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Consultation on political fund review: December-January

UNISON speaking up for public services placards tied to railing

The government announced earlier this month that new rules on union political funds will come into effect on 29 February 2018 after a 12-month transition that starts on 1 March 2017.

For UNISON’s rules covering political funds to comply with the law by that date, any changes will need to be agreed at the 2017 national delegate conference in June.

And before that, those proposed rule changes need to be agreed by the political fund committees, approved by the Certification Officer and submitted by the NEC for debate at NDC. The deadline for submisions to NDC is in February.

All of that gives the union a very tight timetable, but the union remains committed to the widest possible consultation.

Regions, branches, regional Labour Link committees and self organised groups are invited to take part in a consultation about the way ahead, which must be completed by 24 January 2017.

The union is looking for a way forward that will address:

  • the need to maintain the union’s campaigning ability and capacity;
  • the need to maintain the union’s historic affiliation to the Labour Party;
  • the need to protect the union’s income.

A consultation document is being distributed across the union, to help focus discussions and to provide information, and can be downloaded from the website

Responses to the consultation should be sent to politicalfundreview@unison.co.uk by 24 January 2017.

We need a new bargain to give working people a fair share of Britain’s success in 2017

Young workers at Congress

When we look back, 2016 will be remembered as the year the establishment was shaken to its core. And yet the political turmoil has not benefited working people – and few feel they have taken back much control over their working lives. Indeed, in some ways we have gone backwards – not least in the disgraceful return to the public sphere of race-baiting and prejudice.

So as we look to 2017, it’s clear that we need a new bargain between those at the top – enjoying soaring boardroom pay and insulated from economic change – and ordinary working people. Britain succeeds when working people succeed. And strong unions are the only way to make sure working people get their share in Britain’s success.

 

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Southern rail strikes suspended as two sides agree to TUC talks

Aslef train drivers at a picket line at London Bridge station during a walkout late last year.

The train drivers’ union is to suspend industrial action on Southern rail ahead of fresh talks aimed at resolving a bitter dispute with management over driver-only trains.

The two sides will meet on Wednesday under the joint chairmanship of the TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, and the HR director of the rail firm Abellio, Andy Meadows.

Aslef said it had agreed to suspend three days of strikes scheduled for next week.

In a joint statement, O’Grady and Meadows said: “We are committed to finding a fair solution to this dispute. We are pleased the parties have agreed to meet for meaningful talks.”

Purple Futures withdraw from National Negotiating Committee

Most members will be aware of the National Negotiating Council (NNC) and the Standing Committee for Chief Officer Grades (SCCOG).

Their function has been to negotiate joint agreement and action on pay and other national conditions of service for employees in probation.  It has served both parties well, it was and still is the view of our branch, the Northwest Probation & CAFCASS branch of UNISON, that it remains fit for purpose .

Purple Futures have come to the decision that the NNC is no longer the right way to negotiate pay, terms and conditions with the trade unions, and indeed they have given notice that they are withdrawing from those arrangements from the end of January and members should ask themselves why the employer has chosen to do this at this time given that the previous arrangements worked so well.

Members should rest assured that Unison will continue to work alongside NAPO to safeguard and improve your Terms and Conditions

Over the coming months our Branch Secretary and PF National Convenor, Kev Allsop, will look to visit most of the offices within Cheshire, Manchester & Merseyside to recruit new members and take on the views of existing members. Please make every effort to attend.

UNISON There for You winter fuel grants

Hands

Get help staying warm this winter

With rising fuel costs and another cold winter looming, many members are worried about how they’re going to pay this year’s winter fuel bills.

Help is at hand

There for You, UNISON’s own charity has set up a limited fund to help UNISON members on low income by way of a one-off payment of £50 per household.

To apply download the forms or simply contact your UNISON branch office.

Completed applications need to be sent to There for You, UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London, NW1 2AY, to be received by Friday 17 February at the latest.

Branches and activists can also download a poster and flyer from the resources below to help promote the scheme.

 

The rise and rise of food banks

We won’t be misled on the #SouthernStrike

Southern Rail conductor checks a train at East Croydon station

Further strike action on Southern Rail takes place this week, and the disruption this will cause for passengers is regrettable. But we won’t be misled by the industry on why the strikes are taking place.

The extension of driver only operations by Southern Rail is at the heart of the dispute between Aslef, the RMT and Govia Thameslink Railway which runs Southern. Last week (5 January) the Office for Rail and Road Regulation published a review of Driver Only Operations (DOO) on Southern Rail, concluding that:

“ORR is satisfied that with suitable equipment, procedures and competent staff in place the proposed form of train dispatch intended by GTR-Southern, meets legal requirements and can be operated safely.”

The conclusion by the ORR as safety regulator doesn’t give driver only operations a clean bill of health. It suggests that it can be safe if certain criteria are met. Even though the ORR describes its review as “thorough”, for some strange reason it only focuses on train dispatch and completely ignores the implications of DOO for passenger safety on the whole train journey. Not what you’d expect from an ‘independent’ safety regulator.

 

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UK commuters pay up to 6 times more on rail fares than their European counterparts

Chart showing increase in rail fares.

For commuters returning to work today, 2017 seems less celebratory and promising given they will face fresh fare increases on their first day back, all thanks to our privatised rail system.

This might feel unfair on many levels, not least since rail fares have shot up twice as much as wages over the last decade, according to new research published by the Action for Rail campaign today.

Worse still, our counterparts in Europe using largely publicly owned railways are spending significantly less on travel and enjoying a better standard of living. How then are we doing in relation to spending on rail fares in comparison to our European cousins? Not fantastic. According to our research, UK workers on average salaries spend 14% of their income on a monthly season ticket from Luton to London amounting to an exorbitant £387, or 11% from Liverpool to Manchester at £292.

Similar commutes on the continent would cost passengers only 2% of their incomes in France, 3% in Germany and Italy, and 4% in Spain.

Rail fares increasing aren’t the only hitch though. Trains are often delayed, cancelled and overcrowded. We need more staffing – not ticket office closures and slashing of staffing levels.

Infographic showing international comparison on rail fare

The misery of privatisation: paying more for less

And don’t get me started on how commuters suffer poor quality services, and worse the recent rise in crime and hate crime – that’s why we need more staff on understaffed platforms. Passengers are tired of paying more for less! It is doubly frustrating that high fares and the tax payers’ money is being used to subsidise profits and shareholder dividends. Just see the case of Southern Rail.

Southern Rail, run by Govia, and now part-owned by French state railways is a franchising failure. Southern received £42m in net subsidies from the taxpayer in 2014-15 and paid out £22m in shareholder dividends, despite its failures. Now while fares escalate, Southern is proposing to close more ticket offices, remove guards from trains and extend driver only operations. That’s not putting passenger safety first! Southern is a clear example of the failures of privatisation, with profits put before people.

We need public ownership

We’ve already seen how placing rail in the hands of private owners since 1994 has derailed the system. The government remains totally averse to public ownership. We know that putting the likes of Southern Rail back into the hands of public ownership can work better. Publicly owned East Coast returned over £1bn to the Treasury, had high satisfaction ratings and won over 30 industry awards. Research shows that more than double (£1.5bn) could be saved over the same period if the rail franchises up for renewal this parliament were returned to the public sector. Transport for Quality of Life have estimated that this could fund a 10% reduction in season tickets and other regulated fares from 2017.

The time then seems ripe for public ownership of our rail. Hundreds of rail campaigners’ are joining ‘action for rail’ protests today across the nations of the UK, to power the message that we won’t settle for anything less than an affordable, properly staffed and publically owned rail system!

Sign our petitions

You can join the campaign now by adding your voice our petitions.

Southern Rail Govia petition

National rail petition

The Manchester Martyrs

The Manchester Martyrs

The Manchester Martyrs were three innocent Irishmen hanged in public outside the New Bailey prison in Salford on 23 November 1867. They had been convicted of murdering a police sergeant, killed in the course of a successful raid on Hyde Road, Manchester to free two leading Fenians.

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The Manchester Martyrs

The Manchester Martyrs

The Manchester Martyrs were three innocent Irishmen hanged in public outside the New Bailey prison in Salford on 23 November 1867. They had been convicted of murdering a police sergeant, killed in the course of a successful raid on Hyde Road, Manchester to free two leading Fenians.

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Building Stronger Unions in the North West

Date and time of event:
Sat 22 Oct 2016 – 10:30 to 15:30
Venue and town/city:
Southport Theatre & Convention Centre, The Promenade, Southport, PR9 0DZ
Costs:
Free to attend
About this event:

Come along to the first Organising Conference hosted by the North West TUC, to hear from academics, experts and policy officers about the challenges we face as a union movement and more importantly, how we make our trade unions stronger and more vibrant.

There will be discussion, workshops and skill sessions to talk, listen, think and do on a range of topics including:

  • Union Membership
  • Union Reps and Resources
  • Young Workers
  • Collective Bargaining
  • Digital Campaigning
  • One – To – One conversations
  • Campaign Planning
Contact for further information:

Visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/building-stronger-unions-in-the-north-west-registration-27323806240 to register

If the event is oversubscribed, places will be limited according to union size. Attendance is open to all organisers and workplace reps. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

We will confirm attendance with those who register. Please complete all parts, including your Union name and position.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK ACT

NWPC logoi ii

31st July was the 40th anniversary of one of the most important and successful pieces of workplace legislation. On that day in 1974, the Health and Safety at Work Act received royal assent.

Since then the number of fatalities in the workplace has fallen by 85% while the number of injuries at work has fallen by 77%. That is a massive achievement. Of course not all of it can be put down to the success of the Act. Much is because of structural changes in the workplace. After all if you are going to close down many of the most dangerous workplaces such as mining, shipbuilding and heavy engineering then it is not surprising that the figures fell dramatically, but, even taking that into account, it is estimated that about half the fall is a result of the changes that the Act brought about.

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To celebrate the achievements of the Trade Union movement in securing this vital peice of legislation we will be inspecting workplaces through out October.

To get involved contact info@nwpc.org.uk

MayMonitor: A new campaign to track progress of Theresa May’s government

Theresa May became Prime Minister promising ‘a country that works for everyone’. She committed to fight the ‘burning injustice of inequality’, to support those who are ‘just managing’ but find life hard and to prioritise ‘ordinary working class families’ over the wealthy few.

As Parliament returns from the summer recess the Women’s Budget Group launches the #MayMonitor – an on-going project to track the actions of May’s Government and highlight whether they will help meet these promises.

The Women’s Budget Group will be monitoring Government progress on four of Theresa May’s promises using the following scorecard:

  • A country that works for everyone
  • Getting tough on corporate irresponsibility
  • An economy that works for everyone
  • The Government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours

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Leave and Pay for Mothers – Know Your Rights booklet

Pregnant women are protected from harm in the workplace and have the right not to be dismissed or unfavourably treated because of their pregnancy. Most employed mothers are entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity leave and 39 weeks’ Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance. Mothers with children born on or after 5 April 2015 may also be able to convert some of their maternity leave and pay into Shared Parental Leave and Pay which they or their partner can take on a more flexible basis in the first year of their child’s life.

This booklet describes how these rights work. It also provides information on the right to unpaid parental leave, the right to request flexible working and the right to emergency time off for dependants, which may help mothers balance paid work with bringing up their children.
If you are adopting a child or having a child through surrogacy arrangements you may wish to refer to separate Know Your Rights booklets that cover these situations

Derby City school support staff – together we are stronger

Please support Derby City school support workers in their strike and at the demo on Wednesday outside Parliament. https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfundi… Our school support staff are a vital part of our children’s education. Yet far from being valued, these low-paid workers are now facing a massive pay cut. They have supported our children, now we must support them. Strike fund: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfundi…

18 July — the day Nelson Mandela was born — the Nelson Mandela International Day.

Take Action! Inspire Change

NMF Photo/Matthew Willman

Every year on 18 July — the day Nelson Mandela was born — the UN joins a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to devote 67 minutes of time to helping others, as a way to mark Nelson Mandela International Day.

For 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity — as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.

How the Day came about

In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July “Nelson Mandela International Day” in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.

General Assembly resolution A/RES/64/13 recognizes Nelson Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity, in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of poor and underdeveloped communities. It acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.

Nelson Mandela Rules

In December 2015, the General Assembly decided to extend the scope of Nelson Mandela International Day to also be utilized in order to promote humane conditions of imprisonment, to raise awareness about prisoners being a continuous part of society and to value the work of prison staff as a social service of particular importance.

General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/175 not only adopted the revised United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, but also approved that they should be known as the “Nelson Mandela Rules” in order to honour the legacy of the late President of South Africa, who spent 27 years in prison in the course of his struggle referred to above.

 

It is easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.

– Nelson Mandela

What have the unions ever done for us?

THOUSANDS OF PRISON OFFICERS HOLD MEETINGS

The POA National Executive Committee have instructed its membership in England and Wales to hold meetings outside their respective Prisons to discuss Prison Reform after NOMS management failed to consult on how prisoners are supervised during their sentence.

The meetings have been described by Senior Management as “unlawful Industrial Action”, which the POA have refuted.

Miami Five Freedom Tour is Coming to Manchester

Miami_5.jpg

Thursday 14 July, 6.30pm at Manchester Town Hall.  Hear first hand from René and Gerardo who spent 16 years in US jails for trying to stop terrorist attacks against Cuba.

Gerardo Hernández and René Gonzalez are visiting the UK to thank campaigners for their solidarity and support through 16 years in American prisons.  Gerardo and René are two of the Miami Five who received very harsh and unjust jail sentences after infiltrating Florida-based groups responsible for violent actions and bombing campaigns against Cuba.

They will be speaking at a public meeting about their time in jail, how international solidarity helped them, the current situation with US-Cuba relations, and why solidarity with Cuba is just as important as ever while the US blockade remains in place.

They will be joined at the meeting by speakers including Interim Mayor of Greater Manchester Tony Lloyd, Angela Rayner MP, Bob Oram from the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and UNISON North West Regional Convenor Paula Barker.

It promises to be an informative and inspiring event and there’s no need to book.

There is a coach running from Liverpool to the event – call 0207 490 5715 for details.

There is a flyer for the event available here.

Labour leader calls for unity at Durham Miners’ Gala

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-36750069