A day of action was held at Fife College on Tuesday 6th September, where college support staff were on strike over pay. All four campuses were covered, and had a good turnout. The photographs here are from the Dunfermline campus.
Three delegates from Unison Fife attended the Hazards Conference, 29-31 July 2016 at Keele University.
The title of the conference was “Building the Hazards Resistance to support Safety Reps to defend our lives in Brexit world”.
The opening plenary on the Friday evening consisted of a number of presentations on how Brexit could affect health and safety, and the problems caused by lack of enforcement by the HSE following funding cuts.
On the Saturday the Unison Fife delegates attended various workshops and seminars on the themes of “Dealing with risks” and “Employers offensive/workplace tyranny”; and meetings on death & suicide by overwork, and international solidarity. Stress was identified as being a major issue, and the importance of carrying out risk assessments before harm occurs was emphasised. Listening to the speakers and having discussions with other delegates gave ideas of how we can organise for and promote health and safety locally, nationally and internationally.
One of the highlights of the conference was the final plenary on the Sunday morning, with inspiring presentations by speakers including Sarah Wiktorski of the STUC’s Better than Zero campaign for young people, and the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who got a standing ovation after saying that a Corbyn-led Labour government would restore trade union rights, ensure there was no watering down of the regulatory environment post-Brexit, and work with us to develop a new agenda of health and safety.
For more information on the Hazards Campaign, see www.hazardscampaign.org.uk
Delegates from the Branch showed support for striking RMT members before setting off on Tuesday for the UNISON National Delegate Conference.
The RMT are in dispute with their employers about the introduction of driver only trains.
Over 100 UNISON members joined their RMT colleagues this morning in a well attended widely publicised demonstration with members of the public and passing motorists also showing support noting their concerns for public safety in relation to driver only trains.
One passer by raised her concerns noting that the “on train guard” had come to her aid during an assault vowing to never use the train again if the guards are removed”
Unison Fife Woman’s Group
Calling all Female Members & Colleagues, Please come along and join us in our Women’s Group
Remaining Programme for the Year Ahead
Tuesday 31st May Police Scotland Self Defence
Tuesday 28th June Summer Social Night (TBA)
Tuesday 30th August Equality and Rights at Work
Tuesday 4th October Arlene Russell Breast Cancer Now
Tuesday 15th November Movie Night Suffragettes
Tuesday 6th December Christmas Social Night (TBA)
All Meetings are held at Fife House Glenrothes 7-9pm
The Following Fife Roadshows will also be taking place at: –
Kirkcaldy Glebe Park Community Centre
Wednesday 8th June 2016 from 7 – 9pm
Bell Baxter High School, Cupar
Wednesday 14th September 2016 from 7 – 9pm
Please come along and discover the benefits of Unison membership. Information & benefits available to you include:
Members’ Discounts/Assistance with work issues/Disciplinary hearings/Accident claims & benefits/Insurance/Legal Assistance/Free Wills/ etc. Our Woman’s group programme will also be available, Pathways and more.
SCHOOL UNIFORM GRANT
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
What are UNISON There for You School Uniform Grants?
In addition to our normal range of services and in response to the growing difficulties many members on low income face, a programme has been put in place that will assist our most vulnerable members with the cost of purchasing school uniforms.
How much are the Grants?
They are one-off grants of £40.00 per school age child, up to a total of £120.00
Am I eligible?
To be eligible you must be:
- A member who has paid 4 weeks subscriptions before the launch date of this programme (23/5/16)
- Have a total net annual household income of £18,000 or less. [Note:By household income we mean net earnings after tax, national insurance, pension deductions of you, your partner and any other adults living in the property. Please also refer to next bullet point:
- The following is not included as income for the purpose of this specific grants programme:
- Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments, Child Benefit and the childcare cost element only of Working Tax Credit
- Responsible for meeting household bills and struggling to pay them
- Financially responsible for the child/children.
- Not eligible for funding for uniform costs from your Local Authority
Is there anything else that may affect my entitlement to apply?
- Members and their partners must not have combined savings or, a rolling bank balance of more than £800.00. Savings of any other adults in the household do not apply
- You must not have received financial assistance from UNISON There for You during the previous six months
- Applications are limited to one per household
- Ensure you send all requested paperwork with the form or the application cannot be accepted
How do I apply?
To apply for a School Uniform Grant simply:
- Print out and complete the short 2-page application form that is attached to this email
- Download from our website unison.org/thereforyou
- Contact Unison Direct on 0800 0857 857 for a form to be posted to you
- Provide us with evidence of your entire household income by sending copies of :
- You and your partner (if applicable) last month’s payslip(s)
- Last full month’s bank statements for all bank accounts held by you and your partner (if applicable)
- Submit the form along with the completed short survey by 15 July 2016.
- Post your application including all supporting paperwork to: UNISON Welfare, UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY.
Where can I go for further help or advice?
There is a limited amount of funding in the school uniform grants programme and once it has been exhausted no further awards for the year can be made. However if you are facing unforeseen hardship it may be possible for you to apply to our general grants programme. We will let you know if this applies to you.
For further information, please see our web pages at www.unison.org/thereforyou, contact your Branch Welfare Officer or the There for You Support Team on 020 7121 5620 or email email@example.com. If you are experiencing difficulty with credit card and other consumer debts, please refer to our additional information at https://www.unison.org.uk/get-help/services-support/there-for-you/debtline-support/, or contact our Debline direct on 0800 389 3302.
2016 UNISON LGBT Conference
Please find attached the Conference Bulletin for the 2016 UNISON Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Conference.
This Bulletin is being sent by e-mail via all service groups, to Branch Secretaries, Branch Chairs, Branch Admin Staff, Branch Equal Opps Officers, LGB&T Officers and Young Members Contacts. The bulletin will also be available on the UNISON Conference website so individual members can access the information directly online https://www.unison.org.uk/events/lgbt-conference-2016/.
Please note the important deadlines for delegate registration, motions submission, and applications for crèche and reasonable adjustments.
Please pass this information on to the relevant structures in your branch to encourage members to attend the conference.
Members who are not out in their branch
Members who are not out to their branch secretary should contact their regional LGBT officer if they wish to attend, who will act as an intermediary between the branch and the member. The regional officer will discuss their attendance with the branch, while protecting the member’s confidentiality. Branches must be aware that they have LGBT members wishing to be involved in self-organisation. The rules on fair representation still apply and the branch will still pay the member’s expenses for attending the conference, but via the regional officer. Details of regional officers are on the web at www.unison.org.uk/out or are available from Carola Towle, UNISON LGBT Officer e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for 2016_LGBT_Conference_Bulletin
If you require any assistance please contact the Conference Office on 0207-121 5123.
UNISON Fife are angered at yet more cuts to college places in Fife. There has already been over 4000 cuts to student places and this latest news will see the removal of an entire course by 2020. These cuts fly in the face of the Scottish Goverment’s commitment to increasing modern apprenticeships across Scotland to 30,000 places, the loss of this course will have a significant detrimental impact on the aspirations of future students as well as a disastrous impact to the local economy and the future of this sector in Fife. UNISON Fifes’ local stewards have written to the College principal voicing their concerns:
UNISON reps at Fife College would like to register our concern and disappointment at your decision to cut all motor vehicle programmes from the Fife College prospectus and the fact that the decision seems to have been taken with no attempt made to consult with college trade unions. These courses have been delivered successfully in both of the pre-merged colleges for some years and we would really like a more detailed explanation of what the Fife College management feel has changed in this area.
Branch Secretary’s Report to AGM’s 2016
I would like to thank you for attending today it’s important to us as officers that members have an opportunity to hear from us the work that we’ve been involved in over the past 12 months, I would also like to thank the office staff who provide the front line support for our members, activists, Branch Officers and stewards and are the first point of contact for our members when the contact the branch, as well as dealing with all the administration of our busy office our office staff also play the role of agony aunt when members call up with a problem and need to share it with someone, also to our stewards and branch officers who deal daily with members issues, the issues they deal with are spread across all services and cover all aspects of employment, from grievances at work to disciplinary hearings.
The branch faced unprecedented challenges in 2015, if the biggest cuts the council has ever seen wasn’t enough, the Scottish Government piled on a further £17 Million of cuts onto Fife. The Scottish Government rightly set up a task force after 300 jobs were lost at Tata Steel, but it has done nothing about the 4,000 jobs lost at Fife Council and 40,000 lost since 2010 across all Scottish councils.
The branch has rightly called this the ‘Tories Decimation of Council Services’, make no mistake that without the protection of the Union we would be facing more job losses, huge cuts in terms & conditions and the creeping in of privatisation of public services, in 2016 that protection is now under threat, a healthy and democratic trade union movement is essential to any society but the Government is pushing through an Anti-union Bill that will take away your rights as a union member and affect your ability to defend yourself at work.
The Government plans to restrict union ballots so that we would need not just a majority to take action but at least 40% of all members eligible to vote, if that applied to MPs, only a tiny minority of them would have been elected, they know that people don’t tend to post things these days and the turnout in a postal ballot will always be low but, alongside this restriction, they intend to keep the law that stops unions using the same online voting that the Tory party used to elect its London mayoral candidate, they also plan to take away your right to pay union subs through your wages and to restrict the rights of union reps’ time off to represent you, it is an unashamed attack on basic trade union rights in a democracy, it is an unashamed attack on Trade Unions and it is an unashamed attack on you, the members, we have to stand firm, stand united with all our other trade union brothers & sisters and oppose this draconian bill at every opportunity.
Last week elected members approved the budget for the next 3 years, with a deficit of £94 million to be saved there will be some difficult decisions to make. UNISON Fife wrote to all elected members ahead of the budget setting process requesting that they reject austerity, whilst recognising that they have a duty to return a balanced budget they supported our position. As a branch we will be looking to campaign with our elected officials with a view to securing additional funding for Local Government this will be done in conjunction with our regional and national organisation, On the 3rd of February Unison was well represented at the Demo outside the Scottish Parliament.
If ever people needed to be in a union this is the time. With at least 15,000 council jobs still to go in Scotland and an unprecedented level of cuts our Unison branch faces its most serious challenge to date. As people leave those remaining will face increasing workloads and if we are faced with compulsory redundancies we must be prepared to ballot our members on industrial action, last year Homelessness Case Workers in Glasgow successfully struck for fair pay and regrading, hospital porters in Dundee did the same, If Junior doctors can stand up for themselves and take industrial action so can we! Like them we must make it clear to the public and the media that we are defending services as well as our own jobs, so we must reach out to service users of all our public services and their families to build a Fife wide campaign that says enough is enough.
Many of you will be aware of the Reshaping Support Services Program, which most of us will know as 3S this has been a difficult process for those members involved and is in the final stages now.
The Health and Social Care Agenda in Fife has seen a greater linkage between Local Government and NHS colleagues in the services we provide, Unison have a seat on the staffing board where we are represented by Eleanor Haggett, Assistant Branch Secretary who works actively to make sure that the services our members undertake are recognised and protected as a result of this integration, in addition I represent the joint trade unions on the Shadow Board of the Health and Social care Partnership.
Whilst the previous year saw restructuring of directorates this resulted in an unprecedented 11 Managing Change Exercises starting at the same time in the autumn of last year putting a considerable strain on Service Condition Officers time over the last six months.
As the caseload coming through the branch increases, we’ve had contact from over 1200 members seeking advice/assistance in the last 12 months this equated to over 500 cases escalating to formal support and representation being provided by our Branch Officers plus our service stewards are now picking up a considerable amount of issues they are able to deal with and without them we would find it difficult to function so I would particularly like to thank them for all their efforts and ask if anyone wishes to join our activist group please see me at the end of the meeting.
I would like to close by thanking our members for their continued support and hope to see you out supporting our campaign to protect our Council Services, Council services are about people, people provide them and people rely upon them, the promoters of austerity don’t see the young, the old, the needy and the infirm reliant upon our services, they see only cost, this is why we, united under the banner of UNISON will stand up for our public services, 2016 will be a challenge for us all but I would say to you, this will be met head on by your union, the protection of public services in Fife is our goal and this can be achieved if we all stand together this coming year, come to our marches & lobbies and if your workplace has no stewards then stand or help elect one, we need each other, we belong together as a union because we are united by more than what separates us, if you stand with us, we will stand with you, we are Unison.
UNISON Fife Local Government Equal Pay Claims
I refer to issues raised regarding the apparent delays in receiving offers of settlement of outstanding claims for equal pay with Fife Council.
Agreement has been reached with the council to allow offers of settlement. There are some 1500 claims from a variety of occupational groups, all different, which require individual calculation and assessment. The initial responsibility rests with the council to review records and produce this work, which is then checked by the UNISON solicitors, Thompsons who are acting for you and your colleagues. Thompsons then issue you with an offer of settlement.
As of today, Friday 4 March, I am advised that Thompsons have done the check and are satisfied that the proper methodology has been used to calculate the offers. They have advised the council of this, and in turn are advised by the council that they aim to have the file with the settlement agreements with Thompsons no later than Wednesday 9 March following which offers will be mailed to members.
I can appreciate the frustration at the time taken to receive offers, however, I trust that you can understand the time associated with the number of claims, and the checking required.
I hope that you find this explanation helpful that you will have a satisfactory solution imminently.
Mike J Kirby