Southend UNISON extends solidarity with Ladywood Primary School’s Dinner Ladies who have gone on permanent strike! #StarsInOurSchools UNDER ATTACK! @UNISONBarnsley

Announcement graphic reading: "Save our Dinner Ladies, UNISON Barnsley Branch. Stars In Our Schools UNDER ATTACK!" This announcement text overlaids a photograph of picketing Ladywood Primary School’s Dinner Ladies.
Stars In Our Schools UNDER ATTACK! Picketing Ladywood Primary School’s Dinner Ladies.

Southend UNISON has sent £250 toward the Dinner Ladies’ strike hardship fund and calls on the Governors and Headteacher to stop attacking our STARS IN OUR SCHOOLS and drop their unacceptable plans to axe jobs.

The Headteacher and Board of Governors of Ladywood Primary School (Grimethorpe, Barnsley) have proposed to make all nine School Meals Supervisory Assistants (dinner ladies) redundant.

The school’s proposals would lead to the hardworking Teaching Assistants replacing the dinner ladies and supervising the children at dinnertime. These plans have been put forward because the school’s management do not believe the dinner ladies have the skills to support the children.

UNISON is campaigning hard to save our members’ jobs. The redundancies will be devastating for our dinner ladies, and it’s unfair to ask the already overworked Teaching Assistants to pick up this important job. Our members know how damaging these proposals would be to the school’s children.

We believe the proposals are completely unnecessary and the school does not need to do this. The dedicated dinner ladies are at the heart of school life and have been supporting the children for generations. UNISON does not believe the school has to make these redundancies because of budget cuts.

We are asking all UNISON members and friends to stand together in solidarity and sign the petition at:

To learn more about the Dinner Ladies’ situation and to contribute to the hardship fund please visit Barnsley UNISON website and/or contact the branch.

UNISON Southend-on-Sea extends solidarity with Kirklees Bin Workers

Announcement graphic reading: “Bin strike is ON. UNISON Kirklees Branch."

In West Yorkshire, Kirklees Bin Workers were on strike in July and have unanimously voted for an all-out indefinite strike.

Paul Holmes, Kirklees UNISON Branch Secretary, said that although Kirklees Council had now addressed the issue of members’ holiday by hiring 10 permanent staff and 30 temporary ones, the problems regarding alleged bullying, harassment and racism, and unmanageable workloads had not been resolved.

UNISON Southend-on-Sea has sent £200 toward the strike hardship fund and will be organising a workplace collection to raise further funds and awareness if necessary.

To learn more about the Kirklees Bin Workers situation download these newspaper cuttings and/or contact the UNISON Kirklees Branch.

To contribute to the hardship fund please make cheques payable to ‘UNISON Kirklees Branch’ and post to: UNISON Kirklees Branch Hardship Fund, 4 New North Parade, Huddersfield HD1 5JP

Latest News:

Paul Holmes, Kirklees UNISON Branch Secretary, has said an all-out bin strike across Kirklees has been suspended and an agreement with Kirklees Council has been reached.

HAVE YOU BEEN UNDERPAID? Please complete the UNISON Holiday Pay Claim Survey!

Announcement graphic reading: "HAVE YOU BEEN UNDERPAID? Please complete the UNISON Holiday Pay Claim Survey!"

Dear UNISON member,

Click here to complete the
UNISON Holiday Pay Claim Survey

If you work for Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and work regular overtime then your UNISON branch needs to hear from you. You may have been underpaid.

You should receive the same pay while on annual leave as you would normally receive while you are at work. This means that if you carry out regular paid overtime then employers should take this into account when calculating your holiday pay.

UNISON wants to find any Southend-on-Sea Borough Council staff that may be affected by this so we can seek to get this issue resolved with your employer.

Examples could include if you work in a school and regularly do after school clubs without a separate contract or if you do as and when hours.

So if you work regular overtime please take 10 minutes to complete the UNISON Holiday Pay Claim Survey.

We cannot guarantee that you will be owed money but we will be looking to take all valid claims forward to your employer.

Please speak to any of your colleagues that you think may work regular overtime and ask them to complete the survey as well. Non-UNISON members that think they may be owed money can also join now, complete the survey and we can take valid claims forward. It’s important that we hear from as many people as possible so we can see the full scale of this issue.

Please download this poster, and then print and display in your workplace to help promote this important issue to all members of staff.

For further information on this, please email John Lawrence or contact the Southend UNISON branch office.

Kind regards,

John Lawrence
UNISON Area Organiser & Eastern Region Young Members’ Lead

Claire Wormald
Branch Secretary

Click here to complete the
UNISON Holiday Pay Claim Survey

Please complete the UNISON Equality Survey 2018 – and enter a fantastic prize draw with a chance to win a holiday in North Devon

Announcement graphic reading: "Please Complete Equality Survey 2018 and maybe win a holiday for two at Croyde Bay Holiday Resort in North Devon! Survey closes at 5pm on Monday 27 August 2018." This text overlays a photograph of the beach at Croyde Bay, Devon.

Click here to take survey

Equality is one of UNISON’s central values and each year we carry out an Equality Survey to find out more about the issues affecting our members to help inform our campaigning work.

Last year 11,500 members took part and helped inform briefings for the union’s service groups and self-organised groups on key issues for their bargaining and organising agendas – it will take between 5 and 10 minutes to complete.

Completing the survey entitles you to enter a fantastic prize draw with a chance to win three nights for two people at Croyde Bay Holiday Resort in North Devon.

Click here to take survey

UNISON Southend-on-Sea extends solidarity with Birmingham Homecare Workers

Group photograph of UNISON Southend-on-Sea members holding placards reading: 'Southend UNISON Showing Solidarity with Birmingham Homecare Workers'.

In Birmingham, homecare workers are striking because they’ve been pushed to breaking point. Government cuts to local authority budgets have led to Birmingham City Council slashing the home care/enablement budget by 40%.

UNISON Southend-on-Sea extends solidarity with the Birmingham Homecare Workers who are fighting back against savage cuts to their contracted hours and wages, and the subsequent knock-on negative impact to essential services that support individuals back to health and independence.

UNISON Southend-on-Sea has sent £250 toward the strike hardship fund and is organising a workplace collection to raise further funds and awareness. Additionally, Southend Trades Union Council is sharing the request for support with all local trade union branches.

To find out more visit the UNISON Birmingham website and Facebook page and to contribute to the hardship fund please make cheques payable to ‘UNISON Birmingham Branch Hardship Fund’ and post to: 19th Floor, The Mclaren Building, 35 Dale End, Birmingham, West Midlands, B4 7LN

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:

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