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Union meeting moved to 'avoid playground dispute' with the States

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UNIONS representing public sector workers have been barred from holding a meeting at which industrial action will be considered at Hautlieu School because they refused to allow a States representative to speak at the event.

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JCSA Prospect, which represents civil servants, has had to rearrange a meeting of all of the public sector unions that was scheduled to take place at the secondary school on 17 October at 6 pm. The event is now due to take place on 25 October at the Radisson Blu hotel.

The union says that it moved the meeting to avoid a ‘playground dispute’ with the States.

Discontent is growing among the public sector unions after most of their members received below-inflation pay offers for 2018 and 2019.

Industrial action is being considered by organisations such as JCSA Prospect and the National Education Union Jersey, while a general strike has not been ruled out.

A spokeswoman said that the States made the decision to ban them from using Hautlieu after failing to reach a compromise, which would have involved allowing a States representative to speak at the meeting.

‘Unions representing States employees know that they are not permitted to use States buildings for the purposes of organising industrial action, which could be disruptive and harmful to Islanders’ interests,’ she said. ‘However, we sought to reach a compromise with unions, and asked to allow a representative of the States’ senior management team to make a brief statement at the meeting, to ensure that employees could hear both sides of the case. Under these circumstances, we offered to allow the meeting to proceed at the school, but the unions have rejected our offer of compromise. As a result, we will enforce the rules which prevent unions from organising industrial action on States premises.’

Mick Robins, the vice-president of JCSA Prospect, said that the union took the decision to move the meeting to avoid a ‘tit-for-tat’ situation with the States.

‘Public sector employees want to discuss the pay offer and that might include a discussion about industrial action,’ he said.

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‘But the employer has taken a very hardline interpretation of the regulations and we feel their request for a States representative to speak was quite bizarre.

‘We didn’t want to get into a playground tit-for-tat dispute over this, so we decided to move to the Radisson. Unfortunately this will be at a significantly higher cost, which will have to be paid for by members.’

A States spokeswoman said that it would have cost the union £120 to hire Hautlieu for the meeting.

A statement published by JCSA Prospect on their Facebook page says: ‘This attempt to disrupt valid union activity is unfortunate but strengthens our resolve to ensure we are allowed to speak with union members and employees about key employment issues.

‘Indeed this decision should be an incentive for all non-union members to join today. The employer’s decision means that revenue for the venue booking, that would have gone into the public purse, will now go to the private sector.’

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
author

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