Sue Plain Addresses Branch General Meeting

Sue plain, Branch Secretary of Southwark UNISON, addressed today’s General Branch Meeting on pay:

“This strike may define whether we are a trade union, or a work based advice giving charity. The pay claim UNISON has put in is really just a request to stand still financially.

The dispute over pay is a request to all members and non-members toSue Plain stand up and demand pay justice from the employer. Hiding away will not save anyone’s job.

We need to win over our colleague and fellow members who are wavering on this issue.

The pay claim slogan is £1 per hour. The employer is saying they cannot afford it. This is a myth. Nationally the coffers of local government have grown from 2.9billion to 19billion over the last 4 years so there is plenty of money available.

Furthermore the have substantially cut their wage bill and 400,000 public workers have been made redundant.

The employers wanted to tell us about the 2014/15 pay award in May even though it is due in local government workers’ pay in April! The union rejected this timescale and insisted that the offer be made in March.

This was a strategic move on part of the employers because they were warned that a low pay increase would be illegal – because the National Minimum Wage (NMW) increase that was due would make the lowest spinal points below this amount.

Austerity had been another reason given for four years of pay repression, but low paid workers spend a greater proportion of any increase straight away and in the local economy. Furthermore the government also benefits from increased tax and NI income which offsets any increase awarded.

It is no coincidence that the government has cut benefits to scare workers into accepting reduced terms and conditions.

The real debt is not the national debt, it is personal debt.

Local government workers are paid less than their equivalents in the police service, probation service, health and all other public services. Four years of pay suppression has only served to widen this gap.

We want the best staff and services in local government so it is our civic duty to fight for better pay to retain staff and attract the best talent.

Remember: A pay increase is for life – it is consolidated into you salary year on year and into your pension.”

[Sue plain, Branch Secretary of Southwark UNISON, National joint Council Member and standing for the SGE (Service Group Executive) in the forthcoming election.]

 

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Little Choice for Your Choice Barnet

Your Choice Barnet (YCB), provides services for adults with learning and physical disabilities. YCB began operating as a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC) in February 2012 and 100% owned by Barnet Council.

In February 2013 a year after its creation Your Choice Barnet, was in serious financial difficulties. Members pay and conditions were slashed and service levels reduced.

In January 2014, Your Choice Barnet were still in a financial crisis and stated they needed to cut the staff bill by a further £400,000

Below are some quotes from our members who really are in need of support.

“I feel angry that YCB are allowed to do what they have done in reducing my pay by 9.5% it makes me feel worthless”

“I am worried about the safety of service users”

“So many agency staff working at our service the workload on permanent staff is increasing all the time”

“Barnet Council first pushed us out to Your Choice Barnet, now cutting our pay by 9.5%”

“What’s next for us Care Workers, and who’s to say these cuts will not be made to our service users?”

“1% cut to Council tax but look what that does to services.”

“My job gets increasingly more stressful and I am rewarded with a 9.5% pay cut. The future of services for people with profound disabilities in Barnet is being threatened.”

“This isn’t about now, it isn’t about our wages, it isn’t about our services, it isn’t about the vulnerable people we care for”

“This is a fight against forces politically motivated and set on a course to dismantle all that we have worked for”

“It’s a fight that we have to fight and one that we must fight to win”

“We need jobs for our family’s bills and to live; we came in to help clients and now we need help”

“I, in my role, and workplace feel a lot more under pressure, stressed, have much more responsibility, a higher workload”

“I feel angry, annoyed and not appreciated and utterly dismayed at this appalling situation and where the service users will reap the effects of this.”

“Saturdays are literally a ‘recovery day’ for me now, & many other staff”

“I am just so very tired & drained, from the level of work & pressure I am now under during the week in my workplace.”

“Being forced to take a 9.5% pay cut has made me feel not valued.”

“I have worked for Barnet for 14 years and have been committed to the service users and the service.”

“Being out of pocket £2,000 a year means not even being able to afford a holiday break for me and my family and having to scrimp even more.”

Barnet UNISON are asking for your support for our Your Choice Care workers who have had their pay cut by a minimum of 9.5%

Members completed an indicative ballot on the pay cut imposed by Your Choice Barnet in which they have bravely voted by 97% to reject the cut.

Earlier this week Barnet Branch formally submitted a strike ballot to UNISON.

On Tuesday 8 April YCB care workers will be demonstrating outside Hendon Town Hall from 6 pm to 7.30 pm.

Barnet UNISON are asking you to show support and solidarity for these care workers and the service they provide which is being run down.

1. Please sign this petition http://ow.ly/voFj6

2. Please share this petiton with your friends and colleagues http://ow.ly/voFj6

3. If you have a Blog or Website please share the above quotes and petition http://ow.ly/voFj6

4. Please promote our Barnet UNISON Tweets promoting this petition on Twitter and or Face Book

5. Please send a message of support to the Branch secretary, John Burgess, on this email account burgessjohn37@hotmail.com

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The New Local Government Pension Scheme (England and Wales)

The new LGPS started on 1 April 2014 in line with an agreement between the unions, employers and the government. Below is a summary of the benefits and protections that are now laid down in law.

The new Scheme is a Career Average Revalued Earning Scheme (CARE).LGPS Pic This is a type of defined benefit scheme that uses a member’s averaged pensionable earnings over the lifetime of their active scheme membership. All new benefits earned after the 1st April 2014 will be under the new CARE scheme:

New Scheme Benefits

Main differences in benefits between the new 2014 scheme and the 2008 scheme:

Accrual Rate New scheme will be 1/49th per year (just over 2%) instead of the previous 1/60th (just over 1.66%)

(accrual rate is the fraction or % of earnings used to build up your pension for each year or part year of service you are in the scheme)

Revaluation Rate The Consumer Price Index (CPI) will be used for increases in pensions

Pensionable Pay Includes non-contractual overtime for the first time

Contribution Flexibility Scheme members can now elect to reduce contributions to 50% and get 50% accrual rate 1/98th Members can elect at any time to pay full rate again when they can afford it

(This is aimed at new joiners, or those facing financial challenges)

Vesting Period Two years (joiners before 1 April 2014 – 3 months)

A member joining after 1 April who leaves the LGPS with less than 2 years service can get a refund of their own contributions. Those who return to the LGPS within 5 years of leaving can combine periods of service to qualify for benefits instead of taking a contribution refund.

Higher Normal This will now be the government’s State Pension Age Retirement Age rather than 65

Can retire from age 55 Employer consent for those in service at 1 April over the age of 55 no longer required, but there are likely to
be high early retirement reductions

Benefits earned before the 1 April 2014 will be based on a members Final Salary with a 1/60th accrual rate and benefits earned before 1 April 2008 will remain on Final Salary with a 1/80th accrual plus additional 3/80th lump sum

Main Protections

The salary link on benefits earned before April 2014 remains the same as in the 2008 Scheme that is ‘final salary’. There are the existing protections in the 2008 scheme if the employer reduces your pay for ‘final salary’ benefits earned up to April 2014.

A member who has opted out of the LGPS will retain the salary link if they rejoin within five-years of opting out. If they do opt out they will have 12 months to decide whether to combine their previous period of service. If their pay has gone down they may decide to keep it deferred, which will see it going up in line with prices.

Scheme members will have underpin protection if they were within 10 years of their normal retirement age in April 2012 and were contributing to the LGPS at 31 March.2014. In the unlikely event that the pension would have been better if they had retired between 60 and 65 under the 2008 scheme members would get the higher amount.

Those with ‘Rule of 85’ protection will continue to have the same protection as they had before the new scheme was introduced.

Those with ‘Rule of 85’ protection who voluntarily retire between 55 and 60 will have early retirement reduction limited to age 60 or the date they satisfy the rule of 85 if later (instead of 65 as originally drafted in the regulations) UNISON argued successfully for this improvement.

If a member retires after April 2014 they must take all their benefits at the same time unless the employer agrees to flexible retirement when they will have a choice on whether to draw pension they earned after April 2008.

Want to find out more?

More information about the LGPS can be found on the scheme website: http://www.lgps.gov.uk

For detailed questions about your own circumstances, you should first contact your employers pension department. To find out who to contact at your Administering Authority go to: http://www.lgps.org.uk/lge/age/page.do?page.do?pagedd=9925

UNISON has additional Pension information for members on our website:

https://secure.unison.org.uk

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Victorian Pay Protest

Today marks the start of the Fair Pay Fortnight UNISON campaign to highlight the tightest financial squeeze facing Local Government workers since the Victorian times.

UNISON members at Kensington and Chelsea Council held a stagedIMAG3029 protest in Victorian outfits at the Town Hall this morning, giving out leaflets and explaining the issues facing workers in Local Government.

• Local Government workers are earning less than 10% & 18% in real terms compared to 2010.
• Employees in both the public and private sector are experiencing the longest fall in real wages since the 1870s.
• Thousands of public sector workers are now paid below the Living London Wage of £8.80 per hour.
• Inflation rose by 20% between 2008 & 2013, with utilities rising by 60% and food by 30% in the same period

Despite three years of pay restraint, inflation running at almost 3% andIMAG3023 being asked to do more and more UNISON members in Local Government are expected to accept a 1% pay award this year.

Kensington and Chelsea Council employees deliver key service across the Borough: in housing, environmental health, planning, schools, social services, parking and many other areas.

UNISON is campaigning now because local government employees have suffered 5 years of pay suppression and the employer is trying to impose yet more severe wage restraint.

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NJC Pay 2014/15 – Branch Consultation Begins on Final Offer

At the meeting of the NJC Executive held on 20 March 2014, the Local Government Association (LGA) Employers made the following final pay offer:

       Offer                                                             New Hourly Rate

  • £580 on pay point 5                                                             £6.75
  • £550 on pay point 6                                                             £6.82
  • £400 on pay point 7                                                             £6.90
  • £275 on pay point 8                                                             £7.05
  • £200 on pay point 9                                                             £7.22
  • £175 on pay point 10                                                          £7.35
  • 1.0% on pay points 11 and above                       See This Chart

The Employers offer letter is attached together with indicative scales setting out the impact of the offer on each scale point.

The UNISON NJC Committee has agreed to hold a formal consultation on the Employers’ final NJC pay offer for 2014/15 under the Service Group Pay Consultation Procedures.

UNISON’s NJC Committee’s views on the offer

The UNISON NJC Committee is clear the Employers’ below-inflation final pay offer falls woefully below the aspirations in our 2014-15 pay claim and what our members deserve. It does nothing to begin restoring the 20% real loss in NJC pay value since 2010 and the effect falling pay has on members’ future pensions. It means yet another year with a further pay cut for the vast majority of our members. It leaves half a million NJC members below the Living Wage and the lowest paid 50,000 just 30p above the National Minimum Wage.

The UNISON NJC Committee strongly recommends this meagre final offer is REJECTED and that we move to an official industrial action ballot in support of the claim on behalf of those employed on NJC terms. The Committee urges all members to support the recommendation in this consultation.

Branches have been asked to consult members on this basis, and the UNISON NJC Committee will be meeting on Thursday 24 April 2014 to consider the results of the consultation.

The NJC Trade Unions

The Trade Union Side has already adopted the position that a 1% increase for 2014/15 is not acceptable. All three unions will therefore consult their members on the basis that the offer should be rejected.

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Eulogy for Bob Crow and Tony Benn

Scan-110218-0011
The pictures you see were taken at our first ever anti cuts meeting back in 2010.

It was a privilege to chair a meeting with two political heavy weights Tony Benn and Bob Crow as speakers, if not a little daunting.

My first direct encounter with Bob Crow was on Kensington High Street during the many Palestinian protests that were taking place at the time. He was speaking to someone when black cab came to a screeching halt and the driver, a rather large man jumped out, running over to Bob he then leaned over shook his hand stating Bob was the best trade union leader in the country. He then sped off leaving us all bemused if not a little relieved.

Bob Crow just smiled taking it all in his stride.

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Tony Benn was a frequent visitor to many of past picket lines. He also spoke at several AGMs always ready to offer support and solidarity even when he was ill. He was a good friend to this Branch and a genuinely compassionate socialist.

Both men lived and died never compromising their principles and defending those who had no voice.

They will be sorely missed by our movement however their legacies will live on in all struggles ahead. ]

May they both Rest in Peace

Sonya Howard
Branch Secretary

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Bob Crow – Book of Condolence

Bob Crow, the leader of the RMT (the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers), dies suddenly on 11 March from a suspected heart attack.

As a passionate union leader, with a keen mind and emotional intelligence,Bob Crow he fought hard not only for his members but for worker’s rights generally and he will be sadly missed.

A Book of Condolence for Bob has been set up in the reception at Unity House[i], in addition or people can leave a message on-line. 

Secure facility via the RMT website:

http://www.rmt.org.uk/bob-crow/

Robert Crow, trade unionist, born 13 June 1961; died 11 March 2014

 


[i] RMT 
Unity House
39 Chalton Street 
London NW1 1JD

 

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