This article is in response to an e.mail a Mr. John Williams sent
to UNISON Carmarthenshire County Branch.
Mr Williams was responding to an article in our Carmarthenshire
Star Newsletter: ‘Towy Community Church Funding given the
go ahead’ (dated March 2012).
Mr Williams starts by stating that “UNISON newsletters often
include negative stories about employers’. If Mr Williams is a
UNISON member, or a Carmarthenshire County Council employee,
or if he reads the local newspaper, he would know that the Council’s
Independent/Labour-led coalition has made significant budgetary
cuts. These have caused job losses and serious cuts to terms and
conditions for employees.
Through the imposition of Single Status alone, 1000s of employees
have lost 1000s of pounds. Given this, it is hard to see how we could
be expected to be positive, though we are positive in our opposition
to all cuts and positive in our promotion of the alternative to cuts.
It is truly ironic that those requesting debt advice from the Church,
may be people who have lost their jobs in Carmarthenshire County
Council – jobs which may have been saved had funds been used
to pay for public services, not private enterprises.
In his letter Mr. Williams mistakes malice for concern. Surely it is
only right for UNISON, the public and county councillors to be worried
about this latest batch of church funding when it appears to be at odds
with the council’s Treasury Management Policy?
A County Councillor told us that to fund Towy Community Church’s
latest request, the Council had to vote to suspend its own lending
policy, agree the funding and then re-implement their lending policy!
When this type of deal is shoehorned in outside of agreed, democratic
policies and procedures, it must be the concern of all.
Mr. Williams also seems to confuse allegations with questions;
our article asked several questions regarding the qualifications of
those involved in the Church scheme, their hiring practices and their
stance on the fundamental issues of equality.
UNISON would be remiss in its duties if we did not do our utmost to
promote equality, diversity and ask these important questions. Instead
of answering these, Mr. Williams seems content to indulge himself
Is it possible that he does want to answer these questions, is unable to,
or is it that he does not have the Church’s authority to do so?
Our sources for this article are:
Mr. Williams also forgets that we are asking questions. We would
be happy to hear the Church’s response or more importantly, that of
the County Council.
We provide many services to our members, including legal aid, but
in this case we feel that the editors have little to fear from asking
pertinent questions of a now publicly-funded private company.
Mr. Williams accuses us of being secular as if it is a bad thing;
UNISON would rightly be open to criticism if we favoured one faith
over another, or let personal views interfere with the representation
of members’ interests.
UNISON’s record of fighting for equality and diversity in all aspects
of life is a long one. We are proud that people of all faiths (Christians
included), of different ethnic origin and with different lifestyles are
represented equally and fairly.
Mr Williams makes much of the fact that the article in question
is not attributed. A regular Star reader will be aware that articles
never are. This is due to the fear that contributors could face victim-
isation from the employer. We take collective responsibility on our
elected branch committee for the content of our newsletter.
We are happy that the article has been properly researched. We are
happy that we were justified to ask the questions that we have. Mr.
Williams’s e.mail is the only negative response we have received.
But we are happy to share it with our members here as this affords
them the earliest opportunity to see both it and our reply.
If this encourages further debate that can only be to the good.
Mark Evans Branch Secretary on behalf of Branch Committee