Coventry Unison attends special conference of the union regarding pay dispute –

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Report by Paul Hunt, Coventry City Assistant Branch Secretary. 


Around 600 delegates gathered for a special conference of Unison to discuss the outcome of the 2014 pay campaign. This was only the 2nd time in the history of the union that a special conference had taken place – branches representing over 20 per cent of the membership in local government had called for the conference to discuss what was perceived by many to have been a disappointing end to the pay dispute which ended with the calling off of strike action in October last year.

 

Coventry branch was proud to support this conference as it is vital that branches and members from across the union can come together to discuss the way forward on pay and other issues. Your delegates from Coventry were Dawn Palmer-Ward (corporate rep), Emma Smith (steward in Environment and Housing Enforcement) and Paul Hunt (steward in Revenues and Benefits). In addition a number of branch officers attended as visitors.

 

Two sides in the debate

 

At the conference itself the debate essentially centred around two things, on the one hand a motion (from the leadership) that pretty much sought to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the situation that took place where we ended up calling off strike action in October for an offer that wasn’t even an offer (it was a proposal, and an indecent proposal at that).  It was pointed out to the leadership that suspending a strike on the basis of a non-offer was in fact against the union’s own rules.

 

On the other side motions were tabled that looked at drawing out the lessons of what happened. This included holding the leadership to account, improving ways of consulting with members and the need for the union to really start opposing austerity.

 

Also the need to have pay campaigns that more forcefully pursue our claim (rather than extremely isolated single days of industrial action with seemingly no strategy) and can start reversing the trend that has seen the real value of wages fall by around 20 per cent in the last 5 years.

 

The main points made by delegates

Delegate after delegate made points which are summarised below

 

– Unless we fight we will definitely lose.
– The interests of Unison members need to come first. This was in reference to the clear evidence (in the form of a letter from the LGA to the general secretary of Unison, if you would like to see a copy let us know) that sections of the leadership had been doing some backroom dealing with the Labour Party leadership of the Local Government Association (our employers) with regard to the pay claim to ensure there are no disputes during the run up to the election or after May so as not to embarrass Ed Miliband. Delegates were very angry about this to say the least.
– Reps need to be given clear and accurate information to forward to members
– Members need to be fully involved as possible with any decision to take any action, and also when and if to suspend action
– Members will always make the decision whether to take action or accept an offer (through ballot). However we expect our elected leaders and officials to actually lead, not back down at the first given opportunity
– The leadership should stop blaming members for the collapse of the pay campaign and take some responsibility.
– That we need to use the forthcoming elections to the leadership of Unison to make the union more aligned with the wishes of the membership

 When it came to the vote on the key motion, it was passed. 

 

 The way forward in the fight for decent pay

 

Conference voted that there will be ‘lay representation’ (i.e. people elected from the membership, rather than just paid employees of Unison) in any future negotiations with the employer, that more thorough ways of consulting members will be used (including use of electronic methods) and crucially that Unison would look to put in a supplementary pay claim for 2015/16 (the one accepted was for 2 years 2014-16). 

 

This is a summary of what happened but what can be concluded is that the conference  was a serious step forward in holding people to account over what happened in the Autumn and it showed the best of Unison – with likeminded branches (including Coventry) coming together to effect a change in direction of the union. Unison has massive potential and it is time we started using this potential before even more jobs go and our standard of living decreases further.

 

If anyone would like any further information please do not hesitate to get in touch.

 

VACANCY – Branch-Employed Caseworker/Organiser – Coventry City Branch

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12-month fixed-term contract (subject to one month’s notice)

Starting salary: £29,587 rising to £31,318 pro rata

17.5 hours per week

Ref: R12/B12285C

Closing date: Wednesday 22 April 2015

Successful candidates will bring their experience and skills to assist this active branch to recruit, map membership density, develop new activists, organise, undertake casework and drive forward our work, particularly in academies and small employers.

To undertake this role you must have good interpersonal and IT skills, excellent administrative and organisational skills and a good understanding and knowledge of the trade union movement.

You will need to be able to travel within the area covered by the branch and also possibly to Birmingham for meetings/training as required.

To apply for this opportunity, please download a pack from the branch website, and complete the Branch Caseworker/Organiser Application Form and monitoring forms. See the job description and person specification below:

Please note that ONLY the application form, as published on the branch website will be accepted.

Please send 3 copies of the application form together with the recruitment and disability monitoring forms to UNISON Coventry City Branch, 308 Broadgate House, Coventry CV1 1NG or email them to office@unisoncoventry.co.uk quoting reference R12/B12285C.  

The closing date for completed applications is Wednesday 22 April 2015.

The assessment and interviews for this post will take place in the week beginning 5th May 2015.

Please note that if you do not hear from us you have not been shortlisted on this occasion.

UNISON Coventry City Branch is a dynamic, progressive branch, committed to equality. We encourage men and women of all ages, Black and minority ethnic groups, disabled people, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to work with us

Branch Caseworker Advert

Branch Recruitment Monitoring form

ADVICE TO CANDIDATES

Coventry Caseworker JD and PS

Branch Disability Monitoring form

Branch Caseworker

Application Form

CARING FOR COUNCIL SERVICES

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We’d like to update you on what your branch has been doing in the past few months on your behalf.

  •   A high profile media campaign, that involved working with community groups and organisations.
  •   A successful rally in the city centre, in partnership with the local TUC, to highlight our alternative to the local budget proposals.
  •   A number of meetings with elected members to share our views and highlight our alternatives

    We were disappointed with the negative reaction in the Council Chamber on budget day, to the work that we did on your behalf.

    Our purpose was to make constructive suggestions about the use of reserves and disposal of assets to protect the jobs of our members and the services you deliver to the citizens of our City.

    However we are delighted that our collective efforts have delayed any immediate closure of services and that the Council have reflected that they need to consult more widely about services that are held in high regard by Coventry people.

    We hope to meet with elected members shortly to discuss ways that we could work together to mitigate the impact of austerity and the devastating cuts imposed by this government on our local authority.

P&P – Coventry Unison

Download this Hotline here – hotline180315

Stand Up to Racism – Transport from Coventry is Free – London 21st March

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TRANSPORT FROM COVENTRY LEAVES 9AM.

For details and to book seats phone Sean – 07534 688500

This racist tide will only be driven back by people standing up and confronting it. From Germany to Greece to Ferguson, people who want a society free from racism are saying no more.

People are taking to the streets in large numbers to oppose the racist Pegida movement in Germany and the Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn in Greece, and to protest institutional racism and police violence against Black communities. People are outraged at the Islamophobic and anti-Semitic backlash after the Copenhagen and Paris attacks, and the mass media silence on the Chapel Hill shootings where three Muslim students were brutally shot dead, so many have mobilised under the slogan ‘Muslim Lives Matter’. Immigrant communities are fed up with being wrongly blamed for an economic crisis they did not create. On UN anti-racism day people across the world will be taking a stand. Will you be there?

Last year over 10,000 people from across Britain people took to the streets in London – students and trade unionists, people of all faiths and none, migrants, musicians, teachers, pensioners and parents. And together we showed unity in the face of racism. A huge demonstration this year, just a month before the General Election will send a powerful message to all politicians:

We are the majority and we will stand up to racism.