Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Bristol Rally for the People's Assembly Against Austerity - 29th May

7pm on Wednesday 29th May

Malcolm X Centre, St. Pauls, Bristol BS2 8YH

Speakers include:

Owen Jones (journalist and author)
Mark Steel (comedian)
Vicki Baars (NUS vice president & People’s Assembly committee)
Paulette North (Bristol BARAC, Vice Chair Avon and Bristol Law Centre and Ujima Radio presenter)
Joanne Kaye (Unison South West Regional Secretary)
Laura Welti (Bristol Disability Equality Forum)

The event is free but you need to register at: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/6660871847?ref=ebtnebregn

Watch Owen Jones' speech here

The People's Assembly against Austerity will take place in London on 22nd June

This is a call to all those millions of people in Britain who face an impoverished and uncertain year as their wages, jobs, conditions and welfare provision come under renewed attack by the government. With some 80% of austerity measures still to come, and with the government lengthening the time they expect cuts to last, we are calling a People’s Assembly Against Austerity to bring together campaigns against cuts and privatisation with trade unionists in a movement for social justice. We aim to develop a strategy for resistance to mobilise millions of people against the Con Dem government.

The assembly will provide a national forum for anti-austerity views which, while increasingly popular, are barely represented in parliament. A People’s Assembly can play a key role in ensuring that this uncaring government faces a movement of opposition broad enough and powerful enough to generate successful coordinated action, including strike action.

The assembly will be ready to support coordinated industrial action and national demonstrations against austerity, if possible synchronising with mobilisations across Europe.

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity will meet at Central Hall, Westminster, on 22 June. For more information and to register visit http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Weston Hospital Privatisation - Public Meeting and Facebook Page

UNISON has set up a facebook page for the campaign to Stop the Privatisation of Weston Hospital - please like and share widely

A Public Meeting will be held on Saturday 29th June from 10 am to 2 pm at Weston Football Club - to bring together all those who are opposed to the privatisation of Weston Hospital.

Download A5 flyer

Download A4 poster

We are currently arranging speakers, and there will also be family activities on the day.

Here's some links to media coverage so far:

BBC Points West

Weston Mercury, including a survey asking readers if they would be concerned if Weston Hospital teamed up with a private partner http://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/news/hospital_up_for_sale_sparks_fight_to_protect_it_1_2202054

Bristol Evening Post

Friday, 17 May 2013

Local Government Pay Offer - Consultative Ballot and Members Meetings

The Local Government Employers have made a final offer on your pay for 2013-14. You will soon receive a consultative ballot paper. Make sure your voice is heard.

  • 1% on all pay points from 1 April 2013
  • Deletion of the bottom pay point – scale point 4 – from 1 October 2013
  • If you are on scale point 4, you would move onto scale point 5 in October. This means a 1% increase between 1 April and 30 September and a further 1.4% increase on 1 October.


The offer is a major disappointment and falls far below our claim for a substantial flat rate increase for everyone as a step towards a living wage. For this reason, UNISON’S NJC Committee is not
recommending it, but does believe it is the best we can achieve by negotiation and that only sustained, all-out strike action could achieve a better offer.


The NJC Committee believes the pay offer is an insult – the employers think you’re only worth a few pence more:
  • An extra 6 pence an hour – if you are on the bottom pay point earning only £232.92 per week
  • An extra 9 pence an hour – if you earn just £341.41 per week
  • An extra 13 pence an hour – if you earn £488.50 per week


While the employers offer you the loose change from their pockets, living costs keep rising – food, transport and energy costs are all running high at 3.3%. After three long years of a pay freeze your basic earnings have crashed by 16%.


Local cuts to your pay and conditions have not saved jobs. A third of posts have been lost in many councils, saving large amounts of money on council pay bills while pay and conditions remain under constant attack.


Other public sector workers have had higher pay increases than you in recent years. Your pay is now the lowest in the public sector and your conditions are bargain basement. We will be having a massive campaign over the next year to make the employers wake up and end their neglect of the workforce.

The branch will be consulting all  members on the pay offer and you will be asked whether you accept or reject it. If you reject it, you must be prepared to take sustained all-out strike action in pursuit of an improved offer. Whatever you say, UNISON is going to keep campaigning hard for a better deal for local government workers throughout the year. It is vital that you tell us what you think. Take part in the ballot – this is your pay, your union. Your ballot paper should arrive in the post within the next week or so.

  • 28th May at 12.30 pm in the Kenn Room at the Town Hall
  • 29th May at 1 pm in room 2.07 at Castlewood
  • 4th June at 12.30 pm in the Kenn Room at the Town Hall
  • 5th June at 1 pm in room 2.07 at Castlewood

Further information on the UNISON website at:

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Weston Hospital - will it be run by a private company?

The threat of a private company taking over the running of Weston General Hospital is real. Local Trust bosses recently announced that discussions about the Hospital’s future were progressing well. Yet if you look on the Trust’s web site or search for Trust press releases or progress reports on the subject you will find very little information.

Weston Hospital was ranked in the top six most clinically efficient hospitals in the country in 2012 in the respected and influential Dr Foster Good Hospital guide. It was also assessed as the most improved performer in relation to patient safety. Yet Weston Trust is having to look for a partner because under existing rules it is deemed too small to become a stand alone NHS Foundation Trust.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for staff and local health services. Whilst all the staff unions recognise the case for change, all are opposed to a private company taking over the Trust.

Staff were told in March this year that an advert had been placed inviting ‘prospective partners’ including private companies to express an interest in taking over the running of local NHS services. We now know that 11 replies were received. But we haven’t been told who replied or even how many were private companies and how many were other NHS organisations.

We do know that the Trust has appointed an expensive firm of financial consultants - PWC – and a top firm of city lawyers to help with the project.

A Stakeholder and Quality Assurance Group (SQAG) has also been set up by the Trust. The Trust says this will ensure that ‘staff, local organisations and patient representatives are kept fully up the speed with progress ….. and are able to shape the project’. But at a recent meeting, Trust management were less than forthcoming in answering questions from the staff trade unions about the project or providing the unions with copies of key project documents.

The Stakeholder Group decided at its first meeting to issue a communiqué at the end of all of its meetings. We hope the intention isn’t to restrict in any way members of the SQAG from reporting fully to the organisations they represent and commenting publicly on any concerns they may have. The SQAG mustn’t become a vehicle for the Trust to legitimise a certain outcome.

The lack of openness in Weston is in sharp contrast to an apparently more open approach by health bosses at the George Elliot Hospital Trust in Nuneaton, Warwickshire where similar plans are being considered. There, the Trust has published all of the key documents on its web site including copies of the strategic and outline business cases for change, and all updates, as well as informative reports to the Trust’s Executive Team overseeing the project.

One of the options under consideration in both Nuneaton and here in Weston is to hand the Trust over to a private company who would run it for profit.

The first such NHS hospital to be privatised in this way was Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire. Hinchingbrooke was franchised to private company Circle in November 2011 for a period of 10 years. Circle promised unprecedented savings. Government ministers were clearly in a hurry to give privatisation of the NHS a kick-start. Yet a year on, MPs on the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee who investigated the deal described the savings plan as ‘over ambitious’ and ‘unachievable’. Despite promises to pay off Hinchingbrooke Hospital’s debts this is unlikely to happen. Indeed it emerged that the deal was structured to allow Circle to take a profit of £2m each year and not pay down the debt. Despite plans to break even in the first year, the Trust is currently forecasting a deficit of £3.7m. Circle also parted ways with its Chief Executive only 6 months into the project.

The MPs commented that ‘franchising’ in the NHS is untested and were considered that others were considering going down the same road before the full outcomes of Hinchingbrooke can be tested.

The MPs on the PAC made a series of recommendations aimed at preventing a repeat of the clear mistakes made at Hinchingbrooke.

UNISON is opposed to the privatisation option. We will be campaigning to retain Weston Hospital as an NHS run hospital. We want the Trust to be completely open about its plans and publish every piece of information available as part of the process it is going through.

In short we need to know:

- How practically the Trust will ensure that it genuinely engages with and involves staff and the community in the future of the WHAT?
- Will it publish everything in a timely manner, and make it clear immediately what it is not publishing and why not?
- Will the Trust publish the Strategic Business Cases (already approved!) and the DRAFT Outline Business Case, any future revisions, and ensure that staff and the community have a proper opportunity to scrutinise and comment on the OBC before any key decisions are made.
- Any conflicts of interest already declared by members of the Trust Project Board and the Stakeholder Group.

If you want to join our campaign or have any comments please contact unison@n-somerset.gov.uk or phone 01934 634759

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Weston General Hospital - Public or Private? - Useful Documents

Since November 2012 Weston Area Health NHS Trust has been examining its future. The outcome will have a major impact on local NHS services, and the 2000 staff who are currently employed by the Trust. The Trust has already accepted that as one of the smallest Hospital Trusts in the country it does not have the critical mass of clinically and financially sustainable services to become a standalone NHS Foundation Trust. An early option to establish an integrated care organisation was explored but has now been abandoned as unviable. The Trust is now looking at the option of partnering with another NHS organisation or a private healthcare provider. The Trust has already placed an advert in the European Journal seeking expressions of interest from other NHS providers and private companies to run the hospital, and has received eleven replies. As a result the Trust has established a procurement project. It has appointed a firm of private management consultants and a firm of legal advisors to help with the procurement process. A draft timetable suggests that the procurement process will take around 12 months to complete. The outcome could be that a private company will be awarded the contract to run Weston Hospital in 2014.

So far there is very little information publicly available. If you look on the Trust's website all you will find is a press release issued in February.

UNISON and the other trade unions representing staff at the Hospital will be requesting further information, along the lines of the documents published by George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton, who are going through a similar process. But here are some useful documents.

Weston Hospital press statement announcing the procurement project:

PIN notice - advertising Weston Hospital out to the market for expressions of interest:

George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton are going through a similar process, but have published many of the documents on their website:

Also relevant currently are:

National Audit Office report on the Franchising of Hinchingbrooke Hospital:

Public Accounts Committee report on the Franchising of Hinchingbrooke Hospital:

We ask anyone with an interest in keeping Weston Hospital public to contact the North Somerset branch of UNISON by email: unison@n-somerset.gov.uk or phone 01934 634759.