Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Lobbying Act

Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014, legislated in January 2014, sets out new rules for how charities and other civil society organisations can campaign in the lead up a general election elections.

This Act covers everyone except the media and poltical parties which are covered by separate legislation.

One of the first impacts of this legislation is that it cuts the total amount any group can spend on campaigning activities from £900,000 to £390,000. Interestingly in the 2010 election only two groups spent more than this: UNISON and Hope Not Hate. This figure is the maximum spend permitted on all activities.

This limit is increased to £440,000 if the campaigning is restricted to just England, Scotland or Wales.

A second maximum spending limit per constituency of £9750 is also imposed.

Joint campaigning by two (or more) groups will count in full towards both parties spending limit of £390,000 (or £440,000).

Unions must also include the cost of staff time in arriving at their spend figure. So multiple parts of UNISON creating similar posters would each count towards campaign spend. This will now mean that more promotional leaflets, posters and information will be created and processed centrally.

All administrative costs now have to be counted in the total amount. Social media and web sites are also covered by the Lobbying Act.

UNISON communications directly with members does not count as a declarable expense. Volunteer time is also exempt as an expense.

The purpose and public test is how whether an activity is assessed as to be in scope of the Lobbying Act and this is a wide remit with a large grey area. Basically anything focused on the general public is subject to the Lobbying Act – but not when focused directly on our existing members.

Finally, for comparison, the political parties under their legislation are allowed to spend a maximum of £20 million – though they never have reached that level.


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Unison Retired Members Annual Conference 2014

Sue Clark, Verena Beane and Allen Hawley attended as delegates on behalf of the branch and George Hulme as a visitor. This year’s conference was held at the Convention Centre in Southport. As with last year the conference was well attended.

Tuesday 14th October

Conference started after the caucus meetings with a choice of four workshops for delegates, three of which related to pensions. Prompt registration meant that we all got into the workshop of our choice. George as a visitor could only attend the Panel Debate which was going on simultaneously

Workshop – Branch Funding of Retired Members

Verena and Sue attended this as it is relevant to the research regarding branch funding of retired members.

Sotirios Loizou (Regional Branch Development Officer) led the session and explained how retired members could seek funding for activities at branch level. He is carrying out research about how branches operate in regard to retired members in order to inform the new branch funding scheme. The new “Branch Handbook” will contain guidance on funding retired members’ activities in a fair, adequate and agreed manner. A revised “Branch Retired Members’ Secretary Handbook” will also shortly be available.

The session included an interactive Q&A which provided both sides with a lot of practical and useful information.

Workshop – What Labour Will Do for Pensioners?

Allen attended this workshop.

Mary Locke member of the NEC and Wendy Nicholl from Labour Link started by explaining how the political funds (APF and the GPF) are operated.

Every 10 years members are asked if they wish to continue to subscribe to these funds. This is the tenth year so every Unison member will receive a voting paper (to be sent out between 27th October and 5th November.) The ballot period will be 1st November to 30th November with the results declared in December 2014. Members are urged to vote yes. If members do not receive a voting form they will need to contact Union Direct and one will be sent out. The APF requires a retired member to subscribe £5 per year.

In the last 10 years Unison has lobbied the Labour Party to support better terms and conditions for workers i.e. to halt the adverse pay agreements for NHS members; to defend pensions; to promote equal pay and flexible working. The schools’ negotiating body should be reinstated if Labour win the election. All members need to know the importance of this ballot.

Finally there was a question and answer session where most people asked the panel about what Labour would do for pensioners. Unfortunately none of the questions were answered in this regard. This workshop seemed to be a meeting to attract votes for the ballot and how much the retired members are prepared to pay towards the APF. When asked some pertinent questions the response was politely given as “If you don’t pay you don’t have a say” which summed up the gist of the meeting. There was no mention of lobbying for greater pensions, keeping the travel pass or retaining the heating allowance, the tissues that really would effect pensioners.


Panel Debate – Organising and Campaigning in the Community

George Hulme attended the panel debate.

A number of visitors and delegates attended the open panel debate on ‘Organising and Campaigning in the Community.” The majority of discussion centred on how we might protect the NHS from further government cuts and how to involve the community more closely. The panel concluded how important it was to:

  • listen to what people are saying in your community and identify the most significant

problem people are facing

  • identify one small, achievable change that would make a real difference to them
  • get to know someone first before you “sell” them any campaign ideas
  • frame your ideas constructively and positively. This will help build people’s confidence

that they can change things

  • decide who or what has the power to give you what you want
  • decide who are your allies

Regional Briefing Meeting 

Rob Beeston (Chair Greater London Region Retired Members) chaired the meeting with support from Ann Jefferson (Vice-chair).

The meeting was updated on the status of motions put forward for the RM Conference. It was agreed who would move each of the motions from the GL Region. Members were reminded about the effectiveness of collectively supporting two of the GL motions to go through to National Conference.

Social Event  

North West region organised and sponsored a disco and raffle in the evening which took place at the Royal Clifton Hotel. A good time (networking) was had by all!

Wednesday 15th October

Unison’s President Lucia McKeever, first president from Northern Ireland, started the day by introducing herself and talking about her background. Her charity for the year is “Meningitis Now”. She has a particular interest in this charity as sadly a member of her close family died aged 13 years of this disease.

She then introduced the National Members’ Committee and the Mayor of Sefton, Kevin E Cluskey to Conference.

The Mayor welcomed us and told us that he was born and bred in the area and was also a lifelong trade unionist. He hoped that we would have a good conference and that we would enjoy the unique style of Southport much as Napoleon III had. Napoleon was so taken by the architecture and layout of Lord Street, it is alleged that it influenced the way Paris was re-designed.

The President presented the Mayor with a gift on behalf of Conference.

Standing Orders Committee and Annual Report

The SOC Report was presented by the chair of the Committee and accepted by conference. There are four new committee members this year.

David Kippest (Chair of the National Retired Members’ Committee) presented the annual report to conference, which was accepted. He touched on rule amendments carried by this year’s National Delegates Conference. In particular he mentioned those that have strengthened the position of the National Retired Members’ Organisation at branch level. He referred to the new “Code of Good Branch Practice” and the new “Branch Retired Members Secretary’s Handbook” which will reflect these important changes. Communication issues were acknowledged and will also be addressed.

He finished by asking the conference to consider selecting Motion 2 – Increase in the Basic State Pension and Motion 12 – Free Social Care in England to put forward to NDC.

Motions and Amendments

AM There were 25 motions some of which had amendments, 4 composites and 1 emergency motion. The motions started in the morning and recommenced in the afternoon. It was agreed to shorten the speaking times after motion 18 from 5 minutes to 3 minutes for the movers and 3 minutes to 2 minutes for subsequent speakers. The first 16 motions and 3 composites were dealt with in the morning.

We were asked to consider putting forward motions 2 and 12 to next year’s NDC.

Motion 2 – Increase in the Basic State Pension

The conference has instructed the National Retired Members’ Committee and calls on National Executive Committee to campaign for:

  • an increase in the basic state pension to at lease the poverty level of £175.00 per week for a single pensioner and £325.00 for couples.
  • a return to annual increases in the basic state pension based on the Retail Price Index (RPI) or the annual increase in average earnings or an increase sufficient to ensure that the basic state pension is no lower than the poverty level, which ever is the greater
  • take positive action to make our concerns known to the Government through Labour Link, national and regional branches of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), local trades councils, by lobbying MPs and by supporting the National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC) and the Scottish Pensioners’ Forum in their campaigns
  • report regularly on the progress to national retired members’ committee meetings and publicise on all appropriate communication channels, including the national Unison website, U Magazine, In-Focus, E-Focus. The information must also be circulated to regions and branches.
  • Report back 2015 National Retired Members’ Conference on action taken and actual achievements.

Motion12 -Free Social Care in England

The conference has instructed the National Retired Members’ Committee to:

  • urge the NEC to continue to bring together Unison’s campaigns on integration and free social care for older people
  • raise this matter with the relevant Unison service group executives and seek to ensure that, in discussions about integration, Unison reflects the views both of Unison members employed in health and social care and Unison retired members who use the services
  • raise the issue with National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC)
  • publicise progress on the Unison National Retired Members’ web site and report results of discussions with Unison service group executives and the National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC) to all Unison National Retired Members’ Committee meetings in order to keep regions/branches informed. Work with the National Executive Council (NEC) to seek the backing of the whole union and other relevant bodies in mounting a major campaign aimed at improving payments and other help for carers so that our retired members and all other elderly people needing care can have their needs met without their carers being exploited.

Motion16 – Pensioners and Prostate Cancer

Allen was asked at very short notice to act as the mover for this motion! (He spoke on a similar motion last year). This motion was submitted by GLR and is about encouraging men to go for regular check ups as early diagnosis is very important for successful treatment. Currently 100 cases are diagnosed every day in the UK that’s 1 every 15 minutes!!

The conference called upon National Retired Members’ Committee to work with the NEC and other relevant organisations to:

  • continue to campaign vigorously for greater understanding and factual awareness of prostate cancer, its treatment and the benefits of earliest screening for pensioners
  • disseminate and publicise the research and other information about prostate cancer in Unison publications on the Unison National Retired Members’ web site, regional web sites and to branches.

PM The afternoon began with a speech from Cliff Williams (Unison Assistant General Secretary NEC and Head of Regions).

He talked about many of the issues affecting British workers. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation research for example has shown that more working families are in poverty than non-working. The UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and yet thousands are now dependent on food banks, many of whom are working. Many workers have sacrificed pay rises to keep their jobs. Yet MPs get a 10% rise in their pay whilst refusing a 1% increase for nurses and midwives!

The speech was mainly concentrated round the need to keep a political fund as this money gives us a voice to deal with many of the issues facing our members. This year we will be balloted (every 10 years) on whether to keep the political funds or not. All members including retired members have a right to vote.

All motions were carried unopposed, in spite of the chair’s attempt to influence the vote on motion 19 which would have caused further delayed by remitting it back for a further year. There were no card votes.

Close of Business

The two motions going to next year’s NDC are Motion 2 – Increase in the Basic State Pension and Motion 12 – Free Social Care in England.

Next years conference will be held in Brighton at the Conference Centre and in 2016 we will be back to Southport Convention Centre.

Report by Sue Clark, Verena Beane

Contributions from Allen Hawley and George Hulme

October 2014

Unison Retired members Annual Conference 2014

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Unison Members Vote to Accept the Pay Offer

Your Branch Committee strongly recommended rejection of the proposal and two-thirds of members voting in the consultation at Kensington and Chelsea backed that position

Despite this nationally unison members have vote to accept the pay offer – 65% to 35%

The 2014 National Joint Council (NJC) Pay Campaign is effectively over and it appears that the vast majority of local government workers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are saddled with a pay deal that will run until 31 March 2016, and amounts to a real pay cut. Members of all three recognised unions voted to accept a complex revised offer from the council employers’ umbrella body, the Local Government Association, which involves a 2.2% increase on basic pay for the vast majority of staff from January next year, but no back-dating to the start of the financial year and only a taxable lump sum of £100 by way of ‘compensation’.

The proposal also leaves tens of thousands of directly employed local government workers on hourly rates substantially below the current Living Wage (soon to rise to £7.85 outside London and to £9.15 in the capital).

In some London branches the vote to reject was nearly eight-to-one. Among UNISON’s 11 geographical regions two – Greater London and the North West – voted by clear majorities to reject the offer, but overall nearly 65% of UNISON members voting accepted.



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Union Myths

Unions have found themselves more spotlights for the last few years as they have had to fight harder than ever for their members’ jobs, terms, conditions and pay. Their higher profile has made then a target for the right wing press who havePost it note published a plethora of scare stories and exaggerations based on anomalies, rumour or simple misrepresentation of statistics and fact.


This piece from today’s Guardian looks at six regular myths flunted by the anti-union press, bloggers and commentators to show just the opposite of is true:




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