Category Archives: public record

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.

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.

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.

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.

Grovember

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

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

General Secretary report

The meeting opened with the General Secretary’s report. For those of you who aren’t familiar with how this works, the first main item at all NEC meetings is always a report from the General Secretary (GS) on issues since the previous meeting. The first topic was that UNISON is still recruiting, with an increase of 8413 members so far this year.

It was also reported that UNISON has taken more industrial action than all other unions put together and the disputes at Compass and AddAction were specifically mentioned and should be publicised.

The GS reported on activities around the Climate Emergency in Green Action week, where there were stall, rallies and protest (there are some pictures and a report on the UNISON website).

The legal win about all employees being entitled to a minimum of 28 days paid leave was reported.

The report then moved on to Brexit and the Labour Party conference, which was covered by Gordon McKay. There was a lively debate around the vote on Brexit at the Labour Party conference as UNISON was the only major union to vote for the motion that was defeated at the conference (3 other smaller unions did too). NEC members expressed concerns as they felt that to vote this way was against UNISON policy, and that a more accurate reflection of current union policy would have been to vote for the other motion on Brexit (the one that won and is now Labour policy). This disagreement was not resolved in the meeting but Brexit will continue to be a topic of discussion and debate.

The other main discussion point was what else could be done around the Climate Emergency, including supporting the Extinction Rebellion protests that had started 2 days previously. It was agreed that UNISON would do more around this, including contacting the Scottish TUC about the COP26 talks that would be in Glasgow in Dec 2020, and trying to pull together a National Green Network.

General Election

The next item discussed was the likelihood of a general election before the end of the year, where a 3-pronged strategy was outlined – influencing our own member, engaging the general public and supporting Labour candidates via the Labour Link. There was a brief discussion around Jeremy Corbyn having rallies like in the last election, where the vote went up by about 3 million, and whether UNISON could do a comparison of the main party manifestos which could highlight issues like the NHS, education etc.

Grovember

The next recruitment initiative in November was discussed, including that it would also focus on retention and the need for branches to have regular contact with new members.

There is a report on the UNISON website and this one by your regional NEC reps is to supplement it. Go to https://www.unison.org.uk/news/2019/10/nec-october-3/

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

Liz Wheatley – unison@camden.gov.uk or 020 7974 1633

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

Rydon – Hands Off Whittington Hospital!

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Some of you may remember that the contractor responsible for the cladding work at Grenfell was Rydon. They were being awarded a contract to refurbish the Whittington Hospital. However, following Grenfell, there was a campaign against them doing this work, and the hospital withdrew the contract offer. However, Rydon have decided to challenge this in court, and the case starts in the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand on Monday 9 Dec. There is a protest at 9am on the first morning if you can make it along there.

There’s an election coming up!

We seem to be having quite a few General Elections in recent years, which in itself suggests there are a few problems in government! As a trade union, we realise our members may vote for a variety of parties, but we would recommend firstly that you make sure you’re registered to vote (a link to register by 26 Nov is below) and secondly that you think about both funding of public services, and the voting record of the main party leaders. On our website www.camdenunison.org.uk we will be posting a quick guide to this, as well as the register to vote link from the national UNISON website

https://www.unison.org.uk/register-vote-general-election/

Donald Trump Visiting! Tues 3 Dec, assemble 4pm in Trafalgar Square

 

 

RTX6B1UD1-e1531476107577[1]Donald Trump is coming to London in December for the NATO Heads of State summit. On Tuesday 3rd December, the Queen will be hosting a reception for NATO leaders at Buckingham Palace and it’s important we raise our voices against the world’s largest nuclear-armed military alliance which is overseen by one of the most reckless US Presidents in history. Donald Trump is a racist, a misogynist and a climate change denier who threatens communities at home while destabilising the rest of the globe so it’s worth turning up to show him he’s not welcome!

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Party Leaders voting record

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