Branch Endorses Corbyn

UNISON and the Labour party

A vital purpose of a trade union is to campaign for the protection of its members and for improvement in their terms and conditions.

The protections benefiting trade union members today are the result of many successful campaigns run by trade unions such as UNISON in previous years.

One key method of campaigning is to represent the interests of trade unions to government and politicians, as obviously employment legislation is the biggest factor in determining the terms and conditions of the workplace.

From its earliest days, the Labour Party has received support from the trade union movement because it has delivered legislation and policies to improve the lives of working people.

Choosing a new leader for the Labour Party

Following the recent General Election and the resignation of Ed Miliband the process is now underway to elect a new labour leadersLeader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. The four candidates standing for Labour Leader are Andy Burham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall.

UNISON is affiliated to the Labour Party and because of this all UNISON members are able to participate in choosing the next leader and deputy leaders of the Labour Party by registering as Affiliated Supporters – this is FREE, there is no charge.

UNISON members who have not yet signed up as Affiliated Supporters are still able to do so until 12 noon on 12 August. As an affiliated supporter they will be eligible to participate in the ballot which will be conducted by the Labour Party to select the Labour leader as well as London’s Mayoral candidate. FREE Sign up can be done online at http://support.labour.org.uk/. Remember to answer ‘yes’ to the question “are you a member of an organisation affiliated to the Labour Party?”.

In addition members of UNISON have the option of joining the Affiliated Political Fund which allows some of their subs to be used to financially support the Labour Party – but members must choose to opt in to this, it is not automatic.

Kensington and Chelsea’s preferred candidate, Jeremy Corbyn MP

UNISON is eligible to make a nomination, which is a formal endorsement of a preferred candidate, but it is important to remember that the election itself is based on the principle of ‘one member, one vote’. Labour party members, Labour MPs, trade union members and other affiliated supporters get one vote each and each individual’s vote carries the same weight.

The branch committee of Kensington and Chelsea UNISON met and chose to nominate Jeremy Corbyn as its preferred Corbyncandidate. Branch members who register as Affiliated Supporters (as explained above) are free to vote for any candidate of their choice, but the branch committee recommends Jeremy Corbyn:

  • He is a UNISON member and a former member of NUPE
  • He campaigns against low pay, privatisation and outsourcing
  • He offers a real alternative to the failures of austerity economics

As you may have seen in the news, in nominating Jeremy, the Kensington and Chelsea branch committee have mirrored the views of UNISON members nationally, who have also endorsed Corbyn.

[Luke Metclafe, Branch Labour Link Officer]

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Consultation on Simplifying Tax Treatment of Termination Payments

The government is consulting on simplifying the tax treatment of termination payments which will have serious repercussion on settlement agreements

At the moment, generally the elements of a termination payment that are contractual are subject to income tax and NI and those which are not contractual are only liable to income tax on amounts exceeding £30,000. An obvious exception is redundancy payments which are free from income tax and NI (up to £30K).

The government wants to:

  • Remove the distinction between contractual and non-contractual termination payments
  • Align the tax and NIC treatment of termination payments
  • Remove some or all the existing exceptions; and
  • Reduce the £30,000 tax and NI free allowance on settlement agreements

Employees will still be able to receive some (if not in some cases all) of their settlement agreement payments tax free but there are three criteria:

  • An employee would need to have completed two years service with the employer
  • The payments would have to be made in connection with a redundancy situation (as defined in section 139 of the Employment Rights Act 1996); and
  • The tax free allowance would be proportionate to the length of service.

An example in the consultation document is:

Settlement Example

 

The full policy document can be viewed and downloaded from here.

 

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Resisting the Trade Union Bill – Public Meeting Details

The new Trade Union Bill currently going through Parliament seeks to curtail workers rights and further restrict union freedoms. Harriet Harman accusing the government of “attacking the right of working people to have a say on their pay and conditions”.

There is a free public meeting on the Trade Union Bill on Wednesday 29 July at 6pm

The meeting has been organised by the Institute of Employment Rights (IER), the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom (CTUF), the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS), the People’s Assembly and the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group.

Representatives from the TUC, FBU, RMT, UNITE, PCS,  CWU and UNISON will join IER experts John Hendy and Keith Ewing, together with MPs and campaign groups to determine what steps the labour movement needs to take to expose the unfair and undemocratic nature of the government’s proposals.

Please attend if you can

Reviewing and Resistng the Trade Union Bill Public Meeting

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Strike at London Metropolitan University

Teaching and support staff at London Metropolitan University are staging another day of strike action on Friday 24 July.

Members of Unison and the University and College Union (UCU), are angry at university plans to axe 165 academic and support posts.

Additionally management have announced that Max Watson, Branch Chair and a member of UNISON’s National Executive for Higher Education, has been selected for compulsory redundancy. Members at London Met have no doubt that Max’s selection amounts to victimisation having fought off a previous attempt to victimise Max just two years ago.

This appears to be an attempt to deal a heavy blow to union organisation as the college plans ongoing cuts that ultimately raise questions about the very future of a university which has provided opportunities in Higher Education for working class students in particular.

You can support UNISON members at London Metropolitan University in their strike action this Friday (24th July) in a number of ways:

1)         Send a message of support to unison@londonmet.ac.uk

2)         Join the picket lines on Friday. They will be at :

HOLLOWAY ROAD

166-220 Holloway Road, N7 8DB – This is the main picket line

RALLY 12.00-2pm

Tower Building, 166-220 Holloway Rd, London N7 8D

For those in East London unable to get to Holloway Road there will also be a picket at Calcutta House, Old Castle Street, E1 7NT

Further information from London Met UNISON’s web site on is available here: http://www.londonmetunison.org.uk/2015/07/all-out-strike-24-july-defend-max-natasha-and-frank/

London Met Strikers

 

 

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Trade Union Bill – Consultation

The government has published the draft Trade Union Bill. This seeks to curb the unions’ and their members’ freedom in a number of areas along with setting minimum levels for industrial action in certain areas of the public sector.

The main proposals are:-

  • Industrial action will require at least 50% turnout of those entitled to vote
  • 40% of all eligible voters must vote in favour of industrial action which affect certain public services:
    • health services;
    • (b) education of those aged under 17Legislation jpeg
    • (c) fire services;
    • (d) transport services;
    • (e) decommissioning of nuclear installations and management of
    • radioactive waste and spent fuel;
    • (f) border security.
  • The ban on using agency staff to cover striking workers will be lifted
  • Strike mandates will expire are a 4 month limit after which another ballot is required
  • More specific requirements for the wording of the ballot paper, they must:

include a reasonably detailed indication of the matter or matters in issue in the trade dispute to which the proposed industrial action relates.

 

Where the voting paper contains a question about taking part in industrial action short of a strike, the type or types of industrial action must be specified

 

The voting paper must indicate the period or periods within which the industrial action or, as the case may be, each type of industrial action is.

  • Banning automatic opt-ins to political donations from trade union subscription fees
  • The amount of notice of a strike to be given to an employer will be increased from 7 to 14 days

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UNISON 2015 School Uniform Grant

The Childen’s Society recently reported that parents are paying hundreds of pounds for school uniforms with many poor families ending up in debt or forced to cut back on essentials to pay for items.  The charity suggests that nearly 800,000 pupils go to school in poorly fitting uniforms while a further 400,000 have been sent home for wearing ‘incorrect’ clothing.  One of the key reasons for high uniform spending are policies that force parents to buy items from specialist shops which often push costs up by nearly £100.”

There for You, UNISON’s own charity has just launched its 2015 School Uniform initiative and members on low income can apply for a grant to help with these costs.  The process is quick and straightforward – members simply need to complete the application form which can be downloaded at www.unison.org.uk/thereforyou and post to UNISON There for You, 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY.  The closing date to receive applications is 10 July 2015 and anyone eligible can expect to receive a cheque to help with the cost of kitting out their children before schools go back after the Summer break.

To learn more about the range of help and assistance available from ‘There for You’ visit www.unison.org.uk/thereforyou

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Sponsor Felicity Scott on this Year’s Prudential Ride London-Surrey

Last year I ended a 20-year hiatus and obtained a bicycle, my first since I was 12 years old. The challenge of cycling through London’s rush hour traffic terrified me, and it’s taken all year for me to feel comfortable on busy roads.

Then, four weeks ago, I signed up for the Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 and pretty quickly I realised that my cycle to work was a mere walk in the park.

To put it in to context, cycling the London-Surrey 100 on 2nd August is the equivalent of doing my ride to work 20 times, without stopping (except for the occasional toilet break), with an ascent of Surrey’s indomitable Box Hill thrown in for good measure… all before 5pm, when they clear the roads for the professionals. What was I thinking? Why on earth did I volunteer to do this?

I chickened out of entering the ballot last year so I jumped at the chance of taking part when Refuge emailed asking for people to join their team a few weeks ago. Not only for the opportunity to embark on a personal challenge, but also to raise essential funds which are needed to ensure Refuge can continue their vital work.

Refuge is a national charity which supports thousands of women and children every day who have survived – or are currently experiencing – domestic abuse. And that’s just for starters. They also: campaign to raise public awareness to prevent further domestic abuse; lobby government to ensure that the voices of vulnerable women and children are heard; provide training for professionals; and carry out research to educate people about the long lasting impact that domestic violence can have on a woman and her family. You can find out more about their work here: http://www.refuge.org.uk/

Since signing up I have moments when I am giddy with excitement and daydream about pedalling across the finish line, triumphant and sweaty! Initially the enormity of the challenge escaped me. I imagined it to be a big fun bike ride.  But then I noticed other people’s reactions when I told them what I had signed up for. Don’t get me wrong, they were supportive but I got the sense that they thought I was mad, that I hadn’t really thought this through. Then it dawned on me:  100 miles, multiple hills, time limited. Anxiety set in.

Preparing for a sporting event of this nature is a challenge in itself. I have to think about my nutrition, fitness and health in ways I never have before. I have a training programme which sets out each day what I must do from now until 2nd August. I find this part enjoyable, I like the structure, it motivates me. I feel focused (most of the time) and I have an actual goal! So despite the enormous challenge ahead I am thrilled to be taking part. There will be thousands of us out there, all will have trained, all determined to finish. We’ll be cycling through central London and the beautiful Surrey countryside and the roads will be completely bereft of cars. How wonderful! Completing this challenge will certainly put my body to the test but its also going to take grit, fortitude and a fearlessness I could only have dreamed about one year ago.

GETTING STARTED

First thing first, I printed out my training programme on A3 paper and stuck it to my kitchen cupboards: an act of unequivocal dedication, I told myself.  Then I took a trip to the local bike shop to get my bike checked out. I practically bounced into the shop beaming, proud to tell them all about what I’d signed up for. They didn’t seem as impressed as I hoped. So I asked if I could join their cycling club – maybe this would show them how serious I was? The guy took one look at me, one look at my bike and said ‘not on that bike’. I hit my first set back. I assumed that my second-hand hyrid would be fine. Sure, its a bit chunky and battered but it works. It’s got all the gears. Plus it’s comfy, upright, with a nice cushioned saddle and lovely fat tyers that make riding over lumps and bumps in the road a doddle. Yet the shop assistant was adamant that I would not complete the ride on that bike. He showed me some skinny-wheeled thing with curlying handlebars and clippy pedals. Not my cuppa tea really. And it was £600. So I left, glum, feeling ever so stupid and naïve.  My chips had been well and truly rained upon.

My boyfriend, ever the optimist, told me to forget about the man’s disparaging comments and get on with training. After all, the shop assistant was probably just trying to sell me that fancy bike. Yeh, what did he know?

So I got on with it. Eager to start training, I dragged my boyfriend and some friends out for my first training session to Richmond Park. We entered through Roehampton Gate and went clockwise, which meant we had to climb a section known as Broomfield Hill.  Christ, that hill is steep! Despite having an impressive range of gears, it turns out I didn’t really know how to use them. I made it up that hill but had to stop three times.  We made it round the park and back home again. 25 miles. A solid, if exhausting, start.

The next weekend I tried to improve– 30 miles this time. Again my boyfriend and a different friend were roped in to joining me. We headed for Hampstead Heath, mostly for the hills. The headline from this trip? Hills are hard. Hills keep me awake at night.

The following weekend I increased my distance a bit more, this time doing around 40 miles. My chunky bike was holding out! I was getting faster and more confident. Hills were still tricky, but now I understood what to do with gears it was somewhat easier. I’d even done a midweek training ride out to Richmond Park for a lap before work. I was feeling unstoppable!

More and more people were telling me how much easier it would be if I had a lighter frame and skinny wheels; in short, a road bike. Buying one simply wasn’t an option. I thought about going to a Police auction or asking a bike shop to loan me a bike until after the race. Nothing materialised. The more I looked at my dear old hybrid, the more impossible this 100 mile cycle seemed.

Out with the old….

Felicity on bike 1

Then, a miracle. My friend offered to lend me hers. Boom. It’s actually the bike she had bought two years ago to do the London-Surrey 100, but she hadn’t felt fit enough at the time, so didn’t get to do it. Score on the bike but this friend is already much fitter than I’ll ever be so again I felt anxiety levels rise. I pushed these nagging doubts to one side to make room for the dread of having to ride this expensive-looking, much faster, drop-handlebarred beast.

In with the new…

Felicity on bike 2

The first ride didn’t go too well. Once again I took myself to Richmond Park. Coming down the hill heading towards Richmond Gate I approached the roundabout and lost my nerve. Fearing I was going too fast and that I didn’t have enough space to manoeuvre, I suddenly lost control. The bicycle disappeared from under me and I crunched into the hard ground, feeling the cold wetness seeping in through my clothes. Shaken up but not injured I quickly retrieved the bike from the middle of the road before any cars came. I’d somehow wedged the handlebars under the frame. I couldn’t pull them out. Fortunately there were some very kind cyclists who checked I was ok and one guy was able to free the handlebars. This was the one ride I hadn’t managed to cajole my boyfriend in to coming. I found myself, on a bleak and overcast Sunday afternoon, alone in the middle of Richmond Park, 13 miles from home with sore hands, grazed knees and a bruised ego. I had no choice but to get back on the wretched thing and cycle home. Slowly.

The next few weeks were training light. I reverted back to the sturdy hybrid, incorporating my training into my commute. Weekend commitments meant training over long distances all but grinded to a halt. All the time, whenever I thought about, or worse still, locked eyes on that horrible road bike I would fill with terror. I actually think I hated that bike for a while.

Then the bike gods struck a crucial blow. The break cable on the hybrid broke one more morning before work. I contemplated getting the tube but against my better judgement, I got back on the road bike. It felt like a small victory. Later on I took the road bike to the my local shop to check it was ok. This time the bike lady was really friendly and not at all condescending. She raised the saddle and flipped the handlebars so they tilted upwards.  Turns out I had been riding on virtually flat tyres too, so no wonder that ride to Richmond Park was so uncomfortable! With the adjustments made, when I did eventually pluck up the courage (all be it by force of hand), I felt more at ease.

That brings me up to now. It’s the beginning of June and I have eight weeks until the big day. Details of my training programme are here: https://thecyclistablog.wordpress.com/training-programme/

As you can see I have a long way to go.

I’ll be blogging and tweeting along the way, partly for my own catharsis but mostly to aid my fundraising for Refuge. My target is £750 and I really want to smash it! Riding for Refuge is an honour and I am determined to reach my goal so they can continue to do their life-changing work.

All donations will be received with my heartfelt gratitude. You can visit my fundraising page here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserPage.action?userUrl=FelicityScott&faId=593145&isTeam=false

As well as, or instead of, financial donations, if you have completed the ride before or you’re doing it this year, I’d love to hear from you! Tips, training routes and techniques, kit suggestions and general messages of encouragement and wisdom are all needed.

Back in 2013’s inaugural event, Boris Johnson did it in eight hours and four minutes. Sally Gunnell did it in five hours and 40 minutes.  If I cross that finishing line before 5pm, I will have succeeded in my challenge. Topping Sally’s time is a bit out of my reach but, if I can beat Boris and do it in under eight hours, I will be well chuffed! Thank you in advance for your generosity and support.

 

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