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.

National Delegate Conference 2016


National Delegate Conference 2016

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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.”


Why we’re recommending members vote to remain in Europe (17/05/16)

Please make your voice heard on this important issue and use your vote on 23 June to Remain in the EU.

It’s vital that unions are at the heart of the conversation about Europe’s future. And as a union that has traditionally been sceptical about the EU, UNISON has a critical role to play in explaining our thinking, and what we’re campaigning for.

Our position on Europe has been led from the outset by our members and their priorities. It was UNISON members who told us that we should campaign to remain in the EU – despite their misgivings with it – and it was UNISON members who have defined the priorities of that campaign.

Today that campaign – UNISON RemaIN Europe – officially launches.

We won’t be telling UNISON members how to vote, because that’s not how we operate. But we will be encouraging members to use their vote, and letting them know why we’re recommending a vote to remain. There are three key reasons for making that argument:

Rights at work – the regulations we rely upon to protect people at work are enshrined in EU law and upheld by the European Court of Justice. Leaving would mean that hard-won rights like paid holiday, fair working hours, equal rights for part-time workers, and maternity and paternity leave would no longer be guaranteed.

Protecting your standard of living – leaving the EU would put working people’s standard of living at risk by creating economic uncertainty. This would risk investment in jobs and damage consumer confidence. It would also make the pound vulnerable, which would push up prices and interest rates.

Protecting public services – we see every day how a weaker economy has meant cuts in public spending affecting everything including the NHS, local services, policing and education. We can’t afford to risk any more cutbacks at a time when our public services are under increasing pressure.

The EU isn’t perfect – even the most committed Europhile wouldn’t argue that – but on balance, and having taken the arguments on both sides into account, we believe that a remain vote will be best for UNISON members and the services they provide.

A remain vote would allow us to do what we’ve always done, and what union negotiators do every day – build on imperfection, fight for a better deal and win change through winning the arguments.

Because you rarely win anything by walking away.


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.”


Health unions to consult ambulance staff over strike action on pay (25/04/16)

Ambulance workers in England are to be asked if they would be prepared to take action over pay. Their three unions – GMB, Unite and UNISON – today (Monday 25th April) announced they will be consulting ambulance staff over pay and grading – issues they say should have been dealt with a year ago.

Ambulance staff are frustrated at a lack of progress over promises made by the government and employers at the end of last year’s national NHS pay dispute.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “We thought the government and employers were acting in good faith when they promised to look at ambulance pay as a way of ending last year’s strike. But more than a year later, there’s been little progress – mainly because the ambulance trusts have no money to pay staff more, even if they wanted to.

“Resolving the main issue of pay and grading wouldn’t just help reward staff properly but it will also go some way towards solving the huge recruitment and retention crisis facing ambulance trusts.”

Unite national officer for health Barrie Brown said: “Jeremy Hunt’s offer came with no additional funding for the ambulance trusts. This has badly affected the progress of the unions’ negotiations with employers.

“What is happening is inevitable because everyone’s expectations were raised in January 2015 by an offer which has not been supported with the necessary funding by the government.”

GMB national officer for the NHS Rehana Azam said: “GMB and other unions have been left with no alternative but to consult ambulance staff in England with the potential for an industrial action ballot in the near future.

“Professional ambulance staff cannot be expected to keep picking up the slack for government incompetence on promises to invest, promises they have failed to deliver on.”

Each of the unions will now be consulting ambulance staff on how to resolve issues on pay.


UNISON welcomes government change of heart over check-off (19/04/16)

Commenting on the announcement in the Lords today (Tuesday) that the government is no longer to stop unions from collecting members’ subs via their pay packets, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“There’s much that’s wrong with the Trade Union Bill, but banning unions from using the check-off system to collect membership fees from employees in the public sector was among the most mean-spirited of all its proposals.

“But thanks to a good deal of union campaigning behind the scenes, UNISON and the TUC have built an effective coalition in the Lords that persuaded the government a ban would be both unjustified and unnecessary.

“Now at least UNISON can concentrate on campaigning to protect public sector employees at work and the services they deliver, safe in the knowledge that it will not have to spend the next year running around workplaces with direct debit forms for fear of losing much of its income.

“Employers and unions across the public sector will have breathed a collective sigh of relief at today’s news that there has been a sensible change of heart in Westminster. And there’s no cost to the public purse as a result of this decision.”


Yorkshire ambulance paramedics win pay rise (29/02/16)

Agreement reached on regrading to reflect paramedics’ skills as UNISON prepared for industrial action ballot

UNISON has won pay rises for paramedics in Yorkshire, worth from £544 a year up to a possible £2,909 – depending on their current grades.

This month’s agreement with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service to regrade paramedics from band 5 to band 6 of the NHS pay system followed moves by UNISON to ballot for industrial action in the long-running dispute.

The union represents 80% of the trust’s paramedics and has argued since 2004 that they should have been graded at band six.

The recent agreement saw the industrial action ballot withdrawn.

“This is a success for both the UNISON negotiation team and the Yorkshire Ambulance Trust, who have been working flat out to find a solution to this long-standing problem,” said union regional organiser Ray Gray.

“Paramedics were wrongly graded way back in 2004 and, while it’s sad that it has taken this long to put it right, we are pleased that the paramedics are now going to receive a pay rate that truly reflects the work they do and the skill base that they have.

“We also hope that this is the first step of change to both retaining existing paramedics and bringing new ones in to the service.

“For some time, paramedics nationally have been leaving the service in droves because of the pay grade, stress, and conditions that they work under.

“This is the first step towards changing that position.”


Doncaster Raceday - Saturday 30 July 2016 (08/02/16)

Date for your diary: Saturday 30 July 2016

You can find all the details by downloading the poster here...


Regional Education Programme 2016 published (18/11/15)

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...


School Uniform Grant 2016 - Apply now

School Uniform Grant 2016

UNISON has set up a limited fund to members on low income with school uniform costs by way of a one-off payment of upto £120. Closing date for applications is 15 July 2016.

For more information please read the Q&As and then download the Application Form.

Doncaster Raceday 2016

Doncaster raceday 2016


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