Friday, 18 December 2015

Syrian Refugee families arrive in Brirmingham

Seven Syrian Refugee families came to Birmingham yesterday. The Amirah Foundation is coordinating their welcome into Birmingham.

Ravi Subramanian, Regional Secretary of UNISON West Midlands delivering seven welcome bags of food and essentials from UNISON.

Over the next few weeks the union will be doing more to support these and other families as they start a new life away from the death and destruction in Syria.


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Personal Injury Success

Every month UNISON wins thousands of pounds for our members who are injured at work or at home through no fault of their own.

Unlike no-win no-fee lawyers the union does not charge for this service and all the compensation goes to the member.

In November this year we won over £54,000 for our members.

Friday, 27 November 2015

UNISON Urges Meaning Negotiations

As staff at BBraun Sterilog return to work after a 24 hour stoppage and begin a seven day work to rule, UNISON urges the employer to enter meaningful negotiations to being the dispute to a close.

Staff employed by the company, BBraun Sterilog, are employed to clean and sterilise surgical equipment. This is used in hospitals across Birmingham including the Women’s and Children’s Hospitals. They are taking industrial action because of a threat by the company to remove breaks.

Ray Salmon, UNISON West Midlands Regional Organiser said:

“Following a successful day of action yesterday we urge the BBraun Serilog, as well as hospitals in the Pan Birmingham NHS Trusts, to come to the table and participate in meaningful negotiations to end this dispute.

The staff working at the company work in sterile environments. This is to ensure the public can go in to operating theatres knowing hospital staff caring for them have clean and sterile equipment with which to carry out their work. What this means for the staff is working in a hot and oppressive environment, wearing surgical scrubs. There is limited opportunity for them to take refreshments except within these short breaks.”

UNISON and the staff are keen to bring the dispute to a close but this can only be done if all parties engage in the negotiating process.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Tax credits u-turn will bring huge relief to nearly three million working families, says UNISON

Commenting on the announcement today (Wednesday) that the Chancellor is to reverse his planned cuts to tax credits, Ravi Subramanian UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:

“Nearly three million working families countrywide have breathed a collective sigh of relief. Since the cuts were announced in the summer, parents have faced increasing anxiety over losing the tax credits they rely upon so heavily.

“We’re pleased that the Chancellor has made good use of the thinking time last month’s Lords vote gave the government.

But the real credit for today’s decision goes to the many brave parents who talked publicly about their already stretched finances, and the distress and hardship the cuts would cause. Their stories convinced the government this unfair tax credits grab was wrong.

The government must now do more to encourage employers to pay staff more – at least the real living wage of £8.25 an hour. This would make a difference to the many low-income families still struggling to make ends meet.

In 2018 new claims for tax credits will stop, and the families receiving them will start to be switched on to Universal Credit. The Chancellor must not use this change as a way to revive his original plans and leave working families worse off in 2020 than today.”

UNISON reacts to spending review announcement on NHS

Commenting on the announcement on the NHS today (Wednesday) by the Chancellor, Ravi Subramanian Unison West Midlands Regional Secretary said

"So far the government’s plans for funding the NHS have been all smoke and mirrors. There has been no consistent plan to deal with the social care crisis and its consequent impact on the NHS.

There’s also been no strategy to prepare and adapt the health service to deal with the challenges of an ageing population, or one strategy to fairly pay its overworked staff.

The new funding will do little to stop long ambulance queues outside A&E departments and little to help organisations that are already in black alert.

Also commenting on the scrapping of bursaries for student nurses, Ravi added:

“Scrapping student nurse bursaries at a time when the NHS is struggling with a shortage of nurses is wrong and irresponsible.

The bursary is a major incentive for people to train as nurses as it helps attract older and diverse candidates. Nurses are already the lowest paid of all those who take vocational degrees. The starting salary is lower than a newly qualified teacher or a graduate police officer. Adding financial pressures onto roles that are so vital makes no sense and will deter many from applying."

UNISON Warns of Disruption to Hospitals Across Birmingham

UNISON has today warned of disruption to hospitals across Birmingham as staff employed to provide sterile serves to all the major trusts in the area take industrial action this Thursday (26th November 2015). 
Employees of BBraun Sterilog will be striking over the decision by their employer to dismiss any staff who refuse to give up their breaks while at work. There will be an all out, 24 hour stoppage from 0001hrs on the 26th November 2015 and staff will work to rule from then on.
The staff provide specialist services to sterilise medical instruments used in hospital theatres and specialist units. The action is likely to affect hospitals such as The QE, the Children’s Hospital and the major A+E departments in the city.
The dispute follows an attempt by BBraun to force staff to give up breaks. The work they carry out is in a controlled environment which prevents them from taking refreshments while in the workplace, irrespective of the temperatures, protective equipment they have to wear or a number of other difficult working conditions. Many of these staff have had these breaks for a number of years which predate their employment with BBraun before being transferred to the private company from the NHS.
Ray Salmon UNISON West Midlands Regional Organiser said:
“It is disappointing that this has come to a strike. We have tried to resolve this amicably but BBraun have consistently refused to listen to their staff or offer a sensible resolution. Once our members made it clear they didn’t feel they could give up their breaks the company changed from a reasonable employer to take a hard line and have taken steps to dismiss staff’.
Despite the potential impact on major NHS services across Birmingham the NHS trusts have refused to assist and resolve the dispute.”
Ray Salmon added
‘I have never experienced such a poor response from the NHS Trusts on an issue like this. They transferred their staff to BBraun and despite contracting them to provide the service they think they can ignore this action. This is a very dangerous position to take.’

Monday, 16 November 2015

Congratulations to... West Midlands Regional Awards

On Wednesday last week the West Midlands Regional Awards took place at the Rep theatre in Birmingham. Congratualtions to all the winners.


 Gina Meredith Customer Service Award

Birmingham branch won this award

Sittu Ahmed of the CVS branch; Ian Houston of the UHNM branch and Helen Randle of the Dudley Group of Hospitals branch were all highly commended

Irene Barker – best recruiting and growing branch

George Eliot branch

Adele Gwyne Organising Award

Coventry and St Cross branch

Recruitment Innovation

Walsall healthcare and UHNM branches were joint winners

Dudley Group of Hospitals were highly commended


Birmingham branch


Black Country Health


Dave Warren, Keel University branch

Health and Safety

Mike Maley, Walsall General branch

Learning at Work

Winners were West Midlands Fire

Birmingham branch were highly commended

Friday, 23 October 2015

17th Annual West Midlands Health Conference

Health branch activists from across the West Midlands region, gathered at the Bescott Stadium in Walsall for their 17th regional annual health conference.

The general secretary, Dave Prentis, opened the conference with a morale boosting speech to delegates. Dave reassured conference that in spite of the barrage of anti trade union legislation UNISON remained strong and popular amongst working people.

To illustrate this he told conference that since this government came to power over 700,000 people of the have joined unison which demonstrates that unions are as relevant today as they always have been.

Delegates then split into 3 focus group sessions on:

Change Management and Downbanding – facilitated by Alan Lofthouse

Managing Sickness Absence (incorporating stress in the workplace) – facilitated by Robert Baughan

The Changing Face of UNISON - facilitated by Dave Johnson

After lunch delegates listen to 2 presentations followed by QAs on:

- TUC’s Work on Public Services and Austerity – Matt Dykes, TUC Senior Policy Officer for - Public Services

- Trade Union Bill – Rob Smith, Thompsons


Thursday, 8 October 2015

Personal Injury Success - September

Every month UNISON wins thousands of pounds for our members who are injured at work or at home through no fault of their own.

Unlike no-win no-fee lawyers the union does not charge for this service and all the compensation goes to the member.

In September this year we won over £232,500 for our members.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

UNISON’s reaction to the Prime Minister’s speech in Manchester

Commenting on David Cameron’s speech to the Conservative party conference today (Wednesday) in Manchester, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said:
"The Prime Minister talks of launching an ‘all-out assault on poverty’, but his government is soon to make almost three million working families and their five million children significantly poorer. Cuts to tax credits next April will hit the incomes of families already struggling to get by, forcing them deeper and deeper into debt.
David Cameron recognises the need to make the UK's inflated housing market more affordable, yet anyone wanting to buy one of the new 'affordable' starter homes needs to be earning at least £76,000 a year in London, or £50,000 elsewhere.
According to the Treasury, only 30 per cent of the population earn more than £50,000, pricing the starter homes way beyond the reach of most workers, including public servants like nurses, teaching assistants, PCSOs and school cleaners.
Developers given the option of providing 'affordable' housing are likely to opt for homes to sell rather than rent, leaving anyone who doesn't earn enough to get a mortgage high and dry.
This housing crisis is forcing public sector workers to live further and further from their places of work. Four more years of pay restraint and the cuts to tax credits will make it increasingly difficult for local hospitals and councils to recruit and retain staff.
The government must commit to a national public house building programme to deliver the low rent and affordable homes people need. This would lower housing costs, cut the housing benefit bill, and make it much easier for people to rent or own their own homes.”

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Graph of the Week - What percentage of voters voted for their MP?

We've blogged about this before but with today's TUC demonstration at the Tory Party Conference and the proposed Trade Union Bill we thought it would be worth reprising this graph.

The government's Trade Union Bill aims to introduce a 50% voting threshold for union strike ballot turnouts, and a requirement that 40% of those entitled to vote must back action in "essential public services" - health, education, fire and transport. 

The recent General Election resulted in only 84 out of 650 MPs (less than 13 per cent) meeting the threshold of 40 per cent of the electorate voting for them. 

This week's graph of the week (to make it larger click on it) shows the proportion of the electorate voting for their MP. All parliamentary seats are shown by a bar but due to space limitations not everyone is labelled on the vertical axis. The graph shows the 566 red bars showing those that do not meet the 40 per cent threshold and the 84 green bars where the threshold was met.

West Midlands Regional Secretary said:
"Compared to the increasingly out of touch Tory MPs, working people now have a second class form of democracy when they fight for workplace justice,  It's one law for MPs and another law for workers."

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

There is an alternative to austerity

There is an alternative to austerity, says UNISON

Speaking on the austerity and public services motion at the Labour party conference in Brighton UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said:

"Millions of working people didn’t cause the recession. But they are now paying a heavy price, and will go on paying a heavy price throughout this parliament./So far the Tories have been able to convince many people that austerity is the only way, that there is no alternative./Our public services have been cut, closed down and privatised. Savage spending cuts have seen thousands of jobs axed, with those left behind fearful they will be next, and even more fearful for the survival of the essential services they provide.

Cuts so severe that many local councils worry that soon they will only be able to provide those services required by law. This vicious government must be held to account as it slashes and burns all we hold dear. Our NHS is under siege, and there’s a pay cap for another four years, on top of the five we’ve already had. And billions more will be cut from public finances in the spending review later this year. Tax credit cuts will penalise the poor and low-paid. A teaching assistant earning £16,300 with one child will see her net pay fall by £1,800 a year, and millions of other working families will see their incomes hit hard. For too long, working people have made do with half-baked promises from our own politicians. Yes, promising fewer cuts than the Tories, less privatisation than the Tories.

Labour must become a real opposition to take on the Tories, not sit in its shadows. It must expose the cruel and vindictive plans being pushed through parliament and offer a clear alternative, not a paler shade of the Tories’ so called ‘middle ground’. Now, with the election of a new Labour leader, there’s hope for the future, a belief that there is another way, of growth and investment in infrastructure, of a balanced economy that works in the interests of the many. People will now hear of a kinder, more compassionate world, one where public services matter and its people matter before profit. We’ve been given a vision of a better world that works for everyone, not just the self-serving few.

Of course Labour has to develop a credible economic alternative, without that only more opposition lies ahead. We need to convince the public that there is another way, and that unchallenged, austerity risks irreparable damage to public services.

We don’t want fewer cuts than the Tories, we want no more cuts to our public services. We don’t want less privatisation than the Tories, we want no more privatisation of our NHS, our local government, our police and probation services. We cannot afford the £20bn that Trident’s replacement will cost. Not when adult social care is on the point of collapse, when wards are closing in every city, and when thousands of police support jobs are to go, depleting our police forces so that the only winners are burglars and muggers. New guidance says that quality care cannot be delivered to the elderly and the vulnerable in their own homes in 15 minute visits, but now 15 minute visits are the norm. And the ever-increasing pressure on budgets will force councils to push dedicated homecare workers for even more in even less time. Try telling that to the homecare worker who has to wake, feed and shower a frail 90 year old with dementia. That same homecare worker who has no time to get to the next visit, and who won’t be paid for any time spent travelling.

Try telling that to the dedicated staff at Addenbrooke’s – who saw their hospital placed in special measures last week. Through no fault of their own, but simply because the government’s tight-fisted approach to the NHS funding means there’s no money to employ the extra staff so desperately needed.

This is our time to smash the consensus that austerity is here to stay. It’s our time to create a new path that offers hope and opportunity for those already left behind. It’s time to set out an alternative to the cuts agenda, the privatising agenda, and to the pay freeze destroying lives."


Thursday, 3 September 2015

NUT take industrial action at Bluecoat School,

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) are taking industrial action at Bluecoat school, Coventry. UNISON members are not taking part in this action but George Sands, Chair of Coventry City Branch said:

“UNISON Coventry City  Branch offer our full support and Solidarity to our colleagues in NUT on their two days of Strike actions on 3rd and 10th September. UNISON may ballot our members on industrial action.”

He went on to advice UNISON members:

“UNISON members should not undertake any duties that they would not normally carry out and should not provide cover for their NUT colleagues during the Strike Action”

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Personal Injury claim Success

Every month UNISON wins thousands of pounds for our members who are injured at work through no fault of their own. Unlike no-win no-fee lawyers the union does not charge for this service and all the compensation goes to the member.

In August this year we won over £145,000 for our members.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

UNISON to continue fight over Employment Tribunal fees in Supreme Court

UNISON has vowed to take its battle to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal rejected its appeal against the government’s introduction of employment tribunal fees.

Describing this case as ‘troubling’, the Court of Appeal expressed a ‘strong suspicion that so large a decline [in claims] is unlikely to be accounted for entirely by cases of ‘won’t pay’ and [that] it must also reflect at least some cases of ‘can’t pay’.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said:

“Today’s decision is a huge disappointment and a major setback for people at work. Many unscrupulous employers will be rubbing their hands together in glee at the news. 

There is stark evidence that workers are being priced out of justice and it is women, the disabled and the low-paid who are being disproportionately punished.

Our fight for fairness at work and access to justice for all will continue until these unfair and punitive fees are scrapped.”

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Smoke and Mirrors over NHS pay

UNISON has today slammed the government over a Treasury letter to the chair of the public sector Pay Review Bodies (PRB) – including the NHS PRB – which stated that not all staff will get a pay rise as promised in the Summer budget.

Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:

“It is clear from this letter that the government’s promise of a one per cent pay rise for public sector workers was all smoke and mirrors.

There was no substance to Osborne’s claim and NHS staff will be bitterly disappointed to hear many of them may not even get an extra penny for five more years.

The letter states that ‘the government expects pay awards to be applied in a targeted manner’ and that some workers could receive less than one per cent.'

It is difficult to see how much targeting you can get from a miserly 1 per cent without resulting in hundreds of thousands not getting a pay rise at all.

Ministers’ acknowledgment of saving at least £8bn with the pay caps and freezes imposed on public sector pay proves it is nurses, healthcare assistants, porters and paramedics who are still paying for a deficit they have nothing to do with.”

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Attacks on unions are attacks on working people too, says UNISON

Commenting on governments latest proposals to prevent people who work in the public sector from paying their union membership fees directly from their wages:

Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:

“This latest malicious manoeuvre from ministers shows how far a Conservative government are prepared to go to attack ordinary working people.  In simple terms they are planning to go to deny nurses, care workers, teaching assistants, hospital cleaners and town hall staff a voice at work.

Anyone with a job in the public sector must wonder why the government dislikes them so much that it is set on a series of such spiteful attacks on them through their unions.

Allowing union subs to be taken directly from peoples’ salaries is convenient for individual employees, their unions and their employers – and it works well in both the public and private sectors of the economy.

The suggestion that this costs the taxpayer is simply not true, in much of the public sector, unions pay the hospital trust or the local council the cost of taking the subs at source, so there is no cost to the public purse.

Employees in workplaces where there are unions are more likely to earn more, be better trained, and have safer working conditions, than those where there is no union.

Ministers are undermining our public services by putting partnership working between unions and employers – that benefits the public – at risk. This is nothing more than a cheap political gesture.

The government is showing once more that by making it harder for unions in the public sector to stand up for their members, it can never be the party of working people. Attacks on unions are attacks on working people too.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Police cuts applauded by Criminals

Commenting on today’s announcement that West Midlands Police Service need to make a further 2500 job loses:
Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:
“This announcement is devastating news, West Midlands Police service have already suffered job losses and this further reduction will mean a scaling back of neighbourhood policing.
PCSO’s work on the front line of policing and can be seen walking the streets, talking to individuals and protecting the public on a daily basis. The loss of a futher 2500 posts will not only affect the hardworking people who are often the visible face of policing but will mean communities across the midlands see less of the people who make them feel safe.
It is clear that the only people who are going to be applauding this announcement are the criminals, PSCO’s know the communities they work in and rely on police support staff to carry out their roles, taking them away will effect police services at all levels.
The reason for these cuts is clear for all to see, it is a lack of funding, the West Midlands needs fair funding from government. We know that this region is being denied almost £43 million when other regions have had none denied.”


Monday, 20 July 2015

If pay austerity is over MPs, it should end for other public sector workers too

Commenting on the confirmation last week that MPs are to receive a 10 per cent pay rise, Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:
"Pay austerity might be over for MPs, but it goes on and on for everyone else in the public sector.
If pay restraint is at an end for politicians – who are public servants too – it should also be over for nurses, teaching assistants, hospital cleaners, council staff and other public sector workers.
The government felt able to ignore the advice of the NHS pay review body, but not, it would seem, the equivalent body for MPs.
Not content with holding pay down for public sector workers for another four years, the government is spitefully going ahead with new laws to make it almost impossible for public servants to go on strike and win pay rises in future.
No wonder so many staff in our hospitals, schools and local councils are beginning to think they'd be better off working elsewhere."


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Trade Union Bill proves the government is not on the side of working people

Commenting on the publication of the Trade Union Bill yesterday, Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:
“The Bill proves that the government is not on the side of working people. These unfair changes will make it much harder for nurses, teaching assistants, midwives and other public sector workers to ever strike for a pay rise or challenge the behaviour of bad employers.
These spiteful proposals will deny millions of ordinary workers a voice at work. Strikes are rare and the decision to lose a day’s pay is never an easy one – especially for public sector workers who have suffered many years of pay restraint. When unions win a pay rise or safer working conditions for their members everyone in the workplace gets to benefit.
Democracy won't be enhanced by vindictively raising thresholds but by modernising balloting and allowing workers to vote from their phones and tablets.
Tory MPs who will be getting an 11% pay rise are imposing a 1% pay cap on nurses and care workers whilst at the same time shackling their ability to challenge this with a second class form of democracy. Less than 13 per cent of all MPs actually met the 40% threshold that the government are setting for workers.”

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Graph of the week - the National Living Wage con

This week George Osborne revealed his Budget and made much pay of introducing a new so called National Living Wage, which will start at £7.20 an hour in April. 

Apart from this being lower than the actual real Living Wage (£7.85 outside London and £9.15 in London) set by The Living Wage Foundation, it only applies if you are over 25. 

But the con does not stop there. At the same time as the National Minimum Wage effectively being raised to £7.20 the government will be reducing Working Tax Credits so despite the wage rise, low paid workers will be worse off. The graph above shows this clearly (hat tip for the graph to UNISON Scottish Organiser, Dave Watson).

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Budget shuts public sector workers out of the recovery

Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget Statement today (Wednesday) Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:
“Capping wages at a miserly one per cent for four more years for public sector workers will hasten the reluctant exit of many dedicated staff from our hospitals, schools and local councils.
The economy is growing yet public servants remain shut out of the recovery.
Despite bearing the brunt of austerity, they are to keep paying the price for the reckless behaviour of the banks.Britain won’t have public services fit for 21st century needs, unless wages for public servants are high enough to attract the best recruits.
Pay austerity might be over for MPs but it’s set to continue for many more years for everyone else in the public sector.An hourly rate of £7.20 is not a living wage. George Osborne’s announcement might look attractive at first glance but as tax credits are cruelly snatched away – leaving many workers £1,200 worse off – he’s simply giving to the low-paid with one hand and taking away with the other.
An independently set living wage already exists, and its higher rate assumes the full take up of in-work benefits. Renaming the minimum wage will mean fewer employers will feel obliged to pay staff any more than the law requires them to.”


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Changes to Migrant Worker Rules

Commenting on the announcement Yesterday that the government plan to change migrant salary rules,
Ravi Subramanian, West Midlands Regional Secretary said:
"Five years ago the government took the short-sighted decision to cut the number of nursing training places, and the NHS is now paying the price.
So with too few nurses being trained in the UK, NHS trusts have been forced to recruit thousands of nurses from abroad. Quite apart from the devastating impact this has on health services around the world, recruiting staff from overseas hasn't come cheap for the NHS either. 
Now in a set of crazy new rules due to come into force next year anyone recruited from outside the EU since 2011 who isn't earning more than £35,000 within six years will have to go home. With demand on the NHS increasing all the time, the sudden departure of many highly-trained staff will mean certain chaos for the NHS. One in four nurses in London are from overseas.
And it's not just nurses who will be affected – many workers from overseas employed in care homes and in home care across the UK could also find themselves without a job with equally devastating consequences on the care of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
Strangely – despite the huge pressures on the NHS – the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) doesn't believe that the UK is suffering from a shortage of nurses. While ballet dancers, head chefs and nuclear waste managers might be on the official list of shortage occupations, nurses don't feature.
Aside from these proposals the MAC is also consulting on proposals to raise the salary threshold to £50,000 – if this happens, the NHS will never be able to recruit another nurse from outside the EU again.
Ministers must think again and put a stop to these rule changes before it is too late. Nurses and other health workers from overseas have made a vital and valuable contribution to the NHS over many years – without their hard work and dedication, the health service would have been unable to cope with increasing demand."

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Disappointment over conservative Majority Goverment

As the Queen opened this session of parliament UNISON West Midlands surveyed its members to gather their thoughts after the election. The question was simple, Are you pleased with the outcome of the general election?

The response from members who are nurses, teaching assistants, cleaners and porters working across public services in the region was a resounding 65% who said ‘no’.

Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:

“UNISON members across the West Midlands have endured attacks and austerity from a Conservative led government for the past 5 years and the thought of Mr Cameron and his party having free reign in the next is worrying.

For such an overwhelming majority of our members to say that they are disappointed with the outcome of the election and given they face, according to the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies, further cuts of £50bn, they are right to be worried."

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Fee Increase for Health Professionals

UNISON is asking MP’s to sign an Early Day Motion (EDM) which gives a voice to member’s opposition to the Health and Care Profession Council’s (HCPC) plans to increase fees by 12.5%.

The 330,000 health professionals, who will be affected by this change have no choice but to register with the council, are calling for this increase to be put on hold until the Health Select committee holds its annual accountability hearing.

Claire Campbell, UNISON West Midland Regional Manager and Political Lead, said:

“The proposed increase will have a significant impact on our members who have no choice but to pay the fee levied on them by the HCPC. The increase of 12.5% comes on top of  a 5% rise in 2014, this would mean a total increase of 17.5% in just 2 years.

The HCPC successfully increased its general reserves by nearly £1 million last year  but continues with little public or parliamentary Scrutiny.UNISON members have seen minimal pay rises and increased workloads over a number of years and are struggling to afford continued increase of this nature.

This motion (EDM41) simply asks for the planned increase to be put on hold until the health select committee has met and held its annual accountability hearing.”

UNISON is asking MPs from all sides of the house to sign the motion as well as table written or oral parliamentary questions.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Graph of the week - Proportion of the electorate voting for their MP

This week the government announced a further attack on workers with their proposed Trade Union Bill that would introduce a 50% voting threshold for union strike ballot turnouts, and a requirement that 40% of those entitled to vote must back action in "essential public services" - health, education, fire and transport. 

The recent General Election resulted in only 84 out of 650 MPs (less than 13 per cent) meeting the threshold of 40 per cent of the electorate voting for them. 

This week''s graph of the week (to make it larger click on it) shows the proportion of the electorate voting for their MP. All parliamentary seats are shown by a bar but due to space limitations not everyone is labelled on the vertical axis. The graph shows the 566 red bars showing those that do not meet the 40 per cent threshold and the 84 green bars where the threshold was met.

West Midlands Regional Secretary said:
"Compared to the increasingly out of touch Tory MPs, working people now have a second class form of democracy when they fight for workplace justice,  It's one law for MPs and another law for workers."

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Graph of the week - The 10 seats where the Green vote was bigger than the Tory majority

There are 10 seats where the Green vote is bigger than the Tory majority.

Obviously it is not clear that every Green voter would have voted Labour, but some may have done if they had known it could have elected a Labour, instead of Tory MP.

With Sinn Fein not taking their 4 seats in Westminster, 324 seats are required for a working majority. The Tories got 331. If 8 out of 10 of the seats above were won by Labour the Tories would not have a majority in Westminster.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Proposed changes to strike laws

Following the comments from newly appointed Business Secretary, Sajid Javid regarding significant changes to strike laws,
Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:
“This government has only been in power for a few days and already they are attacking workers,
Mr Javid, whose government was elected on just 36.9% of the vote is introducing second class democracy for workers.
At his first Cabinet meeting the prime minister said that they needed to focus on ‘bread and butter' ways of improving peoples lives’ but if restricting the rights of the average employee is a top priority then it is clear they are focusing on ‘Silver spoons and caviar’ for employers and private companies.”

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Health workers fear for future of NHS

UNISON West Midlands have today revealed that over 90% of members working in the NHS surveyed are worried about the future of the NHS.
UNISON recently surveyed thousands of members across the West Midlands asking how worried they are about the future of the NHS. This lead to the stark truth that 93% of health workers are worried about the future of the NHS.
Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:
“UNISON members are at the front line of delivering services in the NHS and work in roles such as nurses, health care assistants, cleaners, porters, and receptionists.
Our members cover the roles that keep the NHS working and functioning as a world class service.This survey shows the recently highlighted public concern about the NHS is well placed because the over 90% of the workers in the NHS are also worried.
On 7 May people have the chance to vote to ensure that the NHS gets the investment it needs and remains a public service free from privatisation.”

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Graph of the week - this government broke the economy

The government claims that the economy was contracting when they came to power in May 2010, but the graph above shows the economy contracted after the global banking crash and started growing in 2009. The dip in economic growth comes after the first two of George Osborne's budgets.

It was this government that stalled the economic recovery after the global crash.

With a hat tip to Paul Mason on Twitter @paulmasonnews

Monday, 13 April 2015

West Midlands Fire Service to become Living Wage Employer

Members at West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) look set to be paid at least ‘The Living Wage’, if the move is approved by members of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority (WMFRA).
UNISON began negotiations with the brigade in late 2014 and a report is being presented at a meeting of the WMFRA on Monday 13 April recommending that the service adopt the living wage from 1 April 2015.
This will mean the wages of 62 WMFS staff will rise to the level of The Living Wage, which is currently £7.85 an hour outside of London.
Tony Rabaiotti, UNISON West Midlands Regional Manager said:
“This is a huge step forward for West Midlands Fire and Rescue service and they should be congratulated for taking this step.
Receiving living wage gives employees the chance to earn an amount of money that covers the basic cost of living.The move to implement the living wage clearly shows that they, along with many organisations both public and private, are beginning to see that the minimum wage is not enough for our members to live on. 
More employers across the West Midlands need to follow WMFS’s lead and ensure that hard working staff are paid properly for the work they do”
Vic Mallabar, WMFS’s UNISON Branch Secretary, added:
“We welcome this positive response to our requests for our lowest paid staff to be lifted up to the living wage threshold. We recognise the difficulties faced by West Midlands Fire Service, but are proud that the management and Fire Authority have supported our lowest paid staff. We congratulate the service on becoming a living wage employer.” 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Survey Reveals Scale of Stress among Ambulance Workers

Long hours, an increasing focus on targets and staff shortages are placing an enormous burden on ambulance workers in the West Midlands as more than nine in ten (92%) say they are suffering with stress, according to a new UNISON survey published today.
The survey is published ahead of the union's annual health conference in Liverpool next week.
The survey of 238 ambulance workers in the West Midlands reveals that nearly three-quarters (72%) are suffering with sleep problems as a result of stress, 74% said they felt irritable and experienced mood swings, and more than half  (57%) suffered with anxiety. More than a third (38%) said they had to take time off sick because of work-related stress and 30 per cent admitted they were close to doing so.
One West Midlands paramedic described how paramedics are asked to deal with 999 calls:
“Late-finishing on shifts causes huge stress for me as a single parent. I can end up not seeing my child for days on end as he’s often asleep by the time I’m home.”
Another ambulance worker in the region revealed that their personal relationships are suffering because they always work late shifts and only get two weekends off every three months.
Worryingly, almost two-thirds (63%) admitted they did not tell their employer the reason that they were off sick was stress. Only five% said they would talk to a manager or a supervisor to cope with stress. Turning to friends and family is the most commonly mentioned source of support and almost half said they talk to peers in an attempt to cope.
As a result of pressures on the service and workers, a staggering four in five (82 per cent) admitted they had thought about leaving the job.UNISON is concerned that employers are not fulfilling their duty of care as more than half the respondents (56 per cent) said they were unaware of any steps being taken by their employer to remove or reduce stress.Six in ten (60 per cent) said their employer did not support a good work-life balance and more than two-thirds (34 per cen t)admitted they might need to take time off if the situation did not improve.
Franco Buonaguro, UNISON West Midlands Head of Health said:
“Working in emergency services is stressful but the pressure on ambulance staff is reaching dangerously high levels. It is unacceptable that the current system doesn’t allow for proper breaks between shifts. Workers have told us they often work 14-hour shifts without a decent break.Higher call out rates and lengthy waits outside A&E departments are adding to the problem. It is clear that the pressure caused by government funding cuts is having a huge impact on staff and on patient safety.
But it is vital that patients use the service responsibly – for example only calling 999 for an ambulance when there is a real emergency.This confirms the findings from the NHS staff survey that shows much greater pressure on staff in the ambulance service than any other part of the NHS.The pressure on workers is mounting and the apparent lack of support from their employers means they are suffering in silence. Year after year the levels of stress remain unacceptably high and yet neither employers nor the government have done anything to address this.”