternatives

Bromley Cuts Concern has been networking with the Occupy Movement for several months. Occupy London writes
Hey Everyone!
This Sat's General Assembly at St Pauls, on Creating Alternatives through the ideal of localism, community and the commons will be a great opportunity to start discussing all the issues.
With music, poetry, talks on the theme of community, inspiring community groups like Haringey Solidarity and Save Leyton Marsh in attendance this is a great opportunity to find common ground, support each others' campaigns, and perhaps start building a really strong London network.  
Do come along if you can, and don't forget to share the invitation with your local group(s).

Creating Alternatives – new series of community-themed assemblies starting Saturday 16 June

Occupy London warmly invites individuals, grass-roots organisations and community groups to join us for a discussion of the ideas, experiences, visions and strategies that will make better social living a practise. By sharing our stories and community based approaches, we can find common ground.

This series starts on Saturday 16th June and will continue each Saturday until late August, always from 2 – 4pm on the steps of St Paul’s. If you have an idea for a themed assemblies looking at a specific concern do get in contact.

We feel strongly that through working together exploring the vast similarities between many of our causes and together, we can reclaim what has been taken from us and assert our rights as communities over corporations and the state. Our shared task is to turn occupation into lasting change by imagining and building compelling, just and democratic alternatives to the current morally and materially bankrupt system of living. Examples of such alternatives exist already and have been successfully practised in a variety of environments and cultures around the world. [1-3]

Through this series, we’d like to explore such examples together and hear your stories, experiences and views with a view to building towards creating our own real alternatives.

Have an idea? Get in contact:
Twitter: @occupylondonga

Materials on the Commons and Commoning

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

So We Stand

Power in Community is an organisation based in Scotland dedicated to building leadership in poor communities.

They are sending this invitation to groups and individuals concerned about how environmental and social injustice is likely to affect young people in pockets of deprivation elsewhere in the UK.    

Hello there,

Since the Summer insurgencies and riots of 2011 we've been thinking of creative and inspiring ways to work with young people to positively work around some of the issues the events gave light to. We're really excited to announce our SWS Summer School 2012 - a one week intensive programme for young people to come together with long-serving community organisers to share and learn about issues around community justice, the insurgencies, and our political and personal histories. It will be taking place at sites across London from 7th - 14th July. It is free. Please read all about it here:

We would very much appreciate if you would circulate the below flyer and information with any and all young people that you work with and send it far and wide amongst your networks. Deadline for applications is Fri 15th June. 
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any feedback or queries regarding the summer school.
All the best, So We Stand