Alongside our Labour party members, UNISON has long campaigned for a Living Wage in the Council. We have supported motions to the Full Council asking for its implementation, only for it to be rejected by other political parties. The reason given has always been its affordability, Cambridgeshire County Council, currently has 740 employees being paid below the Living Wage. The Council have estimated that it would cost an additional £1.4 million to the wage bill, UNISON believes this is a small amount, compared to the cost in terms of physical and mental health that living on the poverty line brings.
UNISON young members in Cambridgeshire have taken the introduction of the Living Wage as their campaign for the coming year. During June, at Strawberry Fair, UNISON young members began that campaign by collecting 266 signatures. In July, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner visited the union office to hear what were the main concerns of our members. Top of the agenda was excessive workloads and the resulting stress, but close on its heels was our slimmed down salaries, 'furure proofed' as our managers may desribe them. Daniel is a long time campaigner for Living Wage and those in poverty, so knows the well the benefits that the Living Wage will bring to the Authorities employee's, and the communities they live in.
Our colleagues in our sister unions, GMB and Unite are also campaigning, recognising the benefits that a Living Wage can have. In July the GMB started an online petition, today that petition stands at 38. If the figure of 50 is hit by the 13 September, they will be able to ask questions in the Council chamber. This is an opportunity we can not lose, perhaps one of the best the unions will have to exert a moral force on our senior managers and elected members, to become a Living Wage employer. Just like Cambridge City Council and 40 other employers in the County. An opportunity for our authority to add their name and begin leading instead of dragging its feet.
The online petition can be found HERE. Can I ask that all UNISON members sign it, adding their names to the 38 so far and the 266 collected in June. Together we can make a difference.
The Trade Union Bill attacks our right to represent members, take industrial action and be an effective voice in the workplace. In short, it heralds the end of worker led representation in the workplace. Handing all the power to the employer, if you think it’s bad now, wait until this Bill becomes law.
Cambridgeshire County Branch opposed the Bill at the Branch committee meeting on 8th September. The Branch has pledged to oppose the Bill at every opportunity, as we recognise the real threat that this legislation holds. Frances O’Grady sets out below the danger of this piece of legislation. The TUC have published a briefing about the bill and you can sign up to the national campaign to oppose the bill.
We need your help to defend our right to stand up for ourselves and members against the Tories proposed Trade Union Bill. Commenting on the publication of the Trade Union Bill our own UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “The Bill proves that the government is not on the side of working people. These unfair changes will make it much harder for nurses, teaching assistants, midwives and other public sector workers to ever strike for a pay rise or challenge the behaviour of bad employers."
Join Branch members at the March in Manchester in October, and at the Lobby of Parliament in November and let this government know that we condemn this attack on our rights.
Will your MP defend your Right to Strike? Write to them now, asking them not to support this Bill Click HERE to write to your MP.
11 September Update: The TUC has submitted the linked document to an ILO Committee of Experts for consideration. The TUC argue that The Bill contains a wide range of restrictions on trade union freedom, which the TUC believes contravene a number of ILO Conventions ratified by the United Kingdom. The 30 page submission can be read HERE.