Transport to the March Against Austerity, Sunday 4 October

Sunday 4 October will see UNISON members join thousands of trade unionists and supporters marching through Manchester to condemn the government’s damaging programme of austerity and attacks on the rights of working people and their unions, as the Tory conference opens.

To date details of the following coaches to Manchester from across London and the South East have been received:-

Barnet trades council coach leaving Finchley Central tube at 06.45, picking up at Hendon Central tube at 07.00 and Mill Hill Broadway station at 07.15. £15/free or donation. Contact Barnet Unison 020 8359 2088 and leave your contact details

Brent trades council (with Brent Fightback) leaving Brent Trades Hall at 07.00 £20/£10 07951 084 101

Ealing trades council coach contact or 07931 198 501

Haringey trades council coach, more details

Islington Hands Off Our Public Services leaving the Town Hall at 07.00. £10/£5 07950 280 908

NUT Redbridge coach more details

SOAS – details to be confirmed

Tower Hamlets
– Leaving 6.45 from Mile End.  Contact TH UNISON on 0207 364 5302 or email

Waltham Forest
trades council coach leaving Walthamstow Central at 06.00 £20/£10 07905 765 705

RMT London Region coach leaving British Museum at 07.45 £10/free unwaged. Contact 07914 002 851

Kings Lynn trades council coach, possibly also picking up at Peterborough, more details

St Albans, Welwyn & Hatfield trades council coach, from St Albans at 08.00, calling at Hatfield and/or Welwyn Garden. Free/donations. More details 07721 040 631

Unite coach leaving John Lewis Coach Park, Milton Keynes at 08.00. Free/donation

Unite and Luton trades council coach from Luton. Free. Contact 01582 726 122

Unite is also considering a coach from Colchester, Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds, and one from Cambridge and Peterborough. Expressions of interest to 01473 250 321

Unison Bedfordshire Health Branch coach from L&D Hospital (time tbc), then Bedford Hospital. Contact

Portsmouth coaches from The Hard (06.00) £20/£5 contact Mark 07816 835 621. Also from the Student Union, Fratton Trades Club, Cosham Old Post Office – also contact Mark

Norfolk People’s Assembly coach contact

Unison South East coaches from Abingdon, Banbury, Brighton, Didcot, Oxford, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton, Witney. details here

Southend on Sea UNISON Branch – £10 return Leaves Shoebury (bus stop near ASDA) 6am, picking up along A13 to Tarpots. Organised by ‘Southend Against The Cuts’ with trade union sponsorship Book online:

Beds Hospital together with Luton & Dunstable Hospital Branch – Pick up outside the L&D hospital [time tbc], then drive to pick up Bedford people outside Bedford Hospital [time tbc] before heading off to Manchester to be there in good time before the 11:30/midday start [exact times tbc] The coach has also been opened up to Bedford Trades Council & Luton Trades Council. Tel Ian Thomas 01234 355122 bleep 344

Herts County Branch – 17 seater coach running from Stevenage. Tel David Devereux, Branch Secretary 01992 556260

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Changes to Tax Credits Thresholds and Tapers

The government’s Summer Budget announced changes to the tax credit threshold (above which tax credits are reduced) and an increase in the taper (the rate they are reduced by) from April 2016.

HMRC says “For people entitled to WTC the threshold is £6,420 a year. People with annual income at or below this threshold will receive the maximum award to which they are entitled.

Those with income above the threshold will have their maximum award reduced by 41p for every pound of income above the threshold.”

This is how the threshold and taper system works today.

The threshold is being reduced from £6,420 to £3,850 and the taper increased from 41p to 48p.

In work Child and working tax credit entitlement graph

UNISON has calculated the impact of these changes on different types of household using the NJC pay scale and the spreadsheet can be downloaded here

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Sleep-ins and the National Minimum Wage

Last year a key legal judgement established that sleep-ins carried out by workers should be included in calculations for the National Minimum Wage (NMW).   This means that members, and potential members, who do ‘sleep-ins’ and are low paid may be entitled to a pay rise and potentially back pay.

The Whittlestone EAT judgement has established that sleep-ins are covered by the National Minimum Wage (NMW) regulations. So even if a worker is allowed to sleep at work, if they are required to stay at their workplace, then all their hours are covered by NMW regulations.

This means if any worker is paid – on average – less than the NMW over their pay reference period, they will be entitled to a pay rise to ensure NMW compliance. They may also be able to pursue a claim for back pay. However, because working patterns vary enormously between individuals; this will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

UNISON is aware that the introduction of the NMW Regulations 2015 led some employers to think that this meant that they now did not have to pay for sleep-ins (reversing the Whittlestone EAT judgment), however this is not the case

The new NMW Regulations 2015 are consolidating regulations and therefore the legal position from the Whittlestone EAT judgement remains unchanged and “sleep-ins” continue to be covered by the NMW.

Each case will need to be looked at on an individual basis, however the starting point is to look at the nature of the work being undertaken by the member. Does the worker have an obligation to be physically present at their workplace? For example, what would happen if they left – would the worker be disciplined?.   If they would be disciplined or they are otherwise prevented from leaving then case law suggests that the time spent at work, whether awake or asleep, is subject to NMW compliance. This is because being present is work in itself.

It may be that the worker is able to sleep (as Ms. Whittlestone was able to) for most of the night but the relevant issue is that the worker could not simply be absent for one night or part of a night and that their physical presence is required.

The sections which appear to be causing concern for employers (reg. 27 (2) and reg. 32(2)) only come into play where it can be shown that the worker is available for work (but not actually working) and qualify the situations in which payment must be made (i.e. when the worker is woken and carries out duties).

These would be circumstances where the individual was genuinely “on-call”. For example if a worker was required to sleep on the premises, but could come and go as they pleased (they are under no obligation to be physically present), this would be categorised as “on-call”. Our experience suggests that this would be an unlikely scenario in the care sector. It is more likely to be relevant in the service industry where people may live above a pub for example.

UNISON’s position is that someone who is required to be present (awake or asleep), and who is not permitted to leave the premises during their shift or sleep in is working rather than available for work so the qualifications in reg. 27(2) and reg. 32(2) do not apply.

The law is a useful tool in pushing employers to change current arrangements, and potentially for back pay claims. We will support individual members’ legal cases where they are assessed as having reasonable chances of success.


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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 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

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


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:

London Met Strikers



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