Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Barking council workers furious

STAFF employed by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham are outraged at a decision by the council’s assembly on 18th May to agree on the nod the removal of the right of appeal for the whole workforce.
More than 100 council employees had attended the meeting to lobby their employers only to see the draconian measure passed swiftly without debate or even acknowledgement of the presence of the workers.
One worker, a member of the GMB general union, wrote to the councillors: “I was one of the Barking and Dagenham council employees (and a ratepayer) who attended the full council assembly meeting on Wednesday 18th May.
“I attended in the hope of being able to address councillors before they voted to take away employees’ right to appeal to them concerning work-related matters.
“I have to say I am disgusted at the way we were completely ignored and the vote went through without any discussion with the employees that this matter concerns.
“In fact before the vote it wasn’t even mentioned by title what they were voting on and the vote went ahead and passed on what seemed like a nod, not even a show of hands.
“The assembly’s failure to even address the staff has led to a petition that has collected over 1,000 signatures in the first four days.”
Tony Morris, Transport and General Workers’ Union convenor at Barking and Dagenham, said: “Rob Whiteman, chief executive, has managed to earn himself a bad reputation among council staff.”
Sandra Vincent, APEX/GMB convenor at Barking and Dagenham council said: “At the moment, if any council employee is put under disciplinary action or has a grievance against the council, including accusations of bullying, harassment and discrimination and the grading of jobs, they have the right of appeal to councillors.
“As a result of the assembly’s failure to tackle the new chief executive Rob Whitman over his disgraceful proposal, the staff will lose that right as from the 1st of June this year.”
Unison branch secretary Tony Browne said: “If the council thinks that by pretending its workforce don’t exist, this issue will just go away, they’d better think again, and quickly. We’ll be back at the next assembly with a petition signed by thousands of the workforce, and we’ll keep coming back until we are acknowledged and listened to.”

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