Community and Private

  • 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 shortly, so we need to be ready to continue our resistance to this Bill.

    In Solidarity;  Rob Turner

  • Heather Wakefield speaks in support of our Community membership

    In response to several questions raised by the Eastern Region Service Group Committee, Heather Wakefield has offered some insightful comments on how best UNISON can support its Community Sector members.  The Branch is particulalrly welcome to the view that more needs to be done by Regions, to support those Branches who are representing Community workers.

    Branch Secretary Rob Turner, who supports the involvement of Community members said, 'Heather has shown some welcoming interest in the Community Sector, for far too long the emphasis has been on the NHS (for good reason) and on the major employers, such as the Council.  But with the proliferation of outsourcing, our membership is becoming increasingly fragmented, and more resources are needed to organise in, what is recognised as a huge potential membership sector'. 

    Heather's full response can be read by clicking the Read more button below

  • 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: