Monthly Archives: August 2014

National Delegate Conference

 – By Sonya Howard, Branch Secretary

This was very much a pre election conference with speculation and anticipation of the potential of a change of government. This meant most topics debated were generally non controversial.

Again pay was discussed this time with a view to include our colleagues in Health who have also rejected a 1% pay offer.

Living Wage and Zero hour contracts,

The need for a decent Living wage was debated. Increasing wages improves equality, boost demand in the economy and reduces the need for benefit system to prop up low wages. A ‘win- win’ scenario, for all members and the economy. It was said that the so-called recovery had been at the expense of the workforce.

The scandal of zero-hour contracts has now reached the point where 1.4 million people are on them. This is particularly acute in the care sector with 300,000 workers subjected to these contracts, not knowing what work they will get week to week. Often those on zero-hour contracts are responsible for the care of our most vulnerable in society.

Decent Pay and secure work should be the basic right, not a luxury. It is time to end the zero-hour culture.

NHS

The hated Health and Social Care Act (2012) is triumph for the free market ideology over common sense. The Act allows the market into every part of the NHS, with billions of pounds open to private health care.

There have been some striking campaigns to resist the changes such as Lewisham, Chairing Cross, and Whittington. George Eliot and Western General Hospitals all have demonstrating with many successes.

The striking care workers in Doncaster in dispute with their employer Care UK can testify to the toxic combination of private equity and the profit driven privatisation that lead to a race to the bottom, with workers paying the price.

Exposing UKIP

There was a huge debate on the need to expose UKIP for the racist they are at conference. Conference discussed UKIP’s continued stance to stir up hate around immigration, aided by a hostile media and the attempts to penalise migrant workers. UNISON has a proud record of taking on the politics of hate and winning. A recent YouGov poll found that 80% of first time voters want Britain to maintains its tradition of offering sanctuary to refugees. So it is up to us to ensure that the opportunism of UKIP is blocked at every turn.

Some of the real policies that UKIP stand for below:

  • No limit on working hours
  • No guaranteed holidays or holiday pay.
  • No redundancy or sick pay
  • No maternity pay
  • No job security
  • Scraping of the NHS and more.

International Issues

Rosa Pavanelli, president of Public Services International (PSI), addressed conference to talk about the work PSI does, representing 20 million workers in over 150 countries. She spoke of the real danger of the transatlantic trade and Investment Partnership, would pose a threat to local government and public services. TTIP is a secret partnership between the USA and the European Union. It has a huge potential to open up more privatisation, with legal powers given to multinational companies to threaten governments with legal action if they try to reverse or oppose privatisation. Check out the UNISON you tube link for further details. http://youtube/f8FOUmbeSwg.

We head also from Martha Diaz from the Colombian public sector union, who made one of the most moving speeches whose own daughter was kidnapped. She spoke of daily harassment, murder, kidnapping of trade unionist and their children remains common place. Conference paid tribute to all those brave men and women who fight on regardless as Colombia continues to be most dangerous country in the world to be a trade union activist. In particularly Huber Balliesteros who is currently imprisoned under this current regime and UNISON continues to support Justice for Colombia.

Rule Debate

There were several rules regarding retired members’ participation and all these were passed. Another on removing the need to declare whether or not you are a Freemason was also passed.

The controversial debates on bi annual conference and elections were all lost. Another debate on the need to create Disability officers (no longer being necessary for the person themselves declaring a Disability) was opposed by the LGBT representatives’ delegates stating this to be the ‘thin end of the wedge’ if carried. The motion failed to gain the 2/3rds majority required for it to be passed by conference.

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Local Government Conference 2014

Local Government Conference 2014     – by Sonya Howard, Branch Secretary

This year’s conference was held in Brighton for the first time in five years.

The two dominating themes discussed were pay and cuts in Local government, and redundancies.

Pay

The first took place prior to our magnificent day of action on the 10th July however there was strong opinions expressed that’ enough is enough ‘, that our claim for £1 an hour claim would put money back into the pockets of our members. It was felt that one day strike alone would not win a dispute. There were calls from conference floor for an escalating strike action probably to take place in the autumn.

There was some disquiet among delegates that the union had been over cautious in its interpretation of the law, in not including academies. Although it is important to be mindful of the law, it was felt that we must not be cowed by it and therefore the union could consider lodging individual pay claims with those employers if necessary.

The TUC demo, Britain Needs a Pay Rise has been scheduled for Saturday18 October and further information is to follow.

Cuts in Local Government

The overall feeling from conference was that the devastation that has been heaped upon our services and jobs requires a robust strategy from our union.

That there had been a disproportionate impact of cuts on women, black, disabled and LGBT women being hardest hit.

Unemployment among women is set to rise to 1.5million by 2018, and in redundancy selection it is black and disabled women most likely to be selected.

UNISON will ensure that the gender agenda is a core issue across the UK and up for discussion with a positive approach to collective bargaining.

There is a need for rewiring of Public Services, and this can be only realised through employees that are valued and given opportunities to up-skills. Cuts to our members pay and conditions means we are less likely to act as an advocate for employers. So the need for a real strategy to tackle the demoralisation is needed more than ever.

It was argued that branches need the resources and tools to build supporting networks of stewards, engaging with local campaigns and community groups working alongside broad base groups like Peoples’ Assembly against the cuts. It was said that all public sector unions need to stand together with a 24 hours strike would be a good start to attempting to address the situation.

Our Branch delegates once again played a very active part with several speeches made; one on tri borough working and two others on cuts in social services and mental health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NHS Pay Ballot

More than 300,000 NHS members will be balloted on industrial action over the pay offer staring on 28 August. The ballot will close on 18 September.

The government rejected the NHS Pay Review body recommendation of 1% and in England only NHS staff at the top of Ticks jpagetheir pay band will get 1%. Those paid an increment will get nothing – so over two thirds of staff will not get a cost of living pay award. Furthermore the 1% increase will be a one off “non-consolidated sum” so will not count of unsocial hours, overtime pay of pensions.

By 2017 NHS staff will have suffered 6 years worth of pay cuts in real terms.

The union is urging members to vote yes for both strike action and action short of strike. Most importantly, whatever the members’ view, the y are bing asked to vote to ensure that there is a high ballot turn out.

The Health Service Group Executive (SGE) will meet after the ballot closes to consider the results and if there is a yes vote it is likely there will be stoppages in early Octobers, followed by further strike and action short of strike action over the Autumn/Winter.

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