• 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.

  • Defend your Civil Liberties

    Stopping the Tory Trade Union Reform Bill

    Join fellow workers who are fighting to halt the progress of the latest Tory action against hard working families.  The evening is hosted by Cambridge & District Trades Union Council, and will start at 7pm.  Speakers will include Professor Keith Ewing from the Institute of Employment Rights.  Professor Ewing is a well respected researcher and commentator on workers rights.  Author and Secretary of the Blacklist Support Group Dave Smith is the second speaker.  Dave co-authored Blacklisted: The book which tells the story of union construction workers who due to their trade union membership, have been consistently denied work.  The third speaker is Lewis Herbert.  Refreshingly Lewis is the Leader of Cambridge City Council.  Cambridge City is Labour led, and since it recent move to control the Council, has shown a healthy respect for its' employee's.  Unlike the County Council, Cambridge City Council is a Living wage employer.  

    The evening talk is at Keynes Hall, Kings College, Kings Parade, CB2 1ST.  7-8.30pm

    The Tory Trade Union Bill is an attack on civil liberties.  It is a human right to organise at work and be part of a trade union.  David Cameron knows that Trade Unions can disrupt the Tory progress of austerity and halt the privatisation of public services.  This is why the Torie's want to introduce this Bill, and leave the road clear for big business to reduce worker's rights to those last seen victorian times.  Join us and stop this happening.

    The Top 5 Dangers of the Trade Union Reform Bill

    1.  Your Union membership will no longer be confidential.

    2.  Your Civil Liberties will be eroded as it hampers your basic right to protest.

    3.  You'll need to notify the police before you publish specific tweets or posts on twitter and facebook.

    4.  Unqualified temporary staff will be taking your wage for doing your job whilst you're on strike.

    5.  You may need up to an 80% vote for strike action for it to be legal

    Finally, join the TUC mass lobby of Parliament on Tuesday 2nd November at 13.00.  Write to your MP and ask to speak with them on the day.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Trans Day Of Visibility

    Each year, the last day of March is recognised as the International Transgender Day Of Visibility, TDOV.

                                            Image result for trans gender day of visibility

    TDOV is a day to show support for the trans community. It aims to bring attention to the accomplishments of trans people around the globe while fighting cissexism and transphobia by spreading knowledge of the trans community

    This year, our UNISON Steward Jude Hope, flew the Transgender flag at the Cambridge Campus of the College of West Anglia.

  • UNISON calls for end to homecare workers’ pay scandal

    This article appeared in the latest edition of the Institute of Employment Rights and is a follow up on UNISON's campaign 'Pay up on Travel Time'. 

    Tens of thousands of care workers across England and Wales are still being paid less than the minimum wage because councils are not insisting that homecare companies pay staff their travel time, a UNISON report warned this week


    Care workers regularly subsidide their own pay and the profits of their employers, by not being able to claim for time travelled between calls.  This Branch knows of cases where Care workers are travelling as much as 30 minutes between clients.  This is unacceptable and it is time employers paid up for all the time spent at work, not just contact time.  Branch Secretary Rob Turner

    More than three quarters (76 per cent) of councils in England don’t stipulate in their contracts with homecare providers that firms must pay employees when they are travelling between appointments. This finding is based on a recent UNISON Freedom of Information request.

    According to the report – Calling Time on Illegal Wages in the Homecare Sector – the situation is even worse in Wales. Here less than one in ten (nine per cent) of councils explicitly instruct employers to remunerate staff for the time they spend on the road.

    According to UNISON, councils are breaching statutory guidance that came into force alongside the Care Act last year. This clearly states that homecare staff must be paid for the time taken to get to appointments.

    The findings represent an improvement on a year ago when UNISON last carried out an investigation. Then fewer than one in ten (seven per cent) of councils made payment of travel time a contractual obligation for homecare providers.

    UNISON’s report was published ahead of a debate in Parliament when MPs urged the government to act. UNISON is backing a call for ministers to make employers prove to their workers that they pay the national minimum wage.

    UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: It’s a scandal that more than 200,000 care workers are receiving illegal wages of less than £6.70. More councils might now be insisting that homecare contracts ensure payment for travel time, but there’s still too many that don’t.

    This shows just how little local authorities value care staff who do such a vital job looking after the elderly and disabled. Councils shouldn’t be awarding contracts to firms without ensuring they’re prepared to pay travel time. And the government should be putting more resources into a social care system that is already at crisis point.

    The law makes it absolutely clear that staff must be paid for any time spent travelling to and from the homes of the people theycare for. The government and councils must act now to put a stop to the shocking treatment of this dedicated and hardworking group of employees.

    More information on the Institute of Employment Rights can be found by following this link:

  • 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 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.

  • Women have barely half the pension savings of men

    Women have barely half the pension savings of men, according to a new TUC-sponsored report published today.

    The study, carried out by the Pensions Policy Institute, shows that women have, on average, £7,500 in savings in defined contribution schemes, compared to £14,500 for men.  This report comes after the Branch AGM, where Branch Secretary, Rob Turner, alerted those attending that the Tory government was about to target public sector pensions.  Barely 2 years after the last attack, and that public sector workers needed to be prepared to defend their pensions yet again.

    The TUC report say's women typically have £32,000 in pension savings in defined benefit schemes, whereas men have £62,900.

    The report, The Under-pensioned 2016, reveals large pension disadvantages for women, ethnic minority workers, carers and the self-employed.

    The findings show:

    • Women –As well as having barely half the pension savings of men, women also receive a far smaller state pension. Women receive 13% (£1,092) a year less than the average state pension and 25% (£2,548) a year less than men get from their state pensions.
    • Carers –Carers typically have just £5,800 in savings in defined contribution schemes – 44.8% below average. And carers have only £6,000 amassed in defined benefit schemes – a massive 86.2% below average.
    • BME workers – An Indian worker typically has less than half (£22,100) the defined benefit pension savings of a white worker (£45,500). Black pensioners receive 16% (£1,404) less than the average for all pensioners and 20% (£1,820) less than white pensioners in State Pension.
    • Self-employed – Self-employed workers typically have 4.8% less in defined contribution savings and 12.7% in defined benefit savings than average pensioners.

    The Under-pensioned 2016report says reasons for the disparities include workplace discrimination, job segregation and the lack of flexible working.

    The report warns that despite recent changes to state and workplace pensions, these stark divisions will remain unless the government takes further action. It states that workers from underpensioned groups are less likely to be eligible for auto-enrolment into workplace pensions than the wider population, typically because their wages are too low.

    It explores the potential impact on underpensioned individuals of lowering the £10,000 earnings trigger for auto-enrolment, increasing contribution rates and dropping the system of banding that restricts the income on which pension contributions are based.

    The TUC believes that these are key policies that the government should consider when it comes to review auto-enrolment in 2017.

    TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Today’s report is a sobering reminder of Britain’s stark pension divide.

    “Everyone should have the chance of a decent retirement income, not just men in full-time employment.

    “Women, carers and ethnic minority workers will continue to have a tough time in old age if swift action is not taken.

    “We urgently need a debate on how unions, government and employers can work together to can build on the success of auto-enrolment.

    “And we mustn’t shy away from looking at the underlying problems in our labour market that are driving these inequalities in pension saving.”

    Head of Policy Research at the PPI Daniela Silcock said: “Though pensions policy has played a role in supporting adequacy, the underlying causes of retirement income disparities cannot be tackled solely through pensions policy.

    “They involve labour-market, social and regulatory issues related to inequalities experienced during working-life. Therefore, addressing ongoing differences in private pension income would involve a joint effort from government departments, employers, social services, regulatory bodies and community support groups.”

    This article was first published on the TUC website 02.03.2016