Monthly Archives: April 2014

Tube Strike

The Rail, Maritime and Transport workers’ union (RMT) are taking strike action from the evening of Tuesday 28 to Thurday 1 May and have another 48 hour strike planned for next week. 

Oliver New, RMT President and long time RMT activist has written a short explanation of the action :

London Underground workers are taking strike action against de-staffing of tube stations.  These cuts of 950 jobs would undermine safety; reduce services and cut jobs and wages.

In February, RMT called off the strikes after Management promised a station by station review of all ticket office closures and job cuts. But the review didn’t happen; only  5 stations were considered and Management are still insisting that all the cuts go ahead.  In other words they lied.  Worse still, management have admitted they plan to get rid of hundreds more front line jobs and increase managers by the same amount.  More managers – just what the public don’t need!

Expect the media to repeat management lies and insult, patronise and demonise RMT and its members.

All RMT members who work on the Underground will be taking strike action to fight for properly staffed stations.  They will be losing money even though most of them, including engineers, train drivers and white collar staff are not directly affected.  Even for station staff there would be no compulsory redundancies and a large measure of protection of earnings.  So the fight is in large part to defend properly run Underground system.  But nevertheless RMT members will be called selfish, by members of the media who don’t seem to comprehend that people can fight for principles.  Some of them wouldn’t know a principle you shoved it up their nose. All they seem to understand is self interest, and they assume or pretend that’s all other people can think of. 

Nor will the media admit that unions are democratic, instead they claim that the strikes are somehow ‘ordered’.

These cuts would mean no ticket offices on any station and times some stations would inevitably be left unstaffed, whatever Management pretends.

The Management claim that “only 3% of journeys start from a ticket office” is simply a fantasy – it has no basis in reality.  Without proper staffing levels, most journeys should be ok. Unless, of course something goes wrong, when there are huge potential safety issues. Or if someone needs assistance because they have a disability, or need help, or don’t understand they system, or their Oyster doesn’t work, or they forgot to touch in our out, or any number of other issues. 

To the surprise of many, most Londoners supported the last strike in February. The media will try to turn that round this time.  Predictably, the Tories threaten to ban strikes while Labour just hide their heads in the sand.

Meanwhile, RMT members on Heathrow Express are also fighting against job and pay cuts and will also be taking strike action on 29th and 30th April and picketing outside Paddington station.”

12520_Tube-closed

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NJC Employers Pay Offer – get ready for industrial action ballot now!

Our members voted

An industrial ballot on NJC pay will start on 23 May following members’ overwhelming 71% rejection of the employers’ 1% pay offer. Members have rejected the constant decline in NJC pay and services run on goodwill and under-investment in the workforce.

Kensington & Chelsea Unison members delivered 85% vote to reject the 1% pay offer.

The ballot timetable

Once authorised, the ballot will be carried out by Electoral Reform Society on behalf of UNISON and will last four weeks, ending on 23 June. Members will be asked if they are prepared to take strike action. If there is a ‘yes’ vote and the Industrial Action Committee gives the green light, industrial action will commence in July.

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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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