Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Brighton Green PR Disaster

Please bear in mind this is just my thoughts based on what I have read so far. I have no knowledge that isn't in the public domain. I have provided some links below.

The GMB Union claims that the poorest workers in Brighton will face up to £95 pay cuts. Everyone, including the local Green Party and the Green MP oppose this.

Note that negotiations are ongoing; it seems a bit early for the GMB to strike but the bin men were off today.

The GMB don't mention that:
1. The poorest will have increased wages, a living wage. It's a small number of better paid that will face a cut.
2. The purpose of this negotiation is said to bring pay in line with equality legislation. Its a failure of previous administrations who have not achieved this.
3. "The GMB gives Labour more than £2m a year in affiliation fees and other funds". So their attack seems politically motivated to me.
(From )
4. Greens are about the only party supporting the right to strike.

Green MP Caroline has been outspoken against any cuts. Her blog here:

If this matter had been explained better there may have been some support for the administration. So this is a PR disaster that may hurt the entire Green Party

On the other hand standing up for equality in women's pay should be a good thing. And opposing a union with links to Labour may help too, if we have justice on our side.

@jasonkitcat: @bhlabour Cllr Mitchell didn't raise 'serious concerns' during any of leaders' meetings she attended on this issue. Labour made this problem

It seems the mistake was leaving the negotiations to council staff, leaving the Greens responsible for something they have not agreed with. It's not to late to get this sorted out but some damage has been done.

Unison were involved in the negotiation and seem satisfied that negotiations are continuing.


Adrian Windisch said...

The Green Party are the only one to campaign on an anti cuts agenda. But in B+H this puts the minority Green administration in a tough spot. Last year they tried to increase the council tax and were stopped by the Tories and Lab. This year I read the ConDems wanted an expensive referendum before an increase above 2%

However this dispute is not about cuts, though Lab try and paint it that way. It's about equal pay for women, it seems the GMB union are less interested in that than causing trouble for the Greens

Peter Cranie said...

I agree with you Adrian.

The first point is that we should not be cutting the pay of refuse collectors, full stop. £95 a week is a lot of money for people to lose, compensation or no compensation. Our household could not afford a £95 a week reduction, so I wouldn’t want to see anyone else go through that.

Secondly, this is really bad PR. The GMB are close to Labour in Brighton and Hove (read this for context and put out a video on eve of poll that no doubt hurt us in marginal Labour / Green contests. Labour has established a powerful narrative about us, that won’t necessarily be easy to counter, even if we do sort out the situation, and GMB have been happy to offer assistance.

I don’t agree with the calls for Jason to resign as leader over this, but it clearly has been a mistake to delegate this to officers, and we do need a clear message to come out of Brighton and Hove and from the national party on this issue. We need it to follow our policies and values, and we need it very soon. GMB will continue to back Labour in B&H but this is about making the right decision.

Rupert said...

Thanks both. Well said, Adrian.

Adrian Windisch said...

Cheers Peter and Rupert.