Councils’ termination threats cause alienation, union warns

GMB has warned Wandsworth and Richmond councils that its move to issue statutory notices threatening to make 3,578 council staff redundant will only alienate workers.

The councils sent letters to staff which threatened to make then unemployed unless they agreed to sign new changed contracts of employment by the end of October 2016.

GMB said the move was an ‘unnecessarily aggressive approach’.

The new contract was designed to harmonise terms and conditions of employment for the councils’ non-school based employees, as part of a drive to create a single staffing structure and were first published in 2015.

In a letter sent to GMB, Richmond Council explained: “The councils have been trying to effect those changes by way of collective agreement with recognised trade unions, but the council has now reached the stage where it appears unlikely that this will be achievable.

“The council will therefore need to look at seeking individual agreement with the employees affected to change their terms and conditions in order to achieve harmonisation through that route.”

However, if individual employees refuse to accept the new contracts, the councils will have grounds to terminate their contracts and reengage them with the new terms and conditions under section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992.

Paul Grafton, GMB regional organiser, said: “GMB will be undertaking a consultative ballot of our members in due course to ascertain what action they may wish to take as a result of the threat.

“GMB is committed to negotiate a better deal for staff than one that is currently on the table but see the issuing of these statutory notices as nothing short of an unnecessarily aggressive approach that does no more but alienate its staff.”

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