Branch Secretary : suz.muna.unite@gmail.com
  

£1 million cuts plan: Peabody workers announce strike ballot

Devastating consequences

 

Peabody housing plan £1 million cuts to housing management budgets by March 2020 with potentially devastating consequences to residents and workers. Unite members have voted overwhelmingly to start a formal strike ballot.

 

Community Safety Team

 

In the spring management launched a brutal restructure and have already “deleted” the entire Community Safety Team.  This important team dealt with high level anti-social behaviour including drug crime. 

 

The loss of this widely respected team threatens to endanger communities and will have a knock-on effect on the work of the already overloaded Neighbourhood Managers who are expected to take on this work.

 

More work, less people

 

The number of Neighbourhood Managers is to be slashed from 80 to 65 – a loss of 15 posts (approximately 35 Neighbourhood Managers left the department through the restructure process); more work, less people to do it!

 

Peabody Unite protest against an unfair dismissal in 2013

 

Management defends this restructure, they claim the new structure would “augment service improvement and integration changes that have taken place.” Cuts, loss of specialist expertise and increased workloads to improve services!

 

Stress levels rocketed

 

The real reason is Peabody’s stated aim of achieving a saving of £1m by March 2020 as part of their so-called efficiency plan.

 

The reality of this “efficiency plan” is more work to be done by fewer workers. The current workload is now unmanageable.

 

Team of seven reduced to two

 

One example reported by a Neighbourhood Manager where a team of 7 had drastically reduced to 2 with the remaining staff members told to work through over 500 cases in a day! This was in addition to their own workload and included high level anti-social behaviour cases.

 

Stress levels have rocketed with some members breaking down in tears due to the workload forced upon them.

 

Discriminatory

 

In addition to this, Peabody have also imposed a compulsory “out of hours” rota in place of the previous voluntary rota and, as an added kick in the teeth, there are also plans to reduce the remuneration for this.

 

The impact is clearly discriminatory against people caring responsibilities, often women workers, who have made arrangements on the basis of their original terms of employment.

 

To make matters even worse, the whole scheme has not been adequately risk assessed which has meant that Unite have not received adequate assurance that staff going out at night will be kept safe.

 

Deaf to concerns

 

Unite also believes that workers were not properly consulted about this change which further demonstrates Peabody’s lack of concern for its staff as well as the knock-on effects to service users and tenants.

 

Unite have held several meetings with Peabody but senior management remain deaf to the concerns raised. As a result Unite decided to submit a Grievance. Again Peabody dragged their heals which has further aggravated staff.

 

23 members of staff initially signed the grievance and several Neighbourhood Managers have joined Unite since the issue was raised.

 

95% for strike in indicative vote

 

Unite have now decided to move to a ballot for strike action as Peabody do not appear to be moving on any of the substantial points. Notice of the ballot will be given on 29th October.

 

Unite have also approached Unison who have now agreed to ballot their members as well. Given the strength of feeling on this issue Unite believe that there will be an overwhelming majority in favour of action. The indicative response in favour of action has been around 95%.

 

Nick Auvache

 

Thursday 31st October 2019

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