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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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