UNISON Southend-on-Sea AGM 2019 in pictures
Branch Secretary and Officers’ Annual Reports
Claire Wormald – Branch Secretary’s Report +
The most astonishing attempt by the government to deny the impact of their devastating austerity measures was the blind rage with which they met the report from Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. This report in 2018, highlighted the UK as being the 5th largest economy in the world however this fact was contradictory to the poverty he discovered: 5th of the population live in poverty, child poverty to rise by 7% which could see a rate as high as 40% in the coming years. ‘For almost 1 in 2 children to be in poverty in 21st century is not just a disgrace but a social calamity and economic disaster all rolled into one’. This government despite this report and others including their own parliamentary committees continue to fail to acknowledge this, let’s be clear though this is not naivety but there policies and actions are a political choice, it is the politics of this government that create the rolling back of the welfare state and attacks on ordinary workers. Clearly, they have money to cut the taxes to the rich, fund trident and most recently bankroll failing Grayling in his public money handouts to the rich, non-accountable private co-corporations. Money our public services are much in need of. One rule for their rich friends another for us.
Locally we know how services have been gutted by the policies of austerity that has seen 40% cuts over the last 10 years to funding in local government. This has seen the social safety nets we provide through local authority services, grants and payments to the community and private sector to deliver where local government do not anymore, being cut and services diminishing.
All our members across the private & community sector, schools and borough council will have fewer people to support the service they deliver whilst the needs of the community increase. Stress levels of our members rise with more homelessness and rough sleepers, more need food banks, more children in poverty, increase in people with mental health problems or living in isolation & with fewer benefits. We know by 2020 this will only get worse as the government grants to local councils will be £0.
The government has also created a hostile environment which we have seen with the deportation and detentions for the Windrush generation and the inhumane actions regarding refugees languishing in northern France – and on the back of Trumps bigoted rhetoric have all have given rise to the politics of Hate and the Far Right gaining ground which impacts on our members and the workplace environment.
Support the up and coming national demonstration on the 16th March and help demonstrate UNISON’s confidence in our values of respect and equality for all, for multiculturalism, strong cohesive communities and peace. It will demonstrate our solidarity in action against the politics of hate, against bigotry, racism and discrimination of all kinds, and against the politics of fascism.
Unison nationally is challenging this agenda of Austerity and cuts at a national level as well as local pressure.
Campaigning and organising
This backdrop is why over the last year locally we have been Educating, Agitating and Organising amongst our members and the community to challenge the austerity agenda and politics of hate through national and community events/lobbies and demonstrations – all vital ways of getting our voices heard.
We have unfurled our banners and wares several times last year, some examples being International day of anti-racism, the TUC step up for public services demonstration, leafleting and lobby of the local council as part of Save Southend NHS campaign which supported a victory in getting the mid Essex STP referred back to the Secretary of State, been active in and one of the main sponsors for Southend Pride event in Southend in July (see Sam Adams report for more). Supported the SWAN (Social Week Action Network) conference in Southend with a stall, had campaign stalls over health and safety, women’s history, end violence against women, health and wellbeing, supporting CWU – stall to defend the post office workers terms and conditions, stalls around ending domestic violence, black history month and more.
A taste of surveys done with our members include:
- Within the private sector, sleep in payments and taken this to our solicitors and lobbied employers.
- Employed by Southend council within SBC and SBC schools over regular overtime being done and annual leave allowances this branch felt members might be losing out – this is resting with the region to report back the finding and next steps.
- Christmas shut down at the Council – with a lobby and letters to council – we are following this up for next year with the employers and will be communicating with members over this.
- Schools Consultative ballot over cuts in funding – done several post outs and phone rounds plus emails encouraging members to use their vote.
A taste of work with employers
- The present appeals policy for formal process – they wanted to change from a panel of councillors to one person hearing an appeal over dismissals, the Chief Exec or another officer. This felt unfair, untransparent and lacked robustness. We lobbied councillors with letters wrote a rebuttal against the proposals and saw a climb down as the report was pulled from the council agenda.
- Sexual Harassment in the workplace this is ongoing however have progressed with an agreed questionnaire now and formulated a plan re-education and support service to coincide with the questionnaire launch
Health and safety clear set of meetings are held to take issues unremedied forward and we have a joint action to support international workers memorial day.
- Social care – ethical care charter we are continuing our talks with employers and asking to monitor which area they have supported within this charter and looking at next steps.
- International women’s day tomorrow!
We have also supported UNISON members up and down the country in various disputes from the bin workers of Kirklees to Birmingham to parking attendants of Camden and the Birmingham care workers and mid-day assistants in Durham as we know where there is victory our members locally will benefit.
Whilst it might not feel like it, we do see the incumbent government increasingly on the back foot with Brexit and their continuing gaff. We might yet see a General Election and we need to argue for this to get a better deal for our members.
We have our national conferences coming up and will be sending delegates from this branch to vote for the action plan for our union nationally and for local government.
We have sent members to women’s conference this year but unusually have not had anyone one at black members or LGBT conference nor disabled members conference so are keen for members to express an interest in this area of work to attend and join us on the national conferences.
Delegates to the National Executive Committee are being re-elected this year. This branch has generally backed candidates regionally and nationally that are standing on the UNISON Action platform as we felt these are standing for change; a fighting union that will better defend and support our members and services. Voting starts in April when you will receive your ballot papers. We encourage you to use your vote in this election.
This is vital to the lifeblood of our branch and every member is a potential recruiter! We need numbers to have the collective strength.
We have recruited 167 members 125 have been online which is positive and regionally we have sustained our membership and grown in number. But we need more in all our sectors and particularly at this time in the local authority. More members = more power to effect change.
Getting active – Stewards & Training opportunities
Thanks to all our active stewards we have made a real difference for members when faced with disciplinaries; contractual review, grievances and capability cases we have had over 127 individual cases across the branch membership this year and have had to deal with restructures within schools, South Essex Homes and the local authority mainly, with some positive results.
I thank all those that have supported our members. It is hard work but can be very rewarding.
We have 5 new stewards this year some have finished their training and other yet to attend, which is really positive – but we always welcome others.
We have also trained our activists through the fantastic regional programme that has supported members with negotiating skills for Women, health and safety, dealing with difficult behaviour (in schools) black activists development weekend, housing seminars and more including in house website training. We ONE UNISON weekend coming up with loads of opportunities form workshops to Officer training & a summer school with a raft of more interesting and empowering courses.
Thank all our post boxes that have given out our newsletters and kept members in touch with their union and its activities and reported back issues within their workplaces.
We are also being proactive – we note from our casework issues that equalities, whether it be around disabilities, gender, race or sexuality, have often not been dealt with properly by managers and we continue to liaise with the employers over this and have offered support for the training and been proactive around policy changes (see Jill Henson’s report).
This branch has organised a lot over the last year – but it’s not always demos and picket lines! We have organised theatre trips thanks to Shona Rowe, also yoga.
However, if you feel there are areas that we are not looking at then please let us know, but we also need your continued help by spreading the word of being in a union is important – take a membership form and recruit a colleague!
Also, I thank members for letting us know when things are not right – we need to know so we can support you individually or collectively.
Unison locally has supported a lot of trade union activity abroad as union members fight under undemocratic regimes for their rights under far harsher conditions than us. We also support international organisations such as the Burma & Philippines campaign, ACTSA (Action for South Africa), and other trade unionists in Columbia, India, Palestine Canada to name a few who, like us, are fighting against greedy bosses, cuts and so-called austerity and often war.
We hope to be able to support our sister unions in the future.
I would like to thank all those that have worked really hard this year, however, as we recruit new stewards and activists this becomes easier!
Thanks to all those that support us through volunteering Sam, Michael, Sue, Jackie and Pam, Tim & Roger who volunteer as retired stewards to support casework it makes a real difference. Lastly big thanks to Mary, our PT Admin worker, who holds the fort & often is the first point of contact for members phoning in – they always appreciate her sympathetic ear and kind words.
We will have a lot of battles ahead and we need all our members to support as this is where our strength lies so help us to Educate Agitate and Organise.
Sam Adams – LGBT+ Officer Report +
13/04 Members attended the Southend Pride Quiz Night, and the Branch donated raffle prizes.
17/05 IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia). Unison stall at the Civic, in partnership with Outreach.
07/06 Attended training on HIV Awareness, run by Terence Higgins Trust.
15/06 Raising of the Rainbow flag at the Civic Centre, in support of Essex Pride.
13/07 Raising of the Rainbow flag at the Civic Centre by the Mayor, in support of Southend Pride. Unison stall in the Civic reception.
14-21/07 “Southend Pride. This was a week of events across the Borough, culminating in a parade/march up the High Street, and a festival in Warrior Square Gardens. Southend Unison was a major sponsor of this important event, and the Branch logo provided the backdrop to the main stage at the festival. We also led the parade/march with our Branch banner, and our placards were spread throughout the crowds. In Warrior Square, the Branch stall was kept busy and proved very popular.
The day itself was extremely successful with approx 1000 people in the parade/ march and 4,500 people at the festival. This event promoted the Branch and publicised our support for the LGBT+ community in and outside the workplace. Our logo appeared on all Southend Pride promotional material, and the Branch was spoken of in newspapers, radio interviews and television reports.”
15/09 Basildon Pride. The Branch supported through attendance with our banner and placards. This event was organised as a response to recent hate crimes and homophobia in the area.
21/09 Bi-visibility Day. Unison stall at the Civic.
5/10 “The Branch supported the screening of Pride, the film, at the Beecroft Gallery. Members attended, ran a stall, and the Branch donated raffle prizes. The event was organised by Southend West Constituency Labour Party.
Since the beginning of October the Branch has continued its support for Southend Pride, and its organising for the 2019 event. We have applied for Regional sponsorship to cement the partnership between Unison and Southend Pride.”
20/11 Raising of the Transgender flag at the Civic for International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Unison stall in the Civic reception.
24/01 Branch Equalities meeting. Our first meeting for some time, to draw all the equality streams together, and support one another and begin joint working.
28/01 Unison stall at the Civic to publicise Southend Winter Pride, and the Branch’s involvement.
02/02 Southend Winter Pride – No Place For Hate. Pride market, community organisations and live entertainment at St Marks Hall, followed by an After Party at the Cliff, again with live entertainment. Branch stall at the event.
22/02 “Unison stall at the Civic, with Outreach, for LGBT+ History Month. Screening of ‘Stonewall’ at Beecroft Gallery at 6p.m. Snacks, Drinks and Raffle. Joint event with Outreach.”
Roger Young – Retired Members’ Officer Report +
- Cuts to Social Care and the NHS
- Means testing of some benefits in the future, like Attendance Allowance etc
- Winter Fuel Poverty
- The so-called Generation Divide
- The uncertain political future and how we will cope as we get older
- State Pension, both the old and the ‘so called’ new universal one (this always seems to come up!)
Over the last year I have attended a number of meetings, workshops and talks, sometimes covering one of many of the points in the list above. If it’s not on the official agenda, then over teas or coffees in the breaks, pensions and finance in later life will creep into the conversation. A recent Financial Conduct Authority survey, suggested around 15 million people have no pension savings and face a bleak future in retirement.
As I said earlier I and other RMs have attended 2 major Unison RM meetings. The first, last Sept, was the Eastern Region RM Seminar, held in St Neots. During the day we heard from a number of interesting speakers on subjects including WASPI the campaign for women who have lost out because they have had their State Retirement age increased. A very informative talk by a lady from Action Fraud Peterborough, on Scam Awareness, she gave us some alarming figures. In the UK there are over 3million reported scams, costing between 5 & 10 billion a year and 55% are on people over 65. The over 65s are 2.5 times more likely to suffer serious health problems, caused by being scammed, including death. When one lady went into an older persons’ home, her relatives discovered 30,000 scam letters in her home! Later that afternoon we heard from the Cambridgeshire Age UK Co-ordinator whose 580 volunteer visitors help combat loneliness in their county. They reckon there are over 85 thousand people in the East of England that suffer with social & health problems caused by loneliness.
RM Annual October Conference was the second RM event attended by us last year. Hilly Bournemouth was the setting for this 2 day event. Various events, meetings and a busy Conference agenda covered all the items I mentioned at the beginning of this report, plus many more. One debate in the afternoon stands out from the “norm”, HelpForce Motion 21. HelpForce is a Community Interest Company, their website states “We’re working to shape the future of health and care through volunteering”. Although this motion was tabled by the National Committee, the rank and file delegates thought differently. Speakers were worried that roles taken over by volunteers will mean loss of real jobs! One delegate said of HelpForce “The thin edge of the wedge is becoming the thick end!”. After a long and at times passionate debate, the Motion 21 was overwhelmingly lost to a few cheers from the floor.
In common with many other RM branches of our size, keeping in touch with our RMs is an issue. As time goes by more of us can be contacted by email, but traditional methods of contacting every RM by post has become extremely expensive. We have around only 40% of RMs with email addresses! If you or you know of another RM who can be contacted by email but are not getting emails from us, please contact us with your current email. A number of you only have your old work email, this does not work when you are retired!
We had a well attended Retired Meeting this January and it was good to see a number of newly retired members showing an interest in TU involvement now that they are not working. We intend to have a series of these early afternoon Retired Members’ meetings throughout the coming year. We are considering having a meeting every 3 months in a Civic Centre meeting room from 1.15 – 3 p.m. We will let everyone know the list of these forthcoming meeting dates as soon as we have checked diary availability and other commitments.
Unfortunately the AGM on the 7th March clashes with a prior engagement so I can’t be with you on the day, but if you have any Unison points or matters you would like to raise, please contact me on: firstname.lastname@example.org or via the Unison Office.
p.s. £164.35/Week is the maximum of the current 2019 New State Pension, if you have 35 years N.I. contributions.
Jill Henson – Disabled Members’ Officer Report +
I have met with HR to discuss issues with First Care over disability leave and also the script for First Care to best deal with staff requesting same. Ongoing support in ARMs and also support for Contractual Reviews. Support has also been provided with obtaining equipment for staff with disabilities.
This branch does have concerns, through cases that we have dealt with, that Management has a low level of awareness and knowledge around the Equality Act and specifically the value of appropriate reasonable adjustments.
If you are interested in supporting campaigns around this area of Unison work then please do not hesitate to contact me or the branch.
Tim Fransen – Communications Officer Report +
Additionally, I have provided training and support to other officers and stewards to enable them to submit posts to our website and associated social media channels, advised on GDPR and PECR compliance as well as ensuring accessibility standards are met.
With respect to officer and steward posts, while contributions have improved since 2017, this needs to be fostered and further developed to maintain our reach to members; to enable us to extend solidarity with geographically dispersed friends and to help engage and recruit more workers under 25 via relevant digital platforms. To echo the 2018 National Delegate Conference ‘let’s make 2019 the year for young workers’ – young members are not just our future, they’re our present!
During 2018, 90 posts were published and analytics show the following posts to be the most popular on our respective digital channels. The ranking is based on the number of unique people who engaged in certain ways, for example by liking, sharing, or clicking upon elements of the post. Many thanks to Sam Adams, Claire Wormald, Tim Sneller, Gloria Lawton, Jo Gull, Laura Noakes, Louise McDermott, Pam Drever and Samantha Reed for their respective contributions to our branch’s diverse online voice.
TOP WEBSITE POST
“UNISON Members joined thousands of people on the MARCH AGAINST RACISM demonstration on Saturday 17th March”
Tim Fransen, Communications Officer
TOP FACEBOOK POST
“Join the BASILDON mini-PRIDE MARCH – A RESPONSE TO HATE – Saturday 15th September”
Sam Adams, LGBT+ Support Officer
“Join us today to wish Happy Birthday to Southend NHS!”
Tim Fransen, Communications Officer
TOP MAILCHIMP CAMPAIGN
“IMPORTANT SURVEY: ARE YOU BEING UNFAIRLY FORCED TO USE YOUR FLEXIBLE OR ANNUAL LEAVE AT CHRISTMAS?”
Claire Wormald, Branch Secretary
Another positive communications development this year included the migration of our website to a greener, not to mention cheaper, hosting solution to help reduce our branch’s environmental impact. Notably, at current estimates the airline industry contributes to 3.5% of global climate change. Information technology is expanding far more rapidly and should exceed 3.5% of global climate change by 2020. Spread the word and encourage your employers to use eco‑friendly data centres and web hosting service providers.
It has been a pleasure acting as Southend UNISON’s Communications Officer, however due to a new teaching opportunity at London South Bank University I will not be standing this year. I wish my successor, whoever they might be, the very best in the forthcoming year.
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Duly elected Branch Officers +
|Senior Vice President||Louise McDermott|
|Junior Vice President||Jo Gull|
|Education Officer||Laura Noakes|
|Welfare Officer||Liliana Baker|
|Equalities Officer||Louise McDermott|
|Health & Safety Officer||Marco Woods|
|Assistant Health and Safety Officer||Louise McDermott|
|Black Members’ Officer||Gloria Lawton/Florence Nyarambi|
|LGBT+ Members’ Officer||Vacant|
|Disabled Members’ Officer||Jill Henson|
|Women’s Officer||Sam Reed|
|Communications Officer||Tim Sneller|
|Young Members’ Officer||Vacant|
|Retired Members’ Officer||Roger Young|
|Assistant Retired Members’ Officer||Pam Drever|
Duly elected Stewards +
Department of People
|Steve Cooper||Youth & Connexions|
|Victoria Pallen||Locality Teams|
|Samantha Reed||Community Housing|
|Diane Fraser||Adult Services|
|Louise McDermott||Regulatory Services|
|Florence Nyarambi||Locality Teams|
|Ingrid Harvey||Integrated Commissioning Services|
Department of Place
|June Dillow||Museums & Libraries|
|Kevan Baker||Waste and Environmental|
|Marcus Woods||Parks, Health and Safety|
|Robert Harris||Legal & Democratic|
|Liliana Baker||Council Tax and Benefits|
South Essex Homes
|Gordon Wells||Caretakers, Health and Safety|
|Pam Haffie||Careline, Nicholson House|
|Nadine Gould||Senior Steward|
|Neal Brown||untrained Steward|
Schools – SBC
|Sharon Hatton||Leigh North Street Primary School|
|Sharon Needham||Southend Care|
|Matthew Moyes||Southend Care, untrained Steward|
|Lazarus Sibanda||Affinity Trust|
Schools – Academies, non SBC
|Mary Sykes||Futures Community College|
|Caroline Crofts||Hamstel Junior School|
|Joanne Gull||Thorpe Greenways Junior School|
|Victoria Crow||Thorpedene Primary School – Health and Safety|
|Laura Noakes||Thorpedene Primary School|
|Natalie Bose||Bournemouth Park Schools|
|Grace McArthur||Bournemouth Park Schools – Health and Safety|
|Gloria Lawton||Chase High School|
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