Employee rights 'ripped up and thrown in bin', union claims

First published in News Salisbury Journal: Photograph of the Author by

THE firm in charge of fixing potholes in Wiltshire has “ripped up employees’ rights and thrown them in the bin,” it is claimed.

Balfour Beatty Living Places won a £25m a year contract last June to maintain the county’s roads. It also looks after street cleaning and lighting and grass cutting.

It has 300 staff countywide, with local bases at Churchfields Industrial Estate in Salisbury and in Wilton. Most were transferred from Wiltshire Council and previous contractor English Landscapes.

They used to be represented by Unite, Unison and the GMB, who worked closely together. The unions say that in pre-contract talks they were assured that their collective bargaining rights would be recognised.

But now the firm has told them it will be negotiating with staff internally and does not recognise the agreement they had with the council.

Carole Vallelly, Unite’s organiser for Wiltshire, said: “This is absolutely appalling. I explicitly asked for the right to collective bargaining to continue, and was assured that it would.

“Now they’ve said they are going to have an employee forum instead, with no teeth to challenge anything, and no access to independent legal advice. We are not taking this lying down.”

A motion will be put to the GMB’s congress in June calling for a national campaign against the firm getting any future council contracts.

Ms Vallelly added: “I think Wiltshire Council has a moral responsibility in this.”

Liberal Democrats on the council are furious. Their leader, Cllr Jon Hubbard, said: “The Conservative administration’s policy of privatising council services has meant that the rights of council staff are being stripped away and it does not care.”

Balfour Beatty Living Places said its staff association and employee forums allow workers to have their views taken into account.

“We already work informally and closely with a number of unions in a number of our other contracts,” said a spokesman. “We are very happy to continue to do so in Wiltshire but we do not propose to enter into any formal recognition agreement.”

Wiltshire’s portfolio holder for the highways contract, Cllr Phillip Whitehead, said there was no requirement for the company to work with unions, adding: “Appropriate alternative staff consultation mechanisms are in place.”

Comments (7)

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12:52pm Mon 14 Apr 14

karlmarx says...

So the re-introduction of slavery continues to gather momentum under this 'coalition'. How do we know this is taking place? Let's take a look at the real facts and figures since this 'coalition" came to power in 2010.

Drop in real wages longest for 50 years, says ONS

Real wages have been dropping consistently since 2010 - the longest period of falls since at least 1964, official figures show.

Real wages calculate earnings when the rising cost of living, or inflation, is taken into account.

The Office for National Statistics said real wages had fallen by 2.2% annually since the first three months of 2010.

Shorter working hours and reduced output were factors behind falling wages, it added.

"Real wages have been dropping consistently since 2010 - the longest period of falls since at least 1964, official figures show."

There's no denying the evidence.
So the re-introduction of slavery continues to gather momentum under this 'coalition'. How do we know this is taking place? Let's take a look at the real facts and figures since this 'coalition" came to power in 2010. Drop in real wages longest for 50 years, says ONS Real wages have been dropping consistently since 2010 - the longest period of falls since at least 1964, official figures show. Real wages calculate earnings when the rising cost of living, or inflation, is taken into account. The Office for National Statistics said real wages had fallen by 2.2% annually since the first three months of 2010. Shorter working hours and reduced output were factors behind falling wages, it added. "Real wages have been dropping consistently since 2010 - the longest period of falls since at least 1964, official figures show." There's no denying the evidence. karlmarx
  • Score: -7

5:12pm Mon 14 Apr 14

Grampie says...

Why is Balfour Beatty so scared of recognising a trades union.

I always think that if a company does not recognise a union for collective bargaining rights, then they probably have something to hide or their management structure is poor.

Typical Conservatives not wanting people to represent working people's rights of employment.

When have Conservatives ever done anything to improve the rights of working people?

They are happy enough to form their own closed shop areas, such as private schools, jobs for the posh boys, none for the girls, though.
Why is Balfour Beatty so scared of recognising a trades union. I always think that if a company does not recognise a union for collective bargaining rights, then they probably have something to hide or their management structure is poor. Typical Conservatives not wanting people to represent working people's rights of employment. When have Conservatives ever done anything to improve the rights of working people? They are happy enough to form their own closed shop areas, such as private schools, jobs for the posh boys, none for the girls, though. Grampie
  • Score: -2

5:45pm Mon 14 Apr 14

karlmarx says...

In 1834 , farm workers in West Dorset formed a trade union. Unions were lawful and growing fast but six leaders of the union were arrested and sentenced to seven years transportation for taking an oath of secrecy. A massive protest swept across the country. Thousands of people marched through London and many more organised petitions and protest meetings to demand their freedom. The protest campaign proved successful and the Tollpuddle Martys returned home in triumph.
The Tollpuddle story is about how ordinary working people combined together to defend their families. The idea of solidarity as a basic human right is now an international demand.

Here in Britain in the 21st century there are people, organisations and a government that are taking us back to the dark ages. This refusal to recognise a legitimate trade union is an example of the gradual erosion of basic human rights under this government. We have recently had our freedom of speech curbed by another law passed by the Tories and their cronies and laws passed that allow them to spy on us.

'In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act'
'Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear'
George Orwell
In 1834 , farm workers in West Dorset formed a trade union. Unions were lawful and growing fast but six leaders of the union were arrested and sentenced to seven years transportation for taking an oath of secrecy. A massive protest swept across the country. Thousands of people marched through London and many more organised petitions and protest meetings to demand their freedom. The protest campaign proved successful and the Tollpuddle Martys returned home in triumph. The Tollpuddle story is about how ordinary working people combined together to defend their families. The idea of solidarity as a basic human right is now an international demand. Here in Britain in the 21st century there are people, organisations and a government that are taking us back to the dark ages. This refusal to recognise a legitimate trade union is an example of the gradual erosion of basic human rights under this government. We have recently had our freedom of speech curbed by another law passed by the Tories and their cronies and laws passed that allow them to spy on us. 'In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act' 'Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear' George Orwell karlmarx
  • Score: -3

6:43pm Mon 14 Apr 14

IanMcL says...

Absolute disgrace. Cllrs recently voted to ensure that we eliminated deals with companies offering zero hours contracts. I would hope that cllrs will unite again to defeat this shameful way of treating former council wprkers., although the portfolio holders comment shows clear disinterest.

Probably Labour, Independent s and Libs taking on a united Tory, anti worker front.
Absolute disgrace. Cllrs recently voted to ensure that we eliminated deals with companies offering zero hours contracts. I would hope that cllrs will unite again to defeat this shameful way of treating former council wprkers., although the portfolio holders comment shows clear disinterest. Probably Labour, Independent s and Libs taking on a united Tory, anti worker front. IanMcL
  • Score: -3

10:24pm Mon 14 Apr 14

karlmarx says...

A gentle reminder of how civilisation has developed, up until the last four years...

The United Nations Universal declaration of human rights, article 23

Article 23.

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Anyone else who has lost relatives/friends who gave their lives in the defence of these principles will also feel a bit put out to find profiteers and racketeers ignoring that which they gave their lives for. Shame on you all who ignore the lessons learned from the past.
Apologies for repeating an observation I have noticed under this 'coalition' but, it really is history repeating itself in the way this country is copying the 1930's pre-war Germany. This thread highlighting the treatment of trade unions in the UK in the 21st century is yet another of the many examples of this worrying trend....

Evidence:

"Trade Unions and Nazi Germany
When Hitler came to power in January 1933, he saw trade unions as exercising more power over the workers than he could. Therefore, trade unions were seen as a challenge to be dispensed with. Hitler knew that he needed the workers to be on his side but he could not allow trade unions to exert the potential power they had. Therefore, trade unions were banned in Nazi Germany"

How uncanny the resemblance is isn't it?




 
A gentle reminder of how civilisation has developed, up until the last four years... The United Nations Universal declaration of human rights, article 23 Article 23. (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests. Anyone else who has lost relatives/friends who gave their lives in the defence of these principles will also feel a bit put out to find profiteers and racketeers ignoring that which they gave their lives for. Shame on you all who ignore the lessons learned from the past. Apologies for repeating an observation I have noticed under this 'coalition' but, it really is history repeating itself in the way this country is copying the 1930's pre-war Germany. This thread highlighting the treatment of trade unions in the UK in the 21st century is yet another of the many examples of this worrying trend.... Evidence: "Trade Unions and Nazi Germany When Hitler came to power in January 1933, he saw trade unions as exercising more power over the workers than he could. Therefore, trade unions were seen as a challenge to be dispensed with. Hitler knew that he needed the workers to be on his side but he could not allow trade unions to exert the potential power they had. Therefore, trade unions were banned in Nazi Germany" How uncanny the resemblance is isn't it?   karlmarx
  • Score: -6

11:32pm Mon 14 Apr 14

Petera says...

The real problem is that Balfour Beatty are just not repairing the roads.With the previous arrangement if you reported a pothole within a couple of weeks it was repaired. it seems that now it is just a waste of time reporting anything as the report is filed away and the roads are left in a dangerous state.
The real problem is that Balfour Beatty are just not repairing the roads.With the previous arrangement if you reported a pothole within a couple of weeks it was repaired. it seems that now it is just a waste of time reporting anything as the report is filed away and the roads are left in a dangerous state. Petera
  • Score: 5

12:01am Tue 15 Apr 14

karlmarx says...

No doubt Balfour Beattys workers will be putting their hearts and souls into doing as good a job as they can under the circumstances. If they put out a collection box while they are filling in the thousands of pot holes in Salisbury I would be happy to chip in. Of course that will not not compensate for the years of budget cuts and under funding by Wiltshire council but, it might help the contractors workforce feed and clothe their families.
No doubt Balfour Beattys workers will be putting their hearts and souls into doing as good a job as they can under the circumstances. If they put out a collection box while they are filling in the thousands of pot holes in Salisbury I would be happy to chip in. Of course that will not not compensate for the years of budget cuts and under funding by Wiltshire council but, it might help the contractors workforce feed and clothe their families. karlmarx
  • Score: -6

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