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A few facts about ourselves. We are 4,700 members strong, the largest Trade Union Branch in the City, and with the GMB and NUT, represent 90% plus of the entire Council workforce. We have never had in 17 years of cuts to Local Government, a single compulsory redundancy. We have removed the lowest pay points on the NJC Scales, helped to introduce the Living Wage across 130 local employers, and achieved over £30 million in Equal Pay compensation for long-term discrimination. When we have needed to fight, that is on the rare occasions, when disputes cannot be resolved by negotiation (School Support Staff, Brighton Housing Trust, Green Keepers), we are mostly successful. In pay or pensions ballots, our Branch has always voted “Yes”, and your reputation stands with the very best, at a National level.

We now face a series of challenges, and I have no doubt that we will rise to all of these as determinedly as on previous occasions. I will start with the local ones.


The College has spent some 12-18 months “hiding” from the Trade Unions, what can only be described as a growing financial crisis – the Funding Agency has described them as “inadequate” and called in KPMG to “advise”. Within the past few weeks, “out of the blue”, Unions and staff were informed that £1.5 (now increased to £1.6) million will be cut from the staffing budget – over 100 people will be sacked.

If the College had involved us, at the start, we could have used our considerable experience to assist in mitigating the problem – instead, their ineptitude, and secrecy, puts both parties on an inevitable collision course, in that the sackings have to be made by the Summer.

UNISON, and UCU (representing the lecturers) are now balloting our members for strike action, as this is now the only way in which to alter the employer’s position. Our ballot takes place over the next few weeks, and if you know anyone at City College, make sure they are aware that the whole Branch is in support.


A dispute that never should be, in my opinion! In short, this key group of staff in Adult Services, work a day shift, followed by the same the following day – they have successfully provided a night on-call service, on a voluntary basis for years, with few problems. Staff work the rota so that they are either “off” before or after the on-call. In their “wisdom”, the employer now wishes to make this a contractual arrangement, which could result in a member of staff working day-night-day. As AMPH’s are making fundamental decisions about individuals liberty, and can be held personally liable for their decisions, being tired out after 3 continuous shifts, they have, virtually unanimously, rejected this enforced change to the contract.

Management are refusing to back down, or have further discussions, and are forcing, very reluctantly, our members into a strike ballot (again, within the next few weeks). As with City College, any support for this small group of 22 members would be most appreciated.


Both UNISON and the National Union of Teachers, along with a large number of parents and students, are utterly opposed to the Heads proposal to “explore” a move to Academy status (basically, out of the Local Authority). For the detail of this and to sign the petition, go to http;//

There has been significant pressure (“intimidation” is the word used by our members) placed on staff, and in response to my own letter to the Head detailing these allegations…..absolute silence!!! I have reminded the Council, that whilst the School appoints its support staff, their employer is BHCC, and they are therefore, responsible, the reluctance to do anything to intervene, is almost as disgraceful as the original complaints. It is left to the 2 Unions to act, and both are now committed to a strike ballot. Intimidation of our members will always be met with a direct response.

PAY 2014 – National Ballot

In the indicative ballot, called in response to the paltry 1% offer from the employers, Brighton and Hove voted 5 to 1 to reject and take action. The formal ballot begins on 23rd May 2014, and there will be detailed leaflets calling for a “Yes” vote, to follow, so I won’t repeat that information here. Suffice to say, and I am writing this on the day that the Sunday Times publishes its “Rich List, and the Telegraph reports a doubling of income for the very rich over the past 5 years (whatever happened to the recession, austerity and “all in it together”), this is the time for us to say “enough and no more” – we will fight!

It is also worth noting, that UNISON’s 400,000 Health Service members are also to be balloted over pay, on the same timescale as ourselves in local government.

In the pensions dispute our march was 10,000 strong – this Summer lets double that to 20,000. And more importantly, this time we do not let our leadership compromise – we want what is fair, not a few “crumbs from the table”.

Alex Knutsen




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