Council Workers Face Lock Out

Wednesday 27th October 2010

10,000 workers in Rhondda Cynon Taff Council face a “lock out” if they refuse to accept lower terms and conditions of employment

GMB is advising members not to sign anything and to stand firm

GMB members employed by Rhondda Cynon Taff council in South Wales have been threatened with a lock out by the council if they refuse to accept new lower terms and conditions of employment.

GMB officers were summoned to a meeting today and told by Tony Wilkins HR director that the council has issued a section 188 notice for all 10,000 staff employed by the council giving notice of their dismissal and an offer of re-engagement on lower terms and conditions of employment. GMB officers walked out of the talks and are insisting that the threat of lock out be lifted before the talks continue. GMB are advising all members to sign nothing and to stand firm in the face of this threat.

The borough of Rhondda Cynon Taff is the second most populous local authority area in Wales with an estimated population of 233,700. It was formed on 1 April 1996, by the merger of the former Mid Glamorgan districts of Rhondda Cynon Valley and most of Taff-Ely and its name reflects all these called after the rivers, Rhonda Cynon Taff.

The council is Labour controlled. The area has 3 labour MPs as follows; Chris Bryant (Rhondda), Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley), Owen Smith Pontypridd) and Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore). The biggest town are Aberdare, Pontypridd, Mountain Ash and Porth and the town hall is based in Clydach Vale.

GMB members elsewhere have also been threatened with lock outs by their employers at Birmingham City Council, Walsall Borough Council, the London Fire Authority and Sheffield City Council. This is the first Labour controlled council to issue this lock out threat.

Gareth Morgan GMB officer said “GMB is aware that some Tory and Lib Dem councils are treating their staff like dirt. Councils like Walsall, Birmingham and Sheffield are using a legal device of pretending to make all their workforce redundant and offering some of them re-employment on worse pay and conditions. Now Rhondda Cynon Taff in the Labour heartlands are resorting to this lock out tactic. It is totally unacceptable.

It’s like holding a loaded pistol to people’s heads to force them to accept detrimental change or be out of a job with no compensation. We have scarcely begun discussions and we face this lockout threat.

GMB is well aware of the financial deficit facing the authority and are willing to consult meaningfully on ways of reducing the budgetary deficit of £20,000,000 each year for the next 3 years. However this sort of gunboat diplomacy has no place in industrial relations particularly when dealing with a Labour controlled authority which is extremely disappointing to say the least.

GMB has been made aware of some of the areas where cut backs are expected to be made which include weekend enhancements, shift pay, unsociable hours payment, salary supplements, contractual overtime, retainer payments, bonuses and qualification allowances all areas covered in part 3 of the Green Book NJC agreement which are all up for discussion as part of Job Evaluation Single status discussions. We are concerned that the authority wants to go beyond these and attack the sickness scheme and car allowances which form part of the National Agreement and should not be affected by single status implementation.

GMB will campaign to get this lock out threat lifted before we go back to talks. In the meantime we are advising GMB members not to sign anything and to stand firm”.



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