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London

Saturday, 2 November 2019, 10:00am

Unions for Cuba Conference, 10am -5pm, Saturday 2 November 2019 at NEU Hamilton House, London, WC1H 9BD.

This major conference - the biggest solidarity with Cuba conference in 15 years - features an impressive high level line up of up to 20 Cuban general secretaries and leaders from the Cuban trade union movement plus leading British trade unionists; including Ismael Drullet, CTC Director of International Relations, Len McCluskey, Unite General Secretary and Kevin Courtney, NEU Joint General Secretary, Diana Holland, Unite Assistant General Secretary, and other labour movement leaders.

Unions for Cuba Conference is the largest Cuba60 event of 2019, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution and the 80th anniversary of the CTC (Cuba’s TUC), and will build solidarity further between British and Cuban workers.

Places are limited and priority will be given to trade union delegates, so please apply for delegate places as soon as possible by getting in touch with campaigns@cuba-solidarity.org.uk or calling 0207 490 5715.

Tickets are available online and are just £15 waged (£10 unwaged) including lunch. If you are interested in group bookings of 10 or more get in touch with the office on campaigns@cuba-solidarity.org.uk for special offers.

An electronic copy of the flyer is online here. Please get in touch if you would like any hard copy flyers sent for your trade union members / workplaces.

National Executive Council Report Wednesday 9th October 2019

 

”UNISON is going from strength to strength,” the union’s national executive council heard at its meeting in London today.

 

“We are continuing to grow, with membership increasing by 8,413 so far this year,” general secretary Dave Prentis told the meeting.

 

He noted that the biggest growth occurred during the week of the Labour Party conference – with a particular spike on Monday and Tuesday – when UNISON featured in newspaper and broadcast bulletin reports from Brighton. We have been the biggest TU in the last 3 years , UNITE have 80,000 less members .

 

But the issue is one of looking forward with ambition, hoping to grow from a union of 1.3 million members to two million over the coming years. Mark Fisher said this growth is down to our visibility on the shop floor , we have shown how organising is working .

 

And the union is not resting on its laurels. Next month will see a repeat of the union’s Go for Growth focus on recruitment and retention across all parts of the union: UNISON Centre, regions, branches and individual activists. 

 

This will include a specific focus on retaining members, following research on why members leave. Members have stated that Retention is the key to growth and we should look to support our valued members who have been members for years .

 

Trying to retain or recapture members as they’re leaving has limited effectiveness, the NEC heard. The key is to contact them and make them feel welcome in the union as they join and in the first few months following their joining. Mark Fisher asked about difficulties with contacting members over GDPR , reply was to check form to see if we can contact members .

 

NEC was informed of all the current Industrial Action and we fully support all members and branches currently undertaking Industrial Action , our growth is down to organising in our workplaces .

 

Recalling the Labour conference and UNISON’s role in getting key policies adopted, Mr Prentis recalled that it was dominated by “the imminent general election and the uncertainty over Brexit”.

 

The NEC was briefed on the union’s plans for a likely general election sometime in the next three months, looking at “how we plan for uncertainty”.

 

Although an election is “imminent”, the meeting heard, we can’t predict when it will be.

 

Despite tight financial constraints – following an election or referendum in three of the last four years – the union said it will “throw everything” at the most important election of a generation.

 

At the same time, the constraints of the Lobbying Act and trade union legislation mean that everything must be done through the union‘s political funds.

 

And while Brexit might dominate election coverage, UNISON will concentrate on talking to its members about “things that matter” such as public services and family incomes.

 

On Brexit, Dave Prentis reiterated UNISON’s belief that a no-deal Brexit will be a disaster for public services and stressed that Northern Ireland, the border and maintaining the Good Friday Agreement was a priority consideration for the union – as it had been from day one.

 

Separately, he noted that UNISON is fighting back, declaring: “There is no doubt we are taking more industrial action than all the other unions put together,” up and down the UK and in branches across the union.

 

On a related note, the meeting congratulated three UNISON members who were awarded TUC gold badges at the organisation’s congress in September: Lyn Marie O’Hara, Pat Heron and Wendy Nichols.

 

Looking globally, the NEC congratulated branches who had organised activities and supported the climate strike during Green UNISON Week.

 

Dave Prentis reported that he had written to foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to express UNISON’s “deep concern” at Turkey’s plans for a military incursion into Kurdish lands in northern Syria – an action that started with airstrikes as the meeting was taking place.

 

Members had a long discussion regarding the TUC and Labour Conferences , TUC was very successful with great UNISON speakers discussing UNISON policies also raising awareness of Menopause in the workplaces .

 

There were lots of comments regarding UNISON changing their NEC conference decision regarding BREXIT , Gordon McKay , Chair of Labour Link Committee said there were 2 composites and these did not mirror NEC position , the delegation voted appropriately .

In 2016 the NEC supported remain also conformity vote , what’s changed ? the priority of the delegates at Labour Conference was to get a Labour Government , Employment Rights , supporting migrants , NHS , Public Services , End Austerity and to get the best Labour Government fighting for working class people .

A lengthy discussion took place regarding supporting Jeremy Corbyn , some members felt UNISON by not supporting Labour NEC statement was going against Jeremy and his leadership , Dave Prentis GS , Roger Mackenzie AGS and Mark Fisher said UNISON Labour Link Committee have twice supported Jeremy in his leadership of the Labour Party , nothing has changed , we are fully behind Jeremy .

 

We have had a big spike in people joining since our BREXIT stance . Mark Fisher asked Dave Prentis to liaise with our 1st minister Mark Drackford over Cymru/Wales stance on Brexit .

 

NEC policy is to support General Election , Article 50 , No Deal BREXIT , Good Friday Agreement and common market 2 ( Norway Model ) if options fail we will fully support a public vote .

 

We also had a presentation on the potential General Election from Liz Snape AGS , issues are funding is going to be tight due to reduced funding due to the TU Act , targeting seats , political funds down by approx. 1 million due to the TU Act , this election is going to be biggest challenge BREXIT .

We need to ensure every penny will be counted to getting Labour MPs and a Labour Government Majority .

 

We need to engage and influence members , engage with the general public , engage with Communities for them to understand the importance of getting a Labour Government in power , only Labour will end Austerity . We have a mountain to climb but we are stronger together , we need to get our members , families out to vote , we need to engage with Unions Together , we are a trade union of 4 nations and we need to link our collective campaign together .

We have to gain an extra 72 Seats to win a majority government , every seat is winnable . Mark Fisher said The Great Nation Of Wales will be pleased to hear national will be using the difference a Labour Government does when in Power from our great nation .

 

The meeting also:

welcomed good recruitment and retention figures for July and August;

received updates on pay campaigning and industrial action across the union’s various bargaining units;

approved the union’s accounts for the first six months of the year;

received an update on the branch resources review working group.

 

I hope you find this helpful.

 

We look forward to seeing you all soon .

 

Kind regards

 

Mark Fisher / Sian Stockham and Angela Roberts

Cymru/Wales NEC Members

 

‘WG ups investment in digital NHS’, regional organiser Darron Dupre quoted, Carmarthenshire Herald. See attached.

 

The same article appeared in the Pembrokeshire Herald.

 

WG ups investment in digital NHS 11.10.1[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [228.3 KB]

UNISON WELCOMES REFORM OF DIGITAL SERVICES IN NHS WALES

 

UNISON, the largest trade union at NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) has today welcomed the announcement by Welsh Government that it will become a Special Health Authority.

 

Darron Dupre, Regional Organiser for UNISON said

“Staff at NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) will be pleased that at long last Welsh Government has both sorted out the governance arrangements within NWIS and also some much needed investment in NHS digital and informatics services in Wales.

 

“NWIS is, and has been, a highly performing organisation with an incredibly committed and skilled workforce. That workforce has had to listen to too many stories about NHS IT in Wales falling over, many of which were either the responsibility of Health Boards themselves or for which they have been deprived of the finances to put any more than a sticking plaster on.

 

“The award winning NWIS is not a failing organisation, and the complaints about its governance and scrutiny were a matter that only Welsh Government could deal with.

 

“Today’s announcement will hopefully ensure that NWIS, NHS Wales and Welsh Government can work together, in partnership and that NHS IT systems will at long last get the priority that they require”.

 

UNISON COMMENT ON CAERPHILLY CHIEF EXECUTIVE SITUATION

 

Jess Turner, UNISON Cymru Wales regional organiser, said,

“This sorry saga should have been resolved years ago when UNISON brought the matter to light. Staff are absolutely sick of it and the council needs to move on.

 

“Since 2010, severe spending cuts driven from Westminster have cost the jobs of 746 Caerphilly council workers, yet as much as £6million pounds has been ploughed into a single issue.”

 

“Think about how the money spent could have been invested instead for the public good, in Caerphilly leisure centres, youth clubs, adult social care and libraries.

 

“UNISON has long said that complex and bureaucratic hurdles in dealing with a statutory officer dispute frustrated a swift resolution and these must be reviewed.”

 

News updates from your union
 
 
LABOUR CONFERENCE: Social care proposals will transform lives
A Labour government would mean social care getting the attention it deserves, says Dave Prentis in response to plans unveiled at conference.
Read the full press release
 
LABOUR CONFERENCE: NHS, patients and staff need a Labour government
Dave Prentis tells Labour to stand united at conference to protect the NHS.
Read the full press release

Commenting on the Supreme Court ruling today (Tuesday) that the decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “A man who thinks he’s above the law is a man not fit to be Prime Minister. “His blatant attempt to shut down democracy has failed. Now politicians can return to holding the […]

UNISON appoints national nursing officer

Stuart Tuckwood has been appointed UNISON’s national nursing officer to help the union promote and defend the interests of nurses. He took up the position this month (September).

A registered adult nurse, Stuart spent the past five years at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where he worked in major trauma rehabilitation and later as a charge nurse in the neurosurgery and neurology departments.

Most recently Stuart has specialised in critical care outreach at Addenbrooke’s, where he was part of the trust's rapid-response team, managing deteriorating patients and delivering advanced life support.

After completing a diploma in tropical nursing at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2018, Stuart spent six months working in Myanmar, helping one of the country’s biggest hospitals improve its trauma intensive care delivery.

A former UNISON steward, Stuart has been a vocal campaigner for the interests of healthcare staff and is a staunch opponent of austerity and spending cuts to the NHS and social care.

Speaking about his UNISON role, Stuart said: “I'm excited and very proud to represent nursing at the UK's largest union in healthcare. I’ve been lucky to see first-hand the amazing work nurses and healthcare staff do for patients and the public every day, despite the many challenges we face.

“Having been on the frontline I know it’s vital we make sure the current pay deal is the start of a process to restore and improve the value of nurse’s pay and not the end of it.

“We also need to make sure the right support is there for nurses coming to the NHS from overseas and must win the argument over safe staffing levels and proper student nurse funding.

“There’s much to do, but I’m in the right place to campaign for new and existing nurses to have the most fulfilling and rewarding careers possible.”


Notes to editors:
- UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors. 
- A photograph of Stuart is available on request.

 

Leisure centre staff in Neath Port Talbot threaten strike action over changes to pay increases, NPT chair Mark Fisher and secretary Jane Gebbie quoted, Wales Online.

 

Mark has also been interviewed by Wave Radio about Celtic Leisure and this has been running in their morning news bulletins.

 

Three of Britain’s biggest unions will today hold a lobby for a fair pay rise outside the Welsh Local Government Association

Commenting on Jeremy Corbyn’s speech today (Tuesday) to the delegates gathered at the 151st Trades Union Congress in Brighton,UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “These reforms promise a sea change in the workplace, one that’s long overdue. “It’s become far too easy for unscrupulous bosses to treat their staff unfairly, safe in the knowledge their […]

Friday 23 August 2019

 

30 PER CENT INCREASE IN MODERN SLAVERY REFERRALS IN WALES

 

There has been a 30 per cent increase in reported cases of modern slavery in Wales in the last year, according to National Crime Agency statistics.

 

First Minister Mark Drakeford will today (Friday) tell a gathering of public service workers that 251 referrals of potential victims of slavery were made here in 2018, up from 193 referrals in 2017. 60 per cent of the referrals in Wales were for labour exploitation. The 30 per cent increase in the last year follows a 56 per cent increase in cases 2016-2017.

 

Mr Drakeford will be speaking at a UNISON Cymru Wales event in Butetown Community Centre, Cardiff, organised by the trade union’s Black members to mark International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

 

The 251 referrals are comprised of: -

  • 94 females/ 157 males
  • 126 adults/ 125 minors
  • 77 of the adult referrals and 74 of the minor referrals were for labour exploitation (totalling 151 referrals)
  • The most common countries of origin of the 251 are: UK (103 referrals); Vietnam (21); Sudan (16); Albania (16); Romania (13); China (11) and Eritrea (10)

 

Stephen Chapman, Welsh Government’s Anti-Human Trafficking Co-ordinator is also among the speakers at the event.

 

Kebba Manneh, Chair of UNISON Black Members Group said,

“There are more people in slavery today across the world, than in the entire 350 year history of the transatlantic slave trade and slavery in Wales is on the rise.

 

“60 per cent of the referrals in Wales in the last year were for exploitation at work. That’s why trade unions like UNISON have a major role in the fight against modern slavery.

 

“We have been lobbying employers to sign up to the Welsh Government’s Code of Practice for Ethical Employment in Supply Chains which should ensure workers are treated fairly and no-one is exploited.

 

“With 100,000 members in Wales, UNISON can help educate our members and the wider community in recognising the signs of exploitation.

 

First Minister Mark Drakeford said,

“Slavery is a crime against humanity and we will use all the tools we have at our disposal to fight it. 
 

“Wales took a lead in the UK, creating the role of an Anti-Slavery Co-ordinator, and Wales introduced the Code of Practice on ethical employment in supply chains.
 

“The Welsh public sector spends around £6bn every year on goods and services involving international supply chains and the Code can help ensure at every stage, there are good employment practices for millions of employees.
 

“We must do more to combat modern slavery and I intend to strengthen legal protections in the forthcoming Social Partnership Act.”

 

Roger McKenzie, UNISON assistant general secretary, said,

“There are more human beings moving around the earth today than at any time since the transatlantic slave trade. That movement is either to do with seeking work or fleeing war or persecution. Many are fleeing countries that were once colonised to move to the countries that once colonised or enslaved them. 

 

“We are still tangling with the legacy of slavery today and face the consequences of this in the rising tide of racism and fascism. UNISON has always and will continue to play our part in fighting both. This meeting is not just a remembrance of the abolition of the slave trade - it’s a rallying point in the continued fight against racism and fascism.”

 

Notes for editors

·         Link to the National Crime Agency statistics, National Referral Mechanism Statistics, End of Year Summary 2018, published on 20 March 2019. See in particular, pages 1, 25 and 26
 

·         Link to the Welsh Government’s Code of Practice for Ethical Employment in Supply Chains.

 

·         Using International Labour Organization figures, the Human Trafficking Foundation says that there are more people in slavery today across the world, than in the entire 350 year history of the transatlantic slave trade. The Foundation says the extent of human trafficking in the UK is likely to be far greater than the NRM statistics would suggest.
 

  • Victims of modern slavery will often be fearful and reluctant to seek any help. Many come to the UK to try and escape abuse with the promise of a better life only to find they experience further exploitation.
     

·         To report slavery you should call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121700. There is also a telephone number providing support for victims:  0800 731 8147.

 

  • UNISON Cymru Wales Black members’ event to mark International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition will be held in Butetown Community Centre, Cardiff, on Friday 23 August

 

  • Speakers include: Kebba Manneh (chair, UNISON Cymru Wales Black Members); First Minister Mark Drakeford; Tanya Palmer (UNISON Cymru Wales regional secretary); academics Dr Roiyah Saltus and Abu Bakr Madden-Al Shabazz; Roger McKenzie (UNISON assistant general secretary); Stephen Chapman (Anti-slavery co-ordinator, Welsh Government); Shavanah Taj (Wales TUC President) and Peter Crews (UNISON Cymru Wales convenor)

 

 

Contact

Alastair Gittins, UNISON Press Officer on 07816 538397

UNISON to present its case to trust for services to remain in-house

 
 
 

Bringing the 111 and 999 services together should lead to “real improvements” for both patients and staff

 
 

Commenting on the report on council funding published today (Wednesday) by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Local councils are in a bad way and the blame lies solely at the government’s door. With funding in short supply, local authorities have had to cut back services substantially, […]

29 September 2019 12:00pm–12:00am

Oxford Road, Manchester

Demonstration at the Conservative Party Conference called by The Peoples Assembly and supported by the TUC and UNISON to oppose continued cuts and austerity and for a general election now.

Why medics putting the answer for women facing pause in menopause is not the anormal transition of midlife, extended comment from regional organiser Darron Dupre about UNISON’s campaigning work with Velindre, Western Mail

 

 

 

Menopause

Pausitivity: Woman campaigns to make menopause a hot topic, STV (UNISON Cymru campaign referenced in the Scottish media)

 

 

 

UNISON calls for government to replace the thousands of police staff axed since 2010

Court of Appeal ruling has implications for hundreds of thousands of employees

 
 
 
 
 
LAW: Union intervenes to secure holiday rights and pay in Court of Appeal case
All workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days paid annual leave, even if they are not given work or pay for parts of the year. The leave must be paid at the rate of a normal week’s pay – or at the average weekly rate for the 12 weeks before the holiday, if pay is irregular.
Read the full press release

UNISON responds to the government consultation on proposals that would allow higher and further education employers in England to opt out of providing LGPS membership for new staff members

Staff at Bradford Hospitals Trust strike over privatisation plans

Two-week action to oppose two-tier workforce

More than 300 porters, domestics, security and catering staff at the Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust will strike for two weeks from today (Thursday) 1 to Thursday 15 August, to oppose plans to outsource their jobs.

The workers believe pay and pensions will suffer as part of a drive to cut costs if roles are transferred to a wholly owned subsidiary company (subco), being set up by the trust.

These companies don’t have to honour NHS contracts and are free to pay employees less than NHS staff doing the same jobs, creating a damaging two-tier system that’s no good for staff or patients, says UNISON.

The August strike follows a week of industrial action in July that saw workers come together with the local community to oppose the backdoor privatisation of health services across the trust.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Staff are taking this action to ensure the NHS keeps its highly motivated and committed workforce together, working for the people of Bradford, not for the directors of a private company.

“It doesn’t reflect well on the trust that staff who are proud to be part of the NHS have to take to the streets to convince the trust that patients and staff come before profits.”

Notes to editors:
– Staff will be outside St Luke’s and Bradford Royal Infirmary from 6am on Thursday 1 August.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

Media Contacts:
Garfield Myrie T: 0207 121 5546 M: 07432 741565 E: g.myrie@unison.co.uk
Anthony Barnes T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk

Compass employees demand pay parity, while staff in Liverpool celebrate their own victory

 
 
 
HOSPITALS: Outsourced staff strike for pay
Compass employees in St Helens and Blackpool demand pay parity with colleagues directly employed by the NHS, while staff in Liverpool celebrate their own victory.
Read the full story
Send a message of support to the workers involved

Unions call for a 10% pay rise for local government workers

The three largest local government unions, representing 1.4 million employees in schools and councils across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have today (Wednesday) submitted a pay claim that attempts to reverse the real terms pay cuts suffered by local authority staff since 2010.

The claim for the year from next April would see the lowest paid staff earning at least £10 per hour, and all other council employees receiving a ten per cent pay rise.

UNISON, GMB and Unite’s joint claim also includes a one-day increase to employees’ annual leave entitlement and a two-hour reduction in the standard working week. It also calls for a review of the workplace causes of stress and mental health issues.

Commenting on the claim UNISON head of local government Jon Richards said: “Council staff have paid a heavy price during the years of austerity, keeping services going when cash was in short supply and hundreds of thousands of their colleagues lost their jobs.

“The government claims the cuts are behind us, but no new money behind the recent pay announcement for teachers, police officers and the armed forces suggests otherwise. The new PM should make good the damage of the past, and fund local government properly to protect jobs, wages and services.”

GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said: “Our members deserve a real pay rise. Boris Johnson needs to put his money where his mouth is and help reverse the last decade’s brutal cuts to our members’ quality of life.

“Local government workers’ earnings have been devalued by up to 22%. After ten years of real terms pay cuts our demand for a 10% pay rise and a minimum of £10 an hour is more than reasonable.

“Two out of three people now want the government to increase spending on public services – and all political parties agree the public sector needs greater investment.

“GMB is campaigning for pay justice. It’s high time the government started properly investing in our public services and local government workers.”

Unite national officer for local government Jim Kennedy said: “We are strongly supporting a 10 per cent pay increase and a £10 minimum rate claim for local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for the year starting April 2020.

“There are other highly important elements to our claim that revolve around work life balance and the wellbeing of our members mental health.

“Our claim is based on the fact that local government staff have borne the brunt of the government’s harsh austerity regime since 2010. Our members have seen their pay cut in real terms by 22 per cent since then and they need a substantial pay lift in recognition of the dedicated work that they do to keep council services running smoothly 24/7.”

For eight years from 2010 council workers faced eight years of government-imposed pay restraint, with their wages either frozen or held to a one per cent pay increase.

Local authority employees are now coming to the end of a two-year pay deal, which included a 2% increase each year, with more for the lowest paid. The unions would like to see the 2020/21 pay deal tackle the fall in living standards school and council workers have faced in the last decade.

The unions are presenting the pay claim to the Local Government Association this afternoon and the employers are expected to respond in the autumn.

Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E: l.chinchen@unison.co.uk
GMB press office M: 07958 156846 E: press.office@gmb.org.uk
Shaun Noble, Unite T: 020 3371 2060 M: 07768 693940 E: shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org
 

 

Caerleon campus sold to Redrow plc for more than £6millionDan Beard USW branch secretary quoted, South Wales Argus

 

 

Welsh government to ‘reverse decline of collective bargaining’ in public sector, regional secretary Tanya Palmer quoted, Morning Star

 

Workers' rights and fair employment practices to be key aim for Welsh Government, regional secretary Tanya Palmer quoted, South Wales Argus

 

 

 

Torfaen council leader Anthony Hunt’s column

'Local government workers deserve applause', references UNISON’s local service champions campaign, South Wales Argus

 

 

Embargoed until 15.30 hours Tuesday 9 July 2019

 

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING WILL TRANSFORM LIVES OF THOUSANDS

 

UNISON Cymru Wales has warmly welcomed the First Minister’s pledge to legislate to make the country a ‘fair work nation’ in his statement to the Senedd this afternoon (Tuesday).

 

The trade union, which represents 100,000 workers in Wales, said the livelihoods of thousands and thousands of low paid, particularly female workers, will be transformed if collective bargaining in the public sector is extended as promised by Mark Drakeford AM.

 

The First Minister has been giving his government’s official response to the recent report from the Fair Work Commission ‘Fair Work Wales’. UNISON said it is clear Mr Drakeford grasps how in-work poverty and zero hour contracts are blighting lives and stunting people’s prospects across Wales.

 

Tanya Palmer, UNISON Cymru Wales acting regional secretary said,

“Mark Drakeford’s statement is exactly the kind of bold, exciting announcement you want to hear from a politician: he wants to improve the lives of low paid workers and he’s going to do something about it.

 

“Thousands of carers, cleaners and many more and their families stand to benefit from better and fairer workplaces if trade unions are able to negotiate on an all-Wales basis on their behalf.

 

“The First Minister has listened to trade unions who are worried about the explosion of insecure work and the increase in in-work poverty as salaries have not kept pace with living costs. People might be exhausted from a full week’s work yet their pay is so low they can’t afford food for their family and the bills. That’s not the modern Wales we want to live in.

 

“The Welsh Government’s emphasis on social partnership, involving trade unions and giving people a stronger voice at work is very encouraging. UNISON knows, extending collective bargaining across Wales means it will make it more difficult for bad employers bidding for public contracts to undercut decent employers.”

 

Notes to editors

 

Contact

Alastair Gittins, UNISON press officer 07816 53 83 97

 

Local government services aren’t optional, but the bedrock of a caring society, says UNISON


Addressing the Local Government Association annual conference in Bournemouth today (Thursday), UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:

 

UNISON is passionate about local government and the half a million council workers it represents – many of them women.

 

“But local government is all too often forgotten despite the vast range of jobs and the sheer scale of support council workers provide to communities up and down the UK. They really are the country’s forgotten army.

 

“That’s why UNISON has just launched its local service champions campaign to celebrate the work of the council staff who support each and every one of us from cradle to grave.

 

“Whether it’s the births, deaths and marriages registrar or the grave digger, the care worker or the caretaker, the youth worker or the park keeper, the housing

officer, food safety officer or the refuse collector – local government touches everyone’s lives every single hour of every single day.

 

“And these are not optional services, but critical ones that provide the bedrock of a civilised and a caring society. A bedrock that’s been so easily ignored by politicians.

 

“So it’s no surprise that in the ‘splash the cash’ battle between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, where millions have been promised – for the NHS, the armed forces, fisheries and farming – that not a single penny has been promised, not a single mention made of local government. That says it all for me.

 

“Being a local councillor isn’t easy at the best of times, especially when local government has been hit hardest of all by austerity. Austerity has always been a political choice. It’s an error that’s caused untold, long-lasting damage to the very fabric of our communities.

 

“I know it’s been tough for councillors who’ve had to make the most difficult

decisions about jobs, services and funding. 

 

“There is no easy fix for local government, if there was we’d have found it by now. But the most pressing concern is easily social care. The sector is in crisis and the elderly, vulnerable and those with the greatest needs are being badly let down. 

 

“From 15-minute visits to no training for staff, and some of the worst employment conditions I have witnessed in years, care workers juggle the complex demands of those they care for.

 

“Many do so without payment for their travel and others have seen their pay for sleep-in shifts cuts. And yet it’s possible to earn more on the till in Tesco than racing from one client to the next. It’s no wonder so many care workers are always tired and exhausted, left feeling guilty that there’s simply no time to care.


“But ensuring decent care, decent conditions and better pay is only half the problem. Funding and the hidden structure behind many care companies – based on short-term property portfolios, not the longevity of provision – is quite simply a ticking timebomb for the nation’s future.

 

“Privatisation and outsourcing is a failed, expensive experiment that keeps evolving without any improvement to services. Councils of every political persuasion have done it – some for purely ideological reasons, others couched in the language of cost savings.

 

“But even when funding is stretched, privatisation is still a false economy. It means worse services that are unaccountable to local councillors, with cost savings – if in fact there are any – gained at the expense of the very workforce needed to deliver that service.

 

“Privatisation fails the workforce and your communities. UNISON wants to see an end to privatisation in all public services, especially local government. And of course better funding.

 

“Local government has been starved of cash, with its funding from central government slashed in half since 2010. Councils are at breaking point, with many

running out of reserves. The chaos that erupted in Northamptonshire could be replicated ten times over.

 

“Northamptonshire has become a byword for local government failure. It’s also a salutary warning to those who believe that an extreme low council tax and a high level of outsourcing works. It doesn’t.

 

“It means a council now having to be broken up at a staggering cost of £44 million, swallowing up other councils who've done nothing wrong. It is a warning, a flashing red light on the dashboard of local government that surely says that the time has come to do things differently.”

 

Notes to editors:
- UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors. 

 

Media contacts:

Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E: l.chinchen@unison.co.uk

Anthony Barnes T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk

MINIMUM WAGE: Evidence to the Low Pay Commission
UNISON has submitted its written evidence to the Low Pay Commission, making the case that – for all age groups – the national minimum wage should be raised to the real UK living wage and move on to the target of £10 an hour.
Download UNISON's evidence to the commission
Supplementary research on the path of the minimum wage beyond next year

Admin officer Josie Bird elected as new UNISON president

UNISON’s National Executive Council (NEC) has elected Josie Bird, a local government worker from Newcastle, as president at the union’s annual national conference in Liverpool.

Josie has been an administrative officer at Newcastle City Council for 18 years and an active member of UNISON for 17 years.

She has served as junior and senior vice president over the past two years and succeeds outgoing UNISON president Gordon McKay.

Josie said: “I’m very excited to be president but it’s a little daunting as Gordon will be a very hard act to follow.

“As far as I know I will be the first president to come through the young members’ structure, so this shows the union’s achievements in succession planning.

“As an activist I have always wanted to support members and people in the workplace generally but I think what I have enjoyed most is the international work. It gives you a much broader perspective and it is important to have a big vision. We believe in building a better world as well as helping the working class people on our doorstep.”

Born in Newcastle, Josie has lived there for most of her life and been chair of the city’s local government branch for around 15 years. She became the young members’ officer only months after joining and branch chair within 18 months. 

The activist hopes that during her year-long presidency the union will support Nomadesc. This human rights organization, already backed by UNISON’s northern region, supports indigenous people in Colombia who have been displaced within the country.

Josie will hold the position for a year. She is joined on the presidential team by Sian Stockham from Abergavenny as vice president, and James Anthony, a registered nurse from Birmingham, as junior vice president.

Media contacts:
Anthony Barnes T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07834 864 794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk
Sophie Goodchild T: 0207 121 5546 M: 07767 325595 E: s.goodchild@unison.co.uk

 

Crisis in social work revealed by new UNISON survey

Social workers say they are no longer able to do their jobs effectively because of years of repeated cuts that have created a crisis in the sector, according to a survey published by UNISON today (Wednesday).

The survey found an overwhelming number (95%) felt they could not perform their jobs properly due to the combined effects of reduced services and the social conditions created by austerity. 

Eight out of ten social workers say they’re forced to work unpaid overtime simply to keep their services going and fewer than one in five (17%) say their workload is manageable.

UNISON says the survey of more than 1,000 social workers shows the devastating effects of the government’s cost-cutting, as key community services are now barely effective. Ministers must act to put more money into local government before it’s too late, says the union.

Austerity is making it harder for councils to intervene in cases early which means families can be at a crisis point before social workers become involved. And the effects of financial misery caused by changes to the benefits system have made even more people vulnerable, says UNISON.

According to the survey:

·         More than half (56%) are thinking of leaving for jobs that would be less stressful.

·         One in four (25%) social workers are working more than seven hours overtime each week.

·         Eight in ten social workers (80%) say local people aren’t receiving the help and support they need at the right time.

·         More than two thirds (68%) of social workers say jobs have been cut in their department in the past two years.

·         Nearly two thirds (63%) say that the council is not delivering quality services.

·         Four fifths (80%) are regularly working beyond their contracted hours.

·         More than nine in ten (92%) say budget cuts have let to staff morale plummeting.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Social workers are dealing with the most vulnerable in society. When they say there are problems we all need to listen, and the government especially.

“These are skilled and dedicated staff who care passionately about helping families in difficult circumstances. It adds further to their stress and anxiety if they feel people down.

“A culture driven by targets and financial needs, combined with unmanageable workloads and financial cuts is creating problems that could tear apart communities, and put vulnerable children at risk.

“There is a crisis in social work after almost a decade of cuts to local government. Ministers must act before the system and the people it cares for are damaged beyond repair.” 

Notes to editors:
- Quotes from the survey respondents:
“If we treated people with broken legs like we treat people with broken minds there would be a national outcry. It is an utter scandal” – social worker, Leeds.

“We are now making decisions based on what we have available or can afford, rather than what a child needs or stalling where possible to allow a child to reach an age where they no longer qualify for a service” – social worker, Crossmichael, Scotland.

“We struggle to deliver vital services to young children and families because of the cuts. Nurseries are closing down, contact centres are shutting. There is a complete lack of venues to do direct work with families” – social worker, Worsley, north west England.
- The report containing the findings, Social Work at Breaking Point, can be accessed here.

Media contacts:
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: l.chinchen@unison.co.uk

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EMPLOYMENT LAW: Union wins holiday pay case at Court of Appeal
NHS workers who do overtime on a regular basis, or who frequently work beyond their normal shifts, should now have these extra hours taken into account when their holiday pay is calculated, as a result of a landmark court victory.
Read the full press release
 
POLITICS: Tax cut for higher earners is absurd after years of austerity
“That money is needed by the nurse who sees our NHS creaking under pressure, the teaching assistant who relies on food banks to feed her family, or the care worker who can spend only a few minutes with the vulnerable people she supports,” commented Dave Prentis
Read the full press release
 
LGPS: Union issues pension warning for university and college workers
Plans to allow employers in England to opt out of local government pension scheme are an ‘unwarranted and grievous’ attack on higher and further education staff.
Read the full story
Read more on the local government pension scheme
 

Reacting to Donald Trump’s supposed NHS U-turn, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “Donald Trump has shown he is willing to play games with the future of the NHS and the government’s weakness means he thinks he can call the shots. “The UK desperately needs strong government that will stand up for the NHS […]

 
 
 

Private companies employing tens of thousands of staff in the NHS across England are coming under pressure to give their employees a wage rise as UNISON’s campaign for fair pay in the health service escalates. Workers at contracting giants – including Compass Medirest, Serco, Mitie and ISS – are today (Tuesday) calling on company chief executives […]

 
 

This week has been a great opportunity to a whole continent of trade unionists to recommit ourselves to fighting and winning the challenges ahead. And based on what we’ve all heard this week, there’s so much to fight for, and so much to be hopeful about.

Commenting on the release today (Monday) of the Interim NHS People Plan, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “Working for the NHS can be challenging so it’s good to see those at the top are finally focusing on the needs of their employees. A supportive workplace is vital to retain experienced, hardworking staff. “However voices from across […]

Commenting on the Institute for Fiscal Studies report on council funding and tonight’s BBC1 Panorama programme on social care, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “After years of relentless cuts, council budgets are stripped to the bone. This is starkly illustrated by the perilous state of social care, not to mention a fall of more […]

New Tenancy Fees Act (Engalnd) comes into force on 1 June – Scotland and Wales have own legislation

Mike Leigh’s historical adviser talks about the research that informs the recounting of the 18th century pro-democracy rally that ended in tragedy

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UNISON Cymru Wales has sent a solidarity message to UCU members striking at some Welsh universities this week.

Dan Beard from UNISON’s Higher Education Service Group Executive said,

“UNISON Cymru Wales members give a warm message of solidarity to UCU members striking in defence of your right to a decent pension.

“Yours is a critical dispute and a defined benefit pension is the benchmark of a good employer. Pensions are deferred earnings which you have worked hard to receive. The changes proposed by Universities UK are severe and could strip you of thousands of pounds in retirement. The proposals must be reversed. Attacking pension benefits will never be acceptable to the workforce.

“As we consult with our own members on the Universities UK proposals, we are proud to offer our support to our sister union. UNISON members have been encouraged to support UCU comrades on picket lines, protests and rallies. Good luck in your fight for pensions justice.”