Sunday, 28 April 2013

Next Trades Council meeting Tuesday 14/05/13 7pm

The next trades council meeting will start at 7pm on Tuesday 14/05/13 at Deptford Campus of Lewisham College.

As well as hearing reports from delegates, we will be discussing how we can help with the next steps for the FBU campaign against fire station closures and plan for our next public meeting on Welfare.

If you are in a trade union and live, work or meet in Lewisham borough please join us. The remaining meetings for the year are as follows:

Tuesday 02/07/13 (this may be the date of the public meeting)
Tuesday 10/09/13
Tuesday 12/11/13

Support the Equinox Workers

The following bulletin has been produced by UNITE about yet another attack on services and workers being fought by union members.

What does ‘Fair’ and ‘Open’ mean to you?         

Equinox is an organization which seeks to offer specialist care to vulnerable men and women with alcohol, drug and mental health problems in various residential and community based services.

Equinox staff are currently threatened with salary cuts of between 10 and 25% This affects 80% of the workforce..Of those staff facing reductions almost half are due to lose the higher percentage. In real terms this means many staff are being expected to accept cuts of £5,000 to £6,000 and in some cases even more.

For many this is an impossible ask. It risks throwing people into debt, if not poverty. Staff speak about their inability to pay mortgages, pay for school uniforms or school trips, afford transport to work, or access dental treatment or eye care for themselves and their families. Union reps are contacted on a daily basis by members who are shocked by these proposals and terrified of the future should they be introduced. Many people have said to us that they have been put into a situation where the only choice they have is to fight these unfair cuts. Many fear that they may be forced ultimately to resign rather than remain in a post which no longer pays the bills. This is obviously a terrifying prospect for all in these harsh times.
Equinox’s answer to this seems to be that they are prepared to lose many of their most experienced and competent staff.

In a recent communication with the union they asserted that they believed some staff to be over qualified for their roles with experience and skills which exceed Equinox requirements. They go on to say,  ‘ Consequently we have to accept that some of our more qualified staff may look elsewhere.’
It would be interesting to know which services they believe require less qualified, less experienced, less skilled staff.

Do the commissioners know that they have been receiving a quality of service over and above that for which they have contracted?
Have Equinox gone so far as to inform them of this and explain that in future they may only be able to offer reduced quality of care?

This justification for slashing salaries is obviously disingenuous. It is also insulting to staff and to a body of work carried out over the years by Equinox and would appear to put the reputation and future of Equinox in serious jeopardy.

An ugly consequence of the proposals as they currently stand is that a major gap in pay has been created between managers and frontline project workers. This did not exist in the past and for good reasons.
If these proposals go ahead Equinox will be creating a £7,500 pay differential between an Assistant Service Manager new in post and an experienced, highly functioning Project worker or Substance Misuse Worker. At present the salary difference is usually a fifth of that, reflecting the value placed on competent staff who spend the majority of their time working with the clients and helping them move on in their recovery.

Try collating outcome monitoring indicators or covering shifts , without competent, professional, innovative, valued, happy staff putting the work in with the people we have chosen to help.

It is significant that the word ‘hierarchy’ is used on at least two occasions in the formal consultation paper to justify these proposals. This strays from a recognizable Equinox ethos. As a business model it is short sighted, regressive and doomed to failure.

It has already had a catastrophic effect on current staff morale which management have acknowledged.

Senior management should as a priority seek to negotiate with the union. Management should work with the union to campaign for proper funding from commissioners
Resources need to be directed into increased training for frontline workers and management so service users and commissioners can be offered quality services.[ Indeed Equinox already offers some quality services at prices recognized by commissioners as reasonable.]

The attempt to compete with some of the more ruthless low cost service providers, however tempting in these difficult times, needs to be seen as a step which Equinox can not afford to take.


Monday, 15 April 2013

FBU take campaign to the streets

Trades Council union reps joined FBU colleagues on Saturday to help with their campaign to save Downham and New Cross Fire Stations. The FBU toured the local area in their customised Fire Engine to enlist support of residents, using a PA, which played every fire related song you can think of!

The next stage of the campaign is the public meeting at on Monday 22/04/13 at 6:30pm at Downham Leisure Centre, Moorside Road, Bromley BR1 5EP 

Please attend and help plan the next stage of the campaign. And don't forget to log on, complete the consultation and tell Boris Johnson what we want: no fire station closures, no fire engines withdrawn and no job losses.   

Thank you Millwall FC

Thank you Millwall FC

On Saturday at Wembley on national television, Millwall FC showed that they are fully behind the campaign to Save Lewisham Hospital.

Their players warmed up for the FA Semi Cup Final, wearing t shirts emblazoned with the message "Save Lewisham Hospital A&E".

They also acknowledged the campaign banner, held up whenever any cameras came near. Well done Millwall and congratulations on a great cup run.