Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Local Government Workers - write to your councillor and MP to ask them for a decent pay rise in 2014

We are asking all UNISON members working in Local Government and Schools to write to their councillors and MPs to ask them for a decent pay rise in 2014. You can either compose your own letter or cut and paste the text below and use the Write To Them website - all you have to do is go to and enter your postcode.

Dear Councillor/MP (give name)

I have lived in your constituency for (insert number of) years. I am writing to ask you to support UNISON’s campaign for fair pay for local government workers.

UNISON is seeking a pay rise of at least £1 an hour for all the people like me who are keeping council services and schools running in the face of ongoing job and pay cuts. The Local Government Employers are now consulting councils on this claim. Since 2010, I have had a three-year pay freeze and just a 1% increase last year. That means my pay has fallen by 18% in real terms.

Please lobby our council to get them to support my union’s claim and get our council to put pressure on the Local Government Employers to make a decent pay offer and on central government to fund it.

Local government pay and conditions are by far the worst in the public sector. Since 2010, not only has my pay fallen by 18% after inflation, my (car allowance/unsocial hours payments/ sick pay etc if applicable) have been cut too. With food, fuel and travel costs going through the roof, I will not be able to manage.

I do understand that our pay claim comes at a time of unprecedented cuts in local government funding by central government. However, local government has saved a quarter on the pay bill and reserves have risen to over £19 billion in the last two years. The extra £2.3 billion reserves banked is more than the equivalent of an extra £1 an hour for local government workers.

If I had a £1 an hour extra, I would spend it locally rather than having sleepless nights about debt and how to make ends meet. So a £1 an hour would give our local businesses a boost and help give the economy going too. It could pay for itself in providing more tax and national insurance ‘take’ for government and less spent on in work benefits. These savings could be re-cycled to councils to pay for our claim.

I’m sure you will agree that your local council and school support workers are doing a great job. But I feel that enough is enough. We have shown our commitment to keeping our local services going against the odds. I am now asking you to show your commitment to us.

As you know, there will be local and European elections in May. Councillors and MEPs will find it hard to get the support of local council and school support workers unless they do something now about the real hardship we face.

Please help make our employers and government see that local government workers deserve better.

Kind Regards

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Impact of Poverty Wages on one North Somerset Care Worker

Shirley works as a care worker in a residential home. She is paid less than the living wage, currently £7.65 an hour. Her husband is retired and they live in rented accommodation. Although Shirley has had a small pay increase over the last few years, she has found it increasingly difficult to pay her bills as prices have increased much faster than her wages. She has used savings to pay her bills, but these are now running out and she is very worried about the future. A pay increase to take her up to the living wage and yearly increases after that would help her and her colleagues make ends meet.

Shirley told us that most of her work colleagues earn less than the living wage, and many earn only just above the minimum wage. She thinks that this has an impact for the employer as they see a very high turnover of staff, and often have to use agency workers. Constantly changing staff also has an impact on residents who get used to particular staff. In addition although Shirley’s employer provides mandatory training such as manual handling and food safety, Shirley and her colleagues have to push for training to achieve their NVQ levels 2 and 3.

Shirley loves her job and finds it rewarding, but she told us that when she meets new people and they ask her what she does for a living she feels embarrassed to tell them that she is a care worker. She thinks this is to do with the poor image that working in care has – “people think that anyone can do care work, or only people who can’t do anything else work in care”. She feels this is also to do with the poor pay for care work and the poor status that the job has.

Shirley thinks that care work is undervalued and underrated - “people think that all care workers do is wipe people’s bottoms.” But there’s so much more to it than that. As well as helping residents wash, dress, and eat, care workers also have to cope with their constantly changing health needs, and sadly some residents need end of life care. Care workers also have to cope with the emotions of residents families as well as their own emotions. Despite all this Shirley finds her job incredibly rewarding and this is especially due to the interaction with residents and their families, many of whom are wonderful people who have had amazing lives.

North Somerset UNISON is campaigning for the Living Wage and also for all Care Providers to sign up to UNISON's Ethical Care Charter - more information can be found at this link:

You can also read Shirley's Story on the national UNISON website:

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Local Government Pay Claim 2014 - Members Meetings

UNISON, UNITE and GMB have submitted the following Local Government Pay Claim for 2014-15:

A minimum increase of £1 an hour on scale point 5 to achieve the Living Wage and the same flat rate increase on all other scale points.

After a 3 year pay freeze and a 1% pay increase for 2013, UNISON members working in Local Government have lost 18% of their pay. Accepting a pay freeze has not saved jobs - since 2010 at North Somerset Council 225 full-time and 150 part-time jobs have gone - that's almost 400 jobs - it's about a quarter of the council's workforce. During that time the council has underspent on staff salaries by almost £2.5 million and this money has been put into council reserves. Although inflation has started to fall recently, over the period of our pay freeze we have seen massive rises in essential costs such as food, energy and fuel bills. This year we must say that enough is enough and we must all get behind the campaign for a decent pay rise.

Find out more here

Watch Heather Wakefield, UNISON's Head of Local Government talking about our pay on YouTube:

Watch Local Government workers talking about the services they provide and why we're worth a decent pay rise this coming year:

Come to a meeting to find out what you can do to ensure you get a decent pay rise this year.

3rd December 2013 at 12.30 pm at Castlewood - room  G11

18th December 2013 at 12.30 pm at Town Hall - New Council Chamber

8th January at 12.30 pm at Castlewood – room 1.08 Castlewood

28th January 2014 at 12.30 pm at Town Hall -  Kenn Room

12th February at 12.30 pm in the Old Council Chamber at the Town Hall (Annual General Meeting)

13th February at 12.30 pm in rooms G08/9/10 at Castlewood (Annual General Meeting)

11th March 2014 at 12.30 pm at Castlewood – room 1.08

27th March 2014 at 12.30 pm at Town Hall - Kenn Room

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

North Somerset Council Youth Services - Court of Appeal Judgement

Public Interest Lawyers Press Release

Court of Appeal Finds that North Somerset Council Failed to Meet Legal Obligations in Taking Decisions to Cut Youth Services’ Budget

In a judgment handed down today, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that North Somerset Council failed to act in accordance with the law when taking a decision in February 2012 to reduce funding to youth services in the North Somerset area by 72% over a three year period.

In a 30 page judgment, the Court of Appeal confirms that Aaron Hunt, the 22 year old youth service user from Banwell who challenged the legality of the Council’s decision, had persuaded it on the ‘substantive points’ he had raised in argument. The Court found:

That there was insufficient evidence before the first instance Court to conclude that the Council had taken adequate steps to ascertain the views of young persons before taking the decision to cut funding.

That the first instance Court could not assume that Councillors had read critical equalities documentation when it was not in the paperwork put before them at the time of making the decision.

That the Council was not entitled to rely upon the interventions of third party objectors, who complained at the Council meeting of 21 February 2012 that the cuts would have far reaching and damaging consequences, to demonstrate that Councillors were fully aware of the equalities impact of their decision to cut funding.

By agreeing that Mr Hunt’s criticisms of the Council’s processes were substantively correct, the Court of Appeal found that the first instance Court had erred in its interpretation of the law when it first considered Mr Hunt’s claim. Having corrected that position, the Court of Appeal has validated the concerns raised by Mr Hunt about the Council’s decision making process.

The Court of Appeal had the option of asking the Council to revisit the initial decision to reduce the budget. However, due to the time that had passed since that decision, the Court of Appeal did not ultimately consider it appropriate to require the Council to return to it on this occasion.

Cianan Good of Public Interest Lawyers said as follows:

The Court of Appeal’s judgment today confirms what Aaron Hunt and others in the North Somerset area have complained about since the Council’s February 2012 decision: that the Council did not consider their views, and therefore did not act lawfully, before taking the decision to cut the youth services budget. Although the Court has ultimately determined that it will not require the Council to revisit that decision, this does not detract from the fact that the Council’s processes have been found to be wanting. It is hoped the Council will now give appropriate consideration to the criticisms made of it in the judgment and that any future decisions taken, whether in relation to youth services or any other important public service, will be sure to respect the views of those within the North Somerset area as well as the law.

For further information, contact: Cianan Good of Public Interest Lawyers
Telephone: 0121 515 5069 E-mail:

The full judgement can be found at:

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Stop the Privatisation of Weston Hospital - Lobby of Board on 5th November

Despite the pouring rain members of UNISON and UNITE stood outside Weston Hospital early this morning to draw attention to the proposed privatisation of Weston General Hospital. Special Thanks to Sue Orwin and Caroline Emory who came all the way from Torbay to join us.

Listen to the Weston Hospital Campaign Chair Steve Timmins on BBC Radio Bristol - it's 2 hours 9 minutes in:

Here's a few photos from today: