Monthly Archives: July 2013

One Million Over 65’s Still at Work

A record 1 million of the over 65’s are still in work (615,000 men and 388,000 women) – that’s 9.5% of all over 65’s in Britain.[1]

Employment chart

With government attacks on pensions (both state and employment pension), wage freezes and inflation many over 65’s cannot afford to retire.

Jim Hillage, Institute for Employment Studies director of research, said: “While this reflects a welcome willingness among employers to recruit and retain experienced people, it may also reflect the need that some older people have to top up inadequate pension arrangements.”

Tens of thousands of people have no option but to carry on working, particularly as you would need 29% more savings/pension to receive the same retirement income as in 2009.

That is nearly a 1/3 cut in pensioners’ living standards I the last 4 years.

 The government aims to increase the retirement age for both men and women to 66 by 2020, and 67 by 2028.


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Food Banking Crisis

The number of people receiving emergency food rations has more than doubled in the last 12 months as inflation has eroded incomes and government spending cuts have pushed thousands of people and families into crisis.[1]

 The Trussell Trust Charity[2] runs the largest network of food banks in theFood Bank UK. It has seen referrals to its centres jump to 350,000 in the year up to April 2013, from 130,000 in the year up to April 2012. The charity estimates that 50% of the households it helps had at least one person in work and 33% have children.

 The Trussell Trust has had a 170% increase in demand for food rations. The trust does not accept walk-in requests for help. Food is only given to those referred by a GP, Jobcentre, social worker or the police. With 50% of food being given to working households, the effects of low-paid, part-time, temporary jobs can be seen on society.

 90% of food bank supplies are donated from the public. The centres are mainly staffed by volunteers.

 The Salvation Army also run food schemes[3]. The demand for Salvation Army food parcels is greater than ever as more families struggle to put food on the table

Simon Wright of the Salvation Army says, “A lot of people we see are in work. One group of donors was really shocked at the concept of the working poor. We know of many people who are doing everything they can. They’re in a job, they can’t find a job which pays more, they’re paying rent, water, Council Tax, electric and they honestly struggle to buy food for their families”.

 Current figures of food bank users pre-date 1 April 2013 when a whole raft of government welfare cuts began. The numbers will significantly increase because of cuts to housing benefit, the impositions of a benefits cap and the bedroom tax.

 The United Nations spokesperson on food, Oliver de Schutter, has warned that food banks should not be seen as a “substitute” for a functioning welfare system.

 Denise Bentley of the Tower Hamlets food bank[4] said, “We are being so pressured to fill the gap that is now being created by the welfare reforms – were, not that, we’re meant to be a short-term help.”

 The Trussell Trust is opening three new food banks every week and how has 345 in the UK. There has been a 15% increase in the number of food banks in the last 12 months – but a 170% increase in referrals.

Chris Maxwell, Chairperson of the Trussell Trust says, “The fundamental thing is more and more people are living an increasingly precarious life financially”.

 

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Local Government Pay Offer Accepted

UNISON and GMB members voted to accept the 1% offer.  UNITE’s position was to reject the offer but to recognise the Trade Union Side’s position to accept. The Trade Union Side has sent to the Local Government Employers accepting the 1% pay offer which can viewed here.

The acceptance followed consultation exercises with members of all threePay Matters unions. Our Branch recorded a 76% vote to reject. Nationally the vote was 59 – 41% to accept. GMB reported a large vote to accept whilst Unite reported 57 – 43% to reject.

The Local Government Employers have now sent official notification to local authorities so that the new salaries can be paid as quickly as possible. Details of this notification and rates of pay applicable from 1 April 2013 are here.

Deletion of SCP 4

 As part of the 2013 pay agreement Spinal Column Point 4 (SCP4) will be deleted with effect from 1 October 2013.  This means that employees on SCP4 will progress to SCP5 on 1 October and where automatic increments apply shall then progress to SCP6 with effect from 1 April 2014.

Anger

At UNISON’s National Conference last month there was considerable anger at the failure to provide a national lead on fighting pay restraint. Where regions (such as in the North West) or branches called for rejection the members voted to fight the 1% pay limit. People felt that with a national lead that would have been the national outcome. 

Unacceptable

That anger was reflected in the Trade Union’s letter to the employers which stated:

 “In accepting the offer the Trade Union Side wishes to make it clear to the Employers that this below inflation pay offer falls far below our aspirations and what members deserve. It means a further pay cut for our members after a three-year pay freeze.  A significant proportion of our members voted to reject the offer and a similar offer next year will be totally unacceptable.”

Real Pay already cut 16%

We have already suffered a 16% real pay cut since 2009. George Osborne has announced that pay restraint for public sector workers will continue through until at least April 2016. Unison’s Conference called for a coordinated campaign across the public sector to break through on pay restraint. The Joint Trade Union Side has strongly indicated to the Local Government Employers that a similar pay offer next year will be totally unacceptable.  The UNISON NJC Committee is meeting on 1 August 2013 to consider proposals for the 2014/15 NJC pay claim for consultation with branches.

Teachers

Meanwhile teaching unions have already embarked on a national campaign of action on pay and other issues.

Next term there will be strike action in London in the week beginning 14 October and a one-day all-out national strike before the end of the autumn term.

Austerity

The attacks on our standard of living are part and parcel of the wider Austerity programme that is cutting pay, jobs and services, and targeting the poorest and most vulnerable. The government has embarked on large reductions to those on benefits through the bedroom tax and benefits cap that will have a huge impact on communities like ours, whilst announcing further 10% cut for Local Government in 2015, and making tax cuts for the rich.

Demonstrate 29 September

We are going to work flat out to build for the protest at the Tory PartyStrike Crowd Conference on Sunday 29 September in Manchester, called by UNISON, GMB and Unite and backed by the TUC, principally around defense of the NHS.

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