Tag Archives: Unison

Report and Photos from Today’s Demo Against Police Privatisation

Unite and Unison members working for West Midlands police held a demonstration today, in advance of lobbying the police authority over the planned privatisation of West Midlands Police, which will see not just the support and administration side of the police put out to tender, but also responsibilities for patrolling streets, investigating crimes and detaining suspects. Companies like G4S, Serco and KBR are in line for taking over front line policing duties.

Update: Surrey Police, who were also planning to privatise parts of their force along with West Mids Police, has decided not to go forward with the plans. We hope that West Mids Police will follow.

Update 2: Following the lobby, West Midlands police have decided to defer the decision until after the November Police Commissioner elections – read more about the lobby and decision by clicking here

At the demonstration, concerns were spoken about the impact privatisation of policing services would have on both civilian staff and on members of the public when they find themselves in need of the police.

Andre Wilkinson from Unite said

We believe the police services everywhere in the country should not be privatised, a lot of public sector services have gone to the private sector but due to reasons of accountability we think it would be inappropriate to privatise the police services.
We’ve seen in the past with services being privatised we’ve seen reductions in the quality of terms and conditions of employment and usually job losses as well.
We believe the police services will be alot worse, a lot of the functions are carried out by civilians and some of those services will be done for profit and the only way they can make profit is to reduce what they are doing.

Jill Harrison from Unison agreed, saying

Any private sector company which comes into giving out public service is fundamentally in there to get profit out of it.
On the staff it will have a real impact on their terms and conditions, I also think that we’ll lose a lot of experience, a lot of the staff we have actually work for the police for the pros of working for the police and giving a service to the West Midlands, unfortunately if the private sector come in, they have not got the training or mentality that public sector staff have got.
Our concerns are that the public will not get the same service they are getting today, any company that comes in, we’ve seen it with G4S in Lincolnshire, they came in and cut staff which is obviously going to have a major impact on the public.

Particular concerns were raised about the main bidders for the contract – G4S and KBR. G4S have been responsible for many deaths in custody, including Jimmy Mubenga. Just today we have found out that the company are so incompetent that they have failed to hire and train enough security staff for the Olympics, despite having had 7 years to plan for the games. KBR, part of Halliburton, helped build Guantanamo Bay, and have been complicit in other human rights abuses. In 2011, it was revealed that Serco used taxi’s to transport prisoners to court after it’s computer systems failed. The huge cost of the taxis was of course picked up by the taxpayer.

You can find out more about the planned privatisation and why we oppose it by clicking here for a briefing on the plans.

More pictures from today:

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UNISON council workers strike

Unison Workers demonstrate outside ICC (c) Geoff Dexter-Sherborne Publications

UNISON members working for Birmingham City Council were on strike again today, due to changes being imposed on their contracts by the council, which will see pay cuts and changes to conditions that mean workers will be told to do any job on their pay grade, at any location in the city, working any hours. We have previously reported on the contract changes, that will see workers on £13,000/year losing as much as £4,000, today we will let the pictures tell the story, and given the amount of press that was around today, will provide links to other places reporting.

With thanks to Geoff Dexter (more photos), Chris H and Bob Whitehead for the photos – if you’ve been on a picket line this morning and have photos, please send them in to us by emailing BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@Gmail.com and we’ll add them in

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UNISON council strike tomorrow

UNISON workers strike on 30th June

Unison workers at Birmingham City Council will be on strike tomorrow, over pay cuts and changes to conditions. The strike has been timed to coincide with the final day of the Liberal Democrat conference, as we have a ConDem coalition locally that is forcing this contract onto the council workers.

Picket lines will run at workplaces from 7am-10am, followed by a static demonstration outside the ICC from 10:30am-11:30am, and a mass members meeting at 12noon.

If you can go to a council workplace and show your solidarity with striking workers it is sure to be appreciated.

Also happening tomorrow is a march about the potential closure of the Bull Ring Markets, assembling at the markets at 12:30 and marching to the ICC – more information on the meeting and the threat to this business and jobs is available on the Save Our Markets website.

These events will round off a week of protest at the Lib Dem conference, which began on Friday with a banner drop by NCAFC activists – for which one has been held in remand, and will be imprisoned for at least 10 days – and a demonstration with thousands of people on Sunday.

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It’s letter writing time!

With Unison council workers going on strike on the 21st, now is a good time to write to our local newspapers expressing our support for their actions to defend their pay and conditions, and our services.

A series of positive letters in the Birmingham Mail, Post or Sutton Observer will have a couple of effects – firstly, it makes it more likely for the papers to cover the strike itself, and to do so in a positive manner.  Secondly it will encourage GMB, UCATT and Unite council workers to vote for strike action in their ballots.  It may also encourage other public sector workers to strike, or non-unionised members to join up.

And of course these letters will also tell workers going on strike that they have the support of the people of the city, the people who through council tax, actually pay their wages and pay for the provision of the services.

Email addresses for the papers are:

letters@birminghammail.net

letters@birminghampost.net

suttonobserver@cintamworth.co.uk

 

Whilst we might provide a form letter if we were asking you to write to MPs, for this a form letter is no use, each letter needs to be personally written.. but here are some facts you might wish to include, that have been mentioned by Graeme Horn at our meeting last week, Caroline Johnson at previous meetings, or from Unison newsletters. These are real examples of pay cuts that will happen if the new contract takes effect.

  • Mrs S, currently on around £14,000/year will lost £1,780 (12%);
  • Mrs B, on 19k, will lose £3,662.40
  • Mrs F, who will lose 30% of their pay – taking a whopping £4,453.35 pay cut from a £14,621.59 salary.
  • One home carer who is currently on around £22,000/year has been told he will be losing £6,000/year under the new contract – a 36% pay cut!
  • A home care assistant on £14,829 will lose £2,270
  • A library assistant will lose £1,100 from a salary of £10,980

You can find more examples on page two of this Unison newsletter (PDF)

In addition to pay cuts, there are changes in conditions you can mention. This contract will mean that workers can be made to work any job (at their pay grade), doing any hours, at any location in the city.
This means that someone who signed up to a job in a library near their home, working on weekdays to fit around their children, could be told to go and work in a housing office, across the other side of the city on weekends.
Condition changes such as these are intolerable, and represent something totally different to the contracts that council workers signed up to. Whilst it may be acceptable for someone to choose a job whose location, hours or even duties change with no notice, it cannot be acceptable to force those conditions onto an existing workforce.
It is hard to believe that people with a family, friends and social network around them would be happy to work under such conditions and insecurity. We are often told that public sector workers do their jobs because they are a vocation, but how can you have a vocation when your job role might change at no notice?

Changes to pay and conditions such as these will only serve to worsen the provision of council services, by acting as a disincentive for people to apply for roles. In many cases, it may actually make it impossible for someone to work for the council, as they made need the security of a set location and hours in order to fit with their commitments outside of work (such as bringing up a family – something which the ConDem coalition nationally, if not locally, are very keen on).
I could probably have a rant about how these changes will not help to build stronger family units, but perhaps one of you could think about phrasing that in a constructive manner for your letter to the newspaper?

If you are a regular user of any council service – and most of us are, in one way or another – you could write a letter from that perspective – that you support the strike, because you recognise the attack on the service you use that these pay and condition changes represent. These kinds of letters are always good. You might think to comment on how the refuse workers cleaned up the city after the riots – and this is how we reward them!

And if you want to mention the Liberal Democrat conference demonstration on Sunday 18th, that’d be grand.

So get writing!

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Birmingham UNISON to strike on 21st September

Unison on strike on 30th June

At our meeting on Thursday, Graeme Horn said that Unison council workers will take further strike action during the Liberal Democrat party conference, over the imposition of a new contract that cuts pay and worsens conditions for council workers in Birmingham. He have details of the part cuts faced by workers, including one person losing over £2,000 of their £14,000 salary, and another facing a huge £4,000 cut from their £19,000 salary. We have previously reported on the contract changes, click here to find out more about why these workers are taking industrial action
We enourage everyone to show your support for our council workers and the services they provide by attending a picket line, or commenting here to let council workers know that you support them.

The following is copied from Birmingham UNISON newsletter

Stop the Martini Contract, Stop the Pay Cuts

Next One Day Strike Wednesday 21st September

It is now time to step up our campaign against the new Birmingham Contract. We have called a one day strike on the last day of the national Liberal Democrat Party conference on Wednesday 21st September. The Lib-Dems in Birmingham are part of the council’s Con-Dem Coalition. Birmingham is their flagship council. This is a unique chance to show the country what they are doing in Birmingham. we expect to get massive publicity for our dispute and to put huge political pressure on the Lib-Dems to back down.

This time we expect to be joined by the council’s second largest union, GMB, who are balloting as we go to print, and by UCATT.

We are organising a mass members meeting on the day of the strike. We want to talk to all of you, our members, about where we go next. We have more strikes planned and we are also arranging for the mass lobbying of councillors surgeries and public constituency meetings.

This is a dispute we can win if we all strike, lobby and campaign together.

Timetable for the day:

7am to 10am – Picket your workplace

10.30am to 11.30am
– Lobby the Lib Dem conference, Centenary Square (ICC)

12 noon – mass members meeting

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Filed under Cuts, Events, strike

Build the Alternative, Broaden the Struggle – Public Meeting

Thursday 8th September, 7pm, at the Birmingham and Midlands Institute. Margaret Street, Birmingham, B3 3BS

Birmingham Against the Cuts and Right to Work are pleased to announce the details of our next public meeting, to be held in the run up to the Liberal Democrat conference demonstration on Sunday 18th September.

We have a great lineup of speakers already, with more to confirm. If you’re on facebook, attend our event and invite your friends

Jack Dromey MP
Bob Crow, General Secretary RMT union
Jody McIntrye, journalist and political activist
Paul Brandon, Right to Work
Eleanor Lisney, Disabled People Against Cuts
more speakers to be confirmed.

Chair: Caroline Johnson, Birmingham Unison / Birmingham Against the Cuts

Jack Dromey is the Labour MP for Erdington. He has been outspoken against the cuts, and has supported many events locally, including the Justice for All march, and gave an excellent speech at our public meeting on May 26th.

Bob Crow is the outspoken leader of the RMT union, who regularly take industrial action over health and safety issues, wrongful dismissals or in defence of their pay and conditions. Bob is a union leader who is not afraid to ballot his members for strike when it is needed, and is well respected by them in return. It will be great to have him talk here, in the light of potential upcoming strike action by public sector workers in the Autumn

Jody McIntyre is a journalist and political activist who was pulled out of his wheelchair by police during the student demonstration on the 9th December. Ever passionate and always interesting, it will be a pleasure to welcome Jody to our city.

Paul Brandon is the chair of the Right to Work coalition, who have called this meeting jointly with Birmingham Against the Cuts. Right to Work were instrumental in calling a demonstration at the Liberal Democrat conference, which was quickly backed by all the local anti-cuts groups working in the West Midlands and by the Regional TUC, before being adopted by national TUC.

Chaired by Caroline Johnson, Chair of Birmingham Against the Cuts and joint branch-secretary of Birmingham Unison, whose council workers were on strike on the 30th June and are likely to take more strike action in defence of pay and conditions during the Autumn.

We would like to welcome everyone to come and listen to these speakers, and will ensure that there is no confusion over timings and that there is plenty of time for us to take contributions from the floor as we build towards the Liberal Democrat conference demonstration in Birmingham, and other national demonstrations around the UK – at the Tory Party conference in Manchester, on October 2nd; in Coventry on October 22nd for the regional demonstration of the YFJ Jarrow March recreation, and in London on November 5th for their national demonstration and the 9th for NCAFC demonstration against the privatisation of education.

The watchword for us over the next month is leafletting – to build this meeting and the Liberal Democrat conference demonstration. If you are available to help, or know of an event, high street or workplace that should be leafletted, especially if you’d be willing to co-ordinate it, please email us. BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@Gmail.com
We are looking at leafletting on weekday evenings and mornings as well as weekends, all around the city at train stations, football grounds, local high streets or other areas, as well as the city centre so let us know when you would be available and what area(s) you could get to.
We will have printed leaflets for this event available from Friday, and should be leafletting in the city centre on Saturday.
Please keep an eye on this website for details later this week.

Around all of this there will be more local and regional events happening, with the vote on the health reform bill the day before this meeting, keep up to date with events with Save our NHS West Midlands.

You can download an A4 double sided version of the flyer here to email to other people. A5 flyers will be available from the weekend so let us know if you want some to deliver.

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UNITE & UCATT Balloting for strikes

UNITE and UCATT unions at Birmingham City Council will be balloting for strikes over contract changes which will see workers lose shift allowances, and be told they can work any job, any place at any time.
These ballots will take place in August. GMB are currently deciding if they will ballot their members for strike, whilst UNISON have already balloted, and took strike action on 30th June.

We are hearing that there are plans for strike action in September and October, as well as periods of work-to-rule industrial action.

The changes to the contract affect all workers below grade 4 (obviously cuts don’t come to management, only to the lower paid workers – just as nationally cuts aren’t affecting the bankers or super-rich, just ordinary working class and average earners – truly giving the lie to the ConDems well worn cry of we are all in it together).

UNISON strike on 30th June

At the moment, the council are holding 1 to 1 meetings between managers and their workers to explain individually how much money they will be losing and asking them to sign the contract. We have heard of managers walking out of these sessions in disbelief as to just how much people will be losing.
One home carer who is currently on around £22,000/year has been told he will be losing £6,000/year under the new contract – a 36% pay cut! He has said that he will no longer be able to afford his mortgage, and will lose his house.
This is someone who travels around Birmingham supporting vulnerable people to help them maintain an independent life, and live in their own home. A variety of people make use of these services, mostly elderly or disabled people but also adults with learning difficulties who require support for instance to cook or clean the house.

In addition to pay cuts, workers are being told that the new contract means that they can have their job changed to any other job at their pay grade, in any location in the city, working any hours. This means someone who has accepted a job in their local area with times to fit around looking after a family can be told to work evenings and weekends on the other side of the city, and they will have to do it or resign. Such conditions being placed on workers cannot be accepted.

At Birmingham Against the Cuts, we would encourage all members to vote yes to strike action, to show the council that such savage cuts cannot be implemented, and that the council will not function until they back down.

You can read more about the “martini contract” on page 2 of the Unison newsletter (PDF)

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