GMB issue industrial action notice to Brighton and Hove Council

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GMB issue industrial action notice to Brighton and Hove Council as talks over anti-trade union behaviour reach deadlock. It has always been made very clear that GMB members red lines on the most serious issues were not on a pick and mix basis, they either agreed to all or none, says GMB Southern

  • GMB have issued what will be the first of a series of Industrial Action notices to Brighton & Hove City Council over the coming weeks as talks over council anti trade union behaviour reach deadlock. GMB have issued the required two weeks notices on behalf of the City’s street cleansing, refuse and recycling services. 

    Tripartite discussions chaired by ACAS and attended by BHCC Council, Labour Leader Nancy Platts and Green Party Convenor Phelim MacCafferty have been unable to reach a solution that all sides could agree to. This is after senior council officers including Chief Exec Geoff Raw and Director of Finance & Resources David Kuenssberg added new additional concerns and issues when a solution looked likely.

    The notices issued to the council, at the sudden conclusion of what has been a difficult process at times, are the first in a series of dates under consideration for the coming weeks and months, lay out the first day of full strike action as Monday 29th
     July and simultaneous notice of the commencement of an extended overtime ban running through until the 5th August, additional days consisting of full day walk outs are planned for 2nd, 3rd 4th and 5th August, with further strike action by the departments Vehicle workshop and maintenance staff on 30th July and 1st August.      

    Further dates will be added over the coming days and weeks leading to possible further disruption of services to the city provided by Cityclean until GMB can be assured that Council officers continued attacks against both the GMB and its representatives have ceased and that proposals, even if only tentatively agreed, are then not varied or removed from scope.  

    Mark Turner, GMB B50 Branch Secretary said:

    "It’s been very much a case of one step forward two steps back by Council officers in the meetings facilitated by ACAS, several times we thought that a settlement to the dispute was imminent as we seemed to agree on much more than divided us and that we were at the stage where simply changes to some wording in the working document was the only final stumbling block to avoid. 

    "We couldn’t have been more wrong as agreements we thought were signed off by all three of the city’s political parties were then revoked by the Council officers and further vexatious claims against representatives of the GMB union suddenly appeared, leaving the officers demanding that the GMB rep’s exclusion from the Hollingdean Depot continued, even after agreeing that he should return to the workplace. 

    "It has always been made very clear that although we could discuss all other issues to seek a consensus and way forward that GMB members red lines on the most serious issues were not on a pick and mix basis, they either agreed to all or none.

    "Those red lines were that their rep must be returned to the depot and that the unfair persecution and anti-trade union behaviour he was subjected to cease, along then with allowing GMB members their statutory right of access to the Union representative of their choice at all times should they need to.

    "There is a further meeting planned to meet with Council officers, Councillors and ACAS scheduled for Thursday 18
    th and GMB will attend in the spirit of seeking a resolution of avoiding the need for industrial action as we have all along, but right now we have no faith and trust in what the Council officers say or agree to at the meeting because it seems they then change their mind upon returning to the larger Exec team meaning that we can't be assured of an agreement ever being reached. But maybe they will prove me wrong!"

    Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser said:

    "GMB members have been more than patient in allowing both Mark Turner and I the chance for the past several weeks to explore and develop through ACAS an acceptable way forward, but with the understanding that there were certain issues that were not negotiable beyond a clear and certain time and point. 

    "Council officers are now saying that can’t happen so regrettably we are forced to action GMB membership’s mandate for industrial action until the Chief Exec and his team seek to come back to the table and act more honourably in seeking any agreement. 

    "GMB concerns are that the Chief Exec is now in his latest U turn, reportedly hiding behind threats by the Services operating licence holder to walk away from Cityclean if our Rep is to be returned to the workplace, as the latest rationale for his continued exclusion.

    "Of course we accept that it will be very hard for senior Council management to deal with such illogical behaviour by those charged to run the service, but accepting such immature behaviour from a senior manager, similar to a child threatening to take his ball home if he doesn’t get his way in the game, is a totally unfair rationale to further act against the GMB union and its representatives. We expect the Chief Exec at the very least to have a contingency plan in place for the next managerial tantrum at the depot.  

    "GMB have had serious trust issues and concerns around the Chief Exec Geoff Raw and his involvement, ability and honesty in looking to resolve matters from the start. As it was the Chief Exec who made an approach to us through a third party looking to arrange a potential deal outside of council procedures earlier in the dispute, where the Chief Exec offered to install the Director of Finance & Resources as a replacement chair of a potential disciplinary hearing for a GMB rep, and give us the outcome of that hearing in advance as one of no case to answer. But only subject to the GMB agreeing that the Rep concerned then worked in future from the GMB office representing members within the council but that he had no further dealings with the Cityclean workplace or workforce directly, the offer was both polity and immediately declined. 

    "This dispute has opened my eyes about real nature of the man at the head of the paid service within Brighton council, and the potential dilemmas ahead for anyone having to speak or work with such a moralistic professing dodgy dealer.  

    "GMB remain very happy to meet in further meetings chaired by ACAS, but we would like assurances that it is those meetings at which decision and agreements on the dispute are discussed and made and then not later find them superseded by a secret cabal of Council management independently altering outcomes." 


    Contact: Mark Turner 07860 787973 or Gary Palmer 07552 165950 or GMB Southern Press Office 07970 114762