Issuu on Google+

the magazine of Bolton UNISON Autumn 2013 Issue 3 Free

UNISON and the Labour Link Keep it or break it? Bolton Museum 1 Man Utd Museum 0 Teaching Assistants Campaign Goes National Win a Spirit of ’45 DVD!!!

March On The Tories th

29 September! Bedroom Tax 8 Page Special

`An unjust attack on the poor’ Pay Day Loan Sharks Infest Bolton Inside Access Bolton

£25million Cuts:

More Devastation for Bolton Plus...News, Views, Branch Reports and UNISON around Bolton...


CONTACT BOLTON UNISON Ground Floor, Howell Croft House, Howell Croft North, Bolton BL1 1QY Phone: 01204 338901 admin@unisonbolton.org www.unisonbolton.org Contact us if you’ve moved house, changed job, got a new name or to join Britain’s biggest and fastest growing trade union (see membership form at the back of the mag)

Front cover photo by Claire Simm

Follow Bolton UNISON online… To keep right up to date with all the union news and views follow Bolton UNISON on the web…

Website:

www.unisonbolton.org

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/ bolton.unison

Twitter:

@UNISON_Bolton

Printed by: Caric Press Ltd 525 Ringwood Road, Ferndown Dorset, BH22 9AQ 01202 871 766 www.caricpress.co.uk


Contents March On The Tories Bolton goes to Manchester to Protest: transport details inside Another £25million Cuts! When is it time to say `Enough Is Enough?’ 8 Page Bedroom Tax Special With Bolton Against Bedroom Tax, Bolton At Home Chief Exec and the Bolton At Home Joint Shop Stewards Committee Willy Wonga and the Loan Factories Pay day sharks infest Bolton Inside Access Bolton Bolton Museum 1 Old Trafford Museum 0 UNISON and the Labour Link Keep it or break it? UNISON members have their say… Bolton Teaching Assistant Campaign Goes National Plus reports from Conference and the People’s Assembly Zero Hour Contracts Means Zero Humanity For Workers University of Bolton Pay Shame Vice Chancellor Cashes In As Workers Get Stuffed 20 Years of UNISON! WIN A SPIRIT OF ’45 DVD!!! It’s UNISON Panto Time Again `Oh yes it is!’


Intro

Welcome to the autumn edition of Battling For Bolton. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in contributing to the magazine. I hope that you will enjoy it. Cuts to local jobs and services The scale of cuts to our public services is completely unprecedented. Locally an extra £25m cuts have recently been announced by Bolton Council for 2015/16. This came as it was in the middle of making £42m cuts (2013-15) on top of the £60m cuts that have already been made since 2011. We need to do everything that we can to campaign against the Government’s austerity agenda nationally, and locally to defend our public services. This is yet another attack on council workers and local services. It is an

important reason why we need to step up our organising agenda. Every part of our branch needs to up a gear to be ready to fight these cuts. If there are people in your section who are not in the union please ask them to join. A membership form is contained within this magazine: membership forms are also available from any UNISON rep or the branch office.

theme of the day will be the fight to Save Our NHS, Defend Jobs and Services and to say ‘No To Austerity’. I would encourage as many members as possible to attend along with family and friends. This could prove be one of the biggest protests that the North West has seen in living memory. Please look out for transport details elsewhere this magazine.

Manchester here we come! On Sunday 29th September a massive demonstration is planned in Manchester to coincide with the Conservative Party conference. The

Boost for Council’s low paid staff Following discussions between the joint unions and Bolton Council there has been a change to the Council pay structure. The Council has implemented an increase to restore the

4


gap between minimum council pay and the national minimum wage. From 1 April 2013 the Council has now removed the bottom two spinal column points from Grade 1 and the bottom spinal column point from Grade 2. The Council’s lowest hourly rate of pay is now £6.69, rising to £7.26 after a maximum of two years. At the other end of the pay scale, Bolton Council has also introduced an extra grade (grade 15) to cover senior management roles in specific circumstances. Pay Matters – Have Your Say With pay failing to keep pace with rising prices, the 2014 pay claims will be a major issue for our members in the months ahead. Analysis of historical figures from the Office for National Statistics shows that since David Cameron came to power we have seen three years of falling real wages, more than any Prime Minister on record. Working people are today an average of £1,350 worse off a year in real terms since 2010, and wages in the North West have fallen by a larger percentage than some other regions. Under this Government we have seen tax cuts for millionaires

and proposals for an 11% increase for MPs. Meanwhile, ten thousand people in Bolton are estimated to be reliant on food banks. Many of these people are in receipt of ‘in work’ benefits. We have to ensure that 2014 is the year that workers fight back for decent pay. Members at the University of Bolton are in the middle of a ballot for strike action as part of the Higher Education national pay dispute. The ballot closes on 18th October and the recommendation from UNISON’s Higher Education Service Group is to reject the offer. Following this year’s 1% pay award for workers in Bolton Council the Local Government Service Group are consulting on what should be in the claim for 2014.  Many members were critical of this year’s claim for an unspecified ‘substantial’ pay rise.  Bolton at Home members narrowly voted in favour of accepting the 0.75% pay offer for 2013. It is highly unlikely that members will be prepared to accept a similar paltry figure in 2014. Bolton at Home stewards committee will also be holding a consultation exercise as to what should go into the

2014 claim.  Given both UNISON and the TUC’s position is to make pay an issue for 2014 it is likely that claims across all sectors will be co-ordinated. Therefore members in Public Health and Bolton College should be holding similar discussions in sections and holding workplace meetings. The branch is keen for as many members as possible to have their say in developing the 2014 claim. Your stewards will be undertaking a consultation exercise and I would urge everyone to participate. Bernadette Gallagher Branch Secretary

Higher Education Pay Ballot timeline: 9 September: ballot notices despatched 18 September: ballot opens 8 October: ballot closes 8 October: results sent to employers and members 22 October: employers receive action notices 29 October: earliest first day of action


More unreal cuts on another £25million Matt Kilsby ponders `What cut constitutes a cut too far?’

T

he announcement of an additional £25m cuts in 2015/16 makes for depressing reading. At a time when the Council is in the middle of making £42m cuts (2013-15) on top of the £60m cuts made since 2011, UNISON members will rightly be worried and concerned. The numbers are so huge that they almost become unreal. We accept that Bolton Council’s hand has to some extent been forced by the Tory Government’s relentless attack on public services, particularly Local Government. However, questions must be asked of our elected representatives in council. What cut constitutes a cut too far? What is the line in the sand that councillors will not cross? The branch has recently announced our support for Councillors Against Cuts, which is a network of local councillors who believe that instead of implementing Tory cuts, councils and councillors should refuse to do so, and help workers and communities organise in resistance. We have written to Bolton’s Labour councillors to request that they consider signing-up to Councillors Against Cuts. It’s about time that our elected representatives seriously looked at the alternatives instead of meekly implementing Tory cuts. In 2015, the Council could set a `no cuts’ budget based on the needs of the people of Bolton and the vital services that our members deliver. If the rest of the Greater

Manchester Labour councils committed to do the same then we could build an unstoppable movement in defence of our vital public services. We have yet to discover details as to how the Council expects to make the cuts in 2015/16. Our initial thoughts are that these additional cuts cannot be made without the wholesale devastation of vital services, job losses and mass outsourcing. The picture is bleak. But we must not despair. There has never been a more important time to join a trade union. It is only by sticking together and through collective action that we can beat these cuts. As of yet, and despite a huge number of service reviews and cuts, not one of our members has been made compulsorily redundant. We can only maintain this position if the branch grows in strength and numbers. If you know of colleagues who are not a member of a trade union, get them to join. If you are in a workplace without a UNISON steward, then contact the branch and find out how you can become one.

£127,000,000 - THE CUTS £60,000,000 – cuts since 2011 £42,000,000 – more cuts 2013-15 £25,000,000 - more cuts 2015-16

6


n the way – on top...

7


Tell the Tories the here - protest 29th UNISON and other trade unions are preparing for a huge national demonstration to be held in Manchester to coincide with the Conservative Party conference on 29th September.

Tens of thousands of people are

expected to take to the streets of Manchester as Conservatives meet in the city for their annual get together. Activists from Bolton have made plans for the day, including free transport to the demo. “Health campaigners, anti-bedroom tax protesters and anti-cuts protesters will march alongside trade unions to protest against the austerity agenda and in defence of our NHS and other public services” says Karen Reissmann, Bolton mental health nurse and NHS campaigner “The Tories do not represent ordinary working class people, we need to make sure that there is a massive turn out. We need to make sure that the message goes out loud and clear. The Conservatives and their policies are not welcome here in the North West.” Martin McMulkin, Secretary of Bolton TUC adds: “This protest promises to be an enormous event. The main theme is about defending the NHS, but everyone who is opposed to the Coalition Government and the cuts should be there.”

The rally will meet at Liverpool Road in Manchester City Centre from 11am with the main march commencing at 12.30pm. It will then proceed around Central Manchester, including two sides of the Conference Centre, to a rally at Whitworth Park, starting at 2pm. There is also a Feeder March from Salford to the main demo: Meet 10am, setting off 10:30am, Bexley Square, Chapel Street, Salford M3 6DB. Transport: There are coaches going from Bolton with various pick up points - contact the Bolton UNISON office for times and locations. Bolton UNISON has also agreed to meet any member’s transport costs to attend the march. The nearest railway station is Salford Central. Alternatively catch the 8, 37 or 36 bus from Bolton Town Centre which stops outside Bexley Square. Any member wanting to take advantage of free transport, or to get more info on coach times and stops please phone the Bolton UNISON office on 01204 338901

8


ey’re not welcome h September!!!

SPECIAL 29TH SEPTEMBER WORDSEARCH Placard; Twentyninth; September; Sunday; Manchester; March; Demonstration; Conference; Union; Unison; TUC; NHS; Cuts; Banner Protest; Rally; Austerity; Solidarity; Unity; Conservatives; Train; Coach Bus; Cutbacks; Fightback

H X B H H E GZ NB M NT Y NF E NA M Y H T MS J UE H N T S N O E E S E RGL Q J B P L A CA R A B T H L I D A MA WZ

Z Q C U S O WE C O H C

P P NI CT V F S E R D T NV T A R Y GO X RC P L R QP L OK C CS O MX

I U I CS F MQN T R ET T GZ Z L Z K J J Y I GOG GG L K ON OI S UND AY FA NA Y DI S U I K WZ V EF AHY ES GRI N Z S T L W Z I CB J I DH NF SK C SMO GF E C U MV S Y L Y L L A WN WN T M YD T X X OL C F

K R U U O V

F O T S A C

Y S J A C R

Q X S Z X L L NI RE A P RB A U T P ME V I T G T F DD GI RI V V

D N B G A F R R H V WS

K N G N N P

E S N T C R

O K H E H

N D T Q G D F T H

O X A V R X Z Y X

I V V P E B Y Y C

H P C S I B K N T R S B B A U

D N N S A D E B J G H K U P WJ E S U R ME GX T

Y BO H X B GOK QX T MQH MA R C H R CDS OI Y F X MT Q E MY

L X M K M T MO MU M N T CH GI HE N OCH S R MI M T P E SX Z U USG F GQT Z R X Y MX WD A T I N U Z WS G MT F E H E I Q F

DY D

9


Don’t blame the h says Bolton Again

Photos by Shell Clark and Martin McMulkin

Bolton’s Linda Charnock, horrified at the affects the Bedroom Tax had on her personally and many of her friends, got together with a few other people earlier this year, made a banner, and went to a march in Manchester. When she came back, she founded Bolton Against Bedroom Tax, a movement that is now growing every week.

“At the minute there’s

quite a lot of people involved and we’ve got representatives in Great Lever, Farnworth, Breightmet, Top o’ th’ Brow and Darcy Lever” she says “With the support of Bolton Trades Council and UNISON we’ve managed to get our group up and running very quickly, we’re now affiliated to the Greater Manchester

Federation of groups opposed to the Bedroom Tax and put a coach on to the recent protest in Manchester. It’s gone from one person going to a march, to all this happening.” While the campaign is growing, and a large meeting of the group voted to physically oppose any evictions caused by the

Bedroom Tax in the town, Linda is adamant that people don’t take out their frustrations on the housing associations having to implement the unfair Tax… “They don’t want to do this, and it’s wrong to go fighting with the people in the housing agencies because they don’t want to send eviction letters out but it’s their job at the end

10


housing workers nst Bedroom Tax of the day” she says “I do feel sorry for the workers, although the agencies could do more on the Government side of things. And, while we’ve got Labour councillors backing us saying they support this campaign, Ed Miliband is not saying he’s going to change it if Labour get in.”

to happen if I move to a smaller property” Linda explains “I’ve also got a daughter who lives close by and is a single mum with two children, one of whom has behavioural problems. They come and stay with me over the weekend and that gives her a break.

The community’s main problem with the Bedroom Tax, Linda reckons, is the lack of houses… “Around 2000 people affected by the Tax need one bedroom properties but there are only something like ninety properties available” she says “Personally I wouldn’t move anywhere but there’s people who want to downsize and there’s just no properties.”

“I’ve worked for years, paid my taxes and rent and end up in a situation like this” she fumes “This isn’t just going to affect people who are hit by the Bedroom Tax, it affects their families too.”

Linda herself was made redundant because of the cuts around a year ago and is now saddled with a Bedroom Tax bill of over £24 a week. The extra rooms were left after her brother passed away and have been kept for when her six grandchildren visit. “Three of them live in Oxfordshire and my sonin-law is a serving soldier, so they come over and stay, that won’t be able

One person was living on a mere £2.50 a week after bills Through her work with Bolton Against Bedroom Tax, Linda has heard stories of real hardship. One person was living on a mere £2.50 a week after bills, while parents are going without meals to feed their kids. “We had a family who came to our first meeting and they had two children - a daughter and a 21month old baby who

doesn’t sleep all night – and they are expected to put the two children in one bedroom?” she asks “Yet the family was only given this property six months ago, when the housing association knew that they were going to be susceptible to the Bedroom Tax. Now they are living on the breadline and are getting temporary food parcels.” Meanwhile, the threat of evictions loom large… “We’ve all had letters already but there’s procedures they have to go through to get evictions” Linda explains “Nevertheless, they are scaring people with these letters. But if anyone does get evicted we will be on the front line picketing. Everyone will be there…” Bolton Against Bedroom Tax has organised a march and protest on Saturday 14th September. Meet 1pm at Bolton Town Hall, Victoria Square Bolton BL1 1RU For further details see Facebook group Bolton Against Bedroom Tax

11


Bedroom Tax? “The completely crackers Bolton At Home Chief Executive and UNISON member Jon Lord explains why the Bedroom Tax is so wrong…

Chief executives of publicly owned

companies normally play it safe when asked to explain policies. But when it comes to the Bedroom Tax, Jon Lord, Chief Exec of Bolton At Home, doesn’t pull his punches. “It’s one of the most pernicious pieces of legislation I’ve seen in twenty odd years of housing” he fumes “The whole thing is just completely crackers. And the most bizarre thing I came across is a Conservative councillor telling us in the paper that we shouldn’t be evicting people – I’ll take that from anybody affected by the Bedroom Tax or those who voted or protested against it but not from the party that introduced it!” In Bolton there are around 2,200 residents who have been hit by the Tax, hundreds who want to downsize, and not enough smaller properties to meet the demand. To deal with the ConDem Government created mess, Bolton At Home, working with the Council, is having to get creative. This includes looking into the possibility of reconfiguring its sheltered housing scheme to create smaller units, leasing private properties in new developments and house sharing for young people in vacant three bedroom houses. “We’re having to look at solutions which aren’t necessarily what the person or we would want” Jon explains “but the permutations on some of the cases we’re

getting now are requiring us to almost look individually at things rather than have a cast iron policy set in stone.” One of the major headaches is rehousing people with disabilities who need adaptations in their homes… “It’s a massive issue for us because in some cases we have spent up to £20,000 to do adaptations for people, and if they are caught up in this and have to move, we then face another bill for £20,000” he says “We haven’t got a budget to re-do hundreds of adaptations, we’re already swamped with requests from people not affected by the Tax…” Jon emphasises that it’s not tax payers who are picking up the costs associated with things like downsizing and adaptations, it’s other Bolton At Home tenants, as the budgets get drained... “They face delays to improvements on their properties and they are subsidising for lost income” he says “The poor pick up the tab for other poor people. That is the way the Tax is constructed.” And, at the end of the day, Jon argues that the Government isn’t even saving any money, as people move out of social housing and into the private rented sector where they get full housing benefit… “It’s a nonsense” he fumes. While everybody with a conscience

12


e whole thing is just s!�

13


knows that the Bedroom Tax is as much a nonsense as the Tudor’s Window Tax; and while Bolton At Home is trying to get creative in solving the issues, the elephant in the bedroom is the spectre of evictions. And the prospect of people who can’t afford the Tax being chucked out of their homes.

“The poor pick up the tab for other poor people. That is the way the Tax is constructed.” “We aren’t looking to evict people” Jon insists “We’re trying to put as many measures in place and working with the Council on what we can do jointly to mitigate risk of evictions but I can’t say we will never…”

It’s a horrible vicious circle that Bolton At Home is trying to break by referring people to debt advice and the Hoot credit union. However, Jon says, unless public bodies can face the pay day lenders head on with their own more ethical solutions there’s a perfect poverty storm looming. In the meantime, Bolton At Home is juggling with a range of issues that are affecting the lives of some of the town’s most vulnerable people. “We are going to be as sympathetic as we can be” he says “We’ve opposed this from day one, and lobbied hard against it because we knew what the impact would be. We’re looking at all sorts of options to avoid evictions – but the worst end point might not be eviction, it might be people borrowing money from the high street to pay us - at 2000% interest.”

Jon argues that Bolton At Home’s approach is to help get people to the point where they can afford to pay but there’s a whole tangled mess of poverty beyond the Bedroom Tax which exacerbates the problem.

The mainstream media and, of course, the ConDem Government, seem to be blind to the social impacts of the Bedroom Tax. And the Labour Party is still sitting on the social housing fence, despite being urged by local activists to commit to getting rid of the unfair Tax.

“We’re targeting things like getting people into work but again the problem in Bolton is that it’s a low wage economy” he explains “It’s part of a broader picture around poverty, and the Bedroom Tax just makes it much more acute.

“We aren’t looking to evict people... but I can’t say we will never…”

“Our biggest worry on this – and it’s the Catch 22 for housing companies – is that people resort to pay day lenders to pay us” he adds “People are going to get caught in this spiral of debt, so that even if they paid us by borrowing off pay day lenders, they’d still lose their house because the interest on the loan is more than the cost of the Bedroom Tax.”

“My advice when I’ve met with protesters is focus on Labour because if the landlords knew there was a chance of repeal, even in two years time, at least they would have a bit of light at the end of the tunnel” Jon concludes “At the moment it could run forever…”

14


UNISON says no to Bedroom Tax evictions

The Bedroom Tax…a divisive, insidious, and ideological attack on the most vulnerable and lowest paid members of our community…

Bolton at Home joint

shop stewards committee put on record its opposition to the Bedroom Tax, with a motion stating that it will actively support any member who refuses to assist with the eviction of tenants solely for Bedroom Tax arrears. Stewards joined Bolton Against Bedroom Tax

campaigners to lobby the board of Bolton at Home last month, urging the social housing company to adopt a `No Eviction’ policy.

People should not be forced out of their home because of the

hardship caused by the Bedroom Tax “It’s excellent that Bedroom Tax campaigners are getting co-ordinated and organised this lobby” says Janet Bryan, UNISON Convenor, Bolton at Home “Some of the

15


Bolton at Home board members are actively opposed to the Bedroom Tax and we know that they are very sympathetic to the principle of `no-evictions’. “Increasing numbers of tenants including those in work are struggling financially and finding it harder and harder to pay the rent” she adds “We are hoping that Bolton at Home will implement policies that help to stop evictions. A lot of work is already being done to help those who are vulnerable to pay day loan companies. People should not be forced out of their home because of the hardship caused by the Bedroom Tax and the current climate of austerity.”

Photos by Claire Simm

16


The Bolton at Home joint shop stewards committee motion‌ 1 Bolton at Home joint stewards committee, made up of Ucatt, Unite, UNISON and GMB, asks the board of Bolton at Home to adopt a No Eviction policy for all Bolton at Home customers who fall into arrears solely as a result of an inability to pay the Bedroom Tax 2 Bolton at Home joint stewards committee will actively support any member of our four trade unions who, because of their principles, feel unable to either process documentation that leads to or assist in the

eviction of a Bolton at Home customer who faces eviction solely for Bedroom Tax arrears.

3 Bolton at Home joint shop stewards agree to campaign through their individual trades unions and those unions links with the Labour Party to put pressure on the Labour Party to make a commitment to repealing the Bedroom Tax legislation as a priority for the next Labour Government. 4 Bolton at Home joint shop stewards committee

asks that members of their individual trade unions who are members of the Labour Party put pressure on the Labour Party to make a commitment to repealing the Bedroom Tax legislation as a priority for the next Labour Government. 5 Bolton at Home joint stewards committee will actively support any campaign locally, regionally or nationally, that is campaigning to abolish the Bedroom Tax legislation.

17


Willy Wonga and the loan factories Shop fronts for legalised loan sharks are popping up all over Bolton and the Council is powerless to stop them, as Councillor Kate Lewis explains…

I

t’s a terrible indictment of the times we live in that you cannot walk for about two minutes around Bolton town centre without coming across the screaming shop fronts of pay day lenders, pawnbrokers and cash pushers… `Legalised loan sharks’ is how Councillor Kate Lewis describes them… “They are loan sharks, and they are legal” she explains “And they are definitely a growing problem.” Kate is a councillor for Breightmet ward, one of the most deprived in Bolton, and when Bolton at Home did some research there on the pay day lenders it discovered that the problem was much more embedded in the community than people realised. To counter the growth of the extortionate interest repayments industry which puts people in even more debt, Kate was one

of those who led the protests against Bolton Wanderers sporting the name of QuickQuid on its shirts, which led to the club withdrawing from the sponsorship deal within a week. Kate also moved a motion which called on councils to have more power over planning applications from pay day lenders that want to have shop fronts in the town centre…but she admits that this is almost impossible, despite the Coalition Government seemingly making the right noises. “On one hand, the Government is saying `We’re going to do more to restrict pay day lenders’, and talking about some very loose regulations that aren’t going to come in for a couple of years…while on the other hand they are making it impossible for councils to do anything about these companies moving onto the high street by loosening planning

18


19


restrictions” she explains “If, say, QuickQuid wanted a shop, there’s no basis that the council could refuse planning permission, even on it being detrimental to the community because they would just appeal and win” she adds “The answer’s got to come nationally with more legislation, but locally it’s about getting the message out that credit unions are a viable alternative.

Loan shark Bolton’s hi

Bolton’s ethical, non-profit making credit union, Hoot, is the best alternative out there…

‘there’s no basis that the council could refuse planning permission, even on it being detrimental to the community’ “One of the difficulties is that people with bad credit ratings may not be eligible for a loan initially but once they’ve opened a Hoot account and done some of the money management stuff they are more likely to be eligible” says Kate “It’s one of the issues we have to address, along with the whole issue of financial inclusion, and the fact that there are people who really struggle to understand APRs and all those things.” Meanwhile, Bolton’s high streets are filling up with Cheque Centres, Money Shops, Cash Converters and the ironically named BrightHouse. * To join Bolton’s ethical credit union, Hoot, or to find out more information see the website www.wisewithmoney. org.uk, call into the office at 60 Ashburner Street BL1 1TD or phone 01204 365024

20


ks infest igh streets

21


Access Each issue we take a look at the valued work UNISON members do, striving to keep Bolton brilliant. We begin with Access Bolton…

I

t’s a call centre, a One Stop Shop…and the staff have to cope with everything, from penniless residents, to homes morphing into fruit… “I had a guy who said all the houses in his street were turning into oranges and he didn’t want to become an orange” laughs Michelle Holding “I was completely stumped as how I could help him. Then he put the phone down…” Whether he actually turned into an orange

will never be known - but this was just one of a massive variety of inquiries dealt with at the Access Bolton front of house One Stop Shop and backroom call centre at Le Mans Crescent. If people judge call centres by reality tv shows and tabloid articles they might expect to find the staff wearing silly costumes and waving giant sized knickers in the air…but the reality is very different. Staff are highly skilled and the only juggling being done is keeping the

22


Bolton

23


public sweet with fewer resources at their disposal. “It is very skilled” agrees Susan Wood who deals with issues like council tax support, housing benefit support and welfare provisions “People think that because you sit in a call centre with a head set on you just have a script…but you have to learn to talk and listen. It is complicated and can be quite difficult and stressful. “I have to deal with people not getting any money in, who may need help to pay the gas or electric, or to get a food parcel” she adds “You’ve got to help people as much as possible but you can’t get involved otherwise you start to take it home with you, although you do take some of it home and you do feel genuinely sorry for people.”

“I had a guy who said all the houses in his street were turning into oranges and he didn’t want to become an orange” Indeed, behind the counter or on the end of a call these staff are almost like a cross between social workers and tongue whipping targets. “We probably know as much as social workers because we take the initial referral so we’re the ones who have to get to the bottom of everything and know all the processes” explains Michelle “The calls for adults over 65 with needs are quite fulfilling because we’re helping people. It is very varied, though, and I get shouted at a lot sometimes, especially during calls on repairs.”

Joss Chadderton also takes calls on repairs, as well as inquiries about environmental services, pest control and the dreaded bins…“It’s a bit challenging but the people around me are very supportive if people get funny” she says. As dozens of workers have left via voluntary severance and early retirement, the hundred or so staff left at Access Bolton have to deal with the fall out from the cuts, as well as people getting `funny’.. “It’s certainly a lot more stressful having lost so many staff” says UNISON steward David Milne “When I started here four and a half years ago it was hard work telling the public that it might be a week before some dog dirt gets cleaned up, whereas now, unless it’s in a children’s area or somewhere, it could potentially be a couple of months. We get the public shouting at us quite regularly.” Bolton Council is now trying to encourage people to access a lot of the services online, thus saving more money, and even has floor walkers at the One Stop Shop helping people to use its computers. Even so, the centre is set to expand with more and more services like housing advice, The Workshop and possibly Citizens Advice coming in to make everything available under one roof. At the end of the day, despite the cuts, the lack of staff and sometimes lack of respect from the public, the team is there to help as much as possible. As David says, “We are very much committed to serving the people of Bolton.” …Even when those people think they are turning into oranges.

24


25


The Spirit From the dark days when people panicked at the thought of the cost of going to see the doctor, to the bright days when the NHS was born, to the dark days of now, Ken Loach’s film takes an archive black and white film view of how the Welfare State was born from the spirit of the Second World War. With loads of interviews from those who remember the birth of state ownership, The Spirit of ’45 is a unique and mustsee visual document. It’s only by knowing the past that you can affect the present and the future. Back in July, the film was shown at a special screening for trade unionists at Bolton Central Library.

Here’s what some of the audience thought of The Spirit of ‘45...

forget about the hope that was offered before that. I’m inspired.”

Bernie Hanley, UNISON member “It was amazing. It gives me hope and makes me feel quite optimistic in terms of the arguments against the austerity measures that are in place. We built the services on the back of the Second World War, against the background of the poverty and destruction that people were living in at that time. We turned it around and it was about creating jobs and spending, not about cuts. If we let the NHS go, we will never ever get anything like that back again. Most people remember Thatcher because of the pain, you

Kieron Grogan – UNISON member “It was good to see this put in the mainstream. You could see the reaction of everyone in the room when Thatcher came on the film. And, watching it, it’s not just me who thinks the Labour Party is dead!” Martin McMulkin – Secretary Bolton Trades Council “I thought it was absolutely fabulous, inspirational and it gave a clear message of what is achievable if we had politicians who had vision, who were noble and who had ideals. People need to see films like this, because we don’t have a strong

26


t of ‘45

WIN A DVD OF KEN LOACH’S TOP FILM! Bolton UNISON has three DVDs of The Spirit Of ’45 to give away. Who said: “The NHS is unbelievable… Paramedics, doctors, the guys who drive the ambulances and everyone else deserve more credit than I can express. They are the real heroes in our society” Was it Dave Spikey, Maxine Peake, Fabrice Muamba, Danny Boyle or Monica Ali?

political voice giving the alternative – and there is an alternative that’s not being put out. All we’re being told is cuts, cuts, cuts…In Bolton we’ve got a lot of older people who do have that experience of a different time and we need to get them involved with the young people and to pass that message on.” Val Chadwick, UNISON steward. “It’s quite interesting to show, from humble beginnings, how quickly the Welfare State got built up - and how quickly it’s falling apart. All in sixty years. I learnt that we all need to stick together and stop being bullied and treated like second

class citizens to fight for our rights. The way it’s going we could go back to pre-Welfare State. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to stand up and be counted.” Andrea Egan UNISON steward “I found it quite depressing because, while we’ve built up a fantastic country, it’s now going full circle. What really touched me was when they were going for food coupons and the rations – I thought we’ve gone back to that with food banks. The thing that depressed me is whether we’ve got it in us to fight, which is with the few at the moment. So it’s how we build that resistance. I’m pleased that Unite

Answers to: Spirit of 45 Comp Dept Bolton UNISON, Ground Floor, Howell Croft House, Howell Croft North, Bolton BL1 1QY or by email to admin@unisonbolton.org Please include your name and address. Competition is open to UNISON members only and closes October 31st 2013. the Resistance and the People’s Assembly is beginning to form because I do think, as a trade unionist, that fight has to go wider than the trade union movement. We need to galvanise and get people and activists together. It was a good film, heartening looking at the progress, but disheartening looking at the fact that we’re now going backwards.”

27


UNISON and the Labour Link After the recent media attention given to the relationship between the Labour Party and some of Britain’s largest trade unions, including UNISON, Unite and GMB, we asked some branch members to give their views‌

28


“As a lifelong trade-unionist, I fully understand the link between Labour and the unions. I find it a bit rich, the Tory party moaning about union funding of Labour, when the Conservatives are funded by big business, and the city of London, some of whom hope to cream off profits from the privatisation of our NHS. “Unfortunately Labour is unlikely to change course. Along with Tory, and LibDems, Labour has stated it will not reverse Coalition cuts if elected in 2015. Parties like the Greens offer an alternative but rely solely on its membe rs and supporters to fund campaigning. Maybe state funding of political parties is the way to go, as in other EU countries.” Alan Johnson, UNISON Steward, Social Care.

“I do not wish to denigrate the achievements of Labour in government. The NHS, social secu rity and comprehensive education are achievements that we are rightly proud of. However, what the Tories are doing now is only possible becaus e of policies enacted by Labour afte r coming to power in 1997. “Meanwhile, up and down the cou ntry, Labour councils are making huge cuts to budgets that are having a devastating impact on our public services and members’ jobs. So what `value for money’ are we getting from the trade union link with Labour? Where is this influence over Labour Party policy that our union leaders (and David Cameron!) keep talki ng about? “It is surely time for UNISON to disaffiliate from Labour. This doe s not mean that I advocate a depoliticised trade union. Far from it. I believe all our members should be allowed a say as to who UNISON supports polit ically, not just those who already have a vested interest in supporting Lab our.” Matthew Kilsby, UNISON Branch Chair

Ed Miliband should be working to ensure Labour builds bridges and maintains links with the unions and stands up for working class people. If Labour doesn’t, then ultimately the Party has become just one more that represents the interests of big business. “The union, first and foremost, is there to speak up for its members and we must never forget, or let Labour forget, that is our primary purpose. We need our union leaders to give a strong, clear message, whether it is on the 10 o’ clock News or Question Time – in fact at every opportunity, wherever it may arise. “Ultimately we should not be afraid to stand up to the Labour Party, especially where there is fundamental disagreement about basic policy such as the cuts or the privatisation of our public services. If Labour won’t deliver for working class people and their families then we have to send the message to the union leadership that they must preserve the integrity of our union and tell Labour to whistle for future funding”. Sue Vickers, Chief Execs Department

29


30


“We are currently in a period of transition, especially after Ed Milib and criticised the link between the unio ns and Labour. We need to have a debate within UNISON about the affiliated link. Locally we have see n a positive shift through lobbying and working with Bolton’s Labour councillors on a range of issues. We have seen positive pronouncements on blacklisting, food banks, scho ol meals and regeneration. The Labour Link works hard to maximis e our influence and represent our membership in these very hard time s.” Steve Rigby, Labour Link Officer

“I would much rather have a Labour Council and a Labour Government than ones led by the Tories. There’s no getting away from widespread disillusionment with the political process, especially after the invasion of Iraq and expenses scandals. The fact is though, we desperately need political solutions to many of the problems people face. “Britain is still the 6th wealthiest country in the world yet people are turning to food banks to survive, that’s appalling in the 21st Century. It concerns me that Ed Miliband says he will stick to the Coalition’s spending plans. We need clear policies to tackle low pay, scrap the Bedroom Tax and defend public services. I do not see a viable alternative to Labour at present but maybe that will change in the future.” Martin Challender, UNISON Communications Officer

“I firmly believe it is really important for people to vote in elections. Ordinary men and women fought long and hard to secure our basic right to vote. We should not take our right to vote for granted. I support Labour in elections, they are usually the only opposition to the coalition parties and the far right. Ultimately we also have to fight for the kind of policies that we need. It’s important that the Labour leadership listens to working class voters and doesn’t take people for granted. Joan Pritchard-Jones, UNISON Convenor Adult Service

e “The issue of Falkirk and the Unit tes union’s attempts to secure candida the in ly wide has been covered e news. Many UNISON members hav e by expressed concern at the respons `play Ed Miliband who has appeared to are re The ject. sub this on to the gallery’ and the left the on SON UNI in with y man link right who would want to break the t poin this at but y Part with the Labour is view my ive, rnat alte an is e until ther k and that we need to make the link wor we as e enc influ as h try to exert as muc .” can possibly ry Bernie Gallagher, Branch Secreta

*The Labour Party has announced that it will hold a special spring conference to discuss party funding and Labour’s relationship with the unions.

31


UNISON National Conference Delegates from Bolton attended UNISON’s national delegate conference in Liverpool in June. Here, Joan Pritchard-Jones, Bolton Adult Services Convenor, gives her impressions…

I

t was a packed few days with a full agenda, which is hardly surprising given the scale of cuts to public services and issues such as the Government’s welfare reforms. There were some excellent speakers and more importantly some fantastic debates. There was overwhelming support for the demonstration at Manchester’s Conservative Party conference on 29th September, while delegates also backed

calls to defend the role of Teaching Assistants in schools, and supported calls for industrial action on local government pay in 2014. There was discussion about calls for a general strike against the Coalition Government’s austerity measures, and the union gave its full backing to fight against the Bedroom Tax. Delegates heard from TV personality Ricky Tomlinson, who gave an inspiring speech in support of the Shrewsbury 24 campaign and the

building workers who were imprisoned, victimised and blacklisted after the 1972 building workers strike. It was excellent to meet other trade unionists from around the country. Ricky is getting on a bit now but he was as passionate as ever, and I was able to have a good chat with him between some of the debates, about everything from trade union rights to fighting the cuts. These themes were very much in keeping with the mood of the conference.

Bolton Women Take the Lead in Union Elections Three leading women trade unionists from Bolton have been elected to the National Executive of UNISON

B

ernadette Gallagher, Branch Secretary of Bolton UNISON and Karen Reissmann, a Bolton nurse and NHS campaigner, have been elected to represent the North West, while Janet Bryan, UNISON Convenor for Bolton at Home has been elected to represent workers in the community and voluntary sector. “I am pleased to be joining

the union’s National Executive” says Janet Bryan “On a daily basis we are seeing the impact of cuts to jobs and services as well as the impact of the government’s welfare reform. “As a union we need to help build campaigns to resist the cuts, defend the NHS and oppose the

Bedroom Tax” she adds “It is good that there will be a strong team from Bolton working together with colleagues from around the country to help shape the direction of our union.”

32


Bolton teaching assistants campaign goes national Following an emergency motion submitted by Bolton UNISON, moved by Assistant Branch Secretary, Andrea Egan, and passed by National Conference, the union is to launch a national teaching assistants campaign…

D

elegates at UNISON Conference pledged to campaign to protect teaching assistants, working with teaching and head teacher unions, parents and pupils to highlight the huge role they play in educating children.

“We believe our whole education system is under attack” Earlier this year, it was reported that the Government had asked the teachers review body to look at teachers’ contracts with a view to them taking on duties currently performed by teaching assistants. In the last month, a right wing think tank with close links to the Government has also called for teaching assistants to be sacked. “Bolton Branch was pleased to have an emergency motion agreed by Local Government Conference, which will see

a national campaign to protect 230,000 teaching assistants” says Assistant Branch Secretary, Andrea Egan “We believe our whole education system is under attack” she adds “The academy programme was the start in a bid to effectively privatise the education of our children. The Government then turned its attention to the teachers, attacking their pensions and pay. Gove’s recent attack, and conference agreement to protect the role of our teaching assistants, will hopefully give us a springboard to join our teaching comrades who have already taken industrial action. Full time staff are paid on average around £16,000 per year, but most are part time and often only get paid during term time, so earn much less. The majority of teaching assistants are women. A recent survey of head teachers by UNISON showed that 95% said

teaching assistants added value to schools. They said that a reduction in the number of teaching assistants would impact on children with special education and health needs, on teachers, and the running of schools. ...a

reduction in the number of teaching assistants would impact on the running of schools As the motion was passed to begin a high profile campaign to support teaching assistants, Ricky Tomlinson gave his full support.

33


The People’s

Bolton UNISON’s Janine McLoughlin went along with other members to the London People’s Assembly back in June. Now the campaign begins on our own doorstep…

The Peoples Assembly is a movement

backed by the trade unions, political parties and many other campaign groups which aims to raise awareness of how the current cuts and austerity affects society and, in particular, the more vulnerable members of our society. The organisers of the People’s Assembly described their aims, to “push the arguments against austerity missing from British politics, and fight for all those people being hit by Government policies including low paid workers, disabled people, unemployed people, the young, black minority and ethnic groups and women”. After attending the London People’s

Assembly event in June, with colleagues Bernie Hanley and Debbie Calland, I can honestly say that it re-ignited my passion and enthusiasm to confidently confront the current austerity we all face at present. There were several inspiring speeches, including those from `The Spirit of ‘45’ film maker Ken Loach and Tony Benn. The atmosphere at Westminster was electric amongst the 4000 strong attendees, including many UNISON members from up and down the country. The People’s Assembly had seminars on all day, and we split up to attend as many as we could, including campaigns against the Bedroom Tax, climate change, public

34


s Assembly service cuts campaigns and the threats of privatisation of the NHS.

A thought provoking speech from actress and disability activist Francesca Martinez regarding benefit reforms sparked large applause from the crowd, as she said “I’m proud to pay taxes for the welfare state - this is called a civilised society”. ...it

re-ignited my passion and enthusiasm Other crowd pleasing and passionate speeches came from Owen Jones, journalist and writer of the popular book Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey and comedian Mark Steel. My only criticism of the event is that I wish it would have been over a weekend, rather than one day, as there was so much going on and we didn’t get round to seeing everything. The main focus of the event was `What are we going to do about the

current level of cuts and threats to public services and our NHS?’ The upshot was a call for a mass protest at the Tory Party Conference 29th September in Manchester. There is also now a Manchester People’s Assembly group, and if anyone is interested in organising a local People’s Assembly there are details on the website of how to go about this…

www.peoplesassembly. org.uk or www.manche sterpeoplesassembly. org.uk/ Facebook: Manchester People’s Assembly – Austerity Cut It Out Twitter: MCR PeoplesAssembly Email: manchesterpaaa@gmail. com

35


No to employment tribunal fees UNISON has got the go-ahead for a High Court hearing to oppose the ConDem Government over its policy to charge up front fees of up to £1,200 for Employment Tribunals for cases of unfair dismissal and discrimination.

The charges, which came into force in July, have always been opposed by UNISON which will continue to campaign for their abolition, and has made a commitment to pay the fees for members.

“I am pleased that UNISON has been successful in getting permission for a judicial review hearing” says UNISON General secretary Dave Prentis “The introduction of punitive fees for taking a claim to an employment tribunal would give the green light to unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over already basic workers’ rights. “The Government should not put a price on justice” he adds “It is disappointing that in the interim fees will still be paid, but we will be making a strong case for a judicial review in October because we believe that these fees are unfair and should be dropped.” UNISON believes that the whole system has been designed by Government specifically to make it difficult to bring a claim and to deter people from doing so in the first place, but will try to ensure that

members continue to receive the best service in fighting these cases. For further information see www. unison.org.uk, or if you need help or information fast, call UNISONdirect on 0845 355 0845.

36


Zero humanity for zero hours contracts Local trade unionists have hit out at the use of so called `zero hours contracts’ after research from CIPD recently revealed that there could be in excess of one million workers on such contracts across the UK.

“The overwhelming majority of workers

are only on these contracts because they feel they have no choice” says Bernadette Gallagher, Bolton UNISON Branch Secretary “They may give flexibility to some workers, but with zero hours contracts the balance of power clearly benefits the employer not the employee. This makes it really hard for workers to complain about problems. “Zero hours workers exist from week to week, not knowing how much money you will have to buy food and pay bills” she adds “Having working hours chopped and changed at short notice is also incredibly stressful especially for those with family commitments.” Martin McMulkin, Secretary of Bolton TUC explains that the growing number of zero hours contracts also calls into question Government unemployment figures. “It is clear that many people working on these contracts are not included as unemployed even if they have no work at

all – at the very least we have hundreds of thousands who are under-employed” he says “In turn, this messes up the benefit and tax credit system. Zero hours contracts are just a modern day form of casual labour, it is like going back to the nineteen thirties. Bolton TUC will be campaigning against the use of these contracts over the coming year.” UNISON has called for zero hours contracts to be banned and for the Government to carry out research into the true scale of the problem. A recent Freedom of Information request by UNISON showed that 97% of councils use homecare contracts that do not guarantee the care workers concerned any paid hours from one week to the next. This uncertainty is passed on to already low paid care workers in the form of zero hours contracts. The union argues that, in some cases, the contracts lead to worse services for vulnerable elderly and disabled people.

37


Raise the alarm!!!

Fire fighters from the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service are currently under attack from the Coalition Government, both from the threat of privatisation and the threat to their retirement age.

U

NISON steward, David Milne, recently put a motion in to the Trades Council and our branch committee calling on every member to contact their councillors and MPs to demand a local policy of never contracting out the Fire Service. “It had a limited amount of success” says David “Bolton Council did pass a motion but it didn’t go far enough. It was just a motion supporting the Fire Service rather than calling for a local policy.” Part of the motion read ‘This Council is deeply worried that the Government has lost sight of the fire service’s main purpose and that it threatens to put private profit ahead of the need to save lives and help people feel safe in their homes.” With privatisation hanging over parts of the Fire Service, fire fighters now face another attack, this time by making

them work until they are 60, despite the job being physically demanding. If they are not fit enough to shin up and down ladders at 60, there’s two options – they can leave the service without a pension, or be dismissed as being` incapable’, also without a pension. The Fire Brigade Union has had enough and is calling for industrial action. Meanwhile, bosses have already starting recruiting `Emergency Fire Crews’ on zero hour contracts to cross picket lines and cover shifts in the event of a strike in September. The army, which undermined the last big national fire fighter’s strike, has announced that it will not be able to provide cover this time, due to, er, cuts in the defence budget… For further updates see the Fire Brigades Union website www.fbu.org. uk

38


It’s UNISON panto time – oh yes it is!!!

This year’s ace panto at the Albert Halls

is Jack and the Beanstalk, and stars Waterloo Road and Rough Diamond heartthrob Ben-Ryan Davies, Charlie Cairoli Jnr, son of top clown Charlie Cairoli, and Bolton’s own panto king Stu Francis. As usual, and following our sell-out day last year, UNISON will have a special performance on Sunday 8th December 1:30pm with a reduced rate of £5 per ticket. “I’m chuffed to bits I’m doing panto in Bolton” says Ben, who plays the role of Jack “It’s the first panto I’ve done in the North West and, as I’m from Rochdale, it means all my family can come and see it. I’m really excited about it. I love doing panto. I started off my career doing musicals at school, so that’s how I got into acting. Then the TV roles came up.” Charlie Cairoli Jnr plays the role of the King in the panto and adds: “I know Stu Francis very well and we have worked together numerous times, so I think the audience will enjoy our comedy. I might

even bring along some custard pies! I’m really looking forward to coming to Bolton and the Albert Halls. All I want is for people to walk out of the theatre afterwards and say what a great show it was.” Ticket details for Jack and the Beanstalk: Albert Halls Sunday 8th December 2013 1.30pm. Tickets go on sale on 4th November at 9.00am £5 each max of 5 per member. UNISON has tickets for Robin Hood at the Octagon Theatre on Saturday 21st December 2.15pm. Tickets go on sale on 18th November at 9am £7 each, max of 4 per member. Please Note: Both these events are strictly first come first served – No reserving of tickets over phone.

39


Social media and the workplace Our branch is currently drawing up guidelines for its members on the use of Facebook, Twitter and other social network sites. This follows concerns that members may get themselves into difficulty through comments made or information shared about work matters via the internet.

A

ccording to figures released by the Office of National Statistic it now is estimated that 93% of people aged between 16 – 24 now regularly use social media sites as a means of communicating with family and friends. “We know from experience that people increasingly communicate and share information on line” says Andrea Egan, Assistant Branch Secretary “This is true amongst workers of all ages but particularly amongst younger workers. People do not always realise that personal information shared on a public forum could have serious implications. Sometimes comments made about work issues could be deemed unprofessional or seen as a breach of confidentiality”. Our advice to members is: * Lock and restrict all your social media pages. This helps to ensure that any photos, personal comments and other details are only shared with friends of your choice. * Always think carefully about any personal information and pictures you share on line. What might seem funny on a night out may not seem as funny in the

cold light of day. * Avoid posting derogatory or personal comments about colleagues or managers. Comments between individuals can quickly be viewed via a wider group. Perceived bullying or defamation could leave you wide open to disciplinary action. * Avoid making public comments which might `bring the employer into disrepute’. Most organisations take this seriously and it can sometimes lead to disciplinary action. * Under no circumstances `make friends’ with service users on line - this is generally in breach of employers’ policies as it can compromise professional relationships. * Always ensure that you have read and understood your employer’s IT policies that cover basic do’s and don’ts. Ignorance of an employer’s policy is not always seen as a defence. Andrea Egan concludeds that, “the internet and sites like Facebook are here to stay but as a trade union we want to ensure that our members take steps to help prevent getting into difficulty”.

40


Good news on school meals….

For the third year running Bolton Primary School Meals to stay at £1.25

Despite the bad news about cuts to

public services there is some good news locally. Bolton Council’s award winning school meals service has recently announced that the cost of primary school meals will stay at £1.25 for the third year running. At secondary schools the students are able to pick items from a menu and pay accordingly rather than pay a fixed meal price. Bolton Council has provided school meals for over seventy years with a wealth of experience in catering for school pupils, from nursery to sixth form. This directly benefits thousands of local families by helping to ensure that young

children have access to an affordable and nutritional midday meal. It also helps to secure the jobs of workers within the school meals service and benefits the local economy through the use of local suppliers. The council meals service covers over 100 dining establishments and serves around 3.5 million meals per year to nursery children and school students, as well as vulnerable elderly and disabled people. www.bolton.gov.uk/website/pages/ Schoolmeals.aspx

41


University of Bolton pay shame

£42,700 for Vice Chancellor – Nowt for Staff!!!

W

hile support staff at the University of Bolton are fighting for fair pay, its Vice Chancellor, George Holmes, has been awarded a one off payment of £42,700 during a period of unprecedented redundancies and cuts at the campus resulting in over 70 staff leaving the university.

“I could go on forever with how the lack of a decent pay rise has affected me” she says “You can’t expect people to accept pay cuts and pay freezes when everything else is going up. In April this year tax thresholds changed alongside a surge of price increases, and most of us were using that money just to survive.”

The 1% 2012 pay award was paid in June 2013, ten months after it should have been in pay packets. But back pay has not been paid yet. Both UNISON and Bolton’s MPs are now calling into question the ethics of its Vice-Chancellor.

Bolton MPs Julie Hilling, David Crausby and Yasmin Qureshi wrote a joint letter to the Vice Chancellor asking `Why are you the only Higher Education Institution in the country not to pay this? Why has it been delayed?’

Meanwhile, staff in universities nationwide are preparing for a ballot on industrial action for fairer pay, as the last four years of below inflation pay rises have seen pay cut by 13 per cent in real terms.

“The Vice-Chancellor has repeatedly refused to meet with staff representatives, making excuses or simply ignoring our requests” says UNISON Branch Secretary for Bolton University, Bernadette Gallagher “This shows a blatant disregard to listen to staff and act on their concerns. We eagerly await his reply.”

Janet Shaw, a librarian at the University of Bolton, explains why she is campaigning for last year’s missing pay rise at the University and will be voting for strike action to improve the national offer this year…

* UNISON members at the University of Bolton have now become part of the Bolton UNISON branch.

42


Tupedoed!!! Rochdale UNISON workers face huge pay cuts… 115 UNISON members in Rochdale have been forced to take industrial action after they were transferred from the NHS and local council under TUPE, to Future Directions, a new `community interest company’ set up by the NHS Trust to provide community services. The carers found that they faced huge pay cuts of up to £10,000 a year, plus the slashing of their terms and conditions.

‘Some of our members may lose their homes because of these drastic cuts.” “Our members provide a vital service to vulnerable adults living in Rochdale; they do a tough job, and now they are being asked to do it for even less money, on worse terms and conditions” says Rochdale branch secretary Helen Harrison “Some of our members may lose their homes because of these drastic cuts. They care deeply about the services they provide, but have no choice but to take this strike action.”

At the UNISON Local Government Conference in June, speaker Maureen Howard added that “These members will not give in to an employer which is showing contempt to them and their trade union…they have the right to stand up for their pay and terms and conditions.” Conference voted to donate £5000 to the carers’ strike fund. Messages of support and donations can be sent to Helen Harrison, branch secretary, Rochdale UNISON, 46 Richard Street, Rochdale, OL11 1DU. email: unison@ rochdale.gov.uk. Cheques can be made payable to Rochdale UNISON.

43


Bolton hammers Manchester United Bolton Museum has stuffed Old Trafford in Visit England’s official rankings for attractions…

Eat yer heart out, Van

Persie et al – Bolton Museum has beaten Old Trafford Museum and Tour Centre to come in the top five of Greater Manchester’s attractions, with a massive 367,342 visitors coming to see the artworks, Egyptology collection, Aquarium and more on Le Mans Crescent. “The only places above us were biggies like The Lowry, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Chill Factore and Manchester Art Gallery, while we beat places like Manchester Museum, the Imperial War Museum North and, of course Old Trafford” says Mary Keane, Collections Access Manager at Bolton Museum “I’m really proud, and it’s because staff are really knowledgeable and enthusiastic and want to impart that…people are attracted to it.” A walk around the Museum reveals the total enthusiasm of the staff. In the gallery we meet Collections Officer, Kirsty

Haikney, who explains how she is aiming to make the gallery space even more family friendly, by displaying brighter paintings, creating a children’s playscape for under 5s, re-writing the descriptions of the paintings in plain English and “letting people touch some things for a change…we’re trying to make art a bit more accessible.” In the Egyptology gallery, Community Engagement Officer, Jo Lewis, describes plans to renovate the gallery, including a facsimile tomb and extending the display space to house more of the Museum’s 12,000 objects spanning over five thousand years of history… “the cats and crocodile mummies are most popular with children” she says, while showing off some truly gruesome `disturbed tombs’ for the less squeamish. Louise Bienkowska, Libraries and Learning Team Leader, works with children bringing the

Egyptian artefacts back to life through drama and role play, as well as running free crafts and story telling sessions at the all day Super Saturday sessions on the last Saturday of every month. Meanwhile, in the basement of the Museum, Pete Liptrot explains how Bolton’s free Aquarium is one of the finest, featuring around 2500 of the best fed fish in the country thanks to Bolton Market’s exotic fayre. Top attractions at the moment are the black and white stingrays… “They’re superb, fascinating, we love them…” says Pete. He really does love them. And every other fish in there, including the very ugly black species. His enthusiasm, and everyone else’s at Bolton Museum, is totally infectious. Roll on the next 300,000 visitors! For further details of opening times, exhibitions and family events see the new Bolton Museum website www.boltonlams.co.uk

44


d!

45


Twenty years of UNISON…

UNISON is twenty years old this year and going stronger than ever. Formed in 1993, following a merger between NALGO, NUPE and COHSE, the new super-union was set up to defend public sector workers’ rights against the continuing onslaught of Thatcherism and to fight for better conditions and pay.

Now, twenty years later, and with over

1.3million members, the challenge of austerity looms large, with the added reality of the marketisation of public services. Indeed, one in four new members are now employed in the private sector. UNISON continues to challenge both the Government’s pay restraint and huge cuts to public services, while putting pressure on the Labour Party in support of alternative economic policies. Meanwhile, UNISON campaigns for better working conditions and lives for all sections of society. “I have been an active UNISON member since 1993, the year that the union was founded” says Branch Secretary, Bernie Gallagher “Previously I was a Nalgo steward in Bolton Council’s Housing Department and even further back, a

NUPE steward in the health service. Over the past twenty years we have seen huge changes, not all for the better but we have had our successes too. “We have certainly seen our share of challenges” she adds “In 2013 with the scale of the cuts and attacks on workers’ rights it is even more important that we work together to build a strong and vibrant union, ready to defend our members and provide a voice for the most vulnerable in our society.” UNISON North West has produced a special 56 page booklet: The First Twenty Years. To get a free download copy see http://www.unisonnw.org/wp-content/ uploads/2013/07/Celebrating-20-yearsof-UNISON-booklet-VERSION-5-secureVERSION.pdf

46


Government Welfare Reforms and You UNISON has recently produced five excellent leaflets on the Coalition Government’s welfare reforms and how they may impact on UNISON members.

1. 20 things the Coalition may not tell you about Universal Credit http://acrobat.unison.org.uk/acrobat/21619.pdf 2. Universal Credit http://acrobat.unison.org.uk/acrobat/21618.pdf 3. The Benefits Cap http://acrobat.unison.org.uk/acrobat/21617.pdf 4. Housing benefit changes and the Bedroom Tax http://acrobat.unison.org.uk/acrobat/21634.pdf 5. Welfare reform changes affecting disabled people http://acrobat.unison.org.uk/acrobat/21709.pdf These can all be downloaded free from UNISON :http://www.unison.org.uk/for-activists/help-and-advice/ communicating/online-catalogue/ The leaflets are aimed to inform members who may be personally affected by the roll out of welfare reform changes, update branches on UNISON’s welfare reform campaign and assist welfare branch officers advising members affected and activists in local welfare reform campaigns.

47


How being a m UNISON can b Legal services UNISON provides a very wide range of free legal help for union members both at work and for non-work related issues… At Work… All UNISON members can get free legal advice and help with work-related issues including unfair dismissal, accidents and injuries at work. To qualify you must have been a member for at least four weeks before you knew you needed legal help and must also be up to date with your subscriptions. Legal advice is provided in conjunction with leading employment law specialists Thompsons.

For You and Your Family UNISON members can access free legal advice on non-work related issues. We also provide a free wills service, lowcost conveyancing and help with immigration issues, amongst many other services. For work-related issues members should contact their local branch in the first instance. For non workrelated issues, help can be accessed via UNISON’s legal helpline on 0845 355 0845.

Secret info for members only! UNISON Knowledge is a member-only hub for information on employment rights and key issues affecting people in the workplace and at home. It provides up-to-date and legally checked guidance, answers to common questions, links to useful external sites and access to supporting materials from various UNISON departments. UNISON Knowledge categories include Issues at Work; Discrimination; Health and Safety; Pay; Pensions and lots more. And no-one can see this section of the national UNISON website, except members. Check it out at www. unison.org.uk/ knowledge/

48


member of benefit you… Welfare advice, accident and death benefits…

UNISON’s rules govern the way the union runs and how various parts of the union, including branches, regions, service groups and membership groups work. They also outline the rights and responsibilities of members, and benefits include… Death benefit Payment ranging from £123 to £494 to a deceased member’s partner, dependant(s) or estate, depending on length of membership at the time of death. The deceased must have had at least four weeks paid membership before death. Accident benefit Payment of up to £20.25 a week for the period in which you are unable to work because of an accident (subject to maximum of £121.50 a year). You must have had at least four week’s paid membership prior to the date of the accident. Fatal accident benefit Payment ranging from £2,165 to £8,660 to a deceased member’s partner or

dependant(s), depending on length of membership at the time of death. The deceased must have had at least four week’s paid membership before death. Welfare benefits Confidential welfare assistance is available in many forms, including: emergency grants; family holidays; help with other special needs; advice on a range of issues. Application for welfare assistance can be made either through our branch: contact Julie on 01204 338901 email admin@ boltonunison.org Or see the website for There For You, our registered charity – https://www.unison.org.uk/get-help/helpwith-problems-at-home/there-for-you/ or call 020 7121 5620.

49


UNISON Subsc Information fo Retiring? Leaving work? On maternity/ paternity Leave? Changes in employment will affect your union subs‌

UNISON Subscriptions are

based on your annual earnings and are set for a twelve month period starting from 1st October. They are reassessed automatically every year to take into account changes in your income. Although the cost of many other things is constantly rising there has been no increase to the UNISON subscription bands since October 2003. A breakdown of the Subscription bands can be found on the UNISON website* If your wage reduces for a period of one calendar month or more you should only need to pay the appropriate subscriptions amount for your lower wage for that period of

50


criptions – or all members time. This includes reduced pay through, maternity/paternity leave, sick leave, disability leave, reduced hours etc. If you are off work long enough through maternity/paternity, sick or disability leave that your wage drops down to nil pay you are then eligible to be exempt from any subscriptions until such time as you start to receive a wage, providing that your subscriptions are all up to date and you have no arrears. You must contact the UNISON office as soon as your wage is reduced or stops, If your reduced pay is only for a temporary period of time you need to inform the UNISON office as soon as your wage increases or starts to be paid again. If you are leaving your job this does not mean you have to leave UNISON. If you are moving to another job within the public sector you simply need to provide us with your new employer and work details to enable us to continue to take your subscriptions. If you are finishing work but do not have another job to go to you can become an unemployed member of UNISON for up to two years. You need to notify the UNISON

office within six months of the date you finished work and your subscriptions need to be up to date at the time of your employment finishing. Unemployed membership costs £4 per year and you must not be in any paid employment. If you are leaving work due to retirement (including ill health retirement) you are eligible to become a retired member of UNISON. You can become a retired member at any time providing you had continuous UNISON membership for the last two years prior to retiring from work and you are in receipt of a pension. Retired membership is a one off fee of £15 for life. It is your responsibility as a member to ensure that your subscriptions are paid each month. If we do not receive subscriptions from you for more than Three months your membership will be automatically lapsed. * For further details see the UNISON website https://www.unison.org.uk/formembers/joining-unison/how-muchdoes-it-cost/ See also www.unisonbolton.org

51


Bolton UNISON contacts list 2013

Branch Officers

(01204 336044) Branch Chairperson: Matt Kilsby (07969 511622) Bernie Gallagher Branch Secretary: (07876 146245) Janet Bryan Branch Treasurer: John Vickers Vice Chair: Assistant Branch (01204 338901) Andrea Egan Secretary: (01204 334481) John McSwiggan Equalities Officer: Health and Safety (01204 338016) David Milne Officer: Joan Pritchard-Jones (07775 642640) Education Officer: (01204 338901) Julie Tudor Welfare Officer: Life Long Learning (01204 334447) Sue Vickers Officer: New Technology (01204 338901) Eddie Pilling Officer: (01204 338901) Membership Officer: Eddie Pilling Young Members (01204 334450) Andrew Thomas Officer: Communications (01204 337715) Martin Challender Officer: Community Organiser/ (01204 334600) Labour Link Officer: Steve Rigby

Convenors

Adult Services: Chief Executives, Joint Convenors: Bolton at Home: Children Services: Environmental Services: Development and Regeneration: Bolton Community College:

matthew.kilsby@bolton.gov.uk admin@unisonbolton.org janet.bryan@boltonathome.org.uk john.vickers@boltonathome.org.uk andreae@unisonbolton.org john.mcswiggan@bolton.gov.uk david.milne@bolton.gov.uk joanpj@unisonbolton.org admin@unisonbolton.org sue.vickers@bolton.gov.uk admin@unisonbolton.org membership@unisonbolton.org andrew.thomas@bolton.gov.uk martin.challender@bolton.gov.uk steven.rigby@boltonathome.org

Joan Pritchard-Jones (07775 642640)

joanpj@unisonbolton.org

Jeanette Pemberton-Billing (01204 331039) (01204 338901) & Cecilia Costello (07876 146245) Janet Bryan (07917 260711) Phil Travers

jeanette.billing@bolton.gov.uk cecilia@unisonbolton.org janet.bryan@boltonathome.org.uk philt@unisonbolton.org

Tony Cowell

(01204 338906)

tonyc@unisonbolton.org

Matt Kilsby

(01204 336044)

matthew.kilsby@bolton.gov.uk

Graham Walmsley

(01204 482138)

graham.walmsley@boltoncc.ac.uk



Battling For Bolton Issue 3 web