Carmarthenshire UNISON AGM prepares for action
Anger at Labour council's double standards
Carmarthenshire County Unison branch had a well attended Annual General Meeting on Thursday 13th March held in Llanelli. The meeting was addressed by two speakers Mark Evans Branch Secretary and Socialist party member who talked about the devastating local impact of the Con-Dems austerity programme and the consequences of Carmarthenshire labour led council meekly implementing £30million of cuts over the next three years.
The second speaker was Jean Thorpe a member of Nottingham City local Government Unison branch and socialist party member. Jean spoke about what was happening nationally and gave us a taste of what we could expect in Wales when cuts bite as they have in England already.
Given the attacks on our branch (removal of the trade union secondment) and the cuts and threats to jobs that our members are facing there was an angry mood amongst members whose anger has been further fuelled by the double standards applied by the Labour led council. The Chief Executive (CEO) is on very expensive gardening leave due to receiving nearly thirty thousand pounds agreed by the Executive Board because his Local Government pension pot was full. He was given this money in the view of the branch as a tax scam. The CEO was also indemnified quite recently to take out a libel case against a local blogger and thorn in the side of the Local authority Jacqueline Thompson. Both decisions were according to the Welsh audit office unlawful.
Our branch for a number of years has warned that the cabinet system lacked transparency and accountability and these payments and the behaviour of the CEO are in part we think a consequence of this. Decisions are made behind closed doors and not in the public arena of a full council meeting. What angers our members is that the present and previous council leader sing the praises of the CEO. The previous Independent (Tory) leader apparently said the CEO was the best in Wales! And this justified paying him nearly £190,000 a year. Well if he is the best I would hate to see the worst! After much hand wringing and trying to front out the criticisms of the above payments it was agreed that the CEO could have a break while Gloucester police investigate the matter. One of the motions passed at our AGM stated that there appeared to be one rule for the CEO and cabinet members and another rule for the hard working people working for the Local Authority. The view was expressed that if one of our members was accused of unlawful activity in work they would not have the option of going on gardening leave but would be frogmarched out and suspended.
Another motion that was also passed unanimously called for all unlawful payments as deemed by the Welsh Audit Office to be repaid and that all council officers to be judged on the balance of probabilities as other employees would be. The meeting voted again unanimously a vote of no confidence in the current CEO; the leader of the council and the Executive board who voted for and sanctioned these unlawful payments.
In regard to the removal of trade union secondments (that is where the council pays for a trade union officer to carry out their trade union duties) the AGM was told of the on-going campaign for the reinstatement of the above the AGM voted unanimously to call on Unison in Wales including the Labour link to withdraw support and assistance from Labour Party activity within Carmarthenshire until the Labour Led Carmarthenshire County Council reinstates the corporately funded Trade Union Facility Time for its branch officers and Shop Stewards or agrees a way forward with our Unison branch.
Finally but most importantly the branch voted unanimously to mobilise the full strength of the branch and members to defend our jobs when compulsory redundancies are threatened. The motion also called on all Local Government branches in Wales to take action on the same day against compulsory redundancies. The motion reaffirmed opposition to all cuts and that an indicative ballot would be undertaken to prepare for industrial action when inevitably it became necessary to take this action to defend jobs.
Carmarthenshire County Unison member
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