Friday, February 10, 2012

Rachman Employers: A Branch Secretary Report

On Thursday it is the UNISON Housing Association Branch AGM. This is my contribution to our annual report.

"2011 was a pretty rubbish year for many members. We either had no pay rise or one far below inflation. While in Care and Support, many employees have had their pay, terms and conditions cut. There has been redundancies and job insecurity. The TUPE transfer of staff to Rachman landlords who claim to be “charities” and “social” landlords yet win contracts by deliberately putting in uneconomic bids. Then once they win, they sack, slash, burn and bully staff into leaving or taking huge pay cuts. Knowing full well that at the same time they are putting vulnerable clients at risk. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

But it was not only doom and gloom. The lesson of 2012 is also where we had good union organisation, where there was a higher density of members and an active steward structure, we were able to better defend members, protect jobs and conditions. We made a real difference.

The Public Service Pension strike in November 30th also showed our employers that the branch can deliver effective strike action and picketing. I suspect there will be further such disputes in the future although industrial action will always be very much a last resort.

2012 will be a very difficult year as well. From April, the Government will double the length of time needed to claim unfair dismissal from 12 months to 2 years and is proposing changes to ACAS guidelines to “simplify” dismissal procedures. It is even contemplating introducing “no fault” sacking where you could be dismissed by your employer (with minimum compensation) without them even having to give you a reason. Also from April, if you have been unfairly treated or even discriminated against by your employer you may have to pay up to £1750 to go to a tribunal. I could go on and on about attacks over health and safety, redundancy consultations, TUPE etc.

Workers have to realise that they cannot depend on the “law” to protect them at work. The best defence is a strong union and collective action. So help yourself (and your union) by recruiting a work colleague, going to local union meetings and think about becoming a steward or a health & safety rep.

Finally many thanks to the activists, stewards, branch staff and of course our tireless UNISON full time Regional organiser Colin Inniss for all their hard work during the last 12 months".

John Gray, Branch Secretary

Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too.” (Google it)
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