Friday, 31 December 2010

Rise Like Lions in 2011

'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.'

Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Mask of Anarchy, written about the Peterloo Massacre in 1819.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

The Equality Trust

Find out why equality is better for everyone - read the Spirit Level, and sign the Equality Pledge - find out more at http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/ and at http://www.onesociety.org.uk/

The Equality Pledge:

"Compelling new evidence presented by The Equality Trust shows that more equal societies - those with a narrower gap between rich and poor – are more cohesive, healthier, suffer fewer social problems and are more environmentally sustainable. In view of these findings I am committed to making the UK a more equal society as the most effective means of building a better society.  I will therefore actively support the case for policies designed to narrow the gap between rich and poor; and engage with the debate on which measures should be implemented to achieve that aim."

Article in Weston Mercury - 27th December 2010

Link to article in Weston Mercury - Protests planned over cuts -
http://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/news/protest_planned_over_cuts_1_761187

Monday, 20 December 2010

North Somerset Council's Grant Settlement

UNISON East Midlands have done an analysis of the recent local government grant settlement for all councils, which shows that Labour councils come off worse than Tory councils. The reduction in "revenue spending power" for North Somerset in 2011/12 is 2.3% and out of 384 councils, North Somerset is 335th on the list of worst hit, which actually means its reduction in revenue spending power is one of the lowest. Revenue spending power includes central government funding, along with revenue from council tax and car parking charges.

BUT looking more closely at the figures, North Somerset's formula grant has reduced from £65.3 million in 2010/11 to £57.2 million in 2011/12, amounting to a 12.46% reduction, and putting North Somerset at number 250th worst hit, again out of 384. In 2012/13 its formula grant will be reduced by a further 7.65%, totalling a 20% reduction in just 2 years. On the other hand its specific grants have increased from £15.1 million to £16.7 million and its been given £2.5 million in NHS Funding to support social care and benefit health.

You can download all the results from UNISON East Midlands blog and http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/dec/14/local-council-cuts-data

Two Tier Workforce Code Scrapped - Contract Managers at North Somerset Council informed

Contract Managers at North Somerset Council have been informed that the Two Tier Workforce Code has been abolished with immediate effect. This was the code used in public sector contracts to ensure that new staff employed by the contractor would be on overall no less favourable terms and conditions than those staff who had been TUPE transferred to the contractor from the public sector.

You can download the Cabinet Office statement on this at -
http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Withdrawal%20of%20Two-Tier%20code.doc

The statement says that the Code is to be replaced with Six Principles of Good Employment Practice, which will not be mandatory for contractors, and contracts will still be awarded on the basis of value for money. But it seems to me this is about cheapness at the expense of good quality public services.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

CUTS ARE NOT THE CURE


Download a new leaflet from False Economy explaining why cuts are not the cure -
http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/CUTS_ARE_NOT_THE_CURE.pdf

Dan and Dan's Daily Mail Song



Have a listen to Dan and Dan's Bob Dylan style "tribute" to the Daily Mail.

Letter to Mercury 16th December

And edited version of this letter was published in today's Weston Mercury:
I am writing in response to your front page article on North Somerset Council’s proposals for how it will cut its budget by £15.8 million in 2011/12, with further cuts amounting to £42 million over 4 years. As the Branch Secretary of North Somerset UNISON, which represents council workers I was surprised that the Mercury focused on the future plans to close the current Weston Library building and move the library service to the Town Hall, rather than the much more immediate proposals to reduce the numbers of library staff, and ask local people to volunteer to run libraries. This, in our view, will have a much greater impact on library services, because as paid library staff are reduced, and if volunteers fail to step forward then library hours will reduce and some libraries will eventually close. Councillor Ashton was quoted in the Midweek Mercury as saying “If people are prepared to jump up and down about a library then they should be prepared to help run this service too”. We would like to make it clear that Congresbury Library, which Councillor Ashton gave as an example, is not run entirely by volunteers – volunteers work alongside a paid member of staff and are managed by a library manager. Congresbury Library is a unique case, given that the building is owned by the Parish Council, and is unlikely to be so easily replicated in other parts of North Somerset. It is our view that the so-called Big Society idea of volunteers running local services may prove to be unworkable, particularly if citizens are either not prepared to volunteer, or are too busy holding down more than 1 job in order to pay the bills.

The council have made it clear that they intend to provide less services directly, and that the direction they intend to take will be to privatise services, as well as asking citizens themselves to provide services. Although the council argues that children’s and adult’s social services will be protected, by far the biggest budget cut (14%) will be to children’s and young people’s services – this includes cuts to the team which is responsible for school improvements, cuts to Connexions and Aiming High for disabled children, withdrawing funding from the schools music service, and a reduction in funding for training school support staff. In Adult Social Services we are particularly worried by the proposals which will see £500,000 taken out of the budget for care packages for the elderly and disabled, a £700,000 reduction in supporting people services, again impacting on the care and support of the most vulnerable, and reductions in home care and residential care.
As a Local Authority, North Somerset Council are required to actively promote equalities, and as part of this to undertake what are called equality impact assessments on all the services they provide, and on any proposed changes to those services. Equality impact assessments allow the council to assess the impact of their proposals on particular groups of people - people of different ethnic origins, women and men, young and old people, disabled people, gay people, and people of different religions. If as a result there will be a negative impact on a particular group, they can then make revisions to their proposals in order to remove or lessen that impact. UNISON have been requesting that the council assess its budget proposals for the impact on different groups of people for a number of months now – we have still seen little evidence of this and we are concerned that the council will find itself in breach of its equality duties if it does not assess the impact of its budget proposals.

As far as jobs are concerned, in the first year the council will lose 130 full time jobs. The council’s future intentions make it clear that they will be operating with a significantly reduced workforce – this could amount to losing 25% of its workforce over the 4 years of cuts, and that’s excluding those council employed staff who work in schools, for whom we currently have no estimate of job losses. We are seriously concerned about the council’s ability to deliver services with such a reduced workforce, and we are also worried about the knock-on effects for the North Somerset economy, given that the council is currently the largest local employer. In addition to job losses, council workers will see their spending power reduced by a 3 year pay freeze, or pay cut as we like to call it, and now the council intend to cut the pay and conditions of some of the lowest paid council workers, the majority of whom are women. Not only will this impact on service delivery, but it is also a false economy, as lower paid council workers, will spend less, pay less tax, may become eligible for benefits, and as a result stunt economic growth. The council themselves have identified a number of risks associated with such savage cuts, including a slower economic recovery. For us, it makes no sense, that they are proposing measures, which will actually worsen the recovery.

A slowed-down economic recovery will also mean that the council’s strategy of privatisation will be a risky one – what will happen to services if the private companies delivering those services go under? Indeed the council’s own policy of freezing contract prices is also likely to have a negative impact on the private sector. At national level UNISON have been arguing that cuts to the public sector will also impact on the private sector - we have seen that already with the impact on the construction industry of the cancellation of Building Schools for the Future. Here in North Somerset we argued that signing a £10 million per year, 10 year contract for council support services, would actually put part of the council’s budget outside their control and mean that front line services would he forced to take a bigger cut – this seems to be the case for children’s services. UNISON opposes the privatisation of public services because it is our view that it leads to a more expensive and poorer quality service when private companies put profits before people. Even the Chancellor George Osborne queried the £900 cost of his Christmas tree supplied by the private contractor responsible for 11 Downing Street. Privatisation also takes public services out of the control of locally elected councillors and therefore local people. Privatisation quite simply means that public money – our money – is used to create profits for private companies of which we are not shareholders. It remains to be seen whether savings materialise from the recent privatisation of the council’s support services – a similar contract at Somerset County is not meeting its savings targets.

The council are also arguing that because they have made so many cuts since 2007 that they are in a better position than others to deal with the Coalition government’s public spending cuts. The logic of this argument escapes us, as it seems more likely that because they have cut services to the bone over the last 3 years, there is nothing left to cut and as a result front line services are bound to suffer. Such severe cuts means it is now likely that the citizens of North Somerset will experience much reduced and poorer services, or they just won’t get the services they are entitled to. Councillor Ashton also said in the Mercury that he is worried that the public don’t understand the severity of the forthcoming cuts to public services. I have to say I agree with him on this. You can’t cut £15 million from your budget without it having a massive impact on services. The Coalition government do not have a mandate for such savage cuts, which local councils are now implementing. UNISON, along with many other trade unions and leading economists, believe that there is an alternative to the cuts, and that rather than slash funding for public services, the Coalition government should reduce the deficit by bringing in legislation to close tax loop holes and tax havens, which are used by companies to avoid paying almost £100 billion of tax every year – think about that the next time you’re in Top Shop, Burton or BHS. We also support the introduction of a Robin Hood tax on financial transactions. Quite simply we need to tax the banks and other financial institutions that caused the recession, instead of cutting public spending, which hits the poorest and most vulnerable hardest. It seems very odd to us that we are constantly being told we’re all in this together, when it is also made abundantly clear on a daily basis that we are not. We urge the people of North Somerset to start talking to their local councillors about the impact of the cuts on the services they rely on, to attend council meetings (18th January and 22nd February 2011) and speak up for their local services. We also urge them to join our campaign to defend public services http://www.unison.org.uk/million and to attend the Rally against the Cuts in London on 26th March 2011.



Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Captain Ska's Liar Liar Video



Dark days have arrived in Britain. The coalition government and their toxic flotilla of cuts are ruthlessly hacking away jobs, damaging vulnerable lives and chipping away at the very fabric of our society. We cannot afford to stand by and let this country sail towards a future of inequality.

Fear Not! Captain SKA and his ship have arrived to fight this coalition, but more crew members are urgently required, there is strength in numbers.

Pass this video on to other potential shipmates.
Happy Sailing
Captain SKA

https://twitter.com/#!/CaptainSKA
http://www.facebook.com/#!/home.php?s…
http://www.myspace.com/thecaptainska

Sunday, 12 December 2010

A graphic representation of the UK deficit and the UK Tax Gap

I saw this on a BBC 4 programme about statistics - sounds boring, but it wasn't. David McCandless is a designer who converts statistics into graphics.

This link takes you to his visualisation of the UK deficit in comparison to other UK spending -
http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/the-billion-pound-o-gram/

This link takes you to his visualisation of the UK Tax Gap - http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/sep/22/tax-gap-information-beautiful#zoomed-picture

Thursday, 9 December 2010

UNISON Reps meet with North Somerset Councillors

On 8th December UNISON Reps had their regular bi-monthly meeting with North Somerset Councillors. Items for discussion included:

Office Amalgamation Project, aka the move to Castlewood, and a request from UNISON re: monitoring carbon emissions and increased travelling costs. We also have issues with the cost of the refurbishment of the Town Hall, given the current economic conditions. We have requested information on numbers of new jobs which Agilysis  & Liberata have agreed,and apparently have already brought, to Castlewood.

Staff Terms and Conditions - the proposals to remove / reduce enhancements, including overtime, evening, weekend, bank holiday, call out and standby payments. We believe there are equal pay issues with these proposals and are currently taking legal advice, and will be balloting affected members on the possibility of taking industrial action.

Budget - The council propose to cut over £15 million from their budget in 2011/12 - 130 jobs will be lost and many services reduced, privatised or apparently run by volunteers. We have requested that equality impact assessments are completed on all proposals in the budget document - all Local Authorities are required to assess the impact of changes to services on BME people, women, disabled people, LGBT people, people of different ages,and people of different religions. There will be a special budget meeting between unions and councillors on 12th January 2011.

Staff Survey - results available on the council intranet for those who have access - a particular issue of concern is the council's handling of major change programmes, especially consultation around changes. Given the cuts this is something the council need to do better.

Privatisation - UNISON has, for the last year, been trying to get the council to sign up to a procurement agreement setting out trade union involvement in procurements involving staff transfers - we have requested that councillors, given their stance on privatisation, ensure that this and the council's own revised procurement strategy are signed off as soon as possible.

Volunteers and Apprentices - Given the council's statement regarding the Big Society approach, we requested information on what services the council intends to run with volunteers and information on how many apprentices are currently working at the council.

Dates for your Diaries

12th January 2011 at 7 pm – Public Meeting re: the cuts at the Salvation Army Hall  in Weston super Mare

18th January 2011 at 6 pm – Lobby of Council meeting - the budget will be on the agenda

4th & 5th February 2011 - UNISON South West mobilisation days – events to be planned

22nd February 2011 at 6 pm – Lobby of council meeting – budget due to be set

26th March 2011 – TUC march and rally in London – UNISON South West will be organising coaches

Monday, 6 December 2010

Initial Reaction to North Somerset Council Cuts for 2011/12

The following comments have been sent to the press a few minutes ago:

North Somerset Council have this week published their proposals for how they will make cuts to their budget in the year 2011/12 amounting to £15.8 million, as well as stating their future intentions for how they will make cuts in the 3 years after that, adding up to a £42 million cut to their budget over 4 years. Helen Thornton, Branch Secretary of North Somerset UNISON, which represents council workers expressed serious worries, not only for council staff, but for the people of North Somerset who will see their services either reduced, removed or transferred to private and voluntary sector providers over the next 4 years. Helen said: “The council have made it clear that they intend to provide less services directly, and that the direction they intend to take will be to privatise services, as well as asking citizens themselves to provide services. In the coming year we are particularly worried by the proposals which will see Children and Young People’s services take the biggest cut to their budget, along with cuts to the council’s Home Care service, other reductions to care for the elderly and disabled, cuts to Library services, Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Building Control services”.

"As far as jobs are concerned, in the first year the council will lose 130 full time jobs. The council’s future intentions make it clear that they will be operating with a significantly reduced workforce. So if we assume the council will lose 130 jobs every year for each of the 4 years of cuts, then by 2015 the council will have lost over 25% of its’ workforce, excluding those council employees who work in schools for whom we currently have no estimate of job losses. We are seriously concerned about the council’s ability to deliver services with such a reduced workforce, and we are also worried about the knock-on effects for the North Somerset economy, given that the council is currently the largest local employer. In addition to job losses, council workers will see their spending power reduced by a 3 year pay freeze, and now the council intend to cut the pay and conditions of some of the lowest paid council workers, the majority of whom are women. Not only will this impact on service delivery, but it is also a false economy, as lower paid council workers, will spend less, pay less tax, may become eligible for benefits, and as a result stunt economic growth. The council themselves have identified a number of risks associated with such savage cuts, including a slower economic recovery. For us, it makes no sense, that they are proposing measures, which will actually worsen the recovery”.

"A slowed-down economic recovery will also mean that the council’s strategy of privatisation will be a risky one – what will happen to services if the private companies delivering those services go under? Indeed the council’s own policy of freezing contract prices is also likely to have a negative impact on the private sector. At national level UNISON have been arguing that cuts to the public sector will also impact on the private sector - we have seen that already with the impact on the construction industry of the cancellation of Building Schools for the Future. Here in North Somerset we argued that signing a £10 million per year, 10 year contract for council support services, would actually put part of the council’s budget outside their control and mean that front line services would he forced to take a bigger cut – this seems to be the case for children’s services. UNISON opposes the privatisation of public services because it is our view that it leads to a more expensive and poorer quality service when private companies put profits before people. Privatisation also takes public services out of the control of locally elected councillors and therefore local people. Privatisation quite simply means that public money – our money – is used to create profits for private companies of which we are not shareholders. It remains to be seen whether savings materialise from the recent privatisation of the Crematorium and the council’s support services, along with the privatisations to come – Winter Gardens, Playhouse, Tourist Information Centre, Dual Sports Centres, and any future privatisations.”

“The council are also arguing that because they have made so many cuts since 2007 that they are in a better position than others to deal with the Coalition government’s public spending cuts. The logic of this argument escapes us, as it seems more likely that because they have cut services to the bone over the last 3 years, there is nothing left to cut and as a result front line services are bound to suffer. Over the last 3 years North Somerset Council have also kept council tax increases to well below inflation. Every year UNISON and opposition councillors have questioned this decision. The people of North Somerset should now ask whether the extra £7 million that the council would now have in its budget if the last 3 years of council tax increases had been closer to the rate of inflation (or around 5%), would now mean the council would only have to make about half the amount of cuts they are proposing in the first year. In addition, in the Comprehensive Spending Review the Coalition government announced that councils who freeze their council tax in 2011/12 will have the resulting loss of income refunded at a rate of 2.5% per year. This 2.5% would be a larger amount of money if previous years’ council tax increases had also been higher.”

“We also again question whether the decision to borrow £14 million to buy new offices in Clevedon was such a good idea, and ask the council how the loan repayments are now impacting on their budget, along with the cost of the refurbishment of Castlewood and the proposed refurbishment of the town hall in Weston. Isn’t it more likely that North Somerset residents and North Somerset council staff would prefer services and jobs above Ikea style offices? Such severe cuts means it is now likely that the citizens of North Somerset will experience much reduced and poorer services, or they just won’t get the services they are entitled to. Indeed the people of North Somerset may start to wonder why they pay council tax, when they are going to be asked to run services themselves. It is our view that the so-called Big Society idea of volunteers running local services may prove to be unworkable, particularly if citizens are either not prepared to volunteer, or are too busy holding down more than 1 job in order to pay the bills”.

“We believe that there is an alternative to the cuts, and that rather than slash funding for public services, the Coalition government should reduce the deficit by bringing in legislation to close tax loop holes and tax havens, which are used by the rich to avoid paying almost £100 billion of tax every year. We also support the introduction of a Robin Hood tax on financial transactions. Quite simply we need to tax the banks and other financial institutions that caused the recession, instead of cutting public spending, which hits the poorest hardest. It seems very odd to us that we are constantly being told we’re all in this together, when it is also made abundantly clear on a daily basis that we are not. We urge the people of North Somerset to start talking to their local councillors about the impact of the cuts on the services they rely on, to attend council meetings (18th January and 22nd February 2011) and speak up for their local services. We also urge them to join our campaign to defend public services
http://www.unison.org.uk/million and to attend the Rally against the Cuts in London on 26th March 2011.”

The full document outlining the Council's budget proposals, which will be discussed by the Executive at their meeting on 14th December can be found at: http://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/cairo/committees/comidx10-2010.asp

New North Somerset Council Redundancy Policy - just as Council announce redundancies!

North Somerset Council have been consulting the trade unions on a new redundancy policy. UNISON, along with our teaching colleagues have submitted comments but have refused to agree to it.

The new policy puts a cap on the weekly pay used to calculate redundancy at twice the statutory rate or £760 per week - this will impact on staff on JM4 grades and above.

It also includes a matrix which will enable the council to select employees for redundancy. The matrix includes the following criteria: quantity and quality of work, skills and job knowledge, discipline and attendance, absence record, cost of redundancy, attitude and professionalism, and for supervisory / managerial levels of staff the additional criteria of self management and flexibility.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Robin Hood Tax

Join the campaign to introduce a Robin Hood Tax - a tiny tax on some banking transactions that would bolster crucial public services in the UK, save lives and reduce poverty overseas, and help pay the bill for tackling climate change. Find out more at http://www.robinhoodtax.org/

Join the Resistance

Coalition of Resistance Founding Statement

It is time to organise a broad movement of active resistance to the Con-Dem government's budget intentions. They plan the most savage spending cuts since the 1930s, which will wreck the lives of millions by devastating our jobs, pay, pensions, NHS, education, transport, postal and other services.

The government claims the cuts are unavoidable because the welfare state has been too generous. This is nonsense. Ordinary people are being forced to pay for the bankers' profligacy.

The £11bn welfare cuts, rise in VAT to 20%, and 25% reductions across government departments target the most vulnerable – disabled people, single parents, those on housing benefit, black and other ethnic minority communities, students, migrant workers, LGBT people and pensioners.

Women are expected to bear 75% of the burden. The poorest will be hit six times harder than the richest. Internal Treasury documents estimate 1.3 million job losses in public and private sectors.

We reject this malicious vandalism and resolve to campaign for a radical alternative, with the level of determination shown by trade unionists and social movements in Greece and other European countries.

This government of millionaires says "we're all in it together" and "there is no alternative". But, for the wealthy, corporation tax is being cut, the bank levy is a pittance, and top salaries and bonuses have already been restored to pre-crash levels.

An alternative budget would place the banks under democratic control, and raise revenue by increasing tax for the rich, plugging tax loopholes, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, abolishing the nuclear "deterrent" by cancelling the Trident replacement.

An alternative strategy could use these resources to: support welfare; develop homes, schools, and hospitals; and foster a green approach to public spending – investing in renewable energy and public transport, thereby creating a million jobs.

Alternatives to the Cuts

Find out more about why the cuts are the wrong cure and what the alternatives are by going to: http://www.falseeconomy.org.uk/

False Economy is for everyone concerned about the impact of the government’s spending cuts on their community, their family or their job.

False Economy’s supporters want to build the broadest possible movement that can get the government to change direction.

Of course the country has been damaged by the recession, but there are alternatives to these deep, rapid cuts.

The government’s cuts are unfair, risk the fragile economic recovery and fail to make those who caused the crash pay a proper contribution through the tax system to clearing up the mess they made.

False Economy is for everyone who thinks the coalition is cutting too much, too fast and wants to do something about it.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Letter to Weston Mercury 2nd December 2010

I write in response to your article on the advertisement of a Commercial and Contracts Manager at North Somerset Council. A £60,000 per year post, which apparently will help the council make £42 million of cuts over the next four years. As the Branch Secretary of North Somerset UNISON, the union, which represents council workers, I have a number of concerns about this post. If the post was purely about monitoring contracts UNISON would have fewer issues with it, as it is our view that one of the many problems associated with contracting out public services, is that the contracts are not monitored effectively and contractors are not held to account and penalised for failure to abide by the terms of the contract. But it is my understanding that this post will have responsibility for contracting out services and this is something that UNISON does not support, because it is our view that the privatisation of public services leads to poorer quality and more expensive services, because private companies put profits before people – our fuel bills confirm that. Privatisation also takes public services out of the control of locally elected councillors and therefore local people. Privatisation quite simply means that public money – our money – is used to create profits for private companies of which we are not shareholders. The Coalition government are arguing that the private sector will create jobs to take us out of recession. But it is more likely that so-called new private sector jobs will actually be old public sector jobs transferred to private companies. We also have to wonder how the council will guarantee no loss of jobs in Weston super Mare due to the transfer of council staff to Clevedon, when we are likely to see redundancies.

It is rare for UNISON to agree with the Tax Payers’ Alliance, who in this case have pointed out that all council employees should be working to ensure value for money for tax payers, and that an individual post is not necessary for this purpose. It is a great sadness for North Somerset Council employees that the council has in the recent past shown little interest in involving staff in internal service improvements, despite requests from UNISON, and instead its preferred option has been to look to the private sector. With the advertisement of this job the council have made it clear that they intend to privatise many more services. The leader of the council has also said that they will be asking local people to volunteer to provide services, such as libraries and youth clubs, and that some services will simply stop – for instance street lights will be switched off after a certain time, and grass won’t be cut. The council have also made it clear that they intend to make the cuts by cutting the pay and conditions of some of the lowest paid council employees, the majority of whom are women. This is actually a false economy, as cuts in pay to the low paid will simply add to the benefits bill and reduced pay leads to reduced spending and stunts economic growth.

Nationally and locally UNISON is arguing that public spending cuts are not the only way, or even the right way to cut the deficit. Instead we need to make our taxation system fairer and ensure that those who caused the recession pay for it. The people of North Somerset are about to find out which services they will lose. Any reduction to public services always impacts more severely on the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society, as these are the people who rely on public services. We have asked our councillors to use their influence within their own parties to make it clear to the Coalition government how the cuts will impact on North Somerset. We ask the people of North Somerset to join us in our campaign to defend public services – A Million Voices for Public Services at www.unison.org.uk/million.

Save Wyvern Community School

Former Wyvern student Jodie Pitt has started a petition and Facebook campaign to stop Wyvern Community School becoming an Academy.

Sign the petition at http://www.petitiononline.co.uk/petition/save-wyvern-community-school/514

Search Facebook for Save Wyvern Community School

Find out why UNISON opposes academies at http://www.unison.org.uk/education/defendyourschool

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Weston and North Somerset Trades Union Council

North Somerset UNISON is affiliated to the Weston and North Somerset Trades Union Council. All trade union members living or working in North Somerset are welcome. The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 5th January 2011 at 7 pm at the Bristol Hotel, Locking Road, Weston super Mare.

Follow us on Twitter @nsunison

You can also follow North Somerset UNISON on Twitter - @nsunison, or go to our website http://www.northsomersetunison.co.uk/

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Backwell Secondary School to become an Academy

Governors at Backwell School have voted in favour of becoming an Academy under the new rules brought in by the Coalition Government. Find out why UNISON opposes academies by going to http://www.unison.org.uk/education/defendyourschool/

North Somerset already has one school - Wyvern - due to become an Academy under the old rules on 1st May 2011. Our members at Wyvern are already facing a restructure, with some of their jobs disappearing from the new structure. The Cabot Learning Federation are also proposing to move school support staff from the NJC pay scale to their own pay scale. North Somerset UNISON have submitted a lengthy document opposing Wyvern's conversion to an Academy.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Friday, 26 November 2010

Diary of cuts 26th November

The branch is getting more news about how North Somerset Council intend to make £42 million worth of cuts. The indications are that they will be cutting terms and conditions and privatising services, but we will get more details on 1st December.

On Thursday the Branch Secretary met with members affected by the transfer of the Museum to Weston Town Council. Many of our members are currently affected by forthcoming transfers to new employers - Winter Gardens, Playhouse, Tourist Information Centre, Churchill and Wyvern Sports Centres, as well as Wyvern School which will become an Academy in May 2011.

We will be taking advice on balloting those members directly affected by the reduction to enhancements - overtime, evening, weekend and bank holiday working, call out and standby payments.

Our members at NHS North Somerset, formerly the PCT, have just begun a consultation on moving to a Social Enterprise.

Members at NSHousing have been placed at risk of redundancy due to changes in the Supporting People Funding.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Public Spending Cuts are not the only way to cut the deficit

UNISON's view is that the Coalition government's savage cuts to public spending are not the only or even the right way to cut the deficit. We believe that those who caused the recession should pay for it, that is banks and other financial institutions. We need to make our taxation system fairer, close tax loop holes and tax havens and collect the billions of tax which remain uncollected every year. The Coalition goverment's cuts target the most poor and vulnerable people in our society and coincidentally these are the people who are least likely to be able to defend themselves. UNISON has a crucial role to play in defending the public services which many people rely on.  Check out UNISON's alternative budget by going to: http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/18887.pdf. UNISON members need to be getting the message across that the cuts are ideological and are designed to reduce the welfare state which our parents and grandparents fought so hard to create.

Dates for your diaries

Dates for your diaries:

1st December - North Somerset Council will meet with the trade unions to discuss their budget position. Council staff are already being informed at meetings with managers.

14th December at 2 pm - North Somerset Executive meet to discuss budget proposals.

18th January 2011 at 6 pm - North Somerset Council meet to discuss budget proposals.

1st February 2011 at 2 pm - North Somerset Executive meet to approve budget.

22nd February 2011 at 6 pm - Council meet to set their budget. UNISON encourages all members to attend and lobby councillors.

26th March 2011 - TUC Rally against the Cuts in London - branch will be organising a coach to take members to London. All interested members should contact the branch office on 01934 634759 or unison@n-somerset.gov.uk.

North Somerset UNISON Branch Secretary's Diary of the Cuts

The North Somerset branch of UNISON has started this blog so that all members of the branch who have access to the web can keep in touch about the cuts which are affecting their workplaces. Branch Secretary Helen Thornton will aim to write a blog once a week to keep members informed of what's been happening in the branch that week. We strongly encourage members to add their own comments to the blog.

Tuesday 23rd November - Western Daily Press contact Branch Secretary re: North Somerset Council press release announcing the advertisement of a Commercial and Contracts Manager, who will be responsible for outsourcing services, along with managing existing contracts. The job is JM8 grade, a salary of £60k per year and as a result doesn't go through Job Evaluation panels at the council, which UNISON reps sit on. To put it bluntly we knew nothing about it. Branch Secretary gives comment to Western Daily Press on UNISON's opposition to the privatisation of public services because it is our view that the private sector provide a poorer quality and more expensive service, when private companies put profits before people. We also oppose the use of public money to create profits for private companies. This gives us an indication (as if we didn't know already) that the council intend to privatise many of their services.

Wednesday 24th November - 3 UNISON reps walk out of a terms and conditions meeting with the Head of HR at North Somerset Council because of his statement to implement changes to enhancements for council employees, despite our objections to them because of equal pay issues and as as result our refusal to agree to this change. Our colleagues in the teaching unions also walk out with us. The changes to enhancements will affect our lowest paid members, most of whom are women. North Somerset Council are now likely to issue new contracts to affected staff. It is also now likely we will be consulting members on some form of industrial action.