Safe use of social media: a Cambridgeshire County Branch guide

Social media has now become the normal route for us to communicate with each other. We may phone, but we text and Facebook more (other social media outlets exist as well). Social media has become such an integral part of our lives; it is almost forgotten as soon as the send button has been pressed. If only that was the case.

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.

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.

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.

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 https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EHSW2015. 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.

A quorate Branch committee meeting agreed to support Heather Wakefield in her bid to become UNISON’s General Secretary.  For those who do not know who Heather is, Heather is Head of Local Government, Police and Justice for UNISON.  Heather spoke at our AGM in 2014, her passion for Local Gov was apparent then, and has not dwindled in the intervening time.

As the Branch has now endorsed a candidate, we ask that when you receive your voting papers that you seriously consider and follow your Branch committees endorsement.  The Branch is positive that Heather will make a fantastic General Secretary!

To find out why the Branch is supporting Heather, read Heathers’ Blog and find out. 

Branch Committee