Category Archives: public record

NATIONAL PAY CAMPAIGN

Have your say On your pay

 

To all Camden UNISON members

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.

UNISON’s claim

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.

Have your say On your pay

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.

Have your say On your pay

Vote Reject

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:

My UNISON

Or you can email changes to unison@camden.gov.uk and we can update them for you.

Then ask your workmates if they’re in UNISON – if not, ask them to join. They can join using the link below:

http://join.unison.org.uk/

Feel free to use some of the information in this email to let them know about the claim and that there’s money that could be used. Why not say something about it at the end of your next team meeting?

And check your emails to make sure you get updates and the online vote from Camden UNISON!

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

Have your say On your pay

 

Care Workers Day of Action 11.30am, Sat 4 September Dept of Health, 39 Victoria St SW1H 0EU

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.

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

UNISON at Moulsecoomb Primary school take against it being forcibly turned into an academy school

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.

 

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.

 

Exit Payment Cap Victory!

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!

Stop Trump!

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.

What you can do:

 

 

 

These are all campaigns that Camden UNISON proudly supports

Lockdown 3

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 unison@camden.gov.uk 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.

 
Liz Wheatley
Branch secretary
Camden UNISON
London Borough of Camden