July Newsletter

Southend UNISON Newsletter July 2021

Follow these links to individual articles:

Council Cuts
UNISON Financial Assistance
Disabled Members’ Officer
Black Members’ Education Weekend 2021
National Conference Report

or download a pdf here


Council Cuts and Restructures

Picture of civic centreSouthend Council aim to save £1 million a year by restructuring ‘business support’ services across the organisation. This affects 157 existing posts and threatens to cut 28 jobs. The plan is to centralise roles which are considered to be ‘admin’, hoping to make savings by cutting across specialisms.

UNISON is supporting members who face uncertainty and the threat of redundancy and will give everyone the individual representation they need. We are also questioning the impact of the proposals. ‘Admin’ and support jobs aren’t just filing or paper shuffling – they’re a vital support for front line services.

We wonder what will happen in your team when your ‘admin’ colleagues are removed and put into a generic ‘business support’ team? We bet we all have to shoulder the added tasks that they can no longer do!

Restructures and cost savings aren’t a victimless crime! They can cost our members their livelihoods but they also make it harder and more stressful for the staff who are left to deliver the services our community needs.
If you want to help defend all our jobs and services for the future – join us!
https://join.unison.org.uk/

Back to Top


Financial Assistance: National Welfare Support

members welfareIf you are a UNISON member and you are experiencing financial difficulties, whether due to coronavirus or other circumstances, our national welfare scheme ‘There for You’ can offer you support, including one-off grants.

You can find details of the benefits and how to apply at our ‘There For You’ web pages – There for You (UNISON Welfare) | Member support and services | UNISON National

School uniform grants
COVID-19 response fund
Other financial assistance
UNISON benefits calculator
UNISON budget planner
Help with debt

Back to Top


Disabled Members Officer: What I do and  UNISON’s Disabled Members’ Conference

My name is Jill Henson, I am a Business Support Officer in the Department for People, based, usually at any rate, at Civic 1. I am the branch Disabled Members Officer. I am myself disabled, I am Spina Bifida (happy to expand on what that actually is and how it affects me if you wish to ask me; but won’t dwell on it here).

In my role, I focus on issues relating to disability and work to improve policies and practice relating to disabled members within workplaces. I support members in attending Absence Review Meetings, in accessing appropriate equipment and other support to enable them to carry out their jobs and in ensuring that reasonable adjustments are being made by the employer. A great resource for members and their managers alike is the government’s Access To Work service: https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work 

As we all know, the last 15 months has been a very challenging time, but it has also forced managers to be more flexible in their approach to how and where work can be done. This has really helped us as disabled members, as we don’t have the travelling time and all the energy that undertaking and planning this involves. Sickness absence has actually reduced for us – on a day when you’re feeling a little below par and would not be fit enough to travel to the office, we can still sometimes work from home, which is beneficial to both the individual and the employer.

UNISON’s Disabled Members Conference happens once a year and is a space to discuss and vote on issues relevant to disabled members and feed them into the wider union. You can find Conference information here – https://www.unison.org.uk/events/2021-national-disabled-members-conference/

Any disabled member can put themselves forward – get in touch if you are interested – it would be brilliant to get our branch represented at this year’s conference. But don’t delay too long! We will meet all expenses and assist in getting time off to attend. Email unison@southend.gov.uk with a subject of Disabled Members Conference

by Jill Henson, Disabled members officer

Back to Top


Black Members’ Education Weekend 2021

At the Five Lakes Resort, Colchester Road Essex CM9 8HX
Starts 4.30pm on 12 November Ends 2.00 pm on 14 November 2021

  • Black members logo
    This weekend is open to any Black Member in the Eastern region who is involved in their branch or the Self Organised Group – or thinking about getting more active. There will be a range of workshops during the weekend including:

• Tim Roberts – Regional Secretary
• Thompson Solicitors – Race Discrimination workshop
• Developing future leaders in UNISON
• Developing your confidence and strategies for progression
• Anti Racism – Organising Black workers in the workplace
• Impact of long Covid – resources for Black members

The Eastern Region Black Members Self Organised Group Annual General Meeting 2021 will be held during the weekend.

This event is free for members. Your branch will pay your registration fee, your travel costs and any additional expenses you incur due to childcare or facilitation costs. If there is sufficient demand then a crèche will be provided. Partner rate of £120 is available where you wish to bring your partner and you are sharing a room. The member is responsible for this cost not UNISON and will be asked to pay the hotel direct to secure the booking.

What to do next?
Contact your branch and ask for approval to attend. Complete the application form and then send it to your branch to authorise. Please return your completed form by Friday 23 July 2021 to easterneducation@unison.co.uk. Any problems, please contact Andrea Shute on easterneducation@unison.co.uk or 01245 608905.

Back to Top


National Conference Report by Claire Wormald

Virtual rostrumThis year’s national UNISON conference was held online for the first time. Our Branch Secretary, Claire Wormald attended as a delegate and reports on some of the key debates:

• Motion 72: the Branch Resources Review

This branch had mandated a vote against, as we felt what this motion proposed was insufficient, incomplete and we felt all our branches deserve better.
Over 20 people wanted to speak for and against as the decision would impact on the resources for branches and therefore on the ability of the union to organise around cuts and job losses. The review of branch resources had been requested 2 years ago as branches are doing 80% of the work with less than 23% of the funding from national subs. This formula had never been reviewed despite fragmentation and privatisation increasing the number of employers we have to deal with. Over 20 years, our branch has gone from 1 to 118 employers to deal with just as facility time has been cut.
Branch activists were reporting burnout due to the constant tidal wave of case work & ‘restructures’ with ability to push the organising agenda on the edge of a precipice, so this was a heartfelt and passionate debate.
The vote to move conference business was placed early on and was carried, due, many believe, to the gremlins in the electronic voting system. The motion was passed – if we are lucky the 0.5% increase in branch funding this motion offered might buy a few more UNISON lanyards but not much more!

• Motion 25: Securing an Equal and Sustainable Post Pandemic Settlement:

A lively debate with amendments calling on the unions to come out fighting, saying that members cannot carry the financial can for this crisis and that we need to strengthen union solidarity. Another amendment highlighted the importance of the unions being part of an international movement on climate change, with the global south suffering due to the richer countries emitting 50% of CO2 and the global south 7% . This makes the decision by Johnson to reduce the foreign aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% even more despicable as this country adds to the underlying issues creating the poverty and thus the need for aid.

• Motion 59: Tacking climate change:

Another really interesting motion which made me realise how little as a branch we do about this (although we did join in the climate strikes called by Greta Thunberg). We need to get some green reps (yes they exist!) and start organising workers to put pressure on the COP26 summit this autumn in Glasgow and of course influence the council locally.

• Motion 27: No back to normal for disabled workers:

After years of saying no to requests of reasonable adjustments to include working from home employers are now realising this is doable. Disabled members reported back great advantages to this, but also were clear this is not an excuse for the employers not to provide reasonable adjustments back at work and that equipment must be provided for the home environment.

• Motion 6: Trade union recognition for outsourced workers:

A lack of union recognition leads to lowering of pay and worse conditions. It notes the recent fire and rehire tactics emerging in some areas despite the fact that these companies are being supported with public money – but using tactics like this to squeeze profits out of workers. There have been some wins over this recently including Norfolk street cleaners.

by Claire Wormald, Branch Secretary

Back to Top

April 28th – International Workers Memorial Day

Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living!

IWMD

Today, Wednesday 28th April is International Workers Memorial day 2021.

#IWMD2021 #IWMD

UNISON supports the minute’s silence at 12 noon to remember workers across the world who have lost their lives doing their jobs.

The Covid pandemic makes this particularly relevant. Workers in health and front line services of all sorts have put their safety on the line for all of us – often without proper protection. No one should have to suffer unecessarily because of poor conditions, inadequate health and safety, ruthless and penny-pinching employers or failure by government.

There’s information from the national Trades Union Congress here https://www.tuc.org.uk/wmd

and from UNISON here https://magazine.unison.org.uk/2021/04/12/workplace-safety-affects-us-all/

Covid-19 Mass Meeting for Schools and Early Years Members 27th January

Covid-19 – Schools and Early Years Mass Meeting:

UNISON is holding a mass national on-line meeting for schools and early years members in England on Wednesday 27 January at 5pm. We will talk through the issues facing schools and early years workers right now and will be answering members’ questions throughout the meeting.

Southend UNISON urges our members in schools and early years to attend this meeting.

The meeting is on-line and you can find details, including of how to join up  on the national website here.

The latest Covid advice can be found here.
National Schools Meeting

December 2020 Newletter

A Happy and Safe Xmas to all UNISON Members!

Southend UNISON’s December newsletter is now out!

News and articles including:

Dec 2020 front cover

  • Covid Support Fund
  • Health and Safety
  • Fighting for Jobs at Southend Council
  • Public sector Pay

Download your copy here!

 

 

Is there a topic you’d like to see us cover in our branch newsletter – or perhaps you’d like to write us a letter or write an article on your issues?

Email unison@southend.gov.uk with your ideas!

 

 

General Secretary Election – Southend nominates Paul Holmes

General Secretary Election – Southend nominates Paul Holmes

  • Southend branch has nominated Paul Holmes for General Secretary because we know he wants change.
  • Unison nationally is not delivering for members. Branches currently only get 25% of our subs and no say over national and regional resources. Paul wants half of Unison resources directed to us and our members. 
  • The Government is coming at us with more attacks. Paul has the best track-record of leadership in fighting for members and winning – on pay, jobs, safety, racism and discrimination .
  • Paul is the grassroots candidate and will take the job on his current wage of £32,000, not the £138,000 salary advertised.

    Photo of Paul Holmes
    Paul Holmes

Schools Return – Latest Advice

Dear Members,

With some schools open already and the rest set to follow in the next couple of weeks, here is the latest information from UNISON about safety in schools and early years.

We’ve got an update on face coverings, a reminder about our dedicated guidance page, and important new advice for staff who have serious concerns that returning to the workplace will endanger their health.

Face coverings

The government has been forced to change its guidance on face coverings after weeks of pressure from UNISON and other unions (as well as high-profile scientist Professor Alice Roberts referencing our advice).

From 1 September, head teachers in secondary schools in England will have the “discretion” to introduce face coverings in their schools.

Additionally, in areas of local lockdown, staff and pupils in secondary schools will be required to wear face coverings in corridors and communal spaces. (The same exemptions for those unable to wear face coverings will apply.)

UNISON’s position remains that staff should be allowed to wear face coverings in any educational setting, if you choose to. We continue to pressure the government to issue clearer guidance and we will keep our FAQ on face coverings updated.

New government guidance

Our comment

Get Help with School Uniforms

Get Help with your Scchool Uniforms

help with school uniformsAs many people struggle through the pandemic, the extra cost of sending the children back to school now looms on the horizon.

But UNISON is here to help. There For You, our welfare charity, has launched its School Uniform Grant, offering a one-off £50 per school age child, up to a cost of £150, to help cover the cost of uniforms.

To be eligible, you must meet the following:

  • You are a member and have paid 4 weeks subscriptions before 3 August (the launch date of this programme);
  • You are financially responsible for the child/children and receiving Child Benefit for them;
  • You have total combined (yourself and your partner if applicable) savings/rolling bank balance(s) of less than £1,000, and;
    • Either you receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit
    • Or you have an annual net salary of less than £18,000 (combined salary with partner must be less than £18,000 p.a. if applicable).

If you qualify, head over to UNISON’s national page to read more small print and apply.

School Uniform Grant

There For You offers the School Uniform Grant every year to help out low-paid public servants. Here’s what a few of the recipients of last year’s grant had to say.

“A big thank you for your help in ensuring my daughter had the best possible start to her new high school, without this support I would have struggled.”

“Thank you so much for the uniform grant it has been a life saver. I was able to buy two new cardigans which she was desperate for! Two ties and the school’s official bag which she has always wanted.”

“Thank you so much for helping us as a family with the school uniform grant. It really took the worry out of shopping. (I’ve cried in Clarks before at the price!)”

“Thank you for supporting me with their uniform costs and enabling me to send them off looking so smart, I’m a very, very proud single mum today.”

As many people struggle through the pandemic, the extra cost of sending the children back to school now looms on the horizon.

But UNISON is here to help. There For You, our welfare charity, has launched its School Uniform Grant, offering a one-off £50 per school age child, up to a cost of £150, to help cover the cost of uniforms.

To be eligible, you must meet the following:

  • You are a member and have paid 4 weeks subscriptions before 3 August (the launch date of this programme);
  • You are financially responsible for the child/children and receiving Child Benefit for them;
  • You have total combined (yourself and your partner if applicable) savings/rolling bank balance(s) of less than £1,000, and;
    • Either you receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit
    • Or you have an annual net salary of less than £18,000 (combined salary with partner must be less than £18,000 p.a. if applicable).

If you qualify, head over to UNISON’s national page to read more small print and apply.

School Uniform Grant

There For You offers the School Uniform Grant every year to help out low-paid public servants. Here’s what a few of the recipients of last year’s grant had to say.

“A big thank you for your help in ensuring my daughter had the best possible start to her new high school, without this support I would have struggled.”

“Thank you so much for the uniform grant it has been a life saver. I was able to buy two new cardigans which she was desperate for! Two ties and the school’s official bag which she has always wanted.”

“Thank you so much for helping us as a family with the school uniform grant. It really took the worry out of shopping. (I’ve cried in Clarks before at the price!)”

“Thank you for supporting me with their uniform costs and enabling me to send them off looking so smart, I’m a very, very proud single mum today.”

As many people struggle through the pandemic, the extra cost of sending the children back to school now looms on the horizon.

But UNISON is here to help. There For You, our welfare charity, has launched its School Uniform Grant, offering a one-off £50 per school age child, up to a cost of £150, to help cover the cost of uniforms.

To be eligible, you must meet the following:

  • You are a member and have paid 4 weeks subscriptions before 3 August (the launch date of this programme);
  • You are financially responsible for the child/children and receiving Child Benefit for them;
  • You have total combined (yourself and your partner if applicable) savings/rolling bank balance(s) of less than £1,000, and;
    • Either you receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit
    • Or you have an annual net salary of less than £18,000 (combined salary with partner must be less than £18,000 p.a. if applicable).

If you qualify, head over to UNISON’s national page to read more small print and apply.

School Uniform Grant

There For You offers the School Uniform Grant every year to help out low-paid public servants. Here’s what a few of the recipients of last year’s grant had to say.

“A big thank you for your help in ensuring my daughter had the best possible start to her new high school, without this support I would have struggled.”

“Thank you so much for the uniform grant it has been a life saver. I was able to buy two new cardigans which she was desperate for! Two ties and the school’s official bag which she has always wanted.”

“Thank you so much for helping us as a family with the school uniform grant. It really took the worry out of shopping. (I’ve cried in Clarks before at the price!)”

“Thank you for supporting me with their uniform costs and enabling me to send them off looking so smart, I’m a very, very proud single mum today.”

Apply today

8th August – Essex March for Fair NHS Pay

Saturday 8th August, March for Fair Pay for NHS Workers-

March organised by local NHS nurses and other staff to protest at being left out of pay rises for some other areas of the public sector (like doctors and police). Part of a national day of demonstrations. Meet 11am at Basildon Hospital for a short socially-distanced march to a town centre rally. #NHSWorkersSayNo
#NHSPay15

8th August NHS March Flyer

UNISON’s response to government spending statement

Money for public services would mean a quicker recovery

UNISON’s General Secretary Dave Prentis issued his response to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Covid-19 spending statement. See the full response here.

Picture of twenty pound note“Proper investment in our public services would help speed the country back to recovery and more prosperous, certain times. It would heal over the deep cracks in care and the NHS exposed by the pandemic.

“With extra funds, national and local public services could provide many more jobs. A much-deserved early pay rise for health workers and council staff would mean money in their pockets to be spent on local high streets.

Solidarity with Tower Hamlets UNISON Strikers

Tower Hamlets Council Workers Strike against attack on Terms and Conditions 3rd, 6th and 7th July

Tower Hamlets Strike PosterOn 3rd, 6th & 7th July, workers for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets will be striking against the imposition of “Tower Rewards”. Their council is seeking to sack 4,000 council workers and remploy them on a new contract with much worse conditions. This is the thanks essential public service workers get during a pandemic! Our colleagues in Tower Hamlets UNISON branch  have published the details on Facebook here.

Show Solidarity – Join the Virtual Picket Line

Tower Hamlets UNISON are holding  online rallies / virtual picket lines at 11.30am on each strike day. We urge Southend members to join the ‘virtual’ pickets and show our solidarity with our colleagues – we all face the same attacks!    You can ‘book’ your place the pickets on Eventbrite here.