Thursday, 30 June 2011

30th June Day of Action against the Cuts

North Somerset UNISON retired members and UNISON regional staff took part in today's march in support of our sister unions' (NUT, PCS, ATL and UCU) industrial action to defend public sector pensions. 5000 people marched from College Green in Bristol to Castle Park.

All photos (c) Simon Newell, UNISON South West.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

UNISON National Delegate Conference

North Somerset UNISON Rep Toni Mayo and North Somerset UNISON retired member Pat Barrett spoke at National Delegate Conference in Manchester recently.

Toni gave 2 speeches at conference - the first was about the cuts to Sure Start, which Toni said, are part of the ConDems ideological attack on the welfare state. We need to be inspired by the strikes on June 30th, when public sector workers will be striking in defence of jobs, services and pensions. The revolutions in the Middle East show that working people can control their governments and their lives.  If they can win, so can we.

In the second speech Toni spoke about how the working class were rejecting David Cameron's attempts to privatise the NHS and set up academies. The students have come out against the rise in tuition fees, the public have rejected the attacks on the NHS and now public sector unions are leading the fight on pensions, and every fight has made the government weaker.

She said that we are seeing more people join UNISON now because we are committed to fighting the Tories to defend our jobs, services and pensions. She went on to say that this was a weak and crumbling government. They have made the mistake of declaring war on the public sector. They have asked for a fight and they will get one. One which they will lose and we will win.

Pat also gave two speeches at conference. In her first speech, Pat informed conference that thousands of pensioners live well below the poverty line and the government bragging about how it has raised the pension, this is nonsense. “There may well have been a £6 a week rise, but my rent has just gone up and has completely swallowed that” fumed Pat. She added: "Twenty Five thousand pensioners died from cold related illnesses last year and with the government planning to cut the winter fuel allowance, up to 40,000 could die this year. It would be quicker and less painful to put a bullet in our heads”. (Pat also said that on Birmingham local radio, leaving thousands of midlanders choking on their cornflakes).

Pat concluded: “The public have to understand that the reality of state pensions – it is a crime against humanity. I have to come to conference every year to save on my fuel bills. I was in Blackpool last week and I wonder where I will be next week. I think that we should arrange conference in winter so we oaps would save even more.”
Pat's second speech was on composite D - Saving the NHS. Pat spoke on behalf of retired members, pointing out the particular interest pensioners have in keeping the NHS as they tend to be the biggest users. 
A lot of retired members can remember when you had to pay before seeing a doctor.  This meant many who could not afford it would have to suffer, sometimes with fatal consequences.
The NHS is too precious to be slashed by the fat cats who can afford to pay, while the likes of all the Pensioners, delegates and visitors who provide our  public services would be made to suffer. 
The amendment from the retired members committee was to urge branches to make full use of their retired members as they are a valuable resource.  Many have been branch officers and stewards.  They have a wealth of experience to offer!!! 

Saturday, 25 June 2011

UNISON Local Government Conference

UNISON Local Government delegates met in Manchester on 19th and 20th June. They debated a variety of motions. The main areas we need to concentrate on over the forthcoming year are:

  • Defending the Local Government Pension Scheme

  • The Attack on our Terms and Conditions

  • The Campaign against Local Government Cuts

  • The disproportionate impact of Local Government Cuts on Women

  • Car Allowances and rising Fuel costs

  • Protecting School Support Staff

Other motions of particular interest for North Somerset UNISON members involved the role of Agilysis as a consultant at Barnet Council, who plan to outsource pretty much everything, and what's become known as the Tri-Borough merger - Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster councils plan to share services.

Guest speakers at the conference included:

Domingo Perez, General Secretary of UNE (Union Nacional de Empleados) - the union of public sector workers in Nicaragua

Clifford Singer, who has been involved in setting up a number of Anti-Cuts and Anti-Tory websites:

False Economy

The Other Tax Payer's Alliance

My David Cameron

Thursday, 23 June 2011

30th June Day of Action against the Cuts

Members of the NUT, ATL and PCS will assemble on College Green in Bristol at 11 am. They will march to Castle Park, where there will be speakers and an afternoon of Anti Cuts activities.

North Somerset UNISON members who happen to be off work that day or in Bristol are encouraged to join them to show our solidarity in the fight against cuts to jobs, services and pensions.

RMT Demonstration 28th June, BT Conference Centre, Liverpool

RMT has called a demonstration outside Liverpool’s BT Conference Centre at 08.30 on Tuesday 28th June 2011 when Sir Roy McNulty - the architect of the Governments “Rail Review” carve-up - will be addressing a major railway industry conference

Save our Railways: Rail Cuts Cost Lives

Demonstration against the McNulty Report

08.30 Tuesday 28 June 2011

Liverpool’s BT Conference Centre

McNulty’s Rail Value for Money report for the Government will have terrible consequences for every rail worker and every rail user. He wants to slash jobs across the grades, impose pay freezes and reduce safety. Specifically he is calling for: -

  • More dangerous fragmentation, divvying up tracks and signalling among private operators creating a whole series of mini Railtracks

  • Lower safety standards and fewer inspections

  • Ghost stations – McNulty wants to leave ¾ stations without ticket offices

  • No Guards on ANY trains

  • Massive fare increases

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said

“ The McNulty report is a recipe for disaster that will make staff, passengers and the environment pay for the mess rail privatisation created. That’s why we are taking this protest right to his doorstep to make the case for public ownership - the solution to fragmentation and profiteering that Mr McNulty has totally ignored”

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Your Pension is under Attack

Lord Hutton's report on public service pension schemes has now been published. The proposals mean we will pay more, work longer and get less.

We are told that public sector workers are privileged with gold plated pensions. This is a lie—most are left to survive on less than £5,000 a year.

The changes mean:

Increasing the employee contribution by 3% to almost 10% of your salary

Increasing the Retirement Age

Using the Consumer Price Index rather than Retail Price Index to calculate yearly pension increases – this doesn’t take into account housing and utility prices – yet another cut

Moving from a Final Salary to a Career Average Scheme

Removal of the requirement for a broadly comparable pension for TUPE transferred staff

For more information go to:

This will hit six million workers. The government expect the poor to keep paying for the crisis, while the rich get richer. The wealthiest 1 percent get some £10 billion in tax relief on their pensions every year. For every pound we spend as taxpayers on public sector pensions, we pay £2.50 subsidising the pensions of this tiny minority.

Dave Prentis said of the attacks:

“This would amount to a savage pay cut when members are already suffering a two-year pay freeze. Civil servants have also been subjected to a recruitment embargo, job cuts and attacks on their terms and conditions. They are in no mood to accept unfair and unwarranted attacks on their pension scheme. Pension schemes need long-term, stable management and not knee-jerk responses to the latest fiscal crisis. These new proposals have nothing to do with remuneration levels or the sustainability of public sector pensions. They are simply a crude method of using public sector workers to pay down more than their fair share of the deficit”.

UNISON will be campaigning to protect our pensions. The branch needs a Pensions Contact in every team and workplace - whether you work in Local Government, the Health Service, Further Education or a private or voluntary sector employer.

As a Pensions Contact we would ask you to talk to members and non-members to get their views about the proposed changes to their pensions and feed them back to the branch. If you're interested please contact the branch office - 01934 634759 or

Delegates to UNISON’s National Conference will be voting on whether to ballot members on industrial action in order to protect our pensions.