• 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

  • Administering medication in Schools; Your Rights

    There are several good pieces of information held on Trade Union websites concerning your rights.  UNISON has fought hard for the new guidance and our campaign paid off last year.  The following links access the new guidelines and also UNISON National website for more information.  Know your rights and speak with your UNISON workplace representative, or contact the Branch before you agree to be a volunteer.

    UNISON National news on acceptance of new guidelines HERE

    Guidance document HERE

  • Children's Families and Adult Shared Management Consultation Response

    UNISON is taking the unusual step of publishing its response, to the recently ended CFA Shared Management Proposal.  The decision to do this is a direct response to Cambridgeshire County Council ( and Peterborough City Council), to keep this consultation 'private' to the individuals effected.  UNISON does not believe that this is how an open, transparent and democratic Council should behave.  Keeping this 'secret' from the remainder of the workforce and the tax paying public of the County, may well lead some to believe that there is something to hide, or a hidden agenda.Gillian

    Further questions arose when UNISON were informed that the CEO of Peterborough City and Cambridgeshire County Councils; Gillian Beasley, was unaware that all other previous consultations were 'open', and published on the Council's intranet.  Despite Gillian writing the introductions and hopefully contributing to the development of the new structures.  UNISON finds this as extraordinary.  The full UNISON response can be found next.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • The Government is failing our Teaching assistants

    The Government has been slammed for dropping the long-awaited teaching assistants standards.  The standards which were meant to support our teaching assistants in work, have been dropped at the eleventh hour.  UNISON had been working alongside teaching assistants and other school professionals to have these implemented, so it is a great disappointment that the hard work achieved, will now not see the light of day. 

    The article  The government is failing teaching assistants, says UNISON first appeared on the  UNISON site.

  • Your Rights when it comes to personal care

    Do I have to do personal care of children coming into a school is a frequently asked question at this time of year.  The short answer is, only if it is written into your job description , but as usual it is somewhat more complex and some background information is useful when discussing this issue with your school management.  A school head should inform teaching assistants, as it is usually this group of staff tasked with this issue.  This does not appear to be happening, as T.A.s are feeling coerced and even bullied into carrying out personal care.

    So who is responsible and why am I being asked?  ‘Asking parents and carers to come and change a child is likely to be a direct contravention of the Equality Act 2010, and leaving a child in a soiled nappy for any length of time pending the return of the parent/carer is a form of abuse.’(Appendix 3, Promoting personal development in foundation and key stage 1 – continence 2005).  Responsibility for this duty of care falls onto the school governors to provide services such as personal care and medication administration.  There is no such direct duty placed on teachers or teaching assistants.  Heads and school management should be asking for volunteers to do the role, and then putting in place safeguards for the child and the staff members who have volunteered.  As a volunteer, you can withdraw your volunteering at any point, just by giving some notice.  Do make this aspect of your volunteering role known, and it should not be seen as part of your contractual role.