Thursday, May 19, 2005

Barking workers defend union rights

TRADE UNIONISTS gathered outside a councillors’ assembly meeting on Wednesday, 18th May in Barking Town Hall to protest at a proposal to remove the right of appeal from the borough’s 6,000 council workers if they have a problem at work.
The joint trade unions, including the GMB, the Transport and General Workers’ Union and Unison, applied to address the assembly.
Currently, 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.
But if the council’s new chief executive, Rob Whiteman, has his way, that right will be removed.
GMB convenor Sandra Vincent said: “Councillors are being told that this change is necessary because, apparently, in some other councils where there is no final appeal to councillors, staff morale is allegedly higher than in Barking and Dagenham!
“This is of course nonsense. Staff morale will be made worse if directors and managers are no longer accountable to councillors at appeals for their decisions on matters like sex discrimination, bullying and harassment.”
Unison branch secretary Tony Browne said: “Our experiences show that the other councils who have done similar have had huge increases in legal costs as workers go to court seeking justice denied them locally. As usual the local ratepayer foots the bill.”
TGWU convenor Tony Morris said: “If the right of appeal is taken away from Baking and Dagenham’s employees then a vital safety net will be removed from all council employees and a serious wedge put between the workforce and the employer. This is all about taking power from elected councillors and giving it to unelected managers.”

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