Friday, 25 April 2014

Local Government, Schools and NHS Pay - Industrial Action Ballots

UNISON members working in Local Government, Schools and the NHS will be balloted for strike action over this year's very poor pay offers from the employers.

In the case of the NHS Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, has over-ruled the pay bodies and only those NHS workers not due an increment will get a below inflation 1% pay increase this year. And even 
for those NHS staff who get the 1% it is an unconsolidated payment which means that it won’t be added to hourly pay rates so it won’t count for out of hours work or overtime. UNISON Health conference recently voted to ballot all Health members for industrial action.

For Local Government and Schools workers the pay offer is as follows:

• £580 on pay point 5 
• £550 on pay point 6 
• £400 on pay point 7 
• £275 on pay point 8 
• £200 on pay point 9 
• £175 on pay point 10 
• 1.0% on pay points 11 and above

In the recent consultative ballot 70% of Local Government and Schools workers voted to reject the pay offer and move to a ballot for industrial action.

This year all UNISON members must vote for industrial action, and we all need to take action on the same day, and also with other Trade Unions, including the NUT who have recently voted to take strike action during the week of 23rd June.

Look out for your ballot paper, make sure you vote, and vote in favour of taking industrial action this year. Because if we don't strike this year, then our employers will just keep treading all over us. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Transformation Programme - Supporting your Colleagues

As initial proposals for jobs and services which will be the first to be impacted by North Somerset Council's Transformation Programme are announced, I thought it would be timely to ask UNISON members to remember the poem written by Martin Niemoller about the cowardice of those who stood by and did nothing during Hitler's rise to power in Germany. The reason I am asking you to remember this poem is to show you that all UNISON members working at North Somerset Council need to stand up for each other and stand together shoulder to shoulder in your union, because if you do not then the very last line of this poem will become a reality - there will be no one left to speak up for you.

"First they came for the Communists - and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists - and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists - and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews - and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me."

Transformation Programme - how it will affect you and your team

Here are initial proposals for the Transformation Programme:

If your job involves any of the following functions, the council are looking to transfer these functions to Agilisys:

Data entry
Appointment bookings
System administration
Application processing
Straightforward customer enquiries
Financial transactions (not CCG funded)

If your job involves any of the following functions, the council are looking at internal transformation, which is likely to lead to redundancies:

Secretarial/PA support
Freedom of Information
Appointment bookings (professional)
Admin and data entry (traded services)

The following functions and teams are being looked at for either internal transformation or shared services, also likely to lead to redundancies:

Financial Assessments
Financial Management
Communications, marketing and insight
HR/Payroll - shared with B&NES
Performance Management
Procurement, commissioning and contract management - shared with B&NES
Property & Asset Management
Training & Development
Internal Audit - shared with B&NES

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Transformation Programme - Executive approve initial proposals

North Somerset Council's Executive met today to approve initial proposals for the Transformation Programme.

Here are the various reports they considered:

Report to Executive:

The Way we will Work:

Operating Model Design Principles:

Agilisys Contract Dialogue proposed timescales:

The full Council will meet on 6th May to approve further work being undertaken to transfer more services to Agilisys. North Somerset UNISON will be lobbying the meeting from 5.30 pm on 6th May outside the Town Hall in Weston. We need all UNISON members, and in fact all council staff to attend.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

North Somerset Councillors get a pay rise but they can't afford to pay the Living Wage!

The following is our letter on councillors' allowances published in today's Weston Mercury:

I am writing on behalf of North Somerset UNISON, which represents council workers, and in response to your article on the increase in allowances for Assistant Executive members at North Somerset Council. Since 2010 the council has made £50 million of cuts to jobs and services, imposed a 3 year pay freeze on council staff, followed by last year's below inflation 1% pay increase (or pay cut as we like to call it), along with a recent refusal to bring 1000 council and school staff up to the living wage on the grounds of affordability. What makes the decision of the independent renumeration panel even more shocking is that the new posts of Assistant Executives are not prescribed by the council's own constitution. In addition it is my understanding that the proposed boundary changes and reduction in numbers of councillors by the time of next year's 2015 election was supposed to make savings to the budget for councillors' allowances. As a result it seems a rather odd state of affairs that 5 Assistant Executive members will receive increases to their allowances of £6400 each, and to add insult to injury those increases are backdated to June last year. The report of the independent renumeration panel states that the Assistant Executive role involves between 8 to 12 hours a week - as a result their new allowance equates to an hourly rate well above the living wage. As a trade union we are of course supportive of workers receiving fair pay, but councillors are volunteers, and their allowances are not wages for work undertaken. I doubt many other North Somerset residents undertaking voluntary work are given such generous allowances, and we also need to remember that 20% of North Somerset workers earn less than the living wage.

Readers of this newspaper may also want to bear in mind that North Somerset Council have another £50 million of cuts planned up to 2018, which include their recently announced Transformation Programme, which will involve more cuts to services, redundancies and privatisation of services, including the transfer of more jobs and services into their £10.6 million a year support services contract with Agilisys and extending that contract to a 15 year term. This is a contract which over the last 3 years has failed to make the savings promised - the cost of support services was supposed to reduce from £10.3 million to £8.8 million, rather than actually increase, as it has done. North Somerset residents should be very concerned by any misuse of council tax payers money - whether it be increasing councillors' allowances while cutting staff and freezing their pay, or cutting services while transferring other services to a private company in order to help that company make a profit. North Somerset residents may want to take this into account when they cast their votes at the election next year.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Living Wage Statistics for Weston super Mare and North Somerset Parliamentary Constituencies

This week the TUC has published Living Wage statistics for parliamentary constituencies across the UK. Here are statistics for the North Somerset Council area:

Weston super Mare parliamentary constituency:
  • 28.1 % of all employees earn less than the living wage 
  • 34.4% of all female employees earn less than the living wage 
  • 53.2% of all part-time employees earn less than, the living wage 
  • 64% of male part-time employees earn less than the living wage 
  • 49.3% of female part time employees earn less than the living wage 

North Somerset parliamentary constituency:
  • 16% of all employees earn less than the living wage 
  • 29.6% of all female employees earn less than the living wage 
  • 37.5% of all part-time employees earn less than the living wage 
  • 36.7% of female part-time employees earn less than the living wage 

The TUC press release can be found at:

All the data can be found at:

Earlier this year North Somerset Council refused to pay its employees the living wage on the grounds of affordability, while at the same time their budget documents showed their reserves had increased by £3 million over the course of the year. The council missed an opportunity to lead by example and show employers across their district the benefits of paying the living wage.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Austerity Isn't Working Public Meeting - 29th April

7.30 pm on Tuesday 29th April 2014

Nailsea Tithe Barn
Church Lane
BS48 4NG


Ann Pettifor – Fellow of the New Economics Foundation

Steve Chinn – Alliance Homes

Admission free

Is there an alternative to the Government’s austerity policy? Do want to know more about the affordable housing crisis? Do you wonder why the poor are being asked to pay for problems created by the rich? This meeting will address the truth versus the lies about welfare and housing.

For more details contact:
Martin Hime
Ivy Cameron

Sponsored by North Somerset Constituency Labour Party

Transformation Programme - Consultative Ballot Results

The results of our consultative ballot on North Somerset Council's Transformation Programme, which closed on 31st March 2014 are as follows:

75% of members want to campaign against compulsory redundancies and privatisations

20% would like redundancy

5% would like to transfer to Agilisys or another private company in order to keep their job