Wednesday, 25 April 2012
We discussed a load of different ways to work together to strengthen what remais the major internaitonal issue of our day and shared a variety of experiences. I emphasised the need to make more prominent the PSC on our own union's websites and to vary our ways of reaching out to members, and not leaving this issue to the union tops - encouraging involvement of the grass roots - so the least I could do is practice what I preach...
Is your branch affiliated, are you a member? If not, why not?
The PSC campaigns for peace & justice for Palestinians, in support of international law and human rights & against all racism. Help us to build a new mass anti Apartheid movement for Palestine.
PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from many communities across Britain, and increasingly throughout the world. PSC represents people in Britain from all faiths and political parties, who have come together to work for peace and justice for the Palestinian people. PSC is opposed to all forms of racism, including anti-Jewish prejudice and Islamophobia.
Who do we work with?
PSC works with students, faith groups, trade unions and many other campaigning, cultural and political organisations in Britain, Europe and worldwide.
If you are a member of a trade union then please join the campaign and affiliate your region and local branch. if you are a member of a union not on the list of national affiliates above then please encourage your union to affiliate to the Campaign and encourage individual union members to become members of PSC. Please download an invitation to affiliate and an affiliation form. If you would like more information about affiliating to PSC contact us.
|Senate House cleaners - don't mess!|
A key part of our claim this year is a cost of living increase plus catch up for the recent years of pay freeze (effectively a 7% claim) but we are also pushing for a commitment to the Living Wage which I'll focus on here. The formal press release was out this week and is taken up in the Times Higher Ed (we immediately rejected their 0.8% offer).
As Chair of a branch that successfully won our campaign for the Living Wage at London Met, I'm familiar with the arguments so I put the case this time to national employers.
Employers tend to think of their bottom lines first so I referred them to a well documented business case for a Living Wage, developed at Queen Mary's University. Well worth a read.
I also referred to a very a compelling moral case for ending poverty pay on campus, based on a UNISON report into the effects of low pay on UNISON’s members families. Not having time to help children with education should make a VC think twice, surely:
I really regret not being there for my daughter, I was always on split shifts. I think I didn’t push her enough with her education. She never needed for anything but I think I should have helped her on that (p19).
I reminded the employers that just because they might have outsourced their cleaning or catering companies, it doesn't mean they're outside of the campus and they should commit to paying all contracted out staff the Living Wage as well as those few on the bottom of the spinal points.
The question of 'affordability' came up. The obvious answer to that is of course: "If London Met can afford it ...."
Good publicity case: I pointed to the infamous bad press that UCL's Malcolm (not our Malcolm at London Met, the other one) received for not implementing the Living Wage despite rewarding himself a hefty six figure sum himself. How unfortunate those headlines might appear when all those VCs (average salary of £216k) claim not to have enough spare cash to pay the Living Wage.
There is no formal response yet to our claim for The Living Wage. Their Board are meeting this week I believe to discuss it further, so now might be a good time to start a local campaign to pressure your local management to sign up to this commitment and make this real.
Go to the new UNISON / NUS Living Wage website with a campaign tool kit and get stuck in!
When we won the Living Wage at London Met part of our strategy wasn't for the usual negotiating team to argue it with the VC. Instead we arranged a delegation from the cleaners, caterers and security guards to tell the VC what it is like to struggle on the minimum wage in London. Maybe it'd be good for a reserved seat member to join us in future?
There is an argument about whether we can or even should try to get the Living Wage agreed through national negotiations rather than local agreements. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated as it's a subtle argument to be had, especially from an organising perspective.
Let me know how your campaign is going and what sort of response your employer has given you to - I heard a rumour about Sheffield and some movement from South Bank? Talks at Cambridge are ongoing are they? If you want advice or to share your experiences please do get in touch.
Any other ideas on making the employers' realize we need a fair pay rise this year?
An official brief report is on line here, and Jon Rogers, NEC for London, has his started his reports here (it's always worth checking in on Jon for his detailed reports - he clearly has a long commute to and from work!). It's hard to keep up with the speed at which the motions are run through to be honest (a bit like hearing a week of debates condensed into half an hour). I cycle to work and since new responsibilities I've had to prioritize other things than updating this blog.
So I focused on attempting to amend just one small policy - Motion 82 ('Members with parenting responsibilities') - so that nursing mothers aren't excluded from UNISON conferences. Careful readers of this blog will remember a visitor from our branch was recently at HE conference in Brighton last month and not even allowed to attend a fringe meeting, let alone the conference visitors area.
As Jon has accurately reported, one NEC member replied to my proposed amendment (to review arrangements with a view to making our policy more inclusive), that when she had recently been breastfeeding on the conference floor "no-one batted an eyelid"! So there is therefore no need to review our policy, she assured us.
Oh good, I thought, and as Vicki Perrin was backing my amendment I tried to come back in - but before I could the Chair swiftly moved on. Fair enough - not enough hours in the day after all.
I am told that after I had to leave, Jon asked for this to be reviewed before next NEC, so I sincerely hope this will be resolved before National Delegates Conference.
I rushed down the many stairs (from the giddy heights of the 9th floor to the 1st!) just in time for national pay talks ... more to come on that in a separate post.
Friday, 20 April 2012
The Palestine Film Festival is a fantastic annual event gone form strength to strength, now firmly established in the calender. I just wish I could go again this year - be there if you can.
The 2012 London Palestine Film Festival opens tonight... palestinefilm.org
Thursday, 19 April 2012
Not enough done for us cyclists in London by Boris, who I once stopped jumping a red light in central London. He has done nothing but give us a bad name, which is what I told him at the time.
Those Barclay's-blue splodges of paint on the roads? What a wasted opportunity that was!
Apologies for going off topic here, but a good friend and comrade in our branch died last year cylcing to work in London - and bumbling Boris hasn't done a thing about these regular deaths.
I would like to see Ken get back in, and for Cycle safety to be taken seriously. Support the LCC and their 'go dutch' campaign.
Thursday, 12 April 2012
The half-million strong TUC demonstration on 26 March and the fantastic public-sector pensions strike on 30 November last year show the way. The Con-Dem Government has launched a class war against working people. The Government says we have to make cuts because of the deficit. But the rich are still getting richer and the bankers are getting more bailouts and bonuses.
All working people face unprecedented cuts and deprivations but UNISON members, the backbone of the public sector workforce, are at the very centre of this onslaught. That puts the combativity and confidence of our union at an absolute premium with a “knock-on” effect way beyond our ranks.
The lessons of last year’s union successes are clear. UNISON members want a fighting, democratic union that’s prepared to challenge the cuts, take to the picket line and take to the streets. UNISON members cannot fight alone. Even uniting all the unions in a single campaign is not enough.
We need to put the unions at the centre of a wider alliance. We have to link up with everyone opposed to the cuts - students, young people, pensioners, the disabled, the unemployed as well as campaigners for libraries, schools, and hospitals.
The old adage ‘Unity is Strength’ has never been so true and vital.
In HE, we face a version of the Con-Dem’s cuts offensive every day. It’s that blizzard of restructuring, job losses, outsourcing and “more-for-less”. In the same way we face up to the bullying manager, UNISON has to challenge this vicious, ideologically driven government. And in the same way the bullying manager can back down, so can this weak Con-Dem coalition.
A fighting, democratic UNISON means a union that:
• Keeps fighting for pensions
• Resists the pay freeze
• Defends jobs and conditions
• Won’t let us pay for their crisis
What I will bring to the Service Group Executive is not only a proven track record at the University of Bedfordshire but also years of successful anti-fascist and anti-war campaigning. I am a member of Counterfire and Luton Trades Council, and I am supported by the United Left.
This is the fight of our lives. It can only be won through a mass campaign that unites other unions and all the communities currently under fire. Let’s make sure UNISON is a leader here, not a follower.
A vote for Mark Dee Smith is vote for a fighting, democratic union!
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
I am in favour of resisting the government’s attempts to make us pay more, work longer and get less. The current attack on members of the Local Government Pension Scheme and other proposed downgrades of pension rights are attempts to make working people pay more for a pension that will be worth less. I welcomed the magnificent strike on 30th November which united millions of trade unionists to defend our pension rights and saw people joining UNISON like never before. Standing together to defend all our pensions is the only way to defeat the government and give confidence to our members, both old and new, that collective action can win results.
I think that to accept the current “offer” is a mistake, since it not only means protracted negotiations on a position hardly better than that before the strike, it leaves UNISON isolated from the other unions. We need maximum unity and a clear, fighting strategy to defeat the government’s plans.
The latest “cost of living” increase of £150 for 2011-12 falls well below inflation and will push many of our members into further financial hardship. A failure to deliver significant pay awards that at least match the real cost of living will leave many of our members questioning why they joined us. I stand for a settlement in 2012-13 that catches up for the years of derisory awards and uses the unity in strength we saw on 30th November to achieve it.
Cuts and Privatisation
Our sector faces changes like never before with the introduction of astronomical fees and the dramatic scaling down of government grants. We will see course closures, restructures and universities forced to outsource essential services to private providers. We should resist all changes detrimental to our members’ interests and support local action where necessary, and national action where effective, to defend our members’ jobs and conditions.
Accountability within UNISON
All UNISON officials should be employed to carry out the decisions of ordinary members at every level of the union. Senior officers and elected representatives should not be paid huge salaries – their pay should reflect the pay rates of ordinary members.
Many of our members will be disappointed by the stance of the Labour leadership, in supporting cuts whilst failing to support working people taking action in defence of pension rights. I would like to see UNISON supporting political candidates whose policies will directly benefit our members. We stand for the millions, not the millionaires.
For a fighting, democratic UNISON
I’d like to see UNISON use its strength to achieve real gains for our members and become a fully democratic body where ideas and tactics can be discussed at all levels. When UNISON is seen to be fighting back, as we have shown, people will want to join us. We need to make sure our actions live up to their expectations and provide effective leadership.
If the South East female seat is contested, I’d urge you to vote for Shona McCulloch.
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
I'm so glad Molly is standing in London because we really do need the strong, fighting leadership that she represents. With her experiences as a rep at UCL branch I've no doubt she is more than capable of standing up for UNISON members who desperately wish to see a union that campaigns not capitulates. She is the right person for the incoming HE SGE as she is clear on her principles and tactics. I'll be putting a cross next to Molly because...
Dear London UNISON HE colleague,
I am standing for election to the Higher Education Service Group Executive Greater London Region Female Seat.
As Unison members in Higher Education we face challenges that directly threaten our terms and conditions and impact adversely our living standards. To halt these attacks we need to organise collectively across all Higher Education branches.
To build a campaign to reject attacks on all pension schemes in Higher Education. We must not accept any pension plan that forces us to pay more, work longer & get less. To ultimately defeat these changes we need to be prepared, if necessary, to link up with other trade unions like on November 30th and take part in further coordinated strike action. If we lose the battle over pensions, this will further embolden management and the ConDems to unleash an unprecedented attack on our working conditions.
We are working harder than ever before and suffering the adverse effects of restructuring with members seeing their posts being dissolved, redefined as fixed term or having to compete with colleagues for a dwindling number of posts.
I have campaigned in my branch to oppose the outsourcing of a majority BME workforce and have seen first-hand how destructive it is when staff with secure terms and conditions are forced into the hands of a private company. We have to stand firm & resist the race to the bottom that threatens to slash our wages and working conditions.
I am currently the UCL Unison Women’s Officer and I have witnessed first-hand that women are bearing the brunt of bullying, discrimination and abuse power by managers. Negotiations must begin to defend our members and back up reps facing these issues on a daily basis.
I am active in the UNISON United Left. Given the onslaught our members face from the ConDem Government, fighting on a branch level on its own is not enough. Our union needs to be at the forefront of organising protest and coordinated national industrial action to defend the jobs and conditions of our members. We need to unite across the public sector to build a real 'counter-coalition' of trade unions and community groups to protect the services that we and other working class people rely on.
That also means changing the culture of our union from one that seeks to make deals on behalf of the members to one that organises and is genuinely member led, by seeking to involve every member, encouraging activists and welcoming debate.
That is why I am standing for this important position in our service group. I hope you will consider voting for me. Please also consider voting for Sandy Nicoll, SOAS Branch for the Greater London Region General seat and Emilse Ocampo Medina for the Greater London Region Reserved (Low Paid Female seat) on the Higher Education Service Group Executive
In November 2010, Sandy Nicoll successfully stood for a bi-election for the London General seat of the Higher Education Service group Executive. Since winning that election, Sandy has proved a key member of the Exec, leading by example and always contributing to debates by sharing his vast experience and voting with his principles.
Sandy commands a rgeat deal of respect in the sector - from all quarters. In my view it is crucial we re-elect him - and all other left candidates - especially since the pensions dispute. In his own words:
Dear London UNISON HE colleague,
I am seeking re-election to the Greater London Region General Seat on the Higher Education Service Group Executive.
My branch has a proud record of standing up to cuts and attacks on jobs, uniting with students and lecturers in fighting fees and defending access to education. Our successful campaign in winning the London Living Wage and trade union recognition for the SOAS cleaners and contracted out staff within the institution stands as an example of how we can defend and enhance the interests of the most vulnerable in the workplace.
But the experience of the last two years of the Tory-led coalition Government has shown that fighting on a branch level alone is not enough. The stakes are very high. Higher Education, like the wider public sector, is facing unprecedented levels of attacks on pensions and pay, endless restructuring, "shared services", jobs losses and privatisation. While institutions like London Met are bearing the brunt of this onslaught, it is being replicated across HE institutions in London.
Our members face yet more stress and insecurity while students from poorer backgrounds are further deterred from accessing the education that could make a real difference to their lives.
The magnificent public sector wide pensions strike on November 30th last year showed beyond doubt that UNISON members are prepared to fight for our terms and conditions and the services we deliver.
That's why I voted on the HESGE in January this year that our union should reject the Heads of Agreement proposal and argued instead for further co-ordinated action with unions like the PCS, UCU and NUT to defend our pensions, rejecting proposals that leave our members paying more, working longer and getting less.
We need to unite across the public sector to build a real 'counter-coalition' of trade unions and community groups to protect the services that we and other working class people rely upon.
That also means changing the culture of our union from one that seeks only to negotiate deals on behalf of members to one that organises and is genuinely member led, by seeking to involve every member, encouraging activists and welcoming debate.
That is why I am standing for this important position on our Service Group Executive which will be at the forefront of defending our pay and conditions.
I have been a Greater London Region representative on the HESGE since 2010, the Branch Secretary of the SOAS UNISON Branch for the past 15 years, and was Chair of the UNISON London Region Higher Education Committee from 2008 until 2011. I am a member of the Socialist Workers Party and active in the UNISON United Left.
Please also consider voting for Molly Cooper and Emilse Ocampo Medina for the Greater London Region Female and Reserved seats on the Higher Education Service Group Executive.
Use your vote for a real defence of Higher Education.
Sunday, 8 April 2012
Standing Together: for a fighting, democratic Union
- Eastern General: Mark Dee Smith X
- Greater London Female: Molly Cooper X
- Greater London General: Sandy Nicoll X
- South East General: Ivan Bonsell X
- West Midlands General: Matt Raine X
crisis we did nothing to create.
We need a real fightback to stop these attacks and cuts - that is why Higher Education needs a fighting leadership. Millions of us struck on November 30 against pension changes, only to be let down by our leadership. We need a new leadership that will take forward our fights on pensions, jobs, pay and services.
We need a leadership that will stop the government, not negotiate the cuts with them.
Together with others standing for a fighting, democratic union, we stand for:
- Resistance to all cuts and privatisation
- United industrial action to defend pensions and a coordinated fight against Tory pay cuts
- Opposition to all attempts to divide us – like attacks on multiculturalism
- Only funding and supporting politicians who will join us in the fight against cuts
- Ending the waste of members’ money on witch-hunting of left wing activists
If you want to help campaign for these candidates, get in touch by email: email@example.com
When the Heads of Agreement vote went through, I said to those who agreed this was the best we could get after our magnificent action in November:
"On your Heads (of agreement) be it..."
It's become even more clear over the last few months that we need a new leadership of our union fit for purpose to stand up to the current government. These elections are a crucial opportunity for us to change the nature of our union to a fighting, democratic union. Get involved.
This is (obviously) written in a personal capacity. Remember - election procedures prohibit the use of any UNISON facilities for campaigning for particular candidates in elections.
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
Members of UNISON yesterday launched a new campaign against the current Shared Services proposals at London Met.
Launching the campaign with a series of emails to the Vice Chancellor in which members collectively stated:
See the full letter here: http://www.londonmetunison.org.uk/campaigns/proud/
In March 2012 London Metropolitan University's Board of Governors decided to find a new home, supporter or custodian for The Women's Library. If a new home or sponsor of the Library is not found by the end of December 2012, the University proposes to run the Library as a skeleton service, reducing opening to one day a week.
Since 1926 so much work has gone into the provision of what now stands as a truly unique resource for it to be risk being lost. In the run up to 2018 and the centenary of women achieving the franchise, the Library is fighting for its survival.
Read the rest here: A Vindication of the Rights of The Women's Library
Sign the petition
Join this Face Book Group
Get in touch with support and testimonials by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow the campaign via Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/SaveTWL