National Delegate Conference

 - By Sonya Howard, Branch Secretary

This was very much a pre election conference with speculation and anticipation of the potential of a change of government. This meant most topics debated were generally non controversial.

Again pay was discussed this time with a view to include our colleagues in Health who have also rejected a 1% pay offer.

Living Wage and Zero hour contracts,

The need for a decent Living wage was debated. Increasing wages improves equality, boost demand in the economy and reduces the need for benefit system to prop up low wages. A ‘win- win’ scenario, for all members and the economy. It was said that the so-called recovery had been at the expense of the workforce.

The scandal of zero-hour contracts has now reached the point where 1.4 million people are on them. This is particularly acute in the care sector with 300,000 workers subjected to these contracts, not knowing what work they will get week to week. Often those on zero-hour contracts are responsible for the care of our most vulnerable in society.

Decent Pay and secure work should be the basic right, not a luxury. It is time to end the zero-hour culture.

NHS

The hated Health and Social Care Act (2012) is triumph for the free market ideology over common sense. The Act allows the market into every part of the NHS, with billions of pounds open to private health care.

There have been some striking campaigns to resist the changes such as Lewisham, Chairing Cross, and Whittington. George Eliot and Western General Hospitals all have demonstrating with many successes.

The striking care workers in Doncaster in dispute with their employer Care UK can testify to the toxic combination of private equity and the profit driven privatisation that lead to a race to the bottom, with workers paying the price.

Exposing UKIP

There was a huge debate on the need to expose UKIP for the racist they are at conference. Conference discussed UKIP’s continued stance to stir up hate around immigration, aided by a hostile media and the attempts to penalise migrant workers. UNISON has a proud record of taking on the politics of hate and winning. A recent YouGov poll found that 80% of first time voters want Britain to maintains its tradition of offering sanctuary to refugees. So it is up to us to ensure that the opportunism of UKIP is blocked at every turn.

Some of the real policies that UKIP stand for below:

  • No limit on working hours
  • No guaranteed holidays or holiday pay.
  • No redundancy or sick pay
  • No maternity pay
  • No job security
  • Scraping of the NHS and more.

International Issues

Rosa Pavanelli, president of Public Services International (PSI), addressed conference to talk about the work PSI does, representing 20 million workers in over 150 countries. She spoke of the real danger of the transatlantic trade and Investment Partnership, would pose a threat to local government and public services. TTIP is a secret partnership between the USA and the European Union. It has a huge potential to open up more privatisation, with legal powers given to multinational companies to threaten governments with legal action if they try to reverse or oppose privatisation. Check out the UNISON you tube link for further details. http://youtube/f8FOUmbeSwg.

We head also from Martha Diaz from the Colombian public sector union, who made one of the most moving speeches whose own daughter was kidnapped. She spoke of daily harassment, murder, kidnapping of trade unionist and their children remains common place. Conference paid tribute to all those brave men and women who fight on regardless as Colombia continues to be most dangerous country in the world to be a trade union activist. In particularly Huber Balliesteros who is currently imprisoned under this current regime and UNISON continues to support Justice for Colombia.

Rule Debate

There were several rules regarding retired members’ participation and all these were passed. Another on removing the need to declare whether or not you are a Freemason was also passed.

The controversial debates on bi annual conference and elections were all lost. Another debate on the need to create Disability officers (no longer being necessary for the person themselves declaring a Disability) was opposed by the LGBT representatives’ delegates stating this to be the ‘thin end of the wedge’ if carried. The motion failed to gain the 2/3rds majority required for it to be passed by conference.

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Local Government Conference 2014

Local Government Conference 2014     - by Sonya Howard, Branch Secretary

This year’s conference was held in Brighton for the first time in five years.

The two dominating themes discussed were pay and cuts in Local government, and redundancies.

Pay

The first took place prior to our magnificent day of action on the 10th July however there was strong opinions expressed that’ enough is enough ‘, that our claim for £1 an hour claim would put money back into the pockets of our members. It was felt that one day strike alone would not win a dispute. There were calls from conference floor for an escalating strike action probably to take place in the autumn.

There was some disquiet among delegates that the union had been over cautious in its interpretation of the law, in not including academies. Although it is important to be mindful of the law, it was felt that we must not be cowed by it and therefore the union could consider lodging individual pay claims with those employers if necessary.

The TUC demo, Britain Needs a Pay Rise has been scheduled for Saturday18 October and further information is to follow.

Cuts in Local Government

The overall feeling from conference was that the devastation that has been heaped upon our services and jobs requires a robust strategy from our union.

That there had been a disproportionate impact of cuts on women, black, disabled and LGBT women being hardest hit.

Unemployment among women is set to rise to 1.5million by 2018, and in redundancy selection it is black and disabled women most likely to be selected.

UNISON will ensure that the gender agenda is a core issue across the UK and up for discussion with a positive approach to collective bargaining.

There is a need for rewiring of Public Services, and this can be only realised through employees that are valued and given opportunities to up-skills. Cuts to our members pay and conditions means we are less likely to act as an advocate for employers. So the need for a real strategy to tackle the demoralisation is needed more than ever.

It was argued that branches need the resources and tools to build supporting networks of stewards, engaging with local campaigns and community groups working alongside broad base groups like Peoples’ Assembly against the cuts. It was said that all public sector unions need to stand together with a 24 hours strike would be a good start to attempting to address the situation.

Our Branch delegates once again played a very active part with several speeches made; one on tri borough working and two others on cuts in social services and mental health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NHS Pay Ballot

More than 300,000 NHS members will be balloted on industrial action over the pay offer staring on 28 August. The ballot will close on 18 September.

The government rejected the NHS Pay Review body recommendation of 1% and in England only NHS staff at the top of Ticks jpagetheir pay band will get 1%. Those paid an increment will get nothing – so over two thirds of staff will not get a cost of living pay award. Furthermore the 1% increase will be a one off “non-consolidated sum” so will not count of unsocial hours, overtime pay of pensions.

By 2017 NHS staff will have suffered 6 years worth of pay cuts in real terms.

The union is urging members to vote yes for both strike action and action short of strike. Most importantly, whatever the members’ view, the y are bing asked to vote to ensure that there is a high ballot turn out.

The Health Service Group Executive (SGE) will meet after the ballot closes to consider the results and if there is a yes vote it is likely there will be stoppages in early Octobers, followed by further strike and action short of strike action over the Autumn/Winter.

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New Strike Date Announced – Tuesday 30 September

We have just received notification that there is a further day of industrial action to be taken to force the Employer to negotiate.

The UNISON National Joint Council (NJC), the committee which negotiates for our pay, met earlier this week to review the strike action we took on July 10 and decide the next steps in our campaign. It has decided to hold a second day of strike action on Tuesday 30 September. This is the last date local government pay is above the National Minimum Wage (NMW): On 1 October, SCP 5 will fall below the NMW of £6.50 per hour.

The NJC Trade Union Side Executive is meeting on 29 July to discuss coordinating second wave action and further information will follow. The UNISON NJC Committee has also agreed to set a date for industrial action in October should there be no movement by the Employers.

Recent research gives us a projection of the wider effect of each % point increase in public sector pay. It shows us that every 1 per cent increase “…generates between £710 million and £820 million for the government in increased income tax, National Insurance contributions, and expenditure tax receipts, and reduced benefit and tax credit expenditure”. (See link for further information: http://bit.ly/1peudER ).

The pay claim for £1 across the board make sense and will ensure that those at the bottom will receive a real living wage and our salary scales keep above inflation.

We will be organising further meetings and sending you more information in August and September.

Once again we hope we can count on your support in our struggle to win a decent pay award.

Sonya Howard
Branch Secretary

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Britain Needs a Pay Rise March, 18 October

A TUC national demonstration under the banner Britain Needs a Pay Rise will take place on Saturday 18 October, beginning with a march through central London and culminating in a rally in Hyde Park.

Working people are facing the biggest squeeze on their incomes since Victorian times and official figures show that wages have fallen in real terms very years since 2010. The march is just part of the campaign for a decent pay rise and economic recovery that works for all, not just those at the top.

The demonstration is not just for trade unionists. It is for everyone suffering due to the government’s poverty agenda. Our members should be marching with their family, friends and neighbours as well as the local community, faith groups and the local Labour Party to make their voices heard.

This demonstration aims to better those that took place on 26 March 2011 and 20 October 2012 which saw around ½ million people, many of them UNISON members, marching through the streets of London.

March Logistics – The march will assemble from 11am on the Embankment near Blackfriars. It will then move off at noon and mach via Northumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly to Hyde Park for a rally.

This is a shorter route than pervious marches and it is hoped that this will allow more people to get to Hyde Park in time for the rally. This means the march does not pass Westminster or Downing Street.

More details can be found here: http://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/britain-needs-pay-rise

Britain Needs a Pay Rise Info Graphic

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Thank You For Your Support

To All Branch Member

Thanks and well done to all Kensington and Chelsea UNISON members who took part in last Thursday strike action across local councils in England and Wales.

A special vote of thanks goes to all who helped mount picket lines and joined the March in Central London’s demonstration and rally.

Our picket lines attracted more support than ever with our colleagues in National Union of Teachers and the GMB union.

A vibrant picket line was held at KTH, with many members joining us and a joint rally with the teachers at the end.

Group Photo

Some members were also interviewed by the National media, and further press coverage reported that 16 schools in Kensington and Chelsea alone were closed as a result of the joint action.

We shouldn’t be under any illusions that a single day’s action however well supported, will in its self gain significant concessions, but the 10th July was a major step forward and could lay the basis for further action early autumn should it prove necessary. This may also include our colleagues from NHS and other unions.

The Pay claim is for £1 an hour increase across the board and this would ensure and that those at the bottom receive a real living wage and that our salary scales keep above inflation.

Our members have not taken million pound bonuses, fiddled their expenses or refused to pay tax- we can’t keep getting the blame for a crisis that was the banking industries fault.

Dave Prentis , The General Secretary of our union has said, “ that this will be an  Autumn this Coalition  Government will remember”. If the Employer do not give us a reasonable offer and refuse to negotiate there is likely to be further action to possible coincide with the TUC demonstration to be held on Saturday 18th October ‘Anti –austerity’ and’ Britain needs pay rise’.

So if you have friends or colleagues that you think might join the UNISON please ask them to get involved.

Once gain Thank you for your show of strength.

Regards
Sonya Howard
Branch Secretary

 

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Pay Strike on 10 July 2014

Strike action is very much a last resort for UNISON but the serious erosion of our pay caused by the five-year pay freeze followed by just 1% pay offers cannot continue.

Local government and school workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland voted for strike action after rejectingunison-strike-image the employers’ pay offer of just 1%.

The strike day will take place on Thursday 10 July

All RBKC UNISON members are welcome to take part. We will be picketing all the main buildings and also concentrating on a number of strategic sites. Please discuss picketing with your local steward or contact the Branch office.

Question and Answer Meeting

There is a Branch Meeting in The Council Chamber on Monday 7 July 12.00-1.30pm.

Hardship Payments

Strike pay is not payable for a one day strike. However we will consider hardship payment requests subject to proof of loss of earnings. You can make a hardship request using the attached from which has full details on how to make the claim and we will endeavour to meet individual losses.

Personal Exemptions

For details on exemptions please check this link on our website http://bit.ly/1qxXJLB or call the UNISON office for details.

Picketing Expenses

We are asking for as many people as possible to take part in the picketing and to join the demonstration. There will be out of pocket expenses for up to £20 available on the day – see your picket line coordinator.

The picket lines will be: Kensington Town Hall, Westway Information Centre, Chelsea Old Town Hall, the TMO Hub and Pembroke Road.

These will be covered between 7am – 11am followed by a rally outside Kensington Town Hall. Following this you have the option of going to the main UNISON rally in Central London. For those of you that have children please bring them along.

Strike Together to Protect Our Pay

What you are asked to do:

  • Support the strike
  • Join your picket line
  • Join the march
  • But most of all enjoy the day

March and Rally

Full details on the march and rally can be found here: http://bit.ly/1qy0vAB

 

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