Chief Whip of Birmingham City Council’s controlling Labour group resigns in protest at the council’s anti-union behaviour
Kerry Jenkins, the Chief Whip of Birmingham City Council’s (BCC) Labour group – which runs the council – has resigned from her post in protest at the council’s attacks on unions and low-paid workers.
Ms Jenkins’ email, sent less than an hour ago to all Labour councillors, reads:
——– Original Message ——–
From: Councillor Kerry Jenkinsk
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2019 12:16
Subject: Standing down
I have written to Ian this morning to inform him that I wish to stand down as Group Chief Whip.
This is not a decision I have taken lightly and is one that has been considered in detail for a number of weeks.
I cannot, in good conscience, whip for policies and decisions that are anti-trade union policies and I will not support them.
Our Party was formed on behalf of workers. Our DNA is that we exist as the political arm of the Trade Unions yet recently I have been shocked by the anti-union vitriol displayed by members of the cabinet. The decisions being made by our leadership team are not just ones that bring us into conflict with the Trade Unions but are in themselves anti-union.
I cannot and will not support policies that seek to undermine the collective voice of workers by undertaking one to one sessions with our employees, at the expense of negotiations with the relevant union. I refer to the care workers dispute with Unison and how this has been stated over and over again to explain our failure to find resolution. After 15 months of failed negotiations we are now threatening the imposition of terms that do not go far enough to ensure financial certainty for some of the lowest paid employees in our workforce.
I cannot and will not support policies that seek to take advantage of the undemocratic, anti-worker, anti-trade union Thatcherite legislation. I refer to the threat to seek an injunction to prevent the industrial action of both Unite and Unison in the refuse workers dispute, again agreed in Cabinet this morning.
Our approach as a Labour council should be to do everything possible to work with the unions to find a resolution to the dispute. We should not be openly working against them in this way and the seeking of an injunction only exacerbates the situation. It also tells our employees that we do not recognise their democratic right to withdraw their labour. In the case of Unite we face a ballot where 95% of the workforce voted for industrial action.
I have serious concerns about the leadership in these matters and the ability and willingness of the Leader, Deputy Leader and cabinet to be party to open and constructive dialogue.
It appears that policy, and cabinet reports, placing us in conflict with the Trade Unions have now become common place. These reports regularly seek to deflect blame for our disputes towards the unions with little regard to the reality that we are repeatedly failing to create industrial relations that promote honesty and trust.
As a consequence I no longer feel able to continue in my role as whip and have tendered my resignation with immediate effect.
BCC has been involved in long-running disputes with unions over the council’s bad-faith treatment of care workers and refuse collectors, who are among its lowest paid staff – and has resorted to legal action in an attempt to misuse Thatcherite anti-union laws to end union attempts to obtain fair treatment for workers.
The council’s leader and deputy leader have been referred to the party’s National Executive Committee by the West Midlands Labour board over their conduct.
The UK’s media should take note: this is what a genuine resignation on grounds of principle looks like.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here for a monthly donation via GoCardless. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.