Defend – your Pension Scheme

We all know we are going to have to defend our scheme so let’s start now

UNISON is supporting a nation-wide coalition of organisations to begin an unprecedented mobilisation of pension fund members and the public to petition their pension funds in support of oil sands resolutions due to be voted on at the BP and Shell AGMs this Spring. The UNISON staff pension fund has co-filed resolutions to the Shell and BP AGM’s.

Your pension fund will hold shares in BP and Shell on your behalf. We are asking you to help mobilise the power of your pension fund – it’s your money!

For LGPS members add your voice click on the link http://fairpensions.org.uk/unison/tarsands–

put the name of your employer in the search box – follow instructions and it will send an automated email to your fund administrator. It only takes two clicks of a mouse from your computer! 

Tour of Europe – Public Services

By Louis Smyth –  Teaching Assistant and UNISON rep

“The bankers messed up the economy of most countries around the world. The solution appears the same – cut the public sector – Here are a few examples.”

Germany.-  for Public-sector workers get a 1.2 per cent pay rise backdated to January 2010

Germany’s 2 million public-sector workers will get a pay rise this year that is only slightly above the level of inflation, another sign that German unions are willing to be flexible to protect jobs.

Verdi, the services union, wanted a 5 per cent pay increase for workers employed by central government and towns but accepted a proposal for Public-sector workers are to get a 1.2 per cent pay rise backdated to January 2010, and then a 0.6 per cent rise at the start of 2011. A further 0.5 per cent rise in August 2011 a 2.3 per cent rise over 26 months.

Thomas Boehle, head of the municipalities’ employers’ (local authorities)  said the deal would cost towns €1.1bn this year and another €1.3bn in 2011. “The situation of municipal budgets is as bad as never before,” he warned. sound familiar?

Ireland – disruptive action seems inevitable

The Civil, Public and Services Union (CPSU), which represents 13,000 lower paid staff, general secretary Blair Horan warned that strikes are “likely”.

He gave notice of strike action “of indefinite or limited duration” and a four-week ban on overtime from  15th March. It has also threatened to immediately place pickets on any location if a member is removed from the payroll. This is against a 5pc pay cut inflicted on members earning in the main less than €30,000. CPSU assistant general secretary Theresa Dwyer said the approach showed the sense of outrage among workers. “Further combined and more disruptive action now seems inevitable,”.

Greece – huge amount of discontent

Public sector workers in Greece have all ready taken part in a national one day strike in protest s against the measures proposed to address the financial cricis casued by the bankers. The proposals include cuts in public sector pay and bonuses, and a freeze on hiring new employees and increasing the average retirement age from 61 to 63.

Portugal- Huge amount of discontent

Public-sector workers have Held a 24-hour strike in Portugal in the latest protest Trade unions representing more than 500,000 civil servants have joined forces for the first time in four years in a protest against a planned pay freeze, indirect tax increases and cuts in bonuses and pension benefits.

Portugal’s unions said that their members had suffered worsening conditions for years as public pensions and other benefits were cut by the minority Socialist government, which this year froze public-sector wages ..

Unions  say that public sector workers bear the brunt of belt-tightening every time the government overspends, pointing out that public-sector workers have suffered real wage cuts of up to 7 per cent since 1999.

The government has said it will present further cost-cutting measures later this month. It also plans to cut the amounts paid to civil servants who take early retirement.

General Confederation of Portuguese Workers general secretary Manuel Carvalho da Silva said: “There is a huge amount of discontent.”

Joint UNISON response with Lambeth branch to easyCouncil v John Lewis Council

 

Thursday 18th February 2010

“EasyCouncil or John Lewis – Are You Being Served?”

You report that our employers, Tory Barnet Council and Labour Lambeth are to be rival flagships in a battle between “EasyCouncil” and the “John Lewis local authority” (The future for local authorities: is it John Lewis or easyCouncil?” 18 February).

Setting aside the spin-doctors’ soundbites, Tony Travers describes this in your pages as “an ideological war fought by proxy” – will local government jobs and services be the “collateral damage” in this ideological war?

UNISON has made clear our reservations about the Tory “EasyCouncil” model – the judgment of the court, which you report, that Barnet could not lawfully remove sheltered housing wardens reinforces our concern that the Council is rushing to give up its responsibilities to the vulnerable.

Robert Booth is also right to report that behind the “EasyCouncil” gloss much of what is being proposed in Barnet is simply “old fashioned privatisation” – and as you have also recently reported, the Audit Commission has cast doubt on whether local authorities really manage to get value for money from the outsourcing that is now endemic across the public sector (Boom times for outsourcing firms as public sector cuts bite, 17 February).

If “EasyCouncil” seems to offer little to our members, the ideas behind Lambeth’s co-operative “John Lewis” model might have more to offer the workforce and local people if it became a means to unlock the enthusiasm and imagination of the multi-skilled multi-talented local government workforce – and engage with the local community about what they want from public services.

However, alarm bells ring for trade unionists when Council Leader Steve Reed, advocates, as you report “handing over some of the council’s more simple tasks to the voters to sort out for themselves.” There is a danger that this could lead to the same attempts to offload responsibility which we see in Barnet.

Similarly, the suggestion that local primary schools should become mutually owned organisations echoes the experimentation with forms of ownership which has fragmented public service provision and is one of the most poisonous elements of New Labour’s legacy.

You report correctly that Lambeth already has more tenant-run estates than any other borough – but do not mention the problems which have led to the closure and enforced merger of some tenant managed organisations in the borough.

You report further that Greenwich Leisure Ltd, which runs Lambeth’s leisure management contract is “employee-owned” – but not that it is currently making redundancies affecting many of its workers in the borough.

Mutualism and cooperation are, of course, a strong part of the history and ethos of the trade unions – but so is a strong commitment to the public provision of public services.

You report Tessa Jowell stating that “the mutual movement is one that will be grassroots-led, not Whitehall-imposed” – in that case we expect options to improve public services within the public sector to be given full and fair consideration.

We want to encourage our members – in Barnet as much as in Lambeth – to engage with plans to improve public service provision. But we will also be prepared to resist cutbacks in, or privatisation of, essential services.

Our message to Council Leaders – Tory or Labour – is clear. Sack the expensive consultants and listen to your workforce and we can work together to defend and improve public services.

John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON

Jon Rogers and Nick Venedi, Branch Secretaries, Lambeth UNISON

 

 

Press release :“EasyCouncil or John Lewis – Are You Being Served?” –

The Council Trade Unions has responded to the news – reported in The Guardian on Thursday 18 FebruaryLabour’s plan for first “John Lewis” Council.

In case these highly paid consultants need to be told (not that they should especially when they are earning in some cases up to £1,000 a day). Barnet Council and all the other Councils across the UK are not “Department Stores” said UNISON Branch Secretary John Burgess, “less of the spin and more details – we need adequate funding for public services.”

“We have always said that we are willing to work with the Council to improve services – our members who work on the front line workers know how to improve services and want to do so. The first step should be to sack all the expensive consultants who are costing us several hundred pounds a day each and talk to workers and residents about how to develop our services for the future.”

Tony Travers describes in the Guardian that this as “an ideological war fought by proxy” – will local government jobs and services be the “collateral damage” in this ideological war?

The Trade Union movement has seen too many examples of the “collateral damage” done to services and staff as a result of privatisation.

Even the Audit Commission have cast doubt on whether local authorities really manage to get value for money from the outsourcing that is now endemic across the public sector.

We want to encourage our members – in Barnet – to engage with plans to improve public service provision. But we will also be prepared to resist cutbacks in, or privatisation of, essential services.

Our message to the Council – is clear. Sack the expensive consultants and listen to your workforce and we can work together to defend and improve public services.

 End.

Contact: John Burgess Barnet UNISON on 07738389569 or email john.burgess@barnetunison.org.uk

 Information/links

1. Boom times for outsourcing firms as public sector cuts bite, 17 February, 2010 Guardian.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/feb/17/outsourcing-boom-as-cuts-bite

2.  

“Lambeth v Barnet: Local councils fighting a proxy war,” Tony Travers guardian.co.uk Editorial Wed 17 Feb 2010.

http://m.guardian.co.uk/ms/p/gmg/op/srX4k78Vm3oL5iLRAfqL-dQ/view.m?id=326454&tid=120787&cat=Search 

3. The future for local authorities: is it John Lewis or easyCouncil? Allegra Stratton. The Guardian News Thu 18 Feb 2010.

http://m.guardian.co.uk/ms/p/gmg/op/srX4k78Vm3oL5iLRAfqL-dQ/view.m?id=326664&tid=120787&cat=Search

 

 

Future Shape Bundle No.1 – Regulatory Services

The Joint Trade Unions are conscious that members are concerned about what is happening in the Regulatory Services Bundle discussions.

To read the first of a series of Briefings which is aimed at staff working in Planning, Housing & Regeneration (PHR) click here.

I am also enclosing the Future Shape Transact Group report which was referred to at Mondays PHR Future Shape presentation.

To view click here

What is the Transact Group?

The Transact Group was one of the Seven Future Shape Groups which included staff, consultants, other public sector partners, consultants and consultants.

The Regulatory Services Bundle are now at the beginning of the Future Shape process.

The concern of members with regards the current position is the transparency.

  • “Why is the Joint Venture model getting top star billing amongst all the other options?”
  • “Where is the in house option? “

Staff asked these questions at a PHR staff meeting on Monday 15th February and were referred back to 6th July Future Shape Cabinet report

http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/reports/reportdetail.asp?ReportID=8265

I am asking members read the Transact reports and let me know what they think of the Options Assessment contained within the report.

Barnet College –unprecedented cuts to services & staff!

Barnet College is facing the worst level of cuts it has ever had.

The FE sector the Cinderella (wrongly named in my opinion) service in education sector is the first to feel the effects of the predicted financial Armageddon scenario predicted by political commentators.  According to National UNISON press release: Commenting on the Association of Colleges’ evidence to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills’ Select Committee, which states that cuts in adult education could lead to 7,000 job cuts in colleges in England,

Christina McAnea, UNISON’s Head of Education, said: UNISON will fight any attempt to make 7,000 job cuts to such a vital service.

“Many people, who are desperately trying to re-train during the economic recovery in a bid to find work, would see their courses cancelled.

“The cuts would also add thousands of highly skilled adult education staff to the dole queues.

“Colleges must act responsibly and not make any rash decisions before they have received their final budget allocations, as the funding picture is not yet clear.”

For Barnet College staff the cuts mean 50FTE lecturers and 60 senuior managers and business support staff

Formal consultation began last Friday with the joint trade unions. 

Any members needing advice/support please make contact first with Paul Keightley Paul.Keightley@barnet.ac.uk  & Kirsty Watson Kirsty.Watson@barnet.ac.uk

We will post details of how members can campaign against these cuts to the FE sector.

Keep an eye out for E NEWS

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