Model Text for Members Letter to MPs and prospective MEPs on NJC Pay

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Dear MP / MEP / Prospective MEP (delete this and insert name)

I have lived in your constituency for (insert number of) years. I am writing to ask you to support UNISON’s campaign for a fair pay rise for local government and school support workers. UNISON is seeking an increase of at least £1 an hour for all the people like me who are keeping council services and schools running in the face of ongoing job and pay cuts.

The final pay offer from the Local Government Association (LGA) would give the majority of staff a pay increase of only 1%. The pay of the lowest paid workers in local government is getting closer and closer to the National Minimum Wage, and hundreds of thousands of local government workers are paid below the Living Wage.

I am insulted by the LGA’s attitude to the local government workforce, which is now at an all time low. Since 2010, I have had a three-year pay freeze and just a 1% increase last year. That means my pay has fallen by 18% in real terms. On top of that many of us have had unsocial hours pay, annual leave, sick pay and car allowances cut. With food, fuel and travel costs going through the roof, I am in real financial hardship. Local government cuts to pay mean that I can no longer …………………………………

Please lobby our council to get them to put pressure on the LGA to make a decent pay offer and on government to fund it. I do understand that our pay claim comes at a time of unprecedented cuts in local government funding by central government. But there are political choices that can be made. Since 2010 the local government pay bill has reduced by 25% and council reserves have increased to £19 billion. We are told that large reserves are needed for investment – some of this must be for investment in staff.

If I had £1 an hour extra, I would spend it locally. This would give our local businesses a boost and help get the economy going too. Research undertaken for my union shows that if local government workers were paid an extra £1 an hour, the extra income from higher tax and national insurance ‘take’ and reduction in benefit costs would mean a saving of £760 million for government. If the Chancellor chose to do so, these savings could be re-cycled to councils to help pay for our claim.

I’m sure you will agree that your local council and school support workers are doing a great job. But I feel that enough is enough, and that’s why I will be voting to take strike action. We have shown our commitment to keeping our local services going against the odds. I am now asking you to show your commitment to us.

As you know, there are local and European elections this month. Councillors and MEPs will find it hard to get the support of local council and school support workers unless they do something now about the real hardship we face.

Please can you:

Sign our petition, calling on the employers to make an improved offer – and get your constituents to sign it too! http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/local-government-workers-need-a-decent-pay-rise.html

Add your signature to Early Day Motion 1159, in support of local government and school support workers’ pay http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/1159

Ask councillors in your local authority to put pay onto the agenda for their Group meeting, and invite the local UNISON branch to come along to speak

I am worth more than 1% because ……………………………………………………………………

Please help make our employers and government see that local government workers deserve better.

Kind Regards,

 

Local & European elections: 2014 – Time to ask the politicians what they are doing about tax avoidance/evasion and non-collection

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L&E elections

Election comment – by Mike Wallace – Coventry Unison

Much of the government’s (and media) rhetoric targets people on benefits as a focus for the cuts.  They label claimants as scroungers who fleece the country of billions to fund ‘extravagant’ lifestyles.

The reality is the tax gap, the amount of tax evaded, avoided and uncollected each year is £120 billion, while the CAB estimates that £16bn in benefits is unclaimed annually, and benefit fraud accounts for £1.2bn, according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Tax dodging highlights the tax dealings of a number of high-profile companies:

  • Barclays120 – the number of offshore tax havens the banking group has based in the Cayman Islands.
  • Boots£1.12bn – amount the pharmacy-led health chain has avoided since relocating its head office to       Switzerland in 2007.
  • Amazon£2.4mamount paid in UK corporate taxes by the online retailer’s UK subsidiary, despite making sales of £4.3bn.
  • Starbucks 1 – Number of years the company reported a taxable profit in 15 years of        operating in the UK, despite UK sales of £400m in 2011. It has also paid just £8.6m in       corporation tax in its 14 years of trading in the UK, and nothing in the last three years.
  • Vodafone £5bnsales made by the communications giant in 2012/13 but despite an          operating profit of £294m, it has paid no UK corporation tax for the second year in a row and owes HMRC an estimated £1.25bn.

But what are our politicians doing about this major issue?

It’s a disgrace that so many individuals and companies are allowed to get away with this.  Politicians, like UKIP leader and MEP, Nigel Farage, have been exposed as having trust funds in offshore tax  havens.  Small wonder they are keeping quiet! – The truth is our mainstream politicians are far too friendly with corporate business interests.

And what of the silence of the major media organisations such as the BBC and SKY..? –  Why do they refuse to challenge politicians on this  issue?

UNISON believes the focus should be on increasing funding in HMRC, fighting tax dodgers and closing the tax gap, not victimising the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.