Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Advice for UNISON members affected by or worried about flooding

In the wake of recent flooding, UNISON Welfare has issued the following 
guidance for members and to assist branch officers who are advising them.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Love unions

This government is determined to shift the balance of power in the workplace in favour of employers, and get its trade union bill through Parliament with as little scrutiny as possible.
There were some government concessions in the Commons stages, but the bill still fundamentally undermines the right to strike and hits at unions’ ability to represent their members.
It is essential we keep up the pressure during the crucial stages in the House of Lords – the committee and report stages during February may be our best chance to secure changes to many aspects of the bill.
But, to do this, we’ll need to keep the bill at the front of politicians’ and journalists’ minds and remind people why unions are so important.
From the 8 to 14 February, unions and the TUC will be running a special week of activities throughout England and Wales to showcase the amazing work unions do and build awareness of the trade union bill.
You can find out more at heartunions.org. In particular, check out our briefing for activists on the week and how you and your branch can get involved.
We’ll be back with more in 2016 but in the meantime, best wishes for Christmas and New Year from us atunionreps.org.uk.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Slice cards

Dear all,

UNISON are pleased to inform it’s members that the proposed changes to Slice Card charging (£20 per month charge planned for 04/16) no longer forms part of the Council Budget plans.

We are very delighted that Members listened to our concerns at our AGM.

Thank you.


Matthew Belbin I Communication Officer 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Helping one and all in UNISON

Getting help as a member of UNISON

Can't find the answer you're looking for here? Get help by:

There for You (UNISON Welfare)

Members experiencing financial and emotional difficulties can contact our welfare charity, There for You, which provides a confidential advice and support service for members and their dependants.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Trade Union Bill update

Yesterday MPs debated the Trade Union Bill in the House of Commons. Unfortunately the Bill passed with 305 MPs voting in favour and 271 against. 

But there is good news – MPs from all parties stood up and opposed aspects of the Bill, including several Conservative MPs who we know were influenced by UNISON members visiting them in person or writing to them. 

The fact that Conservative MPs are against some aspects of the Bill makes it more likely that we will win amendments in the House of Lords. UNISON will continue fighting the Bill, please keep an eye out for emails for the next stages in the campaign.

With best wishes,

UNISON Campaigns team

Monday, 19 October 2015

Its time to talk to your MP

We need to talk to MPs

On 2 November union members from across the UK will be lobbying their MP at Parliament about the Trade Union Bill. 

You may have received an email about it on Friday from UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis – the email went to all UNISON activists. In case you didn’t receive it here it is below. Please do spread the word about the lobby. 

Email from Dave Prentis:

Our right to be represented at work is under threat and union members across the country are coming together to try to protect it. 

Could you join us in London on Monday 2 November to lobby your MP and join the rally?

The Trade Union Bill currently going through Parliament will have a negative impact on all workers and on everyone who lives in the UK.

Its impact ranges from severely limiting the amount of time union reps are allowed to spend supporting colleagues who are having problems at work like bullying, to restricting UNISON’s ability to fund local campaigns like stopping hospitals closing and national campaigns like promoting the Living Wage.

It undermines the right to strike, which while always the last resort and very rare, actually underpins positive relations between employers and employees because it incentivises employers to resolve disputes.

At a time when our public services are already overburdened, the impact this Bill will have on staff morale will affect the public services everyone in the UK relies on. It is our duty to stand up against it.

On 2 November union members will be attending a rally and then meeting with their MPs in Parliament. Could you join us? 

Members in Northern Ireland could contact their regional office about lobbying MPs locally, as although the Bill doesn't cover Northern Ireland, all MPs will vote on it.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Quick Loans said eight times more teachers have applied to it this year than in 2011, along with five times more council worker


The number of public sector workers wanting payday loans from a leading lender has quadrupled in five years. Quick Loans said eight times more teachers have applied to it this year than in 2011.
Five times more council workers have applied.

Members of the armed forces, NHS and police are in the top 10 groups. While just 4,958 teachers applied in 2011, it was 51,536 in 2014 with 34,452 so far this year.
The number of council workers is up from 7,563 in 2011 to 33,856 from January to September this year. 
Armed forces personnel came in third, with 31,411 applying this year - up from 7,523 in 2011.
Construction workers, the self-employed, students, apprentices and retail workers are the other top applicants of 2015. In 2011, retail workers, the self-employed and sales people applied for the most loans.
And not only are more professionals applying for direct loans than ever - the average loan sought has risen from £1,152 to £1,487.
Graeme Wingate, managing director of Quick Loans, said the data raises questions about whether the economy really is improving.
He said the figures show many blue-collar workers are turning to direct lenders perhaps because they find it hard to get credit from banks. He said: “Local government workers are among those starting to struggle . “People who have never had difficulty are coming to a lower level of lending. “We are seeing quite a lot more of what we thought of as prime borrowers. Maybe Government cuts are starting to bite.”

Friday, 25 September 2015

Volunteer with Oxfordshire Credit Union

Oxford Credit Union rely on volunteers to staff there office at the Old Music Hall and other outlets across Oxfordshire – in fact, there always looking for new outlets.  They also welcome any short- or long-term help with marketing, finance and other roles.  If in doubt please just offer your time, your skills or your enthusiasm!
Our volunteers
  • help to market OCU at street stands and one-off events
  • assist people who may need help completing forms
  • sign up new members
  • carry out various Board roles
You can read details of the following formal volunteer roles:
Training will be provided.
If you’d like to find out more about getting involved please email volunteers@oxfordshirecreditunion.co.uk

council staff will be offered voluntary redundancy

All staff working across Edinburgh City Council will be offered voluntary redundancy terms before a programme of cutting jobs gets underway…

The City of Edinburgh Council is set to lose a number of staff over the next four years, although the exact amount is still under debate. Now, it has emerged all 20,000 employees will be offered the opportunity to seek voluntary redundancy.
The council faces a budget shortfall of £141m, which could lead to thousands of jobs being scrapped. Senior trade unionists expressed fears that savings could only be made by compulsory redundancy.
To date the council has said it would be looking to cut 1,200 jobs in a cost-cutting “transformation programme”. However, it is thought the figure will be closer to 3,000, something leader Andrew Burns denied.
It is expected compulsory redundancies will now be considered as the council tries to address the shortfall in the budget. If this occur, Unison branch president John Stevenson said industrial action would take place.
He said: “There is now the possibility of compulsory redundancies.
“We have a standard policy of balloting our members on taking industrial action should that possibility arise.”
Other proposals to cut money from the budget include a four-year framework that will address an overall shortfall of £126m. An additional £15m will be built into the proposal as a buffer, taking the total to £141m.
Other plans regarding property and asset management will potentially save £80m over 10 years. The report recommended considering outsources some services in a bid to make further savings.
Speaking to The National, Councillor Alasdair Rankin, finance convener, said: “We are very clear about the scale of the financial challenge that the council is facing.
“The council is experiencing greater demand for services than ever before, with a growing population in Edinburgh and increasing numbers of older people and younger people, while our overall budget remains the same.
“We need to take action in order to achieve the necessary savings to meet this demand, and we are making every effort to do this in a way that will safeguard frontline services for the people of Edinburgh.
“We want to invest in the services that are important to the public but must also look to rationalise our spending.
“We recognise that some of these proposals may involve tough decisions, including a reduction in council jobs, particularly in middle management.

“But while this won’t to be easy, savings will allow us to prioritise the things that matter most to people.”

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

How much might you (or someone you know) lose from the tax credit cuts?

How much might you (or someone you know) lose from the tax credit cuts? 

I am writing to you because I am deeply concerned about the impact the Chancellor’s tax credit changes will have on working people like you. 
Next Tuesday MPs will be voting on these changes that could cost you – or someone you know – up to £3,000 a year.
The government is rushing through these changes in the hope that there is no time for people to protest. But I am confident that we can make a difference if we take action now. 
And I believe we can win. This government only has a majority of 12 and a number of Conservative MPs have indicated to UNISON that they will not be supporting the government. 
Act now to help us win
I have today written to every MP demanding that they vote against the cuts – so that they are in no doubt that UNISON will stand up for its members. You can reinforce that message by writing to your MP too.  
Next Tuesday MPs will be voting on these changes that could cost you up to £3,000 a year.
I am determined to fight these proposals because UNISON’s job is to defend you against unfair attacks like this. 
Yours sincerely

Dave Prentis, UNISON general secretary

Monday, 3 August 2015

Fighting the Trade Union Bill

The recently-published Trade Union Bill contains wide-ranging measures that, if they become law, will restrict your ability as a trade union member to organise within your workplace and take collective action, now we need to know what you think about it.

Please tell us your views on the right to strike and measures included in the Bill by answering the questions in our short survey below.  

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

New mobile-friendly UNISON website released for testing

Activists invited to test new website design before it is officially launched later this Summer

A new-look UNISON website is now available for testing by activists.

The design of the site has been updated so that it works much better on mobiles and tablets with content re-flowing according to the size of your screen.

There are also some changes behind the scenes that should make the site faster and more flexible. And we’ve taken the opportunity to tidy up a few areas of content too.

To get a sneak peek at the site please visit: http://beta.unison.org.uk

Bug reporting

Though the UNISON team has been working hard to find bugs and get them fixed, we’re certain to have missed some. Activists and members can help us by reporting any bugs or problems we’ve missed before we launch the new site officially.
Anyone can report any bugs, content problems or suggest possible features using our online form.
Report a bug or submit a suggestion

Plans for the future

Following this redesign, we’re planning to deliver new features on a regular basis. We welcome any suggestions on features you’d like us to include in the future.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Are your staff or colleagues observing Ramadan this month? See guidance from Acas

What is Ramadan?

In Islamic tradition Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, when the first verses of the Koran/Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Observing Ramadan is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam.

When is Ramadan?

The dates of Ramadan change each year and commences on Thursday 18 June in 2015, although this can vary slightly depending upon regional customs and when the new moon is first sighted. It lasts for 29-30 days and ends with the celebration of Eid-Ul-Fitr. The Islamic calendar is lunar, which means that days start at sunset.

What do people do during Ramadan?

Many Muslims will fast each day from sunrise to sunset. This includes not eating food, drinking liquids or smoking. It is common to have one meal known as the suhoor just before sunrise and an evening meal known as Iftar after sunset.
Ramadan is a time of prayer and self-reflection, where Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur'an.
Ramadan is also a time for charity-giving, which can involve both making donations and participating in charitable events.

Key workplace considerations during Ramadan

  • Observing Ramadan may be noticeable (for example not eating at lunchtime) and so it is often sensible for employees to inform their managers of the fact they are fasting. 
  • Fasting may affect people in different ways (for example some people may understandably become a little irritable or slightly tired at times) and some understanding from managers and colleagues can be helpful. 
  • The effects of fasting may be felt most strongly in the afternoon so it can help to use the morning for meetings and intellectually challenging work, and perform routine tasks later. Also when Ramadan falls in the summer months it can be particularly challenging as the days are longer. 
  • Although breaks should be kept, a shorter lunch may make it easier for an employee to manage their workload if they wish to take time off to carry out additional prayer or worship. 
  • Colleagues may want to avoid offer food and drink to those who fast if sharing food with other colleagues, or eating during meetings. 
  • It would be helpful to avoid meeting / social events etc that ALL staff must attend during Ramadan as it may people would still be fasting. 
  • In certain years, a considerable portion of annual leave may be used by employees wishing to observe the Ramadan rules. Where the leave timings can be accommodated, it is also important to ensure an employee has adequate leave days available for these needs. 
  • Awareness and understanding of Ramadan and other religious festivals can be aided by posting information on staff notice boards or newsletters etc. 
  • Ramadan may offer an opportunity for closer team relations and teamwork - for example by avoiding cakes / biscuits during a team meeting.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

ACAS advice

Time off for antenatal appointments

Antenatal care is the care given to women during pregnancy. The number of antenatal appointments will be between seven and ten. Under certain circumstances, and for certain medical reason, some women may require more.

Key points

  • Pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable paid time off for antenatal care.
  • Fathers and partners of pregnant women are entitled to unpaid time off to attend two ante-natal appointments.
  • Time off is capped at six and a half hours for each appointment.
  • Adopters are allowed time off for adoption appointments.
  • Surrogacy parents will be allowed unpaid time off for two antenatal visits.

Pregnant employees

Pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable time off with pay for antenatal care made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner. This may include relaxation classes and parent-craft classes. Except for the first appointment, employees should show the employer (if requested), an appointment card or other documents showing that an appointment has been made. For a first baby women can expect to have up to 10 antenatal appointments. If an employee has previously had a baby then they may have about 7 antenatal appointments.

Fathers and partners

Fathers, partners and civil partners of a pregnant woman are entitled to unpaid time off during working hours to accompany her to 2 ante-natal appointments.
There is no legal right to paid time off for antenatal appointments. However, employers may allow this time off with pay under the terms and conditions of employment, or allow employees to take annual leave, swap shifts or make up time.

Adopters and surrogacy parents

The main adopter will be able to take paid time off for up to 5 adoption appointments. The secondary adopter will be entitled to take unpaid time off for up to 2 appointments.
The right to 2 unpaid antenatal appointments will also extend to those who will become parents though a surrogacy arrangement, if they expect to satisfy the conditions for, and intend to apply for a Parental Order for the child


Sunday, 21 June 2015

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Conference updates 2015

Event outcomes

A full list of decisions taken at this conference will appear here soon.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Credit unions

Credit unions

Our There for You credit union service offers UNISON members access to low-interest loans and a range of savings products through our UK network of partner credit unions

Simple savings, sensible loans

Our There for You credit union service offers UNISON members access to low-interest loans and a range of savings products through our UK network of partner credit unions. Whether you're dissatisfied with current banking arrangements, are struggling with exorbitant interest rates charged by payday and other lenders or simply looking for an ethical alternative, credit unions may provide just the solution.
UNISON has established a network of credit unions covering the UK where members and their families can both save and take out low-interest loans - in many cases, through payroll deductions.
We already know just how many members are using payday loans and other high-interest loan products - often getting caught in a trap of spiralling debt. UNISON is promoting credit unions as financial and ethical co-operatives that will serve members in a safe and responsible way and promote financial wellbeing.

The benefits for UNISON members

1. Saving with a credit union
As little as £1 may be all you need to open a savings account. This could be a sensible option if you can only afford to save a small amount each week or every now and then. And your reward for saving will be that you receive a dividend each year - often in the region of 2-3% of the amount you have saved.
2. Borrowing from a credit union

Our credit union partners can offer loan products - including emergency loans - to members who do not necessarily meet the criteria to borrow from high street lenders such as banks and building societies, many of which have tightened their lending criteria as a consequence of the credit crunch. Loans come with no hidden charges and no penalties for early repayment.

Is a credit union right for me?

Joining a credit union could be for you if you are interested in being part of a democratically-led organisation that:
  • is for people and not for profit;
  • serves its members first and foremost; 
  • appeals to anyone wanting to support their local community and economy;
  • is committed to helping its members improve their financial situation; 
  • offers fairly-priced loans including to people with imperfect, limited or no credit history;
  • offers a broader range of savings and loan products than many other lenders; 
  • understands the differing banking needs that reflect a wide range of income groups;
  • is appropriately regulated - so is a safe place to save. 

How do I join a credit union?

Some credit unions are based on where you live or work and others, such as police credit unions, on the job you do.

Find out more

For more information read our Common Questions section.
For more details of the product range each credit union provides see our directory.
Alternatively, contact us and we will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.  

There for You (UNISON Welfare)

Financial assistance

If you are a member and you are experiencing financial difficulties, whatever the circumstances, There for You can offer you support.
You may have financial problems for reasons including:
  • relationship breakdown;
  • loss of income;
  • suffering from a long illness;
  • needing to buy equipment because of a disability;
  • caring for someone with special needs or an illness. 

Grants and funding

There is no guarantee that we can offer you financial help, but thousands of members and their families do benefit from our support every year. For example, in 2012, There for You gave more than 4,000 grants to members totalling nearly £750,000.
For more information contact us on 020 7121 5620 or email thereforyou@unison.co.uk or contact your branch welfare officer.

Credit unions

Our There for You credit union service offers UNISON members access to low-interest loans and a range of savings products through our UK network of partner credit unions

    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 ...