WORKERS’ MEMORIAL DAY PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION LAUNCH

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On Workers’ Memorial Day, Friday 28 April Thompsons Solicitors launched a campaign to highlight the importance of health and safety in the workplace through a photography competition.  The competition will be open to all with entrants being asked to submit a photograph which shows the human side of why health and safety is important.  We want to encourage members to submit photos that illustrate why the legislation to uphold health and safety should not be considered a burden or “red tape”, but an essential protection for all.

The competition will run from 28 April until 28 June. Winning entries will be exhibited at the People’s History Museum later this year and will share in a £5,000 prize pot.

All the information, including instructions on how to take part, will be on a campaign hub, which went live at www.thompsons.law/focus on Workers’ Memorial Day.

We considered delaying the launch of the competition in the light of the election but given health and safety laws are under very real threat as we exit the EU we believe we should be unapologetically highlighting their importance. It might be used as an opportunity to remind members as they go to vote what is at stake.

This message was sent on behalf of Reuben Greenwood, Branch Manager, Midlands offices

 

Your Pay – Your Say – UNISON consultation for Local Govt Staff

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Pay Consultation – Your Say Here….

Coventry City UNISON has received a message from Heather Wakefield, National Secretary of the Union’s Local Government Service Group, asking for your opinions about the national pay offer. A summary of the message is below..

‘The UNISON NJC Committee agreed last January to submit the NJC pay claim for 2018/19 earlier this year, to make our pay aspirations clear to the Local Government Association (LGA), whilst the negotiations on a revised NJC pay spine take place.

The NJC pay spine review was spurred by the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) and the fact that around 200 councils have voluntarily adopted the Foundation Living Wage.

The UNISON NJC Committee met on Thursday 27 April 2017 to discuss the contents of the NJC pay claim for 2018/19.  In considering the proposed claim for 2018/19, the NJC Committee took into account the following factors:

–  The aspiration of all three unions to achieve the Foundation Living Wage at the lowest pay point

–  The ongoing decline in our members’ pay – worse than for any other workforce in the public sector. Pay is lower compared to other public sector groups throughout the NJC pay spine

– Unprecedented cuts in local government funding and increased pressure on schools  The immense pressure our members are under with ever increasing workloads, deteriorating terms and conditions and persistent job insecurity

– The compression at the lower end of the NJC pay spine, which is over-riding job evaluated differentials and the need to maintain the differentials which might emerge from the pay spine review

– The need for a simple claim which is easy for members to understand. It should be seen as realistic and have credibility with members Proposed Pay Claim 2018/19 In order to achieve these objectives, the Committee is proposing the following claim for 2018/19: 5% increase on all NJC pay points and deletion of NJC pay points scp 6-9 1

– Context of pay claim: The sector faces the phasing out of revenue support grant and reliance on business rates; unprecedented cuts to funding; implementation of the National Living Wage; an ongoing pay spine review to maintain pay differentials.

– The 5% increase on all NJC pay points is to reflect inflation and provide some catch-up on lost earnings. The deletion of pay points 6-9 after the 5% increase has been applied to ensure that no NJC pay points fall below the Foundation Living Wage rate of £8.45 per hour.

– Pay at the bottom: Linked to legal minimum and remaining below the real Living Wage. NJC continues to be one of the lowest pay rates in the public sector.

– Low pay: A problem throughout the pay spine with those above in the middle and top of the spine receiving scant reward and differentials being threatened following years of bottom loaded pay settlements.

– Terms and conditions: Savaged across the board and impacting on pay.

– Job losses: Employment in local government has fallen by over three quarters of a million since June 2010.

– Recruitment and retention problems: Developing as value of pay plummets.

– Inflation: RPI at 3.2% and CPI at 2.3%. RPI to average 3.5% over 2017 and remain over 3% to 2021.

– Average earnings: Predicted to be 2.6% in 2017 rising to 3.6% by 2021.

– Average pay settlements: 2% for private sector; 1% for public sector.

Consultation Timetable

Branches are asked to carry out as wide a consultation as possible on the contents of the proposed claim and return their results to your Regional Head of Local Government by 12 noon on Friday 26 May 2017.

It is very important that the NJC Committee gets a view from as many branches as possible and that members are engaged at this stage in the claim. The UNISON NJC Committee will meet on 31 May 2017 to consider the results of the branch consultation and to agree UNISON’s proposals for the 2018/19 pay claim. In the meantime, GMB and Unite are also consulting their members on what they would like to see in the claim. The intention is for the Trade Union Side to agree the claim on Wednesday 14 June and to submit it to the Local Government Association (LGA) immediately afterwards.

The LGA has indicated that they intend to consult councils over our claim and principles under-pinning possible pay spine models in June/July and respond to our claim in early autumn. It is likely that any pay offer will incorporate the new pay spine.

Our claim and the pay spine review will both require funding beyond 1% and pose significant challenges to councils and schools under further economic siege by the Conservative government.

The Committee is therefore proposing:

– A major political campaign at local, regional and national levels to highlight the case for funding.

– To provide branches with questions to ask election candidates about local government funding and pay

– Draw up a campaign timetable to start after our claim is lodged to highlight the issues surrounding NJC pay and funding cuts in councils and schools Campaign details will follow’.

Coventry City UNISON is therefore asking all our members on Local Government pay to complete a brief Survey Monkey questionnaire by following the link here.

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We will update you on the outcome of the pay consultation and further developments as soon as we receive further information.

Thanks

Coventry City UNISON

COVENTRY CITY COUNCIL – WORKFORCE STRATEGY – INITIAL RESPONSE FROM UNISON

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Staff will have seen on Beacon a communication from Senior Management and the Council Leadership regarding their Workforce Strategy programme. Currently, UNISON have no details on this. We understand that many union members will be concerned by the list of policies and practices that the Council are saying they will be reviewing. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Collective dispute;
  • Disciplinary;
  • Facilities Agreement;
  • Grievance;
  • Performance, capability and Probation;
  • Security of employment;
  • Sickness and absence;
  • Subsistence and excess travel.

UNISON stewards and branch officers have been discussing what we know so far, and what sort of response will be needed to these sorts of proposals. We will communicate further updates in the future.

As we get further details we will seek to meet with members to discuss the response to proposals.

Why not display the flyer with this info on your workplace union noticeboard. Click the HOTLINE link below…

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Thanks, Coventry City UNISON

REPORT FROM ‘CONFRONTING RISE IN RACISM SUMMIT’ organised by STAND UP TO RACISM & WEST MIDLANDS REGIONAL TUC – BIRMINGHAM, SATURDAY 6TH MAY 2017.

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The current political climate is toxic. During the general election campaign the Tories, the media and UKIP have repeatedly pushed racist narratives and myths to play off fears and gain votes). At a time of high tension, trepidation and alarm over the rise in racist attacks, affronts to dignity and erosion of basic human rights, this event, organised by Stand Up To Racism could not have been more timely.

Over 130 people attended and debated a wide range of pertinent issues. Trade unionists played a major role with UNISON Assistant General Secretary, Roger McKenzie joining TUC Regional Secretary Lee Baron and a good number of workplace trade union activists from across the region.


A rallying cry to take on the Tories’ racist assault on migrants went out from the opening plenary. Andrew Scattergood, the FBU firefighters’ union regional chair, stated, “We have far more in common with each other as the working class than the establishment…This is an example of how the trade union and anti-racist movements can come together.” Scattergood went on to suggest some really useful action points for workplace activists to raise with colleagues who blame migrants for the pressures they face:

• It is not migrants that want insecure working conditions. It is the bosses who play divide and rule to create them.

• We have far more in common with other working people who have arrived from other parts of the world than with the economic and political elite driving through austerity policies.

• Who was it that closed your local fire station, school, council office and library – certainly not migrants.

• Trade unions can and should recruit and involve migrant workers – they need representation and we need their experience and solidarity.

• Trade Unions need to be embedded in the anti-racist movement, nNot burying our heads in the sand and treating racism as a complicated issue for someone else to challenge.

• Trade Unions need to argue and fight for legislation to protect migrant workers.

Above all we need to develop and explain an alternative vision for society. Our blame should be firmly directed at those causing problems, not migrants.

A highlight of the event, for myself, was the contribution from Saffiyah Khan and Saira Zafar, the two young Muslim women who directly exposed and humiliated the EDL fascists in Birmingham a few weeks ago. Both were defiant, articulate and determined in their call to fight back in greater numbers if fascists threaten to organise and march in our streets.

Saira Zafar, explained how the altercation began because she felt forced to verbally confront the EDL with the message their Islamophobic hate was not welcome. This, after police refused her the right to peacefully display a placard with the same message. She was immediately surrounded by a big crowd of middle aged, white men, shouting and chanting racist abuse, while the police looked on. This is the direct result of the ‘liberal’ position that the EDL have a ‘right to protest’. Young Birmingham residents are denied the right to walk safely in their own public square and their freedom of speech removed!

Saffiyah recalled how she then offered her direct support as shown in the now famous photo. Saffiyah called on us all to educate people to break down barriers of ignorance and hatred. She advocated a direct action approach to taking on fascists, arguing they must always know they will be opposed when they mobilise. Britain First are threatening to visit Birmingham on 3rd June, so hopefully some of us will listen to that.


Roger McKenzie, unison,rightlypointed out one in five black people in U.K. have seen or experienced racial harassment in the past year alone. His view was that black people would only be surprised that the figures were not even higher than this. He recalled conversations he has had with people scared to send their children to school due the threat of racial harassment and violence.

Roger argued we need to be more organised to take action to oppose these developments. Where we encounter racism in our workplaces we should call racists out over it. We should point out, for example, that many services would not exist without migrant workers. He challenged the audience to take on the hard task of convincing people who don’t attend conferences and rallies, suggesting we should go into workplaces, and localities such as housing estates, cafes and pubs where we may fear a hostile response. He also made a wider argument for a ‘fundamental shift in society in favour of working class people’ and that he is not prepared to give victory to those making all the money who choose to divide us.

Another highlight of the day was the workshop to discuss how anti-racists should approach the Prevent duty in workplaces. This is a highly pertinent issue, given the legal obligations placed on workers across the entire public sector in this regard. The panel, in the session, were very helpful and clear in their explanations of the negative impact of Prevent but also gave examples of how it had been challenged. 

Tahla Ahmed from the Muslim Council of Britain suggested that he had encountered high levels of ignorance about diversity and Islam in official correspondence in government and establishment circles. Azad Ali from MEND argued that the true agenda of Prevent was to push individuals who happen to be Muslim out of social, political and civic spaces. This was making it harder for opponents of right wing narratives to present counter arguments about, for example, the causes of terrorism or about Palestine or about foreign policy. He suggested this explains the continued use of Prevent even though it has had minimal impact on the risk of terrorism itself.

There was a useful debate about the best methods to respond to Prevent in practice. Speakers stated many public sector staff can feel intimidated and isolated at work, if they challenge training programmes or raise counter arguments while they are taking place. It was suggested that trade unions should back up excellent policy with assurances of robust action if people are threatened, disciplined or sacked due to challenging Prevent.

It was concluded, we cannot allow Prevent to proscribe whole areas of discussion. If the Tories get re-elected we will encounter tough times ahead as further austerity feeds into insecurity. We need to support each other, report negative experiences of Prevent to trade unions and take action to support those who are victims of ‘professional’ Islamophobia.

Overall, this was an excellent day. We moved the gear up from well-meaning discussion to calls for direct action to step up the fight against racism. We need more union activists to get involved in anti-racist campaigning. There is a lot we can learn from each other, especially from those with youth, energy and determination to take this forward.