GOODBYE TO JOAN
Some of you may already know that Joan Matlock, Branch Welfare Secretary and long time member of NALGO and UNISON, is retiring at the end of the month.
Joan, during her time in the Branch has held many posts from Steward to Branch President and currently Welfare Secretary. Her wealth of knowledge, her kindness and willingness to fight on behalf of our members, will be sorely missed.
Joan will be having her leaving do on Thursday 26th February in the Green Dragon, High Street Croydon. There will be a buffet and the Terry Thomas Experience will be providing the music.
Come along and join us to give her a good send-off.
We have decided to hold two aggregate meetings again as this gives those members who work outside of the Taberner House complex an opportunity to attend. Among the items on the Agenda will be the Election of Branch Officers and Reps, the Annual Report and Branch Accounts as well as Pay 2009, Departmental Reorganisations and Single Status.
The Annual General Meetings will be taking place this year on Wednesday 25th February in the
Mayor’s Reception Room and adjoining Rooms F4 and F5 at 12.30 and on Thursday 26th February in The Friends Meeting Hall at
4.30 pm (across the Flyover,
opposite Taberner House). You only need
attend one of the Meetings and
Attend one of the two Branch Annual General Meetings and have a chance to WIN a gift voucher in our free raffle - 1st Prize = £25.00 and 2nd Prize = £10.00. (The draw will take place at the end of the Meeting on Thursday 26th February 2009).
You also have the opportunity to enter into
At the lunchtime meeting we will also be launching…………..
UNISON has joined forces with Lealta Benefits Ltd, a staff benefits provider who offer discounts in a huge range of shops both nationally and locally, on-line retailers and various service providers.
The discount card will have a unique number which will need to be registered on-line to obtain your discount. The website also contains the full terms and conditions of offers available.
Discounts are redeemed in different ways – these include quoting a special code, printing off a coupon, buying vouchers or in many cases simply presenting the card. As well as many recognisable high street names, you will also find local retailers offering discounts. If you can’t find the discount you want then let Lealta do it for you – by ringing their helpline and giving them details of a local restaurant, hairdresser, garage or takeaway etc, Lealta will try and negotiate a discount to get them on board with the scheme.
The Branch has recently signed up to the service and as a thank you for attending the coming AGM, we are able to offer those members a card, free of charge (the cost of a card is normally £6.00 for 2 years). Our Lealta Rep will be attending the lunchtime meeting to give a brief presentation, so come along, find out more and claim your card FREE.
CROYDON’S FINANCIAL POSITION
It will come as no surprise to anyone that the Council is in severe financial difficulties. At a meeting on Friday 16th January between the Trade Unions and Jon Rouse, Chief Executive, we were informed that they intend to look at further ways of saving money in two ways. Firstly, the level of pay award for 2009, and secondly by a review of allowances and other payments.
Both of these suggestions are extremely concerning. The only way that Croydon could in any way make decisions about the level of pay increase in any one year would be to step outside the National Pay bargaining structure. To review allowances and other payments will inevitably mean revisiting agreements reached only a very short time ago in the Single Status process. Jon Rouse claimed that they would not be doing this, but it’s hard to see how they can carry out the exercise they’ve suggested without doing so.
The Restructuring in every Department goes on apace. Reps continue to cover an enormous amount of meetings and to challenge proposals wherever necessary. The amount of redundancies entailed in the final proposals will of course be the crucial factor and we will have to make a decision about how we collectively respond – this will be subject for discussion at the Branch AGM.
In particular, HR & OD are facing swingeing job cuts. Not only is this unacceptable in terms of staff facing redundancy, it also has severe indirect implications for staff support, including the vital element of Health & Safety.
DISCIPLINARY & CAPABILITY PROCEDURE
Having failed to get our agreement about the removal of Councillors from Appeals Panels, the Council have made it clear that they intend to impose the change. It’s an extremely worrying feature of the last few years that we have procedures that are not agreed – not long ago this never happened.
When we emailed members informing them of the situation and asking their opinions, we received a large number of replies all but one of which were clearly opposed to the change. We have now declared a dispute regarding this matter and are referring it to the Regional Joint Secretaries (Trade Unions and Employers) – this is on the basis not only of this individual issue, but the whole question of meaningful consultation.
The Council’s Staff Survey is now live on the Intranet. They say your voice counts - so make yourself heard and let them know your honest answers! The Survey will close at midnight on Friday 27th February.
This is still grinding to a halt very slowly as there are large numbers of people who still haven’t been called to a Signing Day to be given the money they are owed.
The latest Signing Day was held on 31st January 2009. There are now two more planned for 26th and 31st March.
The latest twist in the whole situation is that we’ve now been informed by Pam Parkes, Head of HR & OD, that all those who have submitted a claim for backpay in regard to a previous job they held in Croydon after 31st March 2001 will not receive the backpay. The reason given for this in the letter we received was the Council’s financial position. However, when we protested about the fact that this contravened the Single Status Agreement, we were informed that it didn’t, because the relevant paragraph referred to an assessment of each case. This seems to contradict the reasoning given in the letter, and we have had no explanation as to what criteria were used when arriving at the decision that no one will receive the backpay.
Members on the standby gritting rota for the Highways DSO have also been treated shabbily. They are clearly owed back-pay but the Council are resisting paying them the full amount and have actually completely changed their reasons within the course of our discussions. First of all they wanted to deduct bonus payments, then when they realised they couldn’t do that they declared that they weren’t entitled to any back-pay for standby allowance! We are currently preparing to ballot members involved in the rota for Industrial Action.
For details of the Appeals Procedure please click here.
This Campaign, involving trade unions, school staff, governors, pupils, parents, political parties and the community in general, is being co-ordinated by Croydon TUC and is attempting to prevent the closure of local schools (Ashburton, Haling Manor, and Selsdon) and their replacement by Academies. The parents of pupils at these schools are not even getting the chance to vote on the proposals.
Although the Campaign has had some success in getting the Council to change the detail of their proposals, they are still pressing ahead. We need to resist this move to put our children’s future education in the hands of private sponsors who will have no accountability to local people.
The proposals have been referred to the Scrutiny Committee who will be meeting on Thursday 19th February. They will then be discussed at the Council Meeting on Wednesday 25th February. A lobby of this Meeting will take place from 5.15 pm onwards on the steps of the Town Hall. Please attend and demonstrate your opposition to the undemocratic proposals.
For more information on this issue and the Campaign please visit http://www.croydonsos.org.uk/
With Council Staff having received the interim Pay Award of 2.45% in December’s salary we still await the outcome of Arbitration regarding the final settlement. The latest news is that both sides (Trade Union and Employers) presented submissions to ACAS on 2nd February (read the Trade Unions’ submission here) and they met on 10th February.
The unions argued that local government has treated workers on National Joint Council terms and conditions as “poor relations” for a long time.
Employers have failed to invest in pay, training and good conditions, while making over-the-odds efficiency savings and putting ever-larger sums of money into reserves. UNISON and other unions also pointed out that the money available to local authorities from central government for the next three years will far exceed inflation if economic predictions are correct.
The employers argued that pay offers had been constrained by government pay policy, the cost of the local government pension scheme and Single Status.
Each side asked the other questions and the arbitration panel asked questions too. They were particularly interested in unallocated reserves - which have increased significantly in the last few years, and whether they can be used for pay purposes.
The joint unions agreed to provide them with further information on unallocated reserves as a proportion of revenue for 2007/8 and 2008/9. That information has been obtained and the unions are now waiting for the employers to agree it so that it can be sent to the ACAS panel.
There is no sign yet of when the ACAS panel will respond to the submissions. Unfortunately this seems to indicate that we won’t have an outcome for last year’s pay negotiations much in advance of the deadline the 2008 UNISON National Delegate Conference demanded for an offer from the Employers regarding this year’s award!
The Pay Claim for next year is for a minimum of the level of inflation as measured by the Retail Price Index (RPI) on 1st January 2009. This was agreed by the Trade Union Side of the National Joint Council (NJC) as an attempt to avoid a below-inflation settlement next year. However, in the light of the current economic crisis, bringing with it deflationary pressures, it might prove to be an unwise move if our aim is still to regain the ground we’ve lost over the years.
The Employers have said that they will not respond to our claim until last year’s claim is settled, which is unlikely to be before the end of March.
With the UNISON Welfare Monthly Prize Draw you could win cash prizes every month and support UNISON Welfare. UNISON Welfare is a registered charity providing a unique and confidential service just for UNISON members and their families. Every year UNISON Welfare helps thousands of members with grants, well being breaks, free debt advice and support.
You can buy up to a maximum of 10 numbers per month at just £1.00 each. Unlike other prize draws or lotteries you don’t have to remember to buy a ticket for each draw. Once you have filled out an application form and direct debit instruction UNISON will collect the money from your bank account and enter your number in each draw. You can cancel or change your direct debit at any time.
To find out more information on how to play Octopus, for Terms and Conditions and to read UNISON’s Social Responsibility Policy, visit www.unison.org.uk/octopus.
50% of all ticket revenues will be paid out in prizes and 40% will to UNISON Welfare. Only 10% is used for administrations costs. The first Draw will be held on 6th March 2009
Octopus Lottery is managed by UIA Lottery Management Services Limited. UIA Lottery Management Services is registered as an External Lottery Manager under the Gambling Act 2005 and under the Companies Act No 5448877. Octopus Lottery is registered with the Gambling Commission under licence number 008978.
The Government Regulations on the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) can be found on the Pension Update Page
You can also log-on to the UNISON National Website www.unison.co.uk for more information on Pensions.
LGBT HISTORY MONTH
February is LGBT history month, which marks the lives and achievements of LGBT people and raises awareness about how we can all combat prejudice and discrimination.
Events are taking place all over the
Join Team Fairtrade and:
– Compete in the races and games to win a Fairtrade chocolate medal
– Make a Fairtrade smoothie under your own pedal power
– Enjoy Fairtrade products
– Meet Fairtrade farmers
– Learn about Fairtrade and much more!
Riverside walkway (by Gabriel’s
Wharf) South Bank,
Visit www.fairtrade.org.uk for more details
JOE STRUMMER TRIBUTE NIGHT
UNISON Welfare Debtline and online Debtclinic
Many people fall into debt at
some point in their lives. Sometimes all it takes is a small change in circumstances
to tip the balance and turn a manageable situation into a debt problem.
debt management plan is paid for by the credit industry so every penny of
your repayments goes towards your debts unlike some debt management companies
who charge a fee.
Telephone UNISON Welfare Debtline Freephone 0800 389
3302 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm Saturdays.
BRITANNIA BUILDING SOCIETY
The Branch has
recently held three very successful Mortgage & Savings Days with
You can download a PDF Voucher worth £5.00 which you can use to open a UNISON ISA account.
If you require further details please get in touch with our Branch Contact Emma Thompson on 07790 793286 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
UIA is owned and run for the benefit of it’s policy holders, so they can give you a better deal.
For insurance at competitive rates telephone 0800 66 88 55 or visit www.unisoninsurance.co.uk
Don’t forget to check out the deals at UNISON’s
CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS………
We are always looking for more members to get actively involved in the Branch. There are many areas where members don't have a local Steward.
So - if you would like to get more involved in the Branch and its decision making, take part in negotiations with management and represent members, why not become a Steward or Health and Safety Rep?
We won't throw you in at the deep end. There are many courses available that are organised through the TUC or UNISON and they run throughout the year. You will also have the support of the Branch Office. Time off for full training is available, please contact the Branch Office for more details or e-mail email@example.com
ARE YOU GETTING IT?
Please let us know in the Branch Office if you have changed your address, either by phone on 8760-5435 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org it’s important we keep your records up to date so that you are fully informed on matters that could affect you.
If you are prepared to be a workplace contact for us, which involves handing out UNISON information, Newsletters etc to your fellow UNISON members again please let us know in the Branch Office.
We want to make sure all our members are informed on what's happening in the Branch.
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