On Tuesday 10 January, the head of HR confirmed to the unions that Clarion and Latimer staff would all receive a survey, via email, on the subject of trade union recognition.
All staff were sent a link to the survey today (11.01.17) via email. It allows staff to express a preference for a Staff Forum or a recognised trade union. If you opt for a union, a further selection opens up inviting preferences for Unison, Unite or another union.
The three unions (GMB, UNISON and UNITE) have developed a positive working relationship within Clarion and Latimer. We are disappointed that your employer has chosen to try to divide us, by asking you to specify which union you would want recognised. We also feel that asking this question will put off people with limited knowledge of trade unions, as they will not know which union to pick and will not respond to the survey or select Staff Forum.
The employer refused to allow us to put a statement out to all staff to accompany the survey. We had no input into the question being asked. They did not give unions access to former Affinity Sutton staff. They also turned down our offer of talks at ACAS, a neutral and independent mediation body.
Please vote in support of union recognition
We do not accept the validity of this survey and have real concerns about the way results will be reported. However we have decided that staff should still vote in the survey and demonstrate their support for trade union recognition.
We are interested to see the results. We are drawing up plans for a submission to ACAS, requesting a fair and transparent survey, with the support of both the unions and the employer. We would ask ACAS to help facilitate this.
We will continue to campaign for joint recognition of Trade Unions. We will be approaching all stakeholders, including 176 local authorities and over 400 MPs and Assembley Members, to ask them to encourage Clarion to take a reasonable approach to the issue of trade union recognition.
All Staff Benefit from Trade Union Recognition
Whether you are a member of a union or not, you will benefit from trade union recognition. During the recent reorganization “Fast Forward Circle”, the unions entered into dispute with the employer over the proposed changes to terms and conditions as part of the reorganisation.
- Circle originally proposed to set salaries through a market review every two years. However, after negotiating with the unions, Circle revised this to allow collective bargaining every year.
- Pension-matched employer contributions were also increased from 8%, as originally proposed, to 12% for those who have served for five years or more.
- Circle also abandoned plans to abolish ‘income protection’ – a benefit for those who are sick for more than six months, as a result of talks with the unions.
Mark Rogers, chief executive of Circle Housing, said at the time “We are pleased to have come to an agreement with our recognised trade unions on a new set of terms and conditions… as a responsible employer we changed some of the areas that mattered most to our staff having listened to their feedback.”
Affinity Sutton and Trade Union Recognition
Broomleigh was a housing association that became part of Affinity Sutton and now Clarion. Some former Broomleigh staff will remember having trade union recognition for some years, until Affinity Sutton moved to derecognise the unions. During the period of trade union recognition, staff received far better pay increases than they have since union recognition was removed by Affinity Sutton.
Ridgehill and Downlands also merged into Affinity Sutton and staff tell us they enjoyed much improved pay offers and terms and conditions, prior to losing trade union recognition.
Trade Union Recognition in other HAs
It is normal for Housing Associations, with their ethos of cooperation, partnership and social value to work closely with Trade Unions. Clarion will be unusual if it breaks that link.
Here for example are just some of the Housing Associations who have Trade Union Recognition Agreements with UNISON:
L&Q, Hyde, Metropolitan, Amicus Horizon, Nong Hill Housing Trust, Family Mosaic, East Thames Housing Group, One Housing, Cross Keys
Don’t be at a disadvantage, support trade union recognition for the joint unions.
Upcoming Workplace Meetings
Here are dates and times of upcoming joint union meetings:
- 13.01.17 – Tower View, Kings Hill, Firefly meeting Room – 12.00 – 14.00
- 17.01.17 – Gee Business Centre – 12.00 – 14.00 – Cheshire Room
- 18.01.17 – Bishops Stortford – Innovation House 12.00 – 14.00
- 20.01.17 – Haywards Heath – Venue TBC – 12.00 – 14.00
We will be adding other dates and doing targetted emails to relevant members with updates. Please keep looking out for these.
Your rights to advice and representation
UNISON wants to make clear to all its members that if there is a period of time where we do not have recognition with Clarion Housing Group, or Latimer, your individual rights to advice and representation are not affected. You will still be able to receive advice and representation from UNISON Stewards and staff as before.
Recognition relates to collective bargaining and some other issues, but we thought it was important to make this clear at this stage. If you have any questions, please get in touch:
Email: email@example.com Phone: 07432 735 157
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 0781 712 0556
If you have questions about the proposed merger, or the current Circle reorganisation, please contact John Gray on John.Gray@circle.org.uk
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Please encourage colleagues to do the same