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Unison job dispute is still rumbling on
5:00pm Monday 28th January 2013 in News
THE dispute over Swindon Council’s decision to remove taxpayer-funded salaries for Unison jobs at the authority is still rumbling on – nearly a year after the union staged its first protest at the Civic offices.
Branch secretary Bob Cretchley and assistant branch secretary Karla Bradford share a full-time post, which faces the axe after the council voted in February 2012 to withdraw £29,000 in Unison support as part of an efficiency drive.
The move sparked opposition from Unison and other trade unions, which held rallies outside of the Civic Offices, in Euclid Street, to keep the issue in the public mind eye during negotiations with the Conservative-run council.
In a bid to seal the issue, Swindon Council later offered to provide 18.5 hours a week in facilities time funding for union work – which equates roughly to one part-time post – although Unison could top this up with its own funds if required.
Unison tabled its own proposal which it says would eventually remove the need for a separate budgeted amount of money to be provided for unions, as the work would be funded from existing budgets. Both sides have rejected each others proposals.
Gavin Brooks, Unison’s regional organiser, said the two staff, who have remained in post during the negotiations, had been “in limbo” over their futures but expected the issue would come to a head when the 2013/14 budget was set next month.
He said: “We have continued to meet and discuss issues. We’re continuing to meet all the way through it because there’s all sorts of follow-on impacts.
“We’ve demonstrated that the value the council receives from having the dedicated representatives in place far outweights the costs of having that dedicated facilities time.
“We have given reasonable rational alternatives that would see the costs reduced to nil in effect, and we don’t see why it’s rejected if it’s not about money.”
Mr Brooks added: “If any of our representatives ends up being dismissed as a result of that, we will look to see what legal action we can take.”
Coun Fionuala Foley, cabinet member for streetsmart and corporate services, was unavailable for comment.
A Swindon Council spokesman said: “We are currently working with Unison to confirm which post will be allocated the new level of funding.
“It is our understanding that elections for the post will take place at the end of next month.”