Peabody Tries to Get Shifty!
The Unite Housing Workers Branch and our reps in Peabody congratulate our members in the Peabody Revenues Team who recently made an inspiring stand against ill-considered proposals to change working patterns.
Following an away-day discussion earlier in the year, Peabody announced that ‘flexible working’ was to be introduced for the Revenues team on a trial basis. This was to enable office cover from 8am to 8pm. Staff were assured by management that, initially at least, working the new hours would be voluntary, although they conceded that it could become mandatory if the pilot was deemed a success by management.
Upon closer examination of the proposals, members realised that the only ‘flexible’ element in the proposal was a staggering of start and end times to the working day … ie it wasn’t flexible working at all, it was a shift system! Other provisions that might have been considered (and might have compensated staff) such as working from home, or the ability to job share, were already ruled out by Peabody because of high set up and on-going administration costs.
Naturally members could not accept the proposals. The pilot would have resulted in a massive change to working patterns, and even going through the pilot phase could have implied acceptance of new working practices, opening the door to mandatory contract variations. There was nothing to compensate staff for working to new arrangements and for the disruption it might have caused to domestic life and caring responsibiities.
Unite reps quickly responded to member concerns and raised them with management and HR. They organised a meeting for all affected members and put the question to a vote - a massive majority rejected Peabody’s shifty ‘flexible working’ plans. In the light of the evident determination of Unite members, Peabody took the sensible decision to drop the pilot. Well done to all!
Catherine McDonagh / Lead Convenor / Unite Peabody