Last weekend there were local protests and rallies up and down the country calling for a ceasefire now, including hundreds marching through Camden Town and ending with a rally at Mornington Crescent, and another national demonstration is taking place this Saturday. Full details of the assembly point and route are being finalised – we will have them by Thursday’s meeting at the latest – but put the time and date in your diary.
Virtually all trade unions, huge swathes of civil society organisations and politicians around the world are now calling for a ceasefire – our Tory government is one of the few that isn’t so far. If we want that to change, we have to keep up the pressure, and an important part of that is to join the protests.
However, not everyone can join a march – but there’s always something everyone can do:
• If you can donate, there’s the collection mentioned above, or you can donate to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) – see the link for information about their work Medical Aid for Palestinians (map.org.uk)
• You can sign a petition – there are lots circulating, but this is a good place to start Seek a ceasefire and to end Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip – Petitions (parliament.uk)
• And you might want to know how your MP voted: How did your MP vote on the Gaza ceasefire motion? | Gaza | The Guardian
• Support a boycott campaign – historically, boycotting companies and organisations that profit or benefit from war, occupation and discrimination has been an important part of campaigns. We will be discussing if this is effective and if we want to have a boycott campaign at one of our members meetings soon, so bring along your ideas
If you have any more ideas about how members can be involved, get in touch by emailing email@example.com
UNISON is doing a collection for the Red Cross. The Council is also collecting for the same appeal at the staff event on the 2nd floor (taking place from 11am until 2pm), so hopefully we can raise enough to help make a difference.
The Red Cross is working via the International Committee of the Red Cross with both the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and Magen David Adom across Gaza, the West Bank and Israel to provide emergency medical relief, equipment, transport and more. This will be needed for some time into the coming weeks and months. Please do take a look via the link below at the kind of relief that has so far been provided:
Donate to the Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territory Appeal (redcross.org.uk)
If you are able to help with the collection in 5PS, then meet us in the foyer at 12.30pm on Weds. It doesn’t matter if you only have 15 minutes or if you can spare longer, it will all help.
If you are working in another building and would like to do a collection there, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work out how we can help you.
UNISON calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel
The union condemns the rising death toll of Palestinian civilians – especially children – caused by Israel’s bombardment
UNISON supports the call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel to allow the delivery of vital humanitarian assistance. The union condemns the rising death toll of Palestinian civilians – especially among children – caused by Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.
We express our concern at the collapse of vital public services – particularly healthcare – and reiterate our call for the release of all the hostages being held by Hamas.
UNISON encourages our members and branches to take action calling for a ceasefire, including joining peaceful protests and contacting their members of parliament. UNISON will be making donations toMedical Aid for Palestiniansand theRed Cross and encourages branches to do the same.
UNISON is deeply concerned by the dramatic increase in antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents. Anti-racism and the right to treated with dignity and respect, irrespective of race or creed, are fundamental values of our union. All members should be able to feel safe in their places of work and the communities in which they live.
Finally, UNISON calls on the British government and the international community to support a ceasefire leading to renewed talks aimed at achieving a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel, as the only way to secure long-term peace in the Middle East.
But we’re so pleased to be able to say that our Camden Unison traffic warden strikers have won a huge victory in their pay battle!
They’ve won an increase to £15 an hour this year (backdated to 1 April), to £15.90 next year and to £16.50 or RPI increase, whichever is the highest, in year 3. That’s an 18.1% or £5k pay rise in year one!
This has only happened because our members got organised and stood united together. Going out on indefinite strike was a bold move but it’s paid off – striking hard works!!
Over the next week or so we’ll be writing to branches to thank them for their solidarity, but an immediate big thanks to everyone who marched, picketed and protested with us, who sent us solidarity messages, spoke at (mainly rainy!) rallies and meetings and just gave us a honk! Your solidarity kept the strike strong.
At the last mass meeting today, strikers recorded solidarity video messages to Barnet Unison branch, to Kirklees UNISON branch and to Brighton UCU branch to show solidarity with their fights. They’ve become known for their picket line drumming skills, but have sold most of the drums and are donating the money to other strike funds too.
After the best ever ballot result, 73.11% turnout and 100% YES vote for strike, Camden traffic wardens started on Monday 24 July, an indefinite (also known as continuous) strike action. Everyone attended their base picket line since (including many who were meant to be on a rest day), sending a really clear message to NSL that we’re organised and determined and can win!
Picket lines, rallies, lobbying the Council and the strike meetings have been well attended and a resounding success with everyone coming together, reporting how their picket lines were successful and discussion followed.
Many message of support from colleagues, other trade unions and the public have been received. UNISON published a press release and information has been sent to other UNISON branches in London.
A great article about the strike has been published in this the Camden New Journal, and they will continue to report the dispute.
We are continuously producing leaflets, badges and stickers that have been given out to members of the public about the strike, and distributed to other trade union branches asking for shows of solidarity.
A delegation from Tower Hamlet UNISON visited your picket lines already and two young traffic wardens members have attended their branch meeting explaining the reasons behind the strike.
Tower Hamlet Unison has promised a contribution to the strike fund and other will follow from other trade unions as the dispute is publicised.
So make sure you continue to attend your picket line– and let’s be loud and proud!!!!
We haven’t been able to email members with the result of our national pay ballot because of IT problems, so we decided to post the results for our branch here.
Our main ballot of Camden employees including the community schools was a turnout of 42.19% with a YES vote of 84.64%.
So very mixed feeling – obviously, it’s gutting that we didn’t quite make it over 50%. Lots of you in the branch and who come to our meetings regularly put in loads of work – so for instance based on our own info, we had turnouts over 80% in DDS and Housing Officers (big up the reps there!). We also had some fantastic turnouts in schools, again over 80% in some.
Our weakness was the areas where we don’t have reps/people we could ask to be ballot rep and chase up their team – so we know what to work on next time. The phoning definitely made a difference and members seemed to like a call from the branch, which will also help in the future. One important action out of this is that we spend time over the summer/autumn making contacts in those areas so we have more organisation.
We are one of the branches with quite a lot of ‘NJC’ members, and so our result really is a testament to the work of reps and pay campaigners – and you can tell the strength of feeling by the huge YES vote for strike action!
We haven’t yet got the results of our non-Camden schools, I think it’s likely that we will have got over 50% in some of those, but let’s see, and we need to look how many members we have in each of them etc.
In the midst of being frustrated that we got so close, there are a couple of important positives. In the last month alone, over 60 people have joined the branch, and hopefully having joined whilst we’re campaigning about action over pay will be up for getting involved. Some of the new members are in the areas where we aren’t so well organised, so will make a difference there. Also, this is the best result we’ve had certainly for about 20 years (of course the 50% turnout wasn’t relevant for most of that time) and almost double what we got in the last official ballot, so is definitely something we can build on. And it’s a good enough turnout, and YES vote, that management will see we aren’t a pushover – if there were to be a local issue, we could get over 50%, and they’ll recognise that too.
UNISON is now waiting for the outcome of the Unite Local Government pay ballot before announcing next steps.
So all in all, we should of course be gutted that we haven’t got over 50%, but also should be very proud of how close we came and the work we’ve done. We can have a good discussion our meetings about how we can build on it. And don’t forget our traffic wardens! More details about their dispute coming soon.
Last year, Chris Smalls was part of a group of workers who took on Amazon and won the right to have a union at the Staten Island centre. They started the Amazon Labor Union (ALO) and since then have been campaigning for recognition across the US, and supporting Amazon workers globally in their fight for union rights. Earlier this year, he met with Amazon strikers at Coventry, where they have recruited hundreds to the union and been taking strike action for decent pay.
During the pandemic, Chris led a walkout about the conditions they were expected to work in. He was dismissed the next day, but along with workmates, he spent the next two years organising the union. Amazon even had them arrested when they brought leaflets and other union material to hand out in the car park.
Jeff Bezos, the Amazon boss, is the third richest man in the world, and he spent millions of dollars trying to stop Chris and his workmates. But they still lost!
Come along to the meeting (in person) to hear the story of how workers beat Jeff Bezos — and be inspired to take on our bosses too!
Visit our Pay Microsite Camden UNISON the public service union
As many of you know, we have a members meeting every Thursday at 1pm on Teams, where we discuss our campaigns, workplace issues and more, and where possible we have guest speakers. These are often strikers or campaigners. And this week, we have a guest speaker that many of you will have heard of. A year ago, rail workers in the RMT were the first out of the blocks to start saying that we can’t put up with any more pay cuts. They were attacked in the media, but Mick Lynch, their union General Secretary, answered every challenge and put the case not just for rail workers, but for all working class people to get a decent wage and have decent working conditions. And he argued that this should not be at the expense of those worse off, but should come from the pockets of the billionaires and the companies that make huge profits from us.
So our meeting on Thursday is a chance to hear from Mick Lynch, to ask him questions, find out any tips to help us win our ballot etc – I hope to see lots of you there!
And don’t forget that next week, we have an in-person meeting on Thursday 29 June – and our guest speaker Chris Smalls comes all the way from Staten Island where he’s been central to organising the union that took on and beat Jeff Bezos at Amazon. So make that the day that you come in to the office!
This is an invitation for you to join thousands of other London council UNISON members at this meeting on Pay!
A groundbreaking event is taking place on Tuesday 21 March 6.30-7.30 pm when UNISON members from other London councils will be signing up for the first ever London Wide UNISON council & school workers meeting.
The Cost-of-Living Crisis is unrelenting, and more and more workers are under pressure to keep up with increases in costs such as Food, Heating, Rent, Mortgages, Child Care, etc.
Council and Schools workers’ pay has fallen so low over the last 13 years that everyone is now working at least ONE day a week for free.
At the same time energy companies are announcing massive levels of profits whilst many of our members are afraid to turn on the heating.
UNISON Council and School workers now have the opportunity to add their voice to the hundreds of thousands of other trade union members who have already taken strike action over the issue of low pay such as: Transport workers, Royal Mail workers, BT workers, Teachers, Junior Doctors, Train drivers, Cleaners, Teachers, College workers, Border Control workers, Civil Servants, Barristers.
All these trade union members managed to deliver a BIG YES vote in their strike ballot.
In London we need to send a message about the hardship of living on low pay in London. To do that we need to organise across London councils in order for our members’ voices to be heard loud and clear in Parliament.
When is the Strike Ballot to start?
The strike ballot papers will start being sent out to members home addresses from 23 May to 4 July.
What can members do?
It is important that all UNISON members’ email Camden UNISON branch at email@example.com with their correct postal address and contact details including their telephone/ mobile number and email address.
It is critical to the success of the strike ballot that Camden UNISON has the correct details and has your permission to contact you about the strike ballot.
We know from other trade unions the importance of speaking to members about voting and sending back the ballot papers. We are looking for help to be on the Camden UNISON phone bank. If you would like to volunteer, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
3.30-5pm, Wed 8 March Room 10.10/11/12 in 5PS and on TEAMS
Come along to the Camden UNISON Annual General Meeting and take part in the discussions around what the union branch has been doing and what we can plan for the coming year. It’s your union, so make sure you get involved and have your say!
Paid time off (including reasonable travel time) has been agreed.
If you haven’t yet joined Camden UNISON you can contact us on email@example.com
The anti-strike bill is draconian and undemocratic, and will do nothing to fix the problems this government has caused
Thousands of UK workers are being forced to take industrial action to protect their pay, standard of living and the services they provide. But rather than helping workers live decent lives and improving the services that millions of people rely on every day, the Westminster government is turning its back on working people.
Strikes are always a symptom of a problem but the government’s answer is to fast-track the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill that will add further restrictions on the right to strike in the health, education, transport, and fire and rescue services, as well as border security and parts of the nuclear, radioactive waste and fuel sectors.
That won’t fix the deep-rooted causes of industrial disputes which is the government’s inability to manage the country’s public services and our economy.
UNISON is supporting the TUC’s campaign to defend the right to strike because this government believes its priority is taking away a legitimate part of industrial negotiations and more importantly, a fundamental right of workers – to withdraw their labour.
UNISON’s members are essential workers in public services, and our strike action takes place only after thorough plans for emergency cover have been negotiated and agreed with employers. But if the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill is passed by parliament, even if workers vote for legal industrial action, they could be forced to cross picket lines or be sacked if they don’t.
The UK already has among the most draconian restrictions on the right to strike in Europe, and the UK government’s plans would push it even further away from normal, democratic practice across Europe.
These draconian and undemocratic measures are about to be imposed on us, against our will. This is on top of high inflation, a pay crisis in our public sector, the NHS on its knees, and an economic outlook as grim as the constant sleaze that flows out of Whitehall.
This bill will do nothing to change any situation imposed by a government that has spent over a decade creating the situation we’re in now and we must be part of the campaign to defeat it.
As the cost-of-living crisis continues to hurt workers everywhere, we need to be able to stand together and choose to strike when we must. These laws will do nothing to fix this crisis – they will make it even harder for working people to get pay rises.
The UK already has some of the most restrictive trade union laws in the world – but workers have been pushed into action by a government and employers that won’t listen. You can’t legislate away the depth of anger workers feel about how they’ve been treated.
Every working person is under attack from these new laws. Join the campaign. We must defend the right to strike.
Camden UNISON Branch Office
3rd Floor Crowndale Centre
218-220 Eversholt Street
Branch elections for all steward and branch officer posts are scheduled each year.
Please think about how you can be involved, or if you’re interested in standing for any of the roles and want to find out more about them.
Any union branch is only strong and able to make a difference because of members being involved, so we’re always keen to increase our numbers of stewards and officers – it really does make a difference.
This year we face the biggest attack on our living standards for a generation from the government and their friends in big business. However, recent months have shown how being in a trade union and being organised can make a difference and be part of the resistance to those attacks.
Our elections are part of making sure that we are ready to resist. We try not to make the branch too bureaucratic, so we have two main groups of elected roles. These are shop stewards (often known as reps) and branch officers.
Shop stewards are elected by a group of members who work together (in a ‘shop’) and they represent that group of members both individually and as a collective group. The shop stewards meet each month as a committee for each department – we have an agreement with the Council that you are released from work to attend that meeting.
Branch officers have specific roles, such as Branch Secretary, Chair, Treasurer and more. These roles tend to look at our work across the council, on corporate issues we raise or are raised with us, and about general campaigning/activities. Some, such as the Treasurer, are clearly very specific. Rather than write a long description of each roles, if you are at all interested in finding out more about any of the roles, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a chat.
Stewards and branch officers make a real difference to the success of a union branch. A lot of you will have had stewards represent you in meetings with managers, or have been involved in a restructure where stewards and branch officers have raised issues with management.
In recent years we have been involved in negotiations around our terms and conditions that have led to improvements, and of course over the last two years in trying to make sure you are as safe as possible at work because of coronavirus. You will hopefully also be aware of the campaigning we have done on challenging inequalities, around the climate emergency and the cost of living crisis. And of course, the more stewards we have, the more we are able to stand up for our rights.
Therefore, I would really urge you to think about becoming a steward and/or branch officer. You will get training, and a lot of support from other stewards.
The nomination period runs from Monday 9 Jan until Friday 3 Feb.
Camden UNISON Annual General Meeting
Camden UNISON AGM is taking place on Wednesday 8 March in the late afternoon. We will be requesting paid time off to attend for Council workers. More details will be out soon, including if the meeting will be in person, online or hybrid, but please put the date in your diary to keep the time free.
UNISON has been campaigning about the lack of LGBT+ rights in Qatar and about the horrific treatment of migrant workers there – without whom there wouldn’t even be the stadiums where the World Cup matches are being played. Thousands of migrant workers have died building them, and we stand with migrant workers campaigning for their rights and for financial reparations to the families of those who died building the stadiums and the surrounding cities and infrastructure.
Read more about it in the link below:
UNISON stands with migrant workers in Qatar – beyond football | Article, News | News | UNISON National
The CBWG Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on Wednesday, 23rd November 2022 as a hybrid meeting in person and on MS Teams. The Chair, Hugo Pierre, welcomed people to the meeting and highlighted that it was the CBWG’s 40th anniversary year. The CBWG had had a 40th anniversary gala event at the Irish Centre in October at which one of the early founders, Azim Hajee, and Neville Lawrence had addressed the audience. Neville had thanked the trade union movement for their support of the campaign for justice for his son (photos and videos of anniversary gala available in the CBWG page of this website).
Lester Holloway, the editor of The Voice newspaper, addressed the meeting via MS Teams. He highlighted that – for the last 20 years – Black unemployment had been at least twice as high as white unemployment. Earnings for ethnic minority workers also tended to be lower, and this had an impact on level of home ownership and inter-generational wealth transfer, as poorer families were less able to buy homes and had less wealth to pass onto their children.
He also highlighted the impact of the coronavirus lockdowns, which had harmed workers in precarious employment who were not always able to benefit from furlough schemes. This had followed on from the effects of years of austerity, which had disproportionately harmed racial minority communities.
Lester also spoke of the importance of trade unions in fighting for better terms and conditions for workers and warned of the pending future attacks on trade unions by the Conservative government. He condemned the government’s drive to leave the European Convention on Human Rights and draft its own “British Bill of Rights”.
After Lester Holloway, Camden Unison Branch Secretary, Liz Wheatley, addressed the meeting. She echoed Lester’s points about austerity and lockdown having disproportionately hit many low-paid Black and minority ethnic workers. She pointed out that the rich had continued to get richer, while many others suffered financially. There were now more than 170 billionaires in the UK; and the Prime Minister, his wife and in-laws were also very rich. Given his affluence and that of many other ministers, the Conservative government led by Rishi Sunak did not appreciate the problems ordinary people faced and was not interested in tackling them.
Liz also said that the recent furore over people crossing the Channel on small boats and the plan to force asylum seekers to go to Rwanda were illustrations of the danger of scapegoating of migrants and refugees to divert attention from austerity. She said that Camden Unison would stand alongside other groups in campaigning against this.
Liz Wheatley added that, given the scandals around Boris Johnson and the fact that Liz Truss had been forced out after less than 50 days, the Conservative government was weak and it might be possible for workers in dispute to win concessions from them. She said that activists from Camden Unison had supported the CWU and RMT on the picket line in their disputes.
Vino Sangarapillai and ‘Jare Oyewole, the Co-Convenors, spoke to illustrate highlights of their written reports. In particular, progress had been made in terms of increasing the proportion of employees from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds and there had been an increase in representation at the top of the structure. ‘Jare said the Council had pledged to have no “all-white shortlists” for roles at Level 5 and above.
The meeting heard from members on the various concerns they had about the way that restructures had taken place and how interviews were conducted. It was also noted that “blind” recruitment was not really possible as, for internal applicants, the information they provided on the form in terms of outlining their achievements would identify who they were to the recruiter.
The meeting then heard from one of the Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Programme Officers. The presentation was about the Council’s Anti-Racism Learning Offer (ARLO), which more than 80% of staff had participated in. Face-to-face sessions had been available for staff who were not office or computer-based. The aim of her service was to embed the learning from the ARLO in the organisation. A 2-hour E-learning module was also being developed. This would be mandatory for staff.
the following officers were elected to the CBWG Executive:
• Chairperson – Hugo Pierre
• Convenors – ‘Jare Oyewole and Vino Sangarapillai
• Treasurer – Judy Frederick
• Communications Officer – Jahnelle Hutton-Parr
• Executive members –
• Dolly Akin-Agunbiade
• Clive Collins
• Asif Iqbal
• Muna Matewos
• Lioko Mabika
• Emma Le Blanc
Have you been bitten, scratched, hit, punched or
even worse at school? Have you been told its only
children? Well that’s not on. You have the right to
be safe at work and free from violence in the
workplace just like anyone else. Your school has a
‘Duty of Care’ to you.
If any of the above happen to you, make sure you
record them on the school’s health and safety
reporting system. Check the report is accurate and
ask for a copy of the report.
If there is persistent violence make sure the school
has a proper behaviour plan and a risk assessment
for the child/student. Let UNISON know if you can’t
get the right support to stop being the victim of
violence at work.
Don’t Put Your Back Into It
Are you lifting children? Do you work in Early Years
and lifting is seen as part of keeping the children
safe? Well think twice. Many Early Years workers
suffer from back or related problems as they get
older through constantly picking children up.
Discuss how you could implement a no lifting policy
in your school with UNISON.
Is there a Child Q in Your School?
In the Summer Term, Hackney
Safeguarding Board released a report
into the horrific strip searching of a 15-
year-old female student by the police.
The report concluded that the police
officers went beyond their remit and
probably reacted in a racist manner.
The staff in the school were also
criticised for not challenging the police
sufficiently to safeguard the rights of the
child. Camden UNISON has been assured
that no children have been strip
searched in Camden schools. If this is the
case, this bucks the trend of the alarming
number that has taken place in London.
The DfE have renewed their guidance to
schools on searching and confiscation in
schools – Searching, Screening and
UNISON believes no strip searching by
the police or any other agency should
take place in school and certainly not
without parental consent. We have
asked the local authority to look at this
guidance with us to provide advice to
school staff with responsibility for
Training for Supporting ASD/ADHD
Support Staff in mainstream schools are supporting students with a variety of needs that in the past
would have seen the child placed in a Special School. It seems teachers are getting training in
supporting these children but there is no training for support staff. But it’s support staff that work
with them almost 1:1 in some cases.
Camden UNISON is pushing for proper training for Teaching Assistants- not cascade training from
teachers – in paid time. Let UNISON know if you need this.
JOIN UNISON TODAY – Get Organised
If school support staff are not in a UNION that can negotiate your pay, terms and conditions they
need to join with you. Please ask them to join.
And if you don’t have a shop steward in your school, you’re only getting half the support you need.
Members with stewards are better informed and deal with issues that come up – Please elect one!
For further information either call 020 7974 3996 or email email@example.com
Camden schools have received the minimum per pupil funding increase from the Government since 2018. Next year the current estimates for Camden given by the DfE increase funding by 0.5%! How can this be when inflation is 20 times that at 10.1%. on average Camden mainstream schools have lost £941 per pupil in real terms since 2015.
This has placed most schools in a very precarious situation. Many schools are now running deficit budgets, where they use some past savings to pay for day-to-day School Funding. Some have run out of savings.
UNISON have now agreed the pay rise for school support staff. The flat rate increase of £2,355 (see panel) means that the lowest paid school workers will see a 10.5% pay rise. Teaching Assistants in Camden schools will see an increase of around 9%.For most school support staff, this is our biggest pay rise in over two decades.
And it still won’t keep our heads above water. The last 10 years has seen our pay cut by at least 20% compared to inflation.
But the work we do in schools has never been more valuable. Inclusion has meant more children with more complex needs are supported in or out of class by support staff. The pandemic required us to support children so that essential workers could go to work. Now increased numbers of children require wellbeing and emotional support. And the support we give in the Early Years is far more intense than pre-pandemic.
If the Government doesn’t increase Camden’s schools funding to meet the increased running costs, Governing Bodies could cut staff and the achievement levels for Camden’s children will suffer. We don’t want that to happen. We want properly staffed schools that can meet the needs of Camden’s children and schools need the funding to do that. Camden UNISON will be consulting you on how we campaign to get the funding for our schools. If funding hits jobs, pay or conditions we can ballot for action across the borough. This would be a powerful campaign that could get proper funding for our schools.
Your Pay Rise 2022.
Your November pay includes your annual cost of living pay rise negotiated by UNISON and agreed nationally for school and council staff from 1st April this year.
Camden UNISON members voted to reject this offer by 4 to 1 as it is not in line with inflation – 11.7%.
However, this flat rate rise of £2,355 in Camden, is a 10% increase for the lowest paid members, 7.5% for Nursery Nurses & HLTAs and over 9% for Teaching Assistants.
The table below shows what your Back pay in November should be if you work 35 hours a week TTO. For different weekly hours just divide by 35 and multiply by your hours.
Continuous Service Scale 1-5 Sc 6 & over
Under 5 1,176.89 1,192.61
5 – 10 1,203.33 1,203.33
10 – 15 1,203.33 1,219.76
15 – 20 1,214.23 1,230.97
20 – 25 1,219.76 1,236.66
25 – 30 1,225.34 1,242.39
Over 30 1,230.97 1,248.18
All amounts for a 35 hour week TTO
You will also get paid for one additional days holiday pro-rata.
JOIN UNISON TODAY – Get Organised
If school support staff are not in a UNION that can negotiate your pay, terms and conditions they
need to join with you. Please ask them to join.
And if you don’t have a shop steward in your school, you’re only getting half the support you need.
Members with stewards are better informed and deal with issues that come up – Please elect one!
For further information either call 020 7974 3996 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In UNISON, 2022 has been the Year of the Disabled Worker, which has been a great opportunity for UNISON to review and update our policies, and to campaign for better workplaces for disabled staff. UNISON has been holding webinars and online meetings throughout the year, as well as having regional meetings and of course our annual conference for disabled members.
Camden UNISON was really pleased that two of our members, Asif and Brenda, attended UNISON’s National Disabled Members Conference a few weeks ago. They’ve come back with lots of information, and some ideas about how we can continue the work we did with disabled staff drawing up the Charter to build on it and put it in to practice.
Camden UNISON has regularly taken up cases and represented members who have a disability to make sure that they aren’t treated differently or get the adjustments that they are entitled to so that they are not discriminated against at work. Camden UNISON has an elected Equality Officer who, along with other Branch Officers, can give advice if needed to all of our local stewards when they are representing members with a disability. Some of our stewards have disabilities and their experience is important in both raising how our branch can highlight issues and campaigns that affect our disabled members, and in making sure what they’re learnt is shared with other stewards to help when representing members.
We have represented members right up to Employment Tribunal level and have had a number of successful cases over the years. We regularly encourage members to register that they have a disability, and to complete the Wellbeing Passport – doing these now is a good thing anyway, but also really helps if there is any unequal or unfair treatment in the future.
We also think that campaigning collectively is important – that’s how we get changes in organisations and in society – and so have taken part in all kind of rallies, lobbies and protests. We have been part of the successful campaign to make BSL a recognised language, joining the rally in Trafalgar Square along with our members and the children from Frank Barnes School here in Camden, and are keen for staff to be taught some basic phrases so that we are part of making the services our members provide as inclusive as possible.
If you want any more information, support or representation, or would like to help campaign with Camden UNISON, then email us at email@example.com
As inflation continues to soar, our employers have offered another pay cut in real terms. We’ve already lost over 25% of our wages in the last decade, but this year we face huge increases in our fuel bills, food, rent and travel. This means that in fact the offer is one of the biggest wage cuts in recent years.
Because of this, Camden UNISON is recommending to members to vote to REJECT the offer in the consultation taking place.
Consultation – Remember, remember the 1st of September!
The consultation will begin on Thursday 1 September and will close at 12 noon on Monday 19 September. You will receive an email with an electronic vote (or a postal vote if we do not have your email). Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know if you haven’t received a vote by 8 Sept.
UNISON is consulting all members working in schools and councils about the 2022 pay offer. This offer is for a flat rate increase of £2355 at every grade (this includes Inner London Weighting) and an additional day annual leave from April 2023. Other parts of the claim such as a working from home allowance, reducing the working week and a one-off covid payment were rejected. You can read the full details of the pay claim in this link: Joint Negotiating Committee for Local Authority (unison.org.uk)
Note: This is NOT a lump sum payment of £2355, it means that your salary will go up by that amount over the year.
UNISON’s claim was for £2445 in London or RPI, currently 11.8% and rising, whichever was the highest. This offer doesn’t meet either of those. Although this offer gives more to the lowest grades, even they lose out in real terms.
For example compared to a pay rise that matches inflation, this offer means:
A library worker on Level 2 Zone 1 will lose at least £15.55 a week in real terms.
A teaching assistant in a school at the top of Scale 3 (NJC) will lose £9.29 a week and one at the top of Scale 4 (NJC) will lose £13.32 a week in real terms.
A caretaker on Level 2 Zone 1 will lose at least £15.55 a week with this pay offer compared to one matching inflation.
A Business Support Officer on Level 2 Zone 2 will lose at least £21.87 a week with this offer compared to what they would get if the offer matched inflation.
One of the most common grades is Level 3 Zone 1, and if that’s your grade, you’ll lose at least £25.37 a week compared to a pay offer matching inflation.
You can find the information about what this offer means for you compared to one that matched inflation by going to our pay micro-site using this link below and clicking on Camden Pay Scales 2022:
Cost Of Living Crisis
Over the next few months, inflation will continue to increase, possibly reaching 17% in the next few months. Our fuel bills will rocket over winter as yet again the ‘price cap’ is raised, so many members will face a winter of hardship. There are now more foodbanks in this country than branches of McDonalds, and millions use them every day.
Bosses Get Rich
But the money is there. There are now more billionaires in the UK, with even more money than ever before. Oil companies have had record profits, city bosses are getting huge bonuses and company bosses like ‘Foodbank’ Phil Jansen at BT had a 32% wage increase to £3.5m. It’s a political decision not to fund public services and public sector pay. As profits boom, it’s time to say enough is enough.
Resistance Is Growing
We aren’t alone in facing pay cuts though, and resistance to them is growing. We’ve seen strikes by rail, tube, bus, communication and even Amazon workers and barristers, with more planned by them. Journalists at the Mirror and Express are striking this week. Some council workers in Scotland are striking over their pay offer, and health workers, teachers, civil servants and more are balloting.
Reject The Offer
That’s why our branch committee voted unanimously to recommend a vote to REJECT the offer.
It’s very important that we have a good turnout in this consultation, and a clear message to reject the offer. To do this means getting publicity out, talking to colleagues, reminding them to vote. If you want to help us with this and in our fight for decent pay, with not become a Pay Campaigner? Email email@example.com to let us know.
UNISON is in national negotiations with our employers about our 2022/23 pay claim, and we expect an offer from the employers next week. If the offer is not near our claim, then we will be balloted about taking strike action. The details and timing of that won’t be decided by our negotiators until after we have the offer from the employers, but it’s important that we are ready for action and all options!
Camden UNISON is asking everyone to do four things so that we are as well organised and as prepared as possible.
1.UPDATE YOUR DETAILS
This is easy to do and there are a couple of ways. You can register with My UNISON, which takes a couple of minutes and is worth doing anyway, and then update your details yourself. The link below takes you there on the UNISON website:
Or you can complete the form attached and email it back to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can update your details for you.
2.BECOME A PAY CAMPAIGNER – OR A STEWARD!
We have to get over 50% of our members voting in a strike ballot, one of the anti-union laws that the Tories brought in. That means every vote matters! So the more people who are circulating information about the pay campaign, explaining that the money’s there to fund it, speaking to people about it, helping to phone bank when a ballot starts, the more likely we are to get over 50% turnout.
If you can help do some of this kind of thing and can be a Pay Campaigner in your workplace/school/team/service, then email email@example.com and let us know. And if you’re interested in becoming a steward let us know that too – you can get some facility time, training and support, you don’t have to do it all by yourself.
We always have more chance of winning if we’re organised!
3.HELP US GROW
And we also have more chance of winning if we’re bigger! So why not help us recruit new members? When you speak to colleagues, ask them if they’re in UNISON – and if they aren’t, ask if they’d like to join. In the last few weeks we’ve seen different unions like the rail and postal workers standing up for their members, locally our reps have been taking up all kinds of issues like working in hot temperatures, challenging restructures, campaigning against racism and much more, and of course we’re getting ready to fight for a decent pay rise – lots of reasons to join us!
Below is a link you can send on to anyone who wants to join:
We know some of you are planning a well-earned break over the next few weeks, or if you work in a school the holidays are about to start, but over the next few weeks there will be lots of pay updates – what the employers offer, our response, the case for paying us properly and funding our services, so please do keep checking your emails.
We live in the sixth richest country in the world. Yet over 4.3 million children live in poverty, and last year at least two million people relied on foodbanks because their income didn’t cover the cost of living. Inflation is the highest it’s been for decades and we’ve all seen our energy bills shoot up. Working class people are struggling to pay for both heating and eating. We are living through the most severe cost of living crisis in generations.
So in this cost of living crisis, what has been the response from the Tories and their friends?
Well, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the richest MP and the first to ever be in the Sunday Times Rich List (£730m fortune jointly with his wife Akshata Murty, numerous homes including a mansion in California complete with a pet spa), said last month, “I cannot pretend this will be easy”. But of course it will be easy for him and his family – they have £20m saved up from not paying UK taxes.
Tory MP Lee Anderson, who claimed over £220,000 in expenses last year, said the problem is that we can’t budget properly or cook cheap meals from scratch. Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England with a £575,000 annual pay cheque, said that the rest of us should “think and reflect” before seeking a pay rise.
Home Office minister Rachel Maclean (last year’s expenses claimed were £213,000) said that we needed to work more hours or get a better paid job if we were struggling.
But the real problem is that the jobs we do don’t have proper wages – for instance a newly qualified nurse gets around £25,000 a year. No wonder there are over 110,000 vacancies in the NHS.
But the money is there. As our fuel bills have gone up, BP, Shell and Chevron between them collected £22,000,000,000 in profits in just the first three months of this year. And since the pandemic, that threw millions of working class people in to poverty and debt, there are now more UK billionaires than ever and their combined wealth has increased. That newly qualified nurse would have to work for 40,000 years and never spend a penny to become a billionaire.
It’s a different world in the city. A report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) released this week has found that just in March, almost £6bn was paid out in bankers’ bonuses, and overall, their bonuses are back to the obscene levels they reached before the 2008 financial crash.
So if there’s plenty of money to make sure that no-one goes cold or hungry, the problem is about political priorities. After much resistance, Sunak has finally announced a one-off energy windfall tax, but that won’t cut it.
I’m the Branch Secretary of Camden UNISON, the trade union that organises and represents Camden Council workers, and our members will be joining the demonstration called by the TUC. Over the last decade, our wages have gone down 25%, which means we work a day a week for free compared to 2012. At the same time, the Tories have halved funding to councils, making it harder for us to provide the services all of us need.
Throughout the pandemic, like lots of you, our members helped to provide services – in schools, care homes and many more places, and we got yet another pay cut in real terms this year as thanks. And now it’s become clear that whilst we were all working, Johnson and his mates were having Wine Time Fridays and karaoke parties, getting so drunk that they had fights, being rude and abusive to cleaning staff – breaking all the covid rules that they made. It’s time for all of us to come together to say enough is enough.
The Tories are in a state of crisis – only this week almost half of their MPs voted that they had no confidence in their leader. This was a worse result than Theresa May got, and she was forced to resign within six months. Boris Johnson even got booed at the Queen’s jubilee party. They are clearly weak and divided, so now is the time for us to force the Tories to change those political priorities or get out.
That’s why trade unions have come together and will be on the TUC protest on Saturday 18 June. This demonstration is our chance to tell the Tories that we have had enough of their austerity, that we want to see people put before profit. We will be assembling from 11am in Portland Place (outside the BBC) with the Camden UNISON banner before marching off at 12 noon. Join us!
Asif has kindly agreed to give Camden Unison an interview on the day that the British Sign Language bill is being approved by the House of Lords.
The approval of this bill is an historical event which follows years of campaigning. Asif has been involved in the campaign from the beginning and represents deaf and disabled Camden Unison members as well as being directly involved in the changes Camden is implementing.
YouTube videos of Asif intervening at Unison National meetings for disabled member are also available through Unison National website.
Assemble 11am Portland Place W1A, Rally 1pm Parliament Square
Join UNISON on the TUC national demonstration in London on 18 June and take action over the cost of living crisis.
The demonstration is an opportunity for us to tell the Tories that they need to support working class people through this financial crisis instead of giving dodgy contracts to their friends and families.
According to a recent report from Oxfam, the 10 richest men in the world have seen their wealth double to $1.5tn since the start of the pandemic, widening the gap between rich and poor. They are currently richer than the poorest 40% of the global population, about 3.1 billion people.
A one-off 99% windfall tax on their Covid wealth gains could pay to vaccinate the entire world and provide the resources to tackle climate change, provide universal healthcare, and address gender-based violence in 80 countries. Even after a 99% levy, the top 10 billionaires would be $8bn better off between them than they were before the pandemic.
We’re constantly told that there isn’t enough money for the services we need, for everyone to have a decent life, to fund clean water, decent housing, health and education globally and locally.
But it’s not about lack of wealth, it’s about wealth distribution – and 18 June is part of us coming together to do something about it. Get your marching shoes ready!
Saturday 6 November 11am – Finsbury Circus Garden (Trade Union assembly point) 12noon – Bank of England, Threadneedle Street (main assembly point) 3pm – Rally in Trafalgar Square
Around the world, millions of people will be marching on 6 Nov for climate justice whilst world leaders meet in Glasgow for the COP26 talks. Camden UNISON will be part of the protests in London, starting at the trade union assembly point where we will march with other union members to join the main demonstration. The climate emergency is a huge threat to us all, and so we need to march in large numbers to make sure the politicians hear us. Please do everything you can to join the protest and march with the Camden UNISON banner.
As the COP26 talks begin, some governments and ministers have already tried to undermine any serious attempts to reduce global warming and fossil fuel use, or talk of only meeting ‘targets’ by 2050. And Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak announced in the recent budget that they will spend £1.7bn to build a new nuclear power plant at Sizewell, that domestic flight passenger fuel duty will be cut, and that petrol and diesel duty will be frozen for the twelfth consecutive year. These are not the actions of a government serious about combatting climate change.
To add insult to injury, whilst politicians and royalty are inside the conference, Greta Thunberg, the person who has done most to bring the climate emergency to the top of our agenda, has not been given a pass. But she will still be in Glasgow, joining the Fridays4Future strikes and protests and leading the kind of action we need to force world leaders to take note and take action.
So be part of making a difference – join us on the Global Day for Climate Justice
The last few days have demonstrated that the police force is institutionally sexist as well as racist, and male violence against women and girls in the Met police force is an ongoing issue. Wayne Couzens, the officer who raped and murdered Sarah Everard isn’t one bad apple. In the last 18 months, almost 200 Met police have faced allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct. And yet only 4 were either suspended or had duties restricted, and only 2 have gone to court in the last decade. Of the almost 800 Met police who have faced sexual misconduct allegations in the last decade, only 83 have been sacked. This is not acceptable.
Police officers nicknamed Couzens ‘the rapist’ – they clearly knew he was a threat to women, and they joked about it. The Met Police have issued a statement saying no colleagues raised concerns about his behaviour and he passed his vetting – whilst asking us to have confidence in that vetting process! They then gave ‘advice’ on what to do if you are stopped by the police. Apparently we should ask “very searching questions” like where are your colleagues, where have you come from, why are you here, exactly why are you stopping or talking to me? If you are still worried, the advice is to shout out to a passer-by, run into a stranger’s house, wave a bus down or….call the police. Not one of these would have stopped Couzens from using his official police ID to arrest Sarah. And when have we ever got answers when questioning the police if they are arresting you? What’s more, it’s an insult to say that women should have to take these actions to be safe – surely this responsibility lies with the Met Police?
There was another court case last week involving the Met Police. The judges ruled that they had grossly violated the human rights of a woman, Kate Wilson, by deceiving her into having a sexual relationship whilst being ‘undercover’ and infiltrating political and campaigning groups. They ruled that she had experienced degrading treatment at the hands of the officer, and that senior officers either knew and chose not to act, or were ignorant and negligent. Last year after Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry had been murdered, Met police took and shared photos including selfies by their bodies. Misogyny runs deep in the Met.
As Council officers many UNISON members have to work with the police, and we would like to see steps taken to make sure we are safe and do not experience police racism and sexism. There needs to be clear guidelines about the relationship with the police, the expectations of their behaviour and what we can do when this does not work. We also carry out lone working in many of our jobs and we need proper support, training and mechanisms in place to keep us safe.
Camden UNISON and UNISON nationally have a majority of women members. Our safety is a trade union issue and we stand with and campaign alongside those who challenge the sexism we face in society and from institutions like the Metropolitan Police.
This information about pay is for directly-employed Council workers and those on NJC pay. If you work for a private company, you will not be affected by this, but you may be interested in the events at the end, as well as wanting to keep up with what’s happening with pay for Council workers.
On 15 February 2020 UNISON, GMB and Unite lodged the following pay and conditions claim for all council and school workers employed on NJC pay in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The claim from 1 April 2021 was for:
• A substantial increase with a minimum of 10% on all spinal column points
• Introduction of a homeworking allowance for all staff who are working from home
• A national minimum agreement on homeworking policies for all councils
• A reduction of the working week to 35 hours with no loss of pay, and a reduction to 34 hours a week in London. Part-time staff to be given a choice of a pro rata reduction, or retaining the same hours and being paid a higher percentage of FTE
• A minimum of 25 days annual leave plus public holidays and statutory days for all starting employees plus an extra day holiday on all other holiday rates that depend on service.
• An agreement on a best practice national programme of mental health support for all local authorities and school staff.
• A joint review of job descriptions, routes for career developments and pay banding for school support staff, and completion of the outstanding work of the joint term-time only review group.
• A joint review of the provisions in the Green Book for maternity/paternity/shared parental/adoption leave.
You’ll notice that some of the conditions part of it won’t apply to us – we already have more than 25 days annual leave for starting employees, for example – but as well as the headline 10% pay increase, conditions like a homeworking agreement, and the parental leave policies could lead to improvements for us, and of course we stand and fight with those who have worse conditions than us to get improvements for them.
The Employers’ Offer
The employers (and therefore the government) came back with an ‘offer’, aka an insult, of 1.5%. They agreed to complete the outstanding term-time only work, and to discuss some of the other conditions, but with no promises on a WFH agreement, on mental health or parental leave.
This was rejected by UNISON, as it came nowhere near reflecting both the impact of more than a decade of pay cuts and the role we had played in the pandemic. As well as calling on the employers to meet urgently to negotiate further, UNISON was also clear that we need to be campaigning for an increase in funding for Councils, many of which have had budget cuts of 50% over recent years.
Following meetings with the employers, they made a further offer of a 1.75% pay increase, and no change to the conditions part of the claim.
UNISON is now starting consultation with members and is strongly proposing a vote to reject this insult.
It’s Not Enough
The offer falls well short of the claim for a 10% increase. Since 2010, Council workers have lost over 25% of our salary in real terms. That means every week, we now work more than a day a week for free compared to a decade ago. Think about that when you set off to work for free every Friday!
At the same time, the rich have got richer – the UK now has 171 billionaires, up 24 from last year, many who have benefitted from Tory tax breaks and overseas tax havens. Their combined wealth increased more than 20% from last year, at a time when millions of workers were furloughed or lost their jobs.
And whilst Boris Johnson spends £840 per roll of wallpaper and his friends and family get corrupt covid contracts worth billions, working class people this month face a reduction in Universal Credit. Millions of children got fed by a footballer because the Tories don’t care.
There’s enough money to make sure that no-one is hungry or homeless, that our hospitals are staffed and our public services are funded. Public service workers were the backbone of the response to the pandemic and we deserve more than having our funding cut and our pay cut.
It’s right that we have a 10% pay claim, but we need to make sure that it goes alongside a loud, vibrant campaign for fully funded services – all of us have seen council funding massively cut in the last decade and this has to be reversed. Our pay must not be competing with funding for the services we provide.
But the rich and their governments never hand over money if they can help it. We can learn from the Black Lives Matter movement that earlier this year forced a guilty verdict in the trial of George Floyd’s killer – we need to be organised, we need to protest and take action, to say enough is enough.
That’s why we are urging all of you to vote to reject this ‘offer’. Over the next week we will be sending out an online ballot, and you voting REJECT can really make a difference.
What you need to do
First of all, make sure we have the correct details for you – in particular your email and postal addresses. You can update your details on the UNISON website using the link below:
There is a rally for care workers outside the Dept of Health to highlight that they have been critical during the pandemic, and yet have scandalously low pay. Speakers will include a worker from Sage, a private care company where they have been taking strike action, and Helen Davies, one of our London reps on UNISON’s NEC
Dear Camden UNISON member,
Please read all of this additional email for information about the national pay claim and details of two protests on Saturday.
London Borough of Camden
This week a ruling in Texas made it illegal for someone to choose to have an abortion beyond the 6th week of pregnancy, even if they are pregnant as a result of rape or abuse. So now, the penalty for this is worse in Texas than the penalty for rape. Over recent years, there have been a number of attacks on the right to choose, often met with resistance such as the general strike by women in Poland. But on Saturday, those who don’t think we should have that right to choose will be marching in London. A rally has been called to defend the right to choose, and as a long-time affiliate of the pro-choice campaign Abortion Rights, some of us will be attending this with the Camden UNISON banner. There will be speakers from a number of organisations and unions, including me, another London rep on UNISON’s NEC!
I hope to see some of you on these, and look out for pay info and your vote.
London Borough of Camden
The Local Government employers body has finally responded to UNISON rejecting the 1.5% pay ‘offer’ and come back with……1.75%! We all know how vital council workers have been to keeping our communities safe and well during the pandemic, and this is a disgraceful response. There is plenty of money there – the number of billionaires in this country went up during the height of the pandemic in 2020, the Tories gave millions of pounds of public money to their friends and families for ‘covid contracts’ and yet they expect us to quietly accept a pay cut in real terms, and only offer 3% to NHS workers (also a cut in real terms).
You will be consulted about this ‘offer’ in September, and we will be circulating information over the next few weeks, but below are some links to UNISON’s initial comments, plus a couple of things you can do:
1) Update your personal details – you can do that using the link below or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org Please do not assume that UNISON has your correct address/phone number/workplace etc. It matters that we have your details so that we can include you in the consultation, and if we need to ballot you for industrial action. https://www.unison.org.uk/my-unison/
We all know this, but of course the Tories are trying to avoid it. The Pay Review Body that decides NHS pay (after listening to the government) is due to make an announcement soon, rumoured to be around 2/2.5%. Clearly this is an insult to NHS workers and UNISON has launched a national petition – spend a few minutes to click on the link below, sign and share.
We regularly ask if you want to get more involved because it matters. A number of members have come forward to be stewards over the last year and are really making a difference. If you’re interested just email email@example.com and we’ll have a chat about what it involves.
But there are other ways you can help too – quite a few of you have been getting involved in different staff networks, helping us with designing ‘flyers’ and meeting info, thinking about the best way and place we can raise issues – all of this helps. In particular if you’re interested in getting involved in publicity for the branch get in touch as this is the kind of thing it would be great to have a group working together on. As ever, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Divest Our Pension Group
We now have a group of members who want to work together around divesting our pension from the fossil fuel industry, and are going to meet up soon, so just a reminder if you’re interested and haven’t let us know then drop a line to email@example.com
Trade unions are about how we organise collective resistance, about solidarity and unity. Whenever we are divided, we are weaker, and when we are weak those in power stay there unchallenged running a system that goes unchallenged. Racism runs through every aspect of society and needs to be challenged everywhere.
As members of a trade union though, we can come together in our workplaces to discuss and organise how we can fight racism. Sometimes this is about how policies are systematically used in a disproportionate way, sometimes like during the protests after the murder of George Floyd, it’s about taking action like the Teamster union members who refused to take protesters to the police station in their buses despite police orders. At the meeting we’ll hear from speakers who have been organising against racism and racist events, and will have chance to discuss what we can do too.
So please do try to come along to the Camden UNISON meeting.
London Borough of Camden
Up and down the country, people will be taking the knee outside their workplaces and in their communities. This has been an important action over the last year, from local street communities to professional sports people. Taking the knee didn’t start last year though – above is a picture of Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama, during one of the most famous marches in the history of the civil rights movement. It was taken up in the first wave of Black Lives Matter protests and has continued to be central today.
So if you are able to make the journey safely, or are currently working in a Camden building and can make it, please join us outside 5PS at 6pm on Tuesday where we can take the knee together.
Nationally, this is organised jointly by the TUC and Stand Up To Racism, and UNISON is encouraging members to take part.
London Borough of Camden
In April Diana Leach, joint Branch Secretary of Brighton and Hove UNISON, spoke at our weekly online members meeting to bring news of the action taken by UNISON, NEU and GMB members at Moulsecoomb Primary school against it being forcibly turned into an academy school, with Pioneer Academy trust as the front-runner.
Union members at the school took strike action (24 March and April 28-29) against the plans, which are also very unpopular with parents.
The school was closed as a result of the strike. Members of the three unions agreed to cover the cost of lunches for children at the school so they did not miss out as a consequence of the industrial action. The unions’ aim to keep Moulsecoomb Primary School as part of Brighton and Hove City Council Schools and hope that the academy trusts will withdraw their bids to take over the school.
Education watchdog Ofsted said that those running Moulsecoomb Primary School had taken effective action to educate pupils during the pandemic. Unions are outraged that Lee Mason-Ellis, head of the Pioneer Academy, grabs £145,000-£150,000 a year. They said such “bloated” pay “reduces resources devoted to children in the classroom”.
Members hope that the strike action will lead to an announcement that the academisation plans have been dropped for good, but there are more strike dates planned in the event their concerns are not listened to, and a march on 22 May.
Camden UNISON welcomes the verdict that Derek Chauvin, the killer cop, has been found guilty on all three charges surrounding the murder of George Floyd last year. Much has been made in the press of how this would not have happened without the camera phone footage, and subsequent appearance at the trial as a witness, by Darnella Frazier. That was very important – around the world we could see the brutality of the police and the contempt they held for the life of a Black man.
But other police murders have been filmed before. The Black Lives Matter movement that saw millions on the streets across the US and the rest of the world also led to that verdict, and we stand with everyone who took to the streets to march, held protest vigils and meetings, the Teamster trade unionists who refused to follow police orders to take protesters to the cells and more. This has been an important verdict for the Floyd family, and it is important for all of us who want to fight racism. Now we demand justice for Breonna Taylor, for Ma’Khia Bryant and sadly for many more.
There has also been much talk about how few police officers in the US have been charged or convicted following the death of a Black person at their hands or in their custody. The number is shockingly low. However, that number here in Britain is zero. On the eve of the anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, this verdict highlights the existence of institutional racism specifically in the police, and also in wider society, and directly contradicts the government Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.
Camden Council has committed to challenging institutional racism and being an anti-racist employer and organisation, and as your trade union we will be doing everything that we can to make sure their pledges are put into practice.
Institutional racism is built into every aspect of society and as well as discriminating against people based on the colour of their skin, it also makes racists and racist organisations more confident. Almost a year ago, we said we are proud that Camden UNISON has been at the forefront of challenging this. As a trade union we want to see a better, fairer society. That means organising and resisting to end the low pay and poverty that is experienced in particular by our Black members, but also fighting for a world free from the racism and bigotry that can divide us. Today we stand by that. No Justice, No Peace.
The last year has been like no other for us in many ways – the pandemic has affected how we live and work and the Black Lives Matter movement has challenged racism in society and the workplace. This makes the branch AGM an important chance for us to discuss how we’ve responded to that and what we want to do over the next year. So please do join us at the online meeting and have your say. The Teams link and agenda has been emailed out to all members, if you haven’t received it or have any other queries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of you not only read about the government limiting the amount local government workers would receive if made redundant, you also wrote to the minister responsible for this, signed petitions and wrote to your MPs. The government pushed ahead with this and made it law in November. However, it faced a judicial review led by UNISON, and that combined with the campaigning you all did led to the Tories revoking the law after only 3 months.
The government, the Daily Mail and other right-wing cheerleaders said that these regulations were introduced to cut big pay outs to the highest paid public servants when they were made redundant. They set a ‘cap’ to pay outs of £95,000, which sounds a lot.
But in reality this payment cap meant that even lower paid staff could have been caught up by the law. In particular, it would have affected those in the local government pension scheme (LGPS) who were made redundant over the age of 55, as their benefits are payable immediately without any early retirement reduction.
Employers have to cover additional money for the early retirement (so-called ‘pension strain costs’) and when these are added on top off any redundancy payments, this can quickly mount up and exceed the £95,000 cap.
UNISON and other unions made a legal challenge that was due to be heard in a few weeks. However, just as we were finalising our evidence, the government backed down – sneaking out the news on a Friday evening, hoping to dampen down any press coverage! The government says that it has disapplied the regulations, with a view to revoking them completely, because it may have had ‘unintended consequences’.
It’s worth noting that these regulations would only have kicked in when someone was made redundant. And with thousands of jobs having already gone across public services over the last decade of austerity, one job going is still one too many.
The lesson for us here is that campaigning can work!
Vaccination and immunisation is an important issue in the midst of a pandemic. Many of us are too young to remember when diseases like smallpox and polio were common and so it can seem like they just ‘disappeared’, but this is not the case. But every new disease or virus brings new questions and concerns about how to stay safe individually and as a community. As a trade union, we want to make sure that our members have access to reliable sources of information before making a decision.
In order to do this, the council has facilitated a live webinar for union (UNISON, NEU and GMB) members. This will have a similar format to other webinars that have taken place in the last couple of weeks, with medical and public health speakers who will be able to answer questions that you have about the vaccine. This is a great opportunity to ask about anything you want to know about the vaccine. At this one there will also be the chance to ask coronavirus-related employment questions – we will try to answer as many questions as possible in the session, but if we run out of time or you ask a complicated one that we need to check out information to answer fully, then we will do a later response.
In order to get as many questions answered as possible – medical or employment – it would really help if you can send them in advance. You can email them to email@example.com and we can compile and forward them before the webinar. Please get questions to us by 12 noon on Tuesday 9 Feb and say if you would like to remain anonymous. There will be more about the webinar in a reminder email to all members early next week and the link to join it will be sent out again.
This week we saw the legacy of Trump’s time as US President. From the Make America Great Again (MAGA) campaign to the racist rhetoric and policies, he has mobilised a dangerous far right movement and dramatically polarised US society.
Thousands of his supporters marched in Washington and then some entered the Capitol building, waving the pro-slavery Confederate flag. Trump had prepared for this day – it’s the result of him telling the ‘Proud Boys’ to stand by, of saying there were ‘good people’ on both sides when Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville for protesting against white supremacists, of his systematic scapegoating of migrants, Black people, Muslims and Latinx.
This encouraged the racists, they had one of their own in the White House who spent most of last year denouncing the Black Lives Matter movement and defending the killer of two Black Lives Matter protestors in September.
Since the November election, Trump repeatedly denied losing, not just as an attempt to challenge the result in the Supreme Court, but also as a way to mobilise his supporters – if it wasn’t for those cheating liberals, he’d still be in the White House was his claim.
So on December 20 Trump tweeted, “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election, Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
Trump’s supporters had very different treatment at the hands of the police and National Guard than the Black Lives Matter protestors last year. This week, according to the Washington Post, “In a city on high alert, in a building with its own 2000-officer police department, people forced their way in with nothing more than flagpoles, riot shields and shoves.” Since then, pictures have surfaces of the police inside the building taking selfies with them. Compare this to the huge mobilisation of the National Guard up the steps of the Capitol building when people marched against the murder of George Floyd.
Unfortunately, the opposition to any campaign by Trump and his supporters is unlikely to come from Democratic politicians – they have had four years to build a movement against his racism and undemocratic politics and given very little challenge. It’s also worth remembering that even here, all the politicians who this week have condemned Trump have previously been happy to meet with him, to invite him over for state visits and some, like Priti Patel, want to bring in similar policies. When Jeremy Corbyn refused to dine with Trump and instead joined the massive protests in London against his state visit, other politicians and all the press at the time criticised him for not showing ‘respect’ to Trump.
The best way for us to counter Trump, his racist policies and his supporters including those over here is to continue to mobilise for Black Lives Matter, to continue to fight for funding our NHS including proper pay for health workers, and against the austerity that is used to divide us.
It’s shocking that as we start 2021, coronavirus is again sweeping through our communities, with more daily cases reported today than ever (even though the criteria was changed since the first lockdown) and hundreds of people dying every day. The responsibility for this lies firmly with the Tories – they’ve done too little, too late and have had to be forced into action all the way. The U-turns over school safety and restricting face to face education to key worker and vulnerable children demonstrates this clearly. One day all schools were safe to fully open, the next day some London schools weren’t safe, the following day no London schools were safe, a couple of days later no schools nationally were safe to fully open. Johnson may say that it was a decision made by him, but it was forced on him, not least due to the campaign by the NEU (teachers union) who had a union meeting last Sunday morning that was live streamed and viewed by 400,000 people! Locally, on New Year’s Eve when we heard that Camden was on the list where the government said all primary schools must fully open, Camden UNISON branch officers wrote to the Council Leader, the Councillor responsible for Education, the Chief Executive, the Director of Education and other senior managers to say that we disagreed with this, we believed the schools should open for key worker and vulnerable children only and that we were meeting with our stewards and members over the weekend to discuss this. We also said that we would make ourselves available to meet to discuss this over the following few days. On New Year’s Day we were meeting with the Council Leader when, after 18 hours of 2021, Johnson announced his first climbdown. There are still a lot of things we need to discuss about this lockdown though – in many ways its more Tier 4 with schools running as they were in the first lockdown. So a number of other services that were closed in March are still running face to face. We have had some meetings already this week with members in some of those areas, but if you want a meeting for UNISON members in your team then email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange one with you. Obviously, we’d like to hear from you at the meeting on Thursday too, so come along to that with your views and ideas.
London Borough of Camden
Camden UNISON is proud to have signed up to the Camden Disability Network’s Charter, and some of our members are actively helping to co-ordinate the Network. Here Asif outlines the aims and plans of the Network and gives details of how you can get in touch and involved.
Camden Disability Network Mission Statement
Disabled staff across the organisation have recently come together to re-establish Camden Disability Network, and to support the organisation in ensuring it is inclusive of everyone’s needs, fostering a working environment that is equal for all.
“The network aims to ensure that all staff feel able to declare their disabilities and become positive role models for their disabled colleagues. Through the network we want to empower disabled staff, celebrate their talents and help them to achieve their hopes for the future.”
Camden Disability Network, November 2020
Camden Disability Network offers support for disabled staff across Camden Council. This is a safe space to express views or concerns, a platform for everyone’s voice to be heard and to influence decisions across the organisation. We will work together to ensure equal participation for all. We are committed to making the CDN a truly inclusive, equal and respectful place for disabled staff.
Camden Disability Network’s vision
We want Camden to be an organisation where staff members are not identified by their disability, but are seen as people
We want to be able see the talents and potential of all staff, regardless of their disability, and ensure that Camden provide reasonable adjustments when needed
We want all Camden Council workplaces and public spaces, as well as programs and services, to be accessible
We want to make our workplace somewhere where people with disabilities can be, and want to be, their best selves
In the immediate term we want to provide internal support to staff. In the long term we want to instigate projects to help engage the wider community of Camden and recognise the needs, interests and concerns of disabled residents.
How Camden Disability Network will help Camden to achieve this vision:
Working with HR to review HR policies, and ensure disabled staff are protected, according to the Equality Act 2010 and relevant case law
Encouraging open and honest conversations between all parts of Camden and other organisations
Increasing disability awareness
Working closely with the Rainbow Group, Camden Black Worker’s Group, and other Employee Support Groups, and Trade Unions
Promoting Disability History Month to raise awareness of disabled staff for all staff
Producing the Disability Charter
Acting as a disability and change champion
The Network’s core beliefs
Disabilities are a natural part of life. Anyone can acquire a disability at any time
Many of the difficulties faced by disabled people are a result of attitudes and environments, and not the disability itself
Disabilities positively affect and enhance the diversity of our community
The term ‘disability’ is not to be viewed as something negative, a taboo, or something which makes an individual in any well less than others
Everyone should have the opportunity to express their strengths, abilities, and talents:
Discussing disabilities is to be encouraged in order to help people
Data about disabilities is treated with confidence at all times
Summary of what Camden Disability Network has achieved so far:
Camden Disability Network aims to welcome disabled staff, colleagues who work with disabled staff or residents or communities.
Camden Disability Network Working Group aims for Executive Board overview of disability issues will cover review policies, consultation, communication, working with senior management, etc
Set up Camden Disability Network Yammer Group – If you are interested, you can join Camden Disability Network Yammer to contribute your disability, resources, ideas, stories, etc.
Heads of Services to advise Team Managers to promote the Camden Disability Network through to their members of staff
Disability History Month – 18th November 18th December 2020
Camden Disability Network is launched new Logo and email banner signature
Jenny Rowlands, Chief Executive’s statement of support for Disability History Month and Disability Network via Essentials
Promote staff personal stories i.e. if staff have a role model or anyone who has inspired them internally or externally. We are keen to promote awareness of disabled staff internally and externally through Essentials, Yammer and Twitter
Disability History Month conversation video will be on Essentials and Yammer on 18th November 2020.
Promoting training sessions: Emma Watson and Emma Chimonidou, Executive Member of Disability Network Working Group, will be running 3 x dyspraxia sessions on 19th, 24th November and 1st and 17th December 2020 during Disability History Month.
Camden Disability Network delighted to be working in partnership with Islington Disabled Staff Forum as they share the following lunch time drop in training sessions to all Camden and Islington staff.
Camden Disability Network is proud to announce that Camden Council will provide a purple light at 5PS offices on Thursday 3rd December 2020 to celebrate International Day for Disabled People and recognise disabled staff’s great achievements and value their contribution to Camden. This will include signing the Camden Disability Network’s Disability Charter as well.
Camden Disability Network Charter will be signed by Jenny Rowlands, Chief Executive and Councillor Gould, Leader on Thursday 3rd December 2020 in conjunction with the celebration of the International Day for Disabled People.
Camden Council will seek a Disability Champion role that can be used to engage/ involve with disabled staff and to raise the profile of Camden Council.
Working partnership with Islington Disabled Staff Forum
Recently we have met Islington Disabled Staff Forum to see how we can work in partnership, share information and network as it could be beneficial for our long term planning.
Branch elections for all steward and branch officer posts are scheduled each year. The timetable for standing and details of the available posts will be included in an email to members from Camden Unison next week (and there will be emails specifically about the elections too) but please to think about how you can be involved, or if you’re interested in standing for any of the roles and want to find out more about them. Any union branch is only strong and able to make a difference because of members being involved, so we’re always keen to increase our numbers of stewards and officers – it really does make a difference.
We also have an annual general meeting each year, and again there will be lots more information about it in future email, but it’s the afternoon of Weds 3 March 2021. We will be asking for time off to attend as usual, and are making provisions for it to be either online, in real life or a combination of the two, depending on circumstances. Please put the date in your diary now though so that you can come along.
Camden Black Workers Group AGM 3-5pm, Thurs 26 Nov Teams
Camden Black Workers Group Annual General Meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday 26 November 2020 from 3.00 – 5.00 pm. Time off has been agreed by management. Managers have been notified to release members but please give your manager enough notice so that you can be released to attend this very important meeting.
Guest speakers include Jenny Rowlands (Chief Executive), Hanad Mohammed (Director of Equalities and Disproportionality) and Diane Abbott MP (Former Shadow Home Secretary). No registration is required and the meeting is open to members of the group and other Black and minority ethnic staff.
Come along to contribute to the discussion and share your view on the items on the agenda and more. You can also find out more about the group at the meeting.
There’s still a climate emergency!
The coronavirus pandemic has meant that the climate emergency has not dominated the news in the same way as it did last year, but the threat to our planet has not gone away. We wrote last year about the planned events in Glasgow for the COP26 talks (when world leaders meet to discuss climate change and what actions need to be taken) but COP26 is now pushed back to Nov/Dec 2021. However, the COP26 Coalition who have been organising an alternative conference and activities have gone online, and over the next few days there are loads of meetings and debates that you can register for and take part in. Details and a full timetable are in the link below and there are some really interesting ones so do take a look and go along if you can.
As a trade union, we want to know all about our rebellious history! Quite often this is a hidden history, and that’s even more so for Black rebels, so Camden UNISON is holding a lunchtime online meeting on Black British Rebels 1pm on Tuesday 8 Dec. The speaker, Hassan Mahamdallie, has written a book on the subject so make a note of the details and come along with your questions and points of view.
The government has put a cap on the amount you can get if you are made redundant at very short notice and with no meaningful consultation. Most people effected by this will be those who are made redundant who are over the age of 55. It will come into force on 4 November and means from then on, severance packages will not exceed a maximum of £95,000 in value. Although that can seem like a lot, it includes:
Statutory Redundancy Pay
Discretionary Severance Pay
Pension strain costs (see below)
Pension strain costs
Under current regulations a member made redundant or retired on the grounds of efficiency over the age of 55 has to take the pension they have earned in their current LGPS service immediately at the point of redundancy (including any previous LGPS service that a member has combined with the current service). This pension is not reduced by an early retirement factor for early payment as it would be if it was the member retiring voluntarily. The LGPS employer then must pay their LGPS fund the cost of removing the early retirement reduction. The cost is based on the member drawing their pension from their normal pension age. If they draw their pension before their normal retirement age, they are receiving their pension for longer. Depending on how early this can be very expensive and put a strain on the LGPS fund if not paid for. That is why the employer is asked to pay the fund for this cost. This is called the strain cost.
So how will this affect the £95,000 cap?
This strain cost that the employer pays will be included in the £95,000 exit cap. The cap will also include statutory redundancy pay and any other severance payments.
This means that even some low and medium paid staff may hit the cap if they have more than 30 years’ service and made redundant in their mid to late 50’s.
UNISON has consistently and strongly opposed all the above changes since they were first proposed in 2015 and will continue to do so through any means available.
UNISON is responding to the MHCLG consultation arguing that severance should not be eroded and is completely opposed to offsetting the severance payments, including Statutory Redundancy Pay, against payments to remove reductions for pensions for those over 55. This is penal and potentially discriminatory.
What can you do?
In recent email to members, we have attached letters for you to send in as part of the consultation – please do this as soon as possible. And please keep an eye on any further information we send to you in emails.
Every 5 years, all UNISON members (including retired members) have the chance to vote for our general secretary. This will be a vote by postal ballot, and you will receive the ballot paper to the address you have given UNISON. Ballot papers start going out on 28 October, so you should expect yours within the next few days. The mailing will include a covering letter, and booklet with each candidate’s election address and a list of the bodies that have nominated them, a ballot paper and a return envelope. As ever, please read all the election statements before voting.
A branch cannot tell members who they should vote for. However, all branches can nominate a candidate at a decision-making meeting of the branch, and at our branch committee meeting the decision was to nominate Hugo Pierre, and below is why:
As UNISON members, we are about to elect a new General Secretary. Our Branch decided to nominate Hugo Pierre as a candidate to stand in this election because Hugo wants our union to change into a fighting, democratic trade union prepared to meet the challenges we face as members: • National Action to fight Council cuts • National Action for NHS pay – 15% now • £15 an hour minimum wage • End privatisation and bring services back in-house • Labour Councils to set no cuts budgets • Election of Assistant General Secretaries and Regional Secretaries • Build our workplace strength • Branches have full right to campaign
If you have not received your ballot paper by 10 November, you must call UNISON Direct on 0800 0857 857 to request a replacement (have your membership number to hand if possible).
Voting in the election continues until Friday 27 November.
News over the last few days has been dominated by the vote in the House of Commons to deny help for children who usually get free school meals over this half-term and Christmas. This is a real disgrace – the 322 Tory MPs who voted against free school meals being extended have a basic parliamentary income of over £26m (also more than the total COVID-relief given to Greater Manchester). And of course they also claim thousands in expenses – Matt Hancock claimed over £60k last year – and have all their meals at the Commons subsidised by us. The huge response by ordinary people to make sure no child goes hungry is amazing, but shouldn’t be needed in one of the richest countries in the world. However, we know that some of our members and their children will be affected by this, so please see below for a link where children and young people who are entitled to free school meals can go this week: https://helpoutwhenschoolsout.co.uk And here’s the links to a couple of petitions you may want to spend a few minutes signing. The first is by Marcus Rashford calling for the government to provide free school meals in the holidays, and the second is calling for an end to MPs subsidised meals: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/554276 https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-mps-entitlement-to-free-work-meals
One of our neighbouring UNISON branches at SOAS (part of London University) has been campaigning against management plans to make almost 90 members of staff redundant at the end of this month, including cleaners, catering staff, admin and library workers.
At the Camden UNISON branch committee meeting in September, we agreed to support their planned strike action against the compulsory redundancies. However, as they were about to start striking, management asked to meet with the UNISON branch. At the meeting, management withdrew the threat of compulsory redundancies.
This is great news for a branch that was one of the first to support our traffic wardens when they were on strike both with donations and by visiting their picket lines. We were really pleased to be able to send a message of support and our Branch Secretary, Liz Wheatley, spoke at their online victory rally.
In the coming weeks, SOAS UNISON will be launching a new Fair Workloadcampaign to ensure that all SOAS staff have manageable workloads and are appropriately paid for the duties they perform in the new structure.
Unison along with CBWG have long campaigned to oppose racism in all of its forms. We have been working together to improve real equality in our workplace, challenge discrimination, work to combat institutional and individual racism and to provide solidarity and support for all Black workers and communities in Camden. One way of doing this is the annual celebration of Black History Month (which is becoming Black History Season this year in Camden)
We welcome the decision of Camden Council to have a Black History Season and to pay greater attention to issues of racial inequality. This has been possible because of the work of generations of campaigners in raising awareness of racial injustice – most recently the upsurge of protests that followed the killing of George Floyd in the US. Camden Unison and CBWG have been pressing for the Council to act on equalities issues and to support BHM and it is good that they are committing to do so. Over the years, the Black Workers Group have worked jointly with Camden Unison and Camden Council on a range of initiatives during the Black History month. We welcome the measures being proposed to make the organisation more inclusive and less discriminatory. Despite the disappointments of the past, we have to keep campaigning until we get real change – we owe that to previous anti-racist campaigners and we owe it to future generations.
People from minority ethnic communities are disproportionately impacted by many issues in society including; unemployment, dangerous conditions of front-line work, pay disparities, becoming unemployed during this Covid pandemic, issues of poor housing, problems in the education system, certain health conditions (including Covid-19), negative media portrayals, poor treatment by the police, immigration services, and the criminal justice system but many Black Heroes have contributed so much to society in the past and are still doing so – and they all need to be acknowledged and celebrated for their contributions during the Black History season.
Carter G. Woodson, the individual who created what was originally known as Negro History Week in Washington, D.C., in February 1926. was the second Black American to receive a PhD in history from Harvard—followed by W.E.B. Du Bois a few years later. His vision for Black history as a means of transformation and change is still quite relevant and quite useful. The chains of slavery are gone—but we are all not yet free. The great diversity within the Black community needs the glue of the past to remind us of not just how far we have travelled but, how far there is to go.
Knowing the past opens the door to the future, the continuing importance of Black History Month ensures that we are taking the appropriate steps to safeguard the preservation of Black History.
Woodson believed that his role was to use Black history and culture as a weapon in the struggle for racial uplift. Black history is still a vehicle for change and racial uplift today. Black and White are engaged in Black culture through music and television. It is therefore important to ensure that all communities be exposed to Black history because experiencing Black History Month every year reminds us that history is not dead or distant from our lives.
We should embrace all that makes us stronger and rebuke all that seeks to divide us. Martin Luther King Junior said in the context of many Americans not standing up against discrimination of Black people and their civil rights. “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”
Let us all join in the cultural consciousness raising and mobilisation rolled together that is Black History Month.
The last CBWG online meeting took place on Thursday 24th September @ 3pm, at which Dawn Butler MP, Former Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities was the Special Guest speaker. The theme of the event was “Why and how Black Lives Matter is important to me”. Information on the meeting can be seen on Essentials here:
SOCIAL media has had reports of members and supporters of Britain First, a far right organisation founded by former BNP members, going to a hotel in Camden where homeless people are now being accommodated to keep them safe from coronavirus and try to set them on the road to permanent housing.
They turned up at the hotel with the mistaken belief that it was being used to house asylum seekers.
As a trade union Camden Unison has long campaigned against fascism and racism.
The recent Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted racism in society and we fully support that movement, campaigning for an end to institutional racism as well as challenging racist activities.
Organisations like Britain First try to capitalise on the scapegoating climate created by politicians like Boris Johnson and Donald Trump.
These politicians spend their time trying to persuade us to blame Black or Muslim people for the problems in society from unemployment to homelessness rather than blaming them, the real creators of austerity.
Had the hotel housed asylum seekers and refugees, our response would be that they are welcome here.
People do not flee their homes, putting their lives at risk in the hands of traffickers, live in unsanitary conditions in camps or try to cross seas on flimsy boats unless they are desperate and need a chance to start a new life.
Seeking asylum is not illegal. The rich are able to move their millions around the globe so that they can make even more money, often at the expense of those seeking asylum, and live in tax havens to avoid contributing to the National Health Service or our schools.
Yet asylum seekers and refugees when given the opportunity are often the people who keep those valued parts of society afloat – where would our NHS be today without the contribution of migrant workers?
At a time when fascist organisations are trying to grow on the back of both the pandemic and the prospect of one of the deepest recessions in our lifetime, it’s important that we say asylum seekers and refugees are welcome here. Britain First and their like are not.
LIZ WHEATLEY Branch Secretary PHOEBE WATKINS Branch Chair and the following Camden UNISON Branch Officers: KATHY ANIFOWOSE ISRA FEISAL PHIL LEWIS CLAIRE MARRIOTT CLAUDIO MUNZI ADEJARE OYEWOLE HUGO PIERRE VINOTHAN SANGARAPILLAI JACQUI WALLACE
Camden UNISON sending solidarity greetings to Tower Hamlets UNISON on their strike against imposed changes to their contracts. It is particularly galling when the workers – many of them key workers were clapped for their work during the pandemic only to be “rewarded” with a slap of worse contracts and pay cuts
The Black Lives Matter protests that have followed the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police have thrown racism and how we can challenge it into the spotlight. From police brutality, to institutional racism and decolonising society, millions are now fighting for change. In June, Camden UNISON organised an online event, sponsored by a number of other UNISON branches and bodies, on Soul and the Civil Rights Movement. Speakers included UNISON Assistant General Secretary Roger McKenzie and Michael Brown, a Black Lives Matter activist from California, and we discussed the Civil Rights Movement, the music that was part of it, and the similarities and differences with today. If you missed the meeting and would like to to watch it, look for it on YouTube as a Camden Event
London Borough of Camden
The following is Camden Black Workers Group Statement on Black Lives Matter reproduced from the Camden Black Workers Group page of this website.
The last few months have been very difficult for Black staff and Black people all around the world including ourselves. At Camden Black Workers Group like yourselves, we have gone through the motions of anxiety and fear from being four times as likely to die from Covid-19, to disappointment in Government in not taking adequate steps to protect Black communities, to sheer horror and triggered memories and trauma as a result of George Floyd’s murder in the USA.
All these events are rooted in the simple fact of systemic racism and injustice which is not only prevalent in America, but also here in the UK and all over the world. Our exec members are not new to this fact hence why we were set up and continue to work with the Chief Executive Jenny Rowlands, and the Leader of the Council, Cllr Georgia Gould to represent the voices of Black staff in the organisation as well as working with UNISON on wider campaigns to change the system for the better. We stand with all the families around the world who have lost loved ones because of a racist system and we say Rest in Power to all the Black lives lost.
Recent events have been hard hitting not only physically in terms of the pressures of having to stay at home and / or work on the frontline, but also mentally with the psychological effects of trauma and this ‘new normal’ that we are all coming to terms with. Firstly we’d like to say Black Lives have ALWAYS Mattered, and our work is to continue to make this true for all. Secondly, we share your frustrations in being exhausted in having to re-educate counterparts at this time and forever being reminded of the racism and injustices we face as a race. We also understand that BAME is not a homogenous group and different ethnic groups face different pressures, and have a diverse range of needs. This is what we will continue to communicate to our leadership and ensure that HR recognises this.
Some of the ways in which we are working to make the organisation a place of inclusion where Black staff are treated fairly is through setting up a Resource Hub for all staff to tap into to learn more about systemic racism, the Black British experience, and how to be better allies and actively Anti-Racist. So please do send in your recommendations for this and anything you’ve come across that would be useful. We want to make sure that we are adequately representing the voice of our Black staff so we are holding an online General Meeting on Thursday 25th June at 3pm which will be a safe space for Black staff to tell their stories, express their thoughts, feelings and suggestions on how we can make real change in the organisation and ensure Black staff voices are heard. This will also be a chance for you to hear what we have done so far and have a say in what we communicate to the leadership going forward. You can join it via this link if you are on the Camden IT system: Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
We are committed to ensuring the organisation is progressive and Black staff are protected and supported in their work at Camden. We recognise that this is the time to really start changing things and for it not just to be a trending moment but a catalyst for long term and sustainable change so that our children can grow up in a BETTER future.
We encourage you to tap into well-being resources such as the Employee Assistance Programme and Black Minds Matter are also having free mental health sessions. We recognise the importance of staying informed but it is just as important to take care of you and take breaks from negative media and let your manager know if you need time off or someone to speak to.
Lastly, HAPPY WINDRUSH DAY, we know that Black people have made significant contributions here in the UK from BEFORE the Windrush Generation and to this present day. Without Black people there would be no workforce! Thank you for being patient with us and we look forward to working with you all to Champion the voices of our Black staff.
Recent weeks have shown that racism still runs through society – at the hands of the police, in the workplace, in education – it’s in every part of our lives. We are witnessing a huge movement challenging that, but it’s not the first time this has happened. The civil rights movement that reached its height in the 1960s in the US changed society for Black people and inspired later generations. Alongside the movement in the streets, a ‘soundtrack’ developed – from Sam Cooke to the Staple Singers, music and protest were intertwined.
Camden UNISON has organised this online event where we will be discussing the link between soul music and the civil rights movement with Yuri Prasad, author of A Rebel’s Guide To Martin Luther King, and of course looking at the relevance of this movement for today. Roger McKenzie, UNISON Assistant General Secretary, will introduce the event, and we are excited to be joined by Michael Brown, a Black Lives Matter activist from Long Beach, California. Sponsored by a number of UNISON branches and other bodies, this is part of Camden UNISON’s work to promote Stand Up To Racism and the campaigning they do. Please do put it in your diary and join us for the event.
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