Important news from Camden Unison on the pay dispute and other issues

  • Strike is off, pay dispute not resolved
  • Mon 13th to Sat 18th October – other unions’ action against low pay
  • Homecare coming home?
  • An opportunity to see Pride
  • School keepers at Parliament Hill secure increase in unsocial hours allowance

 

(1) Strike is off, pay dispute not resolved

As many of you will already be aware through media reports, UNISON and the other two local government unions, the GMB and Unite, have called off the strike previously scheduled for next Tuesday 14 October. This decision came after UNISON’s National Joint Council committee met yesterday (09 October) and voted 20 to 9 to suspend industrial action pending consultation with members about a slightly revised proposal unveiled the previous day by the negotiators for the Local Government Association. The proposal, which is still not confirmed as a formal offer, appears to be a very marginal improvement on the proposed 2.2% increase on basic pay for virtually all Camden Council employees over a period of 15 months from January 2015 – March 2016 with no backdated rise from April of this year.

The timetable for the consultation on this proposal has yet to be confirmed and the Camden UNISON branch committee will meet on 20 October to discuss the proposal and agree how to maximise members’ participation in the consultation. The proposal falls far short of addressing our entirely legitimate pay claim, but it would also mean still another real pay cut for virtually all local authority employees as well as failing to bring tens of thousands to the level of the Living Wage outside Greater London of £7.65. Given these factors, the branch committee is all but certain to strongly recommend rejection.

Finally, I extend the thanks of the branch’s leadership to all members who took part in the 10 July action and who had been prepared to strike again on 14 October; in particular, thanks to all those stewards and activists who have worked to build support both for action and to strengthen the branch significantly over the course of the year.

(2) Monday 13-Saturday 18 October –  action by other unions against low pay

Despite the suspension of our strike, other groups of UNISON and other union members will be fighting back over pay this coming week. On Monday Camden UNISON members will be supporting fellow UNISON members and other striking NHS staff as they stage a four-hour walkout over the Government’s refusal to honour the NHS Pay Review Body’s recommendation of a mere 1% (!) rise for health workers. The action lasts from 7.00-11.00 AM and the Camden UNISON branch banner will be at University College Hospital, Euston Road, WC1. NHS staff will also be mounting other forms of industrial action, short of a strike, during the course of the week.

 

Further Education college lecturers in the UCU at Westminster Kingsway College and other Further Education colleges are due to strike on Tuesday over an offer of less than 1%, while on Wednesday (15 October), members of the biggest civil service union, the PCS, will also be taking action at Camden workplaces such as the British Library and HM Revenue & Customs Euston Tower. The week culminates in the TUC-organised ‘Britain Needs A Pay Rise’ demonstration, with UNISON members assembling on Saturday morning 18 October from 10.30 onwards on the Embankment near Blackfriars Bridge.
(3) Homecare coming home?

An article in the 09 October edition of the Camden New Journal has fuelled hope that homecare provision across Camden could be coming back ‘in house’ in the not too distant future. In the wake of some serious failings involving private sector providers, Cabinet member Cllr Pat Callaghan has suggested that the Council is looking seriously at a return to direct provision. Virtually all homecarers employed by the Council were outsourced in early 2009 – many have since taken redundancy or suffered drastic cuts in pay and conditions if they chose to remain with their new employers. In recent years the whole social care sector has seen a race to the bottom. Pay rates are often well below the London Living Wage, with zero hour contracts commonplace and many employers refusing to pay for travel time between clients.

Meanwhile, the branch appears to be on the brink of success in ensuring that a dozen former Camden carers, who had been working for Plan Care since 2009, will retain their historic local government terms and conditions including access to the Local Government Pension Scheme as they transfer to a new employer, MiHomecare.  This firm is now Camden’s biggest homecare contractor and was recently acquired by Mitie, a cleaning, engineering and facility management giant that has grown enormously on the back of privatisation of public sector services.

(4) An opportunity to see Pride

Camden UNISON is proud to present one of the surprise hit films of the year on Saturday afternoon 06 December at Dalston’s Rio Cinema. And if you’ve not already seen or read about the film, here’s the background:

It’s 1984 and Margaret Thatcher is at war with the National Union of Mineworkers and pit communities, but the most bitter class conflict in post-1945 Britain provides the unlikely backdrop to a warm and witty, fast and funny look back in incredulity, based on the true story of Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners (LGSM). A London-based group of gay and lesbian activists themselves facing police harassment, press demonisation and literally violent prejudice form LGSM to raise money to support the strikers and their families. The group ‘twins’ with a small Welsh mining village and sets off to deliver their collections in person with life-changing effects. Director Matthew Warchus hits a near-perfect pitch to turn an historical footnote into an emphatically relevant lesson for today, whilst a brilliant ensemble cast make it an inspiring celebration of unlikely friendships and solidarity.

Includes a Q&A with Mike Jackson (co-founder, Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners), a UNISON speaker from Doncaster Supported Living dispute, and others (tbc).

 

Tickets are available for £7.50/£5 concessions through the Rio Cinema website (http://www.riocinemaonline.org.uk/OscarWebServer.dll/). The branch has been to the fore in supporting the courageous UNISON members in Doncaster, who have already taken more than 80 days of strike action this year against drastic pay cuts imposed by for profit provider Care UK. There will be a bucket collection for the Doncaster workers at this event.

 

(5) School keepers at Parliament Hill secure increase in unsocial hours allowance

An intervention by our Camden UNISON convenor for schools, Hugo Pierre, has helped members working as school keepers at Parliament Hill School to secure an increase in their unsocial hours allowance, from normal to overtime rates.

 

Best wishes,

 

George Binette
Camden UNISON Branch Secretary

 

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