Christina McAnea elected UNISON general secretary

‘I’m so grateful to everyone who voted for me and for the trust placed in me’

Christina McAnea has today been elected as general secretary of UNISON, the UK’s largest union.

Voting in the ballot was as follows:

Paul Holmes               45,220 (33.76%)

Christina McAnea       63,900 (47.7%)

Roger McKenzie         14,450 (10.79%)

Hugo Pierre                10,382 (7.75%).

Commenting on her election, Christina said: “I’m so grateful to everyone who voted for me and for the trust placed in me. I become general secretary at the most challenging time in recent history – both for our country and our public services.

“Health, care, council, police, energy, school, college and university staff have worked throughout the pandemic, and it’s their skill and dedication that will see us out the other side.

“Their union will continue to speak up for them and do all it can to protect them in the difficult months ahead. Despite the risks, the immense pressures and their sheer exhaustion, the dedication and commitment of our key workers knows no end.

“I will not let this government, nor any future one, forget that.

“Supporting public service workers through the pandemic, securing an early pay rise for NHS staff and ensuring the government backs down on its plans for an ill-judged pay freeze will be my immediate priorities.

“Pushing for the funding and the political will to create a quality, affordable national care service, where staff are respected and paid fairly, comes close behind.”

‘A fantastic general secretary’

Outgoing general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is a historic day for our union, and I am delighted that Christina – a close friend and colleague for over 30 years – has today been elected as general secretary of our great union.

“As an experienced and respected negotiator and passionate campaigner, I can think of no better person to pass the baton to and take our union forward.

“I am so proud that our union of over a million women now has its very first woman leader. Christina will be a fantastic general secretary, as she presides over a growing union.

“I know she will continue to stand up for public service workers everywhere, holding employers and the government to account in pursuit of the strong, well-funded services the UK’s communities both need and deserve.”

Currently one of UNISON’s five assistant general secretaries, Christina has worked at UNISON since its formation in 1993, having previously joined local government union NALGO as women’s officer in the late 1980s.

A leading negotiator

Christina grew up in Drumchapel, a big council housing estate in Glasgow. She left school at 16 and worked in the civil service, the NHS and retail before going to university at the age of 22.

Having achieved a degree in English and history, Christina first worked as a housing officer for Glasgow City Council, before moving to the GMB, where she advised workers taking cases against their employers to industrial tribunals.

In her time at UNISON, Christina has become the union’s most senior negotiator, with a wide-ranging public services brief covering health, education, social care, local government and equalities.

She has held senior positions across the union, negotiating on behalf of members working in police forces, schools, universities and colleges, and the NHS.

While head of health at the union, Christina played a key negotiating role in the national dispute over pensions, when up to two million public sector workers took part in a day of action in late 2011. Three years later, she was the lead negotiator in the first national health strike in England in 25 years.

Christina is a member of the ACAS Council, sits on the government’s COVID-19 social care stakeholder group and was the driving force behind the creation last year of the future social care coalition, a cross-party alliance of more than 80 organisations and individuals.

Christina is married, has two adult children and lives in South London.

Greater Manchester Citizens (free training)

Following on from the successful Greater Manchester Citizens Delegates Assembly before Christmas, there are several opportunities for Greater Manchester UNISON members to get involved in GM Citizens- including free training later this month.

1)There is FREE TRAINING for Greater Manchester UNISON members on how to make effective change in your communities.The one day community organising course will take place on 29 Jan 2021 from 9.30am-4pm on Zoom.You can register here.

2) GM Citizens have now launched three campaigns (Fair Work and Fighting Child Poverty/ Cleaner Air/ Improving Mental Health Services).UNISON members in Greater Manchester can play a part in all three campaigns and in planning for an exciting Mayoral Assembly event.Fill in this short form to express interest in getting involved in any or all of the above.

3) The next large Greater Manchester Citizens event will take place on Wednesday 24 Feb from 7-8.30pm. More details to follow.

All of the opportunities mentioned above are open to ALL UNISON members in Greater Manchester and I would be grateful if you could share this information with members of your branch.

If you want more information or have any questions, please

Thank you and have a good weekend!

Conor McGurran

Area Organiser (Communications & Media)

UNISON North West

UNISON North West LGBT+ Group Open Meeting

Unpaid work updated operational guidance COVID

Following meetings with Trade Unions and Senior HMPPS Management yesterday afternoon HMPPS have issued guidance (below) limiting Unpaid Work initially until 25 January. This information was issued to CRC CEOs last night.

  • For the next 2 weeks (until 25 Jan) we will limit the delivery of Unpaid Work individual placements or group projects to where there is a clear societal benefit in the context of COVID recovery (examples of permissible projects include: marshalling at vaccine centres, distribution of food parcels to the vulnerable, gritting pathways).
  • For any project to go ahead it must:
    • Be fully risk assessed, with an individualised assessment of any staff or service user vulnerabilities to COVID that may be relevant to the placement decision
    • Be signed off by the CRC CEO or Director as in the public benefit
    • Have the agreement of the beneficiary of the project for it to continue
    • Not require a group size of more than 4 service users
    • No travel in UPW vans or beneficiary vehicles other than in strictly controlled circumstances where the UPW vehicle can accommodate a maximum of 1 service user and a supervisor while maintaining current government guidance on social distancing.
    • All individuals must adhere to social distancing guidelines as set out by government (currently a minimum distance of 2 metres to be maintained at all times
    • Projects and placements to be as local to a service user and member of staff as possible
    • Face coverings to be worn at all times
    • Local police to be advised of planned UPW in the community
  • All other projects or placements should be suspended pending further review of what safe systems of work can be put in place to deal with the current lockdown restrictions.
  • Individual work carried out at home such as ‘project in a box’ and ETE can continue.

COVID -Updated position on Accredited Programmes and Unpaid Work

Following meetings with Trade Unions and Senior HMPPS Management yesterday afternoon HMPPS have issued updated guidance (below) suspending face to face group based delivery of Accredited Programmes initially until 25 January. Further discussions will take place today on  Unpaid Work with the aim of releasing further guidance on UPW. Please ensure members involved in the delivery of Accredited Programmes and UPW are aware of this guidance. We hope to be able to provide an update on UPW later today.

“In response to feedback from NPS, CRCs and our recognised Trade Unions, we have reviewed the delivery of Accredited Programmes in the current operating context.

We have taken the decision to require all NPS Regions and CRCs to suspend all face to face group delivery of Accredited Programmes with immediate effect. This suspension will remain in place until close Monday 25th January in the first instance, and will be reviewed ahead of that date. Individual face to face contact remains appropriate where the public protection or safeguarding risk justifies that action. All other elements of the Alternative Delivery Format remain in place. We will amend the Accredited Programme EDM to introduce a new Amber delivery level which aligns with this position.

We are also working with Trade Union representatives to review the national guidance that relates to delivery of Unpaid Work and will issue further guidance before close Tuesday 12th January.”



JTU-02-2021                                                                                                6 January 2021


Napo, UNISON and GMB/SCOOP have written to Amy Rees, Director General for Probation, today to request urgent talks on the HMPPS response to the Government’s announcement on Monday of a second severe lockdown in England and Wales with effect from today.

The new lockdown is the result of the exponential rise in Covid cases across our two nations which in turn has been caused by the spread of the highly contagious and therefore much more dangerous new variant of the virus.

We understand that at one AP in the North West, 15 residents are self- isolating of whom 13 have tested positive, alongside 5 members of staff of whom 3 have tested positive for Covid. These figures bring home the seriousness of the rise in cases and the risks now faced by our members.

We understand that EDMs are currently being reviewed, but we do not consider that this is an adequate response by itself. While some Regional Directors have been positively engaging with local TU reps to discuss the EDM reviews, some have insisted that they will only share the EDM once it has been reviewed which is not, in our view, proper engagement.

The unions have therefore asked Amy Rees as a matter of urgency that:

  1. HMPPS provides us with a risk assessment of the new variant of the Covid virus to allow us to properly understand the risks it poses to our members and service users and to ensure that NPS is taking all necessary steps to protect its workforce.
  • Regional Directors convene meetings with their local trade unions to discuss the EDM reviews and to agree the necessary measures to protect staff including those staff working in other workplaces such as prisons, courts and partner agencies.
  • A meeting is convened between the unions and the Residential Division to agree appropriate measures within the AP estate.
  • All face to face meetings with service users migrate to on-line platforms with only the most pressing public protection risks dealt with in person.
  1. RAG ratings are reviewed, with particular reference to the concerns the unions expressed prior to Christmas in respect of London and other areas with very high infection rates remaining on amber and the message that is sent to staff when they are told that the RAG rating only refers to service delivery and not to their personal safety in the workplace.
  1. All Regions ensure that positive Covid test data for staff/service users is communicated in real time to trade union representatives.
  1. The advice and guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable staff is reviewed with immediate effect to provide the necessary protection for these employees in respect of the new variant.
  1. A review of staff cover and multi-site working arrangements takes place to ensure that asymptomatic staff are not unwittingly carrying the virus into other workplaces.
  1. A referral is made up to Ministers to the effect that it is no longer possible for NPS to provide business as usual cover to courts under circumstances where staffing shortages are putting unreasonable pressure on those who remain in the workplace and sentencers are limiting the use of virtual hearings.
  1. An urgent review of staff well-being and measures is put in place to support staff during this second lockdown.


The three unions are working hard to secure the best protection for members against the new Covid variant and the steep rise in cases in the population. If you have any concerns about your personal safety, or the way in which you or your colleagues are being asked to work, please speak as a matter of urgency to your local union rep or branch.

Police and Justice Service Group – Annual Report

Dear Colleagues

Please find attached the UNISON Police and Justice Service Group Annual Report for 2019/20.

The report would normally have been published at our annual Service Group Conference in October this year for approval by delegates, but events obviously prevented this from happening.

In view of the circumstances, the Police and Justice SGE decided that the Annual Report should be published and provided to regions, branches and service group committees in order to properly document our work across the year and allow for any questions which branches or committees might wish to submit.

If you have any questions regarding this report please email them to


Bolton Council Public Consultation

Bolton Council have announced in excess of 38 million in cuts to their budget for 2021.This is the largest, pro rata to budget, that any council has set in the North West and it is to be done over just 1 year. This is an unprecedented move, 15million of this will be COVID cost pressures.
The enormity of such cuts, on jobs and the services in which are provided to the residents of Bolton at a time when we are being ravaged with a worldwide killer virus, simply put is unacceptable.
Bolton Council has already, under a Tory Government seen £160 million cut from its grants with job losses of over 1600 over the last ten years of the governments ‘Austerity’ programme. A programme that people have begun to realise, was never about austerity but about where the government choose to spend its money. This has become painfully clear, during the COVID pandemic. The myth, that there is no money, and if it is spent, we will be forever in debt has been blown wide open, with government contracts given out worth billions of £’s to private contractors with little or no return.
Can you imagine a UK, if the politicians had said after World War 2, we cannot spend ourselves out of this devastation? There would be no NHS, No council houses, no free education service.
It is time to demand, that we do not pay for the COVID crisis and we will not stand by while further cuts to services are made, we have last too much over the last ten years.Lets make our voices heard to this council, that we the people of Bolton have a simple message.
Bolton says, ‘no more council cuts’, Boris Johnson, do as you promise, Level up, not down !Each budget cycle the council run a ‘PUBLIC CONSULTATION’ and undertake a survey. I can tell you that there is never a good take up and the council see it as a green light to continue with their proposals.THIS YEAR PLEASE MAKE A DIFFERNCE, PLEASE TAKE 3-5 MINUTES TO COMPLETE THE SURVEY.

Where it asks what cuts you would prefer, let’s be brutally honest and tell the council we don’t want to see job losses, loss of terms and conditions OR a loss of services!! WE demand proper funding for our essential council services!

 Budget Consultation 2021-2023 – Bolton Council

Latest NPS Newsletter


Ballot papers with supporting documentation have now been emailed out to Unison members who have provided an email address. If you have not received such then please email the branch at

Also in terms of the special element of the pay offer, if you believe you are excluded from such then please alongside the request for a ballot paper notify by return of email so that we can take up your case with the NPS



Unite Rolls Royce Barnoldswick – Save our Site

Unite members continue their #BattleforBarnoldswick strike for jobs despite a lockout by the employer.

At 10:30pm on Saturday the 5th of December there will be a vehicle procession to show support.

Meeting at Boundary Mill Car Park, Vivary Way Colne (End of M65)


RMT Alstom strike – Longsight rail depot

RMT members who maintain trains for the West Coast mainline have started a series of strikes against a pay freeze imposed despite them working throughout the pandemic and managers being given large bonuses. There was a good turnout from the trades council and other trade unionist for their first picket:

The workers have several more strikes scheduled and you can show support for the pickets at the Longsight rail depot (map):

  • 6-9am on Friday 4 December
  • 6-9pm on Tuesday 8 December
  • 6-9am on Wednesday 9 December
  • 6-9pm on Sunday 13 December
  • 6-9am on Monday 14 December
  • 6-9pm on Thursday 17 December
  • 6-9am on Friday 18 December
  • 6-9pm on Tuesday 22 December
  • 6-9pm on Wednesday 23 December

Unite is currently balloting its members to join the action.

You can send support to the RMT branch via twitter @rmt_man_south

General Secretary Blog – This cynical, divisive kick in the teeth

Chancellor’s pay freeze for most public service workers mocks the government’s commitment to ‘levelling up’ with old-style Thatcherism

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Rishi Sunak’s spending review was a bit like old-style Thatcherism by numbers.

On the one hand, the big numbers to dazzle and try and convince us all that the Tories are about levelling up and giving us a chance to flourish.

On the other, the grim reality of a real-terms pay cut for millions who work across public services, with the added risk of job cuts further down the line.

Once inflation is taken into account, the chancellor’s announcement of an arbitrary pay pause means about £520 less next year for a nursery nurse, £659 less for a social worker and £510 less a year for a local government admin officer.

Even where there are exceptions to the pay pause, such as the £250 per year promised to those earning less than £24k and the prospect of a pay review body increase next year for NHS workers, its hardly fair reward for the incredible work people are doing during the pandemic.

And while there was cash announced for the NHS, local government, schools and policing, the devil is always in the detail. We remain to be convinced that this is new money, while there are already jobs being cut in local government and when Sunak and Johnson have a habit or recycling their earlier spending announcements.

What will make this all the more difficult to swallow for UNISON members is that it’s the Tories fighting the old battles again rather than recognising that we are in uncharted territory.

Pitching public vs private simply won’t do in the face of the health and economic crisis that we face.

Getting us through, will require a fully staffed, properly paid public service workforce – as well as measures to revive the private sector and get people back to work.

The two work together. Unity and not division is what we need – and the recognition that extra money in pockets get spent locally in the thousands of ailing shops and leisure, arts and hospitality venues that need to be saved.

True to form, the Tories argue that there is no alternative; that the only way to get public finances in order is to pile the costs onto the shoulders of our people.

But there are always alternatives and there are always choices.   Recent research by Public Services International, commissioned by UNISON, shows that transnational corporations and wealthy individuals avoid paying close to £30bn in taxes a year, which is the equivalent of:

  • 18.72% of the UK health budget;
  • the salaries of 840,000 nurses;
  • or 25% of the UK education budget.

We would all perhaps have taken Rishi Sunak a little more seriously today if he’d have talked about how he was going to address this injustice and ensure the tax dodgers pay their fair share to addressing the health and economic emergency we face.

This time last year, many of us were campaigning in the general election. Many of the public service workers in the so-called ‘red wall’ seats that we spoke to told us that they had felt forgotten – and were willing to give the Tories a try for the first time.

As the dust settles on this spending review, and those who have given so much over recent months reflect on the choices this government has made, it’s hard to see those voters giving them a second chance.

Lighthouse Financial Advice – UNISON Money Talk Newsletter Nov 2020

Covid contracts need proper scrutiny to end gravy train

Ministers must be held to account after spending billions of pounds of public money 

Commenting on the National Audit Office report issued today (Wednesday) examining the government’s lack of transparency when awarding contracts valued at £18 billion to tackle Covid-19, UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“Billions of pounds of public money have been handed out with no proper checks and balances.

“Without an open and transparent process, this looks suspiciously like ​ministers have been lining the ​pockets of ​their political pals. This was vital equipment to keep health and care workers safe and halt the spread of the infection – not a get-rich-quick scheme.

“Ministers must be held to account and the government gravy train, whether driven by favours or incompetence, has to stop.”

Notes to editors: 
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.    

Media contacts
Garfield Myrie M: 07432 741565 E:
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E:

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Unison COVID Response Fund

Please find a link to the main Unison website for details of welfare support for those adversely affected by the pandemic.

Lockdown 2 and CRCs

At the National CRC Committee on 4 November it was agreed to contact  HMPPS with regard to the new Lockdown in England expressing our concern that CRC’s appear to be required to work to a Recovery and Transition Model that was signed off some 3 months ago when we were in a very different place with regard to the pandemic.

Since then the HMPPS Update: New National Restrictions in England (below) has been issued. There is therefore little chance of HMPPS offering different advice. It’s also the case that different approaches have been adopted in different CRCs.

Accordingly Unison NWPC branch will be making representations to the Interserve and Sodexo managed CRC’s in the North West that CRC staff  appear to be required to work to a Recovery and Transition Model that was signed off some 3 months ago when we were in a very different place with regard to the pandemic.

In addition the Government has issued revised guidance covering people who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV).

Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV)  staff must work from home. If they cannot work from home, then redeployment opportunities could be considered if this would enable them to work from home. But if a CEV employee cannot work from home, they  should stay at home, work if they can, and must be paid normal full pay.

For employees who are Clinically Vulnerable (CV), staff should only attend the workplace if it is COVID-secure. If an employee expresses concerns about returning to the workplace, the employer should address these concerns and carry out an individual risk assessment. If COVID-secure requirements are not met, the employee should not return to work until appropriate measures are in place; until then, the employee should remain at home on normal full pay.

If you have any concerns in this regard i.e. your working situation please contact the branch on

HMPPS Update: New National Restrictions in England

Following the Parliamentary vote yesterday, we are all facing additional COVID-19 restrictions in England. The restrictions commenced today and will continue until 2 December. I am writing to update you on our operating plans in England for the period of these restrictions.

Across our services we have taken every opportunity to refine our strategy and operations to limit the spread of the virus since March. As we enter this new phase of the pandemic, we have swiftly assessed our operational plans and applied the learning we have from our experiences to date. We have additional mitigations in place which were not available in March and put us in a stronger position to limit the impact of any outbreak. For example, we have fully implemented our compartmentalisation strategy in prisons, we are rolling out a comprehensive testing programme and we have increased our use of PPE across all services.


In the probation service, our aim is to continue to deliver our core probation services under our established exceptional delivery framework, as we have been doing over recent months, prioritising public protection and risk management.  We will follow the principles of our Roadmap to Recovery, while protecting the health and well-being of our staff and service users by following public health advice. Our Regional Probation Directors and CRC CEOs will continue to make decisions on how to best deliver probation services in regions based on local circumstances and staffing levels and adjusting their exceptional delivery plans as needed.  We will continue to deliver Accredited Programmes and Unpaid Work wherever possible, consistent with government and public health guidance.  Our Approved Premises will also remain open, with amendments to how they operate where necessary.


In the prison service, our COVID-19 National Framework commits us to keep reviewing the balance of risks we face. Our strategy is based upon rapidly identifying and tackling outbreaks wherever they occur, rather than pre-emptively imposing a lockdown of regimes across the estate.

During the period of the national restrictions we will need to temporarily pause social visits to adults at all sites in England. There will be exemptions for compassionate reasons which can be approved by a Governor locally. We will continue to prioritise supporting video calls for prisoners and their loved ones to encourage continued contact during the restrictions period.

Official visits – such as access to legal advice – will continue although remote access through telephone or video conferencing should be used as a priority. Support to Offender Management and Parole Board activity remotely and face to face should continue where safe to do so.

Our other priorities that we will continue to deliver are: access to exercise and education areas; continued delivery of workshops where these have been reopened since March; structured wing activities and one to one sessions between prisoners and their key workers; particularly for those who are vulnerable or high risk.

Other activities such as corporate worship, library attendance or access to barbering/hairdressing will be suspended in line with community restrictions, as in Welsh prisons during the Wales firebreak. However, exceptions can be made if removing an activity would cause significant harm to the wellbeing of an individual and these will be agreed on a case by case basis. We will continue to offset the impact of regime restrictions by offering free PIN credit, supplementary food packs, and payments for those not able to access work.


Social visits to children in the youth estate will continue where sites remain safe to offer them. We will continue to work with our co-commissioners to operate as full a regime as possible for the children in our care across Young Offender Institutions (YOIs), Secure Training Centres (STCs) and Secure Children’s Homes (SCHs). As in the community, we will aim to continue to provide education, including physical education to children across the youth estate. We will also ensure access to advocacy services and Custody Support Planning (CuSP).

Access to all aspects of health care for young people will remain paramount. It often helps our young people to access other areas within our secure estate, particularly education.

I am grateful for the valuable support and contribution all our partners are making to ensure that we can operate our services as safely as we are able to. Our latest information and advice in relation to the pandemic is continually updated on

Jo Farrar