Thursday, 11 December 2014


The inaugural Oxford City Council Team Challenge match between Legal Beagles aka Law and Governance and Team RAMPRO aka Regeneration and Major Projects and Property Services took place in the Heritage Learning Centre in the Town Hall. After a brief warm up and with all participants excluding the Team Leaders Challenge being randomly drawn out of a hat..ish, the match began with Anne Bland v Stewart Thorp. After three close sets Stewart T put Team RAMPRO one nil up. This game was followed by Daniel Smith v Steve Smith (Engineer),which followed a very similar pattern to the first game, giving Team RAMPRO a two games to nil lead

The next game was between Cathy Durance v Julia Kidd, which was edged by Cathy D by three sets to one
Next up was the much anticipated Team Leaders game between Jeremy Thomas of Legal and the late, late replacement for Jane Winfield ..and  Nick Twigg, of RAMPRO ,Chris Wood. After a high energy, exciting game, cheered on by all present, Jeremy T prevailed in straight sets to make the match score two games a-piece

The following game was Steve Smith (Legal) v Richard Davison. A tight ,nervy but skilful game ensued, with Richard finally gaining the victory for Team RAMPRO in straight sets. There were only a handful of points difference over the three sets, The sets, genuinely, could have all gone to Steve ! Finally, the match ended with David Browne v David Wignall. DB’s steadier all-round game saw off DW’s determined ,youthful enthusiasm in straight sets giving Team RAMPRO a hard fought 4 games to 2 games win.

In summary , an enjoyable evening with much skill and endeavour ,played in a very genuine ,competitive but respectable and supportive atmosphere which has done much to enhance already good inter-departmental relationships.

Many thanks to UNISON (especially David Hawkins) for providing the table and equipment, Kate Toomey for allowing the use of  the Heritage Learning Centre facilities, Steve Smith (Legal) Julia Kidd & Marion Maguire for all their help and assistance in getting the match on !. Finally, thanks to  all the players, and supporters whose participation etc made it all worthwhile !

Now for the re-match !!!!

Btw…as Jane Winfield might say, Team RAMPRO are clearly Kings of Oxford City Council Table Tennis, ( and very modest too..) who consider all challengers…lol !!!!!!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Stressed out, overworked and underpaid

National health and safety committee members supporting the pay campaigns and demanding better health and safety

UNISON members have been expected to do more with fewer staff for less pay - the union's national health and safety committee noted today, as it met on the first day of this year's European Health and Safety Week.
Committee members representing UNISON service groups, regions, and the NEC reflected on union’s Cut stress, not jobs campaign - and the union rallies for fair pay over the weekend. "The truth is that our members have been at breaking point for a long time," said committee chair Malcolm Harrington. "Over the past four years they have consistently been expected to do more, with fewer staff employed, and for less pay. In short, our members are stressed out, overworked, and underpaid."
Vice chair Pam Sian added: "It is important to remind employers and others that there is a big difference between stress and pressure. "A little pressure can be motivational and help us to prioritise important work, but when the pressure becomes too much to cope with and makes us feel ill, that’s stress and it is always harmful."

The European Health and Safety Week is held each year. The official slogan for 2014 is: Healthy workplaces manage stress.

UNSION has published a revised guide on stress at work to support safety reps in raising the issue of workplace stress with their employers.

Stress at Work, a guide for UNISON safety reps [PDF]

Monday, 19 May 2014

Attendance Management Policy Changes message from UNISON

You will all be soon made aware by Management that there are changes to the Attendance Management Policy where they have reduced the Bradford Factor. Unfortunately, we did not gain agreement about this and it was forced through Full Council without UNISON agreement. 

We will make a further statement soon. 

Below is the Message sent out to all Managers from HR

The new Attendance Management Policy was agreed at Council in April and all employees have been informed that there is a revised policy, which is available on the intranet.

I wanted to remind you of the key changes and clarify the arrangements for transition from the old triggers to the new ones.

New Absence Triggers
·         Now set at 100 & 250 (previously 150 and 400) AND more significantly,
·         A new trigger to tie in with the corporate sickness targets i.e. more than 7 days off sick in any year for 14/15 and more than 6 days off sick in any year from 15/16. So these new triggers mean there will be more attendance reviews

Managing the transition from old triggers to new triggers
·         The +7 day trigger will start from 1st April 14 and look forward, not back until we have 12 months data to look back on. Of course anyone having +7 days from April will trigger instantly. 
·         AND – we’ll start the 100/250 after 6 months – this will prevent any confusion running two schemes. So from 1st October 2014 we’ll only run reports on the 100/250 and have meetings accordingly – whether people have already triggered on the old system – or not.

Important Action
·         Ensure that you are familiar with the new policy and if you are unsure about anything please raise with your HR Business Partner

·         Discuss the changes with your team and ensure that they are aware of the new policy and understand the transition arrangements – with advanced warning of the transition to the new 100/250 triggers they may have an opportunity to bring their score below the new triggers in advance of October.  You will also be able to have 121 conversations over the next few months with individuals who attendance levels would hit the new trigger scores of 100/250, but currently sit below the 150/400 so they are prepared for the changes (these will be shown in a report to the Head of Service each month)

Monday, 12 May 2014

TUC survey on job insecurity

As many people now have jobs that offer little security, the TUC in association with the Scottish TUC wants to hear of worker’s experiences.
They want to hear the experiences of agency workers, workers on zero-hours contracts or people on short-term contracts.
A short survey is running until 24 June on these issues and people can fill it in by following the link below.
Take the TUCSurvey

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Fob System and CCTV system in the Council Buildings are being used to monitor employees whereabouts

UNISON would like to highlight this to all members 

Please read.

It has come to our attention that the Fob System and CCTV system in the Council Buildings are being used to monitor employees whereabouts when there is a potential disciplinary.

UNISON would like to highlight this to all members. We are very disappointed with the Council for taking this adversarial approach especially when UNISON had been reassured it would not happen.

Please be aware all your entries into rooms, corridors, entrances and exits is stored and can be used to track your movements – it only takes one allegation.

We are sorry to inform you of this; but we consider that we are serving our Members in the best way by making sure you are aware of this when we have been made aware.

We understand the level of mistrust this may make you feel about the employer and our door is open to Management to ensure we resolve this in the most amicable way.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Fair Pay Fortnight

Protest on pay this week

UNISON will be holding two days of pay protest this week as part of Fair Pay Fortnight.

Tuesday 1 April will see local government workers throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland stage their latest day of protest on the day their pay settlement was due.

We are consulting our relevant local government workers, including those in schools, with a recommendation to reject the employers' 1% offer, and preparing for potential industrial action.

Thursday 3 April will see health workers staging protests over the government's refusal to give them even a 1% pay award recommended by the independent pay review body.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

£20 Voucher Gift When You Recruit a Member

If you are a UNISON member and you recruit a UNISON member for the Oxford City Branch you will received £20 in vouchers.

All you have to do is give someone who is not a member an application form; write your name at the top of it. And when they submit that form with your name on it and become a paying member you will be contacted to receive the vouchers.

The vouchers will be from any high street brand of your choice.

You can pick up Application Forms from kitchens or contact our Recruitment Officer Pól Ó Ceallaigh via email or telephone 01865 252013.


Monday, 24 February 2014

Lump Sum offer to buy out of enhancement rights

Following a ballot; UNISON and UNITE opted into a five year pay deal with Oxford City Council employers for their members.

One of the aspects of this pay deal involved the possibility of selling your rights of enhancements you receive such as overtime and weekend working.

What this means, if you accept a lump sum payment you will forfeit your right to enhanced payments and any subsequent weekend work or overtime will result in only basic pay, not at the enhanced rate.

This is your individual decision to make.

UNISON members AGREED with the decision to give members this opportunity: whether you decide to or not is a decision that can only be made by you.

You will receive a letter from Human Resources that outlines how much lump sum they are willing to offer you if you wish to take up the opportunity.

Advantages of choosing lump sum:

Ø  Cash lump sum, based on the average amounts of what you have been paid in the past.

Ø  Future payments of enhancements and overtime will be pensionable meaning you will be paying more into your Pension.

Disadvantages of choosing lump sum:

Ø  You lose future benefit of enhanced payments

Ø  If you are in the Pension Scheme and you do not continue to be paid enhanced payments that become pensionable; then, you will not benefit from these additional contributions when you retire.

Ø  Lump sum is subject to tax and national insurance just like the enhanced payments.

The offer is available to you until 7th March 2014 – if you choose to accept the Lump Sum you will need to return the slip at the bottom of the letter that Human Resources will send you.

If you have any questions, please speak to your UNISON representative or contact the Branch Office on 01865 252522

Monday, 17 February 2014





Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) 2014 England and Wales


The Regulations changing the LGPS in England and Wales will come into force with effect from 1 April 2014.


A final reminder that anyone who has currently opted out of the LGPS (England and Wales) but wants to ensure the earnings link protection on any final salary benefits they have earned up to April 2014 (there may be some protection for those who opt back in within 5 years of opting out) MUST rejoin immediately. If the cost of the contributions is a problem then they should be reminded that from April there will be an option to pay half their normal contribution rate for half the pension. They should approach their employer’s pension department and ensure that the forms to rejoin have been returned and received by the pensions department before the end of this month.  If they are not actively contributing to the scheme then any benefits they earned before they opted out, that fall outside the proposed five year window protection to opt back in, will go up in line with prices (currently Consumer Price Index) not earnings.


Anyone in the LGPS (England and Wales) thinking of paying Additional Voluntary Contributions to maximise tax free lump sum payment when they retire (so they don’t have to exchange so much of their pension for cash at the relatively poor exchange rate of £12 cash £1 pension) should elect to pay the contributions BEFORE April 2014. Members should also ensure that the election form is in the hands of their employer or their Pension Fund Administering Authority before 1 April 2014.


If members elect to pay after April (or if their forms are received late) then when they retire they are likely only to be able to take part of their AVC fund as a cash sum (currently 25% of the value). They will have to buy extra pension from the LGPS, or at whatever the annuity rates will be in the future, from a pension provider such as an insurance company. Members, especially those near retirement, should consider paying AVC’s if they can afford it and approach their employer pensions department for details of the AVC arrangement operated by their employer/LGPS fund. They can as an alternative buy extra pension in the LGPS.

LGPS transitional regulations update


These Regulations have been delayed due to the Government debating whether Councillors should continue to be allowed to join the LGPS.  However, as far as we are aware, the protections that were agreed as part of the negotiations on the new LGPS scheme are all included. UNISON has been involved in drafting the regulations.


As drafted the regulations would mean the 'rule of 85' protection will go over into the LGPS 2014 unchanged. So any part of a person's service currently covered by the rule of 85 would not be reduced for early payment if s/he decides to retire at 60, unless they have not completed enough service by that time to satisfy the rule, or the member has tapered protection.


Those who voluntarily decide to retire between the age of 55 and 60 with full or part protection for the rule of 85, would have an early retirement reduction unless the employer agreed to pay to remove it. There is still fine tuning to be done about the level of the reduction in such cases. We think that UNISON has been successful in arguing that the reduction will only count back from age 60, not 65, (or from the date the member attains the 85 year rule if after age 60), but this will be confirmed when the regulations are laid.


We also expect that the current definition of final pay and protections on pay will remain the same for all service up to April 2014. Underpinning protection for those who were within 10 years of their normal retirement age at April 2012 is also in the current draft.


UNISON is pushing for the transitional regulations to be laid as soon as possible, to remove uncertainty. We are concerned that, because of the delay in bringing the transitional regulations into law, some members are considering leaving the scheme or even resigning their jobs - under the false impression that the protections will not be implemented and the equally false impression that leaving the scheme would somehow protect their past service rights in the LGPS.


All those who want to ensure the final earnings protection on their LGPS service to April 2014, should make sure they are contributing to the LGPS when the regulations change in April.



Local Government Pension Scheme (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2014


These regulations were finally were laid before Parliament on Friday, 17 January; to come into force on 10 February. They make a number of technical amendments including clarifying the employer duties for automatic enrolment and re-enrolment of staff into the LGPS. The Explanatory Memorandum carries further detail and this is available to download along with the Statutory Instrument (SI 2014/44) from the OPSI website - .


LGPS Shadow Scheme Advisory Board


The LGPS Shadow Scheme Advisory Board has issued a report on the call for evidence on fund mergers and methods to increase efficiency this can be found at: UNISON was the only union to submit a response and this helped influence the shape of the report and recommendations. We expect the government to produce and options paper on fund mergers and other options in the coming months.


The board is seeking a legal opinion on a range of issues such as who is responsible for paying benefits should a fund go bust and in whose interests are funds invested? We expect the opinion to inform the forthcoming governance regulations, which will set procedures for running the scheme at national and fund level in the future.


Monday, 20 January 2014

Petition to oppose cuts to Support Fund to local Advice Centres

You may already be aware that the County Council is proposing to cut its Support Fund with effect from April 2014 and to end advice centre funding from April 2015.  The Support Fund provides emergency help to those in dire need, using money which was delegated by the Department of Works and Pensions last year.  Advice Centres in Oxfordshire provide in-depth advice, support and advocacy for those living in the most deprived areas of the county, in order to maximise their income, claim any benefits and credits to which they are entitled and reduce their debts.

Anneliese Dodds, who chairs Rose Hill & Donnington Advice Centre has set up an on-line petition to oppose these cuts: we would be very grateful if you would sign it and forward it to others who you think might sign it too.  The link is as follows:

Please sign the £10 billion bailout petition

The government must fund local councils properly to keep communities safe and rebuild the country after the pandemic. Unless ministers ...