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NIPSA Reports


JANUARY 2013 Tel: 028 90661831

NIPSA attacks move to abolish Housing Executive NIPSA NIHE members and supporters stage a protest outside Housing Minister Nelson McCausland’s office in Belfast

NIPSA has voiced its total opposition to any attempt to dismantle the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Ms Millar pointed out that the NIHE had been prevented from borrowing money by the DFP and the Treasury and urged the Minister to make representations to those departments to give The union also challenged the view the green light to the Housing Execuput forward by Social Development tive to borrow money. Minister Nelson McCausland that the She pointed out that this would allow NIHE was not “fit for purpose” in the the NIHE to remain as a single housing 21st Century. body “serving the needs of all tenants In his January 9 announcement, Mr and prospective tenants”. McCausland had claimed the body was Previously, the union had firmly re"no longer sustainable or made the best jected the key findings contained in a use of public money". 2011 PricewaterhouseCoopers report The Housing Executive is one of into the workings of the housing body. Northern Ireland's largest public bodies, The union set out its opposition then with almost 3,000 staff and 90,000 to PwC suggestions that the NIHE be homes. split up into a Strategic Housing Body On January 15, NIPSA staged a sewith a separate landlord function. ries of protests outside NIHE offices as And in a letter to NIHE staff earlier well as a demo outside Mr McCausthis month, Mr McCausland insisted his land’s offices in Belfast. announcement was not about “cutting NIPSA Deputy General Secretary Ali- jobs or saving money” but was about son Millar slammed Mr McCausland’s “getting the right structure”. “appalling decision” – which will replace He further stated: “… the functions the NIHE with a regional housing body that are currently carried out by the and a new landlord function outside the Housing Executive are functions which public sector – and rubbished his view will still have to be carried out, grants that “the current model” was “simply not will still have to be awarded, properties sustainable”. She claimed the NIHE will still have to be managed; all those was in fact one of the “few success sto- different functions will still have to take place and it will require staff to do so.” ries throughout our troubled past”.




However, the union pointed out it was unclear in Mr McCausland’s letter whether current NIHE staff would be carrying out those functions. In fact, previous letter sent to NIPSA General Secretary Brian Campfield by the Permanent Secretary had stated there could be “no doubt” that “this strategic direction of travel will have implications for existing staff”. Ms Millar commented: “If the Minister cannot be precise about the impacts at this stage then NIPSA would question how this can allay the fears of members who are rightly worried about their future job security, terms and conditions of employment, location of jobs etc. “ She added that the announcement had been made against the backdrop of the abolition of Housing Benefit and that this served to increase uncertainty among NIPSA members at NIHE. “At this point in time it is also not clear that the Programme Board have accepted that some or all NIHE staff, currently employed in the delivery of Housing Benefit will transfer to a new organisation to continue delivering Universal Credit post 2014. Proposals on this are expected towards the end of March.”


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LDT social workers to take industrial action

Flying the flag for NIPSA at a NIHE protest. More pictures of province-wide demos pages 4-5

NIPSA members employed as social workers within the Learning Disability Team have voted to take industrial action short of a strike. The ballot comes after management insisted social workers drop their caseload priorities to help monitor the care of clients living in Ralph’s Close residential home in L’Derry. The unit has attracted media attention recently after a number of staff were suspended and a probe initiated by the PSNI.


A union source said: “NIPSA remains opposed to management attempts to rob the field social work teams of the resources they need to monitor care elsewhere in the Western HSC Trust. “NIPSA believes that care should be adequately resourced and the Trust shouldn’t be attempting to fix one problem while putting the professionalism of social workers at risk within the Learning Disability Team.”




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Get the facts on benefits and thwart the propagandists

SO IT looks like the UK is moving towards a triple dip recession. The double dip recession predicted by the trade union movement and many economists has already happened.

this blatantly false propaganda and why many citizens can be duped by the falsehoods peddled by compliant media pundits. Surely most people have the capacity to recognise lies and untruths when they manifest themselves? The recent publication by NIPSA about the role of the Closures of businesses with thousands of job losses conTaxpayers Alliance and their well-resourced crusade on betinue to be announced virtually every week in the media. half of the well-heeled and wealthy attempts to shed some But this has no impact on the Chancellor, George Osborne. light on the incessant campaign to feed the population with He continues with his existing “plan” of reducing the deficit a fantasy understanding of the way the world works. even though this policy is ripping the economy apart and The TUC research reinforces the corrosive effect of this destroying the hopes of hundreds of thousands of working misinformation. People think that 41% of the entire welfare families and young people. budget goes to unemployed people. The reality is that only His targets include those both in and out of work who de- 3% does. People think 27% of welfare benefits is claimed pend on state support to keep their families fed and fraudulently – the real figure is 0.7%. People think 48% of housed. The recent report by the Trades Union Congress in people claiming job seekers allowance go on to claim it for London exposes the myth that the majority of those on more than one year – the real figure is 27.8%. benefit are dysfunctional layabouts who do not want to The propaganda and the misinformation are fed to us on work. a daily basis. It is insidious. Myths are peddled as facts. The simple fact that the thousands made redundant reBut these forces also help form our opinions and when they cently from HMV, Blockbusters, Jessops, FG Wilson, Patuse phrases and terminology such as “skivers”, “shirkers” ton’s, Hughes and other businesses have been in work and and “ spongers” they are attempting to enlist us behind are now reliant on social security benefit also exposes any their project of undermining the welfare state, the social seargument that people receiving state benefits have chosen curity system and ultimately the very notion of public servnot to work. ices. We may well ask how this government can get away with Their real agenda and objective is what has been called

the Americanisation of our society; a society in which you pay directly for your health care, for your education and where it is every man and woman (and their family) for themselves. It is also a system which provides a market for private sector companies and corporations to exploit the needs of citizens in order to make profit. That is why it is important that the alternative message is heard. It is primarily the trade unions – not only in Northern Ireland or the UK, but right across the globe – that understand the real agenda behind the official propaganda and the assault on ordinary people. It is the trade unions that recognise the reasons for the attacks on the welfare state, on public services and public servants. It is the trade unions that identify privatisation for what it is – the transformation of services created to meet social need into profit centres. As we enter another year of austerity, of escalating attacks on public services and on those that deliver them and those who rely on them, let us equip ourselves with the real facts and continue our work on behalf of NIPSA members, their families and the communities in which we live. Brian Campfield, General Secretary

ESA – a final agreement or another missed deadline? THE saga of ESA continues. The debate has been going on for longer than some young people attended the same school.

rather indicating that it will “definitely” be established some time in 2013. So we will now have a full 12 months before we know whether another deadline has been missed or not? Young people barely in their teens at the Good old Nero appears to be alive and time that ESA was first proposed have now well up at Stormont, it would seem. left school – many have grown beards and, The difficulty for members listening to all more likely than not, joined the ever-increas- these “commitments” is that they have heard ing dole queues as the education system it all before – with all the uncertainty that this and employment and skills policies from gov- brings with it. ernment continue to fail them. This situation has, of course, been exacerThe date of April 1, 2013 – the focus for at bated by the fact that almost 400 staff have least the last 18 months as the definitive left the Education and Library Boards over date for the establishment of ESA – has fizthe last 18 months, predicated on the aszled out, like so many of its predecessors. sumption that ESA would be set up by April In an effort not to miss another publicised 1, 2013. date, departmental officials now vaguely While this is no longer a realistic date, the refer to not being stuck on a specific date Boards will still remain intact and will main-

Disability Seminar

NIPSA members who attended a disability seminar organised by the Equality Commission.

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NIPSA Reports

NIPSA Harkin House, 54 Wellington Park, Belfast BT9 6DP, Tel: 028 90661831 Fax 028 90665847 or email: Editorial contact details: Bob Miller email: Correspondence should be sent to the above address. Unless otherwise stated, the views contained in NIPSA Reports do not necessarily reflect the policy of trade union NIPSA.

tain their statutory duty to carry out the same functions and deliver the same service but with significantly less staff. Assistant Secretary Paddy Mackel told NIPSA Reports: “Our members have been through a lot over the last number of years with ongoing uncertainty over ESA. “If it does goes ahead in 2013, the union will be engaged in a series of discussions with both employers and the department, but also – importantly – with our members to ensure that their terms and conditions are fully protected throughout this process. “We have sought additional resources to ensure that we can meet the challenges which members will face. If ESA is not established in 2013, then political decisions will be required urgently to bring stability to Education.

“In addition, staffing levels will have to be sustained at the correct level to ensure that the Education Boards and our members continue to deliver a quality service across the sector.” While workshops have been set up and a range of draft new policies have been developed for consultation in anticipation of ESA being set up, there still appears to be a number of hurdles to overcome before the body becomes a reality. In the meantime, Paddy Mackel insisted that NIPSA remained ready “to do everything possible” to protect members’ conditions and that the union was committed to meeting Branch Committees and members over the coming months “to take on board any issues they may have”.

Shared Services fears in FE colleges raised MEMBERS in the six Further Education colleges have expressed concern over a management decision to consider Shared Services for a number of functions across the college network.

fected. Added to this are fears that these services will be privatised. Minister Farry was challenged directly to make a ministerial decision that privatisation would not be an option for consideration in reviews by his Department or the colleges. While driven by the Department of EmHe refused to give such a commitment, ployment and Learning, colleges do have an overall responsibility for the direction of pointing out instead that he wasn’t ideologically opposed to private sector involvethe initiative. ment and that nothing would be ruled out NIPSA flagged up the increasing concerns of members during a recent meeting at this stage. Given the Minister’s stated position, the with DEL Minister Stephen Farry and the employers were also reluctant to give any employers at the Non-Teaching Staff Necommitment at present. NIPSA made it gotiating Committee. It is understood that while the union ac- clear to both the employers and to Minister Farry that any attempt to outsource or cepts colleges have worked on a number privatise any of the functions under review of closer collaborations in recent years, there is general unease among members would be met with strong resistance from our members across the public sector about these Assistant Secretary Paddy Mackel told Shared Services reviews. NIPSA Reports: “At a time when there is Experience in the Health Service and such uncertainty in the workplace and inother sectors demonstrate that decisions taken by employers can potentially lead to creasing and sustained attacks on worksignificant upheaval for those staff afers’ pay, pensions and job security, it is a

disgrace that any Government department or employer would contemplate outsourcing work or increasing private sector involvement in any functions currently carried out in the Further Education sector. “The greedy world of private sector shareholders and profiteers who are driven solely by increased profit margins is not the appropriate delivery model for valued public education services to the community, nor is it the appropriate employment model for committed public servants who wish to deliver a first class service to the community based on the needs of their college students. “Our members deserve better treatment from their employers.” He added: “The concept of Shared Services raises enough issues on its own without the additional stress for members who now fear that they could find their job outsourced. A widespread campaign of opposition will be mounted if privatisation or outsourcing is pursued.”

NIPSA responds to (TYC) Transforming Your Care NEWS

THE COMPTON Report – Review of Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland, Transforming Your Care – contained a total of 99 recommendations that constitute the most radical shakeup in health and social care provision in Northern Ireland in more than 60 years.

have confirmed – that the HSCB and/or the DHSSPS were paying external facilitators to deliver the TYC message from public funds rather than using existing HSC staff who were perfectly qualified to carry out this exercise. In general, NIPSA emphasised the considerable disquiet felt by many over what lies behind the initiative with a clear view Following the publishing of the report emerging that TYC is not about Transin December 2011, the Health and Social forming Your Care but Transferring Your Care Board (HSCB) put out its Vision to Care on the cheap. Action consultation document and NIPSA viewed that “openness and sought views on its content by January transparency” – one of the guiding princi15, 2013. A Strategic Implementation Plan ples in taking forward the TYC recomwas also produced. mendations that was to be achieved NIPSA has been scathing in opposing through regional and local communicathe Transforming Your Care (TYC) tion and engagement – were being blaprocess and proposals contained in the tantly disregarded. consultation document. After considering both the Vision to AcUnion sources have characterised pub- tion report and Strategic Implementation lic consultation on the issue as “somePlan, NIPSA’s position was that there was what shambolic”, pointing out that little or no scope for agreement with any meetings have been “very, very poorly at- of the recommendations. The union went tended” and that they have not repreon to make the following comments and sented the views of the general public in observations: Northern Ireland let alone carers, users n The document did not affirm or restate and providers. in detail the founding principles of the Despite assurances that a leaflet would NHS and their consequences for service be sent to every household here – this delivery and change; had not happened. Added to that, there n There were parallels between the TYC had been no effective communications proposals and those currently being put strategy and outreach to communities forward in England (post-Lansley Bill) inhad been described as woefully inadesofar as both systems relied upon the quate. flawed assumption of the CommisAt one public meeting NIPSA represen- sioner/provider split. The mechanisms of tatives challenged – and were shocked to the internal market were again being rein-

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troduced despite evidence of waste and inefficiency that led to the move away from the discredited approach a generation ago; n In terms of the HSC Review, the DHSSPS believes that 95 out of 99 recommendations are do-able. This view was not shared by NIPSA. With more than 99 recommendations in the report, NIPSA said it remained sceptical whether transitional funding of £70 million over a threeyear period would be enough for the implementation of the new model of service; n Equally on the 5% shift of funds from the Acute to Primary and Community Care, NIPSA said it believed this to be insufficient and pointed to emerging evidence that any monies currently being released were not going to front-line services. As a result, NIPSA sought a breakdown in terms of the distribution of both the transitional funding and all other monies moving in the current process from the acute to the community budget to support front-line services. The union asked for this to be prioritised. n NIPSA also stated the view that the document was a vision without a plan. It was not costed and that it was perceived by many as a “sleight of hand” to suggest that the initiative was not about saving money but about making best use of what we have – which is clearly very limited resources. n The union also pointed to clear evidence that TYC was largely based on fifollow us

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January 2013

Payday Loans

What’s the problem?

Kris Bailie (NIPSA Youth) Nestled deep within the beast that is rising unemployment, rising living costs, house repossession, fuel poverty, frozen wages, malnutrition and ill health lies a dark, relentless and powerful heart: payday loans.

your mortgage or utility bills to gently get you by until payday. Countless foreign and home-grown payday loans companies currently operate in the sector. However, they distort this great financial feast by offering people on below-average salaries small loans of around £400 over 30 days, with anything up to a monstrous 5,000% interest. Although consumer credit regulation says that no unsecured loan should exceed £25,000, there is no control on how much interest a lender can charge.

How do we know payday loans are uncontrollable?

NIPSA Youth O The UK lending and pawnbroking industry, worth £100 million in 2004, is now said to be committee worth between £2 billion and £4 billion produce excellent fourO Figures 3 for people calling the National Debt page leaflet Helpline have increased tenfold in the past on the perils two years of pay day O The majority of people4 who took out a loans and ofThe most high profile of such companies is payday loan have regretted the decision fers advice Wonga. Wonga states that its client base is made afterwards because they are so damaging to up of “the ‘Facebook generation’ – the couple on what to do a person’s long-term finances whose boiler breaks at 7pm, or the teenager about them if O calculated that if you who has to find money for a Glastonbury you are unborrowed just £100 from Wonga at its APR, ticket”.2 These companies host shiny, catchy fortunately after seven years you would owe more than advertisements and market their loans as being caught up the US national debt (scroll down) able to casually and transparently help you with with them. See following Ref A4_0038 link to downoad Long-term unemployment among young people has almost doubled since 2008.1 As we head towards becoming the poorest youth for generations, we find ourselves financially desperate, with a banking industry that has cut us off from credit like an engorged suckling. Cue an alternative saviour targeting the financially starved young with offers of “help”: payday loans companies.

nance and was about saving money. NIPSA highlighted the fact that the first signs of this approach were evident in the moves towards re-ablement services, community urgent care, district nurses rotas changing, and the move from institutional care for people with learning disabilities etc. In its summary, NIPSA claimed that TYC was not about choice and personal social services but was about doing things on the cheap, with less skilled staff – who would have less time to give to service users – working in a health system that had been systematically eroded over the years. NIPSA argued that care in the community is reliant on a knowledge rich and confident HPSS workforce, able to delivery quality care interventions without the at hand support models of institutional care settings. It was NIPSA’s view that TYC – with its overarching themes of procurement and privatisation dressed up as value-formoney initiatives – ran the risk of asset stripping the framework of knowledge, skills and the ethos of public service that had defined the HPSS workforce, replacing key sections of it in a profit-driven race to the bottom line. NIPSA insisted that Community Care could not be done on the cheap and therefore the union could not support the proposals or recommendations outlined in the Vision to Action document.

THE UK Coalition Government’s Welfare Benefits up-rating Bill was passed by a majority in the House of Commons on January 8, 2013.

This cynical piece of legislation capped working age benefits at 1% and was preceded by a wave of divisive propaganda that sought to portray Government acting on behalf of the “strivers” as opposed to the “skivers”. Such political barrel scrapping was summed up in the Daily Express’ front page the day after the vote “Party is over for the Benefit Skivers”. One strand of the Government’s justification for the benefits “cap” was that pay rises had neither been linked to nor been higher than inflation, therefore it would be unfair for those in receipt of benefit to receive more than the 1% uprating. This is certainly from the “brass neck” school of reasoning, with the very authors of public sector pay freezes and cuts (the Government) now pretending to be on the side of their victims. The actual figures involved also show how nonsensical this argument is – attempting to set those on average earnings (whose 1% pay rise equates to £5.01 a week) against an unemployed person who because of this 1% cap will see their JobSeekers Allowance rise by 71p. Political commentator Owen Jones summed up the Coalition’s anti-social approach well when he commented, “You have been mugged… therefore, your less deserving neighbour should be mugged too”. As NIPSA has previously highlighted, the majority of those in receipt of what used to more properly be called social security (not welfare) are in work but are eligible for tax credits and other benefits due to low pay, are medically unfit to work or are looking for work in an economic environment the Government’s own economic policies are worsening.

Coalition’s Benefits Bill really scrapes the barrel

In addition, the comparison of wages and benefits is a strange point of attack, given the failure of successive governments to link wages and benefits appropriately. NIPSA Policy and Research John McVey told NIPSA Reports: “The fall in unemployment benefit as a percentage of average wages has been striking. For example, in 1979 unemployment benefit was 21% of average wages – today it is 11%.

LGB&T Gr Group oup Meetings February - May 2013

elfast. 7 February, February, 4.30pm aat NIPSA, 54 Wellington Park, ark, BBelfast. 14 M Belfast. March, 4.30pm at NIPSA, 54 Wellington Park,, Belfast. elfast. 18 April, 4.30pm at NIPSA, 54 Wellington Park, Belfast. 9 May, 4.30pm at NIPSA, 54 Wellington Park, Belfast. For more details contact:

Email: lgb& or Tel: 028 9068 6566 All LGB&T Members and Non-LGB&T Members Welcome

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Province-wide protest ag NEWS

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A big thank you to all the contributors who sent in pictures from the protests against the abolition of the NIHE

gainst abolition of NIHE


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AS austerity continues at home and in Europe, the experts at Labour Research examine what 2013 is likely to bring for unions and their members.

Across Europe, the debate over austerity and its effects on economic recovery will continue in 2013. One of the questions at the heart of this in the UK is whether there is scope for a “wage-led recovery”, as the unions and the TUC hope. The TUC’s view is that decent wage rises are the only sustainable way to drive consumer confidence and spending, making wages, in the words of TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, “fundamental to our economic recovery”. There’s no doubt that the public sector is facing further large-scale cuts and job losses. Pay rises will again be well below inflation as employers move on from chancellor George Osborne’s pay freeze to his 1% pay cap, although there may be just a little more scope for creative deals this year as negotiators attempt to breathe life back into public sector pay systems. There could also be further challenges to national pay bargaining (as health trusts and local authorities look for ways to cut costs), and cutbacks in other forms of payment (increments, premia or allowances). But it will be what happens in the private sector that could have the biggest impact on employment and on levels of spending that are still substantially below pre-crisis levels. There’s no doubt that the private sector has been creating jobs — a cumulative total of almost one million since the summer of 2010. However, it’s unclear how far the private sector can go in creating more new jobs, particularly as many private sector employers think that the recession could continue or recur. And there’s also the question of whether workers can find full-time jobs, or will have to accept part-time positions on lower wages again this year. The TUC has pointed out that four of the five worst-paid jobs employ more part-timers than full-timers. For major private companies, the main challenge is long-term growth in demand for their products and services, rather than the availability of external finance. And in the current climate, they seem to be thinking more about ways to cut costs than to invest in growth. Figures from the Office for National Statistics indicate that a recovery in profitability, although not yet back to pre-recession levels, has been achieved by reducing investment and costs. Firms are reluctant to spend despite more favourable credit conditions. These are the sorts of conditions which last year resulted in private sector earnings growth of just 2%, well below the 2001-07 average rate. And with RPI inflation still at around 3% by the end of 2012, that added up to a continuing squeeze on spending power. If the Bank of England is right — and it is a fairly big “if” given its track record and selfprofessed “uncertainty” — RPI inflation could fall in the second half of this year. But if the priority for most private sector employers is cutting costs, then we could continue to see below-inflation earnings growth, stifling the hope of a wage-led recovery. The chances of a big pay rise are strongest in union-organised sections of the workforce, with a third of private sector deals falling due within the first three months of the year. That will include some pre-agreed inflation-linked deals, which tend to produce higher rises. But as the year progresses it will be the newly-negotiated pay deals, together with non-negotiated rates in the private sector, that set the trend, reflecting the state of the labour market. National Minimum Wage rates, based on the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission (LPC), have a big impact in lowerpaying sectors. New rates are implemented in October, but their value should be known by March or April as the LPC has to report to the government by the end of February. Recently, the LPC has tended to be cautious, freezing youth rates last year and increasing the adult rate by just 1.8%. But this year there is a new upward pressure in the

shape of the voluntary Living Wage (LW), currently £7.45 (£8.55 in London). The number of accredited LW employers can still be counted in the hundreds rather than the thousands. But the idea is being more widely adopted and will set a new, higher benchmark in the debate over the minimum wage. Pensions will also be part of the equation. Rising member contributions are eroding the spending power of many public sector workers, while 2013 will also see more companies and workers paying contributions under the auto-enrolment regime.

wage growth and higher taxes”.This in turn will feed into minimal growth, forecast by the European Commission to be at just 0.4% for the EU as a whole in 2013. The impact on unemployment is expected to be even worse, with the unemployment rate across the EU forecast to rise from 10.5% to 10.9% between 2012 and 2013. Spanish unemployment is set to rise from 25.1% to 26.6%, while in Greece the jobless rate is expected to rise from 23.6% to 24.0% in the same period. With such devastating consequences, it is no surprise that government austerity policies have produced growing resistance. The general strikes in Spain, Portugal, Greece Europe and Italy on 14 November last year, when In the rest of Europe, as in much of the last the European Trade Union Confederation, are likely to be followed by others in 2013 if 12 months, the ongoing impact of the 2008 there is no change of course. financial crisis and the austerity policies which have followed from it are also likely to be at the centre of European trade union UK unions concerns in 2013. Across the EU, public spending is being At home, unions are likely to face contincut with damaging consequences for jobs ued pressure on their organisation and fiand living standards. The situation is probanances as austerity persists. bly worst in those countries that have had to Last year’s union membership figures reagree to austerity measures in return for a fi- vealed a fall, largely because of a large drop nancial bail-out — Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, in members in the public sector, which susPortugal and Romania. tained more serious job reductions than the But other countries, like Italy and the private sector. Czech Republic, have also introduced their This trend is likely to continue, while the own cuts packages. The measures introshift in employment towards more part-time duced by the centre-right government in and self-employment will also exert a downSpain in particular, which has received exter- ward pressure on overall union membership. nal support for its banks but not a full-scale This may prompt more discussions among bailout, seem little different from those imunions about mergers. The TSSA white colposed by the “troika” — lar transport and travel the European Commisunion, for example, is seeksion, the European Central ing a merger partner as Bank and the International membership losses mean it Monetary Fund, which cannot “go it alone” in the sets bailout terms elsemedium to long term. where. The large unions are In 2013, all these counlikely to develop their parttries will face the ongoing nership arrangements impact of past cuts and, formed last year to based on recent experistrengthen opposition to ence, it seems likely that government attacks. The the year will bring fresh PCS civil service union and rounds of austerity. the Unite general union This will have a major signed a “co-operation impact on public sector deal”, with PCS general workers directly affected, secretary Mark Serwotka but others will also suffer. indicating that he wanted As the European Coman “ever closer relationmission notes in its latest ship”. Meanwhile, the GMB forecast for 2013, pubgeneral union and UNISON lished in November 2012, public services union an“private consumption … is nounced they were working expected to stagnate in on an “historic new partnerthe EU and to decrease in ship”. the euro area in 2013, as This will intensify in the real disposable incomes next few months as they come under pressure from prepare for the April local a further contraction of government pay negotiaemployment, low real tions, when they hope to

Unions in the public sector are bracing themselves for further political onslaught following the relentless campaign last year against trade union facility time.

end the current pay freeze. However, the process may be interrupted by the early general secretary election in Unite, announced last month. There will also be a change at the top of the GMB union with the announcement by general secretary Paul Kenny that he is stepping down later in the year. Meanwhile, unions in the public sector are bracing themselves for further political onslaught following the relentless campaign last year against trade union facility time. New rules have already been announced in the civil service, and there will be pressure from the right to restrict facility time in other parts of the public sector, such as local authorities and the health service.

Employment law

During the course of 2013, some of the coalition government’s most significant attacks on employment law are likely to come into force. For example, from the second half of 2013, and to the considerable dismay of unions, the employment tribunal service will introduce fees, both for lodging a tribunal claim and also for hearing that case (see Labour Research, September 2012, page 25). Unions and the TUC have slated the move. UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said it “tips the scales of justice heavily towards employers”, denying legal redress to those who don’t have the money to pay for it. And Brendan Barber, outgoing TUC general secretary, said that the fees “will deter many — particularly those on low wages — from taking valid claims to court”. The government proposes two levels of fees — with more complex cases attracting a higher charge. The more straightforward category of cases will cost £390 (£160 to lodge and £230 to go to a hearing). The less straightforward category will cost £1,200 (£250 to lodge and £950 to go to a hearing). And a £60 charge for making an application during a claim (such as requesting that a witness summons be made) will also be levied. Even larger fees will have to be paid to go to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). The government says that tribunal fees will be remitted (waived) to protect low-paid employees earning less than £13,000 to £23,860 a year (depending on relationship status and number of children). But Barber described the remission scheme as “woefully inadequate”. And he pointed out that “workers will be more likely to be mistreated at work as rogue bosses will be able to flout the law without fear of sanction”. The government is also amending employment tribunal procedure. Changes include a new claim form (ET1) and employer response form (ET3); removal of the cap on


the amount of costs that can be imposed; and allowing non-legal reps to apply for their costs to be reimbursed by the other side. Currently the maximum compensatory award is £72,300 (the basic award, which equates to a statutory redundancy payment, is separate). However, the government intends that in future the compensatory award be limited and that it be capped at either just a year of the claimant’s salary, or at between one and three times the median salary workers earn annually. Currently, that amount is £25,882. There will be a new statutory Code of Practice and approved model documents on how to conclude a settlement agreement (the new term for a compromise agreement). And the government plans to introduce some model documents — standard letters designed for use in making a settlement offer and a model settlement agreement. However, it won’t be compulsory to use these document. Other major changes to employment law are being considered, including: n the introduction of employee-shareholder contracts whereby in return for shares (worth at least £2,000) in the employer’s business, employees would forego dismissal and some family-friendly working rights (see Labour Research, December 2012, page 21); n a reduction in the length of the consultation period in collective redundancy situations (see Labour Research, August 2012, page 21); n a requirement in whistleblowing claims for employees to reasonably believe their disclosure is made in the public interest; n judges sitting alone in the EAT, and the use of legal officers (rather than judges) to decide low-value tribunal claims (see Labour Research, November, 2012, page 19); and n where an employer has breached the equal pay provisions of the 2010 Equal Pay Act, a requirement for tribunals to order an equal pay audit.

moving an essential measure” for monitoring discrimination. The government’s attempts to undermine equality rules under the guise of cutting “red tape” and “bureaucracy”are certain to continue into 2013. For example, it announced last October that it is repealing various provisions in the 2010 Equality Act, such as making employers liable for the harassment of their staff by third parties (see Labour Research, December 2012, page 19). Employment tribunals are also set to lose the power to make wider recommendations to employers in workplace discrimination cases. These amendments to the 2010 Equality Act will be made by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. From 8 March 2013, parental leave will increase from three to four months for parents with a year’s service and who have children aged under five (18 if the child is disabled). This policy has already been delayed by one year. However, in practice, few employees are likely to use this entitlement as it is unpaid.

Health and Safety

Another year of madness lies ahead in the field of health and safety, as the government Equality continues with its cost-cutting agenda, regardless of consequences. In a move described as “reckless” by And new laws to protect workers will face unions, prime minister David Cameron told stiff opposition in this parliament, especially the CBI employers’ organisation at the end of after the announcement that from 1 January last year that he wanted government depart- 2013, the government’s “one-in-one-out” polments to stop conducting equality impact as- icy against new regulation is to be replaced sessments. This is the process that by a “one-in-two-out” policy. assesses how new policies will affect disadThis means that every new regulation that vantaged groups. imposes a new “financial burden” on busiOutgoing TUC general secretary Brendan ness must be offset by reductions of “red Barber said that the government was “retape” that will save double those costs.

Brainteaser... £50 TO BE WON

Page 7 NIPSA Reports

The government is set on de-regulating health and safety in the workplace. In April 2013, it plans to introduce new rules under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, freeing even more workplaces from the risk of a visit from the health and safety inspector (see Labour Research, November 2012, page 22). Regular inspections are to be scrapped. The only businesses at risk of inspection by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or a local authority inspector will be those operating in so-called “higher risk” fields, such as construction or food production, or businesses with a poor safety track record. In another move, branded a “disgrace” by the TUC, the government has announced that it will abolish the right of workers to claim compensation for injury caused by an employer’s breach of health and safety regulations — a right which has protected workers for more than 100 years (see Labour Research, December 2012, page 23). More damaging developments are expected in the form of the government’s plan to remove health and safety protection for the self-employed, on which consultation closed in October 2012, and its plan to “simplify” reporting under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations. Safety inspectors’ union Prospect, and the Faculty of Occupational Medicine — a body representing Britain’s occupational health doctors — have both spoken out against the support of the HSE for removing the reporting requirement for occupational diseases. Prospect says it is “alarmed at the signals” sent out by this proposal, which would end the obligation to report on diseases, including lead poisoning and many disabling lung and skin diseases. The year is also likely to see the repeal of

Prize crossword by Casper

£50 prize on offer for cryptic crossword winner. Five runners-up will receive £10. All entries with names and addresses attached to be sent to Editor NIPSA NEWS, Harkin House, 54 Wellington Park, Belfast BT9 6DP with name, Branch no and address clearly attached.

Winner of the Nov/Dec NIPSA Reports crossword £50 prize is: D Moore (Branch 301), Dungannon. Runners-up: Debbie Trotter (Branch 560), Dungannon; Grainne Layden (Branch 70), Downpatrick; Robert Brown (Branch 509), Derry; Paddy Largey (Branch 312), Omagh; Steven Hall (Branch 24), Larne. Down Across 1 Attempt to hide one pound - something to 25 (6) 1 Dog covering thing to 25 (4-4) 2 Spike - one out of the sun for ages may say this ? 5 Black fish on spit (6) (6) 9 Fake one thousand bill (8) 3 Price silly Emu as something to 25 (7) 10 Bedaubs spikes after kinky practice (6) 4 Help is what the gambler must have ! (4) 12 Be quiet ! Something to 25 riding (4,2) 13 Something to 25 that's fine in open-air, possibly 6 Male sheep and boy in storm (7) 7 This beast may have a crush on you if you're un(8) 15 General takes wine back on drunken spree - you lucky! (8) 8 An army, after struggle, rely on inn (8) can't predict what he'll 25! (6,6) 11 Doctor is bored - take off something to 25 (7) 18 This being made in the lab ? (4-4,4) 14 Bald old funny geek (7) 23 Cooked oat with Trill for a pancake (8) 16 Son tests odd things to 25 on your head (8) 24 Sal returns to new oak to see Aussie tree 17 Good violins - small things to 25 (1-7) dwellers (6) 19 Non-drinker accepts his extremely large plant 26 Flashy metal around brown back (6) (7) 27 Disease twice said to come from town in 20 Show disapproval at things to 25 - baby's things Greater Manchester (8) to 25 on feet (7) 28 After first spell Cinders gets things to 25 (6) 21 Rip off something to 25 (6) 29 View a candidate (8) 22 Thirst badly for something to 25 (1-5) 25 Combat round east makes you tire (4)




several important regulations, in particular, the Construction Head Protection Regulations and the Notification of Conventional Tower Cranes Regulations, against opposition from unions including Unite, the GMB, construction union UCATT, and safety campaign groups. On a more positive note, there will be a second reading in February 2013 of a Ten Minute Rule Bill, backed by retail workers’ union Usdaw, to give shopworkers legal protection against violence and abuse — the Protection of Workers Bill . The Bill proposes a new offence relating to assaults on public-facing workers, carrying a maximum sentence of 12 months or a £10,000 fine. Lastly, safety campaigners have one more reason to give thanks for Britain’s membership of the European Union. Without the European directive on the prevention of sharps injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector forcing the government’s hand, it is unlikely that the Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 would have seen the light of day in the prevailing political climate. These new regulations will require employers in the sector to introduce arrangements for the safe use and disposal of sharps, as well as proper training, information, monitoring and reporting.

Learning and training

The year looks set to be dominated by the introduction of further education (FE) fees for adults aged 24 and over and proposals aimed at reforming apprenticeships. From September 2013, and as part of the government’s further education reform programme New Challenges new chances, adults aged 24 plus entering further education will be the first to face a new loan system similar to that operating in higher education. Many UK students in FE currently pay 50% of their tuition fees, while the state pays the rest. But from 2013-14 anyone aged 24 or over who wants to study at level 3 (A- Level or above), will pay the full cost of their tuition via a student loan rather than through any upfront fees. Controversially, this could impact on apprenticeships, as adults aged 24 plus who undertake advanced apprenticeships will have to contribute to the cost of their study — unless the employer takes on the liability.



9 12

16 18





















Previous crossword answers: Across:1 Dramatised, 7 Gaga, 9 Sauterne, 10 Allure, 11 Steppe, 13 Gardenia, 14 Inhospitable, 17 Intransigent, 20 Extensor, 21 Clever, 22 Salami, 23 Cocktail, 25 Idle, 26 Mutton bird. Down: 2 Roasting, 3 Met, 4 Torte, 5 Sleight, 6 Diatribes, 7 Golden eagle, 8 Garlic, 12 Proliferate, 15 Potassium, 16 Anterior, 18 Apricot, 19 Expand, 21 Cacao, 24 Tub.


Page 8 NIPSA Reports

Jack Hart obituary

Signals specialist who fought Thatcher's ban on unions at GCHQ

Jack Hart, who has died aged 86, was a most unlikely, certainly most unexpected, trade union hero, thrust into that role on 25 January 1984 when he was summoned to a meeting of top officials at GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping centre in Cheltenham. He was presented with an ultimatum that sent shockwaves throughout the trade union movement.

Following his retirement, after more than 30 years as a radio operator, Hart became secretary of GCHQ Trade Unions, established by those who refused to give up their rights, and ensured the regular production of the campaign newsletter, Warning Signal. Hart was born in Rainham, Essex, and attended the Royal Liberty school at Gidea Park. In 1945, he was called up, joined the Royal Corps of Signals and was posted to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to train as a wireless Hart, in his role as chair of the different civil operator with the intention of keeping in contact with allied agents planning to be service union branches representing staff at dropped into Japanese-occupied Burma. the large spy agency, was told that Margaret The war ended before the operations Thatcher had decided to ban all unions at began, but Hart stayed until Indian independGCHQ; staff must give up membership or face dismissal. This led to a campaign to re- ence in 1947, when he returned to Britain. A former Royal Signals colleague got in touch store the unions that united the TUC more to suggest that he might be interested in jointhan any other during the 11 years of the ing "an obscure branch of the Foreign Office Thatcher government. Year in and year out, until the Blair regime who do things with radios" – a reference to GCHQ, the successor of the wartime coderestored unions at GCHQ in one of the first breaking centre at Bletchley Park, Buckingacts after Labour swept into office in 1997, Hart, often with his wife Iris at his side, set up hamshire. Its peacetime eavesdropping role was not exposed until the late 1970s. "roadshows" that accompanied the annual Hart took a six-week crash course in Russconferences of national trade unions. He ran ian and in 1952 was posted to Cyprus his stall at the protest rallies held every year in Cheltenham that were addressed by union (where GCHQ still has a listening station). In and political leaders. Hart was the indefatiga- his role as radio operator, earphones on his head, plugged into a receiver scanning the ble organiser and mediator, frequently helpairwaves to listen to Soviet bloc communicaing to iron out disputes over a quiet beer.

Possible Judicial Review over DARD HQ relocation NIPSA’s legal advisors are looking at the potential for a Judicial Review over DARD’s decision to relocate its HQ along with Rivers Agency HQ.

It relates to the department’s failure to undertake equality screening and an Equality Impact Assessment before Ballykelly was chosen as the new site. NIPSA Official Noel Griffin told NIPSA Reports: “Prior to the Minister’s announcement, NIPSA raised the issue of the need to undertake screening and an Equality Impact Assessment during formal meetings of the Departmental Consultative Forum. “In line with equality legislation, we expected both to be carried out prior to any announcement on the final location. “The department has statutory equality duties to meet under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. Indeed, its own equality

scheme sets out the actions that should be taken to meet its equality duties and to ensure that equality is central to any policy and decisionmaking process.� At various meetings since September last year NIPSA has sought an explanation from senior departmental over the absence of any screening process or Equality Impact Assessment. Despite assurances no explanation has been received to date. Mr Griffin added: “In the absence of an explanation, NIPSA had no alternative but to instruct our legal advisors to take appropriate action. The effect of not carrying out an EQIA is potentially to discriminate against persons and may be unlawful. “While the department have recently advised of its intention to conduct an EQIA, this does not in NIPSA’s view render the decision lawful. We await the department’s explanation with interest.�

CAWC puts its case before Assembly Committee

THE Coalition Against Water Charges gave the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Regional Development Committee a detailed presentation on the proposed Water and Sewerage Services (Amendment) Bill earlier this month.

proposals to change NI Water’s governance arrangements should be guided by the following principles: n Water and sewerage services should be delivered by a body clearly within the public service and accountable to the people of Northern Ireland through the The Coalition told the ComNorthern Ireland Assembly, mittee it backed the Bill as a means of ensuring Northern Ire- n NI Water will not be privatised, and land households did not face n No separate household water separate water charges for the charges should be introduced. next three years. Coalition representatives underHowever, they pointed out lined that any future considerathat in the long term, govertion of governance nance arrangements for NI Water – which exist under a leg- arrangements could only go ahead after full consultation islative model designed for a with stakeholders – including private company – did need to the trade unions – and that new be addressed. arrangements must meet the Coalition members outlined ICTU’s position on the provision principle of full transparency of of water and sewerage services all NI Water’s capital and revat the meeting. They said that enue costs.

tions, Hart was posted to Hong Kong and did further tours of duty in Cyprus. But his base was at GCHQ's outstation, since closed, at Culmhead, near Taunton, in Somerset. Hart was among many ex-forces signals specialists who joined GCHQ in the years after the war. Free from the constraints of army discipline, they regarded membership of trade unions as a welcome, indeed natural, outlet. They also loyally maintained the official secrecy surrounding their work, often even from their families. They deeply resented Thatcher's claim that there was a "conflict of loyalty" between being a trade union member and working for GCHQ. For Hart and his colleagues, this was the ultimate insult. Hart was a keen supporter of cricket, first of Essex, later of Somerset, and of Arsenal football club. He played skittles for the civil service. He was no great orator, but spoke with sincerity as he helped to keep the campaign going with dogged commitment. He was prevented by the government from giving evidence to MPs to challenge claims that industrial action in 1979 and 1981 had disrupted " the constant day and night monitoring of foreign signals communications". He said he would have told the MPs that GCHQ management had never suggested that any industrial action had threatened the agency's

operational efficiency. As if to drive the point home, senior GCHQ officials went out of their way to praise the work of staff, including union members, for their work during the 1982 Falklands conflict. The union ban was almost certainly imposed under pressure from the US, though this has never been officially admitted. Iris died three years ago. Hart leaves a son, Des, and daughter, Kate. n Jack Hart, radio operator and trade unionist, born 18 February 1926; died 27 November 2012

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