Category Archives: public record

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No Return To Unsafe Schools

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May Day: Remember The Dead, Fight For The Living

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Union online Meeting Thursday 30 April at 1pm

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Message of support from Camden UNISON to health workers in the borough

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Dear Camden NHS workers,

We are writing to you on behalf of UNISON members in Camden Council – we represent social workers and care workers, school staff, library workers, housing workers and many more, most of whom are part of the fight against the spread of coronavirus and providing services and support to vulnerable members of our community. However, you are all in the front line of that fight, and we want to offer our solidarity and support to you. Many of our members have taken part in the ‘Clap for our Carers’ events the last two weeks, but we want and need to do more.

As a trade union branch, we are committed to the NHS and its invaluable workforce, even more so as we all face the threat of COVID-19 and the devastation it is causing to our community. We are particularly concerned to hear that many NHS staff in hospitals are still not receiving proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to both protect them and ultimately us from infection. There also appears to be a lack of clear guidance on its most effective use. In addition, all reports we hear are that there is still very little testing of NHS staff to see if they are able to work safely.

We believe that it is essential the government urgently increases the supply of PPE in hospitals and for social care, and ensure that staff are trained in safely using it. We also believe that mass testing, starting with all NHS staff from cleaner to consultant, is an urgent priority. We will be campaigning for this, but please let us know if there are other things we can raise for you.

Again, thank you for all that you do,

 

Liz Wheatley (Branch Secretary) and Phoebe Watkins (Branch Chair)

On behalf of Camden UNISON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you help Camden UNISON?

Can you help Camden UNISON?
 
As we have been making sure your concerns have been addressed by your employers, some of you have realised how important it is to have a steward! So a number of members have said that they would like to become a steward in the last couple of weeks. Would you be able to do that too? It’s been really clear at the moment that having a local steward who can raise issues (and often manages to get them sorted too) and distribute information has made a real difference to members, so if you would like to do this, or want to find out what it involves, just email us at unison@camden.gov.uk and we’ll be in touch.

Camden UNISON Branch Meeting – on Zoom Thurs 2 April, 1pm
 
We’re going to have a go at getting stuck into the modern world and have a meeting for Camden UNISON members using Zoom to discuss what’s happening at the moment, what we need to raise on your behalf, what the problems of working from home are and what we can do about them, and anything else relevant that you think of.
 
The meeting is on Thursday 2 April (ie this Thurs) at 1pm. Details of how to join the meeting are in the email sent out to you on 31/03/20. Obviously, it’s our first time of doing this – hopefully it’ll work but bear with us if it doesn’t, we’ll work it out and have another go!
 
It would also help if you have any specific questions that you email them in advance to unison@camden.gov.uk so that we can try to make sure we have answers and group together the similar ones. It would be brilliant if you have your videos on so that we can see each other too!

Liz Wheatley
Branch Secretary
Camden UNISON
London Borough of Camden

Telephone:   020 7974 1633
Web:             www.camdenunison.org.uk

UNISON Office
3rd floor Crowndale Centre
218 Eversholt Street
London NW1 1BD

 

Camden UNISON AGM

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DAVID LAMMY MP SPEAKS AT CAMDEN UNISON AGM

Our AGM on Wed was addressed by guest speaker David Lammy MP. David is MP for Tottenham and has had a high profile campaigning against racism. He has spoken at rallies and protests against nazi ‘Tommy Robinson’ (aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon), and has had widespread press coverage for the work he has done highlighting institutional racism in the education system. He has also campaigned for justice for the Grenfell victims, many of whom are still without permanent housing. Questions were raised and, while answering, David took part in a discussion about how best we can challenge racism in Britain today.

We also had a guest speaker from the UCU (college workers union) who talked about why they are currently taking strike action.

YOUR UNION, YOUR VOICE!

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Thank you for coming along and making a success of  the Camden UNISON Annual General Meeting and for  taking part in the discussions around what the union branch has been doing and what we plan for the coming year. Your contributions will help us to be more effective in continuing campaigning on your behalf.

It’s your union, so continue to get involved and to have your say!

If you know a colleague who hasn’t yet joined UNISON please tell them that they you can contact us on unison@camden.gov.uk

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Freedom for the Uyghur people! Join us at the solidarity protests

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Right now, the Chinese state is conducting industrial-scale persecution against the Uyghur people and other minorities.

It is detaining one to two million in internment camps for “re-education”. Those not behind bars face a regime of racist violence, curtailed political freedoms and repression of religious and cultural expression (the Uyghurs are majority-Muslim). Children are separated from families and entire communities subjected to all-encompassing surveillance.

The Uyghur people are the largest national group in the north-western province officially named “Xinjiang” but known to the Uyghurs as East Turkestan. Much like many Western governments, the Chinese state tries to paint its attacks on this majority-Muslim group as a “War on Terror”. But in reality, it sees dissent, “disloyalty” and desires for autonomy in East Turkestan as a threat to its economic plans – the region is a major fossil fuel producer and a key trade route into central Asian and Middle Eastern markets.

In the long tradition of trade union international solidarity, Camden UNISON members have been supporting monthly solidarity protests at the Chinese embassy since November. We are taking a stand alongside members of London’s Uyghur community and other Chinese dissidents, as well as fellow unions, human rights groups, Labour MPs and other supporters.

The budding Uyghur Solidarity Campaign is hoping to grow the demonstrations, and hopefully branch out into more activities – for instance, protesting businesses that profit from the forced labour of interned Uyghur workers.

Please join us at 6pm on the 5th day of every month at the Chinese embassy on Portland Place, and help spread the word. Contact Ben via unison@camden.gov.uk if you’d like to come with us.

 

Support the UCU strikes!

 

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This week Camden UNISON officers joined University and College Union members on strike at their rally in Tavistock Square outside their employer’s HQ.

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UCU members in 74 colleges began 14 days of strike action over pay, workload, equality, casualisation and pensions. The rally was extremely well attended by members from several colleges.

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All of the speakers emphasised how important this struggle will be to determine the kind of education system for both staff and students. Plans are afoot to transform the educational sector in to a ‘free for all’ service industry where university and colleges compete with each other for student numbers by cutting academic posts, conditions and equality standards.

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Liz Wheatley, Camden UNISON branch secretary, brought our solidarity to the rally, and spoke about our experience of successes like the NSL traffic wardens. She also spoke about how education should be valued, and without funding, how would we have the answers to address things like the climate emergency?

Issues that UCU members are on strike about have long being the focus of Camden UNISON’s campaigns, and our branch will support in any way it can other unions involved in the same fights.

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Report from UNISON National Black Members conference

Camden Unison members at National Black Members Conference were Hugo Pierre, ‘Jare Oyewole, Jahnelle Hutton-Parr, Dolly Akin-Agunbiade, Muna Matewos, Vino Sangarapillai, Fatima Fernandes and Howard Elliott.

The Conference was in Bournemouth from Friday 31st January to Sunday 2nd February 2020.

The Conference started with an address from the General Secretary, Dave Prentis, and a presentation of an award to a young Black member for her efforts in recruitment. In his speech, Mr Prentis highlighted the negative impact of the Conservative general election victory on trade unions and public sector workers. He bemoaned the loss of Labour seats, including that of former Unison President, Eleanor Smith, who had lost her seat in Wolverhampton South West. Although Ms Smith had lost her seat, there was also a new Unison Black Member in Parliament – as Kim Johnson had held the seat of Liverpool Riverside for Labour.

There were a number of motions discussed on the first day, including racial disparity in the public sector and discrimination at early stages of the recruitment process against applications with “non-British” names.

The second day of Conference (Saturday 1st February) was the first day after Brexit and the Conference Chair, Carol Sewell, pledged that the union would continue to support its EU citizen members.

Conference was addressed by the Unison President, Josie Bird, who worked as an admin officer for Newcastle City Council. She emphasised the importance of Unison’s international work, and her presidential charity for the year was one supporting indigenous people and peasant activists in Colombia – a country where there was a great deal of violence against trade unionists and social movement activists.

Yvonne Green, the London Regional Convenor, was presented with the Mandala award for her work for the union and its Black members.

Motions and the annual report of the National Committee highlighted the importance of reducing the stigma around mental illness for Black workers. This was one of the priorities of the Committee.

Members discussed the gender and ethnicity pay gap – with Black women workers being paid much less on average than white workers (whether male or female). In terms of the ethnicity pay gap, London had some of the starkest figures – with an ethnicity pay gap of 21.7% between white and Black workers. Speakers at conference congratulated Samira Ahmed on winning her equal pay case against the BBC.

There were fringe meetings at conference, and Hugo chaired one on the rise of the far-right and how to combat it.

Conference had a guest speaker, Katrina Ffrench, who was the CEO of StopWatch. The organisation’s role was to monitor stop & search and its disproportionate racial impact. She also highlighted the impact of facial recognition technology and its effect on civil liberties.

Conference considered motions on international issues – including two submitted by Camden. Vino spoke on the motion about defending the human rights and civil liberties of Kashmiris, and Dolly spoke on the one about standing up to xenophobic attacks on African migrants in South Africa. Both motions were passed – although the vote on the Kashmir motion was close.

Conference also considered rule changes. The proposal that motions be limited to 500 words and amendments be limited to 250 words was rejected. Our branch delegates voted against, feeling that in some complex situations – and where detailed actions were requested of the National Committee – it was important that motions be permitted to be longer.

Another guest speaker at Conference was Kye Gbangbola, whose son Zane died in 2014. Zane died following flooding in the basement of their home. This flooding had resulted in the release of poisons which had killed Zane. The inquest said that it was carbon monoxide poisoning but the view of others (including the FBU) was that it was hydrogen cyanide from a landfill site underneath their home. There appeared to have been a cover-up regarding the presence of toxic waste underneath the site their home and others had been built on. Mr Gbangbola was campaigning for an independent inquiry which could reveal the truth of the matter.

Conference was an interesting experience and it was good to see so many Black activists gathered together to exchange views on what was important for workers and Black communities.

 

Report from UNISON National Executive Council Greater London Regional Delegates December 2019

General Secretary Report

The main topic for discussion at the December meeting of the NEC was the result of the General Election the previous week. Obviously the result was devastating for anyone who wanted to see an end to the years of Tory austerity and the bulk of the meeting discussed the potential reasons and how we could respond to it. There was general agreement that a Tory government with a significant majority would be likely to attack trade unions, and attack the people we provide services to.

The GS outlined some of the reasons he thought had contributed to the election defeat for Labour. He said he believed it was more complex than Brexit and that reasons others had cited to him included saying the manifesto had ‘over-promised’ and lacked credibility, that Labour had become a ‘metropolitan educated elite’, and that the rallies were talking to those who already were going to vote Labour. It was also said that the Labour Link was the place to discuss nominations for the next Labour leader and deputy leader in the forthcoming election.

The points generated a discussion around whether or not these were really the case, and also about issues like why Labour Councils needed to be more vocal against Tory cuts, about the impact in Scotland and the independence movement, and the need for greater opposition to austerity. NEC members also raised the need to look at how we could be part of mobilising those who campaigned for Labour, especially young people, and said that the discussions about why the Tories had won and what we did next weren’t just for the Labour Link.

There were at times quite strong differences of opinion about why Labour had lost the election, and particularly some ‘traditional Labour’ seats. Although NEC members had differing views on this, there was agreement that we would need to organise and challenge the Tories.

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There was feedback from the Grovember recruitment initiative and it was reported that most regions and service groups had increased their membership.

Term-Time Workers

The legal ruling for term-time workers (Brazel ruling in the Court of Appeal) was raised as an important legal challenge that we can organise around. This is the ruling that all workers are entitled to 28 days paid leave. It was reported that UNISON has agreed to waive the 4 week membership rule for such cases to help recruitment and maximising both the number of cases and impact. See the link below for the UNISON press release on the case:

https://www.unison.org.uk/news/press-release/2019/08/landmark-case-confirms-statutory-minimum-annual-leave-workers-result-unison-intervention/

Service Group Executive Elections

A report around election procedures was received, which led to a discussion about needing clarity on the low pay rate, and how we can increase engagement and turnout. This included electronic voting, and who could campaign where. Although there wasn’t agreement on every point of the procedures, they were passed.

2020

The budget for the year was agreed, and the draft organising objectives were also passed for 2020.

There is also a report of the NEC meeting on the UNISON website that can be found in the link below, and this report from the 4 Regional reps is to supplement that:

https://www.unison.org.uk/news/article/2019/12/strong-union-best-defence/

If you would like one of your Regional NEC reps to come and speak at your branch/AGM then you can contact us below:

Liz Wheatley – unison@camden.gov.uk

Helen Davies – Helen.Davies@barnetunison.org.uk

Jo-Ann Stacey-Marran – j.stacey-marren@unison.co.uk

Eddie Brand – eddie.brand@lond-amb.nhs.uk