Unison Disabled Members’ Conference, Brighton – Report by Asif Iqbal

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I attended UNISON Disabled Member’s Conference as a representative for Camden Unison, which took place at Brighton Conference Centre on Saturday 2nd-Sunday 3rd November 2019.

It was well-attended with over 250 delegates, the majority have some form of disability. The conference was led by Josie Bird, Unison President and Christina McAnea, Assistant General Secretary for Bargaining, Negotiating and Equalities. It was also pleasing to a good diversity of people as Chairs of each sessions.

During the conferences, there was some workshops, I attended an interesting workshop: Negotiating Reasonable Adjustment policies and Passport which was very popular and attended by large number of delegates.

We talked about deaf and hard of hearing employees and the challenges they faces with their employers eg: noises in work place, their rights to reasonable adjustment under Equality Act e.g: request for quieter room/ environment to meet their individual needs. This was fully supported by UNISON.

The conference reminded the delegates about the Equality Act 2010 which says that employers must provide reasonable adjustment to disabled job applicants/ workers and former employees who face a substantial disadvantage in comparison to someone who is not disabled. If employers do not provide reasonable adjustments where they have a duty to do so, then they may face Employment Tribunal claims.

Unison highlighted the importance for all delegates and employers to be aware of ‘Disability passports in the workplace’, which encourage the introduction and ensure continuous support of reasonable adjustment in a form of disability passport. Essentially, a disability passport provide a framework for discussion with a manager and disabled employee regarding the support required for that disabled employee.

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The workshop also discussed ‘What is Social Model of Disability’ and delegates urge all employers not to use Medical Model when considering the employee’s needs. It is really crucial to encourage employers especially managers and HR to use the Social Model of Disability, looking at environmental/attitudinal barriers that ‘disable’ the employee that needs removing and adopt a ‘can do’ positive attitude as key message, rather than seeing the person’s disability as the problem.

One of the topic discussed during the conference was ‘Tackling the Disability Pay Gap’ which introduce a mandatory monitoring and reporting for the Employers, on the disability pay in the same way as Gender and BAME (currently being monitored).

Other areas discussed were:

•Awareness of Access to Work – calling Government to expand the Access to Work scheme to include young, black, deaf and disabled people in voluntary placements, where these offer opportunity for paid work and do not replace permanent staff. By extending the ATW scheme to voluntary placement (currently only on those on internships), this would enable more people to gain valuable work experiences and skills as a pathway to paid employment. Currently, lots of disabled people want to work but unable to access to voluntary placement opportunity without appropriate ATW support in place and many employers were reluctant to offer voluntary placement to disabled people without ATW, due to additional cost.

•Disability Confident Scheme campaign for all public sector employers to participate in the national accredited Disability Confident Scheme encouraging them to demonstrate a genuine commitment include employment, progression and management of disabled workers that would allow organisations to evidence they are closing the disability gap.

•PIP assessment support – to create guidance materials on the process for PIP assessments and the support channels that can be used during this process and work with the national office branch welfare officers to be trained on PIP assessments to provide support to members.

•Access to Mental Health Services for Deaf People – lobby the Department o Health and NHS to provided improved mental health services for Deaf people including increasing the provision of one to one counselling directly through BSL, without the need for an interpreter.

During Day 2 of the conference (Sunday 3rd November 2019), I stood on the platform during UNISON Conference with a great applause.

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If you want more information about how Camden UNISON can support or represent members with disabilities and campaign for equality, contact Jare Oyewole or Asif Iqbal or email unison@camden.gov.uk

Don’t invest in fossil fuels!

We have a petition calling on Camden to divest our pension fund from the fossil fuel industry. Our aim is to collect as many signatures as possible and submit the petition alongside a deputation to the pensions committee in November.

Abandoning fossil fuel investment is not only the right thing to do is also the financially smart thing to do. Several major financial institutions, among them the bank of England, have branded investment in fossil fuel as ‘risky’.

Please sign the petition which is attached here, or available at the UNISON office or from your UNISON steward.

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10% to pay the rent!

Since 2009, pay in Local Government has fallen by 22% in real terms while the cost of living has skyrocketed. That means every week, you work one day for free compared to 10 years ago!

Our current national pay award comes to an end in March 2020 so UNISON has submitted a claim for a 10% pay increase for council and school workers. The claim also includes one additional day annual leave, a two hour reduction in the standard working week and a comprehensive review of the workplace causes of stress.

Inflation is forecast to reach 3% by 2023, which means that the cost of living will grow by over 15% in the next 4 years. And at the same time as pay has gone down, transport has gone up by 51%, electricity 48%, house prices 37% and childcare costs 32%.

We deserve a decent pay rise and we must be prepared to fight for it if necessary.

 

CELEBRATE WITH CAMDEN UNISON! Friday 8 November – 6pm onwards, The Chapel Bar, 29 Penton Street N1 9PX

Earlier this year our traffic warden members took 33 days strike action and won a brilliant pay rise. They were supported by our branch and other individuals/branches, and we want to thank you.

And after decades of activity in Camden UNISON, Barry Walden, John Mann and Mandy Berger are leaving so join us in thanking them for building a campaigning UNISON branch that stands up for our members!

We have DJs, food and of course a few speeches.

Friday 8th November 2019 6pm-late

The Chapel Bar

29 Penton Street N1 9PX

Then and now – 30 years apart, Camden UNISON members on strike fighting for their rights!

click to download pdf

Party Flyer

 

Celebrating Black History Month

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click here to download pd

 

Camden Black Worker Group (CBWG) short report on its annual general meeting (AGM) held on Thursday 19 September 2019

 

Camden Black Worker Group (CBWG) – The Group for all Camden Black and Ethnic Minority staff – Unifying workers across all unions held its annual general meeting (AGM) on Thursday 19 September 2019.

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Interview with Camden Unison Equalities Officer Adejare Oyewole on the day of action on climate change

 

  1. How important do you feel environmental degrade is and why?

I feel that our political leaders are not taking the threat of environmental degradation seriously simply because it doesn’t fit in with their agenda. Politicians come and go but the fact is the degrading of the environment will not stop unless something is done about it. It is important to take action to reduce our carbon emission because if we don’t. the young ones will suffer the consequences of our inaction. One of the slogans at the Friday climate emergency rally was “System change not climate change”. We can change our attitude to the climate by changing the government to those who care about the climate, the future of our planet and the young ones that will live after us. “ No soil, no life” was another poignant message of the day.

2. What unite workers to the victims of the Atlanta’s floods or the indigenous people of the Amazon?

Global warming and environmental degradation is causing people to move in large numbers. Millions of people have been forced to migrate from their homes and leave their countries for a safer environment. Trade unions are for social justice and preservation of human rights including the right to adequate shelter. For this reason, workers will continue to identify with the victims and do whatever possible to push the climate emergency to the top of the agenda.

3. Is global warming an inevitable epilogue or leading world economies governments and global business multinationals bear a responsibility for what is happening to our earth?

4. How does the unbridled exploitation of world resources pair up with unregulated workers exploitation in both the advanced and the third world?

5. Who’s responsibility is to organize and mobilize against the dual exploitation of workers and earth resource?

All of the above questions are inter linked. Government groups like the G7 and other big players in the world economy including multinationals don’t care about what is happening on the earth, all they care about is about making profit. They are polluting our climate, causing untold damage to the earth, so they are responsible for the climate emergency. They continue to exploit world resources while attempting to silence environmentalists, and scientist are being called liars for campaigning against their attitude to climate change.

 All activists who care about our earth, the future of our children and fairness, equality and social justice for all should join in collective action in mobilising, organising to shame governments and multinationals who are exploiting workers and earth resources.

 

“Today we’re making history” – Climate emergency rally outside 5PS on 20 September

Following on from the Thursday’s atrium briefing at 5PS, where Camden UNISON Branch Secretary Liz Wheatley joined Camden Council leader Georgia Gould addressing the challenges that the climate emergency raises, hundreds of Unison members joined Friday’s day of action, filling the main area of Pancras Square.

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The day was characterised by the awareness that impending climate disasters responsibility lies at the door of the irresponsible strategy of the world governments. This strategy is dictated by the interests of carbon lobbies and multinational corporations who can no longer deny the damage that their exploitation is causing to the environment.

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Over the last year, students have been walking out of school to highlight the climate emergency, and in advance of Greta Thunberg’s address to the UN, they asked us to join them. In response to that call, Camden UNISON called on members to rally at lunchtime outside 5PS and, for those who could, to join the students in Parliament Square. Council staff were met by NUJ members from the Guardian and other local workers, and a group of primary school students with placards they’d made.

Speakers from Camden UNISON, the NUJ at the Guardian, the UCU (college workers’ union) at UAL in Granary Square, Extinction Rebellion and from the political parties in Camden addressed the rally before a group of UNISON members left to meet the student strikers and march in Whitehall to chants of “No coal, no oil, keep your carbon in the soil” and “system change not climate change”.

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Friday was a real success, involving members who had never been on a rally or march before, and it was great to be part of a massive global movement where it’s estimated about 4 million people took to the streets. But it’s only the beginning of what we must do. We will keep members updated but put 7 October (when Camden UNISON will be presenting a deputation at the Council meeting) and 12 October (when Extinction Rebellion have asked for trade unions to join their protests) in your diary now.

Camden Black Workers Group AGM Thursday 19th September 2019 5PS at 3pm in room 11 level 11. The CBWG invites to its AGM to celebrate another year of achievements and activities.

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Climate Rally outside 5PS at 12.30 and Student Strike in Parliament Sq at 2pm on Friday 20 September 2019

Greta Thunberg, the school student from Sweden who has sparked a global movement against climate change, has called on us to support the protests on Friday 20 September. Around the world, millions of students will be marching. They have already taken climate change to the top of the political agenda and now they want us to join them to send a clear message that action is needed now. Continue reading