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UNISON is Britain's biggest and brightest trade union with a membership of over 1.3 million. Yorkshire & Humberside region alone has over 145,000 members. Our members are people working in the public services, for private contractors providing public services and in the essential utilities. They include frontline staff and managers working full or part time in local authorities, the NHS, the police service, colleges and schools, the electricity, gas and water industries, transport and the voluntary sector.

Our Health Heroes

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Our Health Heroes awards - deadline 13 September (09/08/16)

Do you know a support worker in the NHS who deserves national recognition for their dedication? Perhaps you’re one yourself?

Then the Our Health Heroes awards, launched by UNISON, in partnership with Skills for Health and the National Skills Academy for Health could be just the thing for you.

The awards recognise and promote the significant contribution support workers make in delivering patient care and celebrate those who take special pride in their roles.

So if you work in the health service and know anyone whose contribution to your team or department deserves special recognition, nominate them to be one of Our Health Heroes.

Nominations should be made by a line manager, supervisor, UNISON branch, or colleague.

NOMINATE A HEALTH HERO HERE...

The awards are part of UNISON’s One Team for Patient Care campaign.

The two categories of this year’s awards are clinical support worker of the year and operational support worker of the year.

The deadline for entering is 23 September.

The award ceremony itself will take place on 29 November at the UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY.

NOMINATE A HEALTH HERO HERE...

 

Latest News

Reserve your place on FREE Return to Learn and Women's Lives Courses

These courses are a fantastic free opportunity for UNISON members who have been away from learning for a long time. The course start this autumn so visit our Education & Training page for more details and to apply.

 

Education system is under attack from Theresa May’s government (09/08/16)

Theresa May has only been Prime Minister for a matter of weeks, but already the education system is under sustained attack from her government – some of which is new, whilst some is a tragic continuation of the failed policies pushed by her predecessor.

This weekend the Prime Minister revealed that she’s planning to allow new Grammar Schools – a policy designed to woo swing voters but which will only serve to further damage our underfunded education system. They will be sold as giving a leg up to working class kids, but the evidence suggests that instead they segregate schooling by class – putting the greatest opportunities in the hands of the few.

Ironically, the policy will be implemented by Justine Greening – who’s appointment was greeted with much fanfare as she is the first Comprehensive educated Education Secretary.

Meanwhile in Higher Education, our members find themselves on the brink of strike action thanks to a miserly pay offer of just 1.1% – whilst Vice Chancellors have in recent years received a pay bump of more than five times that. Undoubtedly Universities will argue that they don’t receive enough money from the government – and they’d be right to say that – but that’s simply no excuse for a pay settlement that leaves some in the HE sector earning less than the Living Wage.

And in Derbyshire, school support staff have lost 25% of their pay – up to £400 per month. As the council seeks to switch these vital education workers to term-time contracts (as is also threatened in Durham) they face a massive loss in income, which threatens to push some to the financial precipice. Those hit are mostly teaching assistants caring for our children, yet they face real uncertainty and the prospect of financial ruin.

UNISON stands with school support staff under attack, and our members in Higher Education who deserve a better deal. Both of these potential disputes could easily have been avoided by employers taking a more reasonable approach. Yet if we want an education system that truly helps all of us achieve our potential, then we need an education system that values those who work within it. That means decent pay and decent working conditions.

If this Tory government really cared about making our country fairer and more prosperous then decent pay for education workers would be one of their top priorities. Instead, rehashed and reheated elitism is the order of the day.

 

UNISON Active magazine published (Summer 2016 edition)

 

Homecare workers: Failure to honour National Minimum Wage (28/07/16)

Failure to honour the minimum wage is endemic across the care sector as many homecare workers are unpaid for the time they travel between home visits – which can be up to a fifth of their working day, says UNISON.

Homecare survey picThe union is urging the government to end the systematic underpayment that it believes is widespread in the sector, by tweaking minimum wage regulations so employers are forced to make pay calculations easier to understand.

Confusing wage slips mean workers struggle to see how they are being paid, so it’s difficult for them to challenge their employers, says UNISON.

Although homecare companies claim to be paying the minimum wage, their failure to pay travel time means that staff are often being paid well below the legal minimum*.

UNISON also wants to see HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) publish a report – commissioned by the government over a year ago – into six major care companies and potential breaches of minimum wage laws.

Most homecare employees work in isolation and rarely see colleagues so it’s difficult for them to compare their experiences. And even when companies are successfully challenged by individuals over their failure to pay for travel time, these tend to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

If caught out for failing to pay for travel time, firms seldom make amends and correct the payments across the whole of the workforce, says UNISON.

The issue of unpaid travel time was recently highlighted when UNISON backed a case against Sevacare – one of the largest homecare providers in the UK – on behalf of Judith Montgomery, from Bury in Greater Manchester.

Judith’s case resulted in an award of £3,250 for withheld travel time payments, equivalent to nearly 500 hours at the then national minimum wage rate of £6.70 per hour, when her case was brought in March 2016.

Judith regularly worked split shifts spanning 15 hours in a day, yet Sevacare did not pay her travel time between client visits. As a result she could start work at 7am and finish as late as 10.30pm (having done breakfast, tea and bed runs), but still be underpaid by up to £60 a week.

UNISON says it should not be for individual low-paid workers (often on zero- hours contracts) to stand up to each employer when the government – and HMRC in particular – should be making sure that employers are paying a legal wage.

And when firms are caught not paying the minimum wage because they don’t pay for travel time, HMRC should step in to ensure that appropriate payments are made to the rest of the staff, says UNISON.

UNISON has started a recruitment drive amongst homecare workers in the North West, Yorkshire & the Humber and the East Midlands to offer them the support of the union and bring individual workers together.

UNISON has been leading the campaign to get the government to enforce the national minimum wage in the sector. The union believes this is the only way to improve pay for all homecare workers, not just those who take cases to court.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Homecare workers support the elderly and vulnerable across the UK, yet they continue to be paid below the minimum wage. The government promised to act, but so far ministers have abjectly failed to help these low-paid workers.

“Homecare firms who only pay their staff for the face-to-face time they spend with their clients are guilty of law-breaking on a grand scale. The increasing use of 15-minute visits places untold pressure on homecare workers, yet their pay doesn’t reflect the importance of the work they do.

“Judith’s case shows just how companies can profit by denying staff payment for their travel time. The government should be doing far more to ensure these firms meet their legal obligations across the board.”

If you are a Homecare worker please fill out UNISON’s short survey so we can help you! https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/UNISONhomecare

 

Theresa May: UNISON will continue to push our agenda (13/07/16)

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary

Today, our country will get a new prime minister. Theresa May will lead our country, despite lacking a mandate from her party’s members – never mind the public.

As someone who, in 2007, demanded that Gordon Brown call a general election after Labour members elected him PM, I hope that May will have the sense to go to the country as soon as possible.

That will mean we can all have a say on the actions of the party she now leads, and she will be forced to spell out a vision for our country.

Our expectation is that May will continue in a similar damaging vein to her predecessor – so UNISON will continue to call for an end to dangerous austerity, decent pay for public service workers, a real pay rise for public servants, proper investment in our public services, and of course carefully managing our future relationship with the EU in a way that protects those services.

Yet Theresa May has also made policy proposals that look like positive developments when contrasted with the bleak permanent austerity of the Cameron years.

So when Theresa May says that she favours employee representation on company boards – something which was in Labour’s manifesto only last year – we are in favour, as long as those employees have real powers and have a say, not just a seat in the boardroom.

UNISON workers in care companies – for example – could hold employers to account on low pay. And if this is to be accepted practice in the private sector, then let’s extend it into the public sector too, giving millions of public servants a greater voice.

When May says that she wants to tackle the “irrational, unhealthy and growing gap” between the pay of those at the top and those at the bottom, we’re willing to engage.

But that has to mean wage rises for hard pressed public servants too – and a living wage that people can actually live on, not Osborne’s watered down con job.

And when our new prime minister says that she wants to tackle the shortage in housing supply to close the divide between “those who inherit wealth and those who don’t” – we’re willing to work with anyone who is serious about providing affordable housing for millions of public servants priced out of the areas they work in, especially young and low paid workers.

UNISON will continue to oppose Tory austerity and the damage caused to our communities and public services – because real change for our country starts with the proper investment that this government has starved our country of for six years.

So we, like others, need to hold her to account. That means our union will challenge where necessary, but also push our agenda on the issues that matter.

Dave Prentis
UNISON General Secretary

 

NDC 2016: Vision of a future built on what unites us (21/06/16)

Prentis presents vision of a future built on what unites us

General secretary tells conference humanity has more in common that what divides it – and UNISON is the same.

We have more in common than that which divides us.”

That was at the heart of general secretary Dave Prentis’ keynote speech to UNISON national delegate conference. A speech that emphasised what unites members and asserted that the divisive, racist rhetoric of the likes of UKIP will not be allowed to succeed.

He opened by paying tribute to murdered MP and UNISON member Jo Cox, he noted that she had been a “young, vibrant woman – she stood for everything we believe in.”

Saying that she was also a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother, he said that there were “no words to describe her family’s loss and our heavy hearts go out to them from this conference”.

Ms Cox had stood for kindness, tolerance and respect for others, and the union would never forget her.

But at a defining time in UK politics, as we consider our future in the European Union, “Nigel Farage and his ilk have been nothing short of a disgrace,” he said, employing a “dark and ugly politics”.

And he had a warning for the UKIP leader.

“If you pour poison into our communities … if you set worker against worker, we will take you on,” adding that he had had no second thoughts about reporting last week’s UKIP anti-EU poster to the police.

To loud cheers, he told them that the previous week’s convoy to Calais, turned back by British and French forces, had made it through to the refugees – by going via Zeebrugge.

And Mr Prentis also extended solidarity to Orlando, where 49 people had died as a result of “a vile, homophobic attack – an act of terrorism based on hate”.

Describing an injury to one as an injury to all, he reiterated that there is more that connects people than divides them.

And the same is true of UNISON itself – that united as one union, moving forward, “with our people and our shared beliefs, we can make a difference – and we do.”

As general secretary, he said he is “driven forward each day by a simple idea – that every worker matters, just as much as their boss”.

Turning that into something tangible is not easy, he told delegates. But the campaign that the union had led against the trade union bill was just one illustration of what could be achieved.

And if that was just one success story – others included the defeat of cuts to tax credits, increased councils signing up to the Ethical Care Charter and an award-winning legal team that won £28m for members last year alone.

Paying tribute to the Hillsborough families’ justice campaign, he stated that, “at the outset, when others turned their back, we were there – and we will be there at the end, when all 96 get the justice that they deserve”.

The union would continue to stand up, “not for what is easy – but for what is right”.

He pledged that UNISON would stand up to councils – even Labour councils – who slash our members’ wages and announced that the union would seek to ballot our teaching assistants in Durham who face having their wages cut by the council.

And he urged “every Labour MP” to work with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn instead of against him, “to build a different kind of politics, and how desperately we need it.”

At the end of the speech, he told delegates that, “despite all we face, there is no obstacle that can stand in our way. Our name defines us.”

“One voice, one vision, one union. Proud to be UNISON.”

 

The Trade Union Bill – how we campaigned for key changes (06/05/16)

UNISON members across the UK played a part in protecting their trade union rights

At the end of April the Trade Union Bill went back to the House of Commons. We didn’t manage to defeat the entire bill, but we did manage to remove several elements of it that would have irrevocably damaged the trade union movement.

The final bill looks drastically different from when it was proposed last year. And to achieve that, we ran a campaign to be proud of.

UNISON members across the UK took part. There were marches in major cities, members visited their MPs and wrote to their local councillors, others attended Parliament for a mass lobby, there was a week of action in February, and much more.

We emphasised that trade unions have a positive impact on the workplace, and that trade union members are the very people who can solve the country’s economic problems. We said that MPs needed to focus on the real problems the country faces and talk to us about how we can work together for a better future.

And many people listened. Senior figures on the left and the right came out in opposition to the bill – from human rights groups Amnesty and Liberty condemning it as an attack on civil liberties, to The Regulatory Policy Committee, the independent body appointed by the government to scrutinise regulatory proposals, calling it ‘not fit for purpose,’ to Conservative MP David Davis comparing part of the bill to Franco’s Spain.

So what did we achieve?

The key changes we won:

  • union members can continue to pay their subs via payroll if they wish. The government withdrew plans to ban public sector workers from having their union subs deducted from their wages (check-off);
  • plans to give the Certification Officer (who regulates trade unions) unnecessary power over unions and to charge unions to fund it were watered down;
  • plans to restrict union political funds (which fund our work with the Labour Party as well as local campaigns, such as saving local hospitals) were watered down. The changes in funding policy will now only apply to new members and the costs and effort will be much reduced;
  • the government agreed to a review of online methods for strike ballots, which would help increase turnouts;
  • plans to cap union public sector facility time have been watered down. They will now only happen in occasional cases, after at least three years of research and negotiation with ministers.

These added to concessions already made to:

  • drop extreme measures to restrict protest, pickets and social media campaigns;
  • abandon plans to make everyone on a picket show personal data to the police, employers or anyone who asks for it;
  • the 40% strike ballot threshold will not apply to union members working in ancillary services that support important public services.

Though this bill is still a damaging and undemocratic piece of legislation, we should be proud of the campaign we have run.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Of course we’d rather the bill had never existed, and there is much that is still wrong with it. Even with today’s amendments it still places unnecessary burdens on working people and their unions.

“But ministers have sensibly listened to many of the arguments put to them. They have rowed back from many of the proposals that would have placed unbearable restrictions on unions’ ability to function in public sector workplaces across the country.”

 

Regional Education Programme 2016 published

Once again we have endeavoured to offer courses to suit everyone, as Lifelong Learning is still high on our agenda. We have courses tailored to the needs of activists and members alike and there are a number of new courses designed to further develop the skills of our activists.

You can find the Education Programme 2016 here...

Education programme 2016In addition to our Regional Education Team, our Regional, Area and Local Organisers are working with branches, among the other organising duties they undertake, to develop Lifelong learning.

The programme is designed to help you and your branch. UNISON needs more, better equipped and motivated activists. The courses provided are aimed at building confidence and developing abilities.

Courses are available for potential, new and more experienced activists seeking to improve their knowledge and skills. We are sure that both you and UNISON will benefit from the experience. It is never too late to learn.

Branch development is vital in recruiting, organising and retaining members. We are constantly striving to increase membership and provide a better service. Increasing membership and developing new activists from all sectors of the union will make us stronger and more representative of our members.

It is now 6 years since the Regional Council decided to increase the charges to branches of training courses and I am pleased to be able to report that the charges will remain unchanged for 2016.

Unfortunately there have been significant cuts to general further education funding and TUC funding has also been drastically cut. As a result of effective lobbying by the TUC, the previous Coalition government’s intention to remove fee remission was postponed to August 2016 thus enabling the region to keep charges to branches unchanged. Beyond this date future funding arrangements and charges to branches may change.

No one should be out of pocket attending UNISON courses. Branches and the Region contribute towards the cost of courses. Additional travel costs and additional carer costs can be claimed from your branch (details of help can be found in the programme).

This year for clarity we are also issuing a separate Members Only Training Programme detailing the courses, workshops and tasters available to non-activists. You can obtain a copy of this from your Branch Education Co-ordinator or Branch Secretary. It is also available on the UNISON regional website www.unison-yorks.org.uk.

UNISON courses are friendly, relaxed and provide an opportunity to meet new friends, they allow you to network with colleagues from other branches and to gain from their knowledge and experience. Working together with other Trade Unionists to achieve a common goal is an opportunity not to be missed and an experience to be grabbed with both hands! Please enjoy our courses and don’t be afraid to let us know what you think of them, all comments will be carefully considered and used to assist us improve our training programme.

Wendy Nichols
Regional Convenor

You can find the Education Programme 2016 here...

 

UNISON proud to sponsor BARLA

UNISON Yorkshire & Humberside Region have sponsored The British Amateur Rugby League Association for many years and this relationship continues to flourish.

You can find the latest photos here...

 

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