UNISON

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...

To beat the pandemic, beat poverty: good sick pay for all!

There is growing noise in the labour movement and more widely around the issue of sick pay. We urgently need a bigger campaign on this issue. Despite right-wing agitation about people flouting lockdown regulations, the evidence suggests something like 90% general compliance (British Medical Journal). But much lower numbers of those infected or in contact with the infected are self-isolating fully: more like 20%. Unlike hand-washing and social distancing, self-isolation often requires material resources and support, particularly sufficient space and an income. Data from the first lockdown...

McAnea wins in Unison

Christina McAnea has been elected as the new general secretary of Unison — the first woman to head the UK’s largest union. McAnea is viewed as the continuity candidate following Dave Prentis, who is retiring after 20 years as general secretary. She takes up her post on 22 January. The full results were: Christina McAnea 63,900 (47.7%); Paul Holmes 45,220 (33.76%); Roger McKenzie 14,450 (10.79%); Hugo Pierre 10,382 (7.75%). McAnea secured less than 50% of the vote in the First Past The Post election. The combined vote of the three other candidates (all of whom stood against McAnea from the left...

Workplace and union reports: Royal Academy, Unison election, Sheffield couriers

Royal Academy jobs fight In the week ending 30 October, staff at the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly held five days of demonstrations outside the building, calling for the RA to reconsider their proposal to make more than a hundred staff redundant. Since the start of the pandemic, the Prospect union has seen RA staff join at speed and reach over 150 members by the start of the demos, between 30% and 40% of total staff, numbers that mirror the scale of the proposed redundancies. The daily demonstrations, typically hosting between ten and thirty people, were joyful and replete with RA staff...

Making anti-racism a union issue

Two years ago, activists in the Lambeth branch of the public services union Unison launched a campaign to fight institutional racism at Lambeth Council. We knew our employer had a huge race pay gap. We were hearing from our members that they were experiencing more racism at work, since the Brexit vote. We launched a survey and our black workers told us about their experiences of discrimination at work. The stats showed the same story. There were a disproportionate number of white workers in higher grades. You were more likely to face a disciplinary investigation at Lambeth if you were black...

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