Jun 19 LARA Jam with a Refugeemore >>
A couple of the Bristolian crew went down to Redcliffe last Monday (10th June) to dish out the paper and to show our support to anti-blacklisting campaigners. Over 20 members of various unions and others held a short demonstration against the Kier Group (notorious for blacklisting Health & Safety Reps and workers involved in unions), in this case recieving building and maintainance contracts for education facilities funded from the public purse. It just so happens that the Kier Group are taking over May Gurney and are to run Bristol's waste management, and they've gotten themselves onto the front page of this months paper:
As troubled waste management company May Gurney teeters on the edge, one thing is for sure: no one in Bristol is going to benefit – least of all the binmen and women struggling to keep the city clean under ever-tougher working conditions and on dwindling pay packets.
As reported in the last Bristolian, May Gurney’s highly-paid executives have been HOLDING THE CITY TO RANSOM, blackmailing senior council officers into inaction despite MG’s repeated failure to meet contractual targets. ‘Fine us and we go bankrupt; and if we go bankrupt, no rubbish will be collected at all, our workers will end up on the dole, and the council won’t be able to claw any money back.’
So there are sighs of relief at Shitty Hall at the news of a white knight coming to the rescue with a bail-out offer. Step forward civil engineers Kier Group, who are offering May Gurney a juicy £221 million in a merger deal expected to be confirmed in mid-June. When the deal goes through, the joint KG/MG organisation will have contracts at one in five of all the local authorities in the UK – including Bristol – with an estimated annual turnover of £2.8 billion, and £5.7 billion-worth of orders on the books. The service giant will encompass not just rubbish and recycling work, but also roads and housing maintenance, general facilities management, and construction.
Of course, when making a corporate omelette like this, eggs get broken. Around 200 are expected to lose their jobs – though only May Gurney’s frontline staff, not the directors and certainly not the shareholders, who will own more than a quarter of the new organisation.
As anxious workers who picketed May Gurney’s Keynsham depot in early May over the proposed deal pointed out, the company’s new overlords are up to their necks in ILLEGAL BLACKLISTING ACTIVITY. Like other big construction firms such as Costain (which also bid to buy out MG), Kier has a long-held reputation for getting rid of employees who call for safer working conditions. Such workers then find themselves turned down from jobs at other companies, regardless of skills or experience – enforced joblessness that can last for years, thanks to a secret ‘do not employ’ database operated by building industry-bankrolled spying outfit The Consulting Association. An offshoot of an earlier blacklisting service, the Economic League, TCA was raided in 2009 by the Office of the Information Commissioner, which then closed it down permanently for its extensive data protection violations.
But whilst TCA has been shut down, the practice of blacklisting lives on, as 28 electricians on the London Crossrail project (undertaken by a consortium including, erm, Kier) discovered just last year when they were unexpectedly made redundant. Why? Their union reps had raised real concerns over life-threatening safety issues.
Since then, around thirty local authorities across the country now refuse to accept tenders for publicly-funded contracts from blacklisting companies like Kier – but not Bristol City Council… Yet.
The question is, will our own council place more value in the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Bristolians, over the interests of rich corporate bosses?
And will His Royal Redtrouserness George Ferguson refuse to do business with Kier – or will he meekly stand by and let it take over where May Gurney left off, fleecing the city, endangering lives and blacklisting at will?
The latest issue of Bristol’s premier investigative scandal sheet is out now!
As ever, it is stuffed full of EXCLUSIVE stories that the other papers can’t be bothered to cover, including…A DIRTY BUSINESS Notorious blacklisters Kier to take over May Gurney, run Bristol’s waste collections
KIOSK CAFÉ CHAOS Outsourced park café scheme meant to earn money ends up costing us £300k+
A HULL OF A WAY TO RUN A CITY New council boss displays worrying traits after just 1 month
GREEN GUS KICKS UP A FUSS Big fan of protest – except when he’s the subject of it
GEORGE CHUM IN CIRCLE JERK SHOCKER Why speak plainly when you can sound like an arse?
Plus: More May Gurney titbits including suggestions of contract-fiddling and MP’s brother; new Labour poster girl Hibaq Jama holds Lawrence Hill but for how long; Mayor Fergo & the baseless accusations; Gary Hopkins on his fondness for ‘quality’; more RPZ gossip; plus the latest from Gus Hoyty-Toyty’s Cabinet Diary.All in your super, soaraway monthly muckraker The Bristolian!
On an ultra-low turn out of just 27.92% Bristolians overwealmingly shruged thier shoulders over the Tories much hyped Mayoral elections. The red-trousered George Ferguson got around 31% of the vote, which given the low turn-out means that only 8.6% of the city activly choose him to be thier leader. Bristol (via Avon and Somerset) also saw Police Commisioner elections, which saw independent Sue Mountstevens elected. The elections were bad news for the ConDem coalition who were happed by the few electorate who bothered to turn up. The Tories came 3rd and the LibDems 4th with 9% and 6.8% of the vote respectivly.
Related Links: FBWL 28 - Bristol Mayor comiseration Edition | BCC Election Site | Woman winner! (Vowles the Green) | By-Election Watch (Ian Bone's Blog) | EDL's Kevin Carroll suffers massive defeat at PCC polls (EDLnews) |
Following two months of rolling strikes across the Department for Transport, the union's 8,500 DfT members will be joined by 3,500 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the walkout.
Among the issues under dispute in the DfT are plans to close almost half of the UK's coastguard stations; the closure of all 39 of the DVLA's local offices and 10 enforcement centres; and cuts and the threat of privatisation in the Driving Standards Agency.
There are similar concerns over job cuts and privatisation in Defra. And all of this comes on top of a pay freeze and the looming threat of the imposition of local or regional pay, which would drive living standards down even further.
DfT members will be on strike all day and Defra members will walk out for three hours from 1.30pm.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Despite all the evidence pointing to the fact that austerity isn't working, this government is ploughing ahead with unnecessary and damaging cuts that will deprive our communities of vital public services."
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