Category Archives: events and celebration

Demonstrate against the Cost of Living Crisis Join us on the TUC national march 11am, Saturday 18 June, Portland Place W1A

 

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 Iqbal’s BSL bill interview to Camden Unison

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.

No To Austerity TUC National Demonstration Saturday 18 June

 

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!

Global Day for Climate Justice

 

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

March For Choice 1.30pm, Sat 4 September Parliament Square (by the Millicent Fawcett statue)

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.

Liz

Liz Wheatley
Branch Secretary
Camden UNISON
London Borough of Camden

Email: unison@camden.gov.uk
Web: http://www.camdenunison.org.uk
UNISON Office
3rd floor Crowndale Centre
218 Eversholt Street
London NW1 1BD

NHS Workers Deserve A Pay Rise

NHS Workers Deserve A Pay Rise

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.

All eyes on Boris: open letter to the PM on NHS pay

Get Involved With Camden UNISON!

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 unison@camden.gov.uk 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 unison@camden.gov.uk

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 unison@camden.gov.uk

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.

 

Liz Wheatley
Branch Secretary
Camden UNISON
London Borough of Camden

 

 

 

Take The Knee 6pm, Tuesday 25 May Outside 5PS

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.

 

Liz Wheatley
Branch Secretary
Camden UNISON
London Borough of Camden

George Floyd Verdict

 

Black Lives Matter

Justice For George Floyd

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

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.

 

Camden UNISON Annual General Meeting 3.30pm, Wednesday 3 March Paid time off has been agreed for Council employees Teams

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 unison@camden.gov.uk