Sunday, 7 August 2011

Trade unionists alert Green councillors to prevent cuts to union facilities time

A recent news story regarding threatened changes to trade union facilities time negotiated with Brighton and Hove City Council got plenty of coverage in The Argus, The Leader and on various online bulletins, as the right wing attempt to impose vicious cuts and ideological attacks upon the organised working class. However, the defeat of this threat was not adequately covered in the local press with trade unionists and labour movement groups still concerned that such cuts were still to be carried out.

The initial story reported that: "Opposition councillors have welcomed a commitment from council chiefs to review spending on union officials. After the issue was raised by Conservative councillors, finance cabinet member Jason Kitcat confirmed the issue would be reviewed in the coming months."

This update from our president and GMB delegate Holly Smith should clarify the situation.

Please be assured that the Local Government trade unions, UNISON and GMB, have already raised this with the new Green administration.

I am a GMB rep for Brighton and Hove City Council, and I sit on the 'Staff Consultation Forum', which is a meeting that is held with Councillors, Directors, and the trade unions, which is the forum where we bring up any concerns we have about the Council as a whole, and they are discussed.

At the last forum, obviously we bought up this issue, and we had assurances from the Greens that they are definitely NOT going to change our facilities time. We got that commitment in writing, and also, a UNISON rep who was present informed the Council Leader, Bill Randall (Green) that he had received a letter from HR removing his facility time. The Head of HR was present, and Bill was quite angry this had been going on, and instructed her to inform all HR staff that no such letters are to go out, and an immediate retraction of all those that already had.

I am confident that we have a firm agreement and commitment from the Greens regarding our facility time, and we have a written contract saying that this will not be changed.

All Kitcat pledged to do was to answer the question about how we compared to other authorities with regards to our facility time. This article is misleading in that it sounds like the Greens were going to conduct some massive review of it, with the aim of lessening facility time. That was never the case. All elected members are entitled to enquire about spending levels, he simply said he would find out. Even with the extra facility time granted to the unions for the single status issue, we still came out with less time than some other authorities, which shut the Tories up. And we have an agreement from the Greens that they will certainly not be looking to attack our facility time.

Please contact us at if there are any further concerns or questions, thank you.