Lambeth Council bans trade union from staff conference

Lambeth’s Labour-led Council has sunk to new depths by refusing the trade union UNISON, which represents more than 2,000 council staff, a stall at its conference for staff in the Regeneration and Housing Department on 6th and 8th May 2008.

The surprise decision was made by Chris Lee, the Executive Director of Regeneration and Housing, contrary to previous practice within the Council. The decision appears to contravene the Council’s own stated aim that “employees are advised that the Council recognises Trade Unions and encourages employees to join a Trade Union” (cited from Council’s “Industrial and Employee relations policy”) as well as the principles of the Labour Party, which was built from a base of trade union activists.

When asked to over-rule the Executive Director’s decision Steve Reed, the Leader of the Council, showing a poor grasp of local history and a clear disregard for the principles of the Labour Party, said:

“I would not wish to over-rule managers on something that is clearly a managerial and not a political decision. That kind of intervention is what brought the council to its knees in the 1980s.”

Even when asked about his decision, Chris Lee refused to give any reason for his refusal to allow UNISON a stall at the staff conference. Heenal Rajani, UNISON’s Convenor for Regeneration and Housing Department, stated:

“The Council are scared of UNISON members hearing the truth about their proposals to privatise council housing services in the borough. They plan to decimate public services in order to line the pockets of private contractors.

“But we will not be silenced – we will be demonstrating outside the staff conference on both days, handing out leaflets to UNISON members calling on them to demand an end to trade union repression and an end to privatisation.”

UNISON shop stewards in the Regeneration and Housing Department will be outside the staff conference at the Oval, wearing gags to symbolise how the council is attempting to silence trade unions.

Contact

Heenal Rajani

Lambeth UNISON

020 7926 2858

h.rajani@lambeth.gov.uk

Notes to Editors

Not content with going ahead with an ALMO despite massive opposition from tenants, Lambeth Council is pushing through plans to privatise the services provided to tenants dressed up in the harmless sounding name “Partnering”. Under Lambeth Council’s “Partnering” proposals, private companies will bid for ten-year contracts to carry out all manner of services, some which are already privatised under smaller contracts (such as repairs and maintenance, graffiti removal and garbage collection), and others which are currently carried out in-house (such as grounds maintenance, out-of-hours repairs and the council’s call centre). It is a licence for contractors to line their pockets and decimate the services tenants and leaseholders receive. Lambeth UNISON are organising a public meeting to expose the truth about privatisation. The meeting will take place from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on Thursday 8th May in Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton.

For further information please call Heenal Rajani on 07792 231761 or email hrajani@lambeth.gov.uk
Visit http://lambethunison.blogspot.com or http://www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk for background information.



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