9th December 2016
UNIONS SUSPEND INVOLVEMENT IN ACAS AND DEMAND ACTION ON HEALTH AND SAFETY
In our last members update we advised that we were awaiting a substantive response from Aurelius/Working Links in order to determine whether we were prepared to continue with the talks being brokered by ACAS.
Given that the company has still to respond to our requests we have now taken the decision that we will not be returning to ACAS until we see a constructive response to our letters of 13th and 25th November to Aurelius/Working Links.
We are grateful for the considerable efforts that ACAS officials have made so far to try and find a way forward but we do not see the point in wasting time and valuable public resources while the employers side are not demonstrating sufficient commitment to the process.
Members express anger at developments
At an extremely well attended meeting this week in Devon, members of all unions (and a number of prospective members) gathered to receive news of the difficulties that the unions have encountered in trying to find a resolution of this dispute. This centres on the plans by Aurelius/Working Links to reduce the workforce to unacceptable levels and implement an Operational Model which we maintain fails to provide the levels of safety to the public and staff.
The meeting revealed just how disillusioned staff are about the way in which the workforce has been treated and the double standards over Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy payments and the shabbily presented and inferior Voluntary Severance scheme that many people have reported they felt tricked into accepting.
The meeting also heard from a number of members based in Unpaid Work who expressed their disgust at the intended restructuring and expectation that they will be expected to deliver services for more clients with even less resources than are available now.
The unions will be organising a series of consultative meetings early in the new year to report back on a number of issues and to test the mood of members to consider all the legal options as well as the possibility of further action in defence of jobs and services.
Unions await legal advice
Meanwhile the unions are awaiting written advice on our legal options following a constructive meeting with lawyers earlier this week which considered the situation in terms of the legal requirements to consult prior to variation of individual contracts and in respect of the health and safety aspects that featured heavily at the last joint session with the employers side under the auspices of ACAS.
We are also pressing the NNC Joint Secretaries to convene a meeting in order that the parties report back to them as requested in their initial determination.
Local Health and Safety
Given the importance that we are attaching to the wellbeing of our members it has been agreed that local union reps will engage in Health and Safety activities relating specifically to joint meetings with management and the inspection of workplaces.
Members are urged to advise their local reps of any issues where they consider that their health and wellbeing and that of the public and clients is being put at risk.
The unions will be issuing further advice to members about action that you can take to ensure that your employer is made aware if you feel that you, or others, are being placed at risk.
Among the demands we have made through ACAS is that the employers side must provide guarantees that they are able to provide a safe working environment, an agreed upper caseload figure and provide us with material on aspects of the Operational Model that were promised to the unions at our last joint meeting.
Meanwhile, we express our appreciation to all union members and those who have recently decided to join a trade union, for your support during this dispute.
IAN LAWRENCE GLYN JONES DAVID WALTON
General Secretary Regional Organiser National Secretary
Napo UNISON GMB/SCOOP