NEWSPAPER OF NORTHERN IRELAND’S LEADING PUBLIC SERVICE TRADE UNION
MAY 2013 Tel: 028 90661831 www.nipsa.org.uk
PSNI Scientific Support staff ballot for industrial action
AS NIPSA Reports goes to press, members working in PSNI Scientific Support are balloting for industrial action.
FIGHT GOES ON TO SAVE HOUSING EXECUTIVE Housing Executive workers on the May Day Festival parade in Belfast. More pictures on pages 6/7. Picture Photoline: Kevin Cooper
SINCE the beginning of the year, NIPSA has been actively campaigning to retain the Housing Executive as an overarching strategic housing body with an integrated landlord.
As one councillor told us: “I am supportive of the Housing Executive – while I may not always get what I want for my constituents, I am always dealt with in a courteous and professional manner. I know who to talk to and the releThe union continues to argue vant member of staff always comes that the fight to retain this body is back to me. an absolute must and a key feature “This is in stark contrast to my of NIPSA’s Public Service Defence experience of working with various Campaign. Housing Associations who are NIPSA has continued its series of engagements with councils over often remote and regularly do not respond to the queries raised with the last few weeks in a bid to put them”. forward our arguments and proDuring May, NIPSA also enmote our campaign to defend the gaged directly with the Central provision of social housing by the Community Tenants Network – a Housing Executive. grouping of key community and There has been fairly wideresident association members who spread degree of support for our have strongly backed NIPSA’s campaign at most of these meetcampaign. NIPSA agreed to hold ings. regular meetings with them as the A number of the arguments put campaign develops. forward by NIPSA resonate with NIPSA’s NIHE Central Panel has councillors – many of whom have a long history of working on behalf of also reviewed the next steps in the campaign – that will be to more actheir constituents with the local tively engage with local tenant/resiHousing Executive staff over the dent groups to build the campaign many issues which tenants and prospective tenants have. with tenants at grassroots level.
social housing in Northern Ireland. “This is a fight I believe with the support of all members, tenants, political representatives, trades councils etc we can win. “Please support the defence of f the the Housing Executive and the proo n o iti vision of social housing in Northern a b ol the Ireland by supporting the NIPSA campaign. “This is not an issue for just NIPSA members in the Housing Executive – it must be an issue for every NIPSA member.” On the negotiating front, NIPSA Deputy General Secretary Alison has met with the Permanent Secretary Will Haire to ensure that the Millar said: “NIPSA is determined to continue this campaign over the Department and NIHE managecoming weeks, months and years. ment meet with NIPSA regularly We have commissioned academic and in a structured basis to deal research to provide NIPSA activists with all issues that may arise out of the Social Housing Reform Proand local representatives with the gramme – which is wider than the arguments needed to build and proposed abolition of the Housing sustain the campaign into the fuExecutive. ture. Two meetings have been held to “We will not sit on our laurels – date. It is anticipated that formal but we must engage actively from the grassroots upwards if we are to negotiating and consultation defend the retention of the Housing arrangements will in place by early Executive as the main provider of June.
p o t s ing s e houu ti v
PUBLIC SERVICES DEFENCE CAMPAIGN SPECIAL REPORTS Pages 2/3
ANOTHER WORLD IS Page POSSIBLE
MAY DAY PICTURES
Despite efforts by NIPSA to persuade management to consider increasing the on-call allowance and the introduction of a Scene and Emergency Attendance Allowance for those staff, there has been a reluctance to properly engage on the issue. C6 Scientific Support Staff (CSI, Mapping Section, Photography Branch and Fingerprint Bureau) have operated an essential and contractual on-call system since civilianisation 25 years ago. Management insist that what is payable is constrained by the NICS code and have said the allowance is “low” but “adequate”. A NIPSA source said: “Previous discussions around improving the allowance have failed to lead to any concrete offer and staff have now run out of patience.” NIPSA members have indicated at a number of meetings that they are prepared to withdraw from the ‘on-call’ rota. They point to colleagues within the Forensic Science Agency who receive a much more realistic payment for the major inconvenience of taking part in the rota and highlight how that payment has increased by 12.5% since it was introduced. By comparison the £4.90 midweek rate for staff in PSNI has remained unchanged for decades. The source said: “NIPSA’s view is that these payments are paltry when the commitment and professionalism of Scientific Support staff is considered. During the period of call, members of staff are unable to lead ‘normal’ lives or plan family activities. “Members quite justifiably feel that they should be properly compensated for the inconvenience this causes.” It is understood management have suggested further talks, facilitated by the Labour Relations Agency and NIPSA has agreed to enter that process. The source added: “What is clear, however, is that members are absolutely determined to secure parity with their FSA colleagues and proper recognition for their work.” All NIPSA members are urged to support their colleagues in this dispute.
FULL reports and pictures from DARD Conference held over until next edition due to lack of space
HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE
Pages 6/7 CENTRAL PANEL Pages 8//9/10/11
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NCE E F E D S E C I V PUBLIC SER TS R O P E R L A I C PE CAMPAIGN S
We must counter the daylight robbery of our public services Some of the guests attending the launch of NIPSA’s ‘The Daylight Robbery of Privatisation: Private Profit From Public Loss’
DEBTS have been nationalised while profits have been privatised was the key message hammered home at the launch of NIPSA’s latest research publication.
decades in the UK and European context. “Drawing on this NIPSA highlights what privatisation and outsourcing delivers – rising costs with worse or withdrawn services delivered by private companies that are not accountable and by staff whose terms and NIPSA President Patrick Mulholland, conditions are undermined. speaking at the launch of ‘The Daylight Rob“Our research also shows how privatisabery of Privatisation: Private Profit From tion and ‘outsourcing’ represents a massive Public Loss’, said: “We have seen successive governments nationalise the banks, the redistribution of wealth. It is the ‘robbery’ of debts from the fiscal meltdown and [are] now what we, as a community own, being sold engaging in privatisation of profitable sectors cheaply into private hands and grotesque rewards being given to the companies involved of the public sector.” in these sell-offs, most of whom are no Claiming NIPSA was having to deal with strangers to the aggressive tax avoidance “privatisation by stealth”, he added: “We the current Chancellor of the Exchequer have seen leisure services being privatised, elderly care hit by the proposals to close res- claims to be ‘morally repugnant’.” Report author John McVey claimed it was idential homes and forcing residents into prisignificant that Margaret Thatcher had lived vate care facilities, outsourcing of Civil Service departments and educational needs long enough to see “the latest crisis of capitalism”. also affected.” He said the great advantage trade unionHe warned that “alarm bells” were going ists enjoyed today in contrast to those who off and the trade union had to be aware that the Assembly was “taking the road to privati- opposed Thatcherism in the 1980s was that sation” by imposing the Westminster govern- all the “public relations garbage around markets and market solutions” was now looking ment’s austerity measures. “pretty shabby”. “Our latest research counters the arguAfter the Second World War, there had ment against privatisation and nailing the lies been, he said, a “collective reaction against and myths put out by the government, the free market negligence” and part of the reAssembly and the press that there is no sponse to that was the setting up of public other option and the only road we can go is services “as the spine of a society and a the private route. “We expose the reality of privatisation that means, however flawed, of redistributing reit is largely less efficient and largely more ex- sources”. Mr McVey warned that this movement for pensive.” NIPSA General Secretary Brian Campfield positive change after the war stood in contrast with today’s privatisation agenda which claimed privatisation was not a “faraway” constituted “a massive transfer of wealth to threat but was “already here” in the Civil private corporate interests – most of all moService, in health, education, local governnopolies –beyond national or democratic acment and housing. “As our research highlights, there is an ex- countability”. He said: “We discuss [in the booklet] the tensive international evidence and performinequality that this economic model has deance base that exposes the false promises that mis-sold privatisation’s central tenets for livered founded as it is on grotesque reward at the top, tax avoidance by the corporate
owners and minimum terms and conditions for the employees. “We look at the evidence at a local, national and international level and across a range of sectors. We look at how the big promises of privatisation – that competition would increase, savings would be delivered; that prices would be lower etc – are all lies. “Significantly, so bad has been this performance that in the context of local government in England and Wales, some services are returning in-house – including in some Conservative and no overall control authorities – because even they in some instances have come to realise that in the advent of market failure, it is the state that picks up the tab.” Mr McVey quoting from a recent CBI report – outlining its opposition to pay progression and arguing for a debate on regional pay as well as the ‘opening up’ of public services – pointed out that “their aims are modest… they only want the Earth!” He said: “In some ways we can take the tone of frustration in the [CBI] document that they haven’t got it – as a back-handed compliment to the resistance we have shown, but as their perpetual whining about corporation tax shows – they keep coming back. This is why we have to be alert to their ‘permanent counter-revolution’. “For example, you’ll notice they are still fighting against the minimum wage and in the wider assault on welfare – you’ll see they are still fighting the class war that Bevan was talking about. I think the breadth of the CBI ambition should give us all food for thought.” Mr McVey said: “At the heart of all that we do – in particular on this threat of privatisation, we have to focus on getting the maximum involvement from members and deepening our links in the community. “We have to make sure that when the CBI hear a slogan such as ‘Unity is Strength’ or ‘The workers united will never be defeated’
NIPSA’s researcher and author of the latest union publication John McVey
they don’t console themselves thinking that this will never happen, we won’t behave in a way that displays this unity or be able to mobilise enough people. “We have to make sure, therefore, that all our activity is about building our confidence and weakening that of our enemy. “To build our confidence will require discipline, organisation and strategic planning. With this we can counter what we call the daylight robbery of privatisation.”
PSNI outsourcing shows it’s time to arrest privatisation
NIPSA members are increasingly reporting their concerns about Resource NI’s ability to meet the requirements of a contract awarded to them by the PSNI.
Police management have always maintained that
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the outsourcing of some roles would free up police officers for front-line work but NIPSA Reports can reveal that, contrary to this assertion, police officers have been called in to carry out duties that should be performed by Resource employees. These problems stem from the PSNI’s decision to deal with austerity-linked budget cuts by privatising a number of functions historically carried out by civil servants or civilianised under the Patten recommendations. Resource NI was awarded a contract last September that will cost the public up to £180 million. NIPSA has been opposed to the move from the beginning and has since exposed how private sector contracts have led to a ‘jobs for the boys’ culture that sees police officers leaving with enhanced
severance terms only to return to the service under the guise of private companies such as G4S. NIPSA members are angry that rather than reduce the reliance on these companies, senior management have significantly expanded the number of roles being outsourced. NIPSA Official Ryan McKinney said: “The writing is on the wall for decent pay and conditions in the PSNI unless we can force management to return to recruitment of permanent staff on the same pay as their colleagues. “We have exhausted every avenue possible to challenge this practice and are now in the final stages of preparing for a judicial review hearing in June. “NIPSA representatives continue to report instances where Resource do not ful-
fil elements of their contract and where staff are forced to relocate in order to facilitate the arrival of Resource staff into a police station. “Along with other NIPSA representatives, I have continued to bring these matters to the attention of the Policing Board.” The situation in the PSNI is another clear example of how privatisation is increasingly seen as a way to manage budget reductions. But the ‘private sector good – public sector bad’ myth is exposed once these contracts actually start operating. The public lose twice over as they are paying more while the service actually decreases. NIPSA will, however, continue to challenge these contacts.
The fight is on as NHS privatisation gathers pace NEWS
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NCE E F E D S E C I V PUBLIC SER RTS O P E R L A I C E P CAMPAIGN S
NIPSA joined with other trade unions and staff side organisations to meet with the Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee on May 1 to discuss the role of the private sector in the health system.
Assistant Secretary Kevin McCabe, who has responsibility for health, attended the meeting as one of the HSC Joint Secretaries and presented the union’s analysis of the current situation. Despite concerted opposition, most of the proposals in the ‘Transforming Your Care: Vision to Action’ document are to be fully implemented. The union has also underlined the fact that there are insufficient funds available in the HSC budget to finance such a radical reform programme. According to NIPSA, Trusts are now adopting these recommendations. In late April, the entire HSC system was shocked to hear that the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, under direction from Health Minister Edwin Poots, was planning to close every statutory residential home within the Primary & Community Care for Older Peoples Services directorate. The closures are to start with Pinewood Care Home in Ballymena in November this year and conclude with the shutting up of Roddens Care Home in Ballymoney in 2017/18. This is a Trust decision and NIPSA has warned management the decision could result in social isolation for elderly people as well as deaths. NIPSA has argued that these closures amount to nothing more than a cost-saving exercise and that the Trust is letting budgetary concerns take precedence over the safety and welfare of their service users. This is also potentially discriminatory and may constitute an example of institutional ageism. NIPSA will be raising the issue with the Trust’s Equality Unit. It is understood NIPSA will further press the case that the Trust may also be in breach of their duty of care by not providing adequate residential accommodation when an assessment of need has been carried out by qualified multi-disciplinary teams of doctors, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. The management argument that service users would prefer to be cared for at home has been dismissed by NIPSA as “rhetoric and double speak”. A source told NIPSA Reports: “Of course service users would like to be cared for at home, who would not? But if a service user requires some level of residential care as per their multi-disciplinary medical assessment, then this option needs to be at least offered to them. “If it is not because the service no longer exists or is being diminished because of budgetary constraints as the current plan outlines, then the Trust is failing in its duty of care.”
And in a further demoralising blow, the Southern and Western Health and Social Care Trusts also confirmed plans to close all of their residential homes. Meanwhile, NIPSA is seeking to expose the Northern Ireland Assembly’s privatisation agenda after the Executive’s decision to fund two £40 million health centres in Newry and Lisburn. This development will funnel millions of pounds of public money into the pockets of big businesses at the expense of essential health services. Further privatisation within the NHS will be carried out through the setting up of a Commissioning Board and Local Commissioning Groups which will take control of budgets to buy services for patients. They will be allowed to buy from any service providers – and this will see a massive increase of big businesses tendering for services as a way of making big profits at the expense of health care. So far £1.4 billion has been cut from the health budget, to be followed by cuts as high as £5 billion in 2015 due to job cuts alone. Mr Poots has previously acknowledged that he has no idea how much public money will be paid to private developers – money that should be kept within the NHS and more efficiently used to provide essential health care, create jobs and services. Finance for this is through a mechanism known as third party development (3PD). Private sector companies will be allowed to build facilities and lease the buildings back to the health service at extortionate rates. Privatisation has been roundly discredited as a
means to provide essential health services. The only people who benefit are shareholders, big business and profiteers. If further evidence is needed to show how the private sector is being appeased, you only have to look at the recent development in the Western Health and Social Care Trust where the Trust was specifically challenged as to whether ‘3 Five Two’, an independent clinic and private health care provider, was to use facilities in the new South Western Acute Hospital. Trust chiefs were asked to confirm if Ward 4 and one of the theatres were being used for this purpose. They replied: “The Western Trust has been approached by a number of independent sector providers to utilise facilities to deliver patient care of which 3 Five Two is one. In Northern Ireland a number of Health and Social Care Trusts have “licensed agreements” with independent sector providers to use HSC facilities to deliver services when additional capacity is required”. The Trust’s discussions with 3 Five Two to date have included the use of Ward 4 and one theatre. Kevin McCabe described these developments as “very concerning”. He said: “It is clear that privatisation is being facilitated. NIPSA is committed to raising media publicity around this issue locally and regionally. “It is also NIPSA’s intention to ask further questions of the Trusts about costs to the private provider for the use of Trust facilities, overheads, heating, lighting, rent etc. and we will be examining all avenues to obtain de-
tails of the finances involved and expose these costs to our members and the general public.” Individually, each Health Trust is required to conduct local consultations on all of the proposed closures or changes. These consultations are due to start shortly. It is clear, however, that the consultations are not to explore an alternative to closures but are about how best to implement the changes and not about whether they should happen in the first place. Trusts have already met with relatives and residents of care homes to discuss their options. And Health Trusts staff have also expressed concern that the opinion of those who are against the planned closures is being ignored. The union has asked its members to assist the union in fighting the closures by making the general public aware of Mr Poots’ plans and by encouraging service users, their families and friends to contact local MLAs to express strong opposition to the planned closures. A NIPSA source added: “This fight is not over and it can be won if we work together to gain media and political support. It is NIPSA’s intention to expose the issues around Transforming Your Care and to highlight the damage that will be done by its implementation.” At a recent NIPSA Health Conference a very comprehensive and detailed strategy of industrial opposition to TYC was endorsed.
Austerity is working…for some
AT A time when the vast majority of the population, whether in work or in increasing numbers out of work, are under attack from what the Institute of Fiscal studies has described as “unprecedented” cuts, the UK government chose in the last budget to cut the top rate of income tax.
ple in the United Kingdom equalled almost £450 billion. In addition, the number of billionaires has increased year on year since the list was first published in 1989. These UK-domiciled individuals are not included in the United States Forbes magazine’s annual listing. Despite this, the wealth of the super-rich is listed by Forbes at £3.6 trillion. This equates to such individuals This gifted £42,500 a year to every millionaire in the possessing personal wealth equal to a third of the value UK. It could not have made clearer the deceit in the slo- of the wealth the US economy produces. gan used as the new age of austerity began – “we’re all These figures reinforce how a grotesque redistribution in this together” of wealth from the bottom to the top of the economic This point was reinforced both nationally and interna- pyramid has been at the heart of neo-liberalism for the tionally by the publication of the Sunday Times Rich List past three decades. And this is most explicit in one of which reported the total wealth of the 1,000 richest peo- its key policy drivers - privatisation.
NIPSA’s Policy and Research Officer, John McVey, told NIPSA Reports: “The key element of privatisation is that profit is made by private individuals from services that were once publically-owned. “In this way, instead of all of us as citizens benefiting, the attempt is made to turn us into consumers, paying for what was once free at the point of use so that the already privileged can enrich themselves from such transactions. “Examination of the issue shows the privatised model consistently delivers grotesque rewards at the top, tax avoidance by the corporate owners and minimum terms and conditions for the employees.”
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WHY ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE… TWO major events occur in Fermanagh from late May to early June and the contrast between them could not be greater.
bers’ families, as many of them – to the shame of their employer, the government itself –have to rely on various types of social security benefits to bring their income up to a level on which they and their famiThe annual conference of your union, lies can survive. NIPSA, the largest and most active trade The decisions of the NIPSA Conference union in Northern Ireland, will be held in will inform how we build our campaign to Enniskillen from May 28 to May 31 and will resist the continuing attacks on working be attended by delegates elected by mem- people – attacks on their jobs, their inbers of NIPSA branches. come, pensions and on the public services There they will debate a range of moon which they rely. tions covering a wide range of issues, inFast-forward a few weeks to June 16 and cluding privatisation of public services, the 17 at the Lough Erne Resort, Fermanagh. suppression of wage levels, dilution of Here, the leaders of the G8 group of napension entitlements, increased pension tions will meet to discuss the shaping of age, job cuts and attacks on redundancy global affairs. terms. While they have it in their power to take The delegates attending represent more decisions that could be in the interest of than 45,000 employees from across the millions of people across the globe, in realpublic sector, but their work and activity is ity they will pursue policies which are deeffectively on behalf of thousands more signed to prop up and defend a system public sector workers who benefit from the that is incapable of tackling world poverty, work of trade unions in the workplace. global hunger and unemployment. As the trade union campaign against The scale and commitment of the G8 welfare ‘reform’ demonstrates, NIPSA and leaders to the wealthy, vested interests the trade union movement generally, also that they represent so well is staggering. campaign on behalf of the least well off All the rhetoric around measures to tackle members of society who are vulnerable be- corporate tax evasion and avoidance, because they are not organised. hind the use of words like “democracy”, In addition, this broader work on welfare “peace”, and “development” belies the re‘reform’ also directly benefits our memality that poverty and inequality continue
to increase BECAUSE of the system and the policies they support. The recent report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that Britain faces rising levels of inequality because it is pursuing austerity policies that are widening the gulf between rich and poor. The report, which covers 2010, warned that the financial crisis is squeezing income and putting pressure on inequality and poverty with the young and the poor being hit the hardest. If this was the position in 2010, the situation three years later has undoubtedly got worse. The mantra that there is no money out there is a falsehood. This is demonstrated by the fact that the bank accounts of British corporations are overflowing, with more than £700 billion, doing nothing for the economy or the people. If the G8 leaders were serious about tackling hunger, poverty or unemployment steps would be taken to force the release of some of these reserves for economic development and/or socially-useful investment. The least that could be done would be to tax these reserves. However, that is not the mindset of the G8 leaders as they defer to the sacred cow of the free market, the interests of the large
corporations and the wealthy. The trade union movement in Northern Ireland has been actively working with a wide section of civic society (organisations including Friends of the Earth, the If Campaign and Amnesty International) to use the G8 summit in Fermanagh to highlight that a fairer world is possible. But that won’t happen unless the great mass of people organise for real change in the way in which economic and social priorities are set. The centrepiece of the opposition to the policies of the G8 will be a major march and rally in Belfast city centre on Saturday, June 15. NIPSA is calling on all members and their families to attend this event. The hosting of the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland is, at best, a dubious honour. We owe it to ourselves and to all those across the globe, who are the victims of an economic system that cares nothing for working people, to mark the G8 Summit with a resounding message that there is, as the trade union movement has proclaimed, a better and fairer way. ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE – it is up to all of us to mobilise to achieve it.
NIPSA backs council Belfast City discrimination claims trio Council
NIPSA has offered its full backing to three members who took religious discrimination claims against Craigavon Borough Council to the Fair Employment Tribunal. In a statement released on March 21, the union said it believed the council workers, Paddy Prunty, Declan Brown and Kieran Cahoon, had been “the subject of an orchestrated campaign of vilification and demonisation in the media” and that subsequent to the coverage some had even been “threatened outside of work”. The statement added that the men had taken the action “in good faith” and in order to protect their rights in the face of a “clear and continuing” failure by their employer “to protect their rights and their dignity at work”. NIPSA said the Fair Employment Tribunal decision not to award costs against the workers was a total vindication of their motivation in pursuing the claims. The statement continued: “We feel it is important to highlight that an important aspect of the Council’s defence of the case was an acceptance that these employees were the subject of unacceptable treatment which caused them considerable stress.” Craigavon Borough Council had employed a consultant to probe the allegations but had failed to
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– albeit to a lesser extent – that the case of religious discrimination was weakened.” At the same time the Council received a statement from the manager directly contradicting these two statements, denying that they NIPSA has to deal with were mistreated. countless issues on behalf of NIPSA said that if the Council members in the workplace. had initially met its duty of care Many of these, by their very and protected staff from harassnature, remain beneath the ment and bullying, then the three surface in order to protect workers would not have been the members involved. As a forced to lodge the proceedings union we act on behalf of as the only way they could protect members, without fear or themselves from “constant and favour, irrespective of their unacceptable behaviour”. gender, religion or political The statement continued: views. Where it is clear that members are being treated “These employees are committed unfairly, we are proud to supto delivering public services on port them. The following behalf of all the people who live in statement was issued on bethe Borough irrespective of their half of a group of members religion and we insist that they are in Craigavon who stood up allowed to fulfil their responsibilifor their right to be treated ties without having to endure and with dignity in the workplace. suffer bullying and harassment at act on a recommendation that dis- work. ciplinary action be taken against “While they have withdrawn the manager at the centre of the their tribunal cases, they remain claims. convinced that there was an ele“It was only at the eleventh hour when the Council produced state- ment of religious discrimination behind the unacceptable treatments which demonstrated that ment that they experienced and the same manager who had treated these employees in an un- they reserve the right to have these concerns properly adacceptable manner had also treated co religionists in an unac- dressed by the Council or relevant ceptable and unprofessional way authority.”
Brian Campfield, General Secretary
union reps in pay victory TRADE union representatives in Belfast City Council have successfully negotiated to have the £250 payment, recommended by Chancellor George Osborne, be paid to staff on Scale 6, earning up to £23,708 – that is higher than the £21,000 he had originally set out in the Budget.
by the employer which had to be overcome. However, the trades unions in the council were determined to pursue this issue. “They worked collectively to ensure that not only those below the pay limit of £21,000 but also those just above the threshold also got the payment with some negotiation around flexibility. “The outcome we achieved couldn’t be altogether straightforward, but as a result it includes Talks on the issue started early employees in the grade above £21,000 and the payment will be last year with NIPSA Deputy made in full to part-time employGeneral Secretary Alison Millar and local representatives arguing ees, not pro-rata. “Pay is the single most importhat payments should be make to tant issue for our members and those members most in need. even more so for those on have Negotiations were described as low pay and part-time workers “difficult and protracted” as the £250 payment was discretionary. who have been particularly afHowever, NIPSA along with the fected by the pay freeze. “ Alison Millar was delighted by other trade unions were not put what was achieved in talks.She off and continued to counter the said: “This is an excellent outemployer’s arguments. come for all the unions in Belfast Tom Wilkinson, Trade Union City Council. NIPSA’s Tom WilkinCo-ordinator at Belfast City Council and Deputy Chairperson son and those representing other of the Branch, led the talks team. unions are to be congratulated He told NIPSA Reports: “It was and commended on their tireless not an easy battle to win and seri- work to ensure that the lowest paid members received a pay inous legal arguments were made crease.”
Big changes in the NIPSA DOE/DRD departmental office
NIPSA stalwart Damian Bannon return to the DOE at the beginning of June after a number of years service as NIPSA Departmental Secretary covering members in the Departments of Environment, Regional Development and Culture, Arts & Leisure.
He decided that the time was right for another challenge having held a variety of posts in the section office over the past decade. Damian has amassed a wealth of knowledge during his tenure and will be an immense loss to the office and in particular members in areas such as the NIEA and NI
Water where he played a significant role in protecting NIPSA members’ interests when the GoCo was set up. NIPSA’s loss will undoubtedly be DOE’s gain and we expect they will take full advantage of his skills when he returns to the department. NIPSA Reports wishes Damian all the best in his new role and hopes he doesn’t stray too far from his trade union roots! As one era comes to an end another begins as Joanne Veighey takes up the Departmental Secretary role vacated by Damian following a recent appointment process.
Joanne has been an Assistant Departmental Secretary since 2009 and will officially take up her new position immediately following the annual NIPSA Conference at the end of May. Having worked for a number of years in the NIEA, Joanne has had responsibility for members in DOE Planning Service since coming into the section office. While keenly aware of the challenges of taking on such a busy role and having to follow in the sizeable footprints left by her predecessor, Joanne is relishing the task ahead and looking forward to putting her own stamp on the job. We wish her luck.
Branch Organisers training event a first for NIPSA
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MORE than 40 branch organisers attended NIPSA’s first-ever branch organisers training event at Belfast’s Wellington Park Hotel on May 2. Its primary objective was to boost the profile of organising and recruitment across the union.
Opening the event, NIPSA President Padraig Mulholland emphasised the new-found priority given to organising by the union’s General Council. In his remarks, General Secretary Brian Campfield underlined that while the union now had a dedicated Organising Unit, it was still vital for local branch organisers and local committees to play their part. Andy Snoddy, Head of Organising with UNI Global Union in Switzerland, was the main speaker at the event. He began his contribution by stating that he came to organising because he was tired of losing and that he viewed organising as a means of increasing union membership, union activity and union strength. Mr Snoddy spoke about his own experiences in organising workplaces. He emphasised the need to have long-term plans and flexible strategies in place but warned that these needed to be backed up by pinpointing which issue was of most concern to members locally. Mr Snoddy said: ‘Sometimes we, as union reps, think we know the important issues in a workplace. But this is not always the case. “We need to put in the time, speak to members and nonmembers and understand what the issues are. “Once we know the issue, we can then develop a campaign around that issue, involving members, recruiting non-members and raising the profile of the union by campaigning and winning on the issue.” Branch organisers then split off into a number of workshops. The workshop delivered by HQ Organiser Ryan Wilson focused on Workplace Mapping as an essential means of informing local branch committees where membership was strong or weak within a workplace. HQ Organiser Naomi Connor took the workshop on Com-
NIPSA welcomes Assembly U-turn on RIDDOR
IN RESPONSE to representations made by NIPSA and the NIC/ICTU Health and Safety Committee to the Assembly Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee, Minister, Arlene Foster, has decided not to proceed with the proposed change to the trigger points under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations (RIDDOR) that were due to
come into force on April 1 this year. The decision not to proceed leaves intact the employer’s duty to report any accident that has led to an employee being absent from work for more than three days instead of the proposed move to more than seven days. Assistant Secretary Geraldine Alexander told NIPSA Reports: “We are delighted the Assembly has taken this common-sense
approach and have not taken the same path as Great Britain where the change was implemented on April 6, 2012.” The perceived need to reform the regulations was fuelled by claims from some business bodies that reporting duties are too complicated and constituted a burden to businesses. Ms Alexander said: “This decision has sent a clear signal to employers that re-
NIPSA’s General Secretary Brian Campfield (above) with special guest Andy Snoddy and senior union organiser Dooley Harte
monsense Communicatons underlining the need to raise NIPSA’s profile through effective communications – especially face-to-face contact. The third workshop was delivered by Dooley Harte, who
porting over three-day incidents is not a burden on businesses. “RIDDOR reports provide much-needed intelligence data and there is a duty on employers to comply with this duty.” She added: “NIPSA will continue to argue against any future de-regulation agenda which poses a threat to the health, safety and welfare of our members.”
oversees the Organising Unit at NIPSA HQ. The workshop, titled Being a Branch Organiser, covered the duties of an organiser, updating membership lists and recruitment. Following the workshops, organisers were given information on the additional benefits of NIPSA membership from some of the union’s service providers and the importance of getting this information out to reps, members and potential members. Speakers from McCartan Turkington Breen Solicitors, Platinum Finance and Membership Plus were able to provide detailed information on the services NIPSA members had access to and how these services could be used to recruit new members. The event concluded with branch organisers being given the task of returning to their branch committees and agreeing, planning and implementing two objectives before the end of June. One objective was to launch a recruitment campaign leading up to a public NIPSA Week where each branch would seek to recruit at least 10 new members to the union. The other objective would be for branch committees to consider how to improve their effectiveness by considering workplace mapping, undertaking a review of communications or setting up new processes to improve services to members. The meeting was told that support for any initiative would be given by Organising Unit but also that it must be led by branch organisers with the backing of their local committees. Feedback on the first-ever training event for branch organisers was very positive. One branch organiser commented that the event was “very enjoyable, well organised and the new materials were fab, punchy and to the point”. Dooley Harte told NIPSA Reports: “This training event has gone a long way to improving our support for branch organisers and feedback already received has been very positive. “The Organising Unit will provide what support it can and we will be building on the positive outcomes from the event in the coming months.”
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Windy cities in Belfast and NIPSA banners fly on May D Page 6 NIPSA Reports
NIPSA members, activists and families took to the windy streets of Belfast and Derry for the 2013 May Day Festival. They joined thousands of other trade unionists in celebrating the movementâ€™s 100 year anniversary. Pictures Photoline: Kevin Cooper
d Derry as Day Festival www.nipsa.org.uk
A spring in their steps NEWS
Page 7 NIPSA Reports
NIPSA General Secretary Brian Campfield is joined by ex-union President Maria Morgan and former GS John Corey on the May Day march in Belfast. Pictures courtesy of Andrew Flood
President: ‘Lakewood dispute showed why we’re different’ Page 8 NIPSA Reports
Health and Social Care Central Panel conference
IN HIS address to conference, NIPSA President Patrick Mulholland praised the union’s health service activists for all their hard work on behalf of members.
concerns until my branch in education and a number of others brought forward a motion to conference to get it much further up the union agenda. “Norman’s work over the past year is not only recognised by his own He added that – as the union’s top lay official – it was important to atunion but by the wider union movement and indicates that NIPSA has tend conferences such as the HSCCP to find out the how activists are taken considerable strides forward. NIPSA would like to congratulate working and dealing with members’ concerns. Norman on his success.” “Sometimes it’s easy to forget that our activists are doing their jobs The second issue, he said, that demonstrated NIPSA different apdaily and then their union duties on top of that. proach to other unions was the Lakewood dispute. “Our members do this because they believe in sacrifice and believe in Mr Mulholland told delegates: “The vast majority of people in Norththe principle of community and of social change. ern Ireland did not know that that dispute was taking place but it was “This I believe gives our union a greater strength than some of our one of the most important industrial issues this union was ever involved sister unions because we have a lay membership prepared to carry out in. that role on that basis.” “It stands out because it wasn’t a day here or there of strike action – it He added: “I want to acknowledge our activists who carry out this out- was 14 unrelenting weeks of strike action. standing work and give them the praise they are due.” “It brought home the message that when our members stand up and Mr Mulholland went on to highlight two issues that, he said, epitofight for their rights, their union will stand with them. mised the work of NIPSA activists over the past year. “It was a huge victory for that branch, a huge victory for the workforce He told delegates the union recognised the great work carried out by but a huge victory for our health group overall because it has inspired Norman Gray, who won the ‘Health & Safety Rep of the Year’ award. the militancy of the health service group which was reflected in that dis“Health and Safety, until recently, was not one of NIPSA’s biggest pute,” he added.
‘We must step up our union struggle against cuts agenda’ President Patrick Mulholland
THE health service is facing its greatest crisis since its inception nearly 60 years ago, chair Tanya Killen said in her address to delegates gathered for the HSCCP (Health and Social Central Panel) conference in Dunadry recently.
sult. Therefore, the views of citizens – let alone carers, users and providers – were woefully under-represented,” she added. Ms Killen said it was “extremely alarming” that the trusts may have plans in place to implement the changes but without the necessary finance to do so. Transforming Your Care, she told the conference, “Already TYC has disgracefully led to A&E unit was a radical attempt at clearing the way for privati- closures, cuts to children, mental health, home help sation and putting profit before people. and residential services with the loss of nearly Congratulating branches, activists and members 2,500 jobs within the trusts. for their relentless support of the union’s campaigns “The scandalous litany of Assembly cuts has during the last year, she said that NIPSA had put meant that people are waiting for more than a year forward a “robust, comprehensive and scathing op- to receive immediate health and social care and position” to the TYC proposals. A&E waiting times have soared. She went on to attack the public consultation “Now they are considering removing children’s process on the issue, describing it as “shambolic”. cardiac services from Belfast.” “Public meetings were kept at a very low-key and All of these attacks, she told delegates, will conpoorly attended and not well-represented as a retinue with a cut of £200m in servicing NHS build-
ings and a further £200m cut in staff budgets for 2015. “These proposals will have a significant impact on the lives and wellbeing of people in Northern Ireland. These wholesale cuts will lead to further privatisation of services and delivering care on the cheap. “NIPSA needs to reinvigorate the opposition to austerity and respond accordingly to defend services. We must go on the offensive,” Ms Killen added. She went on to praise the night staff at Lakewood who went on a 14-week strike to defend their terms and conditions from being eroded. Concluding, Ms Killen told conference: “We must step-up up our struggle in defence of the NHS and public services against the austerity measures agenda in the interest of our members. We must take the Assembly to task if they implement them.” Chair Tanya Killen
Conference hammers out strategy to oppose TYC Public Services Defence Campaign
TRANSFORMING Your Care came under sustained attack at the Health and Social Care Central Panel conference. It should be renamed ‘Taking Your Care’, delegates were told, as it was described as a “cynical exercise in health service rationing and privatisation”. The conference heard that the cutbacks teamed with the anti-NHS approach of the current Con-Dem government were been compounded by the Northern Ireland Executive’s move to raid health monies in the block grant for other purposes. Moving Motion 1 on behalf of Branch 730, Kevin Lawrenson claimed TYC was not about providing better services or about investing funds to meet unmet need or support the elderly or disabled, rather it was, he warned, the “biggest threat to the NHS in nearly 60 years” and predicted it would lead to job losses and widespread privatisation of the health service. “The important question about TYC is whether it will transform the unions to fight for the people in our society and the rights of their members to provide a quality service to the public. “I believe the opposition to TYC should be a springboard for a wider
trade union campaign to oppose austerity measures. “I don’t normally praise NIPSA too often but the union has raised its media profile over the past number of years. However, it has to be raised further in attacking those proposing and implementing the cutbacks. “We have to tell the truth about what is going on and also expose the lies and in doing that, we have to call those who lie liars. “That’s the only way we are going to get the local politicians out of the woodwork at Stormont and respond to us.” He told delegates that rather than fight his Executive colleagues and the Westminster elite for proper resources to meet the needs of people in Northern Ireland, Health Minister Poots had not only commissioned a review that fundamentally attacked NHS principles, but had also used his powers to implement initiatives that “create new realities on the ground” ahead of proper democratic debate and meaningful consultation. John Gillespie (Branch 734) described the TYC as the latest NHS reform that promised to protect patient care but that all these initiatives had failed “because at the end of the day it is about cash savings”.
He told delegates: “TYC is about leading the way for multinational corporations to come in and take over after being given tax breaks. These corporations will drive services and staff T&Cs to the very bottom. “We have to take our campaign of opposition to TYC, which is a tipping point where quality services for all will be destroyed if implemented, to the wider community.” And he warned: “The politicians will not do it for us.” The conference agreed that TYC was little more than an exercise in window dressing and dissimulation. It also believed the core purpose of TYC was not to meet patient need, but to balance the books. Lengthening waiting lists, closures of A&E services, deliberately setting up hard-pressed acute and community services to fail are the hard realities on the ground and consequences of TYC being implemented, conference was told. Delegates agreed that TYC was a conduit to advance the privatisation agenda that went hand in hand with attacking the working conditions and living standards of a committed workforce. Damien Maguire (Branch 730) described the offer of outsourcing of services to the voluntary sector as a
smokescreen for privatisation. He said: “The voluntary sector is a cold house for trade unions in Northern Ireland. Voluntary sector workers have the lowest pay and worse T&Cs in our workforce. These proposals to have staff transferred to voluntary sector organisations should be sternly opposed.” The conference also endorsed NIPSA’s response to the TYC consultation. NIPSA Deputy General Secretary Alison Millar told delegates that the union’s General Council realised TYC had to been addressed and faced down. She said: “This is not an issue about our members in the health service, it is an issue that affects everyone in society from the day they are born to the day they die. “We have to have a strategic plan for the next 12 months. The General Council has set aside a day, on April 15, to discuss how we can promote our campaigns in all our sectors and especially how to get the message of our public service defence campaign across to the wider public.” In the absence of effective strategies from other unions, the conference was told NIPSA is the only health service union that was in any position to challenge the Stormont Executive, Health and Social Care
Board and individual Health Trusts on the outworkings of TYC. To this end delegates asked the Central Panel to: l Develop a strategy of industrial opposition to TYC; l Develop a central information resource on the impact TYC initiatives will have that could be used as a basis for bulletins for branches to use with the public, the media and NIPSA members; l Deliver mail-shots to all health members informing them about the outworkings of TYC in their area and the dangers it poses for them; l Make it clear to all HPSS employers that NIPSA will ballot members for industrial action where there is an imminent threat of privatisation; l Meet the Health Committee to put forward NIPSA’s opposition to TYC; l Distribute press statements and prepare for press interviews to highlight the failed policies of TYC, as supported by the Stormont Executive and Health and Social Care Board; and l Expose the spin of misinformation about TYC by using Freedom of Information requests and Assembly questions in a systematic manner. Motion was carried.
NICCY chief outlines children’s rights vision
Health and Social Care Central Panel conference
THE Commissioner for Children and Young People has acknowledged to the HSCCP conference that Northern Ireland social workers have too much casework to deal with.
Earlier NIPSA official Kevin McCabe in welcoming Commissioner Patricia Lewsley-Mooney to the conference, explained that the union had invited her along to see how NIPSA and her department could work collaboratively together on issues of mutual concern. In a Q&A session following her address Ms Lewsley-Mooney was asked by Branch 730 rep Kevin Lawrenson if she was aware that social workers were preparing to take industrial action because of concerns over work pressure and heavy caseloads. “We are taking this industrial action to secure additional muchneeded resources to provide effective care and services for those vulnerable families and children,” he said. The Commissioner replied: “I know that the pressures that social workers are constantly put under. We know [about] the revolving door on social workers, particularly within the child and family care setting because [of] the amount of pressure they are put under with the number of cases and the caseloads that they have to carry and it is totally inappropriate at times in comparison to other social workers across the UK.” Speaking earlier, Ms LewsleyMooney gave delegates an overview of her office and the work that it does.
She said the NICCY was set up to safeguard and promote the rights and best interests of children and young people and had a number of key objectives. These included raising awareness of children’s rights, reviewing and advising government on developing policies, services and legislation in the interest of children and young people, using the power of the Commissioner to challenge breaches of children’s rights and to
garner the views of children and young people over issues that affected them. She told delegates: “In practice much of NICCY’s work will be monitoring the work of the Northern Ireland Executive and its departments. While some of NICCY’s work remains proactive, investigating issues as they arise, the Commissioner will also be tracking political developments and scrutinising how government is delivering for children and young people.” Ms Lewsley-Mooney vowed as Commissioner to “focus her powers and duties on improving the life outcomes of children and young people” and to work towards ensuring the Rights of Children and Young People, contained within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), are “realised and respected”. She added: “It is clear that the next few years will be challenging, not least due to the economic recession. There will be many threats to services, and too often children’s services can be the easiest to cut. “Now more than ever it is important that there is a strong voice for children and young people who will hold government to account on how it delivers for children”, she explained. She told delegates that NICCY staff would identify areas of work under the following criteria: • Where there are significant developments – new strategies, policy proposals and/or draft legislation that will have a significant impact on the rights and/or best interests of children and young people; • Where NICCY has evidence of significant violations of children’s rights, particularly in relation to groups of marginalised and vulnerable children and young people; and • Where structures and mechanisms are not in place to ensure the voices of children and young people are heard. The Commissioner said: “I want to see how I can engage with NIPSA to see how I can help you move forward on dealing with issues raised here. “I want to support those working with young people and I want to make sure you have the tools from the Convention of the Rights of the Child to challenge others when children are being denied their rights. “I want to make sure that each passing week, each passing month, each passing year, more and more of our children and young people enjoy those rights.” She added that if NIPSA members had concerns over a child’s rights not being met, they could contact her legal and casework team. Referring to the conference discussion on welfare reform, Ms Lewsley-Mooney said she had
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Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, Commissioner for Children and Young People, addresses the conference.
dren. “You did say and ask how you could be of help and be supportive of NIPSA members – therefore, I’m asking is that when we do move in to this level of industrial action we plan to take will you as the Commissioner for Children and Young People fully come out and publicly support the industrial action that our social workers will be taking to fight the cuts against those most vulnerable families and children?” Ms Lewsley-Mooney pointed out that she had to be careful and seek advice from her legal team, but added: “There is a way I can support you in being able to voice my concern and the implication that the cuts will have on the very vulnerable if I refer to children and young people. “I will try and challenge government to make sure that whatever services are delivered to those children is appropriate.” She said: “If NIPSA are to go out because for whatever kind of action has implications on service given to a child, I will certainly be vocal in my support of the need for the minister to take that issue seriously and to deal with and make sure that at the bottom of it all that the child is not suffering. “I know that the pressures that social workers are constantly put Kevin Lawrenson under and we know the revolving door on social workers, particularly within the child and family care setMs Lewsley-Mooney said it was ting because the amount of pres“interesting” that “all I hear” from the Minister for Social Development sure they are put under with the number of cases and the caseloads is that “we can’t break parity with the UK”, adding: “But we can break that they have to carry and is totally parity when it comes to Corporation inappropriate at times in comparison to other social workers across Tax which doesn’t affect any of the UK. these people who are [being] tar“I will continue to raise that issue geted. which as I have in the past with the “So, if they can find the money for that, they can find the money to minister. And, yes, I would like to help people who are most vulnera- come out and offer some level of support for the action you will be ble.” taking.” During the Q&As, Branch 730 Damien Maguire, Branch 730, delegate Kevin Lawrenson pointed who works in adoption services, out that there were more than a dozen social workers at the confer- raised a number of issues with the ence along with a paediatric nurse. Commissioner. He flagged up the delay in pubHe asked: “Are you aware that I lishing the ‘Adopting The Future’ reas a social worker and others had been in dispute with Belfast Health view which he claimed had been held back for the past six years. and Social Care Trust for over two “This report has not seen daylight years now because of the pressure of work and the lack of effective re- and we all know why – there are political reasons behind this, particsources to provide care for those ularly about gay people adopting.” most vulnerable families in the He asked the Commissioner how community?” she could help speed the review Mr Lawrenson went on to point out that, following recent unproduc- process up? Mr Maguire also highlighted the tive meetings with management, problem of media coverage of child they had decided to increase their care services and explained that level of industrial action. He said: “We are not taking it for [frontline] professionals working within the system were never selfish reasons. We are not taking it for additional pay. We are not tak- asked for their opinion of how it works. ing it so our terms and conditions He pointed out that any time an can be improved. issue was raised, senior manage“We are taking this industrial acment and voluntary sector tion to secure additional muchspokespersons were paraded on needed resources to provide TV and radio to voice their opinions effective care and services for but that “those working on the frontthose vulnerable families and chilbeen very vocal over how these cuts were going to impact on children and young people. She told delegates: “Even though they are not the recipients of these benefits, they will feel the affects on their lives when these cuts come down the line. “I have been in the communities and met the families that are going to be severely affected by these changes. Families who are already facing excessive hardship – these cuts will only make their lives worse.”
line or their representatives are never asked for their input”. Mr Maguire went on to raise the issues of assaults on care workers especially by adolescents. He said: “It’s the care staff, especially those in residential sector, who have been seriously assaulted but who then face the consequences of disciplinary action against them. While those who carried out the assault are not held accountable for their actions,” he told the conference and the Commissioner. On the query over the delay in publishing the ‘Adopting the Future’ review, the Commissioner explained that it was a discrimination and equality issue and was a matter for the Equality Commission to deal with. But she added: “It’s absolutely ridiculous that if you are a single gay person, you can adopt a child but if you are in a relationship as a couple you can’t.” On media coverage, she said that bringing out senior management spokespersons was not always the best way of dealing with the media. “My argument is that people on the coal face know more about the issues than anybody else.” She said that the concerns of staff over this issue could be raised through her office, where NICCY could challenge on their behalf if there is evidence to prove that what senior management are saying [to the media] is untrue.
Ms Lewsley-Mooney added that staff could also bring their concerns to politicians who are prepared to raise the matters on the floor of the Assembly. On the issue of assaults to staff, the Commissioner said that those involved need to be taken though the full process of the justice system so that they are held accountable for their actions. She added: “This should not be brushed under the carpet.” On a point raised by Pat Lawlor, Branch 730, concerning child cardiac services in Northern Ireland moving to the Republic, she said she opposed this idea, adding: “We should build the new unit here.”
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Health and Social Care Central Panel conference
Public Services Defence Campaign
TYC must be fully opposed
OPPOSITION to TYC at all levels, as proposed by Branch 733, was fully endorsed by conference delegates. Loughlinn Duffy, moving Motion 2 on behalf of the branch, warned of significant job losses and massive changes to services within local communities if TYC is implemented. He told delegates: “It’s heart-breaking to see families denied A&E
services and having to travel 50 extra miles to a hospital that is struggling with over-capacity and under-resourced. “The population is suffering while the staff have to carry out more work. This is not offering people a quality service. “NIPSA must empower its members to organise a way of action in opposing its implementation.” Motion was carried.
Exposing “the lies and myths” of projected savings
Back to barter under ‘disastrous’ Shared Services Margaret Dooley speaking to conference.
CONFERENCE was told the current health system was failing with private companies that are owed hundreds of thousands of pounds issuing warnings that they will stop providing services to the NHS.
Damien Maguire (Branch 730), moving Motion 4, said members were telling NIPSA reps that Shared Services “was an unmitigated disaster”. He said: “The bargaining system has returned with one ward with 500 gloves saying to another it will swap 300 of them for 200 gowns. This is utterly disgraceful.” Mr Maguire called on the conference to affirm its resolute opposition to the “continuing litany of
waste and failure that is Shared Services”. He said: “The fundamental issue here is our concern how public finances are being used. When we seek information about the cost, management roll out the ‘competitive tendering’ process and say this has to remain private.” Mr Maguire claimed this was “just a mask to hide behind”. The motion applauded all NIPSA members who took part in industrial action over the introduction of FPL and HRPTS systems. It said that it was now time for NIPSA to re-evaluate its position about how to oppose this Shared Services initiative based on growing evidence of
the waste of public money as well as the incompetence being highlighted by the rollout of the new systems. The motion also called for the re-evaluation to consider “all relevant options” in developing the union’s strategy of opposition to the introduction of the FPL and HRPTS systems as well as exposing “the lies and myths” of projected savings under Shared Services. It also called on Central Panel to examine closely “where there are serious misgivings about the misuse of public funds” with a view to making this public. Motion was carried.
Industrial action must be on the cards INDUSTRIAL action must be considered by NIPSA members to protect themselves from the “turmoil” of Shared Services, conference was told.
Michael Kane, moving Motion 5 on behalf of Branch 734, claimed that since Shared Services was being rolled out regionally, the Central Panel had to consider all options and act with a unified purpose. He told delegates: “We have to move forward in unity and be prepared to take in-
dustrial action if necessary to protect our members.” Kevin Lawrenson (Branch 730) said he supported the motion and the industrial action call but he also called for a second front to be opened up politically. “Shared Services is being rolled out by the politicians in the big white house [Stormont] and we should be telling them that if they carry out Westminster’s strategies, then we should be telling them we will no longer vote for them.”
Terms and Conditions
Kevin McCabe, for Central Panel, pointed out that members had already taken industrial action. He said: “NIPSA had taken the lead in this issue and we looking at a unified approach where even other unions’ members were looking at us for direction and leadership.” Kevin McCabe said there had been several areas where members had taken action by non-participation. He claimed the union had, during seminars, continually asked for members’ opinions
NIPSA General Council was asked to do “all in its power” to oppose changes being forced on members and to look at initiating industrial action, including strikes, to stop the implementation of Agenda for Change. Ann Jordan, moving Motion 7 on be-
who may be redeployed under TUPE arrangements. “We as a union are holding management to account and we do not accept their veil of secrecy surrounding the costs of adopting Shared Services. “We will seek under Freedom of Information the cost of this failure. We will also force other unions to adopt our approach in dealing with this issue and, if necessary, take industrial action to protect our members.” Motion was carried. Kevin McCabe
Lakewood strikers’ unstinting courage praised
CONFERENCE applauded the night supervisors at Lakewood over their 14 weekslong strike in defence of their employment rights.
strike for 14 long and stressful weeks.” Informing conference of the background to the strike, she said a “dogmatic management” The motion pointed out that the had demanded extra night shifts and more weekend work from an workers had no other option but already-understaffed workforce. to take action “to defend their The South Eastern Trust had terms and conditions” and to preattempted to enforce these vent the South Eastern Trust changes, she added, so that they from imposing “unreasonable could address understaffing and and unjust working conditions” which would have forced them to a lack of resources within Lakewood. undertake substantially more The motivation behind what night shifts and weekend workwas proposed was based solely ing. Geraldine Mullen (Branch 732), on finances and took no account of the detrimental impact on the moving Motion 6, recalling the health and wellbeing of those action told delegates: “Little did we know that we would be out on NIPSA members affected by the move.
We must act over AfC implementation Geraldine Mullen
about what needed to be taken. “NIPSA has been leading the way in its opposition to Shared Services but the difficulty lay in getting other unions to come on board.” Mr McCabe gave a detailed breakdown of Shared Services many faults and where the union had responded. He told delegates: “We have continually stressed to management side that the whole system is not fit for purpose and that this was adding extra stress on staff
half of Branch 733, said that given the recent decisions of National Staff Council to attack and reduce the terms and conditions of NIPSA members under AfC, then industrial action was needed. Motion was carried.
Pressure must be applied over AfC pay outcomes
The strikers steadfastly refused to accept this and fought back to oppose what were, she claimed, cuts to services by the back door. Motion 6 also paid tribute to the “unwavering courage and resolve” of the strikers who continued the action beyond the statutory 12-week protection period despite being made aware of the potential risks of doing so. Ms Mullen said: “This brave group of workers are committed, caring individuals who take pride in their job of meeting the many complex needs of those placed in their care. “One striker, who had worked for more than 28 years as a night supervisor retired halfway through her third week of being
MEMBERS who had their job evaluations in 2008 are still waiting for them to be implemented, conference was told. Michael Kane (Branch 734) made the claim while moving Motion 8, which called on the Central Panel to apply pressure to employers in a bid to resolve outstanding AfC outcomes. The motion set out how the continued delay had created an atmosphere of “discontent and
on strike. “She is a lady, who alongside the other 12 strikers deserves our admiration for her strength and character. They all merit our respect and high regard. “The members are to be commended for the courage clearly demonstrated by each and every one of them during this strike. Their courage was their strength and resulted in a victory for them and their families. “Their actions and the subsequent success achieved present us with an unambiguous fact that sometimes we have no choice but do whatever is necessary to protect our working terms and condition.” Motion was carried.
resentment” as living costs rose while members waited to receive appropriate pay rises. Mr Kane told delegates: “NIPSA has to keep the pressure up and do all in its power to resolve this issue for our members. “The employers need to be challenged and questioned at every turn as to why these evaluations are not being implemented.” Motion was carried.
Health and Social Care Central Panel conference
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Health & Safety
Workplace stress – enough is enough, conference told
Terms and Conditions
Southern Trust workers disadvantaged by new mileage rates
THE additional workloads being shouldered by members as a result of cuts and posts remaining unfilled is a major contributory factor to an increase in workplace stress, conference heard.
Norman Gray, moving Motion 10 on behalf of Branch 730, told delegates members in his branch were saying “enough is enough”. He said: “Management are supposed to be trained to recognise the trigger points of stress. But we have to ask as stress levels rise and more of our members take time off to deal with it, how come the management fail to see the trigger points? “Many people are suffering from stress but remain in work and suffer in silence as the employers operate a code of,
THE ‘thorny issue’ of mileage rates was again raised at conference.
She told delegates: “Our members need the confidence to say ‘no’ at times.” Damien Maguire (Branch 730) reDelegates heard how domicilliary minded conference that all members and social care workers who travel thousands of miles each month stood were asking for was a reasonable rate. to lose out when new rates were apHe also told delegates that it was plied in July. not within domicilliary or social care Ann Jordan, moving Motion 9 on behalf of Branch 733, pointed out that workers’ remit to transport elderly or young people. the Southern Trust had the largest Kevin Lawrenson said it was a “divielderly and rural demographic of all sive issue” as members in Belfast the trusts. who did not have to clock up disThe new rates, she said, were a tances travelled by their Southern further burden on staff and warned Trust counterparts were not as disadthis would eventually lead to more vantaged. being “squeezed out” as they could However, he argued that if the not afford to work and travel while union proposed a withdrawal of cars being financially penalised. as part of a strategy then all members Ms Jordan called on the Central Panel to forge a strategy where mem- would need to show solidarity with those who were financially disadvanbers felt empowered to follow the taged. union’s position of opposition to the Motion was carried. new rates.
Questions need to be asked about RQIA role Social Policy
THE Central Panel was instructed by conference to hold Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority to account as it was being used to spearhead the TYC proposals.
Michael Kane, moving Motion 12 on behalf of Branch 734, reported that the RQIA had instructed the Trust to improve nursing services at Slievemore home.
The Trust’s reply was that it did not supply nursing care and was now looking to close the home. Mr Kane asked: “We need to ask why the RQIA – which was never involved with Slievemore before – was brought in? Who made that decision for their involvement?” He added: “The union also needs to ask who regulates the regulator?” Motion was carried.
Privatisation being enabled within NHS Pat Lawlor, moving Motion 13 on behalf of Branch 730, claimed the outsourcing of services to the private sector was having a devastating effect on the community. He warned delegates: “The continuing under-resourcing of services by the Con-Dem government and imposed by the Assembly means there is a plan to see those services fail and eventually [be] outsourced to the private sector.” The motion expressed the disgust of NIPSA members at how public funds were being channelled into the private sector for treatments that should be freely available on the NHS. And the DHSSPS’s failure to address double-jobbing and the misuse of NHS resources to enable private sector ‘expansion’ was also slammed. Conference was told that the reported £45 million given to the private sector in 2012/2013 was only the “tip of the iceberg” as public services were being systematically manipulated to
Use Health & Safety laws over TYC implementation
CONFERENCE heard further evidence of how Transforming Your Care was having a detrimental impact on members.
Margaret Dooley, moving Motion 11 on behalf of Branch 733, called on Central Panel to instruct the union’s General Council to do all in its power to put pressure on employers to remind them of their duty of care to employees under Health and Safety legislation. Conference heard this was especially important during times of huge change and uncertainty, as employees were employers’ “most valuable resource”. Margaret Dooley pointed out that all of the trusts had stress policies in place “but as far as we can see these are just tick-boxed for the employers’ own standards.” She said: “We have faced so much change
Union Learning for all call
Reported £45 million given to the private sector in 2012/2013 was only the “tip of the iceberg”
over the past number of years and staff are now facing more challenges then ever in the forthcoming TYC. “With staff shortages, this is putting huge pressure on our members. Members of staff on maternity leave are not replaced at all and this has resulted in increased workloads. Members suffer from stress at work as they are afraid of losing their jobs. “There are courses on dealing with stress but members cannot get to them because of these staff shortages and many do not even know of the courses’ existence.” Norman Gray (Branch 730) urged union members to use Health and Safety legislation to protect their colleagues suffering from stress. Motion was carried.
Pep up HPSS communications
CHARLOTTE Pollock, moving Motion 15 on behalf of Branch 734, told delegates: “Much more work needs to be done to ensure Union Learning opportunities are widely available to NIPSA members across the HPSS. “This conference asks the Central Panel to examine this issue with a view to having an ongoing strategy to review and develop Union Learning which includes links set up more and more ‘opportunities’ with other trade for private providers to be used across unions as well as the HPSS in areas such as learning employers, so disability and care for the elderly. that NIPSA memMr Lawlor added the motion also bers can benefit called on the Central Panel to look at from opportunithis issue, and to ensure action is ties to extend taken to oppose and expose those their educational who collude with profiteers in the out- opportunities.” sourcing of health services. Motion was carMotion was carried. ried.
THE growing threat of privatisation in the NHS was highlighted at the conference.
‘You’re a lucky you have a job’. “There is also the stigma attached that stress is seen as a sign of weakness. “While management operate a lip service to the mechanisms in operation to deal with the issue, we as a union inform members of their rights in relation to workplace stress. “NIPSA must challenge the negative perception employers have of staff suffering from stress and ultimately challenge current policies as they are failing.” Margaret Dooley (Branch 733) said that many of the members did not know that there were stress policies operating in trusts and she blamed the employers for not implementing them or informing staff of their existence. Motion was carried.
DELEGATES heard how communications with the wider HPSS membership needed to be improved.
It was noted that a lot of the work of the Central Panel, Administrative and Clerical Panel and Social Services Panel was not being communicated to the wider membership. This was viewed as a weak link in how the union communicated with members in the HPSS. While NIPSA Reports and the NIPSA website covered some issues of relevance to members in the HPSS, it was noted that these platforms did not cover the general work of the panels. Motion 16 called on Central Panel to look at producing a dedicated HPSS news-sheet covering issues involving the three panels to keep members fully briefed. Gary Harris, moving the motion on behalf of Branch 730, told delegates: “Given that we currently face on-going issues with TYC and Shared Services to name just two, we will in no doubt face more issues in the future. “It is key that NIPSA reaches our membership with information that is relevant to the issues concerning them in their areas of work and what the union is
doing to protect them in their work. He added: “A production of a newssheet can be be an excellent recruitment aid for branches.” Motion was carried.
Page 12 NIPSA Reports
Brainteaser... £50 TO BE WON
NEWS 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 Reports, Harkin House, 54 Wellington Park, Belfast BT9 6DP with name, Branch no and address clearly attached.
Down 1 Part of contract ordered vehicle for a farm (7) 2 One might protect crawlers from harm (9) 3 Young bird found in hotel wouldn't consider it returning (5) 4 Loud prisoner on a vessel (6) 5 Fixed a gun carried by American agents (8) 6 Something of a restriction lacking top copy (9) 7 Show approval about rare illusion (5) 8 Book the substitute (7) 13 It sounds like German city shall be vitally important (9) 15 A place for doing experiments on plant's mineral (9) 16 Throw blames at! (8) 17 Fred and Wilma's daughter seen on the beach (7) 19 Plan to hit bird (7) 20 Rotting for 30 days - I start to chunder (6) 22 Check the Spanish taking 24 hours outside (5) 23 He's such a card! (5)
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It is important NIPSA maintains up-to-date membership information to ensure communications with our members is direct and timely. Please take the time to fill in and return this form so that we can offer you the best service possible. To: Membership Unit, NIPSA, 54 Wellington Park, Belfast BT9 6DP
Surname: ......................................................... Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms/Dr: ......................................... Forenames: ..................................................... Home Address: (Postcode must be included): .......................................................................... .......................................................................... Postcode: ......................................................... Office Address: ................................................ .......................................................................... Postcode: ......................................................... Branch No: ........................................................ National Insurance No: .................................... Membership No: .............................................. Full Payroll No: ................................................ I work: Full time o Job share o Part time o Term time o Which address is to be used for correspondence and NIPSA Voting papers? Home o Office o Office tel. no and ex: ........................................ .......................................................................... Home no:.......................................................... Mobile no: ........................................................ E-mail: ............................................................. Date of birth: .................................................... Grade: ............................................................. Signature .........................................................
Winner of the March NIPSA Reports crossword £50 prize is: Ruth McNeill (Branch 270), Belfast. Runners-up: Robert Brown (Branch 509), Derry; Patricia Thirgood (Branch 523), 11 Enniskillen; Steven Hall (Branch 14), Larne; Kelvin McCallion (Branch 509), Derry; and Sean O’Donnell (Branch 73), Derry. Across 1 Reprimand man with crossbow at a distance (4 3) 5 Spend money frivolously on a piece of batter (7) 9 Two guys with a plant used as fodder (7) 10 In jets I needed strong drinks (7) 11 Drunk painter, say, and famous old NZ runner seen in the circus (9 6) 12 About to take article to the German Lecturer (6) 14 Soft pet in food store starting to eat (8) 17 Around end of hostilities pelted a new base (8) 18 We hear it's an intense time to set up base (6) 21 Foul baked beans - trad cooking here ? (3-3-9) 24 Lounge that's providing sweets (7) 25 Being curious I taste old snack made from bread (7) 26 Be sulky about shade (3-4) 27 Stripe looking silly over new Church at first (7)
Previous crossword answers: Across: 1 Bed of roses, 7 Page, 9 Tolerate, 10 Emetic, 11 Repast, 13 Pedestal, 14 Will Scarlett, 17 Obstacle race, 20 Lilliput, 21 Phenol, 22 Gandhi, 23 Run along, 25 Deny, 26 Easy chairs. Down: 2 Esoteric, 3 Ode, 4 Roast, 5 Sleeper, 6 Speedwell, 7 Pieds-a-terre, 8 Guitar, 12 All Souls' Day, 15 Cash prize, 16 Schooner, 18 Antares, 19 Pirate, 21 Panic, 24 Lea.
NIPSA highlights Universal Credit implications for staff
NIPSA has called on MLAs to think about the serious impact the Welfare Reform Bill will have on public servants before they vote on its implementation.
For more than a year, union representatives have been trying to secure assurances on behalf of staff working at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Department of Education and Learning (DEL) and Social Security Agency (SSA). Workers there will be most affected by the launching of Universal Credit, which replaces six benefits, including Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Housing Benefits and Tax Credits. NIPSA officials were alerted last May to advice being given by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) lawyers that in their opinion staff would not be protected by the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employees (TUPE) legislation. TUPE protects staff transferring from one employment area to another. The rationale for this opinion appears to be that there is no “function” transferring and therefore as TUPE requires a “relevant transfer of a function”, it cannot apply. While it is accepted that this is a tricky legal issue, NIPSA is aware that the local government employers in England are threatening to challenge DWP over this assertion. Against this backdrop, NIPSA officials have expressed alarm after they were told that a Programme Board meeting on April 22 had agreed a number of key principles regarding staff. The Programme Board issued the following statement to staff in organisations directly impacted by the introduction of Universal Credit: “The Universal Credit Programme Board has confirmed that permanent staff remaining within Housing Benefit in the NIHE and the NI Benefits and Credits Directorate in HMRC should be given the opportunity to transfer to the Department of Social Development at the end of the planned negotiation period for phasing out of Housing Benefit and Tax Credits. “Close working will continue with the Department of Finance and Personnel to manage through the implications and transfers will be subject to approval being obtained from the Civil Service Commissioners for Northern Ireland.” Deputy General Secretary Alison Millar told NIPSA Reports: “The various Trade Union Sides and members are outraged at the statement issued without consultation or negotiation by the Universal Credit Programme Board. “NIPSA members, particularly those in the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, are very concerned about the implications for them. It is ludicrous that the Programme Board put this forward as a ‘positive outcome’ even though no discussion or approval has been sought from the Civil Service Commissioners for Northern Ireland.” It is understood that even if this proposal is accepted by the Civil Service Commissioners, it is not a guarantee that a suitable post will be available in specific locations, or even if a post will be available at all. Ms Millar continued: “NIPSA is aware of a number of reform programmes being implemented across DSD/SSA which mean that there are anticipated job reductions in those organisations. “This is on top of the job losses already expected in the
NIHE and HMRC because of the required efficiency savings as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) reductions.” She said the union was “at a loss” to understand how the statement issued by the Programme Board reassured staff, adding: “The certainty that this statement provides for NIHE staff working in Housing Benefit is there is no guarantee going forward of job security and for the 130 staff currently employed on temporary contracts in the NIHE, the future is very bleak.” According to NIPSA, it does not believe the union or those employees affected by the bringing in of Universal Credit have been treated “fairly or with respect”. Given the severity of the impact on staff outlined in the statement, NIPSA is seeking to meet with the Senior Responsible Officer for the Programme Board, Tommy O’Reilly; the Chief Executive of the NIHE; and Minister for Social Development Nelson McCausland. A meeting with Corporate HR, which has responsibility for the oversight of NICS-wide workforce planning has also been sought as has a meeting with the Civil Service Commissioner for Northern Ireland. A NIPSA spokesperson said: “This is a key issue for NIPSA over the coming months as it is clear staff are not being treated fairly or with respect. NIPSA are also raising this matter with the Social Development Committee as the staffing implications of the Welfare Reform agenda is not being highlighted to them. “It is vital before MLAs vote on the Welfare Reform Bill they are made aware of the potential impact on staff. NIPSA – as the leading public service union in Northern Ireland – will ensure this happens.”