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WELCOME TO from Dave Prentis UNISON’s general secretary

It was great to see so many of you marching for public services in London on 26 March. Hundreds of thousands of us got together to show the Tory-led government that its cuts to public services are unnecessary, unfair and unacceptable. But it doesn’t stop there, while the attacks on our public services continue, then so will our staunch defence of them. We followed up on 26 March by taking part in the TUC’s All Together for the NHS day on 1 April. UNISON members up and down the country visited their local councillors and MPs, held meetings and ran street stalls to get across our message that patients and staff will be the losers if the massive changes to the NHS proposed by the government go through. We’re also stepping up our defence of our members’ pensions. The government has announced that public sector workers will have to pay 3% more into their pension schemes, to help pay for a crisis they didn’t cause. If you’re paying 6% of your salary as a pension contribution at the moment then these changes mean your contributions will increase by a half again. On top of that they’re changing the way that pensions rise with inflation – moving from the retail price index (RPI) to the consumer price index (CPI) – currently 2% lower. We’re negotiating hard with the government on your behalf, but if we can’t get them to see sense we will have to look at hard decisions on moving to industrial action. Already we’ve made an impact: the government backed down on plans to introduce competition on price to the NHS, local campaigns have put a stop compulsory redundancies and we’re working hard to protect each and every job. You can make a difference. Elections are taking place across the country in May. If you can vote then do, and make your vote count – vote for public services.



8 Pensions under attack What UNISON and its members can do to protect their pensions 11 26 March March for our public services 14 Animal magic UNISON members run a campaign to save the local zoo 16 NHS the debate Health professionals and patients talk about the biggest NHS shake-up ever 19 Oranges, sunshine, empire… and heartache Social worker Margaret Humphreys tells her story 21 At home and on guard Yvette Cooper tells of her determination to defend public services 24 Me and my job Melanie Atkinson can’t help but get emotionally involved in her work 26 Second city first in cuts Birmingham’s council coalition shows what the cuts could mean for the rest of the country

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REGIONALNEWS YorkshireandHumberside The threat of strike action by local government workers in Kirklees brought the employer back to the negotiating table where the council backed down from a threat to shed more than 1,000 jobs, including at least 100 compulsory redundancies. However, the council has closed down its Connexions centre, causing 17 vital youth workers to lose their jobs and leaving hundreds of vulnerable teenagers without support. In Sheffield, Liberal Democrat delegates were welcomed to their spring conference in the city with a reminder of just how unpopular their leader Nick Clegg has become since taking the party into coalition with the Tories. The UNISON Sheffield office is directly opposite one of the main conference hotels – and as delegates set out for the opening of their conference, they were greeted by the branch’s ‘Cleggzilla’ banner, graphically showing the damage Mr Clegg has done to the city in his short time in government.

UNISON members welcome Nick Clegg to Sheffield


SouthEast UNISON reps from across the south east, including from the Isle of Wight, handed in a letter to the TUC in London urging them to join the campaign to oppose the threat to privatise the NHS Blood Service and pledging support for the TUC demonstration in London on Saturday 26 March Debbie Jones, UNISON South East blood service convenor, said: “We are fully committed to maintaining the blood collection service on the Isle of Wight and a delegation from the Isle of Wight blood collection team will be attending the demonstration on Saturday 26 March in London. We hope many of our blood donors will join us”

Eastern In Norfolk, the Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts has been active in speaking up for public services. Holding events and running stalls in Attleborough, Great Yarmouth, Thetford, Sheringham and King’s Lynn, the coalition has become a highly visible presence in the local community.

UNISON Cymru/Wales welcomed the “yes” result for March’s referendum on more effective law making powers in Wales. Paul O’Shea, UNISON Cymru/Wales Secretary, said: “This is a good vote for Wales and is a good vote for the Welsh public sector. The result shows that the people have confidence in the Welsh Assembly government and it demonstrates the clear red water between Wales and Westminster. “Not only that, but it is a loud and clear message to Cameron and Clegg that they can keep their cuts away from Wales – we will do things a better way.”

EastMidlands Kay Cutts, aptly named Tory head of Nottingham county council, has no qualms about the council’s plans to cut £150m from its spending over the next three years, although the cuts will lead to 1,000 job losses as well as the closure of 35 specialist day centres, a massive hike in charges for social care and huge cuts to services for children and young people, including services that support children with special needs. But the union is fighting back, with a co-ordinated campaign ranging from examinations of the council’s finances, through leafleting to demonstrations – the union has found £14m potential savings for the council, distributed more than 100,000 leaflets and saw 3,000 members take industrial action on the day of the council’s budget announcement.


NorthernIreland “This is the most important budget our executive has had to produce since devolved government was established,” Northern Ireland UNISON secretary Patricia McKeown declared after Stormont set out its plans to deal with the cuts imposed from London.”It needs not only the genuine co-operation of all government departments with each other; it requires the proper engagement and participation of the people of Northern Ireland,” said Ms McKeown. “This has not happened.” The union believes that the budget proposals are fundamentally flawed, that they fail to comply with the government’s own legal obligations, and that they will damage the fundamental rights of the people of Northern Ireland particularly in respect of health and social care, education, housing, the right to work and the right to an adequate standard of living.

Campaigning in Kings Lynn


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WestMidlands UNISON has uncovered figures that show that University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust is facing a massive 17% spending cut. Elective surgery is being cut, with plans to reduce admissions by 3,000, while follow-up on outpatients will be cut from 125,000 to 88,000.

GreaterLondon Librarian Matthew Stead held a sold-out gig, Read and Shout, in March in support of libraries in London and across the country. Described as a “a special event, a live music event, a mini-festival, an evening of sublime indiepop”, the gig featured bands and DJs and attracted support from band British Sea Power.

Northern Rallies have been held in Durham, Gateshead, Northumberland, South Shields, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, North and South Tyneside and Stockton to protest against government cuts. The protests are part of a series of events organised by the Northern Public Services alliance, which has been formed to fight public service cuts.

NorthWest UNISON has been working with Greater Manchester Police Authority to mitigate job losses caused by the government cuts to public services. Labour MPs and councillors joined UNISON members to demonstrate against the cuts and show support for police staff as well as to protest against the inevitable rise in crime that will follow the cuts.

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Use your vote – NEC elections now open April is election time in UNISON – with the polls opening to elect your new national executive council (NEC) opening on 11 April and closing on 13 May. The NEC decides on issues and campaigns between conferences and works with UNISON staff to support members. It is made up of elected representatives of service groups, regions, young members and Black members. At least two thirds of the seats are held by women and 13 seats are reserved for low-paid women. The NEC elected over the next months will take office at the close of this year’s national delegate conference in June and act as the union’s senior lay body between conferences until 2013. Remember, the more members that vote in the NEC elections the more representative our union is. Ballot papers are sent to members on 11 April and a ballot helpline is open for queries between 19 April and noon on 10 May. Ballot papers must be received by 13 May and the independent scrutineer running the election will announce ballthe results on 7 June. The full procedures for the election can be downloaded from the union website at

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SouthWest Plans to rush through major changes at a primary care trust in Plymouth have re-energised the local UNISON branch. The threatened changes, which would see 2,000 staff moved out of the NHS by the autumn, have inspired an impressive campaign that has seen the branch gain both new members and new activists. In Swindon, home carers have been battling to keep their jobs working with some of the most vulnerable in our communities. A petition gathered more than 9,000 signatures in just over two weeks, with people queuing up to sign it.

Scotland UNISON Scotland has launched a Scottish election manifesto as part of its campaign to defend public services. The manifesto highlights the need for fair tax, the importance of quality public services and calls for an end to PFI and PPP. In health, NHS Scotland employers have agreed to implement a Living Wage in 2011/12. An estimated extra £2m a year will be shared by around 4,500 people as a result of the changes. Tom Waterson, UNISON Scotland health chair, said: “Two million pounds in workers’ pockets is a better use of public money than £2m as a bonus to one senior Scottish banker.”





Employers refuse to make offer Local government workers are facing a grim 2011, after the employers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland refused to make a pay offer in January. Workers in the sector have been hit with below-inflation pay settlements for five out of the last seven years. Even those earning under £21,000 will not get the much-hyped £250 increase George Osborne promised them in the emergency budget. “Our members – people who provide vital local services – are facing severe hardship,” noted UNISON national secretary Heather Wakefield. “Meanwhile, the bankers who caused this crisis are collecting their bonuses, as if this economic crisis they caused had never even happened.”


Freeze rejected The union’s health service group executive rejected a two-year freeze on pay increments – which was on top of the pay freeze that has been imposed by the government – in January. NHS Employers had offered a no compulsory redundancy agreement in return for the freeze but could not guarantee that all employers would abide by it and excluded staff such as matrons, senior occupational therapists and midwife supervisors. In March, the NHS Pay Review Body confirmed the government’s pay freeze, recommending no rise for two years.

LV= Frizzell is offering UNISON members a pair of free tickets to the county game of their choice Watch one day of a LV= County Championship match during the 2011 season with LV= Frizzell! Last year saw one of the most dramatic finishes to the LV= County Championship on record. Nottinghamshire produced a blistering display on the final day of the season to pip Somerset to the LV= County Championship honours. This year’s LV= County Championship action starts on 8 April, with the last round scheduled to start on 12 September. It promises to be another great summer of cricket. All you have to do is fill in and return the response voucher on this page, stating in order of preference the three counties you would most like to visit in 2011. Subject to availability, you will receive two ticket vouchers for a county game of your choice, valid for one day of a LV= County Championship match. The vouchers are valid only for matches played at the First Class

County Ground (see list) – festival and secondary grounds are not included in this promotion. All fixtures can be found at: Please allow 28 days for receipt of your tickets and note that tickets are subject to availability. It may not be possible to fulfil your first choice in all cases.

First Class County Grounds included in this promotion: Bristol, Gloucestershire Chelmsford, Essex Chester-le-Street, Durham Canterbury, Kent Derby, Derbyshire Edgbaston, Birmingham, Warwickshire Headingley, Leeds, Yorkshire Hove, Sussex Leicester, Leicestershire Lord’s Cricket Ground, London, Middlesex Northampton, Northamptonshire Old Trafford, Manchester, Lancashire Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, Glamorgan Taunton, Somerset The Brit Oval, London, Surrey The Rose Bowl, Southampton, Hampshire Trent Bridge, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire Worcester, Worcestershire

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Pensions under attack Sarah Patrick, a local government worker and Lillie MacNaughton, a retired police staffer are worried about government plans for public sector pensions. U speaks to them and finds out what UNISON and its members can do to protect our pensions.



you are being paid when you retire. The average figure is often less than the final salary figure. Hutton has also recommended that the retirement age increases in line with the changes to the state pension age. This would mean all schemes increasing their retirement ages to more than 65: anyone now aged 42-57 would retire at 66, those aged 34-42 at 67. Negotiations have begun with the government about the Hutton recommendations, and will continue until June.

Hutton has also recommended that the retirement age increases in line with the changes to the state pension age. This would mean all schemes increasing their retirement ages to more than 65

he price of this financial crisis is being borne by people who absolutely did not cause it,” said Mervyn King recently. “I’m surprised that the degree of public anger has not been greater than it has.” It’s quite something when the governor of the Bank of England agrees with what UNISON members and general secretary Dave Prentis have been saying for months. But the government is not listening. It has announced that public sector workers will have to pay 3% more into their pension schemes to help reduce the budget deficit. And while asking people to increase their contributions, it has changed how it calculates the inflation rate, in a way that means pensioners will lose out. Until now, pensions rose each year according to the Retail Price Index (RPI). But from April 2011 they will be linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is 2% lower – meaning that pensions will rise by less each year. The government commissioned Lord Hutton to look at public sector pension reforms. One of his recommendations is to replace final salary pension schemes with career average schemes, which base pensions benefits on average earnings over a whole career rather than what

The good news is that public service pensions schemes have around 7.3 million pensioners and 5.4 million active members – along with deferred members, a total of around 20 million people who can join together to defend their pensions. It’s vital that every public service worker is informed about what’s happening to their pensions. UNISON is building up a network of fully trained pensions champions, so that every branch can have accurate information with which to build their campaigns. There will also be at least one pensions contact in every workplace to talk to colleagues about the issues, encourage non-members to join the union, and get involved in the campaign. “Asking workers to pay more and work longer for less, is simply not an option,” says Mr Prentis. “If we cannot make any progress in our talks with the government, to get it to see sense, we will have to take very hard decisions on moving to an industrial action ballot.”

Sarah Patrick, a local government worker currently paying into the local government pension scheme “When I first started working for Ashfield District Council in my early

When I first started working for Ashfield District Council in my early twenties, my dad said, ‘Join the pension and join the union’ – so I did both


Sarah is considering opting out of the local government pension scheme (LGPS) – and says that she’s not alone

twenties, my dad said, ‘Join the pension and join the union’ – so I did both,” says Sarah Patrick. It was good advice. Sarah has been working there for 22 years, and is now a regeneration support officer and treasurer of her UNISON branch. For Sarah, as for many local government employees, a relatively modest salary is offset by the prospect of a decent pension at retirement. But with the government’s recent pension changes, and uncertainty over the Hutton Report, she is now very concerned. “At the moment, I pay £105 into my pension every month. Now that they’re increasing contributions by 3%, I’ll have to pay another £50 a month – so they say 3%, but for me it works out at 50%,” she explains. “It’s not that I don’t want to pay the extra, it’s that I’m going to struggle to pay it,” she says. “It’s hard enough already, month to month, once I’ve paid my mortgage and other bills. I’ll have to have a good look at my finances and see if I can squeeze out another £50.” The extra penny-pinching might seem

worthwhile, were it not for the fact that her pension will be worth less than before. Plus, Sarah may have to work longer to get it, if the retirement age is raised. Sarah is considering opting out of the local government pension scheme (LGPS) – and says that she’s not alone. “It would be different if you were getting a better pension. As it is, it might make more sense for me to save that money and put it into an account. I don’t know yet”. UNISON’s advice to Sarah and others like her is very clear: don’t let the government force you out of the pension which is yours by right – stay in the scheme and fight for its survival.

“There’s no other way of saving that can match the benefits you’ll get from the pension scheme,” says national officer Colin Meech, emphatically. “No changes can happen to the benefits system until 2015, and all the benefits members have earned up to that point are protected. You should wait and let the union negotiate the new benefit structure. If you leave the scheme now you lose those benefits.” There are also concerns that if too many people start to leave the scheme, it will

DID YOU KNOW? At Royal Bank of Scotland, one of the banks bailed out by the taxpayer, the highest paid banker Ellen Alemany has just had a year’s pension contribution of £736,000 going into her pot – equivalent to the average pension paid to 262 women in the local government pension scheme. 9


My worry is that things will never go back. This will become the norm, economic crisis or no economic crisis. This government is talking about changing the winter warmth allowance, the future of the bus pass is uncertain, they’re taking away one thing after another

Lillie MacNaughton, a retired police control room worker Eighty-one year-old Lillie MacNaughton worked for 23 years in the Greenock police control room, before she retired 15 years ago. “Until now I’ve managed quite well,” says Lillie. “I pay my bills by direct debit so I can be sure I don’t ever fall behind. But now, with the changes in food and energy prices, I find an awful difference in the daily cost of living.” Lillie gets £102 a month for her police pension, which is taxed, and the state pension of £102 a week. 10


collapse – leaving those who are still in it stranded. “There is a lot of misinformation about public sector pension schemes,” says Mr Meech. “But the LGPS and NHS pension schemes were renegotiated in 2006 to make them sustainable and affordable. Both schemes are cash rich – there is more money going in than coming out.” Sarah Patrick and millions like her are right to be worried. But leaving the scheme is not the solution. And that’s why UNISON is stepping up its campaign to save our pensions – and why industrial action over pensions is a possibility we can’t ignore.

“My budget is getting tighter and tighter. It’s been one of the coldest winters for years, but heating charges have gone through the roof. And I still have my mortgage to pay”. It’s not just rising prices that Lillie is noticing – she is nervous that her pension will be smaller due to the government’s switch from the RPI to the CPI. “That’s going to made a big difference,” she says anxiously. “My worry is that things will never go back. This will become the norm, economic crisis or no economic crisis. This government is talking about changing the winter warmth allowance, the future of the bus pass is uncertain, they’re taking away one thing after another. I don’t have any faith in them.” In spite of her advanced years, Lillie is actively campaigning on pensions issues. “I’m campaigning from two angles. It’s our issue today – but it’s young people’s issue tomorrow. What we need is a

decent pension, and a wee bit of stability that you can rely on.” U Clare Bayley

GET INVOLVED Keep up to date on the government proposals and how they will affect you at Volunteer to be a pensions champion for your branch, by speaking to your branch secretary and emailing your details to protectourpensions Encourage non-members to join UNISON online at

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis addressed the hundreds of thousands of marchers in Hyde Park: “Today is one day. Today is a magnificent day. Tomorrow we march on.”



r Prentis was addressing what police estimated to be half a million protesters, some of whom were still entering the park four hours after the march started. To cheers and applause from a welcome “ocean of purple and green,” he said he was particularly proud of UNISON members. “Our people see on a daily basis the devastation of what’s happening – to elderly without care, to children losing their chance, to communities being blighted by unemployment and poverty and who are ignored by this ruthless coalition,” Mr Prentis told the crowd. The present government had no democratic mandate whatsoever for “taking a chainsaw to pubic services,” he added. And to the government’s claim that there were no alternatives, Mr Prentis said: “They should have the guts to go back to the bankers, the spivs and the speculators and tell them: ‘You created this mess, you clear it up’. “If there’s money to bail out the bankers, if there’s money for bonuses, if there’s money for war, then there’s money for our public services.”


Today is a “ magnificent day. Tomorrow we march on





Today has been really important for people from our region. Sometimes we can feel quite isolated. So to take part in something like this, and feel the strength in numbers, is amazing

Mo Nicholson, Highland branch




Angela Lynes

hat can I say – I’ve never seen so many people in one place from every walk of life, young and old, from every service and every part of the community,” said UNISON president Angela Lynes as she surveyed the crowd gathering to march off on 26 March. “I’m really pleased with the magnificent UNISON turnout. There are UNISON balloons and banners everywhere. We said we’d turn the streets purple and green and we have! “I really hope the government listens to us because this is only the beginning.”

“ This is only the beginning “ W

Who is the mainstream “ majority of Britain? Let us say we are

10 of us are here, from 62 years old to 14. For some, it’s the first ever march – and it’s serious. We had to make our voice heard

Ed Miliband


he Tories said I shouldn’t come and speak to you today,” Ed Miliband told the crowds crammed into the park. “But I’m proud to stand here with you because we know there is an alternative. “The Tories say this is a march of the minority, but they are so wrong. We stand here today for the mainstream majority of Britain: the midwives of Kingston standing up for their services, the teachers and students standing up for the next generation. “I say to David Cameron: the hundreds of thousands here today reject your attempt to divide this country. “It is not politicians, it is the people, who make change happen. “Who will stand up for the NHS? Let us say we will. “Who will stand up for children’s centres? Let us say we will. “Who will stand up for the hopes and dreams of the next generation? Let us say we will. Who is the voice of the mainsteam majority? Let us say we are.”


Lee Bradshaw from University of Central Lancashire




So far the devolved government in Wales is moderating the worst of the cuts. However, this is unlikely to last given the scale of the cuts. We fear what is to come Daniel Titley, Aberystwyth




Animal magic The rabbits, alpacas and bats of Bolton’s Animal World are safe, after UNISON members run a campaign to save the local zoo.



around the town, as people also contacted councillors and local MPs. Schools and playgroups wrote to the council expressing the educational value of the zoo as the campaign spread. Branch officers Martin Challender and Jackie Peplow say that the campaign to save the zoo didn’t just draw in schools, but lots of groups, including the Friends of Moss Bank Park, conservation groups (impressed by the zoo’s bats) and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. Even in the coldest depths of winter, with snow covering the ground, local people gathered with the staff and union

Last year, the council announced plans to axe the mini zoo in its entirety. But a remarkable campaign by the union and the local community has forced it to change its tune – at least a bit


raham Wharton takes a slight step back as the alpaca on the other side of the fence looks as though it’s ready to spit. Alpacas usually only spit at other alpacas, but occasionally they’ll take aim at humans too. After making sure there’s enough fresh straw for them to eat, the zookeeper reaches out to stroke his charge, who had skittered down the field to be fed. If someone starts talking about ‘local government’, the chances are they won’t be thinking about jobs involving alpacas. But just outside Bolton, Greater Manchester, three UNISON members take care of a variety of animals and birds at Animal World and the Butterfly House – although the Butterfly House is now empty, closed as a result of government cuts. Last year, the council announced plans to axe the mini zoo in its entirety. But a remarkable campaign by the union and the local community has forced it to change its tune – at least a bit. Once news of the plans leaked out, support flooded in. Supportive reporting from the local paper prompted dozens of letters that were just as supportive. The branch produced posters to ‘Save Animal World’. They appeared rapidly in the windows of homes

representatives, outside Animal World, to make their voices heard. Graham points out: “It’s part of our local history. There used to be a menagerie here in Victorian times and this has been here since before the war. We had an estimated 180,000 visitors last year.” Four thousand people signed a petition against the closure. Even council attempts to play off one service against another have fallen on stony ground. When Martin took the petition into his work, he half expected to be told that Animal World isn’t as important as the mental health service they provide. But that didn’t happen. “Bloody hell,” one of them told him, “It’s bad enough that they want to cut care and they want to cut our jobs and they want to cut this and that – they even want to take away where we take our kids and our grandkids.” At present, they’ve won a stay of execution, the council has given Animal World another six months. In the interim, they’ll put a charge of 50p on entry (albeit with reduced animals and birds and butterflies) and turn the butterfly house into a café. Their campaign, which has galvanised so many local people, has given Animal World a chance. U Amanda Kendal

Graham Wharton with a Bolton rabbit

If someone starts talking about ‘local government’, the chances are they won’t be thinking about jobs involving animals


NHS the debate Neil Goulbourne GP in Coventry and board member of a commissioning consortium Karen Jennings UNISON assistant general secretary and former national secretary for health Sarah John mother of three children and NHS patient Jim Mansfield systems record manager in a hospital Rachel Voller midwife



ne Neil Goulbour

With the government planning the biggest ever NHS shake-up in England, health professionals and patients talk to U about what it means to them. U: What effect will the government plans have on the NHS? KJ: The government is removing all of the structures that keep the NHS comprehensive, so strategic health authorities and primary care trusts, which looked right across a regional area and planned services, will go. The government will also be introducing more of a market and competition so that providers will be competing against one another. NG: What this new plan does, as one Tory MP says, is to throw a grenade right into the middle of the NHS. It disrupts

all of those relationships and structures that were starting to bed, in which would have continued to deliver what we were hoping for. Any kind of major disruption is always going to be a bad idea and in fact pretty disastrous at this really critical time, but this particular reorganisation is as far as I can tell utterly wrongheaded. It introduces pretty unfettered control of big parts of the budget by GPs and, as a GP, I can say that we’re not in a position for the most part to manage those budgets. The idea that we as new organisations – the GP commissioning consortia – can do it is fanciful really; there’s no good reason why we should be able to. SJ: My concern would be that GPs are focussed more on management, admin and looking after their budgets than patient care. I want my GP to be thinking about what’s best for me, not what’s best for their budget. JM: It’s going to be devastating. We’re losing posts all over the place and I

As a GP, I can say that we’re not in a position to manage these budgets


Karen Jennings


The government is removing all of the structures that keep the NHS comprehensive

think it’s really leaving services open to private companies to pick up the cheap procedures and of course they’ll get involved in commissioning. Unless we’re very careful we’ll be effectively privatising the NHS.

What does it mean to you to have the NHS there? SJ: It’s hugely important to me to know that the NHS is there for me. I lived in the US for a while and when my husband Andrew broke his hand it was $50 straight off. You go into A&E and take in your credit card. Before you

What difference will patients actually see in five years time if these plans are implemented? NG: Well before then, what they will find is services being cut in quite drastic ways in order to save money. We’re already seeing this now: in order to meet financial challenges commissioners are restricting who can have certain operations. So for knee replacements you have to have a certain amount of disability or pain or for cataract surgery you Sarah John have to have a certain impairment of your vision. But I think there’s also a massive risk of unintended consequences. It’s so hard to manage any kind of health service and trying to transfer those powers in a very confused way to new commissioners is bound to result in mistakes along the way. Because you’re doing it in idiosyncratic ways, in hundreds of instances across the country, things are going to get missed and I very much suspect that things will go awry: there’ll be more clinical error, there’ll be failure to control services properly and failure to manage them in some circumstances, so I fear that it puts the public

I lived in the US for a while and when my husband Andrew broke his hand it was $50 straight off


What difference will it make if there is greater privatisation in the NHS? KJ: First of all it will change the entire ethos of the NHS. What bringing in the private sector and the market does is to give them a greater say so we will begin to see private sector companies determining what care is offered rather than what’s in the public interest. NG: I think the big concern, much more than private sector provision, is the private sector also doing the commissioning. That conflict of interest applies just the same to GPs who are both providers and commissioners. It may be that all of this turns out to be OK, but it may also be that you have one organisation both supporting the commissioning process and somehow benefitting from contracts as a provider.

at greater risk of those kinds of dangerous mishaps. RV: The government is saying there’ll be more choice but actually there’ll be less. Take for example the ante-natal classes that I teach – there’s already talk that they may not be able to run those anymore on the NHS because they can’t afford to put them on, so there’ll be a smaller range of services available free of charge.

JM: The firms are there to make money. They’re profit-making organisations so they’re not going to provide the comprehensive care that the NHS does. They’re not in the market to open geriatric wards, they’re there for varicose veins and that sort of stuff. So the NHS will be left doing all the difficult expensive procedures – that’s the worry.


Jim Mansfield


can even get into triage you have to put in your card and enter your PIN and that was even with the best health insurance. It’s ridiculous. I’ve always been a big fan of being able to walk into A&E without my credit card. RV: I came in to work for the NHS because I believed in its principle of delivery – free at the point of need and not for profit. People should be able to access the best quality services straight away. We’ve seen vast improvements in the services the NHS provides over the past 10 years. My fear is that when there’s less money in the NHS, because it’s going to the private sector instead, we won’t be able to continue that work and therefore providing the excellent service that we do is going to suffer. JM: I came into the NHS because it’s the NHS. The nature of the job was that you were there doing something you felt was good, for the benefit of the community, so that’s why a lot of people went into the NHS and put up with the low wages and conditions that they’ve had.

The government has promised to protect frontline services. Do you think that it is keeping its promise? NG: They’re very clearly not at all. You don’t have to read the newspaper for very long to realise that thousands of

Rachel Volle r

I came in to work for the NHS because I believed in it



Unless we’re very careful we’ll be effectively privatising the NHS NHS frontline staff are losing their jobs. It’s clearly not the case – it’s nonsense. JM: Clerical staff have never been regarded as frontline although they take a lot of work off doctors and nurses and other professions. If these staff go, no-one’s really thought about what’s going to happen to those processes. You’re already seeing some of that with nurses and doctors complaining about the amount of paper work they have to do. RV: I didn’t believe the government when they said it and I was right not to. They promised us they wouldn’t reform the NHS – this is the biggest reform the NHS has ever seen so no, I don’t believe they’re protecting frontline services, I don’t believe they ever intended to and I don’t believe they believe in the NHS. U Celestine Laporte



Oranges, sunshine, empire… and heartache Social worker Margaret Humphreys is a true hero: now she tells U about her work to reunite the families of children deported to the other side of the world, which is featured in a new film.


hen Nottingham social worker Margaret Humphreys first started to hear disturbing stories about children who had been taken from care in Britain, falsely told that their parents were dead and deported to Australia, she couldn’t believe it. The idea that a clandestine agreement between governments and charities could lead to children – some as young as three – being packed onto boats and sent to the other side of the world, without the knowledge or permission

of their families and never to know their real identities, was too horrific for words. But the scandal of the “lost children of the empire”, 130,000 children deported over four centuries, was all too true. Meeting some of these, as extremely confused and vulnerable adults, Ms Humphreys learned that rather than the “better life” they had been promised, they were subjected to harsh, often brutal conditions in orphanages and other institutions. That was in 1986. Ms Humphreys, then working in child protection for 19


Rather than the “better life” they had been promised, they were subjected to harsh, often brutal conditions in orphanages and other institutions


In the past year, both the British and Australian governments have made belated apologies for the policy, which continued up to 1970. Gordon Brown called the scheme “shameful” and “a deportation of the innocents”. His apology came with an increase in basic funding for the trust, and a £6m “family restoration fund” which will enable people to return home and be a part of their families. Now the story of the child migrants is told in a new film, Oranges and Sunshine. Based on Ms Humphreys’ book Empty Cradles and directed by Jim Loach, son of Ken, it follows the social worker (played by Emily Watson) as she undertakes the enormous, fraught task of reuniting families and dealing with the emotional consequences, while attempting to make the government and charities take responsibility. It is a harrowing, but also uplifting tale as Ms Humphreys – with the stalwart help of her husband Mervyn, also a social worker and now the trust’s project evaluator – start to change lives for the good. And for UNISON members, the film’s release could not be more timely. The union has just launched its “social care in the media survival guide” for branches, to help them “swim against the tide of negative coverage” (available at in the press. A film focused on a social worker who can truly be described as heroic can only be beneficial. “It was a pretty surreal experience,” says Ms Humphreys, now in her sixties, of watching herself on screen. “I thought almost immediately: ‘Who is this person? I know her’. And then, of course, I remembered that it was me! And the film covers quite a span of my working life. I was just transfixed.” She agreed to the film for the same reasons as she wrote her book, to raise awareness and encourage more child migrants to approach the trust for help. Gordon Brown’s statement had the same effect, she says, “bringing people forward who saw in his apology some hope, some recognition at last, that we as a nation have accepted what these schemes did to them.”

As director of the Child Migrants Trust, she has reunited more than a thousand child migrants with their families

Nottinghamshire County Council, decided that she had to do something to help. The council agreed to fund her secondment for two years – until, everyone assumed, the British government would admit its wrongdoing and take up the mantle. But almost a quarter of a century later, this courageous and indomitable woman is still at the helm, as director of the Child Migrants Trust, which has reunited more than a thousand child migrants with their families, while offering counselling and support. “The trust will outlive me, I can assure you,” says the UNISON member, who this year was awarded a CBE for services to disadvantaged people. “Because the consequences of these terrible, barbaric schemes will go on, every day, for child migrants. People still come forward, wanting to know about their past, about their family. The pain doesn’t get less with age, it gets more intense. “Sadly, for child migrants now, finding their parent often means looking for a grave. But even that means so much to someone without any identity, without any knowledge of their background. “And of course there’s the next generation, their children, who have been impacted by this.” In the post-war era, approximately 3,300 children were shipped to Australia, and a further 1,200 to New Zealand, Rhodesia and Canada. These were children who had been placed in temporary care, or put up for adoption, but instead were used to populate the Empire “with good, white British stock.”

When I tell her that she doesn’t seem to enjoy the spotlight, she laughs, with a sort of relief. “That’s very perceptive.” The book, the film, the appearances before politicians and the media, “have all been huge compromises” for this very private woman and her family. Today, the trust operates from its base in Nottingham, and offices in Melbourne and Perth, with a team of specialist social workers. Although their task is a very particular one, Ms Humphreys insists that it chimes with the core values of all social workers. “We deal with families, children, identity, connection, things that all social workers deal with. But also, this project is about delivering social justice, about a society accepting its responsibilities. “And whether they’re working with people who are terminally ill, with children, with disadvantaged people, social workers the world over are working on issues of social justice. We don’t often hear that, but they are.” U Demetrios Matheou

Oranges and Sunshine (15) was released in UK cinemas on Friday 1 April 2011.

FIND OUT MORE Want to know more about UNISON social workers – and the support being offered by the union? Visit our website at



At home and on guard Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper tells U of her determination to defend public services.


ne day in January, Yvette Cooper flew to Paris as shadow foreign secretary, for meetings at the British Embassy. Her mind was exercised by the need for international collaboration in tackling the economic crisis, which the government was brushing under the carpet. Then her phone rang. Labour leader Ed Miliband wanted her back in London – as shadow home secretary. She laughs at the memory. “Ed just

called and said, ‘Can you come home again’. Obviously I was working on a lot of very interesting things at the time. But equally, now… The truth is they are both fascinating jobs.” We read so much about parliamentary reshuffles – enjoying the melodrama of the latest axe or promotion – that we’ve possibly forgotten what such sudden switches might mean, in practice, for the individual. The MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, who had

also been mooted (along with her husband, Ed Balls) as a shadow chancellor and even leader of the party, could be forgiven if she’d felt a little disconcerted. But today, she is impressively focused on her current portfolio. And that role, along with her continued responsibility for women and equality, brings Ms Cooper very much into UNISON’s world. The scale and nature of the coalition’s cuts to public services, and its reforms to pensions and benefits all 21


are getting hit more heavily – and are angry about it.” While she agrees that one of her key contributions in opposition is her numbers analysis, it is with an addendum. “I think it’s really important to expose the government on the facts, but also to actually understand how those facts will affect people’s real lives. “When you speak to families you start to understand the impact the cuts have on them, and on the choices that they can make. It’s not just the amount of money in your pocket at the end of the week, it’s your whole life, your workfamily balance.”

For the first time I started to worry… about what this might mean for my daughters

vex this passionate and highly intelligent woman. “The problem is that by cutting too far, too fast, you end up costing us more,” she says of the coalition’s aggressive economic approach. “The result is sluggish growth, then fewer people paying tax, businesses paying less tax, more people claiming unemployment benefit. So these cuts are counter-productive. “But, of course, they’re also completely ideological. The real risk is that you create a lost generation. The longer that unemployment is high, the harder it will be for people to get back into work. It’s not just ‘tough times’ for a few years; this kind of strategy does permanent damage. And that’s what is particularly nasty about what they’re doing.” One injustice that Ms Cooper has been crucial in bringing to light – using all her experience as a former chief secretary to the Treasury, and a laserlike eye for detail – is the affect of the cuts on women. Last year, she commissioned research that revealed that of the £16 bn the government is raising through tax, benefit and pension changes, £11bn is coming from women. She showed that the emergency budget hit women almost three times harder than men, and the spending review twice as hard. The Fawcett Society used her data as the basis of a legal action against the government, for failing in its duty under the Equality Act to give “due regard” to the budget’s impact on women. Although the action failed, it led the government to concede that gender impact assessments should have been applied. At the time, Ms Cooper, a mother of three, spoke of the “costs and choices” at stake for women. “For the first time I started to worry,” she said, “about what this might mean for my daughters.” Today, her concern is deepened by the recent calculation that of the thousands losing their jobs in local government, two thirds are likely to be women, and by the increase in the pension age, which will have a tangible effect on the pensions of 300,000 women. “There’s been a great deal of interest in the figures we’ve produced. I think a lot of women are recognising that they

In person, it becomes quickly apparent why Ms Cooper came top of Labour’s shadow cabinet election. There’s the blend of intelligence with genuine commitment (which manifest themselves in a quite unshakeable eye contact), but also – lurking in the background of her business-like focus – a likeable human being. It’s notable that as soon as we’re finished the interview, she enters into a very amusing chat about “the terrible twos”. The good news for UNISON is that she also has an instinct for issues-based campaigning, which has blossomed in opposition. “We have seen this government do U-turns under pressure,” she observes, “for example, in the delays on housing benefit reforms, forests, school sports, rape anonymity. It’s possible to get them to change position, we just need a strong enough campaign.” One such campaign is against the cuts in police budgets in England and Wales, which are expected to result in the loss of 10,000 police officers over the next two years, as well as thousands more support staff. “To have 20% cuts, front-loaded, is just too far, too fast. The idea that this is not

hitting the front line is absurd,” she says, while commending UNISON’s campaign around cuts to police staff, which highlights the number of people it takes to put a police officer on the beat. “It’s really powerful, and shows just how many different jobs are at stake.” Labour’s own campaign started in West Yorkshire, which is set to lose 500 officers and 1,000 support staff, with Ms Cooper personally taking it around the country. What would she say of her own experience of public services? “It can be very easy to take public services for granted. But they really matter to Ed and me, whether it’s the midwives who were just fantastic when our kids were born, or having to go to A&E with the kids, because of the inevitable things that happen in family life, or local Sure Start – and we’ve got some great Sure Starts near us in Castleford. “Sometimes I think the government really doesn’t appreciate the public service ethos. You can’t put a monetary value on that, but it makes a huge difference to people’s lives.” U Demetrios Matheou

USE YOUR VOTE Most people outside London

have a vote on Thursday 5 May – for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, Northern Ireland Assembly or in local council elections. UNISON members are being encouraged to make sure everyone votes to send a strong message to the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in the government – stop attacking public services.

MORE INFO For information on UNISON’s campaign for police staff, Cut Crime not Police Staff, go to For information on UNISON’s Labour Link go to





The mental health worker from Brighton can’t help but get emotionally involved in her work, but still finds it makes her feel ‘absolutely fantastic’

Most young people… ...don’t want to see and don’t need to see a mental health practitioner. They want the people that know them the most and that they trust the most to be able to work with them. So my role came about to try to support staff who were working with those children.

Kids have got so many people around them potentially who could support them… that respect it’s more complicated than adult mental health services because you can’t really just work with the individual. A lot of the time it’s not the kid with the problem, some of the time it’s the environment around them that might have failed. One of the significant causes of poor school attendance is… being worried about an unwell parent at home. In this respect the kid’s doing what’s normal – they might be externalising their distress and showing us – so we need to respond seriously to the child’s distress call but a way of responding might be to support the parent to get the services they need from the adult team. I feel really proud when… ...I’m able to develop a meaningful connection with the young people and the families that I’m working with and just seeing little changes being made. I went in to consult in a school the other day and a lady who I recognised walked along the corridor. I said ‘I think I might have seen your daughter’, and she said ‘You did –

A lot of the time it’s not the kid with the problem, it’s the environment around them that might have failed


’m a primary mental health worker in children and young people’s mental health services. I provide consultation and training to practitioners working out in the community with children and young people, so I invite any practitioner who has a concern about a young person’s emotional or mental health needs to give me a call for an initial consultation, then together think about the best way forward to support the child or their family. I cover Shoreham and Lancing and essentially I’m consulting with GPs, health visitors, school nurses, youth and Connexions workers and schools. I trained as a general nurse from 1980 to 1983 and then did my mental health nurse training, because I got upset working in A&E about the way that people were sometimes treated when they selfharmed or overdosed. There were some staff who just probably needed to understand the problems a bit more to be a little more empathetic, so I thought I would train and maybe go back to A&E and try to do some work around how we respond to those people who have attempted suicide or self-harmed in some way, but I didn’t go back.

years ago’. It was in 2008 and she said how well her daughter had done and how this girl still remembers me and how I’d help her to not feel quite so anxious about stuff. It’s just the little things like that that make me feel absolutely fantastic. When you do hear that you’ve made a tiny bit of difference… ...and it’s been maintained over time you think: “Blooming yippee! That’s great!” You do get emotionally involved… ...but I think that’s really important in order to be able to be empathetic, but you have also got to be able to disassociate enough at the end of the day to deal with your own life. I was quite lucky… ...because I did a counselling course after I trained as a mental health nurse and that helped me to be able to develop the art of joining the client in their distress but also keeping one foot out. I always make sure there’s one activity in the week that I can look forward to… ...whether it’s going to the cinema, having a meal with mates or whatever. I go swimming everyday, which helps… ...I do my swim in the morning before I come to work. I often find that in my head I’m planning my response to the clients that I’ve got lined up to see that day when I’m in the pool. It’s not unwinding – it’s winding up, but it’s quite good preparation for me.” U Celestine Laporte 25



FIRST IN CUTS Birmingham’s council coalition, bringing together the Tories and Liberal Democrats, is taking the lead in showing what the cuts could mean for the rest of the country.


800 home care workers, currently earning £15,400 a year are threatened with an average wage cut of £2,254. Clinton Simmons was a neighbourhood manager recently made unemployed under the cuts. He worked with local residents, the police, the fire brigade, health services, schools and the voluntary sector, in an area he describes as “economically and socially deprived”. Neighbourhood management was piloted in 10 areas by the council – the pilots’ success saw the scheme being rolled out to 31 areas where it brought real improvements. Residents were on the boards of the schemes. They “came first”, Mr Simmons explains: “They know what the issues are, they identify what needs to be done.” The service has now been drastically cut and more than half of the centres closed. Mr Simmons asks: “What is it being replaced with?” and worries that taking away a structure that gives local people a voice “tells people your views don’t matter”.

UNISON has been negotiating hard with the council and has won some concessions


ublic services are under attack across the country. Local government services are being slashed as part of George Osborne’s austerity measures, David Cameron’s promise to protect the NHS is beginning to ring hollow as hospital staff face redundancies, school building programmes have been cancelled, police staff are being cut and the community and voluntary sector, a key to the Big Society, is in crisis as funding from local government dries up. It’s a distressing story and can seem overwhelming, but by looking at one city perhaps we can see the impact that local communities, and UNISON, can make. Birmingham is “the leading example of the Tory / Lib Dem coalition,” says Roger McKenzie, UNISON’s assistant general secretary for organising. The council is the largest local authority in Britain. “In many ways,” he explains “the rest of the country is looking at Birmingham to see what the Tory cuts mean in practice.” The council expects to cut £320m over the next three to four years, with an astonishing £212m in the first year. The resulting service cuts run across all areas, from school transport to care for the elderly, from Connexions services to community work. Some 7,000 jobs are under threat and in addition, the council is trying to impose a contract that will see thousands of staff, many low paid, lose valuable terms and conditions – for example:

And as a service that empowered and protected communities goes, protection for the most vulnerable has also been cut. In Birmingham 11,000 people are deemed “to have substantial care needs”, explains Mr McKenzie, but under the cuts they will “no longer be eligible for home care, day care or residential care.” Will those previously housed in residential care be placed in a community which no longer has neighbourhood schemes that make sure care reaches the people who need it? UNISON has been negotiating hard with the council and has won some concessions. However, as Mr McKenzie explains “Birmingham city council workers are rightly angry.” Two days of industrial action are planned. While council services go, healthcare in the city is also suffering – UNISON figures reveal that University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust is facing a massive £17% funding cut – £22,468,000 – from South Birmingham PCT. James Anthony, a local staff nurse explains that the cuts will mean “fewer life-enhancing operations such as heart, lung, kidney and spinal surgery operations: 3,000 people in Birmingham will have these operations cut or delayed. This will have a major impact on their health, their quality of life, their work and their families. Follow up on outpatients will go from 125,000 visits in 2010/11 to 88,000 in 2011/12.” Mr Anthony, who chairs the hospital’s

Connexions workers march for their services in Birmingham


WHAT CAN YOU AND UNISON DO? UNISON branch, has been campaigning against the cuts and what they will mean for jobs and services. He’s confident that the public is on his side and that the cuts make no sense. “People in Birmingham need a health service that is financially fit to respond to their medical problems,” he says. “The 30% cut in follow-up for outpatients may save money in the short term, but it will very quickly prove to be a false economy. Making sure that patients have a full recovery package can cut the cost of expensive readmissions.” In contrast to Birmingham, nearby Labourrun Sandwell has had a High Court victory against the government over the cancellation of much needed repairs to a local school. Woodgreen high school lost the funding that had been promised it as part of education secretary Michael Gove’s cuts to the Building Schools for the Future programme. UNISON worked closely with the council to challenge Mr Gove’s decision, and the union will, Mr McKenzie says “keep up the pressure on Mr Gove by continuing to

campaign for the school modernisation that is so urgently needed.” In Birmingham the picture may be bleak but Mr McKenzie believes that the union can make an impact: “Birmingham was the birthplace of municipal government yet today it is at the coal face of Tory-led plans to destroy local democracy and public services,” he says. However, he believes that UNISON staff, branches, stewards and members are working together to build local networks to resist the cuts. “Birmingham’s experience is being replicated right across the country,” he explains. “Our task now is to weave a positive, alternative narrative. Through the difficult challenges we face we will see imaginative, determined and positive organising.” He believes that this organising will build the union’s strength and ability to “campaign for our services, stand up for the weak and vulnerable and lead the public debate to ensure we win, for our generation, the public services we deserve.” U Diana Harrison

If you’re worried about redundancy UNISON can help. Your union will represent you with your employer and if necessary can offer legal support and advice. Your first port of call should be your branch or regional office, if you want to talk further then contact UNISON direct on 0845 355 0845. UNISON welfare is UNISON’s registered charity. It offers debt advice, listening and support, financial help, breaks and holidays and personal advice. Again, your first port of call should be your branch or regional office, if you want to find out more go to Nationally, through our campaign A Million Voices for Public Services, UNISON is lobbying the government, providing support, advice and materials for local campaigns to defend public services and speaking out for an alternative to public service cuts. For more information on how you can get involved go to 27



! n u f Puzzle by Caper

Right and left (with a nod to Azed) A plain crossword with a slight twist. Apart from 1 across all across clues are actually two clues side by side leading to answers to go in the spaces of the numbers indicated – but the clues can be in either order and you must determine in which of the two spaces the answers go – use 1 across and the normal down clues to help you do this.


8&9 10 & 13



17 & 18 19 & 20

21 & 22

23 & 24

Member of eg UNISON (5, 8) Stupid types heard from the pulpit (6, 6) Representation of a person or animal – show on the cinema (6, 6) A special ability to irritate (6, 6) Pop artist’s area of ground for cultivation (6, 6) Line showing pressure of the shin bone (anagram of Bit Ali) (6, 6) Crispy stalk made money from work (6, 6)


2 Lessen (6) 3 Marked for certain death as Dad’s Army’s Private Frazer said we were all to be (6) 4 Of or relating to bears (6) 5 Be emphatic and refuse to budge (6) 6 Standard and as expected (6) 7 Old type of military dictator of Japan (6) 10 Heroine of classic Disney movie (4, 5) 11 Lake used to store water for community use (9) 12 Expand upon or rich in ornate detail (9) 14 Chatty (9) 15 Try out a car one is considering buying (4, 5) 16 For a limitless time (9)

d 28


Alphajig Each of the 26 answers starts with a different letter of the alphabet – solve the easy clues and work out where the answers go – use the answer lengths to give you help. I’ve even given you a few to start you off. ■ Small metal container (3) ■ Fib (3) ■ Employ (3) ■ Small truck (3) ■ Highest cards in a pack (4) ■ Timber (4) ■ Sharp tug (4) ■ Resign (4) ■ Look happy (5) ■ Devotional song (5) ■ Grind one’s teeth (5) ■ Denim trousers (5) ■ Black and white striped mammals (6) ■ Long cream cake (6)


■ Connected by birth (7) ■ Type of battery (3-4) ■ Comedian from Knotty Ash (3-4) ■ Any disease (7) ■ Photocopied (7) ■ Sea fish commonly eaten with chips (7) ■ Covered in early morning moisture (7) ■ Decompose to alcohol (7) ■ Unswerving conservative (4-4) ■ General survey (8) ■ Killers (9) ■ Silent (9)








our an to all swer th the ad ree puzzle s s to dress Friday below by 1 July



Each clue contains a definition of the answer as usual – but also a consecutive letter mix of the answer – straddling more than one word but never “touching” the definition – for example 4 Choking air contains smoke (5) Gives CIGAR, which is defined by SMOKE, and can be found in CHOKING AIR CONTAINS – all mixed up

A plain puzzle Across: 1 Vacuum, 4 Cardigan, 10 Lunchtime, 11 Slave, 12 Up-market, 13 Notice, 15 Easy, 16 Cast, 17 Error, 20 Train, 22 Lark, 23 Camp, 26 Season, 27 Moderate, 29 Lemon, 30 Turquoise, 31 Exchange, 32 Detest. Down: 1 Vol-au-vent, 2 Cinemas, 3 Ushers, 5 Aged, 6 Discover, 7 Glacier, 8 Niece, 9 Miserable, 14 Starboard, 18 Represent, 19 Insomnia, 21 Anaemic, 24 Avarice, 25 Secure, 26 Solve, 28 Stag. Alphajig Also, Biopic, Caviare, Doh , Enoch, Finds, Glue, Honestly, Italicise, Jamaica, Kinsman, Lei, Matches, Nullify, Ohio, Purcell, Queuing, Ratty, Sir, Tactfully, UNESCO, Vile, Weird, X-rays, Yashmaks, Zillion. Overlaps Across: 2 Cam, 4 Monet, 7 Billy goat, 10 Poached, 11 Knead, 15 Waitress, 17 Alfresco, 18 Greengrocer, 19 Thiamin, 20 Again, 22 Odd. Down: 1 Tan, 2 Collie, 3 Merge, 5 Kitchenette, 6 Magnificent, 8 Cottage, 9 Madeira, 12 Bad, 13 Dairymaid, 14 Ace, 16 San Diego, 21 Add.


DOWN 1 2 3 5

Wanting a furtive cigarette (3) Boris tries continental style cafe (6) Paid real fast (5) Poisonous vine is better, we think (11) 6 We sprinkle identical plants (11) 8 Corrects pupils’ minor mistakes (4-3) 9 Old French writer from Loire environs (7) 12 The better maker of honey (3) 13 Prisons contain dangerous little creatures (9) 14 Maniac takes whip (3) 16 Reading about flowery shrub (8) 21 Chops a snake (3)





2 Grab refreshing drink here (3) 4 Choking air contains smoke (5) 7 Long speeches about diaries bore (9) 10 Plan to obstruct some soldiers (7) 11 Snob is a beastly type (5) 15 A golfer played game in the playground (8) 17 Deplorable car I’m in leaks (8) 18 Worker probed influential person (5, 6) 19 Religious recluse from Eire terrifies (7) 20 Slip on an instrument (5) 22 Pokes a stupid fool (3)


WIN A DIGITAL RADIO! For your chance to win a digital radio, please send your filled-in grids for all three of this issue’s crosswords in one envelope, together with your name and address, to U magazine crossword competition, UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY to reach us by Friday 1 July.




The five lucky winners of a digital radio from the last issue are: Mrs Sue Wilkinson, Cornwall; Deborah Cotton, Shrewsbury; Ms C Dobson, Leeds; E Clarke, Ipswich; Mr G Passmore, Eastbourne.



WIN! a dig


ital radio

U welcomes readers’ letters (we reserve the right to edit contributions). Please send them to The Editor, U Magazine, UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London, NW1 2AY or email them to

YOU! Join us on 26 Ma to speak out for pub rch lic services

You must provide your full name and address although we will of course not print it.

Con/Dem alliance

Both parties of this government the Con/Dem alliance made promises in their manifestos. However, those that mattered to the electorate have been broken. In the world that I live in I would have been dismissed for gaining employment through false pretences. Those elected MPs are our employees, so we the electorate should call ourselves Great Britain plc and therefore the government is our board of directors. This would mean that we as shareholders would have the right to call for a vote of no confidence in the board. Perhaps instead of reviewing our public services we should be reviewing the way this country is governed, not by political parties but by MPs whose only interest is GB plc and not the political parties they belong to. I see no hope for this nation when both parties appear to be lying through their back teeth to gain power and judging by recent political decisions cannot work together either. During a recent parliamentary debate Clegg seemed to be squirming on the front bench while Cameron was presenting his party’s idea for the future of the NHS. Having recently retired from the NHS I realise that the staff know there is room for 30

Your public services need

improvement and this should be done on the inside by those who understand what needs to be done in the best interest of the organisation and its patients. Not the current wholesale slaughter planned by the Conservative party under the auspices Con/Dem alliance. Colin Rolfe Chelmsford

Royal wedding

Having recently retired, I now have more time to read U magazine. Maybe that is why I found something to annoy me in the latest edition! In Demetrios Matheou’s preview of the cultural year to come his ‘event of the year’ is the forthcoming wedding of Kate Middleton and William Windsor. Whilst I am always willing to wish the best to anyone entering a civil partnership or marriage (even those as privileged as these two), U magazine is ‘for UNISON members and their families’. So, I guess that these two individuals must be members of UNISON? The timing of the wedding could not be better of course. April is when the Tory-led government’s cuts will begin to kick in in earnest and is just before 5 May when the government is due a good kicking in the various elections taking place that day.

W AT TIEWEIR ploughs thro ugh the Sco snow to keep Edinbu ttish rgh running


Got something to say?


The timing of the wedding could not be better of course. April is when the Tory-led government’s cuts will begin No doubt, their acolytes in the press and the rest of the media (including the subservient BBC) will be focussing on how wonderfully happy and content we all are at this event and ignore the pain and real hurt being felt by people (especially those who are poor and vulnerable, some of whom are featured elsewhere in U magazine) up and down the land on this day, and every day to come whilst the cuts are in place. U magazine should be doing better. Eamonn McCusker West Norfolk Branch (retired)

Doncaster races

I’d like to let UNISON members know about the Yorkshire and Humberside region’s annual race day which is taking place on 30 July 2011 at Doncaster racecourse. UNISON members and families are welcome to come along for a good day out at the UNISON for Public Services race day, highlighting UNISON’s commitment to



tell us why the educati maintenance allowan onal ce matters to them

campaigning for properly funded and publicly provided local services. As a UNISON member, you can get the special offer of two for one grandstand tickets – buy one ticket at £15 and get one free. The offer closes at 5pm on 22 July 2011. To book your tickets, call 01302 304200 and quote “UNISON race day offer”, together with your UNISON membership number or UNISON branch code. Wendy Walton Yorkshire and Humberside

Unsung heroes

Please pass my thanks to all the unseen workers such as Wattie Weir (U Winter 2011) who helped make it possible for my family to travel into Edinburgh for the birth of a new grandson on Christmas Eve! Also the maternity staff who attended and enabled them to get safely home to their own beds for Christmas day where big brother and sister (aged four and two) were waiting to welcome him, while granny cooked the Christmas meal

Education for all

between present opening and playing with new toys! It’s all these things we should be saying ‘thank you’ for, so here’s hoping your pages might reach plenty more ‘unsung heroes’. Thanks to you all! Alison Harker by email

The alternative?

I voted Labour at the last election even though I believed Gordon Brown had prudently managed to get this country into a financial crisis. The reason I voted so being that we had Dan Norris as our MP who had been an excellent representative for this area. During the election, all three main parties warned of hard and unpopular times ahead to cut the enormous deficit and the interest payments on the amounts borrowed by Gordon. Now we have a coalition making hard and unpopular cuts to public spending and changes to taxation. Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and the shadow cabinet are all decrying the efforts to reduce spending although saying that they would have had to make cuts but not in so short a time. I, of course support UNISON in their attempts to protect public service workers and do not like

what is happening around me. What I would like to hear from the Labour party and UNISON is alternative policies to those of the coalition with the same objective of making this country solvent. I must say that news I heard yesterday that the council in Cornwall are spending £8m a year on consultancy and advisory bodies does not help to support feelings of thrift. I am sure Dave Prentis has the ear of Ed Miliband et al, so could he persuade them to put out the alternatives to current policies, not just criticise everything, and miracle of miracles try to work with the government to bring this country from its knees. I for one would admire him for doing so. Laurence Stevens Bristol Note from editor: UNISON’s alternative budget is available on our website branch-resources.asp

I am writing to you as a member of the Labour party about my concerns regarding the rise in student’s tuition fees. I firmly believe that education should be for all the people and not just the privileged few. I feel that rises in tuition fees will deter a large number of our working population, from entering into higher education. The privileged few who will be able to afford an education will then have an advantage over the less privileged in our society, they will have more of a say in how the country is run, they will be able to control industry and create wealth for themselves while conveniently ignoring the needs of the many.

I firmly believe that education should be for all the people and not just the privileged few

phenomenal and despite all the demands and pressures she always managed to carry out the role with enthusiasm and a smile, no mean feat on top of the day job. Prior to her retirement Mary ensured that she had a dynamic team of UNISON colleagues to follow on in order to keep the credible UNISON presence and momentum she had nurtured at North York Moors National Park Authority. Mary’s colleagues and I would like to thank Mary for the exceptional contribution she made. Denis Jeffery North Yorkshire

Wattie Weir

Is this not a return to feudalism? Where the rich lord over the impoverished few. Forgive me if I am mistaken, but is this the plan of the present government to destroy the rights of the many in order to serve those who already have power and prosperity? I feel that we also need to understand that in many cases if the working population does not receive higher education then they cannot develop the necessary work skills needed to find employment. We will create more and more people who are dependent on the state, we will not be able to develop industry and this country will be pushed further into recession. I feel that in order to create a better world for all of us to live in we need continuing education throughout our lives and this education should be there for everyone. Jon Coster Bristol

Mary O’Neil

Fond farewell

Me and my colleagues at the North Yorkshire Branch of UNISON would like to bid Mary O’Neil a fond farewell and happy retirement. Mary’s contribution as a steward over 13 years has been 31

O Has your council implemented Single Status? If it hasn't you may have an equal pay claim! O Has your council implemented Single Status and given protection payments to people on the grade you've been been placed on, but not you? If it has you may have an equal pay claim! O Do you have an equal pay claim? Make sure you check the time limit! If you want to make an equal pay claim, you should contact UNISON as soon as possible. There is a strict time limit on making a claim. You have only six months from any change in your employment situation. So you must contact UNISON urgently if you have for example in the last six months:  ended your employment (eg you retired or resigned);

 stayed in the same job, but transferred to a new employer (sometimes known as a TUPE transfer). If you have already made a claim, you must tell us whenever your circumstances change (eg you move address or there is any change to your employment situation). We cannot help you unless you register your claim and keep us updated.

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better banking? To mark our 50th anniversary in partnership, Britannia, part of The Co-operative Financial Services, has launched a new current account offer exclusively for UNISON members. During a special launch promotion the UNISON Current Account Plus will offer members £100 cash back, plus The Co-operative Financial Services will make a £50 donation to UNISON Welfare, the charity that supports UNISON members in times of hardship, in return for a minimum monthly deposit of £800.* Members will also benefit from a £200 fee-free overdraft and secure online banking.

MAUREEN LE MARINEL, chair of the services for members committee at UNISON said: “We’re proud to have had such a longstanding and mutually beneficial partnership over the past 50 years and the launch of the Current Account Plus, with an offer which has been designed for our members, is a great way to mark this milestone.” The new current account adds to a range of savings accounts, Cash ISAs and mortgages offered by Britannia to UNISON members, which have so far provided £1.3 million to UNISON Welfare since their partnership began.

The 50 year partnership is also being marked by a further £50,000 donation from The Co-operative Financial Services to UNISON Welfare. Colin Welby, Head of Partnerships at The Co-operative Financial Services, said: “We’re delighted to mark our 50th anniversary by launching a current account offer for UNISON members, and are keen to continue to grow our range of exclusive products and services in the years ahead. It’s been a pleasure to work with UNISON over the last half century, and we look forward to many more prosperous years in partnership.”

Members interested in the Current Account Plus can apply by calling 0800 917 7066, or visiting where details of Britannia’s range of UNISON savings accounts or mortgages are also available. *The cashback and donation are subject to three £800 monthly deposits being received and the account being switched to become the customer’s main bank account.

The Co-operative Group launches Ethical Operating Plan

Daniela is quids in following Britannia Prize Draw

THE CO-OPERATIVE GROUP, which The Co-operative Bank and Britannia are part of, has also just launched a revolutionary approach to social responsibility with a new Ethical Operating Plan. As part of the plan, it aims to grow its membership base to 20,000 in 2020, has pledged to invest £11 million to support the growth of co-operative businesses across the UK and dedicate £30 million to its Inspiring Young People programme. It also plans to reduce its energy emissions by 35% by 2017 and extend its ethical screening activities to the £1bn of investments underpinning its insurance products.

LONG STANDING UNISON member, Daniela Sommaro, was delighted to win £1,000 in a Britannia prize draw. Daniela, who works in I.T. at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, filled in the form to win the cash prize at the Bath Health UNISON AGM, not expecting to win. Her name was picked at random from hundreds of entries. Daniela said: “I was very surprised when I heard I had won and thought it was someone playing a joke on me! I’m spreading the word to other members that it could be them next time if they fill in the prize form.”


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INFORMATION LINE: 0161 968 7441 *16 hours per week if you’re over 59 years old Tax Credit Solutions Ltd, Reg. in England No 07378275


Preferential Offers The Vauxhall Partners Programme. Genuine discounts on brand new Vauxhalls for you and your family. ENJOY GENEROUS DISCOUNTS ON FACTORY-FITTED OPTIONS, DELIVERY CHARGES AND LOTS MORE. Visit your local Retailer now to claim your discount – plus any other exclusive offers available. For further information visit and login using the password UNISON, alternatively call the Partners Helpline on 0844 875 2448.

A warranty could now last a lifetime Models illustrated: MY11.5 New Corsa Excite 1.0i 12v ecoFLEX 3-dr. Vauxhall Partners discount is on list price, delivery and factory-fitted options. Offers are available on new vehicles, subject to availability, and are available to eligible Vauxhall Partners. UK supplied vehicles only. Contact Vauxhall Retailer for details. Vauxhall Partners includes all employees and pensioners of nominated companies and their nominated eligible relatives. Vauxhall Partners prices/savings include Vauxhall Partners discount savings and additional customer savings (incl. VAT) where applicable, number plates, delivery, Vehicle Excise Duty and a first registration fee. Excludes fuel and insurance. Vehicles shown may feature factory-fitted options and accessories such as metallic paint available at extra cost. We reserve the right to change or withdraw any aspect of the Vauxhall Partners Programme without prior notice. Offers are available on selected Retailer stocks at participating Retailers only and cannot be combined with any other offer. Vauxhall Lifetime Warranty covers lifetime ownership of first car owner, 100,000 mile limit, annual check required. The warranty excludes wear & tear and serviceable items and the vehicle must be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s servicing schedule to continue the lifetime warranty. Terms and conditions apply. Offer available to all Vauxhall passenger cars (this offer does not apply to car derived vans) from 1 August 2010. For more information contact your local Vauxhall Retailer or visit

Official Government Test Environmental Data. Fuel consumption figures mpg (litres/100km) and CO 2 emissions (g/km). Vauxhall range. Urban: 16.5 (17.1)-67.3 (4.2), Extraurban: 35.8 (7.9)-91.1 (3.1), Combined: 25.0 (11.3)-80.7 (3.5). CO 2 emissions: 265-94g/km.

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UNISON U Magazine Spring 2011  

UNISON's quarterly magazine for members in the public sector

UNISON U Magazine Spring 2011  

UNISON's quarterly magazine for members in the public sector