Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A Christmas Message for Jeremy Hunt

Health members are sending a message to Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP :
‘All they want for Christmas is the Pay Review Body recommended pay rise’
Members have spent the past week signing Christmas cards to deliver to Mr Hunt asking him to do what’s right and award all NHS Staff the Pay Review Body recommended pay rise of just 1%.
So today they are sending over 3000 cards to the Houses of Parliament to make their voices heard.
Franco Buonaguro , UNISON West Midlands Regional Head of Health said:
“The message is simple, pay NHS staff what the Pay Review Body recommended. Health workers care for patients and their families every day of the year often when they are at their most vulnerable or distressed. The NHS depends on the goodwill and commitment of the workforce and this is now at breaking point.
We have spent the past week visiting staff in hospitals and talking to members of the public and there is a clear consistent message from both, NHS staff deserve better.
While many will be sitting down on Christmas day and enjoying some well earned time off with their families, many NHS staff will be at work, leaving their families to celebrate without them. Not only that, they will be there when things go wrong, ready to drive ambulances and run Accident and Emergency departments when emergencies arise.
For NHS staff there is no sign of a fair pay deal, so what choice do they have, they care, they continue to work on increasingly lower pay and often doing extra unpaid hours.”

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Birmingham City Council Cuts

Following this morning’s announcement from Birmingham City Council, it is clear that they are being left with little option but to make drastic savings in order to balance the books.

The cuts to services are wide spread and will have a massive impact on the people of Birmingham.  These cuts will not only lead to job losses that will be devastating to the workers; but they will impact on the services that the public use daily, they will have a considerable impact on vulnerable people. The impact will be felt across the city and region as a whole as millions of pounds will be taken out of the local economy.

Just days before Christmas our members and their families are being left in the situation of not knowing if they will have a job next year.

Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:

“UNISON are clear that these job losses are as a direct result of this Tory-led government. They are targeting councils in the North and the Midlands with massive cuts to government grants. Government cuts means Birmingham has a cut in spending power of over £145 per dwelling, whilst in the Tory run Buckinghamshire, Windsor, Hampshire and Wokingham they actually have an increase in spending power. How can that be fair?

With Christmas around the corner and just days after the autumn statement this festive gift from the government to Birmingham and our members lays out their priorities clearly, give money to the millionaires not the millions.

The people of Birmingham deserve better than these spiteful and politically motivated cuts, and they need to make their views known through the ballot box at the General Election”

Monday, 8 December 2014

New Recognition Agreement with RNIB

Both nationally and regionally we have a growing number of members who work for the Royal National Institute for Blind People, and have supported members within the organisation for a number of years.

We can now confirm that after lengthy negotiations and work both nationally and regionally we have a formal recognition agreement with them. This agreement will enable us to work more closely with our members and the organisation improving the working lives of the staff.  It will also enable us to attend meetings and actively recruit new members from the charity.

This agreement is a huge success for the UNISON staff and activists who have been involved with the negotiations but also heralds a new chapter in members and the union’s relationship with RNIB.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Graph of the week - Government borrowing predictions are way off

This week's Autumn Statement from the Chancellor George Osborne exposed what a mess he is making of the economy, and the graph above illustrates just one of the many things he has got wrong.

In 2010 he said that austerity would work and drive down government borrowing. The blue bars show his 2010 forecast for driving down government borrowing. But austerity strangled the economic recovery and we had a double dip recession, which meant income from taxes dropped off. And in turn that meant borrowing had to go up to plug the gap.

The red bars shows the actual borrowing that has happened and shows clearly George Osborne has got it badly wrong.

Graph taken from an article on the Independent website here.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Police Staff vote Yes to Strike Over Pay

UNISON’s members working for police forces in England and Wales have voted yes to industrial action over pay.

UNISON members in the police service work in jobs such as 999 call takers, police community support officers, scene of crime officers, fingerprint experts, financial investigators, detention officers, crime reduction officers, crime analysts, enquiry desk officers, trainers, criminal justice clerks, a wide range of vital operational and organisational support roles.

The result of the ballot is as follows:

Are you prepared to take part in a strike?
YES: 59.6%
NO: 40.4% 

Are you prepared to take part in action short of strike action? 
YES: 79.4%
NO: 20.6 %

Charlie Sarell, Regional Organiser for Police Staff said:

"These results send a clear message that after two years of pay freeze and last year's below inflation pay rise, police staff have had enough. And that they are now ready to take industrial action over pay.

"We are calling on the police employers to return to the negotiating table to improve the current pay offer."The union’s Police Sector Committee will now meet to consider the ballot results and discuss next steps."

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Public Service Workers paying the Price of Austerity

Commenting on the Chancellor's Autumn Statement,  Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:

"It is sickening that Osborne is once again expecting public service workers to work more for less and pay the price of his failed plan to revive the economy. Austerity has not worked and despite this the Government is going ahead with more cuts which will inevitably mean more pay freezes.

There is nothing in his statement that will support workers and the lowest-paid.Nothing to help the million of public sector workers who have seen the value of their pay fall by at least 10% since this coalition came to power.

Workers are paying the price of austerity while the rich and privileged share the benefits. The Government has nothing but contempt for the hardworking people in this country. The truth is four years of austerity has caused untold damage to the economy, to the public services families rely on and to the daily lives of millions of people. 

An increasing number of full time public sector workers have to borrow money every months and rely on second jobs to survive.And the rise of precarious jobs is hardly something to be proud of. More people work part-time because they can't find full-time jobs, more people are on precarious zero-hour contracts.

The recovery the Government has been boasting about is still not being felt by workers. A recovery that only benefits the few privileged in this country is no good for the economy and for workers. The economy is not safe and nor are workers whose jobs are increasingly insecure.

The hardest-hit are communities and the most vulnerable, This was the Government's last chance to reverse the cuts. They will now pay the price at the next election.

West Midlands holds it breath for autumn statement

The West Midlands region has been badly affected by this government’s failure to deal with the economy and they repeatedly try to tell us that things are getting better and we are all in this together, but where is the evidence for this?

As the country holds it breathe in anticipation for today's autumn statement UNISON members are wondering if finally they will benefit from the so called recovery.

Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:

“UNISON members and the public as a whole across the west midlands are fed up of this government’s failure to deal with the economy and support hard working families. This will be the chancellors forth attempt at reviving the economy and his last chance to ditch austerity and stand up for hard working people.

All they've announced so far is recycled money. Existing money which was already allocated and budgeted for, not additional funding. Instead of investing and improving the NHS, this Government opted for a damaging £3bn top down reorganisation that the public did not vote for.

Their approach to public spending has been a disaster. The plan did nothing to reduce the deficit and left our public services in dire straits. Hundreds of thousands of public-service workers lost their jobs and the promise to cut the deficit not the NHS was just empty words.

But in a desperate attempt to avoid negative headlines months before the general election, the Government will try to use the same tricks again.

Everything UNISON Said in 2010 has been proved right. It is obvious the government's plans on the economy did not work: it did not reward workers, it penalised them; it did not protect the most vulnerable, it put them and more rise - and it certainly was not fair"

Monday, 1 December 2014

Regional Branches and Activists win Midlands TUC Awards

Following on from the UNISON West Midlands Regional Awards that took place in early November the Midlands TUC held their awards night on Friday 28th.
It is with great pleasure we can announce that UNISON branches and activists won Awards:
The Winners were:
  • Dawn Downes of the George Eliot hospital branch won “organising rep of the year” award
  • The George Eliot hospital branch jointly won the campaign of the year award with Unite for the successful campaign to stop the privatisation of George Eliot Hospital
The following were highly commended:
  • Laney Walsh from Redditch and Bromsgrove branch was highly commended in the Health and Safety award for the really great work she and the branch are doing on mental health in their employer
  • Ian Middle from the Sandwell general branch was highly commended in the Communications rep award for the excellent work he has done to ensure members in his branch ware kept well informed
The success of these branches and activists at the TUC awards clearly shows the hard work they have put in this year and demonstrates an ever increasing commitment to the union and our members.
Congratulations to the winners of awards and those who where highly commended

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Graph of the week - deficit is due to reduced taxation not too much spending

This week's graph of the week comes from The Resolution Foundation's report In The Balance: Public Finances in the Next Parliament. It is figure 15 on page 36.

What this graph clearly shows is:
  1. The massive deficit in public sector finances that happened in 2008 was not because of an increase in spending, but due to a huge fall in tax receipts because of the recession caused by the global banking crash.
  2. There has been a levelling off in spending in absolute terms, but given that this does not include inflation and increased demands due to an ageing population this actually amounts to massive cuts to services.
  3. The best way to fix the deficit is to increase tax receipts so they match spending.
The best way the government can do this is to:
  • have an economic plan that delivers good well paid jobs (as oppose to the zero hours low paid jobs that currently exist) so that workers then pay income tax and VAT and help build tax receipts.
  • reverse the cut to the 50p tax rate for high earners.
  • ensure that tax dodging companies like these pay their fair share
Spending cuts that hit the poor and the vulnerable are unnecessary and avoidable. There is a better way to close the deficit.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Huge Mobilisation and Growing Public Support for NHS Strikers

Health workers on strike yesterday received tremendous support during their four-hour stoppage. Tens of thousands walked out in protest at the Government’s decision to deny a paltry 1% pay rise to all NHS staff.

There were picket lines at every acute hospital, ambulance station and across many community health services in the West Midlands and while on strike workers provided life and limb cover and cared for anyone in need of emergency treatment.

Franco Buonaguro, UNISON West Midlands Regional Head of Health said:

“While the anger is spreading, so is the public support for NHS workers’ fight for fair pay.  NHS workers don’t go on strike lightly but they do so carefully and safely. Patient safety is paramount and this is why workers stopped for just four hours. All we’re asking for is fair pay, and the public understand that.

The growing public support for health workers is overwhelming. They understand health workers are being reasonable. We are not talking big money or bonuses here, it’s simply the money that the Independent NHS Pay Review Body said they should have.

NHS services were affected in every major hospital and ambulance station.” 

He went on to say:

“It is irresponsible of the Government to not even try to resolve this dispute. Their behaviour is in danger of putting patients and the public at risk.

NHS workers will now take part in action short of strike action between Tuesday 25 November and Sunday 30 November, with members working to rule.”

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Police Front Counter Closures

We were shocked to hear the announcement yesturday from the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner of the extent of the cuts to take place to police front desks.
A review had been taking place but the announcement that twenty seven are set to close was unexpected. The closures will happen over the next 12 months and will mean that just ten front offices will remain open between 8am to 10pm and only Birmingham Central will remain open 24/7.
Our Regional Organiser for Police and Justice, Charlie Sarell said in response:
“UNISON is of course worried about the extent of these cuts and the service this will provide to the general public. The reasoning behind this review and the extent of the closures is clear, it is the fault of the Conservative government. The ongoing cuts to police funding is penalising the West Midlands unfairly, while some County forces in the south are not being affected. UNISON will be working hard to protect our members jobs but given the extent of the cuts we are significantly worried that they and other staff will be facing compulsory redundancies.”
While the Branch Secretary of West Midlands Police branch, Jill Harrison added:
“This is going to have a massive impact on our members and all the police staff across the West Midlands. We will be working hard to support all those affected by these significant changes, but this is about more than just jobs, it is going to impact on the local economy too. There is an unemployment issue in the West Midlands and making more people redundant will only make this worse”
The details of the announcememt can be found here

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

And the Winner is...

Votes counted, trophies polished and speeches written: Tonight is the night that our regional awards take place at The Rep Theatre in Birmingham with 9 categories to be decided with over 25 nominations; competition was tight!
The awards ceremony is our opportunity to celebrate the past year and the successes of our many branches across the region.
To keep up to date with the action throughout the evening follow us on twitter @unisonwestmids using #wmuawards14

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Second Day of Action by Health Workers

Following the last NHS stoppage on 24th October we were hopeful that the Government would sit round the table and continue discussions about pay but they haven’t! So the Service Group Executive (Nationally) has been forced to take the decision to move to a second day of action on Monday 24th November 2014.

We are not doing this alone and a total of eleven trade unions will be taking part. These include:

  • Royal College of Midwives (RCM)
  • Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT)
  • Society of Radiographers (SoR)
  • British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT)
  • GMB
  • Unite the union
  • Managers in Partnership (MiP)
  • Prison Officers Association (POA)
  • Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association* (HCSA)
  • British Dietetic Association * (BDA)

More information on the action can be found @