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Hull council in aggressive attack on trade unions
Mike Whale, Chair, Hull City Council trade unions
An example of some of the difficulties that Jeremy Corbyn faces in dealing with the right-wing in the Labour Party emerged last week at the East Hull Constituency members meeting.
Trade unionists representing the Hull City Council workforce tried to move a resolution condemning the decision by Labour councillors to halve the facility time available for trade unions in the council.
The officers of the CLP ruled the resolution out of order, despite the fact that North Hull CLP had discussed and passed the same resolution a week earlier!
The majority of Labour Party members will be horrified that Hull Labour Council is attacking the trade unions while the Parliamentary Labour Party is trying to stop the Tory trade union bill and also the attempt to interfere in the internal workings of the trade unions.
When a council makes redundancies it issues a '188' notice. In the case of the Hull council convenors, it recognises that the union convenors are elected democratically and suggests ways the unions themselves could manage the redundancy process!
The 188 notice states that: "The process to be followed, milestones and timelines will form part of the consultation with you and the staff involved.
"The trade unions are invited to propose the method for this and it is anticipated that this may include the need for an election, the mechanism of which would be subject to consultation upholding the principles contained within the council's Ring Fencing and Selection Guidance and associated policies and practices."
"There will be a requirement for one of the holders of the two remaining convenor posts to be elected as the staff side secretary in accordance with the IR framework."
Thinking they have the right to tie an internal trade union election to council policy flies in the face of independent trade unionism. If this goes through, it sets a precedent and gives a green light to employers everywhere to interfere in how local trade unions operate.
The 188 notice also calls for voluntary redundancy. This too is an attack on the trade unions as a whole. A trade union convenor uses the time on behalf of his or her members. It is not an individual convenor's right to give up facility time owned by the trade union.
It is vital that trade unionists discuss this and pressure their leaders to intervene. Jeremy Corbyn should use his position to pressure the Labour leaders in Hull to reverse this position. With growing opposition from the workforce, we can stop these plans.