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‘Curtain of secrecy and fear’

Bromley Council suspends Unite rep
Jody Whitehill, Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015


Tory-led Bromley council has suspended a Unite rep in a bid to silence critics of its privatisation programme.

 

The council suspended Unite rep Alan Brown on Friday (July 17). Details of the allegations are unclear, while the council investigates.

 

Unite branch secretary Kathy Smith also recently had all her trade union facility time removed and is now not being invited to trade union liaison meetings that the employer is setting up.

 

Unite says that ‘a curtain of secrecy and fear is descending’ over the council’s plans to become a commissioning council.

 

Despite having £130m in reserve the council is reducing the number of its employees from 4,000 to just 300.

 

“The council has been ratcheting up the attacks on Unite by suspending our representative Alan Brown,” said Onay Kasab, Unite regional officer.

 

“It can be no coincidence that Alan works at the Astley day centre and the suspension comes after the council was exposed as planning to close the service,” added Onay.

 

Bromley council is considering the privatisation of 14 libraries, replacing staff with unpaid volunteers and handing the libraries over to charities.

 

“Let me make it very clear – we will continue to fight to defend services and, just as importantly, we will fight to defend those such as Alan and Kathy, who are brave enough to stand up for what is right,” said Onay.

 

Unite members have already held four waves of strikes against the privatisation of services, cuts to pay and conditions and the withdrawal of facility time from Unite rep Kathy Smith.

 

The Fair deal for local government campaign by Unite’s London and Eastern region is aimed against privatisation and austerity in local government and has almost 300,000 members.

 

It is made up of a set of proposals that Unite has been putting to councils in the region. A procurement strategy to ensure that quality services are maintained and that there is no ‘race to the bottom’ for pay and terms and conditions.

 

The main points of Fair deal for local government campaign are:

• if services are performing well, leave them in house
• if they are not performing well, look at ways of putting it right in house
• when contracting out services, over 50 per cent of the consideration should be about quality rather than cost
• fair employment rights for transferred staff – no zero hours contracts, pay the ‘living wage’, no downward pay and conditions harmonization

 

Visit the campaign website here.

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