Join BABY TRUMP at the TOGETHER AGAINST TRUMP National Demonstration on Friday 13th July – the branch will be covering 10 return train tickets!

Photograph showing Baby Trump, a balloon huge effigy of the US president, overlaid with "TOGETHER AGAINST TRUMP" logo.

If you’re a UNISON Southend-on-Sea member and would like to join BABY TRUMP and millions of people at the TOGETHER AGAINST TRUMP National Demonstration on Friday 13th July – contact the branch office ASAP.

The branch will be covering 10 return train tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information about the TOGETHER AGAINST TRUMP demonstration please visit the dedicated Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/176581893155207/

Conference 2018 – Windrush scandal

The last day of National Conference 2018 marked exactly 70 years since the ‘Empire Windrush’ docked at Tilbury carrying hundreds of migrants from the West Indies.
The anniversary should be a celebration of the contribution these and other migrants made – particularly to our trade union and our public services. However, it happened just when many of the children of those migrants are facing the consequences of Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ for immigration.
In an impassioned debate, the impact on many UNISON members as well as the wider community was spelt out.

Michael Braithwaite
Michael Braithwaite with General Secretary Dave Prentis and his UNISON rep, Hugo Pierre

A video was shown highlighting the case of UNISON member Michael Braithwaite who lost his job as a teaching assistant after 15 years and despite having a ‘British Commonwealth’ passport was threatened with deportation. Now 66, he had come to the UK aged 9 to join his parents. As he said “To think that maybe tomorrow I would not be with my family, or in a place I love, was devastating”. “A campaign has now won him indefinite leave to remain but his life has been turned upside down. There is an article about Michael’s story here.

A speaker from the National Executive Committee moved an Emergency Motion calling for justice for the Windrush generation. Although the Home Secretary had been forced to resign, in reality people are still being denied access to employment and services and a number have been deported. It seems as though the only thing Theresa May is sorry about is that she got found out! It was My who started this policy. Public sector workers are here to deliver services, not to be border guards as the Tories would like.

One delegate from the West Midlands spoke of her friend, who had gone to a meeting to sort out her passport only to be detained with only the clothes she stood up in an held for two weeks before she was allowed a phone call.

Another delegate said that what had happened to the Windrush generation could happen to others – no-one from the Commonwealth was safe.

Conference overwhelmingly passed the motion calling amongst other things for:

  • Campaign for the restoration of full rights for the ‘Windrush generation’ , Commonwealth British residents and their children
  • Campaign for rights to legal aid and full compensation for any losses incurred including injury to feelings
  • Campaign against the ‘hostile environment’
  • Conference 2018 – UNISON members and the private sector

    Most UNISON branches across Local Government and Health are now having to deal with large numbers of members working for private contractors.
    Sometimes this is because homecare and residential care are in the private sector. Increasingly, NHS Trusts as well as councils are setting up ‘wholly owned’ companies (like ‘Southend Care’). Over 30% of our members now work in the private and community sector. Conference debated a number of motions about organising the private sector and fighting threats of further privatisation.

    Wigan Strikers
    Wigan Hospital workers on strike against transfer of domestic services to a ‘Wholly-owned’ company

    Workers from the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS hospital Trust in the North West got a standing ovation when they spoke to Conference about their action against a proposed transfer of hospital domestic services to a ‘wholly-owned’ company. They are about to take another round of strike action if the Trusts’ plans are not halted. It made the discussion about privatisation concrete and it was inspiring to hear from them about a solid campaign to beat back this threat to jobs, conditions and services.

    Organising the Private Sector
    In the private sector, workers may be on zero hours contracts in a hostile, anti-union environment. UNISON needs new ways of reaching those workplaces and Conference agreed to strengthen the National Private Contractors Forum and to use Regional and branch funds to develop our ability to organise in existing and new private companies.

    Fighting the Race to the Bottom
    Delegates spoke about the way trading companies save money by creating a ‘two-tier’ workforce as new staff are employed without decent pensions and on worse terms and conditions which is known as the ‘race to the bottom’. This also applies when privatisation is dressed up as a ‘public service mutual’, a ‘cooperative’ or a ‘social enterprise’. We also heard how big contractors like Carillion and Capita either fail, or walk away from contracts if they don’t make enough money. The London Ambulance Service described how private companies would subcontract patient transport to taxi firms!

    Decent, good value public services – run by the public sector!
    The shocking cost of contractors and of private funding schemes like PFI was condemned. Barnet reported that their council had paid Capita £335 million over the last few years!

  • Conference reaffirmed UNISON’s commitment to seeing public services delivered in a democratically-accountable way with a decent standard of terms and conditions for staff.
  • Conference rejected the use of ‘Public Service Mutuals’ as back-door privatisation.
  • Conference 2018 – Housing after Grenfell

    Housing – Affordability, Homelessness and Justice for Grenfell

    Grenfell scarves
    A sea of green scarves in solidarity with Grenfell #justice4grenfell
    There were brilliant debates about a number of motions on housing. Our Eastern Region delegates proposed the motion on affordability – pointing out that the ‘market’ in housing is failing working people, especially the young. Lack of social housing and sky-high prices mean our members are forced to accept housing that meets their budget but not their needs. There is a complete lack of security or rent control for private tenants. London members congratulated Haringey, where a ‘regeneration’ scheme which would have devastated council housing has been defeated. Conference agreed a policy of at least 1 million council homes, increased investment an end to the Bedroom Tax and a number of other measures.

    A debate on homelessness reported a 169% rise in rough sleepers since 2010. Some 3 million people are bieleved to be one step away from homelessness. This is no accident but is the result of years of austerity. Only building new homes would make any impact and Conference welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s policy of building new homes.

    Conference agreed to support the campaign for justice for the 72 who died in the Grenfell disaster. Delegate after delegate expressed outrage at the contempt the council leadership had shown for council tenants. Half of the survivors and those made homeless are still in emergency accommodation. Delegates from Kensington and Chelsea council branch described how their members were affected and how staff only heard that the ‘Tenant Management Organisation’ was to be disbanded from the media. There was a disgusting attempt to blame council staff (a number of whom were made homeless themselves by the fire) and firefighters for the deaths. It is really financial decisions by the Tory council, the weakening of health and safety legislation by the government and Boris Johnson’s closures of fire stations when he was Mayor that have caused the tragedy.

    The whole of Conference, including the platform, stood with green scarves, the colour chosen by the Grenfell campaign, to remember the dead and show solidarity with the survivors who are fighting for justice. You can find news from Justice4Grenfell here

    Notice for Council, School, South Essex Homes & Southend Care workers – THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT PAY OFFER HAS BEEN ACCEPTED

    Graphic reading: "Notice for Council, School, South Essex Homes & Southend Care workers – THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT PAY OFFER HAS BEEN ACCEPTED"

    Dear Member,

    Please read the PAY UP NOW bulletin : Issue Number 07 below from the national negotiators that details the acceptance of the Local Government Pay Offer.

    The key features of the pay offer are:

    • A 16% pay increase for those currently on the lowest scale point (SCP) 6, over two years.
    • A pay increase of between 15% and 4.3% for those on the current SCPs 7 – 28.
    • 4.04% increase over two years, for those above the current SCP 29, including those above SCP 49.
    • A new pay spine from 2019, with new scale points 1-43 and even 2% pay gaps between SCPs 6-28.

    I would like to thank everyone involved at branch level in the recent pay consultation. This branch was clear with its ‘we deserve better pay’ message and the outcome of the branch ballot was to reject this offer, with 2/3 of our members voting to reject.

    On the second ballot requested by our NJC committee, again there was a clear rejection of this offer by those able to vote. This vote was taken at our AGM on the 27th March.

    Thank you to all UNISON members that used their vote in this ballot to Have Your Say.

    Also, thank you for those activists and members that engaged in spreading the message from our branch Executive Committee encouraging a rejection of this pay offer on the grounds that it offered only another pay cut and that we should fight for a fairer deal.

    Whilst we have lost this particular battle over pay we will continue to fight austerity. Join us and speak up for public services on the 12th May at the national march and rally STEP UP FOR PUBLIC SERVICES – everyone welcome! Later this week, please visit our website for more details and to book your coach seat.

    All the best,

    Claire Wormald
    Branch secretary

    6 April 2018

    PAY UP NOW bulletin : Issue Number 07

    UNISON ACCEPTS NJC PAY OFFER

    The UNISON NJC Committee met today to consider branch feedback on its recommendation that UNISON should accept the NJC pay offer for 2018-20. The previous membership consultation resulted in a very narrow overall vote to reject the offer but members in 8 out of 11 Regions had voted to accept it.

    The NJC Committee therefore sought further feedback from those branches who had responded to the membership consultation on its recommendation to accept. 79% of branches and 10 out of 11 Regions have now voted to accept the pay offer. This feedback was confirmed in a formal acceptance vote by the NJC Committee.

    We will now notify GMB, Unite and the Local Government Association. The NJC Joint Secretaries will be meeting on 12 April to consider the Trade Union Side position. GMB has voted to accept the pay offer but Unite has rejected it. The NJC Committee also agreed an implementation strategy for dealing with the assimilation to the new NJC pay spine, any attempts by employers to undermine or not implement the award, cut conditions or jobs to pay for it or walk away from the NJC. Details of the strategy will be circulated to branches shortly.

    Click here for further details.

    UNISON Southend-on-Sea hosted a celebration of all things LGBT+ with TRANSPIRE and OUTreach

    Image displaying UNISON Southend-on-Sea (with Rainbow Flag ribbons), Transpire and OUTreach logos (on the left) and a group photograph of associated members (on the right).

    On 27th February, UNISON Southend-on-Sea hosted a celebration for LGBT+ History Month. LGBT History Month is a month-long annual observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements.

    Group photograph featuring Sam Adams (LGBT+ Officer) presenting a cheque for £100 from UNISON Southend-on-Sea branch to help TRANSPIRE continue its work supporting the local community.
    Sam Adams (LGBT+ Officer) presenting a cheque for £100 from UNISON Southend-on-Sea branch to help TRANSPIRE continue its work supporting the local community.

    In the Jubilee Room at the Civic Centre stalls were set-up, representing community organisations and workplaces from across the borough. In addition, Gina Denham, founder and chair of TRANSPIRE (a Southend based Transgender Support Network) gave an informative and entertaining presentation on both transitioning as well as diversity at work. Read TRANSPIRE member Ren Stedman’s excellent article here.

    The event closed with UNISON Southend, OUTreach (Southend Borough Council LGBT+ staff forum) and TRANSPIRE joining together to raise the Rainbow Flag above the Civic Centre.

    Photograph of UNISON Southend-on-Sea, Transpire and OUTreach members joining together to raise the Rainbow Flag.
    UNISON Southend-on-Sea, TRANSPIRE and OUTreach members joining together to raise the Rainbow Flag.

    UNISON Southend-on-Sea LGBT+ self-organised group are here to support members, raise awareness, challenge discrimination, and make links with the wider LGBT+ community of Southend and beyond.

    For more information or advice contact Sam Adams (LGBT+ Officer) via the UNISON Office.

    Photograph of the Rainbow Flag flying high at the Civic Centre, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.
    The Rainbow Flag flying high at the Civic Centre, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.

    UNISON Southend-on-Sea Xmas Social 2017 – Wishing Everyone a Merry Xmas and Happy New Year with a Fair Pay Rise of 5% or more!

    Photograph of UNISON Southend-on-Sea members at Xmas social 2017.

    Graphic reading Merry Xmas Everyone.

    This year’s Xmas Social was a great success with everyone enjoying the buffet, drinks, raffle, stalls, entertainment and good company!

    UNISON Southend-on-Sea Xmas Social in pictures.

    Milton Hall UNISON Stars!

    Celebrate #StarsInOurSchools

    cake photoNovember 24th was national ‘Stars in our Schools’ day. To celebrate the incredible contributions that school support staff make to our children’s education, Milton Hall Primary School laid out this home-made cake. Teaching assistants, librarians, caretakers and office staff all stopped by and one of Eastern Region’s Fighting Fund Local Organisers was at hand to chat to people about the union.

    Milton Hall UNISON

    Read more about UNISON’s schools members here.

    Transgender Day of Remembrance – Monday 20th November

    Image banner of Transgender Day of Remembrance.

    This year Southend-on-Sea Borough Council will be raising the Transgender flag at 9.00am on 20th November. Please support by assembling at 8.45am under the flagpole in the Council’s Car Park.

    Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual observance on November 20th that honours the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

    TDOR was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honour the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and began an important memorial that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

    “The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”

    Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith