Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tower Hamlets Homes Lobby

This evening I went along to a noisy but largely cheerful lobby by UNISON members of a Tower Hamlets Homes Board meeting in the Toby Club in Bethnal Green.  Tower Hamlets Homes is a ALMO which has run into let us say "problems".

I use to be an assistant branch secretary of the  UNISON Tower Hamlets Local Government Branch and was invited by local stewards to attend this lobby.

Management have announced 80 redundancies (out of some 500 staff).  Which is bad enough - but what has incensed the workforce is that they have been told that they have to apply within 7 days for voluntary redundancy or they will lose any right to a severance payment.  Despite the fact this severance payment is a TUPE right!

What is even more iniquitous is that the staff have not been told what possible jobs are available under the new proposed structure.  Never mind what are the proposed job descriptions, numbers of posts, possible grades and assimilation rights.  These are agreed good practice HR processes which are being simply ignored.

What this means is that staff are being blackmailed into applying for redundancy before knowing all the facts and when it might have turned out that they have a job to go to after all.  This is bad employment practice and probably needs to be tested at an employment tribunal. 

Wearing another "hat" I am extremely concerned at some other allegations made about staff aged 55 or over which I will investigate further.

Staff told me that they understood that the organisation has severe financial difficulties and they have their own ideas about reducing costs but the current process is simply wrong and grossly unfair.

The UNISON reps did have a number of positive and constructive conversations with managers and members of the Board on the way in which I thought were really helpful. The reps had produced an excellent precise and hard hitting leaflet detailing their concerns. 

All in all a successful text book lobby and many thanks to Tony and Trevor for organising it.  They tell me this is only the beginning.

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