Canal and River Trust – Sink or Swim

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Conference
2017 Water, Environment & Transport Conference
Date
23 February 2017
Decision

Conference welcomes and commends the work done by the Service Group Executive and UNISON members over recent years to support the transition of the organisation formally known as British Waterways into the Canal and River Trust.

Conference notes that the Canal and River Trust is now a charity trust and in order to support the organisational transition it is now heavily reliant on a grant from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). DEFRA have guaranteed this grant until the financial year 2026/27, with no guarantee of continued DEFRA grant funding after this period or if the period of the grant is extended there may be a substantial grant reduction.

Conference, under this backdrop of uncertainty with Canal and River Trust’s future funding it is our members that have taken the hit, with cuts to their pension scheme and terms and conditions in order to guarantee the stability of the Trust going forward. A 2017 UNISON survey highlighted that these changes have all contributed to the morale of staff at the Canal and River Trust being at an all time low and identified high levels of stress amongst the workforce. Management at the Trust have already signalled further reviews to terms and conditions and have embarked on a review of our ‘on-call allowances’ as well as a review of the nationally negotiated ‘people policies’, which may mean our members have to make difficult decisions once again.

Conference recognises that where members have campaigned they have been successful and Conference welcomes the Trust’s commitment to pay the Living Wage Foundation’s Living Wage rates to in-house staff, but the campaign continues to ensure that outsourced staff are also paid the Living Wage in the future.

Conference calls on the Water, Environment and Transport Service Group Executive to:

1)work with the Community Service Group Executive to launch a campaign to defend and protect member’s terms and conditions;

2)work with the Strategic Organising Unit to run a recruitment campaign at the Canal and River’s Trust, targeting specific workplaces supported by branch resources. This campaign will include a comprehensive mapping exercise of the Canal and River Trust members and workplaces;

3)work with Learning and Organising Services to develop new and existing reps within the Trust;

4)work with Labour Link and other sections of the union to petition ministers to secure stable funding for the Canal and River Trust going forward;

5)work with the Living Wage Foundation and the Trust to achieve Living Wage accreditation;

6)work with the Trust to determine some of the causes of the high levels of stress at the Trust and look at ways stress in the workplace can be reduced.