Victory for Carmarthenshire UNISON in union secondments battle

Anti union Labour council backs down in attack on union rights

Carmarthenshire UNISON in action

Carmarthenshire Labour-led local authority this week backed off from ending the trade union secondments (TUS) it funds (which enables union representatives to be paid full time to represent their members).

A UNISON branch officer commented: "There is no doubt that this decision was the result of Carmarthenshire County Unison's robust campaign against this decision. We would like to thank the Socialist Party locally and nationally for its support as well as the trade union branches and individuals who signed our petition. The council was put under tremendous pressure and this was growing as the campaign went on. Council officers recently took action to prevent the Labour Leader receiving further petition signatures.

"The anti-union decision to remove TUS was a political one- made to try and stifle our branch opposing all cuts and from defending our members interests. But the decision was also misconceived and unworkable from the employer’s perspective and even senior managers were telling us this.

"This a victory and demonstrates that militancy works but it is a temporary victory as Council Leader Kevin Madge has stated that the decision will be reviewed within six months. The local authority wants information about what Seconded officers do. The reality is we have always been prepared to provide this information but senior HR officers were not prepared (we assume on the say so of those above) to provide a computer so we could keep a diary. The council wants information they themselves were not prepared to collect!"

Kevin Madge indicated that he had revoked the decision to remove TUS in a letter to Simon Dunn Regional Organiser Unison which he copied to the Branch Secretary Mark Evans. Many Carmarthenshire UNISON members are concerned that Margaret Thomas Regional Secretary and Simon Dunn Regional Organiser met with Kevin Madge and other executive board members without branch officers being present. There has always been a problem with meeting with the council leadership who most of the time seem to want to meet with the branch leadership when they are under pressure due to our campaigning work.

One of the branch officers said: "The meeting should not have happened without our branch officers being present and it flies in the face of the claim that we are a member's led union. We as a branch were not even consulted prior to Margaret Thomas meeting with Kevin Madge et al.

"The meeting gave Kevin Madge a get out of jail free card and yet Margaret Thomas would not have told him anything different to what we had already said (we provided the council with a written submission about how removing (TUS) would not work). While we are pleased the intervention of the Regional Secretary sends a message that Unison Cymru/Wales is unhappy – this intervention should have been agreed with our branch and on our terms with our involvement otherwise it gives the wrong message that the employer can circumvent our branch something we will not tolerate.

"Our campaign got us this temporary victory we will now continue our campaign until this decision is made permanent and we will continue our campaign to improve the TUS agreement".

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