your guide to our national strike action
Children in Need 2011
not here yet but full steam-ahead
City and County of Swansea
Review 76% vote YES for strike action
N30: STRIKE & PICKET TO SAVE OUR PENSIONS Picture: Unison members in Sheffield had a 'practise picket' when the ballot result was announced. On November 30th don't be passive and unseen and unheard at home: get active and be part of history - join the picket lines, march and rally on the day. Millions of public servants will be on strike on November 30th after a succession of successful ballots for industrial action over pensions. UNISON members have voted Yes across the board: in local government the votes were 76% in favour; in health, 82% in favour and the civil service scheme ballot saw an 87% Yes vote. This has been followed by the NAHT (Head-teachers) voting
75.8% in favour of action, the EIS (Scottish teachers union) voting 82.2% in favour and NIPSA (Northern Ireland Civil Servants) voting 67% in favour of action. Other major unions the NUT, PCS, UCAC, UCU and ATL - are either already committed to action on N30 or - with the GMB, Unite, NASUWT and others - are balloting as this newsletter goes to press.
Public Service Not Private Profit
Everyone knows that the government wants us to pay more into the LGPS and other pension schemes. But it is not to give us a better retirement. They are determined to make us pay for the crisis caused by the bankers and employers. The pension changes taken together are designed to rob some ÂŁ10 billion from us every year. This is not because the pension schemes are somehow
'unsustainable' - they are in order to reduce the deficit caused by bailing out the bankers. It's not complicated: work longer, pay more and get less is the government's proposal. The stakes are extremely high and will influence our and our families lives for decades to come. This is not just about another small piece-meal attack but a full frontal
assault on all public servants that will severely damage our future on a permanent basis unless we stand and fight. The ballot result did produce some sign of movement from the government - which shows in one way even the threat of action can force change. However the much reported 'offer' left all the fundamental attacks in
Strike, Picket, March, Rally: Milli continued from front page place. The only movement was over the proportion of salary added each year to determine the size of the final salary pension. And even here all the government is doing is to withdraw one of the new attacks it unveiled recently. It is therefore a lie for the government to suggest that the pensions of low paid workers would be as good as they would have been before. They will work longer to get them, and they will be smaller when (or if) they live long enough to collect them. All members had an opportunity to vote and a huge majority of those that did voted yes. It is hypocritical rubbish for the government and the Tory press to bleat on about mandates. Just 21% of eligible voters cast their votes for the Tories in the election last year. And they have no mandate for their war on our pensions and public services. We know that going out on strike is not easy - but if you care about your future you cannot afford not to. If the attacks go through it will be the same as losing sixdays pay a year, for life. This is far more than the loss for being on strike. There is a wider issue as well - if we allow ourselves to be walked over then the government will come back for more and more, year after year. The government is stuffed with millionaires and the privileged who will not be suffering as the financial crisis hits even harder. They calculate that they can rely on our fear of losing money and jobs to push their measures through. If any member is in particular hardship then they can apply to the union's hardship fund for financial assistance. However all members are expected to be on strike on November 30th. If you are not in a union you should join as you can still take part in the strike, rather than watch your colleagues fight on your behalf. As the ballot results come in from union after union it is clear that November 30th will be a historic day. Even the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), which has never been on strike in its 114-
year history, gave a thumping majority. This will be the biggest strike since the General Strike of 1926; it will also be an event to be proud of taking part in. What accounts for the results is that the issues are wider than pensions .
Secondly, the results are connected to a climate of wider resistance . This year and last has seen student demonstrations, the TUC mass march, the June 30th strikes and other actions such as the popular Occupy movement at St Paul's and other places. Many Firstly, pay-freezes, privatisation, cuts, people are involved in more than one of rising inflation and other attacks are these events. It reflects a rising tide of also biting. They add to the mix of anger, confidence and action against a bitterness and a new desire to resist government that insulates itself with that produced the ballot results. These luxury and greed while most people's are the not-so-thin end of the wedge for lives gets harder. a range of austerity measures to make us pay for the economic crisis. Thirdly, this is wider than the UK. The serious news is full of economic crisis The attack on our pensions are also across Europe and heads of about longer-term plans to smash government falling. Much underpublic services in local government, the reported are strikes and civil service and the NHS. They want demonstrations in Greece, Spain, Italy our pensions, and terms and other countries and a Europe-wide conditions, to be pushed down to the austerity is imposed by European appalling levels of many parts of the leaders. private sector. T We have the power to change our lives his makes it more attractive for us to for the better and to stop the cuts. The sold-off to private companies, who only government is vicious and will destroy want to take over public services to lives to preserve their wealth - but it is make a profit for their bosses, private also weak and divided. A rare and share-holders and the bankers. This historic day is approaching of a level fight is not one of public-against-private working class unity unknown for a as highly-paid newspaper editors century. If you want a better future get portray it. Instead of a race to the bottom out on strike and unite together for for the worse conditions, we need unity action on November 30th and beyond. between public and private sector workers to build unions, build action and improve the lives of all.
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Timetable for action:
Saturday 19th November: TUC Day of Action to build and support the strikes, 12 - 2p
Wednesday 23rd November: Public Rally to support the Great Pension Strike, 7.30
Wednesday 30th November: The biggest strike since 1926 - Strike, Picket your workpla
to Rally in Castle Square at 1pm (rally at Unitarian Church
JOIN UNISON AND BE PART OF THE STRIKE - DON'T SIT-BY AND LET Y
ions vote for action Attack Number 1: The Change From RPI to CPI In June last year an Emergency Budget outlined the change from the RPI (Retail Price Index) to the CPI (Consumer Price Index) What does this mean? It means your pension will increase at a lower level. CPI is typically on average 0.7% lower than RPI - this might not sound a lot but is 0.7% every year, year on year until you retire. It adds up to a huge cut. LPGS members are likely to lose at least 25% of the value of their pension in the next 25 years.
Attack Number 2: Contribution Increases The government has announced a cut in funding to our pension scheme of £3.8 billion a year a year.
nvolved on the day!
w that our pensions are not ks' or 'gold-plated'. We also w that it is the start - not the sh - of a serious fight for our ture. November 30th has to be the day that we show the ment we are in a fight to win demonstrate our strength to he country to a halt. It is not ay to sit passively at home, and unheard, in isolation. It a 'day-off' or a chance to do mas shopping. All members d be actively involved in the rike by organising picketing, g and attending the rally on ay. If you cannot picket from rt, come later(with food and rink for your workmates!) or end the march and rally with friends and family.
n a few rare cases there are exemptions agreed by the nions for 'life and limb' cover o protect vulnerable service users, like older people. All union members who are exempt are expected to donate a days pay to the strike fund - contact the branch office for details.
What does this mean? It means paying just over a 3.2% contribution increase into your pension - 50% more than you currently pay. And none of our increased contributions will actually benefit us - it will be taken straight out of our pension fund again to pay the government debt. It is a tax on our pension fund.
Attack Number 3: Move Away From FinalSalary Pension Scheme The Hutton Report has recommended changing to a 'career average' scheme by the end of the next Parliament. This is instead of a pension based on your final salary, which for many will be higher than when they started work.
Attack Number 4: Raising State Pension Retirement Age (SPA) From November 2018 the SPA will be 65; from April 2020 it will be 66; it will be 67 between 2034 - 36 and 68 between 2044 - 46. This means that those 34 or younger now SPA will be 68; for those between 34 and 42 it is 67 and those 42 to 57 it will be 66.
Attack Number 5: Lose Pension Rights on Transfer The government wants us to lose our right to stay in the LGPS if we are forcibly transferred to another employer. This is to make privatisation more attractive to private companies who would not have to contribute to our pension scheme out of the profits we make for them.
pm, Castle Square
0pm, Railwaymen's Club, Wind Street.
ace, Assemble for a March from the Guildhall at midday h, High St - next to Argos - in the event of bad weather
YOUR WORKMATES FIGHT FOR YOU
Job Evaluation Update By now many people have attended the Authority’s Roadshow on Job Evaluation/Single Status. It is worth noting and setting the record straight as to why exactly we are going through this exercise. Fourteen years ago, both councils and trade unions realised the pay structures in councils all over the country were discriminating against women and could not be defended. The new national terms and conditions which replaced the old manual and APT&C ones were issued on the understanding all councils would undertake a Job Evaluation exercise and introduce new unified terms for all employees. After working on the recommended NJC Job Evaluation scheme the council unilaterally dropped it, then they tried what is called the Greater London scheme and yet again abandoned it. Now, years later, they announced to your trade unions they were going to use a scheme called WAYS. UNISON has doubts over this scheme and in some parts of the country we have made legal challenges to the way that some authorities are trying to implement it on the basis we do not believe it is robust enough on Equalities. We believe also that the scheme is not as transparent as the others. This will mean that it will be difficult when you see your new grade to work out if you have been treated fairly and all your skills and responsibilities have been taken into account. In some councils who have used it there have been so many appeals that they took years to hear them all! However, despite these reservations, the trade unions have worked with the management team to try to make it work. The Council has positively changed the way the job working conditions have been scored in the scheme but the fundamental issues still remain. Together with Job Evaluation, last Christmas the Council released its list of 'savings' it wanted to make. These were cuts in your terms and conditions including two that were national terms and conditions – a worse sick pay scheme and a reduction in the number of annual leave days. Despite what you have heard
from the Council on the roadshows, the trade unions have not negotiated on these national terms, and we will not. We have pointed out that sick levels throughout the Authority are low in certain areas and suggested that it was an inconsistency by which managers were using the existing policy which has caused the problem, not the terms and conditions. Consequently we have agreed to a new policy on sickness absence management which is consistent with the national terms and conditions. The Council itself has done a basic Equality Impact Assessment and has now realised its proposal to slash the number of holidays employees get has an unequal and adverse effect on women workers and is potentially discriminatory. Many other of the cuts proposals still have to be discussed – overtime, unsocial hours working including weekend working, and callout and standby payments to name but a few. This is a very complicated set of negotiations because it is being done alongside the Job Evaluation and Pay Modelling process and UNISON needs to see the total effect on its members before agreeing a package of new terms and pay rates. UNISON, if such a package is developed, will have to have it examined by our national legal team to ensure that it is not discriminatory. If it passes this test, then you as a UNISON member will have a chance to vote on it. During the Pay Modelling, management has stated that any new structure must be affordable and free from discrimination. UNISON accepts this but also has a third test before we find any package acceptable and that is the package has to be fair! Some of our members stand to lose bonus payments earned through their productivity and unless the new package increases their basic rate of pay to compensate at least by a reasonable amount then these members stand to lose unacceptably high amounts of take home pay which we cannot allow to happen. A group who stand to gain,
continued from centre pages
Social Services Children in Need Party 2011 Friday 19th November 7pm till late Sherwoods Club, Morriston Tickets £5 per adult or pay on the door - free entry for children Come in fancy dress and win a prize for adults and children!
Live Band Male, female vocalists Dance troop, raffle, and auction Children’s face painting and free lucky dip Magic show and lots more!
Contact Patrick Dunbar on 01792 533200 for more info
social care workers, work unsocial hours and weekends, so if the council proposals to cut these conditions is implemented then this group stand to lose all they gained in Job evaluation – which isn’t fair. Unison has waited a long time to ensure our members who do vital and often difficult, dangerous or dirty work have the recognition and reward for it. Pay Remodelling/Job Evaluation and Single Status is that opportunity. We know the Government in Westminster has clobbered the council’s budgets but we believe council workers deserve better, as the council and the ratepayer have been getting our services on the cheap for a long time. It is time the council and the wider community respect and value the work we do. Talks have been taking place regularly over the year and there is still a lot of work to do. The management team seems to be frustrated by the amount of time it is taking – maybe they should have restarted this process years ago - so to rush it now is unreasonable. As part of the pay remodelling process a number of variants were looked at. In the end, management developed one and the trade unions developed it further. However, both are not complete and both are over budget at the moment. In our last meeting we were now informed the report is going to Cabinet suggesting that another variant could be used. This move defies logic, and negates all the hard work all parties have put into this process. This process is something that cannot be rushed but we fear the Council might endorse a non-negotiated package and put it directly to you over the heads of your negotiators and trade union representatives to try to secure an endorsement from the workforce. This would be dangerous in the extreme and we must
reject this approach. In Carmarthen, the Council bribed employees with £1,000 back hander for all those staff who voted “yes”, leaving those who lost out and obviously voted to reject with even less money. Finally, the Council could simply impose a package on a take it or leave it basis and all those who did not take it would effectively be out of a job. Therefore, the stakes are high. We urge the Cabinet to insist that its management team continue the negotiations. We at UNISON have entered it with other trade unions in good faith. We believe that sitting down with the Council and hammering out a package which is affordable and fair is the best way to represent our members and the best way forward for the Council as a whole. However, if imposition or bribery is used to get an agreement on the Council’s own agenda we will fight it all the way. We as council workers cannot and will not have the Council play fast and loose with our pay, terms or conditions. Whilst we are all committed to the work we do, when all is said and done we also work to put a roof over our and our families heads and food on the table. This issue is of fundamental importance to us in the City & County of Swansea, and it is only by us working together as a workforce with your trade unions that we can ensure that our jobs with the local authority are not only valuable and important to our communities which we serve, but also valuable and important to us as employees.
There will be a full update on terms and conditions in next months newsletter
Unison Office The Guildhall Swansea SA1 4PE 01792 635271
Joint Branch Secretaries: Nicky Symons & Mike Davies Unison has over 100 trained union reps throughout the council, schools and FE colleges. We will advise, support and represent you collectively and individually on issues from sickness, discipliners to legal matters inside and outside the workplace. If you need advice or representation please contact the Senior Steward(s) for your department below or go to your workplace steward. Alternatively please contact the branch office.
Environment Ian Alexander - 07584 505793 Tony Dearden - 07971 121533 Pat Lopez - 07584 505792 Social Services Alison Bell - 07941 757853 Bill Williams - 07557 560092 Resources Gareth Parry - 07584 341240
Sports & Social website: www.suss.me.uk
Education Chris Bell - 07967 551025 Karen Verallo - 07771 922985 Regeneration/Housing John Llewellyn - 07557 560093 Roger Owen - 07941819229 Gower College Ron Job - 07963 454041
This newsletter is produced by the City and County of Swansea Unison Branch. Any letters, comments or suggestions for articles should be posted to the branch address or emailed to Unison@swansea.gov.uk. Correspondence is not guaranteed to be published and contents may not necessarily reflect Unison policy.