Tuesday, 24 October 2017

handing out High 5s to safety

UNISON is celebrating European Health and Safety Week (23-29 October) by handing out High 5s to safety reps and branches who are out there doing all sorts of things to deliver healthier, safer workplaces for members. 
Whatever you are doing, no matter how big or small, tell us about it and we will:
  • feature it on our Facebook page
  • tweet it from our Twitter page (#HSHigh5)
  • put it on our health and safety webpage
  • feature you in a forthcoming issue of H&S Organiser.
We will also send you one of our ‘not to be missed’ UNISON goodie bags. So come on, tell us what you are doing to celebrate European Health and Safety Week and get a High 5.
Send information and pictures to: healthandsafety@unison.co.uk

Monday, 23 October 2017

Advise on Managing staff experiencing mental ill health from ACAS

Managers deal with ill health on a regular basis. While they are usually confident in dealing with physical ill health, they may be less sure of how best to approach mental ill health. Yet it should be fairly similar, with a focus on how they can best support the team member back to work and/or to perform at their best.

The role of a manager

Managers play a crucial role for organisations that wants to encourage strong performance and support employee wellbeing. A manager should:
  • be approachable, available and encourage staff to talk to them if they are having problems
  • tailor their management style to suit the needs of each staff member
  • monitor staff workloads, set realistic targets and be clear about priorities
  • have regular one-to-ones and catch-ups to check on how work is going, identify upcoming challenges and what support may be required.

Spot the signs of mental ill health

The earlier a manager becomes aware that a team member is experiencing mental ill health, the sooner steps can be taken to prevent it becoming more serious and provide support to help them during this period.
A manager should never make assumptions, but signs of mental ill health can include:
  • changes in usual behaviour, mood or how they interact with colleagues
  • changes in the standard of their work or focus on tasks
  • appearing tired, anxious or withdrawn and reduced interest in tasks they previously enjoyed
  • changes in appetite and/or increase in smoking and drinking
  • increase in sickness absence and/or turning up late to work.
Of course, not everyone who experiences mental ill health will exhibit obvious signs. So, it is important for a manager to regularly ask team members 'how they are doing' and create an environment where staff feel able to be open and honest about how they are feeling.

Encourage staff to develop their own Wellness Action Plans

Staff who have previously experienced mental ill health may find it beneficial to develop Wellness Action Plans that can be used to identify:  
  • triggers, symptoms and early warning signs
  • how mental ill health may impact performance
  • what support they need from their manager.
The charity Mind has a practical guide on creating Wellness Action Plans. For more information, go to www.mind.org.uk and search for 'Wellness Action Plans'.

Talking to a team member who may be experiencing mental ill health

Knowing how to best approach and talk to a team member who may be experiencing mental ill health may seem difficult, and it can be tempting to avoid the matter.
However, it is much better to try to resolve concerns at an early stage and nip issues in the bud before they can escalate further or worsen. 
A manager who believes a team member may be experiencing mental ill health should take the lead and arrange a meeting as soon as possible to talk to the team member in private. The conversation should be approached in a positive and supportive way.
A manager should also be prepared for a team member to come and talk to them about their mental health. This can be very difficult for both the team member and the manager, so it is vital that the manager stays calm and patient, is supportive and offers reassurance.
A manager should:
  • move the conversation to a private space, where they will not be disturbed (if not already somewhere appropriate)
  • thank the team member for coming to talk to them
  • allow them as much time as they need
  • focus on what the team member says
  • be open minded
  • try to identify what the cause is
  • think about potential solutions
  • be prepared for the unexpected
  • adjourn the meeting if it is necessary to think through what has been discussed before making a decision.
Acas offers Training courses for managers on having difficult conversations.

Managing a team member who may feel unable to talk

Of course, a team member may not want to talk about issues they are going through. A manager should not try to rush them or pressure them to talk. Instead, it may be best for a manager to simply ensure that the team member knows they are available at any time, to talk about anything.
A manager should then monitor the situation. If they continue to see and hear things that concern them, they may need to seek further advice and guidance from HR, senior management or Occupational Health.

Supporting a team member during periods of mental ill health

If a team member's mental ill health amounts to a disability, an organisation must consider making 'reasonable adjustments' to help them carry out their job without being at a disadvantage.
To understand more about what is likely to amount to a disability, see the Acas guide, pdf icon Disability discrimination: key points for the workplace [392kb].
However (whether it amounts to a disability or not), it makes sense for organisations to make changes that will help staff attend work and/or reduce the pressures on their mental ill health.
Usually small, simple changes to working arrangements or responsibilities will be all that are required. For example, allowing them to have more rest breaks or working with them each day to help prioritise their workload.
Any adjustment should only be made following discussion and agreement between the manager and team member on what might be helpful and what is possible. The team member will often know what support or changes they need. An Occupational Health referral can also help to identify adjustments that should be made.
Once an adjustment has been agreed, a manager should document this. Any change should be regularly monitored and reviewed to check that it is providing the support required.

Supporting the rest of your team

When team members become aware that a work colleague is experiencing mental ill health they may find it distressing.
A manager should be prepared to support the team more than they usually would. This might include being around their team, and having catch-ups with each member on how they are doing. The manager should also make clear that they are available at any time to talk about any concerns or worries a team member may have.
Where an organisation has additional support services (such as mental health first aiders or employee assistance programmes), a manager should also promote these services so staff understand how they may benefit from using them.

Managing absence related to mental ill health

Sometimes staff experiencing mental ill health will need to be absent from work for a period of time. This may be because they are too ill to work or it could be because the medication they are on means they are not able to safely carry out their work. To support staff while they are away from the workplace, a manager should:
  • agree when and how regular contact will be maintained during the absence
  • be positive, professional and supportive at all times
  • agree what the team member would like their work colleagues to know about their absence and how they are doing
  • not pressure the team member to return to work before they feel ready
  • encourage a phased return
  • use Occupational Health where practicable to look at ways the organisation can support the team member return to work.
Maintaining regular contact is vital. Lack of contact can lead to misunderstandings, make the team member feel that they are not missed and make it much harder for them to return. Sometimes, it may be appropriate to arrange to meet up in a neutral venue away from the workplace to catch up.
An absent team member may request no contact, but it is important that a manager does not accept this. However, if the team member alleges that the manager has been a factor in their mental ill health, it may be preferable for them to stay in contact with another manager or HR.
Occupational Health can assess the team member and advise what adjustments could be made to help the team member return to work.
Many organisations have a contract with an Occupational Health provider. If your organisation does not, Fit for Work offers free occupational health assessments for staff who reach four weeks of sickness absence. For more information, go to www.fitforwork.org.

Helping a team member return to work

When a team member is ready to return to work, it is important to ensure that they feel supported and understand what will be expected of them on their return.
A manager should consider meeting them away from the workplace before they return to discuss their return and alleviate any concerns they may have.
A return-to-work interview should also be held once they do return. It provides a good opportunity to:
  • welcome them back to work
  • check they are well enough to return
  • update them on any workplace news they may have missed while away
  • discuss their absence
  • discuss any worries the person has about returning to work
  • confirm their working arrangements and what plans and adjustments are in place to support them in their work
  • allow them to ask questions.

Approaching potential disciplinary or capability matters

Most staff who experience mental ill health will recover and return to being a valuable and productive member of the team. However on some occasions, even with adjustments in place, a team member's performance or conduct may warrant further action.
Before taking action a manager should consider whether:
  • additional adjustments or further support may improve performance or conduct
  • other lighter duties or a transfer to different role may be available.
If further action is necessary the manager must follow the organisation's procedures for handling these matters and ensure that a fair process is completed as set out in Discipline and grievances at work: The Acas guide.

Acas training courses

Acas has developed an e-learning course in conjunction with Mindful Employer on Mental Health Awareness for Employers.
Other courses include:
  • Managing people
  • Managing Absence
  • Discipline & Grievance
  • Performance Management
Further information is available from Acas Learning OnLine. Acas also runs practical Training courses to equip managers, supervisors and HR professionals with the necessary skills to deal with employment relations issues and create more productive workplace environments.

Further support for managers and staff

  • Access to work - www.gov.uk/access-to-work - can provide advice and an assessment of workplace needs for individuals, with disabilities or long-term health conditions, who are already in work or about to start. Grants may also be available to help cover the cost of workplace adaptations.
  • Business in the Community - www.bitc.org.uk - is a network that provides toolkits on Mental Health, Suicide prevention and Suicide postvention to help employers support the mental health and wellbeing of employees.
  • Mind - www.mind.org.uk - is a leading mental health charity in England and Wales. It provides information and support on how to improve mental health.
  • Mindful Employer - www.mindfulemployer.net - is a UK-wide, NHS initiative. It is aimed at increasing awareness of mental health at work and providing support for businesses when recruiting and retaining staff.
  • NHS choices - www.nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth - has a website that offers information and practical advice for anyone experiencing mental ill health.
  • Remploy - www.remploy.co.uk - offers a free and confidential Workplace Mental Health Support Service for anyone absent from work or finding work difficult because of a mental health condition. It aims to help people remain in, or return to, their role.
  • Rethink Mental Illness - www.rethink.org - is a voluntary sector provider of mental health services offering support groups, advice and information on mental health and problems.

Friday, 20 October 2017

How do you motivate your staff?

Why engaging staff is about more than funky furniture and ‘faux fun’

Peer 1 in Southampton boasts a slide and even a pub, but does that automatically mean employees are happier?Solent News/REX/Shutterstock
Peer 1 in Southampton boasts a slide and even a pub, but does that automatically mean employees are happier?
Solent News/REX/Shutterstock
Forget office slides and ping pong tables, employee engagement should be nurtured via long-term enrichment, according to the founder of customer loyalty company Avinity. Cath Everett reports. 
Employers are doing all kinds of weird and wonderful things in the name of employee engagement. US tech giant Google with its “chief happiness officer” and slides installed between office floors to make moving around more “fun” is a case in point.
Even in the UK we have web-hosting provider Peer 1 Hosting offering such delights as a tree house, a pub, a pool table and green helter-skelter slide in a bid to unleash creative energy and boost motivation.
But Rupert Poulson, founder and chief executive of Avinity, which specialises in customer loyalty programmes, is sceptical about the long-term benefits of such initiatives.
He says that one of the most important factors in engagement actually relates to internal employee happiness rather than external stimuli.
This means, in the same way that buying children a lollipop will please them for a few minutes, “faux fun” will have equally short-term benefits.
“To have the resources and enthusiasm to be engaged at work, employees have to feel happy in themselves, so it’s not just about the nine-to-five,” he says.
“A happy life is about feeling enriched by your daily experiences, having a balanced lifestyle, meaningful connections with others and positive wellbeing both inside and outside of work.”
He adds this means that helping staff members to “live a better life” can be a positive starting point from which to build true engagement.

Human motivation

These insights have been hard won. A couple of years ago, Poulson says he had become stressed. His diet was poor, he had no time to catch up with friends and everything was focused around work.
This situation led him to read extensively about human motivation and behaviour, which in turn brought him to an understanding of the importance of happiness in making people feel positive, empowered, enthusiastic and energised.
Poulson says: “The aim is also to is also to nudge employees into new behaviour because each challenge can promote a sense of pleasure and help them to enjoy new experiences.”
All of these ingredients, he adds, make opening the door to engagement much more likely.
As a result, he decided to develop a social engagement platform to put such ideas into practice. AvinityAlive, which was launched in spring this year, provides employees with more than 1,000 purely optional personal, philanthropic and community “micro-challenges” to help enrich their lives, both at work and beyond.
These challenges, which can range from undertaking random acts of kindness to swapping unhealthy for healthy snacks for 30 days, are customised to fit in with a company’s own values (such as promoting volunteering) and requirements such as bringing disjointed teams together following an acquisition, for example.
“The benefit for HR is that the entire company can start living and breathing the corporate values connected to the challenges, when traditionally so many have been left in the boardroom,” Poulson says.
“The aim is also to nudge employees into new behaviour because each challenge can promote a sense of pleasure and help them to enjoy new experiences.”
A second element of the platform consists of a social wall. It enables staff to create their own community by posting blogs, photos and videos about the challenges they have undertaken.
“It’s about ensuring people feel listened to and providing a positive place to hang out, which plays a big part in helping them feel connected to each other and the company,” Poulson says.
The focus of the social wall is on completing challenges – “There’s no room for negativity”, he adds.

Peer-to-peer rewards

The final component of the system consists of peer-to-peer rewards and recognition functionality.
This enables employees to thank colleagues for the helpful or impressive things they have done, particularly as they relate to company values, and post their messages to the social wall.
Reward points are earned when a challenge has been completed or recognition has been received and they are added to a “value pillar” on each employee’s dashboard. Once it is full and the completed challenges are verified, staff can then redeem their points for the rewards of their choice.
“In most schemes, it’s managers who do the recognition, but in today’s world, it should be less about control and more about recognition from the bottom up, which enables everyone to get involved,” Poulson says.
“Also because this isn’t a forced, unnatural form of engagement, it means that HR isn’t having to come up with fresh reward and recognition schemes all the time.”
The white-label, cloud-based system is customised to meet the requirements of each client, which pays an initial set-up and per-employee subscription fee.
Poulson concludes: “It takes courage to hand a platform over to staff and say ‘here you go’, but it really does build trust and employees appreciate that.
“By enabling people to be genuine and transparent rather than forcing them to have faux fun, engagement just occurs naturally from the ground up.”

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Oxford joins call for universal credit to be halted

Four authorities contacted by Public Finance said they were braced for rising rent arrears and were siphoning off resources to put into emergency hardship funds.
Authorities in Oxford, Birmingham, Oldham and North Lanarkshire, which have piloted elements of the universal credit programme, told PF they were concerned about the scheme.
One council branded the problems “unacceptable”, while others called for the roll out to be paused or slowed down.
It follows the news that Croydon Borough Council, which has piloted universal credit in full, is planning to spend £3m of its own budget preventing tenants from being evicted due to rent arrears caused by late payments.
This comes as the House of Commons is due to vote on a Labour-backed motion this afternoon to pause the rollout of universal credit’s full service.
The vote is not binding but if Theresa May loses with the support of rebellious Tories this could force her to re-think the policy. 
Work and pensions secretary David Gauke announced this morning the 55p-a-minute universal credit helpline would be scrapped and switched to a freephone number over the next month.
Oxford City Council, which has been trialing universal credit since April 2015, confirmed that it expected rent arrears to rise after the roll-out of full universal credit comes into effect in Oxford today.
In preparation the authority has allocated £50,000 to an emergency fund to help people who are affected by delayed payments.
Susan Brown, deputy leader of Oxford City Council, said: “People who claim universal credit face a six week wait for their first payment, and the Department for Work and Pensions admits that a fifth of claimants have to wait even longer.”
She added: “Waiting periods and payment delays mean that universal credit leads to debt, rent arrears and the risk of homelessness, and this is unacceptable.”
She said the advanced payment offers from the Department for Work and Pensions only amounted to half the expected reward, which she argued is not enough to live on.
John Campbell, North Lanarkshire Council’s financial inclusion manager, told PFthat most councils in the UK are reporting an increase in rent arrears after the introduction of the welfare reform.
Campbell highlighted that in Scotland most councils tenants pay rent fortnightly so a six- or eight-week delay in benefit payments could lead to significant arrears. He said this is what has happened in North Lanarkshire.
Of the 3,500-4,000 universal credit claimants in North Lanarkshire some 900 are council tenants. Of these, around 500 are in rent arrears compared with 241 in March 2016, Campbell said.
“We have called for a pause [in the roll-out] through the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, in partnership with the Scottish government and local charities who have also called for it to be halted.”
The council has earmarked £580,000 a year to pay exclusively for additional staff to work directly with people affected by universal credit.
Abdul Jabbar, deputy leader of Oldham Council, which has run the live universal credit service since 2013 and the full service since April this year, said the scheme has “potential to be better” than the previous benefits system. But its fundamental flaw of delayed payments needed to be addressed.
“The whole purpose of the pilot is learn the lessons from it, to look at what is working and what isn’t and the lessons from Oldham are loud and clear,” Jabbar said.
“The deliberate policy to delay payments is causing a lot of problems for claimants. Payment should be made as soon as applications are assessed.”
He cited figures from Oldham’s largest housing provider, First Choice Homes, which showed 68% of those tenants who are universal credit claimants were in rent arrears, 25% of claimants were facing legal action and 15% had been evicted for falling behind on their rent.
Jabbar said this was squeezing the council’s housing budget because the authority was having to pay the landlord rents for the temporary accommodation when claimants failed to do so.
According to a briefing from First Choice Homes, since April rent arrears for the year for temporary accommodation stands at £70,000. This compares to a total of £36,000 for the previous four years – a change Jabbar said was “largely attributable” to universal credit.
Birmingham’s multi-agency welfare reform implementation group - comprised of housing providers and homelessness charities - has also asked the government to rethink its plans amid fears the roll-out would result in more debt and homelessness.
The council noted that around 3,000 people in Birmingham currently receive universal credit covering their housing costs, but the potential number eligible under the full roll-out could be as high as 60,000.
Tristan Chatfield, Birmingham City Council's cabinet member for transparency, openness and equality, said: “We know from the pilot areas that rent arrears increase significantly when universal credit is introduced, because, for many vulnerable people, the switch from multiple benefits paid in stages, to a single monthly payment in arrears with a built in delay, provides too much of a cliff edge.”
He urged the government to avoid “disastrous consequences” by making changes to the planned roll-out, such as agreeing to a slower transition and other safeguards to reduce the risk of rent arrears and evictions.
The DWP has been approached for comment. 

Child Benefit saving and Loan plan

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Recruitment Roadshow - Tuesday 17 October 2017

Oxford City Council employs over 1,200 people who are helping achieve the Council's goal of 'building a world class city for everyone'.
We operate within various service areas including Community Services, Finance and Business Improvement. The roles within these areas are key to our continued success and growth. 
If you are keen to develop your career with us, come to our Recruitment Roadshow on Tuesday 17 October 2017 between 4pm and 7pm at Blackbird Leys Community Centre, Blackbird Leys Road, Blackbird Leys, OX4 5HW.
We have job opportunities in:
  • Customer service
  • Housing
  • Youth engagement
  • Administration
  • Incomes, Revenues and Benefits
  • Temporary roles in all business areas
Come and meet our staff, get advice on applying for jobs in the Council, apply for current or future vacancies and join our waiting list for job vacancies
No need to book, just turn up - we look forward to meeting you.
For further information, contact us at hradmin@oxford.gov.uk or telephone 01865 252848.

Oxford City Branch of UNISON working in partnership with Oxford City Council to improve working conditions and pay for all.

Managing anxiety in the workplace Advise from ACAS

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, fear, nervousness or unease about something.
It may be caused by issues in the workplace, such as workload, performance or conflict with colleagues. Outside the workplace, factors such as relationship, family or debt problems can create anxiety.
Employees could take steps to manage these issues, by communicating with their managers and seeking help, where necessary.
Employers can also support their staff and look out for signs that an employee is suffering from anxiety. These could include:
  • taking more time off work
  • becoming more emotional or over-reacting to what others say
  • feeling negative, dwelling on negative experiences
  • starting to behave differently, feeling restless and not being able to concentrate.
Mind report that 1 in 6 workers are dealing with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or stress. These conditions can stop people performing at their best.

Managers should be confident and trained in the skills they need to support staff who may be experiencing anxiety at work. Informal and formal conversations will help establish a rapport with members of staff as addressing issues early and maintaining good communications is crucial.

Managers should:
  • have a conversation in a private place
  • make sure there are no interruptions
  • be focused, get the information that will help achieve the goal of supporting a member of staff
  • ask open questions, for example "I was wondering how you are doing"
  • always allow the person time to answer
  • try to put yourself in the others person's position and see things from their perspective
  • make arrangements for a follow up meeting to review the situation.

Anxiety disorders

Mental health problems can affect anyone, the most common forms of mental ill health are anxiety, depression, phobic anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders.

Depending on the kind of problems an employee is having they may be given a diagnosis of a specific anxiety disorder, such as:
  • generalised anxiety disorder - if someone has felt anxious for a long time and often feel fearful, but are not anxious about anything in particular they might be diagnosed with a generalised anxiety disorder
  • panic disorder - experiencing panic disorder can mean that someone feels constantly afraid of having another panic attack and can't identify what triggers them
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder - this may be due to anxiety which leads to someone experiencing obsessions such as unwelcome thoughts, urges or doubts that repeatedly appear in someone's mind. Compulsions such as repetitive activities that people have to do
  • phobias - a phobia is an intense fear of something, anxiety may be triggered by a very specific situation or object.
Some forms of mental ill health may be classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 if they have "a substantial and long term, adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities". The Act makes it unlawful for an employer to treat a disabled person less favourably for a reason relating to their disability, without a justifiable reason. See our Disability discrimination page for more information. 

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Acas have published a new guidance booklet on Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Workplace at http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1900

They have also published two smaller online guides:-

• Dealing with Stress in the Workplace - http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=6062

• Managing Staff Experiencing Mental Ill Health - http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=6064

Other places that give good advice:

Health and Safety week 23rd - 29th October
UNISON supports the campaign for safer and healthier work, so promotes the European Health and Safety Week and the UK National Inspection Day on the Wednesday of the Week.
This year’s theme remains  “Healthy workplaces for all ages” and good workplace design and well managed health and safety benefit all of those at work; whether young, old, or in-between.
Changes in life expectancy and pension provision means that more workers will stay at work as they age.  Apprenticeship schemes as an alternative to schooling may see more young people at work.
Employers must look after the health and safety of all employees; but particularly consider vulnerable groups such as older or younger workers, or women of child-bearing age.  Working for longer, and the fact that children now grow up with computers, may also result in longer exposure to risks (musculoskeletal or otherwise).
Older workers are more likely to suffer disabilities and long term health problems so measures such as rehabilitation and return to work will become more important.

Find out more on the UNISON webpage at 

UNISON benefits
A list of all benefits from travel and shopping with UNISON rewards to legal support can be found at https://benefits.unison.org.uk/all-benefits/

Upcoming National Events

9th - 14th and 19th October - Support for our Libraries
http://www.librariesweek.org.uk/ and https://www.unison.org.uk/events/sos-day/

17th October - The big Pay Up Now lobby/rally in London

20th October - UNISON celebrates the journey of Black trade unionism

20th October - Wear Red Day (against racism)

23rd - 29th October - European Health and Safety week

28th - 29th October - Disabled members' conference , Manchester

5th - 11th November - Living Wage Week

Check out more national events on the Unison website

Thanks to our comrades at Oxford Brooks University 

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Oxfordshire credit union On the BBC

These series show how credit unions are transforming people lives.
Re: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b098w242/a-matter-of-life-and-debt-series-1-episode-1

For more info please contact us at info@oxfordshirecreditunion.co.uk

Walk the talk

Mental health in the workplace

Table tennis for all

To support staff health and wellbeing, Oxford City UNISON is sponsoring lunchtime table tennis in the Town Hall. Sessions run from 12.15 pm to 2 pm, and will take place in the Heritage Learning Centre or the Long Room on the following dates:
  • Friday 13 October
  • Friday 20 October
  • Wednesday 25 October
  • Friday 27 October.
Bats and balls are provided, so all you need to bring is your opponent. Leisure wear and training shoes are recommended but not essential.

If you are interested in evening sessions, coaching, inter-departmental matches, matches with other councils or an Oxford City Council championship - or if you have any other suggestions or questions - please contact David Browne.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

LGPS pension update

If you need to talk to someone about yourLocal government pension, the administration is now conducted from:
Pension Services, Oxfordshire Pension Fund, 4640 Kingsgate, Cascade Way, Oxford Business Park South, Oxford OX4 2SU
Click to Contact Pensions Services or phone on: 03300 241 359

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Confronting the Rise In Racism, Islamophobia and Antisemitism

Oxfordshire Unison Health branch is inviting this branch to join a delegation of our branch members and activists at the national "Confronting the Rise In Racism, Islamophobia and Antisemitism" conference in London on October 21st.  We are paying for our members to go with our branch banner and have hired a coach to get people there.  We are inviting any of your members who would like to go to the conference to travel with us at no cost. 

We believe it is very urgent to build a mass anti-racist campaign in the UK to halt the sharp rise in racism and the increasing use of racist scapegoating against migrants, muslims and refugees that is helping to fuel racist attacks and the growth of the far right. 

The election of fascist MPs in the AfD to the German parliament is a warning to us all.   The vote, celebrated by France's fascist Marine Le Pen is a chilling example of the right wing, racist populism that has won electoral success from France and Germany to Trumps victory in the US.  Actions such as Angela Merkel's call for a Niqab ban wherever legally possible in Germany gained the CDU not one single extra vote and instead handed the best performance to the far right in six decades.

Conference speakers already confirmed include:

Diane Abbott MP Shadow Home Secretary, Kevin Courtney NUT Gen Sec, Dave Ward CWU Gen Sec, Kate Osamor MP Shadow DfID Secretary, Catherine West Labour MP Hornsey and Wood Green, Claude Moraes Labour MEP, Shahrar Ali Green Party Home Affairs spokesperson, Talha Ahmad Muslim Council of Britain Treasurer, Maurice Wren Chief Exec Refugee Council, Esa Charles, Father of Rashan Charles, Moazzem Begg former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Clare Moseley Care4Calais founder, Lowkey - rapper, Sabby Dhalu & Weyman Bennet Stand Up To Racism co-convenors

Following the election of Donald Trump, threats from the far-right in Europe and a prolonged wave of racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism as well as the ongoing humanitarian crisis facing refugees, 2017's conference will be a crucial opportunity to come together to discuss strenghtening our movement and taking on the challenges that confront us in 2017.

Sessions include:
  •     Unite Against Trump, fascism and the racist right
  •     Brexit: Defending free movement and EU Nationals' Rights
  •     Acid attacks & Finsbury Park - Stand Up To Islamophobia
  •     Grenfell: Institutional racism & the social cleansing of our cities
  •     Refugees welcome here - #DubsNow!
  •     #BlackLivesMatter - no more deaths in police custody
  •     Opposing austerity & the scapegoating of migrants
  •     Love Music Hate Racism
Tickets to the conference cost £10 and £5 concessions and can be booked online here

People should email us seperately to arrange a seat on the Oxford coach to the conference.

Yours fraternally

Julie Simmons
on behalf of Oxfordshire Unison Health branch

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Let’s say thank you to all our key workers

UNISON has become a partner in the /together coalition, which this weekend will unite the country to celebrate the NHS’ birthday and ...