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.

Fake News !

As Fake News is becoming increasingly popular and possibly more believable than the real news. I thought I'd put this report of a recent staff memo out.  Names have been removed to protect the innocent or guilty party.

The leader of Cambridgeshire County Council has thanked all staff, wives and partners for their hard work to keep Cambridgeshire moving and deliver services through the gale force winds of Storm Tory Control.  2010 until present day.

I would like to thank all staff for their professionalism and dedication to help our communities both in the coming years and in the days and years of an austerity driven Tory led Government. Cambridgeshire has been hit by high cuts during Storm Tory Control. There have been more than 70 incidents of Cambridgeshire’s suffering the worst cuts in history as a Local Authority. Staff everywhere and particularly our colleagues in Social Care were dealing with difficult situations before we came along.  They have now quadrupled. Not only are our staff working in dangerous conditions in their own offices, with no resources, sometimes no desks, and certainly to support. But tyrannical and directionless leadership has compounded their difficulties to operate in the best interest of the communities they serve. Not even the emergency services can help us.

We continue to squander money on so called experts from consultancy firms we know well. Others have no expertise, but we are still willing to pay them per week, what we pay a Social worker per month.  Whilst we have removed any expenses claims from our staff, we will continue to allow huge claims to go through unopposed from consultants, as we need to show how much we value their service, in dismantling your Service.

Meanwhile I know staff have done their best making sure frontline services, such as Social Care, are still being delivered, despite the Tory led Council refusing for the second year to put up Council tax, which we know would ease some of the burden being placed on our most vulnerable people. If I didn’t know better, I’d think there was an election looming in May.  Ask Comms if this last sentence should stay in?

I also know colleagues in education and transport worked hard with schools, convincing them that becoming an academy was the best route for them. Including making sure students got home at the end of the school day, achieving nothing, as their school continues to fail.

Behind the scenes Communication officers are working with me to co-ordinate responses and keep the public miss informed. I would like to thank everyone involved and our wives and partners, for their dedication and loyalty. I know from the responses that I have seen on Social Media, those which I can repeat, and elsewhere it has not been appreciated by the communities we serve.”

In Solidarity:  And use your vote wisely in the forthcoming local elections.


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.

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 2016 report 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

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

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