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A Letter to All Members

Dear Members

As those of you who attended last year’s LSBU Unison AGM will recall I was elected as Branch Secretary whilst retaining my other position as co-Equalities Officer. I was delighted to take up this leading role as I had genuine aims and ideas to work with the Branch Committee in recruiting more members, to encourage current members to take up service positions within the branch and also to recruit reps amongst our outsourced members in order for them to have stronger recognition and self-sufficiency.

What followed a few months later for me was also a new work role within LSBU which meant more responsibilities and new things to learn. At the time I was involved in representing a few complex UNISON cases concerning both branch and outsourced members which required a great deal of my time. As you may or may not be aware union reps do not get facilities (protected) time to attend meetings, research and support outsourced members and with so few serving reps on the committee I found myself feeling rather overwhelmed. In order to protect my own health and wellbeing, I took the decision to stand down as Branch Secretary.

I want you all to know this was not a decision lightly taken: I believe in our union. I am proud of what UNISON has achieved. I hope we will as a branch, regionally and nationally continue to inspire and accomplish despite this Government’s mandate to reduce our powers in this post-Brexit climate. Let’s face it: people who are insecure or scared of others will often try to diminish and reduce their strengths in order to have power over them. I see UNISON’s strengths and stand firm in my commitment to ensure that our rights, equality and parity of opportunity in the workplace remain the integral part of what we stand for as our obligation to you, our members.

What I would ask of you is not only to keep faith with your branch membership but to encourage colleagues who are not yet members to become so. We are only as strong as our numbers.

One of the great benefits of being a steward-officer is being able to attend conferences and link not only with the Greater London Region but also nationally. It is always an education to listen to other people’s experiences, to learn from them and evaluate on a relative basis, the effectiveness of our collaborative working with the Vice Chancellor, the Chief Operations Officer, the Joint Negotiating Committee plus the UCU and JMB unions.

I believe we are doing well, but there is always room for development. The ability to lead the way in terms of how well unions and employers can work together is a massive responsibility and we are ever in need of our members’ assistance. Currently our branch membership is over 500 strong and yet we have only 4 active stewards. Imagine just 5% of our membership in need of a steward right now: maths is not my greatest subject but that is approximately 6 people per rep. Don’t forget we not only represent individuals but also groups and teams as well. It is a commitment, it is voluntary in addition to our jobs and sometimes it can also be thankless! None-the-less I sleep better at night knowing I belong to a group who will bargain on my behalf for better money/work conditions, who will go into bat for me on Health and Safety issues, who will stand with me if I am ever subject to victimisation, or unfair treatment from anyone in this
organisation, who will ensure the Equalities Act 2010 is a lived and worked experience.

Unlike the popular and negative notion that unions are all about striking, we really are
about talking, reasoning and finding workable solutions. That being said, we have to be
prepared to go as far as our rights within the law will take us but if any of you have been
afraid to become more involved because of being worried by how you will be perceived
then let me assure you that in almost 11 years of working at LSBU there have only been
two UNISON strike actions I can recall. What does that tell you? As union members we
are also protected by the Equalities Act so that no-one can penalise us or treat us
differently because we belong to a trade union. To that end I will ask that you become
more active within the branch: we have a vast range of training courses for reps and
officers. If you are interested or would like more information, please contact us and we
will happily respond.

Thank you for your time and I hope you will show support by attending the AGM on
Tuesday 13th March 2018. I would also like to thank Bev Goring for stepping back into
the role of Branch Secretary, Michael Veitch our Chair and all the LSBU UNISON
Branch committee members who give of their time without complaint and with
dedication.

All the best

Gill Hunte – UNISON LSBU Branch

 

Higher Education Pay Dispute Ballot

You should by now have received your ballot on whether to accept or reject the 2016/17 Higher Education pay offer of 1.1%. If you have still not received your ballot, please phone UNISON Direct on 0800 0 857 857 before noon on 15th September.

Following a consultative ballot earlier this year, LSBU UNISON and UNISON’s Higher Education Service Group Executive are recommending that members vote to REJECT the employers’ offer and vote YES to industrial action to win a fairer pay offer and better working conditions.

LSBU UNSION is holding three drop-in sessions to provide you additional information about the ballot, including a briefing about the pay offer on Tuesday 13th September by our Regional Officer. These events are open to members and non-members, and lunch is provided:

Tuesday 13th September: Drop-in session in Perry Library, 2 East Training Room, 12-1.30pm. Lunch from 12pm, and Briefing on Pay Offer by UNISON Regional Officer Colin Inniss at 12.30pm.

Wednesday 14th September: Drop-in session with refreshments along the London Road Concourse, 12-2pm.

Thursday 15th September: Drop-in session in Technopark, 12.30-1.30pm. Room TBC.

Since 2009, workloads have continually increased and our pay has fallen in real terms by 14.5%, The only pay that has increased in the University sector is that of Vice Chancellors and executive staff. At LSBU, and in spite of the hard work of all of us, the amount spent on staff has decreased by more than £3,000,000 since 2010/11*.

Despite this, £21,848 was spent by LSBU on flights for Vice Chancellor David Phoenix alone in 2014/15, with 65% of those first or business class. This was up from just £130 the previous year**. The University has also committed to spend £100 million in redevelopment by 2024***, and spent £3.6 million on unnecessary restructures in 2014/15****. However, LSBU and the employers nationally won’t commit to more than a 1.1% pay increase.

We think that it is staff not buildings that are the lifeblood of universities, and that rather than spending money on ceaseless restructures and making staff redundant, LSBU and the employers nationally should commit to a full and fair pay increase for staff which recognises our massive contribution to our institutions. Only a YES vote to industrial action can achieve this.

We hope you will vote YES to industrial action to win the pay offer we deserve.

Please contact your local UNISON rep or Branch Secretary Beverley Goring (goringbl@lsbu.ac.uk) if you have any questions.

In solidarity,

LSBU UNISON Branch Executive Committee

EU Referendum – UNISON Position

The result of the EU referendum on 23 June is on a knife edge. Given that the polls suggest a very close result and UNISON’s strongly held view that members will be better off if the UK remains part of the EU, we have been writing to members to try and boost voter turn-out.

All the evidence suggests that the lower the turnout on the day, the greater the risk of the UK leaving the EU. We know all members will weigh the arguments very carefully before voting on 23 June and that we respect their views completely.

UNISON’s role is to look out for members’ jobs and do everything we can to defend and where possible enhance their pay and standard of living. We will continue to do this regardless of the outcome of the referendum. In fulfilling our role, we have tried to assess the evidence and arguments on both sides of the EU referendum debate – and let members know what we think the impact will be on jobs, public services, employment rights if the UK leaves.

UNISON did not enter onto this position lightly, or in an undemocratic way. The union held an extensive six-week consultation across the entire UK earlier in the year. All branches were invited to take part and send in responses to help shape our approach to the referendum. This process showed overwhelming support for the union campaigning for a remain position.

UNISON is not an uncritical supporter of the EU. The union’s position is that we are better off if we remain and seek to improve the EU from within. In the final analysis we are backing Remain for the following reasons:

  • The regulations we rely on to protect members at work are enshrined in EU law and upheld by the European Court of Justice. Leaving would mean that critical rights – such as paid holiday, fair working hours, equal rights for part-time workers and maternity and paternity leave – are no longer guaranteed. The politicians that are likely to lead the country if we leave the EU are no friends of rights at work.
  • Leaving the EU would put the standard of living of our members at risk. Uncertainty is bad for any economy because it reduces investment and damages consumer confidence. The uncertainty of leaving the EU would hit all of us financially, driving up interest and mortgage rates, increasing prices and threatening jobs.
  • Leaving the EU would threaten public services. As the recent past has shown, a weaker economy leads to reduced government spending on everything from local government to the NHS, and policing to education. With the public sector already struggling to keep its head above water, we feel this is the wrong time to take that risk.

2016 AGM

Once again its time for the LSBU UNISON AGM and all members are invited to come and join us on the 16th March in Borough Road Room 468.

Full details are available on the Events Page.

This is your chance to come and assist your union, sop please do pop in and join us.

Make a difference on 7 May, says UNISON general secretary

No-one can predict the way the coming election will go, and with the result too close to call, black voters are likely to have a decisive impact in May, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis  said on Friday.
 
Addressing the annual national Black members’ conference Dave will say: “Since 2010 black public service workers have had to put up with a lot from this government.
 
“There’s been wage freezes and pay held down way below prices, harsh spending cuts and huge jobs losses, and the increasing involvement of private firms who care more about profit than good services – in the NHS, in education and in probation.
 
“Communities have been hit hard over the past five years – by the squeeze on living standards and the cutting back of vital benefits as the welfare state is slowly dismantled.
 
“Meanwhile many black youngsters – if they have been fortunate enough to find work – are trapped in low-wage jobs, unlikely ever be able to afford their own homes, and trapped in expensive rental accommodation.
 
“The government has done more damage to the NHS in the last five years than at any time in the health service’s 67 year history.  Spending is less in real terms than it was in Thatcher’s day.
 
“The NHS is being slowly starved of cash, and as council adult social care budgets are slashed, the elderly and the vulnerable are calling on the health service more than ever.
 
“It’s no wonder many A&E departments have been teetering on the brink – kept afloat by dedicated staff who put in many extra hours of unpaid overtime, week in week out.
 
“Only today a damning report from influential think tank the King’s Fund accused the government of wasting billions on a series of damaging reforms that no-one asked for, but which have used up vital resources that could have gone on improving patient care.
 
“We warned the government that Andrew Lansley’s ill-thought Act was would damage and scar the health service but ministers went ahead regardless – despite opposition from every organisation that knew the NHS well. This government has failed the NHS andfailed patients.
 
“But now is our chance to make amends. Recent research shows that black voters could just swing the result on 7 May away from the Tories and the further havoc they will wreak on public services, and on unions, should they make it back to Number Ten.
 
“With the parties neck and neck, and coalitions of many different compositions being imagined after election day, the outcome is likely to be decided by a handful of votes in a small number of key constituencies.
 
“According to Operation Black Vote in more than 160 constituencies black voters outnumber the majority of the sitting MP – that means there is a real opportunity for you to influence the result and deny David Cameron the opportunity to stay in Downing Street.
 
“The importance of a black political voice has never been greater – that’s why UNISON has signed up to the Mirror’s No Vote No Voice campaign to persuade all those who feel alienated from politics that they should register and have their say on that Thursday in May.
 
“Last time around almost one in five black adults were not registered to vote – that’s twice the rate for white adults. If you feel that no-one is listening, it’s easy to see why Westminster appears remote, and there is no desire to engage. But the stakes are high.
 
“The Tories have already threatened to slash spending all over again should they return to power – cuts that would virtually destroy the NHS and take spending on the welfare stateback to 1930s levels.
 
“The government has already created a tough environment for unions, and if they come back in May, the climate will get even harsher.
“Cuts to the facility time that allow reps to help members, stopping the check off that allows union subs to come straight from salaries, raising the strike ballot threshold to impossibly high levels. We cannot allow that to happen.
 
“We cannot allow that to happen to our publics services, to our young, our vulnerable and our future.
 
“So make sure that everyone you know is registered to vote so they can help kick out this immoral government in May. Together we can make a difference.”