Yesterday, Brighton & Hove Unison e-mailed the Chief Executive and Executive Finance director of BHCC in regard to the “sweetheart deal” or “gentleman’s agreement” that Surrey County Council have made with this Conservative government. The recording and transcript of a conversation between Councillor Hodges and others is within the public domain now.
As you may be aware, Brighton & Hove CC is currently in negotiations with Surrey CC (and ESCC) regarding some Council support services such as Finance, Human Resources, Revenues and Benefits, Premises, ICT transferring into ORBIS (a three way partnership between the three councils).
UNISON is deeply concerned, given the total lack of openness and transparency Surrey have to date shown about this deal, that hundreds our members from BHCC are going to be transferring into such a partnership and I have today requested a response to those concerns from Geoff Raw and David Kuenssberg. Both myself and our sister union GMB have a meeting later this week where we were expected to meet with the new Finance director for ORBIS. Concerns around such a secret deal having been made, in favour of a strongly held Tory seat, is giving us a good deal of cause for concern around how BHCC can work with a Council that has apparent disregard for the values BHCC holds, those of openness, transparency and collaboration.
Following on from the disastrous cuts to public services proposed and voted through at last week’s Full Council Budget meeting, Brighton & Hove branch Unison have voiced their concern, to the Labour administration, around the cut proposed and voted for by the Labour Group to union paid facility time to the tune of 50k. This paid time allows experienced and trained union representatives to engage in all the many and various issues that BHCC corporately need to engage with unions on, such as collective bargaining, consultations on redundancies and restructures, changes to contracts, dismissal hearings, etc. UNISON had already suffered a cut to a full time post at last year’s budget, making it more difficult for the union to support its members through some very difficult cuts to services.
Sue Beatty, UNISON Branch Secretary, said:
The cut to our facilities time at this years’ budget meeting was as a direct result of a proposal put into the budget by the Labour Group, the very politicians that we would expect and hope would want to see us able to carry out the fundamental support and representation of our members during such difficult times as they are currently facing in their services. We see this as an absolute betrayal of the long-standing working relationship this union has had with the Labour Group and do not expect the political party which was founded, and is funded, by trade unions to treat us with such contempt! I have written to Warren Morgan, Leader of the Council to express our dismay and concern. This branch shall now be meeting to discuss how best we deal with the continued priority of supporting our members as well as the future relationship between ourselves and the Labour Group in Brighton & Hove.”
Brighton & Hove Unison would also like to make it absolutely clear that the suggestion that we can “work around” this by getting existing workplace representatives to pick up the extra work is unworkable. Councillors who claim that this idea came from council unions are in fact repeating “fake news” and adding to the confusion among all those trying to resist these cuts
Unison members joined other campaigners and members of other unions in lobbying councillors ahead of Thursday’s Budget Council. They were opposing proposals to cut £21 million from the budget just this year. In the end the Budget was passed but more money was found for the threatened youth service, which had been the focus of a strong campaign largely led by young people themselves.
The full council budget-setting meeting is taking place on Thursday 23rd February at Hove Town Hall.
The proposed cuts which councillors will be voting on will have a devastating effect on services and council jobs. It is important that as many people as possible come along to show them our opposition.
The lobby begins outside Hove Town Hall at 3.30pm and the meeting starts at 4.30pm. We want to be en masse outside Hove Town Hall from 3.30pm onwards so that we can be visible to politicians and officers going in to the meeting.
Please spread this information far and wide – in and out of the council- to all interested parties. That’s every resident of this city!
Extreme and damaging cuts to Youth Services, both in and out of the council, are proposed in the 2017/18 budget. Many young people affected by these cuts are organising their own resistance, which is brilliant. We need to support them, and Unison also has members in these services who face job losses.
A lively march through Brighton on Saturday was led by young people and supported by Unison, the Green Party and other groups.
The next event is on Wednesday 1st February at 7.30pm at the Brighthelm Centre Auditorium – Public Meeting. All welcome!
A number of branch members joined the march organised by Sussex Defend the NHS and Brighton and Hove Trades Council. As the photos and below show, the branch banner was very much in evidence. At the end the nearly 1000 marchers heard Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell make an impassioned defence of the NHS. A message from Caroline Lucas called for unity between all who wanted to save the NHS.
Video here https://youtu.be/Bdu1xJbFQ1c