Category Archives: public record

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

Sexism and the Police

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.

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