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Inside

Health & Safety:

Austerity is Failing:

Personal protection in the workplace

'Equality of the graveyard':

What's gone wrong with Single Status

200,000 march against the cuts

City and County of Swansea

Review Job Evaluation:

Pay cuts in the name of 'equality' All members should be aware that the Cabinet has now decided on a 'pay model' for the Job Evaluation (JE) pay and grading exercise, which has be under negotiation for many years. The Cabinet had to decide between a 'council model', inherited from the previous administration, and a 'tradeunion' model. The Cabinet chose their Council model which, if it goes through, will result in pay-cuts for 20% of staff. The remaining 80% will either see a payincrease or their pay will stay the same. The trade union model was fairer than the council model, with less people losing pay. It was therefore not without it's problems, but represented the best that could be achieved by negotiation alone - and which, even if adopted, would have to have been accepted by council workers. There was also expectations in some quarters that a newly-elected Labour council would hopefully not adopt the same higher-cuts package of their Lib-Dem predecessors. After all people voted Labour back in precisely because they expected them to make a difference for the better and not the worse. Unfortunately any such hopes have been brutally dashed. Cleaners, catering staff and care-workers that get a pay increase deserve every penny. But we should not be 'grateful' - it is a long-overdue recognition that they should have equal pay. It partially rights an injustice that should not have occurred, as successive governments have done nothing to equalise pay for decades.

Post many of those who may lose pay especially some male manual workers, (though they are not the only section by any means) - will suffer brutal pay cuts. For some members this scale of pay loss will mean huge hardship, and the loss of their home in some cases. Some local press reports are disgracefully trying to turn 'winners' and 'losers' against each other when in truth it is local and national employers who are at fault for low pay and pay cuts.

the context of national pay-freeze, cuts in tax-credits etc, which means all of us get less than we deserve. Prices of basic goods are also going through the roof which eats up any pay increase, whilst static-pay in this context is also effectively a pay-cut.

We all therefore lose to some degree one way or another, but for some it will be deadly serious. The scale of pay cuts for some staff therefore means that Unison cannot support the proposals. Equal pay for equal work is a union principle - but so is Furthermore male (and some female) not condoning pay cuts. workers on various bonus-rates have not One of the ways hoped of mitigating losses 'benefitted' at the expense of female (and is by "enriching" jobs across the Authority some male) workers who did not get these. via agreement of a new job description which, along with increased duties and responsibilities, will improve service levels and will allow our members a reasonable wage. This has not been achieved to date and agreement depends on the council paying more on its wage bill.

"

press reports are disgracefully trying to turn 'winners' and 'losers' against each other when in truth it is local and national employers who are at fault for low pay and pay cuts.

"

Although there will be an 'Appeals' process, if the experience of other councils is anything to go by, this will takes years. Any successful appeal will be cold-comfort to those that lose homes. Loss of pay means individuals and their families going without, huge stress, and breakdowns in people's personal and family lives. Unison also has evidence that in some sections managers are removing tasks from workers in order to 'justify' downgrading before an Appeal. This can only be because of the pressure to reduce pay.

In many instances the wide variety of bonuses were part of historical regrading and pay deals. In reality bonus-rates did not mean high pay; it simply meant some had higher pay than some lower-paid sections We are being sold the line that government who always deserved more. debt demands austerity, in particular a As members may have seen in the Evening For the 80% of staff who stand to not have reduction of spending in the public sector. a pay-cut this is, of course, welcome but is in

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Public Service Not Private Profit

November 2012


continued from front page The losers in JE are at the sharp end of a pay squeeze that will effect us all. We need to unite to stop this attack and stand to lose more in the future unless we fight against austerity. The Council is considering all options for services including privatisation and 'out-sourcing', although it is rhetorically committed to public services. Were it not for the trade-unions the Council would have imposed the changes they initially wanted for our annual-leave and sick-pay. These have been dropped in negotiations but there are harsher Management of Absence and Special Leave policies, plus lower rates of overtime. Negotiations are continuing over the 'protection period'; hospital appointments under Special Leave together with time-off for special circumstances such as disabled dependents; 'job enrichment' and shift allowances. Finally there is the alarming 'mobility clause' in contracts whereby members could be asked to move anywhere within a 'shared services' area e.g. Ceredigion or even throughout Wales in time. Within this is also a proposal that you could be forced to move to a 'similar' job anywhere in the Authority. How far all this will go depends on all of us.

What's gone wrong with single status? Single Status was introduced in 2008 and was supposed to deliver equal pay between male and female workers. Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1970 women workers especially in some 'manual' jobs - were still receiving less pay than their male colleagues in comparable jobs. The deals were supposed to deliver a common pay scale and harmonisation of conditions for all jobs. But then-chancellor Gordon Brown didn’t give local authorities any extra money to pay the workers who were supposed to gain from the deal. This always meant that there would be 'winners' and 'losers' - if the cake making up our wages does not get any bigger, then any alteration of wage rates would always become divisive. In the context of 'austerity' today this contradiction becomes even sharper. The government's notion of equality is a race to the bottom; everyone in a graveyard is equal but no-one wants that type of equality. So in the name of 'equal pay', local councils across the country cut women and men’s wages and cut services. In many councils - Birmingham, Waltham Forest, Leeds, Edinburgh, Islington to name a few - tens of thousands of local government workers struck over the council attacks. But the campaigns didn’t link up in a national fightback and in each council individual union branches fought individual battles against cuts. Many workers were isolated and some felt they had no choice but to go to the courts to get decent pay. The union leaderships used these legal cases as a further excuse to prevent a national focus emerging, or in some cases even discussing single status. We should be against the idea that better paid workers should pay to raise lower pay. This would always be divisive and leads one section of the workforce against the other when the politicians and employers are to blame.

200,000 Marc


ch Against the Cuts Unison and all the other national trade unions joined together last month on October 21st for the TUC march against cuts. Swansea Unison put on coaches for members to attend the march. Senior-steward Ron Job gives an eye-witness account of the demonstration and raises an argument about what should happen next:

Europe strikes against austerity Trade unions walked out on the 14th November in general strikes across Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece as well as parts of Belgium. In Spain this is the second general strike in a year, and more workers have been joining in the second strike. By the middle of the day many cities were filling up with protesters. There were also massive evening protests in Madrid and other cities.

In October, I marched with other members of our branch on the TUC's march 'For a Future that Works'. While the demonstration was not as big as the one in March 2011, it was still a huge demonstration, mainly of trade unionists, demanding an end to cuts. There were also big protests in Scotland and Belfast. If anything the mood of the march was more serious than in 2011; then there was something of a carnival feel as marchers celebrated the might of the trade union movement as well as protesting against cuts, which had been announced but not yet implemented in most cases. On Saturday, many of us marching had personal experience of the effect of Con-Dem cuts and attacks on their jobs, pay, pensions and services we provide. Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of cuts are still to come maybe upwards of 80% of those announced have not been implemented - we've all felt the pinch and are already struggling to make ends meet. The mood of the march was that cuts have to be halted now. This was something Ed Miliband obviously didn't grasp as he told the rally in Hyde Park that a Labour government would carry through cuts of their own; different cuts but cuts nonetheless. Perhaps Milliband has bought the myth put about by the Tory press that attacking workers' conditions will make him appear a great statesman or maybe he just thinks that there is no alternative to workers paying the price for a crisis not of our making. Either way, he was not well received and booed by large sections of his audience for proposing cuts on an anti-cuts demo. I didn't get up at 4am on my day off to be told that I would have to accept more cuts from a Labour government. Our union represents members across the whole of the public sector; we can not be in a position of championing cuts to health workers instead of cuts to education workers. If all that Labour can offer is job losses for social services rather than redundancies in refuse or vice versa how can we, as a union, continue to justify throwing £millions of our members' money away on the Labour Party? Milibands reception couldn't have contrasted more with the roars of support and the sea of hands that greeted General Secretary of UNITE, Len McCluskey's call for an indication of support for one-day general strike against cuts. He was one of 3 union general secretaries (the others were Mark Serwotka of PCS and Bob Crowe of RMT) to demand from the main platform that the TUC organise such an action. To co-ordinate crossunion strike action and investigate the practicalities of organising a general strike is TUC policy since the overwhelming passing of a motion moved by the POA at September's conference. Our union's delegates voted for that motion and we need to discuss it amongst our members. Saturday showed that there is potentially a huge reservoir of support for action, if it is seen as having a chance of defeating this hated government.

We've marched together... Now strike together!

Thousands marched in Lisbon in Portugal. There were organised sections of dockers with flares, local government and education workers, university students and more. All the unions have hailed the strike as a success—even those that didn't support it—and a national demonstration has been called in two weeks time. In Italy thousands of workers and students converged on city and town centres as part of a four hour general strike. “There is high support for the strike,” Leopoldo Tartaglia a spokesperson for the CGIL union said. “The crisis of unemployment, a reduction in working hours and the wage freeze means that everyone has less. We are now heading to a situation where the mass of people are working poor. We will not hesitate to strike again to defeat these attacks.” In Greece unions called a three hour stoppage from noon. Around 10,000 marched on the parliament in central Athens, and many more held meetings and demonstrations nearer their workplaces. Local government workers protested at the town halls, many of which are occupied. There was also a general strike called in the Belgian city of Liege, where 6,000 people came out and marched. Across Belgium rail workers also struck and blocked the rails, in protests at rail cuts planned next month, and there were strikes at a number of factories and power stations. There were also protests in cities across France, as well as in other major capital cities around Europe. Here the strikes in Europe made the news - but announcers made the point they were not happening in the UK. Nevertheless the TUC has agreed to consult it’s member trade-unions about the mood and practicalities for a general strike. This means getting the views of the union membership. Do you think this would be effective? Discuss this with your workmates and let us know what you think


Hot-desking

Personal protection in the workplace

"Hot desking" or "agile working" or "smarter working" continues with Social Services staff from Ty Eithin having moved to the Guildhall and other Social Services staff due to be relocated to the Guildhall in February next year.

A number of UNISON members, particularly those working in school kitchens have raised concerns because some employers are providing safety shoes or other items of PPE, but describing them as a part of the work uniform and therefore charging the workers. However, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations, the provision of PPE must be at no cost to the worker.

Unison's response to this issue can be found on the national website unison.org.uk. Meanwhile we suggest the following if your team/section is proposed to change under the "Smarter Working Policy":

♦ talk to your steward and ask them to raise the issue via the normal consultative procedure:

♦ keep a diary logging the potential issues (time wasting, examples of any effect on services, stress symptoms, loss of peer support and expertise); ♦ talk to your team manager and put your concerns in writing;

♦ speak to staff in Facilities Management and attend any meetings organised by them;

YOUR UNION

♦ share ideas of any space you think could be freed up.

Equality Act

Where a risk assessment has shown that there are risks to health and safety which cannot be adequately controlled by other means, employers must provide suitable PPE. PPE is defined as all equipment (including clothing affording protection against weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects them against one or more risks to their health or safety. In catering, PPE may include: ♦ Safety shoes which are non-slip and steel-capped for protection against objects dropped on the feet ♦ Gloves or gauntlets to protect hands and arms from burns and cleaning agents ♦ Aprons and overalls to protect from hot splashes ♦ Face masks and goggles to protect against cleaning agents used for ovens and hot plates. Any PPE used by workers should be appropriate to the risk and suitable for the wearer and should be maintained by the employer. If protective clothing is issued, catering staff should not be responsible for the cost of cleaning it. This must also be borne by the employer. In addition, staff must be trained in the use of any PPE issued. Training should include details of what to do if the PPE is not effective, dirty, damaged, or poorly maintained. Both the safety representative and catering workers must be consulted on the used of any PPE. Christopher Cooze, Health and Safety Officer

Contact us:

Under the Equality Act 2010, the Welsh Government obliges the authority to publish evidence that it is treating its staff fairly. Welsh language legislation requires annual reporting on Welsh language skills. To collect this information, they need to ask staff members for their profile details. Information will be held confidentially by HR and nothing can be released which could identify any individual. During November, staff receiving payslips through ISIS will be asked to complete the survey on-line. Others will have a copy posted to them with a choice of completing this or the on-line version. No individual question has to be completed, but the more comprehensive the response, the better the evidence of how the authority is meeting its responsibilities.

Unison Office The Guildhall Swansea SA1 4PE 01792 635271

unison@swansea.gov.uk

Branch Secretary: Mike Davies / Asst. Secretary: Ian Alexander 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, disciplinaries 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 Education Tony Dearden - 07971 121533 (?) Pat Lopez - 07584 505792 (?) Social Services Alison O'Kane - 07856 641234 Alison Davies - 07941 757853 Martin Chapman - 01792 635271 Resources Gareth Parry - 07584 341240 (?)

Sports & Social website: www.suss.me.uk

Pat Lopez - 07584 505792 Mark Otten - 07789 485009 Eve Morse - 07532 232873 (after 3.30 pm) Chris Bell - 07967 551025 Regeneration/Housing John Llewellyn - 07557 560093 Roger Owen - 07941819229 Gower College Ron Job - 07963 454041

www.unison.co.uk

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.

November 2012 Newsletter  

trade union newsletter

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