UNISON

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...

Unison: unite to back Paul Holmes

The nomination period for General Secretary of the big public services union Unison closed on 25 September. Four candidates qualified to enter the ballot (28 October to 27 November): two rank-and-file candidates, Paul Holmes and Hugo Pierre, and two assistant general secretaries, Roger McKenzie and Christina McAnea. Workers’ Liberty is supporting Paul Holmes. McAnea, the continuity establishment candidate, has 200 nominations and the support of the National Executive Committee (NEC), won narrowly over Paul Holmes, after a last minute change of voting system, plus Scotland, Wales and a number...

Democracy in the labour movement

Workers' Liberty activists in the Unison public services union have decided to support Paul Holmes in the coming general secretary election (ballot 28 October to 27 November). They also urge Holmes to demand prompt investigation by his employer into the (undisclosed) allegations on which it has suspended him, and by Unison into the (undisclosed, apparently different) allegations on which it too has suspended him. Suspension from the union doesn't block Holmes from running. But here, as increasingly across the whole labour movement, rules or customs which block suspended activists from speaking...

The case for Paul Holmes

As we approach close of nominations (25 September) in the election for a new general secretary for the big public services union Unison, Paul Holmes’ campaign is picking up momentum. He has reached the threshold to make it onto the ballot paper, with far more than the 25 branch nominations required. He has also been nominated by the Local Government Service Group, the largest service group in the Union. This is the first time a rank and file candidate has got the nomination of the Service Group. The two unelected Assistant General Secretaries, Roger McKenzie and Christina McAnea, have both got...

Shift in Tower Hamlets

John Biggs, mayor of the Labour council in Tower Hamlets, east London, has at last agreed to talk directly with the public services union Unison about his “Tower Rewards” plan to cut terms and conditions. He will meet Unison Regional Secretary Maggie Ferncombe, other officials, and branch representatives. This move follows nine days of strikes by Tower Hamlets Unison in July and August in response to the imposition of “Tower Rewards”. Unison branch secretary John McLoughlin says: “If management were genuine in their claim that Tower Rewards was not in part about making it easier to make staff...

Next steps on NHS pay

The cross-union campaign “NHS Workers Say No!” is organising a day of demonstrations on 12 September. (London: 11 a.m. from the BBC, Portland Place. Details for other cities here). Article and video. This follows a round of protests in many cities on 8 August, when NHS workers across the country came onto the streets to demand a pay rise, an earlier London street protest on 29 July, and workplace actions across the country. The demand is that all NHS workers (including those contracted out) get a 15% pay rise. That does not fully make up for the loss in pay NHS workers have had over the last decade due to pay freezes. When taking inflation into account, NHS workers have lost 20% in real terms.

Unison: break from "plan to lose"!

Local government members in the big public-services union Unison have voted two to one (66%) in favour of the 2020-21 pay award, in a ballot closing 11 August. The union’s national joint council committee accepted the offer from employers of 2.75%, though, it said, “it fell far short of the 10% claim and did not properly reward key workers for their exceptional contributions throughout the pandemic”. The pay award fell even further short of the 22% our union had explained we have lost over the last ten years. We are one of the unions representing care workers, school support staff, early years...

The issues in Unison

The context for the election now underway for a new General Secretary for the big public-services union Unison is the destruction that governments over the last 20 years have brought on services, pay, conditions and rights at work in the public sector. Nominations are now open, and will run to 25 September. The vote-out, between candidates who get at least 25 branch nominations, will run from 28 October to 27 November, and the result will be announced on 11 January 2021. It’s right to point the finger for the destruction at the Tory and coalition administrations since 2010. But Labour, too...

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