UNISON

Scottish NHS pay: where's the other 11%?

On 24 March the Scottish Government announced a pay offer of 4% for NHS workers. Staff on the lowest Agenda for Change pay point would get a 5.4% increase. The pay rise would be backdated to last December. And it would come on top of the £500 "thank you" payment already made by the Scottish Government. As the Scottish Government press release inevitably pointed out, the pay offer was much better than the pay rise of 1% proposed by the Tories to the Pay Review Body for NHS workers in England. But the offer is nowhere near the Unite and GMB pay claim for 15% (or £3,000, whichever is the higher)...

Pay the care workers!

On 19 March the Supreme Court ruled that care workers had no right to the minimum wage for “sleep-in” shifts. Showing an astounding lack of understanding, the judge stated, “The sleep-in worker who is merely present is treated as not working for... national minimum wage purposes”. Care workers, often perched on a sofa, usually barely sleeping, listening out for a call, and regularly interrupted, are not “merely present,” they are doing a vital role and obviously deserve to be paid at least the minimum wage for it. Mencap, the organisation who challenged the care workers’ claim, said it was...

Letter: Why we should oppose union honoraria

At my recent Unison health branch AGM a list of honoraria payments was proposed and ratified. Payments were to be given for all elected branch positions, from £800 to £150. Branch policy states that payments are made as recognition of unpaid work done outside of normal working hours. l said I wouldn’t take the honorarium for my position, and the branch agreed to debate the issue at a future meeting. Some other branches pay much more than mine, but comrades in Wakefield, Barnet, Nottingham, and elsewhere have told me they’ve convinced their branches to drop them entirely. (Except sometimes for...

Health workers remobilise for 15% pay rise

The government's recommendation of a measly 1% pay rise for NHS workers has been widely seen as a kick in the teeth. Protests across the country were sparked following the announcement, reigniting the activists who organised sizeable street protests last July-September. Nurses United (a group inside RCN) and others in Healthworkers Say No to Pay Inequality have for months spearheaded campaigning for a 15% pay rise (with a £3,000 minimum). The GMB and Unite are following this demand. The RCN calls for 12.5%. Unison has a £2,000 flat rate demand, which looks like it's copied from the flat-rate...

Call for 10% rise in local government pay

Significantly later than usual, on 16 February, Unison, GMB, and Unite, the three unions who have negotiating rights for local government workers, including non-teaching staff in schools, have submitted a pay claim for a minimum 10% increase for all grades from April 2021. We have lost almost a quarter of our pay in real terms since 2010; as frontline workers we have continued to work through the pandemic; and the lowest paid have now fallen below the real living wage (as defined by the Living Wage Foundation). The claim also includes a demand for home working expenses, a reduction in the...

Social care: only a fully public system will do

Recent Covid data has underlined the alarming state of social care in the UK. Yet the biggest union of social care workers, Unison, has responded by allying with the very people overseeing this dire situation. Not that far off a quarter of the UK’s virus-connected deaths so far, over 26,000, have been in care homes. That includes over 7,000 this year. Meanwhile between March and December there were 79 deaths per 100,000 social care workers, as opposed to 31.4 among workers in general (among women, 35.9 vs 16.8). Among frontline care home and home care workers, the figures were 109.9 for men...

Unison left needs unity and democracy

Following the relative success of Paul Holmes’s candidature for Unison general secretary (GS), the left should hope for gains in the elections for the National Executive (NEC). Nominations are open from 1 February to 5 March, and voting will be 4-27 May. However, making the most of the situation needs an open approach to left unity, as a forerunner to a democratic rank and file organisation. Sadly, that has taken a step back after the GS election result. Paul Holmes and the SWP [Socialist Workers Party] have interpreted the result of the GS election to mean there is no need for left unity or...

Rally against council cuts, 23 February

The Lambeth branch of the public services union Unison has called a meeting to bring together activists across local government unions, community campaigns and the Labour Party to discuss stopping local government cuts looming in the 2021-2 budget year. Tuesday 23 February 2021, 19:00, on Zoom; more details here. Speakers: Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP; Sean Fox, Unison Chair of the National Joint Council Committee; Susan Matthews, Unite Branch Secretary and Executive Council member; Andy Prendergast, GMB Southern Region Lead Officer for Public Services; Duncan Morrison, Lewisham NEU; Councillor James...

Unison left: a chance for unity?

The right-wing continuity candidate Christina McAnea won the General Secretary election for the public service workers’ union Unison (result announced 11 January). But there were reasons to be encouraged by the result. Rank-and-file left candidate Paul Holmes delivered a strong vote. McAnea won the election with 63,900 votes, Paul Holmes came in second place with 45,220 votes. Candidates backed by different sections of the left won more than 50% of votes cast. Assistant general secretary Roger McKenzie, backed by Jeremy Corbyn and much of the “official” Labour left, got 14,450 votes, and the...

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