NEC Elections – Ballot papers are being sent out! Please Use your vote!

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All UNISON members will be receiving ballot papers from 3rd April for elections to the leadership of UNISON. The National Executive Council (NEC) is elected by members to speak on our behalf. It is really important that we vote in these elections as it helps shape the direction of our union.

Your Branch Committee has discussed who we would like to nominate.  We agreed that we believe the following candidates will best represent the interests of ordinary members facing attacks on workplace conditions and pay, the continuation of austerity and attacks from politicians seeking to divide people facing cuts by scapegoating people on grounds of ethnic origin, gender, sexuality, disability status, religion and more.

We also believe these candidates will fight for democracy and accountability to be defended and improved within UNISON. The Branch has therefore decided to support the following nominations:

Dave Auger – West Midlands Male Seat

Shazziah Rock – West Midlands Female Seat

Rose Brown – West Midlands Female Seat

Andrew Berry – Disabled Members General Seat

Pam Howard – Disabled Members Female Seat

April Ashley – Black Members Female Seat

Hugo Pierre – Black Members Male Seat

Jane Doolan – Local Government Female Seat

Andrea Egan – Local Government Female Seat

Paul Gilroy – Local Government Male Seat

Paul Holmes – Local Government General Seat

Josie Runwick – Young Members Seat

NEC members are elected by all members of UNISON via a postal vote. Members elect candidates to represent their region and their service group. There are also additional seats for Black members and young members. As with all other UNISON elections, the union’s principles of “proportionality and fair representation” means that some seats are reserved for women and low-paid members, so that the make-up of the NEC fairly represents the wider union. Elections take place every two years, with members receiving a ballot paper with a prepaid envelope to return it to an independent scrutineer (an independent person who checks the ballot is fair and counts the votes).

Results are usually announced around one month after the voting deadline.

Thanks, Sarah Feeney, Branch Secretary, Coventry City UNISON

DOWNLOAD OUR FLYER HERE: hotline030417

necleaflet

 

UNISON Communication to Coventry City Council staff regarding Friargate development

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Members of staff will have seen the email from the Chief Executive regarding the news surrounding the Friargate project. Articles have also been published on the Beacon intranet and in the Coventry Telegraph. UNISON have concerns about what has been communicated. For example, staff and the Coventry public have been told on many occasions that the project will create 15,000 jobs – is this figure likely to be realised and what were those figures based on?

Friargate has been put forward as the saviour of the city, at a time when staff are losing their jobs and Coventry people are suffering cuts to libraries, youth services, children’s centres and much more, yet it appears that the project is having difficulty attracting support. We were also told that moving Council staff in to Friargate will save us money – it now appears that not all staff will be moving.

Coventry City UNISON will be seeking clarification on these points and others as soon as possible and will keep members informed. If you have any questions or comments about this please contact your local UNISON rep or the branch office. UNISON communication regarding Friargate development

PRESS RELEASE -‘Fundamental Questions Not Answered’ – UNISON responds to City Council ‘Connecting Communities’ Proposals

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Coventry City UNISON has responded with deep concern to the recent ‘Connecting Communities’ proposals from the City Council. UNISON believes proposals will severely impact specific groups of Coventry residents such as children, older people and black and minority ethnic origin (BAME) people. It is unclear how the proposed ‘transformation models’ are sustainable ways to deliver crucial services. People will lose access to local facilities – with many older people and children not having the ability to visit a library within easy distance of their home. Those losing face to face access to local libraries to learn and use a computer could be seriously disadvantaged in their ability to receive crucial services as they are increasingly being delivered via IT dominated facilities in Coventry city centre.

UNISON Branch Secretary, Sarah Feeney, states ‘this proposal could have a disastrous effect on young people in our city. We will cease to deliver meaningful services to most young people. It is imperative that the remaining provision should be strengthened and not cut’.

The documents themselves are opaque. It is of great concern that there are so many questions still left unanswered. In some cases, these are large fundamental questions such as what the service will look like and which partners are involved? UNISON believes that this proposal should be withdrawn and that the consultation should be done when a clear model of what will happen is available to be consulted upon.  For copies of our full response visit our website.

Download the press release in pdf format here..dec1516unisonpressrelease

Democracy for real – Draft Letter to you MP ref Connecting Communities

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Hi All

We have a draft template of a letter ref Connecting Communities, for you to download (Word format), edit and send on to your MP.

For those who don’t do Microsoft, the text is below….

Thanks

Coventry City UNISON

letter-to-mp

 


Dear X MP

I am writing to you regarding the Connecting Communities programme that Coventry City Council has put out to consultation.

As one of your constituents I have great concerns about what is being proposed and believe that it is going to have a very negative impact on our city.

Connecting Communities will hit libraries, children’s centres, youth services and nursery provision. There is a real danger that the universal offer of public services and access will be determined by where you happen to live. It is hard to see how the proposals actually play a role in ‘Connecting’ our communities.

I also am very worried about the Council intending to sack paid staff and replace them with volunteers (for example in the library service). We are not aware of any examples of where this has worked for the benefit of the staff and also the local community who use these services?

Coventry needs public services that are accessible and accountable, particularly in times of austerity and it is surely the wrong choice to make these cuts. I understand that the funding from central government has reduced since 2010, however at the same time the Council has increased its reserves.

As our MP I would urge you to defend public services in our city – and would ask what are you doing to defend these vital services and to win more funding from central government for Coventry?

I believe the council should abandon these proposals, use its considerable financial reserves to continue to support these services and actively campaign with the citizens of Coventry to demand full funding of these public services from central government

If ‘Connecting Communities’ continues then it will be to the detriment of the city. I look forward to hearing back from you on this matter.

Yours Sincerely

Name, Address

 

Pensions crisis hits LGPS in West Midlands

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Seven councils ‘revolt’ against £100m top-up payment for West Midlands Pension Fund

The West Midlands Pension Fund (WMPF) have asked the councils to pay an extra £100m this year because of the fund’s £2.8bn deficit.

The fund has more than 287,000 members working for about 520 employers. Local councils have seen their budgets cut heavily in recent years. Birmingham, which has been asked to contribute £65m of the £100m, has had to reduce its spending by £500m during the past six years and expects to have to cut another £250m by 2020. “The hard-pressed citizens and taxpayers in Birmingham should not be asked to find £65m a year to bail out investment fund managers,” said John Clancy, Labour council leader.

The WMPF spent £69.8m on managers in 2015/16, down from £81m the year before. It is budgeting £72.8m for 2016/17. The WMPF has returned 5.6 per cent annually during the past decade, beating the benchmark of 5 per cent. The retail price index has risen by an average of 3 per cent annually. Labour councillors for Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall are trustees of the WMPF but are poised to reject its professional advisers’ request for the £100m “top-up” fee.The WMPF noted that it had cut running investment costs by £11m in 2015/16 to £69.8m, 0.6 per cent of assets.

WMPF plans to pool resources with eight other funds to create the LGPS Central, which will have £65bn in assets. It should save £200m in annual costs by 2034.

Chris Burrow, Pensions Champion for Coventry City UNISON, said

‘Employer contributions to the pension scheme are deferred pay.  They are not an optional part of membership of the scheme.  They are part of the employees’ contractual terms and conditions.  Central government underfunding of councils should not be used by the employer as an excuse for undermining the pension scheme.  All pension schemes have been put under pressure this year due to low investment returns caused by recent instability in the financial markets.  The schemes make investments for long-term returns, and short-term fluctuations do not provide evidence of pension funds underperforming or being unsustainable. 

If the employers were concerned about the efficiency of the schemes, they could have identified these savings in running costs and influenced the pension schemes to act earlier if they had been so minded. UNISON’s success in getting members represented on pension boards has allowed greater transparency in the schemes’ running costs.  Identifying ways of reducing these costs doesn’t absolve the employers’ from their responsibility of paying their employees’.