Local Gov

  • 2016 AGM Report

    This years AGM took place at a new venue,though it was just over the road on our main site of Shire Hall, numbers were well down on previous years.  As the calibre of the speakers was again high the only reasons for the lower than expected turn out were put at the new venue and that the implementation of the cuts had largely been dealth with.  Do let the Branch know what stopped you attending, or what would make you attend in the future.

    Those who did attend heard a passionate speech from the Council's Labour leader Ashley Walsh.  Ashley detailed the disasterous decision taken at the February Budget meeting not to raise Council tax this year, and only to implement the Adult Social Care precept.  The blame was firmly at the feet of Tory and Ukip Councillors, for those who attended part, or as I did upto 17.30, the meeting lasted until after 2200 hours!  That was certainly a correct assessment of the decision.  I heard Tory and Ukip Councillors trading issues to garner support for the budget proposal put forward by the Conservative group, a truly worrying future.  

    Prior to Ashley speaking, Branch Chair Clare Andrews welcomed everyone and went through the normal business of the AGM.  Our finance officer presented the 'budget' for 2016 and answered questions from the floor on spending in last years accounts.  It was agreed that a more detailed explanation of the groups the Branch affiliates to and donates money would be provided next year.  I then went through my 5 page Branch Secretary Report, highlighting the issues many members are speaking to me about, performance pay and the proliferation of PIP's, rising levels of stress caused by work and the danger of raising this especially if you work in Social Care.  And of course the £45 million pounds of savings for this year, and the following 4 years whilst this Government remains in power.  Surely this Council will be reduced to a hollow husk by 2020, with our administartive capital being Northampton.

    Several members spoke to me afterwards or emailed to say that they found Ashley a good speaker, but several more spoke very highly about our second speaker Prf. Keith Ewing.  Keith is a distinguished academic and author of many articles on employment legislation.  He co-wrote the Institute of Employment Rights response to the Trade Union Bill and I had asked him to report on this major issue.  A major issue not only for Trade Unionist, but for all worker's.  The bill may be wrapped up in a TU wrapper, but it's effect crosses all boundaries, so all workers need to unite and fight against this Bill.

    Keith's knowledge on this subject was very apparent, without any notes he delivered a 20 minute lecture on the perils this Bill will bring to worker's, and the weakening of Trade Union involvement in areas such as collective bargaining; your hourly rate of pay.  It is due to come back to The Commons with a few amendments http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2016/lords-trade-union-bill/ shortly, so we need to be ready to continue our resistance to this Bill.

    In Solidarity;  Rob Turner

  • Cambridge People's Assembly Against Austerity

    George Osborne with his box of cuts.

    Prior to the release of the Chancellor's autumn statement, TheCambridge People's Assembly are holding a rally on Saturday 21st November .  The rally begins at 1200hrs outside the Guildhall, with speakers lining up to take part in this important event.  Ex County Council and UNISON employee, and now Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner is taking part.  The rally is part of a National series of events, titled,'Tories out of Credit, out of Office'.

    The event will conclude with a meeting to discuss action against the proposed £120 million cuts to Cambridge County Council.  There is growing support within the Cambridge Community that the cuts to Local Government have gone far enough.  On Wednesday this week, Cambridge Trades Council also began their defence of Local Government.  With this 3-pronged defense, but set to grow, we can mount an effective campaign against the cuts.

    Join colleagues and supporters at the Guildhall on Saturday, and tell Cameron and his cronies that the cuts to public services must end now, before the public services disappear for good.

    In Solidarity

    Rob Turner, Branch Secretary

  • Claim back 20% of your HCPC registration fees

    HCPC registration fees which the Council used to cover, and were removed several years ago as part of swinging savings implemented across all fees for professional bodies. Interestingly fees for our solicitors continued to be paid, so there were exemptions to this 'universal' policy.

    UNISON has been campaigning ever since on our members behalf to have the cost met by the Council. Many of our neighbouring Council's continue to pay these fees, and in light of the recent pay evaluation. Designed to bring Cambridgeshire in-line with our neighbours, we raised registration fees as an example which continued to set us apart from our neighbours.

    The request from UNISON for the Council to reinstate the cost of HCPC registration was recently heard by your senior managers, who unequivocally rejected the request. The reasoning being that your recent pay awards more than covered your HCPC costs.

  • County Council not paying the Minimum Wage

    The County Council have admitted to not paying the Minimum Wage on 31 occasions.  The revelation came when UNISON challenged the Council over recent case law regarding sleep in payments.  This highlighted that sleeping time has to be factored into the minimum wage calculations.  As many staff in our Residential units carry out sleep in duties, there was a potential of the Council failing foul of this piece of Case law.  Particulalry as several years ago, the Council coerced workers in this area to sign seperate 'zero hour' contracts if they wanted to work additional hours.  This meant that workers in our Residential homes, already some of the poorest paid, working unsocialable hours were denied overtime rates of pay for additional hours worked.  The Council did not at the same time impose such restrictions on agency workers, who continued to be paid the equivalent of 'overtime' and above.

    UNISON raised this Case law several months ago, asking senior managers to look at the possibility that the Council had underpaid their own staff, thus violating the minimum wage agreements.  Surprisingly management were unaware of this change, but promised to investigate.  After several months and many questions, management confessed that there had been 31 instances identified, where the minimum wage had been broken under this case law.  UNISON received assurances that procedures had now been put in place by senior mangers, instructing Residential managers of changes, and this underpayment should not happen in the future.  Assurance was also given that all those identified as being paid under the minimum wage for work already carried out, would be compensated.

  • LGPS Campaign

    All UNISON members who are LGPS scheme members should of recently received an email from National Centre.  I know we all receive too many communications, and they can be very easy to delete without reading, but this one needs your attention, as it could mean you will receive your full pension entitlement rather than another cut.

    Those lucky few who attended this years AGM will no doubt recall the changes and potential danger that was highlighted at that meeting.  The danger centres around our pension savings being able to be used to fund major infrastructure projects, such as the much criticized HS2.  I have pasted the email below, so read more and sign the petition to save your pension.

  • MB Pay ballot

    All UNISON members employed by Cambridgeshire County Council and who are paid, within the Management Band pay grades, will shortly receive a ballot paper.  The ballot paper simply asks for your acceptance or rejection of the MB pay review.  You should of already received notification from the Employer regarding this, and where you 'sit' in the proposed new pay band.  As 13% of workers within the MB grades will lose out on this review, UNISON is not making any recomendations which way you should vote. 

    UNISON members within the MB pay grades will receive all information via. email, the ballot will also be conducted electronically.  Those members who UNISON Cambridgeshire Branch does not hold an email address for, will receive their ballot paper in the post. The ballot opens on Friday 20th November and closes, Friday 4th December. 

  • Protest against the Cuts!

    Saturday 13th February is set to be a big day in the protest against the latest round of savage cuts at the County Council.  As full Council meet the following Tuesday to endorse the cuts, now in excess of £43 million and set to rise even higher, The Cambridge People's Assembly have organsised a protest in the City.  It will start at 1200 with a rally in the Market Square, a list of speakers will be announced shortly, so check back for more details.             

    Neil Kirkham, Secretary of the CPA has put the following announcement out:                                                             Social care and other County Council services in Cambridgeshire face the worst
    austerity cuts yet in the coming year. They're some of the sharpest, and the
    very deepest: after five years of Conservative-led austerity, only the most
    essential services still survive to be cut again. The County Council will meet
    to pass the cuts on Tuesday 16 February.Now local trade unions, parties, and community groups will join the Cambridge People's Assembly on Saturday 13 February to protest the cuts. We'll rally in
    front of the Guildhall in Market Square at 12 midday to hear a series of short
    speeches, then march to rally once more at the County Council's offices at
    Shire Hall.
      

    Cambridgeshire County Branch would ask all trade union members to attend, lending their support to deliver a clear message to our Conservative and UKIP Councillors who, are the only two groups currently backing the planned budget.  That austerity is not working and has to stop now.

    UNISON Cambridgeshire County Branch are planning their usual protest on the morning of the full Council meeting. A good crowd will continue to deliver the message that the public sector should not be shouldering the burden for a private sector crash.  We intend to have  a presence from 0800 until 0930, to meet and greet the County Councillors as they go into the budget setting meeting.  Why not join us at both events?

    In Solidaity                                                                                                                                                                           Rob Turner                                                                                                                                                            Branch Secretary

  • School Support Staff Seminar 2016

    Are you one of our School support staff Stewards or Health and Safety Represntative?  Would you like to attend the School support staff seminar this year, which is being held in Manchester on the 27 April?  If you would, please contact the Branch for more details and put your name forward.  Should there be several activists interested, names may have to be drawn.  All expenses will be paid by the Branch to allow you to attend. 

  • UNISON Stress Survey

    UNISON is calling on the union’s safety reps to get organised – and members to get involved -in this year’s European Health and Safety week: 19-25 October 2015

    The Branch is asking members and non-members to identify the different ways in which work situations can affect their own personal health and wellbeing by filling in the national stress survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EHSW2015. Please circulate amongst work colleagues, or direct them to the website.

    The survey was originally launched two years ago and, by asking members to fill it in again, we will be able to see how things have changed and how the austerity agenda has affected their health, safety and well being.

    It gives members a chance to tell us, in confidence, how overwork, lack of control and difficult working conditions have contributed to their stress levels.