Star date: 1st January 2015


Salford Council, under the leadership of Strategic Assistant Mayor Paul Dennett, now has a policy of gagging all of its 8,890 employees both in work and outside in their private lives, and on Facebook, Twitter or any `discussion forum'.

The Thought Police policy aims to "prohibit conduct which conflicts with an employee's duty of loyalty..." and the gagging order includes staff who are trade union representatives, local residents or even members of a local action group. Welcome to 2015 – or is it 1984?

Full details here...

1984 1984 1984
1984 1984 Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart
click image to enlarge

`Does Big Brother exist?
`Of course he exists…'
`Does he exist in the same way as I exist?'
`You do not exist'…

Salford City Council has enforced a new gagging order on all of its 8,890 employees under its `People Management Policy' to enshrine their `duty of loyalty' to the authority and to `serve the Mayor'.

Under the chairmanship of Strategic Assistant Mayor, Councillor Paul Dennett, the policy was agreed in October and implemented at the end of November, supported by Councillors Paula Boshell, Bill Hinds, Karen Garrido, David Lancaster, Gena Merrett, John Merry and Margaret Morris.

Councillor Dennett oversaw the ridiculously titled `Humanagement and Workplace Reform' department at the Council which was supposed to `humanely manage' staff, until it disappeared from public view in February 2014. Now Councillor Dennett – who many believe is being lined up to replace retiring Mayor Ian Stewart in 2016 – has re-surfaced as chief Thought Police architect.

All staff, from lollipop ladies to bin men, are expected to act as "ambassadors" for Salford City Council in both their working lives and private lives, and will be subject to disciplinary measures if they transgress.

The new draconian code is designed to stifle any criticism of the Council and to stop employees and trade unions leaking information to the press or public about the impending savage cuts to jobs and services.

The Council report which led to the new Code states: "Employees are increasingly being involved earlier in the difficult budget and service proposals and are being encouraged to contribute their ideas and feedback through appropriate feedback channels. The refresh of the Code of Conduct provides the opportunity to clarify the position with regards to what is acceptable with regards to disclosure of information, confidentiality and public statements."

`Gross Misconduct' charges can be brought for actions `inside or outside work' for "Any action which is likely to bring the council into disrepute", or undermining its so-called "credibility", including "negative comments in public statements" and "Making unauthorised statements to the media".

Staff can also be disciplined on `Misconduct' charges, even while `off duty' for anything "which conflicts with the Authority's interests". The Code of Conduct states "Your life away from work is normally your personal concern. You should not however put yourself in a position where your job, or the City Council's interests, and your own interests conflict. This includes behaviour which would undermine the council's confidence or trust in you or that which could harm the council's reputation."

In a section called Serving Salford City Council, it adds "As employees you owe a duty of loyalty to the council and must not work against the best interests of the council...You must not make any statements to the media, or any other public statement which concerns the business of the council, unless you have been authorised to do so...Council officers must not discuss council business with the press or the public without express permission from their service head. This includes speaking, writing or giving interviews to the media..."

It continues... "No employee should ever, either during the course of their employment or in their private life:

•Publicise confidential information gained in the course of their employment;
•Maliciously undermine the council and its decisions by adverse or negative

•Take personal issues concerning their employment to the media;
•Bring the council into disrepute by the extremity of their views".

Of course, deciding what are "adverse or negative comments" and "extremity of their views" is left to the whim of those controlling the Council.

Perhaps the most malicious part of the policy states that "If you are a trade union representative, local resident or member of a local action group, you should take care to ensure that any statements you make in such a capacity do not breach this Code. The Council recognises your right to take part in lawful trade union activity; however this does not extend to a right to make statements that are malicious, untruthful or irrelevant"

Again, who decides what is "malicious, untruthful or irrelevant"? If a Council trade union rep says in public that it is wrong to cut transport for disabled people is this `malicious', `negative' and `undermining the Council'? If someone who works for the Council posts on Facebook that they are supporting, say, the Reality Party, will that lead to gross misconduct charges? It appears that the code is set up to victimise any of the almost 9,000 people who are connected with the Council and dare to speak out in public about anything the Authority dislikes.

"By making public comments, for example through the media (social or traditional)
you abandon any rights to have your comments treated as private and any
intervention by the council may be justified without breaching your right to freedom of expression or a private and family life" the Code states "...it does not matter whether you are communicating face to face, by telephone, email, through social networking sites, or any other means. The rules apply to all ways of communicating.

"Inappropriate comments made on social networking sites (whether you have enabled privacy settings or otherwise) about your employment with the council, the council at large or any employees or former employees of the council could amount to a breach of this Code and result in disciplinary action" it adds.

The code gives a list of risks using any social media including `Damage to the council's reputation' and adds "In light of these risks, the use of social media sites should be regulated to ensure that such use does not damage the council, its employees, councillors, partners and the people it serves"...`Partners' would include companies like Peel Holdings!

There's even a section where employees are encouraged to spy on their workmates... "Where inappropriate use is suspected, in addition to reporting the incident using the relevant reporting procedure, it is suggested that staff should also pro-actively attempt to capture any inappropriate posts (before they might be deleted)..."

It adds: "Managers may also be required to review and investigate the personal use of social media that takes place in or outside of working hours where concerns are raised or identified", and while it states that that they "Must not as a matter of course monitor employees social media pages", adds "It is likely that this information will already be in the public domain therefore permission to access personal accounts will not be required."

It's all very chilling, autocratic and, we hate to say, typical of what Salford City Council has become under the tutelage of elected Mayor Ian Stewart and his posse of Assistant Mayors.

"Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted all else follows…" George Orwell 1984

• We don't expect any comments on this article from Salford City Council staff as they might be up on a `Gross Misconduct' charge. However, please be advised that if any Council employee wants to speak to the Salford Star we will always guarantee anonymity.

* See also previous Salford Star article - Salford Mayor sets police onto anti-cuts protester - click here

Concerned wrote
at 2:26:54 PM on Friday, January 9, 2015
Not many Salford taxpayers seem too arsed about this, let's just hope that future governments don't follow suit. All the stories about the NHS struggling and in crisis on the news at the moment would be non-exsistant if the government implemented the same conditions on NHS workers. Yet we the taxpayer need to know about these things, just makes me glad that we have the Tories pulling the strings as they like people whistleblowing on wastes of public money and fraud, the Labour party seem to want to cover it all up!
Stephen Morris wrote
at 4:52:43 AM on Saturday, January 3, 2015
Does this mean that Mayor Ian Stewart will also keep quiet as everything he says and does damages the reputation of Salford Council(if it ever had one).
Insider wrote
at 4:52:24 AM on Saturday, January 3, 2015
@debbie reader. This is the salford Labour Party that is doing this, to control not only the work force but eventually the people of salford. The salford Labour Party love people like you, people who are ignorant to what they are doing in our name, maybe what is happening in salford dosn't effect you at the moment, but it will, just look at Rotherham council, when for over 16 years Muslim Asian paedophile grooming gangs were allowed to rape white school girls at will because that labour controlled council had the same gagging order hanging over its work force which could lead to dismissal of anyone whistleblowing, this is the danger of people signing these documents, the most vulnarable in society become victims and abused, and people who we the tax payer pay to work on our behalf should not feel afraid to bring to the publics attention of such abuses or corruption at top levels within the council and I believe that this is exactly what this documentation is intended to do. We must not allow salford to become a Stasi Labour Party state.
Debbie Reader wrote
at 3:12:19 PM on Friday, January 2, 2015
People seem to be thinking this is the council trying to control people's private lives but they are just stating in writing what could be considered gross misconduct in any job, I'm sure many many people have lost there jobs for bringing there boss/company/organisation into disrepute on social media however the issue should be who decides what is classed as fair criticism and what is defamatory
Insider wrote
at 3:11:55 PM on Friday, January 2, 2015
There's even a section where employees are encouraged to spy on their workmates... "Where inappropriate use is suspected, in addition to reporting the incident using the relevant reporting procedure, it is suggested that staff should also pro-actively attempt to capture any inappropriate posts (before they might be deleted)..."""""as a salford council employee,dos this also mean spying on councillors doing dodgy deals behind closed doors, after all they are also employed to look after the best interests of the salford tax payer, seems anyone in the council reporting on these shenanigans of our labour councillors will find their lives will be made a living hell and any investigation swept under the mayors carpet which I believe the cleaners at the town hall have great trouble hoovering because of the unevenness due to past investigations into councillors shenanigans. @ Paul smithe. This is how hitler came to power, small seizures of power, bit by bit, helped by ignorant people like yourself, prevention is better than cure. People like yourself will be the first to complain when you loose your rights and freedoms, but it will be brave men and women such as those in the Second World War who'll sacrifice their lives to get it back whilst people like you find a rock to crawl under. @paul Gerrard and joe oneill well said. Ps can't wait till the salford star is back in print, to inform the people of salford of what is really going on, in their name within the town hall, it's been many years since salford has had a news outlet that tells the public the truth of what is happening in salford, since the salford labour advertiser and manchester evening as given up representing the people of salford and are now representing the fascists at Swinton town hall.
Chaz wrote
at 4:18:41 AM on Friday, January 2, 2015
Holy crap it gets worse and worse with these dangerous cowardly weirdos. Its like "Days of our Lives"
Anthony Dowd wrote
at 2:44:20 PM on Thursday, January 1, 2015
The ONLY people bringing Salford Council into disrepute is ian stewrat and his 13 labour mini-cronies. The Stasi ARE back in power - at least in Salford. Kim Jong Un backed off from supporting this for being too extreme!! Vote them out.
at 12:31:20 PM on Thursday, January 1, 2015
I trust Labour leader Mr Ed will be asked to comment on this during his big visit to the lowry next Monday morning or will salford staff voices all be sat on?
xram wrote
at 12:31:16 PM on Thursday, January 1, 2015
Surely the employer by outlining this in policies is acting in bad faith, the need to express this shows the control freaky nature of modern management techniques and the way these people function is usually the root cause of bad workplace relationships. Freedom of speech is a basic human right and employers need to be challenged, this is totalitarian and guardians of democracy should hang their heads in shame. The first rule of a democracy is I may not agree with what you say but will defend to my last breath the right for you to say it. The truth by the way is always revolutionary and this is what control freaks are usually afraid of.
Paul Gerrard wrote
at 12:31:11 PM on Thursday, January 1, 2015
@paul smyth You really don't get it do you? Its not great that companies have these gagging clauses but this most definitely IS a story because what's at stake are public services, open to all, not an individual company's product or service which you can take or leave. Disabled protestors and their carers can't go elsewhere so there is - or should be - a public interest defence for a whistle blower. This is a blatant attempt to tell, for example, minibus drivers and escorts to keep quiet while the transport service is quietly killed off. I hope the unions will challenge this.
Down but not out wrote
at 12:31:06 PM on Thursday, January 1, 2015
"Harm the Council's reputation?" They can do that on their own!!! They should be writing a policy on listening and being open and transparent with it's employees as well as with members of the community they are suppose to serve!
joe oneill wrote
at 12:30:03 PM on Thursday, January 1, 2015
It makes you feel ashamed that a party that cries freedom and equality for all can sit back and implement outdated communist tat for all it's worth. When you see it's members quoting from the socialist worker it comes has no surprise. They stifle free speech in fear that the facts may escape from the rotten carcass that once was a bastion of open politics. But if we can't be bothered to vote in the first place then surely we deserve little more than a group getting fat on the land while the majority suffer. Lets hope in May the missing 60% of Salford's voters wake up from their apathetic slumber and smell the air, it stinks,
Winston Smith wrote
at 9:04:37 AM on Thursday, January 1, 2015
Whistleblowers only ever reveal their identity if they are perusing legal action against their (usually former) employer. It is pretty useless for the Council to blow hot air and make idle threats when it is so easy to remain anonymous. Lets face it, most instances of appalling senior council staff behaviour is discussed between junior staffers in the pub, where we can all have a good laugh whilst enjoying a few pints. If you know where to drink you will always get a good story, to follow up with FOI's.
paul smyth wrote
at 9:04:33 AM on Thursday, January 1, 2015
This is really a none story, most decent size companies have the kind of thing in their contract of employments.
Michael Felse wrote
at 8:42:19 AM on Thursday, January 1, 2015
I urge all Salford Council employees to ensure they are members of their relevant union. My union helped me when I was the whistle-blower that brought down a dominating Doncaster Labour Council. Leading Labour figures went to jail. Freedom of speech is important where workers fear unjust action. It really must be protected otherwise the fabric of workers' rights is at risk. Please remember Salford is a Labour Council and will not be forgiven if it will not listen to its workers.
David Dunnico wrote
at 8:39:29 AM on Thursday, January 1, 2015
The people bringing the council into disrepute aren't the staff, are they?
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