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

Unison call on Coventry City Council – Join the Campaign Tackling Poverty and Inequality…

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Coventry UNISON welcomes the call by the leaders of 119 Councils across England for an end to Austerity.

Coventry Unison branch call upon Coventry City Council to join the 119 other authorities and campaign for better funding for our City.

Use our Council reserves to protect jobs and services, build Council housing again, protect the Young and Old from harm.  We need a stronger Council that will help rebuild our local economy. Coventry City Council needs a new Agenda that tackles Poverty and Inequality in our City. A Council that will help rebuild our local economy. Coventry City Council needs a new Agenda that tackles Poverty and Inequality in our City. hotline041214

 

Open Letter to Martin Reeves, Chief Executive of Coventry City Council

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Dear Martin  

City Council ER/VR Programme 2014

You will be aware of the Council’s plan to manage a reduction in the workforce by offering ER/VR to employees. Sadly, it comes as no surprise to UNISON that the offer has meant that many employees have been disappointed and distressed by the fact that they have not been able to go.

It is very unfortunate that the tone and tenor of comments made at the beginning of the consultation exercise about ER/VR suggested that most people could in fact go.

For example in a Director’s cut it states ‘Other than for a small number of excluded posts, where we know we cannot lose staff without needing to replace them, there will be a presumption that those who want to go can go. Staff will not need their Manager’s permission either to apply or to be accepted onto the scheme. So, it’s getting tough, and it’s going to get tougher.  It’s time for everyone to think about the future, and to make a choice.’

Many members have approached us very upset about the outcomes for them. They have quite naturally, spent a considerable amount of time thinking about their futures and have applied accordingly. Only to find they are unable to go.

This has also left them feeling very despondent and will cause difficulty in encouraging a sense of wanting to continue to belong to the organisation many have worked for so tirelessly.

These are difficult times for us all and it will come as no surprise to you that we do not share the view that the answer to austerity is to reduce our workforce. However, we have a duty of care and responsibility to our members to point out that it is important that the employer acts in a more sensitive way in discussions about these matters which affect our members’ lives directly. Some of our members have commented that they feel very let down by the way in which this matter has been managed, disregarding their wellbeing and mental health and that this has shown that they are not valued.

Good industrial relations relies on respectful interaction with the workforce and their trades unions. It is very unfortunate that this matter has had the opposite effect. Trust and confidence is essential to ensure good working relations. We would like know what you intend to do about rebuilding that confidence and trust with your workforce.

Yours sincerely

UNISON Coventry District Branch

Room 308, Broadgate House, Broadgate COVENTRY, CV1 1NG Phone: 024 76521125 Visit www.coventryunison.co.uk for further information. hotline021214

Notification Of Industrial Action – NEW STRIKE DAY WILL BE OCTOBER 14TH 2014

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Council and school workers voted for strike action for fair pay.

Local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland voted for action after rejecting the employers’ pay offer of just 1%. The first strike day took place on 10 July. Now a second strike will happen on Tuesday 14 October.

Once again. Unison is co-ordinating the action with the other local unions involved. We will be organising picket lines on all Council workplaces, to be followed up with a rally in Coventry City Centre (details to be confirmed).

Please ask all your colleagues to respect the democratic decision made by  Unison  members to take strike action and do not cross our picket lines on the day.

Anyone with questions about the action can speak to your local steward or phone Branch Office – 02476 550829 – email office@coventryunison.co.uk

 

Four Reasons to go on Strike 

  1. We can’t afford another pay and pension cut

The current government offer leaves most workers with pay worth almost 20% less than in 2010. Falling pay also means loss of pension for the rest of your life.

  1. We are worth fair pay for the work we do

Our pay and conditions are the worst in the public sector – from top to bottom.

  1. Taking another pay cut won’t save jobs and services

Despite a pay freeze, 1,000 further jobs cuts are planned by Coventry City Council. Services continue to be stripped to the bone, privatised or stopped all together. There’s no reason to believe a pay cut will stop this.

  1. All this will continue unless we act now

Low pay is bad for workers and bad for the economy. That’s why politicians from all parties are calling for an end to low pay. Many local government workers rely on benefits to pay bills. Right now, the taxpayer is subsidising local government to pay poverty wages.

 

 

Unison reacts to the announcement of a further 1000 jobs to be slashed

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Members of staff will have received emails and heard in the press the latest plan from the Council to slash another 1000 of our jobs.  As we have stated many times, Unison are completely opposed to job losses, attacks on our terms and conditions and cuts to the vital public services that we provide (and use) as citizens of Coventry.

We keep hearing about the so-called economic ‘recovery’.  It may be a recovery for the rich, but where is our recovery? – Councils up and down the Country are still slashing jobs and services used by working people.

It is extremely disappointing that once again our elected Councillors are choosing not to stand up for the people of Coventry, but are choosing to implement the cuts from central government.

As well as the job losses, Unison is extremely concerned that there could be future attacks on terms and conditions and that decimated services would be ripe for either privatisation or complete closure.

We have been contacted by a number of members regarding the ER / VR programme who have questions about what has been communicated by management regarding the so-called ‘50% enhancement’.  

We would hope that management clarify any queries that members may have.

In the meantime, Unison stewards and officers from across the Council will be meeting in the next two weeks to discuss what our response should be as a trade union.  We will be having discussions about how we protest against these appalling cuts.

Please let your local steward know your views on the current situation.  If your area does not have one please consider becoming a Unison rep.

It is very important that we recruit non-members to Unison to enable us to have a stronger voice, so please speak to any colleagues in your workplace who are not members and encourage them to join Unison

Visit www.coventryunison.co.uk for further information.

In Solidarity

Coventry Unison.

 

Your Union Needs You! Please join our picket lines on July 10th

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All members of Unison in Coventry have now been notified about the strike action that will be taking place this Thursday (10th July).

Unison will be joining our sister unions, including GMB and Unite, on picket lines on each Council workplace, followed by the joint rally in Broadgate at 10:15.

Please contact Branch Office (02476 550829) and let us know which picket line you are able to attend. We will then put you in touch with the relevant steward and add your name to the list of pickets.

All City Centre buildings will be covered and we hope that all Unison members who are able to will volunteer.

Please let your steward or branch office know if you still have any questions about the strike. It is very important that members respect the democratic mandate from the union and do not attend work, or carry out any work duties on Thursday. Please remember that ‘working from home’ is the same as attending the office and constitutes a breach of the democratic decision to strike.

This Thursday we can show our collective strength and work with our colleagues and the public to defend our pay and make the voice for quality public services loud and clear. Visit www.coventryunison.co.uk for further information.

In Solidarity

Coventry Unison.

JOIN THE JOINT UNION RALLY

10.15 BROADGATE SQUARE

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STRIKE – FAQs

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SOME REGULAR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Q and A

Unison have compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding the strike action on Thursday 10th July. Here are some of the key extracts from the document. If you have further questions please speak to your local Unison rep or call the branch office

 Is our pay claim affordable?

Local government and school pay is now so poor that many workers have to rely on tax credits and benefits.  It makes far more sense to pay this money as wages.

 I don’t agree with the pay offer – but why strike action?

UNISON stands ready to enter further negotiations at any point, as do the other unions. However, the employers are in a very entrenched position and only strike action – or the threat of it – is likely to move them to make an improved offer.

 Will the strike make the employers change their mind?

We certainly hope so and would not ballot ask members to strike if we didn’t think so.  We are not a posturing or strike happy union —far from it.  Strike action has always been a last resort in trying to force employers to negotiate more seriously.  On the rare occasions that we have gone on strike across the local government sector in the past we have made gains on previous proposals.  Although there is never a guarantee of all our demands being met, demonstrating the strength of feeling about our pay is vital.

I can’t afford to strike. Money is so tight at the moment.

UNISON understands your concerns.  Council and school workers have already had to put up with a great deal. We are well aware there may be other very pressing difficulties you are being faced with right now on a local or personal level. But it’s important to think about what you could gain and the money you need in retirement to support yourself.

Any pay gained through an increased offer may or may not offset what you lose in the immediate term through strike reductions. However, it will be ‘paid back’ quite quickly because:

  • it means that the starting point for ANY future pay rise is higher than it would otherwise be;
  • the value of ANY future increment is higher than it would otherwise be;
  • the value of the pension pot accumulating is higher than it would otherwise be.

The employers are relying on workers and unions being too weak and too scared to put up enough of a fight against this attack on your pay. We have to show them that they are wrong. If we aren’t able to make them re-think their stance, the employers and government will continue to cut your pay and conditions and we may never be in a position to recover the ground we have lost.  Falling pay also means loss of pension, which could affect you for the rest of your life.

Am I breaking my contract by taking strike action?

Almost all effective industrial action is a breach of your contract of employment.  However, UNISON has carried out a lawful statutory ballot.  The law protects workers from dismissal whilst taking part in lawful industrial action at any time within 12 weeks of the start of action and depending on the circumstances; dismissal may also be unfair if it takes place later.

My employer is saying that a one day strike would be seen as a break in service and that my continuity of service would be broken — is this true?

During a strike your continuous employment is treated as ‘postponed’.  This means that the period you were on strike for will not count towards your continuous employment, but it does not break the continuity of your period of employment.

Do I have to strike?

As a member of a democratic union we would hope that you would participate in a strike if there is a vote for strike action.  You cannot be forced to do so, but it is part of belonging to a democratic union in which decisions are made collectively.  We recognise that taking strike action is very serious, which is why UNISON asks you and every other member to observe the strike (if called.)  Every member who does not undermines our bargaining power and makes it harder for us to protect all our members.

 Will I still have to strike if I voted ‘No’?

 If the majority of the people balloted vote ‘yes’ and a strike is called, we would hope you would join your trade union colleagues by participating fully in the industrial action, in line with UNISON’s democratic decision-making process.

What should I do during a strike? Can I join a picket line?

When UNISON calls a strike we ask that you do not go to work, but instead contact your local representative and volunteer to help out on the picket lines.  This isn’t dangerous and it can be fun, as everyone shows that they are serious and united in taking action.

Do I have to tell my employer if I am going on strike?

No, if the day of action is confirmed in a ballot we will officially inform your employer and they should assume that all members will be striking.  It is up to them to ask for any exemptions and to provide emergency cover (see questions on exemptions and emergency cover).

Your employer might send you a formal sounding letter asking you to declare in advance whether you will be taking industrial action.  You are under no obligation to inform your employer in advance as to whether you will be taking part in strike action. UNISON is legally required to give employers some statistical information about UNISON members taking industrial action but we do not give individual names.

Will I receive strike pay for striking on 10 July?

Strike pay will not be paid but the union will seek to help members experiencing hardship. Your branch will be able to advise you.

I’m not a member yet – can I join now and still take part in the proposed action?

New members can join UNISON, and join the strike (provided that their employer is one of the employers involved in the ballot), right up to and including on the day of action.  So if this is the case, the answer is very much YES you can join the strike – you just need to fill in an application form first and hand it to your local steward.

Local Government Pension Scheme Governance Changes

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New governance arrangements will be in place by 2015.  These include 50% of the pension board being pension scheme members – you!  

The changes are the result of the Hutton report identifying that the transparency of the current schemes is poor, resulting in schemes which do not perform as well as they could.

The current pension schemes vary widely in running costs – North Yorkshire £25 per person per annum, City of London £357 per person per annum.  The main reason for this difference is that investments are made in house in the North Yorkshire scheme.  In house investors are making decisions in the interest of scheme members, whereas private financial advisors are making decisions which maximise their fees.

The LGPS is a statutory scheme, but this does not mean your benefits are guaranteed; the law can be changed, funds can perform badly and governments can fail (Greece!).  Also, your money is invested without you having any say over how this is done – there is a risk you are being ripped off.

Investment returns have halved between 1996 and 2014.  When investment returns go down, the employer has to pay more, which may mean redundancies – not something UNISON members want!

Lots of funds are under pressure due to increasing number of redundancies, and decrease in investment returns and contributions.  In 2006-7 the LGPS had enough assets to pay all benefits for the next 20 years without any further contributions.  Now, it only has enough for 3 years.

The membership of pension fund committees and their voting rights varies, but generally scheme members have no say over how their money is used.  For the West Midlands Pension Fund, there are three TU reps that have no voting rights.  In 2006 when UNISON raised concerns over the running of funds it was told it was not their concern as the money belonged to the pension funds … they are talking about your pay!

UNISON has worked since 2006 for a legal separation between the fund sponsors and the fund board to ensure the interests of the members are protected.  The Department for Communities and Local Government has been forced to agree.

The Public Services Pension Scheme Act 2013 will implement this.  All local funds will have a pensions board with 50/50 member representation by 2015.

It is essential for the financial success of the funds that members participate in this change.  It’s their money, and if they don’t get involved they could get ripped off – that’s what was happening before.  There is a danger that their seats on the board will be stuffed with placeholders, particularly from members of CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountants), whose interests are more allied to the fees to be made from managing riskier investment types.  GMB and Unite have not pursued this issue –  UNISON has.  Please contact Chris Burrow – 02476 521126 or email chris.burrow@coventryunison.co.uk for further info about how to get involved.