GMB Call Off Dispute With Brighton And Hove Contractor Mears After Company Removes Threat To Union Rights
We will now sit down with Mears and ACAS on 12th September to settle our differences and move forward within the spirit of an approved agreement says GMB.
GMB today issued a statement on behalf of trade unions recognised within Mears Ltd the Brighton and Hove City Council housing contractor.
Mears has now withdrawn their notice to de-recognise the joint unions GMB, Unite, Ucatt and Unison over proposed changes to the recognition agreement.
As the unions were requesting GMB and other unions received confirmation on 14th August that Mears Ltd have rescinded their formal de-recognition notification of the 28th July. This had given rise to the prospect of a dispute between the company and the unions. See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release of 4th August on the matter.
With this issue being removed all parties have been able to agree to meet on September 12th together with and facilitated by ACAS in order to explore possible solutions in regard to the recent dispute around the current recognition agreement.
The protest demonstration outside Brighton Racecourse on the 19th August has been called off.
Mark Turner, GMB Branch Secretary, said “Although we are very pleased to see Mears reverse their decision on de-recognition, the joint trade unions are fully aware that there is still a lot of work to be done on both sides at the meeting planned for September.
Having ACAS involved to both facilitate and lead those discussions is a further positive step. It should do much to ensure that all sides are happy with any end agreement and that going forward all parties then work within the spirit of that agreement.”
Gary Palmer, GMB Organiser, said “Mears conciliation in removing the threat of de-recognition means the joint unions will immediately reciprocate and therefore we have agreed to halt all planned actions against them, including in the first instance the August 19th Brighton race day demonstration.
I look forward to now sitting down with Mears and ACAS to settle our differences and move forward within the spirit of an approved agreement.”
Contact: Mark Turner GMB Branch Secretary 07860787973 or Gary Palmer GMB Organiser 07552 165950 or GMB press office 07921 289880
Notes to editors
GMB press release on the dispute dated 4th August 2014
DISPUTE LOOMS WITH MEARS ON CONTRACT TO MAINTAIN 12,500 HOMES IN BRIGHTON OVER THREATS TO TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND UNION RIGHTS
Mears bullying their way to changes is not only unacceptable and has left us potentially with one choice in reacting strongly if they don't remove the threats says GMB
GMB members employed by Mears, the housing contractor for Brighton and Hove City Council, are moving closer to a dispute with the company over threats to impose unilateral changes to terms and conditions of employment and to withdraw from agreement for the union to represent members.
These workers were transferred under TUPE legislation, from the City Council to Mears on the outsourced contact for home improvements and maintenance for 12,500 homes. The TUPE legislation protects their terms and conditions of employment and the agreement for the union to represent members.
Members have refused to accept a new detrimental version of an agreement. Instead they pledged to resist proposed changes. GMB has been critical of management's continuing failure to adhere to the terms and spirit of the current agreement during recent pay negotiations and redundancy program.
Mark Turner, GMB Branch Secretary, said “GMB members didn't ask for or want this potential dispute but neither will we shy from doing what's right to protect the terms and conditions of our members.
The current agreement was put in place when staff TUPE’d to Mears from the council. This was done to ensure that all transferring employees didn't find themselves disadvantaged moving to a profit driven organisation.
Mears have consistently failed to abide both by the content and spirit of the agreement from the start and have through this and other actions clearly indicated that they don't have the inclination or will to work with unions on any occasion.
I shall be calling for an immediate meeting with the Chief Executive and leader of the council Jason Kitcat to discuss the serious ramifications of Mears action and the possible impact upon the services they deliver on behalf of the council.
I would also look to see all local sitting and prospective parliamentary and council candidates and their respective parties to show support and solidarity for all the unions, including the GMB, exercising their right to protect staff from inferior changes. We would like them to contact Mears to not only publically condemn their action but to insist that they immediately rescind the threats to refuse to negotiate with the union.”
Gary Palmer, GMB Organiser, said “Local managers failure to not only comply with the current agreement, but to instead look to bully their way to changes as an alternative to working with us instead, is not only unacceptable but has, as joint unions, left us potentially with one choice in reacting strongly if they don't remove the threats.
We will of course sit and discuss the matter with Mears. However unfortunately because we no longer trust local management we would expect commitment in writing from them that they will adhere to existing agreements before we do so.
Going forward I feel it really is time that the council look to not only cancel the housing repair contract with Mears but to look to take the provision back in house, only then perhaps staff would be respected and treated fairly with their terms and conditions protected.”