Socialist Worker

Councils

Issue No. 1765

Councils

Union activist wins victory

MANCHESTER UNISON union convenor Richard Searle was reinstated last week. This was just two weeks after his suspension for talking to the press in his capacity as a UNISON spokesperson. Richard had confirmed to the press that open police cells had been considered for temporary accommodation for homeless people.

The reinstatement campaign has seen messages of support, petitions and condemnations flood into both the union office and Manchester City Council. Messages of support to the Homeless Families Unit now cover the union noticeboard from the floor to the ceiling.

UNISON members in the housing department feel that they have scored a victory against a bullying senior management. "Housing workers are smiling," said one UNISON steward.

Although senior management in the housing department have been forced to rescind the suspension, they still wish to investigate the background to the suspension. UNISON members in the housing department were to meet on Wednesday this week to discuss their response.

It remains to be seen whether the proposals UNISON puts forward to improve the homeless service are acted on by management. If the improvements are made it will only be because of pressure from below. As a steward said, "'New Labour may wish to 'chew the fat' with McDonald's at their conference. But the campaign to stop Richard's suspension shows that we are not going to put up with a McDonald's-style service to the homeless."


Newham

SOCIAL WORKERS at Newham council in east London are set to win pay increases of over �1,000 a year. This follows a campaign of one-day strikes and represents a major climbdown by the council.

Newham's chief executive, Dave Burbage, had previously told the social workers' UNISON union representatives that he and Newham councillors would never support the payment of additional increments to all social workers. The U-turn has been welcomed by UNISON and comes on the eve of plans by the union to escalate their action.

However, other elements in the council's package to end the dispute are controversial. Michael Gavan, branch chair of Newham UNISON, said, "The council's change of policy shows that strikes work."


Glasgow

COUNCIL workers downed tools and walked out after being ordered to return to work minutes after a colleague was killed in a horrific accident at work. John Kelly, a 36 year old father of one, was crushed to death by a tractor-style mower which went out of control.

Several workers at Glasgow City Council's parks depot at Kings Park were shocked to witness the accident, in which John Kelly took the full force of the mower when it careered towards him.

John Kelly was taken by ambulance to Glasgow Victoria Infirmary, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The Health and Safety Executive is carrying out an investigation into the accident.

A council spokesperson stressed that no disciplinary action would be taken against those workers who walked out.


Sheffield

FIVE FORMER branch officers of Sheffield Metropolitan UNISON branch have been excluded from UNISON disciplinary hearings. They will not be allowed to present their defence before a judgement is passed on the case.

This is because the five wanted to adjourn an earlier hearing so they could attend an official branch lobby against redundancies threatened by private firm CSL, which has taken over Sheffield housing benefits. Annette Carey is one of the five. She is the ex branch secretary of Sheffield Metropolitan branch, and is facing redundancy from CSL.


Public meeting

Defend public services, defend the NHS

Monday 24 September, 6.30pm, Memorial Hall, Sheffield City Hall Speakers include Bob Abberley (UNISON), Helen Jackson MP, Jack Dromey (TGWU), Mark New (Dudley hospitals UNISON), Paul Blomfield (chair Sheffield DLP) Called by NGH UNISON, MSF Health, Sheffield TUC


Preston

TENANTS ARE threatening legal action after Preston Borough Council left them in the cold. In March the Health and Safety Executive informed the council that the three multi-storey tower blocks in the Moor Lane area of Preston had become unsafe.

Tenants were told they had to vacate their properties. Moor Lane Displaced Tenants Group was formed to improve the standards of temporary accommodation in which tenants were placed. Almost five months after the evacuation some tenants are still waiting to be rehoused in permanent accommodation.


Child support workers

SCOTTISH child support workers are "frustrated and fed up". There are around 300 workers providing the system of child hearings, who have voted to reject a miserable 2.5 percent pay offer. These Unison members have voted to take strike action in support of their pay claim. The child panel reporters and support staff are asking for an 8 percent pay rise. The workers were forced to wait for seven months until the management made a pay offer.


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Article information

News
Sat 8 Sep 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1765
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