Tag Archives: UNITE

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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Report and Photos from Tuesday’s Unite Local Government Demo

Around 80 local government workers in the Unite Union gathered outside the ICC yesterday, along with 10 Birmingham Against the Cuts members in support, to demonstrate at 3 years of pay freezes for local government workers.

This is part of the People, Pay, Pensions campaign that the union is running.
Local Government workers have seen pay decrease by 11% in real terms as a third year of pay freezes takes place. Local government workers are not even being offered the £250 raise that other public sector workers are seeing. The employers are refusing to take part in discussions over the pay claims.

The demonstration heard from Unite officials and workers who spoke about the cuts.

A Unite official spoke about how local government employers are refusing to take part in talks, because they know that they are in the wrong for imposing pay freezes.

The employers have not enough honoured to agreement they have got in that they have refused to go to arbitration. The reason I believe that have refused to do that is because in reality they know that any arbitrator would find in favour of local government workers

A local government worker talked about the attacks on local government pay and conditions:

It’s now time to say enough is enough .. we need to stand united together … we will be stood in the face of employers from now till doomsday to get what we deserve, and what we deserve is a decent pay rise and pension

A youth worker from Lancashire said:

I work in an environment where our workforce has already been cut – probably our workforce has halved in the last 2 years … I’m now being told there will be a third year of pay freeze, an 11% pay cut over the last three years

A community and youth worker talked about the cuts that are happening to their public services

If we don’t do this, the generation that follow us are just going to have nothing. Never mind the big society, never mind investing in the future. Trade unionism if it works and we work in solidarity to protect. You’d think you were trying to grab something things that’s not ours, pay cuts are ridiculous because we can’t afford to buy the things in the local shops and communities that allow the jobs are there in the first place

An excellent demonstration for a group of workers who are under heavy attack both locally and nationally from the swinging council cuts imposed by the ConDem coalition.

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Unite Demo Tomorrow – Stop the Squeeze, End the Pay Freeze

Unite the Union are holding a demonstration tomorrow, 26th June, at the Local Government Employers’ annual conference, at the ICC on Broad Street, B1 2EA.

Meeting at 11am in Centenerary Square.

For a third year in a row, workers employed in local authorities across the country have had their pay claim rejected by the employers.
As a result, since 2009 the men and women who care for our elderly, empty our bins, keep our streets clean and safe, work as youth workers, teaching assistants, librarians and social workers have had their pay slashed by a staggering 13%.

Unite says “enough is enough”

The pay of local government workers is shrinking against a backdrop of many years of below inflation pay rises and the fastest rise in the cost of living in the last 20 years. Most are now struggling to make ens meet.

Local government workers are not the high earners that the government would have us believe – 70% earn less than £21,000 a year and almost half earn less than £17,802.

Three years of pay cuts is way too long – and plans to abolish the separate bargaining arrangements is yet another blow to this embattled workforce.
This has nothing to do with sharing the pain of deficit reduction, but has everything to do with breaking our public services.

Local government employers have inflicted three years of pay freezes on its loyal workforce.

These are not the highfliers who caused the economic crisis, yet they are being made to pay for it.
Local people need local services delivered by fairly paid local government workers.

Show your support and join the protest. For more information, see the Unite People, Pay, Pensions campaign page.Unite People, Pay, Pensions campaign logo

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NHS Workfare demo & Save Your Railway meeting reports

Thursday was a busy day in Birmingham, with a meeting about the privatisation of police, a demonstration at Sandwell Hospital about the use of workfare labour by Sandwell and Birmingham Trust and a public meeting about cuts to railway staff and fare hike rises.

You can read about the police privatisation demo here.

Sandwell Hospital Workfare Demo

Around a dozen local residents and workfare campaign activists demonstrated outside Sandwell Hospital, where unemployed people are being forced to work for their benefits, undertaking activites such as cleaning and tidying wards and delivering food and drinks to patients.

The demonstration, called on Monday when the story was reported in the Guardian, was well supported by passers by, who expressed concerns about possible impacts on patient care from the £125m cuts faced by the trust, and the use of unpaid labour, people who the trust admitted could face the loss of benefits if they decided that the work experience at the hospital would not be useful to them, or they did not want to risk undermining someone else’s paid job by providing free labour to the organisation. Right to Work have also reported on the demonstration

You can read more about why we oppose workfare here.

Save Your Railways Meeting

A public meeting called by Birmingham Trades Council and the railway unions RMT, Unite, ASLEF and TSSA to discuss the McNulty Report and attached command paper which recommends the closure or reduction in hours of 87 out of 90 London Midland ticket offices (which includes the Centro local railway system). This comes alongside above-inflation rail fare hikes to one of the most expensive (and definitely the most confusing) ticketing systems in the world.

Many stations around Birmingham are looking at being completely unmanned, with only automatic ticket machines available for use – assuming they haven’t been vandalised. This can only lead to people getting the wrong tickets or paying more than needed. No machine can have the knowledge or skill to navigate the huge number of different tickets to ensure that railway users get the cheapest correct ticket available to them.
Having unmanned stations will also lead to increases of crime at stations and no doubt far more litter and graffiti around as well.

The situation may become so bad that the train operating companies or whoever runs the station decides they need people are at the station and get involved with workfare schemes to get free labour to replace the paid jobs, as happened with Finsbury Park London Underground Wardens.

The unions are running a campaign – Action For Rail, and you can get involved with this right now by writing to your MP – go to their site for letter templates and more details about the campaign.

You can watch Mick Cash’s talk in full for more details about the McNulty Report & command paper, and how they will affect your railway services. Start acting now before the staff get removed and ticket offices closed – they won’t be re-opened, just replaced with unpaid workfare labour at the taxpayers expense… and the private railway companies already get far more money from us than British Rail used to cost.

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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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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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10 Reasons to demonstrate on Saturday

Why should you come to the demonstration on Saturday against the council cuts? There are lots of reasons, but here are 10 of them:

1) Job Losses – 2,450 council posts will be cut this year (7,000 over 3 years) and 5,000 posts privatised (making it easier to cut funding in the future).  Birmingham already has an unemployment rate twice the national average and cannot afford to lose thousands more jobs.

2) Adult Care Services – 11,000 people who currently receive care having been assessed as having “substantial” care needs will no longer be eligible for home care, day care or residential care and will lose their care services.  Overall, more than £33million will be cut from Adult Care Services, affecting older people, those with learning and physical disabilities and people with mental health problems.

3) Youth Services – £3m will be cut from Birmingham Youth Services budgets.   Such a cut would close over 40 youth projects (more than 2/3rds) across the city and deprive young people and communities easy access to trained and qualified youth workers.

4) 1,600 jobs to go at Heart of England PCT, affecting NHS services in this city, and this is only 1 of 5 PCT’s to serve Birmingham so there will probably be more job losses to come.

5) Neighbourhood Office and CAB closures – CAB has been temporarily saved but neighbourhood offices are still under threat.  Both of these provide vital and free advice on financial, legal & housing problems and council services.  As unemployment rises, these services will become more important.

6) £10 million cuts in Childrens Social Care, affecting “looked after” children, some of the most vulnerable children in the city

7) £1.3 million cuts in library services, £1 million cuts in grants to arts and £1.25 million cuts in funding for Museums with entry charges “almost decided”.  Ikon Eastside will be closing, and this will probably just be the first of many cultural venues in Birmingham to shut down.

8 ) Pay Cuts and terms and conditions reviews for 26,000 council staff including refuse workers who have already been on strike.

9) £1.6m less spending on Community Safety Partnership, and reduction in funding for West Midlands Police Force (2,200 jobs to be lost, including 600 officers) will see rising crime

10) There are alternatives. False Economy maintain a nice collection of alternatives, including closing the tax gap, a robin hood tax on the bank, green jobs for growth and other solutions to the deficit problem and banking crisis that will not involve huge spending cuts in vital areas.

Of course there are many more than 10 reasons to march on Saturday against the council cuts.  These cuts will affect every person in this city, and every person has their own reason to come.

Then on Tuesday, the council meets to vote on the budget.  There will be a demonstration outside the council house, here are 10 more reasons to demonstrate on Tuesday

The demonstration assembles at 12 noon, Birmingham Cathedral, St. Philips Place.

We will have a short march around Birmingham City Centre, followed by a rally with the following speakers:

Bishop Urquhart (Bishop of Birmingham);

Lee Barron (CWU);

Trudy Allen (PCS);

Roger Jenkins (GMB);

James Smith (UCU);

Roger MacKenzie (Unison) and

Caroline Johnson (Birmingham Against the Cuts).

More speakers to be confirmed

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, Events