Walsall Council's Print and Design Unit

A staff member who complains is victimised and then sacked.

I worked at Walsall Council for three years in the Print and Design Unit. It was like a holiday camp: overtime when there was no work, reading magazines all day, drinking on duty and staff smoking. I could not believe how bad it was.

Walsall Council goes on at people to recyle or be fined. In the print unit, as you can guess, there was a lot of waste paper, card, boxes, inks, used plates and chemical tubs. All this went into a bin with drink cans, dinner waste, machine parts and everything else.

Why? Because the printers and finishers said it would take up too much of their time to sort it out.

I worked on the COSHH reports. Most of the chemicals are supposed to be disposed of through a specialist waste company along with the containers, especially as some are dangerous to wildlife and classed as hazardous waste. This is why I was classed as a trouble maker.

Boxes were broken up and new ones ordered even just for storage.

The print unit bought in 12 brand new Apple Mac computers but then found out they were not compatible with the software so these went into storage. (Although some staff suddenly had new computers at home) .

One manager decided to order some plastic poly boxes, but rather then wait for me to order them he did it himself, off the internet, rather then through our usual supplier.

He also cocked up the quantity. He was supposed to order 70 poly boxes but ordered 70 boxes of poly boxes so we ended up with 700.

Rather then lose face, though, he did not own up to his mistake but left it for three months. When I asked if the customer was having the balance of the order he came clean and asked me to contact the company to return them. Of course, the company wouldn't have them back.

We usually paid 50p each for poly boxes but his cost 1.60 each.

Another manager ordered some black card for a job at 70 for 125 sheets at A0 size. The customer had needed one sheet at A4 size, the rest of the packet was still in stores untouched one year later.

Every year the unit does an away day with drinks and hot meal buffet at the Leather Museum. The unit closes down, turns away work and we all sit and listen to the boss telling everyone what money we need to save. We were all paid for this. Away days were better because staff would claim travel and food/ drink expenses.

When the Fujitsu take over was happening our boss really pushed for it thinking he would get unlimited budget for new machines, loads of work would come in and he would get to move out of the restrictions of the Civic Centre. His face was a picture when the one boss at Fujitsu told him all their orders went to tender and were done through I-procurement. This meant that for nearly six months he had turned work away and not allowed new or repeat orders. He wanted machines empty in case Fujitsu sent an order.

When Fujitsu pulled out the deal the print unit found it had lost several customers. Two very expensive machines he had bought were also now surplus to requirements.

When I had been there a few months I was offered drugs and saw them being openly bought onto the premises along with stolen goods for sale. I wrote anonymously to the head of the council, as the unit bosses were part of it, but instead of investigating he showed the bosses the letter and asked them if any of it was true.

As I was new and the only one not buying items I was targeted. I denied writing the letter so they said it could not be investigated.

After this my life was made a misery. I was refused flexi time, watched all the while, belittled and told I was stupid, and asked to give in my notice. When I stuck to my guns I was given harder physical work.

Then I stupidly had an affair with a different boss. When I finished it I was demoted and refused training in new role, so I taught myself which made the managers angry. So I went to personnel with a large bag of evidence and put in complaint.

The next thing I knew two male workers said I had attacked them. My complaint was not investgated and I was sacked. The manager I had the affair with was then paid 35000 to go quietly with his references intact. None of my witnesses were ever spoken to and two years later I still cannot get a job.

I have since heard that several staff were asked to put in a story about me but they refused.

Valerie Smith.

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Copyright © 2007 - Valerie Smith
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E-mail valeriesjsmith@yahoo.co.uk