Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dear Fremantle & CATALYST Housing .....................

Dear Carole


Thank you for your recent email. I am responding to that and to your letter to UNISON members who will be intending to strike on the 5th July. I will be making this email available to them and on the Barnet BLOG site.

Your email to Carmel and me states that the environments are the homes of service users- and must be respected as such. We take the gravest exception to that and consider it offensive as it infers that neither Carmel nor I intend showing respect to your residents and their homes. Similarly you intimate that by talking to our members there will be a break in service to residents. I am not certain what evidence you are basing this assumption on but it appears to me to be an attempt to impugn your staff and UNISON when you have no right to. You then tell us to meet your staff at alternate venues and outside of working hours. I propose meeting your staff outside of your buildings and in their own time! You have asked Carmel to ensure that there is no disruption to service users and that she should convey that to you in writing. Again I consider this offensive as it implies that that would be our intention but for your timely email. Nothing could be further from the truth and you will not be given the courtesy of such a written response beyond this.

To add a degree of insult you ask that we put in writing to you full details of consultation with managers and locations of meetings to ensure residents’ homes are not impacted in any way. Since you do not expect to agree such requests do not expect to receive such requests until your attitude has changed. You ask that we remove any details until alternative venues have been established. I’m afraid the answer to that is no.

Turning to the letter to staff you state that UNISON called off the strike and advised our members to accept the changes to terms and conditions under protest. That is simply not true. You also state that most members of staff were relieved to hear this. That is simply not true. You state that most people understood that making jobs and care services viable meant accepting changes. That is simply not true. You were delighted that staff did accept the changes. Alright, that is true. However you are deluding your self if you think it was for the reason stated. I can advise that it was to maintain employment albeit on reduced terms that staff accepted. Remember, you threatened to sack staff who didn’t accept? Again, I fear, you are deluding yourself if you think that members who voted to strike did so solely to express anger and disgruntlement or that such a vote is not really a vote for strike or that this is just an impulse. Your biggest delusion is that this is somehow a reminder to Fremantle that the cuts to terms and conditions were something of a bitter pill to swallow.

There remains a dispute and virtually all staff accept that. I have made two overtures to try and resolve the dispute. In both cases I have been advised that there is nothing further that either Catalyst, as the architects of the dispute or Fremantle, as the executors of the cuts are prepared to do to improve the terms and conditions of staff to anywhere near that which they once were.

You have told staff who are contemplating going on strike that they will not be paid for the time they are on strike; the unions will make up the wages lost rather than see staff forfeit any more money. You have told staff they will lose a proportion of their accrued holiday pay. I calculate this to be a potential loss of 3 minutes as compared to the 11days you took from staff. You have said that staff who report sick just before or on a day of strike will only be paid and authorized where it is supported by a doctor’s certificate. My understanding of the cut terms and conditions is such that you have already taken the sick pay from them they won’t get anything anyway. Are you now suggesting an improvement? I don’t think staff should be required to produce a certificate unless you will pay for it. Can you confirm that you will?

I trust that by advising staff that it’s okay if they don’t want to strike they can tell their manager will be the extent to which you will try and convince members of both unions not to strike. I hope that there will not be repeat of the type of aggression used in the past to staff regarding this dispute. Perhaps you would care to confirm that in writing to me.
Yours sincerely Eddy Coulson UNISON REGIONAL ORGANISER

No comments: