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SALFORD COUNCIL ASSISTANT MAYOR IN TRADE UNION SNUB OVER SALIX HOMES OPTIONS
 

Star date: 5th March 2013

NOW SALFORD COUNCIL'S GENA MERRETT ISOLATES UNISON IN `KNOW YOUR PLACE' ROW

As Salix Homes tenants are being surveyed on the future of Salford Council homes, Gena Merrett, Assistant Mayor for Housing, has issued a `know your place' snub to Salix staff trade union, UNISON.

Salford City UNISON members, who work for Salix, asked to be involved in initial discussions on the future of the arms length company as their jobs are on the line. But Merrett - who untruthfully attempted to slur the Salford Star this week – wrote that it would be "inappropriate", while refusing to answer questions on the Council house transfer.

Full details here…


"The Council currently owns these homes and should have the decency to be honest with the people it asks to manage them…" UNISON


Until March 15th, Salix Homes tenants are being `surveyed' on whether their socially rented houses should stay under the remit of Salford City Council, or be transferred to a registered social landlord, believed by many to be City West.

As discussions, meetings and forums get underway to discuss the implications of transferring almost the last remaining stock of Salford Council owned homes in the city, UNISON, the trade union representing Salix staff, was asked by its members to request representation in the process. They also asked the union to get further information about the consequences of a possible transfer.

UNISON duly wrote to Gena Merrett, Assistant Mayor for Housing, around the "lack of trade union involvement", complaining that "all the information that has been presented to staff and tenants…has been heavily weighted in favour of stock transfer", and asking lots of questions around finance and democracy should the transfer go ahead.

UNISON added that, previously, when Salix Homes and Urban Vision were set up, and when the last Council housing transfer to City West took place, the trade unions were present during discussions.

The Salford Star has seen the series of letters and emails between UNISON and Gena Merrett, which end with the ex-Buile Hill High School head mistress basically telling UNISON to `know your place', while questioning its motives as being "ideologically opposed to stock transfer"…er, even though Salford City UNISON hasn't taken an official position on the transfer.

Merrett writes… "This is why it is inappropriate for you to attend meetings to attempt to influence the decision as we have made it clear to the tenants that they must be able to determine what is best for them and their homes, given the council is unable to procure the funding to make their homes decent, to maintain them appropriately over the next 30 years and to provide the level of investment and services they have already indicated they would want.

"It is not necessary to provide you with the level of financial and other information you have requested" she adds "as this is not relevant to the support of your members in terms of their employment."

In another e-mail, Merrett again queries UNISON's motives…"When one continues to ask questions not directly pertinent to their role as an employee representative one begins to wonder why."

Now Salford City UNISON has taken the row public, calling the tone of Merrett's response "disappointing", leaving the union "wondering why the Council won't answer a series of questions…"

"UNISON has a national position of opposition to the stock transfer of housing" says Salford City UNISON branch secretary Steve North "This is effectively because the union sees it as the selling off of public property to a market that cares more about money than homes or services.

"On that basis, Salford UNISON could have automatically taken a position to oppose stock transfer as a potential outcome to this appraisal and could have campaigned publicly against it" he adds "Instead, however, we simply chose to ask questions in a polite and productive way. Councillor Merrett refuses to answer our questions and attempts to prevent us from being involved in any discussions, despite the fact that whatever decision is taken will have a direct impact on our members who work for Salix Homes.

"Furthermore, we have pointed out that we have always been involved in such discussions in the past and were at the table when New Prospect, Salix Homes and City West were set up" he explains "We have always accepted that it is right for tenants to have the final say, but that does not mean the concerns of the workforce should not at least be considered and responded to properly - this issue will affect their jobs and their lives.

"The tone of her response is disappointing and leaves us wondering why the Council won't answer a series of questions" he concludes "We can and do talk to Salix Homes, but the Council currently owns these homes and should have the decency to be honest with the people it asks to manage them."

On Gena Merrett's website for the Gena Merrett Associates business she runs as an `educational consultant' and `academy broker adviser', it states that "Gena has excellent oral and written communication skills"… just not with trade unions eh? Or community magazines for that matter…

 

• Gena Merrett disgracefully attempted to discredit the Salford Star this week with some wild and untrue allegations – click here to read the article.

• The tenants survey on the transfer of Salford Council housing stock continues until 15th March, with a newsletter put out to tenants screaming in bright pink `Important: Staying the same is not an option' – to see the Your Home, Your Say website click here

Bernard Brough wrote
at 17:04:19 on 08 March 2013
@insider, but not the balls to ebgage in a debate about anything. Typical Salford councillor, spineless & brainless.
 
insider wrote
at 08:01:23 on 08 March 2013
Well at least she has more balls than the Mayor Ian Stewart in that she has replied to the comments in here (the reply is crap tho!)
 
Fred jones wrote
at 21:05:54 on 07 March 2013
Councillor Merrett, as you claim that the emails and letters have been "selectively edited so that they can be misinterpreted" i thought you would have published them in full on your site, then people can see for themselves what you claim to be selective editing. But suprise suprise all your website contains on this is a repeat of the statement you have made here, if you want to claim some sort of skulldugery has gone on then back up your claims. Don't make allegations you are not prepared to support with evidence, you should ask the council solicitors about what sort of trouble you can get into doing that, or maybe ask some of your colleagues
 
Steven North wrote
at 09:20:15 on 07 March 2013
In response to your comment Councillor Merrett, I would say the following: The letter was leaked because the people of Salford should know that certain Councillors have no intention of communicating appropriately with the people they ask to provide the services they willingly take praise for when things go well. All we have requested is a HR Working Group where can raise important questions in an open and transparent way and for the answers to some very simple questions about financial arrangements if a stock-transfer takes place. We have never requested the right to determine the outcome. Not once. National evidence shows that the majority of stock transfers tend to lead to a worsening of terms and conditions and job security for staff and as long as no information is offered about the financial implications of any transfer in Salford, we can only come to the conclusion that there is a reason why you don't want to tell us. We have deliberately avoided a position of opposition because at this stage all we want to know are details about likely scenarios given the approval of either option. We have always said that the tenants have the right to make the decision, but consultation should include key stakeholders and that includes the people who work for Salix and their representative trade unions. You have an opportunity to put this right by engaging with the unions in the productive way I have suggested. I hope you will take that opportunity. Thanks, Steve
 
Do the honorable thing Gena wrote
at 09:20:09 on 07 March 2013
Gena if i were you i'd get my name down on the housing list, when your banker husband gets his bonus capped you might not be able to afford to live in your ivory tower in Boothstown anymore, but then you do have your generous "allowance" paid for by the good people of this city for all the fabulous work you do for us, so as long as you get re-elected next time you might be ok. I suppose this is why you will not resign, the status, lifestyle, and power all go with the job.
 
Do They Care? wrote
at 07:55:17 on 07 March 2013
They have already made up there minds and this stock will be transferred to City West, its a done deal. Councillor Merrett is providing the usual smoking mirrors that is so well associated with anything this council does
 
Reg Howard wrote
at 07:54:58 on 07 March 2013
It has just been brought to my attention the one of the other critics of this council, Joe O'Neill of Salford Green Party, has been blocked from the twitter account of Cllr Merrett,she has followed the lead of cllr Balkind and he has followed the lead of,big drum roll,our beloved transparent mayor, Mr Stewart, now,perhaps i am being a little cynical,but there seems to be a pettern developing here, it would seem that anyone who makes any kind of comment which upsets our beloved mayor or one of his handpicked minions is removed from the transparency list, perhaps the mayor should also insist that his minions brush up on their people skills and not display the arrogance being shown by cllrs Merrett.who thinks that she is talking to school children again and not the people who pay her wages, Balkind just likes to insult people via Salford online and is protected by the new "standards"rules, as for the Mayor, he is only proving that he is useless at his job and that his election campaign was based on untruths which he is now trying to cover up with his spin guru..
 
Coco the Clowncillor wrote
at 07:54:47 on 07 March 2013
RESIGN , CLOWNCILLOR MERRETT .
 
Salford Star wrote
at 20:27:31 on 06 March 2013
See Councillor Merrett's comment below...Unlike you, Councillor Merrett, we do put comments up that might not be positive about the articles we produce. Can we suggest that you, perhaps, do the same on your own website - rather than censoring any views you don't agree with, while keeping a few supportive libellous comments on view. Your behaviour as a so-called `representative' of Salford people is a disgrace. Have you thought of resigning?
 
Councillor Merrett wrote
at 20:17:04 on 06 March 2013
It is unfortunate and disappointing that my letter and email to Mr North have been leaked and selectively edited so that they can be misinterpreted. Indeed I gave full assurances that should any decision be made that affects the staff the unions would all be fully involved. However, we have given assurances that we will allow the tenants as appropriate to determine the future for their homes and until they have made a recommendation and any decision taken there is nothing to discuss regarding the staff. In the meantime we are fully briefing and informing the staff about the process and they are represented at customer meetings.
 
Remember who put you where you are Gena. wrote
at 18:46:01 on 05 March 2013
So she is happy to take money in sponsorship from a union to get elected to the council but now she is on the council she does not want to talk to the unions who are trying to protect their members. Seems like a nice two fingered salute to anybody in a union, time to stop funding the election campaigns of these turncoats.
 
Bernard Brough wrote
at 16:36:30 on 05 March 2013
As this is a matter that affects all citizens of Salford then the whole city should be involved in the decision. It's called democracy. As we all know though the decision has been made behind closed doors & all the Council's remaining housing stock will be transferred to a private association. Once this Conservative Council have given away the last of Salford's housing stock could somebody please explain why we would need a mayor for housing? These things have nothing to do with what is in the best interest of the citizens of Salford, it is part of the the public bad, private good cancer that has riddled Britain since Thatcher's tenure. You might argue tha this is a socialist point of view. I would suggest that you look at every privatised industry and tell me, with a straight face, that any one of them has been good for the consumer.
 
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