Posts Tagged ‘Lambeth Living’

Victory for Lambeth Living Workers

Posted: April 5, 2013 by blackdaffodil in Uncategorized
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Earlier this year we posted a blog on the situation faced by the workers of Lambeth Living:

Lambeth’s workers aren’t just seeing jobs disappear, they are also being forced to fight the cutting at their benefits, standards of living, and dignity. At a meeting of around 70 Lambeth Living workers yesterday, there was a unanimous vote in support of industrial action if Lambeth Living insisted on trying to carry on pushing through these measures:

  • To cut their sick pay entitlement by half.
  • To introduce new sick procedures which are far worse than the current arrangements.
  • To introduce a new code of conduct, which includes a new dress code which would ban “unconventional” hair cuts, hair colours, most jewellery and clothing which isn’t co-ordinated.

After a delegation to the full council, and an amazing indicative strike ballot, the management has taken their proposal off of the table. A worker victory, which is quite wonderful given the all-out assault this month against the people of Britain and the idea that we as a society should take care of one another. Here is the text from a special UNISON bulletin celebrating ‘A Victory for Common Sense’:

Lambeth Living management have agreed with UNISON to take a constructive joint approach to reducing sickness absence through positive measures. In a helpful response, Chief Executive Neil Litherland said; “We will take up your offer of joint working and to give that the best chance of producing some results will set aside the proposals that have been subject to recent discussions whilst the work is being done.”

The Chief Executive has proposed a small working group be established and Assistant Chief Executive Terry Gallagher is now looking for dates in early May to start this work. This means that the proposals for changes to sick pay, the sickness procedure and the Code of Conduct have been set aside and are no longer on the table.

Commenting on this move from management, UNISON Branch Secretary, Jon Rogers said, “this welcome move is a victory for common sense. We are ready to work with management to improve the health, safety and welfare of employees in order to reduce sickness and therefore absence.”

UNISON welcomes the setting aside of proposals which included proposed reductions in sick pay. These proposals had led to a 94% vote in favour of industrial action in a consultative ballot. UNISON members and shop stewards were right to take a firm line to protect conditions of service and would be right to do so again in future.

Management have responded sensibly and appropriately by agreeing to constructive dialogue and UNISON will aim to engage with management colleagues to achieve positive outcomes for employees and the organisation.

We definitely have to keep up the fight for worker’s rights, pay, pension and their very jobs themselves, even as we ramp up the campaign to stop the multiple taxes and benefit cuts hitting this month (for a great piece on the bedroom tax’s impact in Brixton, check out the Brixton Blog, and we’ll be posting more about local efforts against the tax and other benefit cuts).

599071_543001465730770_1280623140_n[below please find the speech from the delegate for Lambeth Living to the Mayor and Council on February 27th. I’m afraid the council wasn’t at all responsive, so you’ll be hearing more about this campaign…]

Mr Mayor, Councillors, thank you for agreeing to listen to me.

My name is Edward Owoyemi and I am the UNISON Convenor for Lambeth Living.

 

The managers in Lambeth Living have put forward proposals to reduce by half the sick pay entitlements of their staff.

We think that this proposal is irrelevant to the priorities of tenants and residents. The last tenants survey told us that their priorities are repairs and maintenance, being treated fairly and the quality of their homes.

Nothing about attacking housing workers’ sick pay.

Our members are opposed to reducing sick pay. It is an attack on workers when they are at their most vulnerable and could cause real hardship to real people. It is an attack on the entire workforce and, if it is not withdrawn, it is very likely indeed to lead to a dispute.

Why are they making this proposal?

I am afraid that we really don’t know.

We asked management if they could give us detailed information about how many staff had been off sick and for how long. We asked for this information more than three weeks ago.

We are still waiting.

We asked management if they could tell us what sick pay had cost Lambeth Living over the recent past. We asked for this information more than three weeks ago.

We are still waiting.

We asked management if they could tell us what they had done to comply with the public sector equality duty in coming up with these proposals. We asked for this information more than three weeks ago.

We are still waiting.

Lambeth Living have no business case for this proposal.

The have no equality impact assessment of this proposal.

They have set out to provoke and annoy their entire workforce.

And they don’t even seem to know why.

This would not be happening to us if we worked directly for you, the Council.

The trade unions have an agreement with the Council that you will not change the conditions of service of staff without trade union agreement.

We are here to ask you please to use your influence with Lambeth Living to encourage them to adopt a sensible and progressive approach to employee relations and to withdraw the threat to our sick pay.

Your%20Lambeth%20Living%20cover_sLambeth’s workers aren’t just seeing jobs disappear, they are also being forced to fight the cutting at their benefits, standards of living, and dignity. At a meeting of around 70 Lambeth Living workers yesterday, there was a unanimous vote in support of industrial action if Lambeth Living insisted on trying to carry on pushing through these measures:

  • To cut their sick pay entitlement by half.
  • To introduce new sick procedures which are far worse than the current arrangements.
  • To introduce a new code of conduct, which includes a new dress code which would ban “unconventional” hair cuts, hair colours, most jewellery and clothing which isn’t co-ordinated.

Employees have received no detailed justification for any of these proposals from management, no “business case” and no equality impact assessment. They have asked management to provide the sort of detailed information on levels and costs of sickness absence (which they expected to see in order to justify such proposals) and management have admitted that they don’t even have this information at present and are waiting for the Council to provide it to them.

Lambeth Living does not face any financial crisis. The Council is not cutting its income. The problems which Lambeth Living does face (for example in relation to the performance of their contractors) have nothing to do with staff sickness or with the Code of Conduct. The management proposals are both irresponsible and irrelevant to the needs of our tenants and residents, as well as being contrary to the interests of all staff.

Isn’t it time we had a council standing with, and fighting for, its workers to better serve the community living in council housing? Join us to make sure Lambeth Living carry on giving the same rights to their staff as Lambeth Council do. Lambeth Council have promised not to attack the terms and conditions of Lambeth Council employees. We want Lambeth Living to do the same.

Brixton Town Hall
Wednesday, February 27th
6-7 pm

Public service trade union, UNISON, has today condemned the chaotic management of Lambeth’s troubled “Arms Length Management Organisation” (ALMO) Lambeth Living.

On the evening of Wednesday 26 January it was announced to the board of the ALMO that the Chief Executive had left. This happened on the same day that staff had been told, in response to rumours, that the Chief Executive had not left and came just weeks after the sudden departure of another Director.

“Housing staff are trying to get on with their jobs, but are being badly let down by senior management and the ALMO Board led by Keith Hill,” commented UNISON Branch Secretary Jon Rogers. “There is no question now but that Lambeth Living has failed and that Lambeth Councillors should bite the bullet and take direct responsibility for the management of council housing in Lambeth.”

UNISON is calling upon Lambeth to stop the ALMO proceeding with damaging cuts to front line services which were championed by the senior managers who have now left.

“Estate Services Officers threatened with redundancy have been out there day in, day out, helping tenants,” said Mr Rogers, “in the mean time some of the senior managers who decided to sack these hard working staff have been leaving. Lambeth Living as an organisation is now a bad joke.”

Yes you read that right, consultants at our councils housing firm, the arm’s length management organisation (ALMO) Lambeth Living are being allegedly paid up to £4500 a week. That’s equivalent to £234000 a year (the prime minister gets £142,500, Lambeth Council’s chief executive Derrick Anderson gets about £211,000 if you were wondering). This is not just a shocking waste of money, Lambeth Living is savagely sacking vital frontline staff and cutting services whilst pouring tenants rent money away. It is a disgrace and these consultants should be sacked immediately.

Lambeth Save Our Services (SOS) has campaigned to bring the ALMO back in-house for months now – it is clear this is the only way to stop the drastic cuts to frontline services. Now it is more important than ever.

To get involved in the campaign send an email to lambethsaveourservices@gmail.com or come to our next planning meeting.

More on this is in the Streatham Guardian