• Speaking up for schools

    UNISON has launched a consultative ballot of school support staff members in England as part of its Speak up for schools campaign.
    UNISON represents around 250,000 school support staff across the UK and those members do fantastic work helping children learn, keeping them safe and healthy and schools running smoothly.
    But life is getting harder in our schools so the union is running a consultative ballot of members in England about their pay, terms and condition and workload.
    We want to know what
  • Blog: Give Further Education the funding it so desperately needs

    Today MPs are be debating a vital issue in Parliament. Of course they’re talking about Brexit, but that’s not the debate I mean. What I’m talking about is one of the many massive issues that aren’t getting the coverage they deserve.
    I’m talking about the crisis in Further Education. UNISON represents 30,000 members working in FE colleges.  Our members perform many important roles –  technical support, library services, training and assessment, facili
  • The government took too long to scrap settled status fee, says UNISON

    Welcoming the Prime Minister’s announcement that the £65 fee for settled status is to be scrapped,UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:
    “This was the right thing to do. But it’s an idea that should never have seen the light of day in the first place. It’s a pity it took the government so long to see sense.
    “With all the talk of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, EU nationals have more than enough on their minds, without having to worry about coming up with
  • Extend article 50 and avoid no-deal Brexit catastrophe

    After weeks of fruitlessly flogging the dead horse of a dreadful withdrawal agreement, you’d think the prime minister would want to avoid crashing out of the EU with nothing to show for her efforts.
    Yet she’s so weak, so fearful of the 100-plus MPs from her own party who want rid of her that she’s repeatedly failed to rule out a no-deal Brexit. And that’s even after suffering the acute embarrassment of the largest government defeat in parliamentary history.
    The truth is a
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  • Who Does What In English Public Libraries

    I was asked the other day by someone reasonably senior in a library service for a guide for which bodies do what in the public libraries sector. It strikes me that I’ve never actually seen one so I’ve started creating one. It’s simple and misses a few things – sorry Carnegie and ASCEL, there’s note enough space and I’m not going to touch the minefield of volunteer libraries and parish councils – but should give some ideas. Also, some of it is o
  • Black members debate how to tackle knife crime

    On the final morning of UNISON’s Black member’s conference, delegates opened with an emotional debate on the tragic toll of knife crime and how to combat the problem.
    Paulette Whyte for the national Black members’ committee reported that police had recorded over 39,000 knife offences for the year to the end of June 2018 – a rise of 12%.
    “This cannot carry on,” she said, before quoting Martin Hewitt, an assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police in Londo
  • Former vice president issues inspiring call to action

    Guest speaker Carol Sewell addressed Black members’ conference this afternoon, haring her own inspiring story and encouraging members to “be the best you can be” in UNISON.
    The former vice president told how she was born in Oldbury in the West Midlands and, after finishing her education, went to work in local government.
    There, she joined Nalgo, one of UNISON’s three predecessor unions. In 1998 she became a rep and later, her branch’s equalities rep: “You know
  • Windrush ‘nightmare’ won’t end until ‘hostile environment’ does

    In a packed morning session in Llandudno’s Venue Cymru conference centre, UNISON’s Black members debated a wide range of important motions.
    Tanya Igbosi-McGee for the national Black members committee opened a major debate on the Windrush scandal.
    “It has been a nightmare – it really has,” she said, before listing several planned deportation flights in the future and others that happened ate last year. On each flight, each person being deported has “three guard
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  • President thanks Black members for all their work

    “Thank you for all your hard work – particularly in the fight against racism.”
    That was at the heart of Gordon McKay’s message to UNISON’s Black members’ when the president addressed their conference today.
    He told them: “thank you for everything that you do for our union and everything that you do for our members.
    “You provide a voice to people when others are trying to silence them, and support and hope when others are leading them to despair.
  • Nelson Mandela Award winner issues challenge to employers

    The 2019 winner of the UNISON Nelson Mandela Award laid down a challenge for public service employers this morning, when he received his award at the union’s annual Black members’ conference in Llandudno.
    Mo Mohammed (pictured with UNISON president Gordon McKay) from Yorkshire and Humberside and works for North Yorkshire Police.
    Having faced discrimination in his career and stood up for himself, Mr Mohammed worked to ensure that the police force recognised this. In 2002, he helped la
  • Black workers are vital to the future of our public services, says UNISON general secretary

    Speaking at UNISON’s annual Black Members Conference today (Friday) in Llandudno, general secretary Dave Prentis said:
    “Last the NHS celebrated its 70th anniversary, yet the descendants of those that came from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean to help build it are still facing barriers.
    “NHS figures out this week show Black staff are more likely to suffer abuse from patients and harassment from colleagues. They don’t have the same acce
  • Blog: Just as we took on Enoch Powell and his rivers of blood, we will fight today’s hate-mongers

    It was a huge pleasure to address UNISON Black Members Conference in Llandudno today. It’s always an honour to address hundreds of Black public service workers, passionate trade unionists who do so much for our union, their communities and our country. As I told delegates today, this conference is one of the most important and special events for our union – and embodies what is great about UNISON.
    The self-organisation of public service workers, from all walks of life, united by a pa
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  • Prentis says ‘no-deal Brexit’ would be disastrous for workers

    “A no-deal Brexit would be a catastrophe for ordinary working people.”
    That was at the heart of the message from UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis to the union’s Black members’ conference today, when he addressed delegates in Llandudno.
    He began by thanking members for everything they do “for Black workers in our union and for all the members of our union too,” aided by its many strong Black leaders.
    Having braved Llandudno Junction earlier that day, where
  • UNISON – standing together to fight racism and xenophobia

    Standing together to stand up to racism and xenophobia – that was at the heart of the first conference session when UNISON’s Black members met in Llandudno today.
    “When we stand together, we are at our best … we march forward from here.” That was how general secretary Dave Prentis put it when he addressed delegates.
    He praised the group for its work around Windrush, which he described as “an attack on your friends, your families and your communities …
  • Liverpool signs up to UNISON’s End Violence at Work charter

    Liverpool has become the first council in the country to make UNISON’s End Violence at Work charter part of its commissioning process for third-sector care and housing providers.
    The council made the decision last night, after hearing UNISON national officer Gavin Edwards say: “Half of our members working for charities and housing associations tell us they have experienced violence or aggression at work in the past two years.
    “This is unacceptable and shows that far too many&nb
  • Goodbye Libraries Taskforce, huge cuts to Bradford and Coventry, good news elsewhere

    So, effectively, it’s goodbye to the Libraries Taskforce, whose duties are now formally part of Arts Council England for a year until it, presumably, disappears forever. The Taskforce did some good work in highlighting the importance of public libraries to central government departments, although with questionable impact and depth, arranged training and was a good sharer of information on what the sector with its frequent blogs. I’m not sure what other concrete achievements
  • Branch noticeboard competition winners announced!

    Congratulations to London Ambulance Service branch’s Battersea station who are the overall winners of our Grovember branch noticeboards competition.
    As part of last autumn’s month-long recruitment and retention push, we asked you to update your branch noticeboards and tweet us your pictures under the hashtag #ratemyboard to enter our competition.
    The 50 entries were whittled down to a shortlist of 11 and UNISON president Gordon McKay has now judged and chosen four prize winners. All
  • Wythenshawe Sodexo staff win NHS pay rates

    Facilities workers at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester have got their new year off to a pleasant start with news of a pay rise, backdated to last April.
    The UNISON members provide key services such as cleaning, catering and portering, which are outsourced to private company Sodexo.
    The company has been paying these workers the NHS rate for their job since a successful UNISON campaign in 2007 – but had not implemented the NHS Pay Framework Agreement agreed nationally last summer.
    The pay
  • Avoid a catastrophic ‘no deal’ at all costs, says UNISON

    Commenting on the Brexit vote today (Tuesday) UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:
    “The country has no faith in the Prime Minister’s ability to get her Brexit deal passed, now it’s clear MPs don’t either. It’s time for a vote of no confidence and a general election so people can vote in a new government to sort out this unholy mess.
    “Whatever happens in the days and weeks ahead, a catastrophic no-deal Brexit must be avoided.
    “Crashing out of Europ
  • Blog: UNISON will always stand with those facing the brunt of this government’s brutality

    The ongoing chaos over Brexit has – understandably – dominated news headlines for months. Yet as a result, massive failings by this government which affect the lives of millions aren’t getting the attention or the criticism they deserve.
    I’ve written before about the government’s disastrous handling of Universal Credit which has caused pain, suffering and untold misery.  I’ve been clear – Universal Credit needs to be halted and the problems fix
  • Easy Joiner: updated quick paperless joining

    Have you tried Easy Joiner, our digital tool that that allows you to recruit new members in mere minutes, as long as you’ve got a phone, tablet or even laptop to hand?
    It’s even easier than you might think – we rolled it out during our Grovember campaign and now have an updated version 2.0 following your feedback. So if you’ve not tried it, check it out now!
    If you’re talking to colleagues about joining the union, or visiting another office, and you don’t have
  • It’s time to bring probation back as a public service, government told

    UNISON and other key stakeholders on probation are calling on the government to make probation in England and Wales a publicly owned public service when the current contracts of the 21 private ‘community rehabilitation companies’ end next year.
    The Probation Alliance made the call in a letter to to justice secretary David Gauke, while also setting out their worries over the “unrealistic” timetable for replacing the current 21 contracts with a smaller number of larger ones
  • ‘A thank you to the hospital carers helping me battle cancer’

    Four months ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, I’ve had biopsies, a mastectomy, lymph node removals, countless scans and blood tests, an imminent death scare and two rounds of chemotherapy.
    Today, I’ll be having my third round and by rights I should be feeling terrified. Chemo’s pretty toxic – my oncologist told me semi-jokingly that the aim is to get as close to killing me as possible. But I don’t feel scared – I’m feeling calm and secu
  • Not quite all quiet

    A relatively quiet few days, thankfully, although with rumblings from the current library battlegrounds of Ealing, Essex and Worcestershire. The key piece of news for me is one I missed when it happened: Kirkless joined the increasing trend towards going fine-free at the end of December. There are now eight services in the UK I know of that have taken this approach.
    ChangesBirmingham – Druids Heath Library closed for three months due to broken boiler.
    Kirklees – No fin
  • People claiming universal credit must be compensated after judgement, says UNISON

    Responding to today’s High Court ruling that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been wrongly interpreting universal credit regulations, UNISON’s general secretary Dave Prentis said:
    “This has been a problem from the start. The way universal credit is calculated means that some people have been hundreds of pounds out of pocket.
    “Now the High Court has ruled that the way universal credit is calculated is flawed, the government must compensate those who have lost
  • Crossing the line – the worrying rise of the volunteer police force

    Cash-strapped police forces are filling some key job vacancies with unpaid volunteers amid ongoing cutbacks, says a report published by UNISON highlighting the fact that an increasing reliance on unpaid volunteers demonstrates the financial pressures the service is under.
    The report, Crossing the Line – Police support volunteers: rising numbers and mission creep – is based on responses to Freedom of Information requests in 2017 from 34 forces across England and Wales.
    These showed th
  • U-turn welcome but two-child limit should go for everyone, says UNISON

    Welcoming the government’s decision not to extend the two-child limit retrospectively, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The two-child limit is morally wrong and should be scrapped for everyone.
    “Now at least families who had a third child before April 2017 won’t be hit, but there are still many others with younger children who will be. This is a highly flawed system that needs to be thoroughly rethought.”
    Notes to editors:– UNISON is
  • It’s all about protecting members and services

    Protecting members and their welfare at work and beyond was a key theme of debates at UNISON’s higher education conference in Nottingham.
    On pensions, delegates condemned repeated attacks on university support staff’s retirement funds – particularly attempts to end their defined benefit schemes and move them onto worse  pensions.
    Conference stressed the need for a “whole-union approach” as individual universities try to pick off one branch after another.
  • Conference sets ambitious pay policy for 2019

    “The continuing erosion of the pay of higher education support staff is a stain on the sector and flies in the face of assurances by employers that they value their workers,” representatives of that workforce declared as they debated pay at UNISON’s higher education conference in Nottingham.
    Service group chair Denise Ward said it is “shocking and appalling that UNISON higher education members have lost between £1,300 and £8,500” over the last eight year
  • ‘You do fabulous work; you deserve decent pay’

    “You do fabulous work: it’s you who are often the first point of contact for students,” assistant general secretary Christina McAnea told UNISON’s higher education members when she addressed their national conference in Nottingham this morning.
    “You do tremendous jobs,” she added. “But you don’t get recognition for the jobs you do and don’t get they pay you deserve for the jobs you do.”
    Yet she pointed out that, in many universities, se
  • Hurting Ealing and £120k for the Reading Agency

    Sorry to see that Ealing are discussing dramatic cuts from the current £2.2m down to, and I can’t believe I’m reading this right but I’ve checked , £566k in 2022. My goodness. Hopefully, the final cut will be better than the libraryageddon that those figures imply. On the other end of the scale, the Reading Agency have been awarded a handsome £120k to evaluate the Summer Reading Challenge. The SRC is the most successful national promotion&n
  • Listen to what police staff have to say, Home Office told

    The Home Office’s “frontline review” of policing needs to be aware of how police staff are suffering from austerity and government cuts, says UNISON following a survey of 4,500 members.
    The union conducted the confidential online survey to give its members the opportunity to “tell it like it is”. It came after Home Secretary Sajid Javid launched his review in summer 2018 to “better understand” the workplace experience and needs of frontline police staff
  • Mark Thomas gives the NHS a comedy check-up

    Photo: Steve Ullathorn
    Political comedian Mark Thomas is about to go on the road with his award-winning show about the NHS.
    Check Up: Our NHS at 70, which Thomas first performed last year, is based on a series of interviews with leading experts on the NHS, and a month of residencies in hospitals during which he shadowed doctors, nurses and clinicians.
    And among the questions he raises: what’s going wrong in our NHS, how can it improve, and what will the future hold for generations of futur
  • Police staff members agree pay offer

    Members of UNISON, Unite and the GMB have voted overwhelmingly to accept the employers’ 2018 pay offer for police staff in England and Wales.
    The vote in each of the three unions was:UNISON: 73% to accept;
    Unite: 70% to accept;
    GMB: 83% to accept.The pay offer will now be implemented by forces in the two countries, backdated to 1 September 2018.
    It includes:an increase of 2% on all pay points from 1 September 2018
    a 2% increase in the standby allowance from £29.46 to £30.05, ba
  • NHS staffing challenges won’t be solved without money, says UNISON

    Commenting today (Monday) on the government’s 10-year plan for the NHS in England, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said:
    “Finding the NHS more staff, and holding on to those it already has, is key to the success of the government’s plan.
    “The plan is honest about the scale of the staffing challenge. But nothing will happen without more money to attract new recruits and train existing employees. The government must act now, or its plan will fall at the first hurdle.
  • NHS staff must be at the heart of the government’s NHS plan, says UNISON

    Commenting today (Sunday) ahead of tomorrow’s publication of the government’s 10-year plan for the NHS, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said:
    “Encouraging people to take better care of themselves won’t alone solve the growing crisis in the NHS. That can only be halted with proper funding and a sensible plan to fill the huge staffing gaps that now exist in every part of the health service.
    “Without the staff, there is no NHS. Ministers must say more about how they
  • A fine-free future, Essex and the New Years Honours

    I hope you all enjoyed the Christmas / New Years break. I certainly did. The main thing in the library news since way back on 16th December when the last news update was done has been the continued protests in Essex against the deep cuts there. The New Years Honours seemed to concentrate more than normal on the literary side with authors who campaign for libraries – including Julia Donaldson, Philip Pullman and Chris Riddell – all being mentioned. Public librarian side, con
  • Energy unions call for talks on just transition

    Energy unions are calling for talks with the government this year to help workers and communities adapt to the low-carbon economy needed to deal with global warming.
    The four unions – UNISON, Unite, GMB and Prospect – represent 200,000 workers in the sector and launched a template for a “just transition” to low carbon over the Christmas holidays.
    Now they want to hold discussions with business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Greg Clark to “chart a construc
  • Blog: Let’s make 2019 our union’s best year yet

    New year is a special time. It’s a time to look forwards with hope to the possibilities of the year ahead, and it’s an opportunity to look back at what’s gone before to see how far we’ve come.
    In UNISON, we like to look forward. 2019 will be another challenging year for public services and everyone who works in them. Yet it’s also a year that holds genuine promise. It’s a year when we can continue the fightback against austerity, it’s a year when our uni
  • Urging councillors to help end violence at work

    The UK’s largest union is asking that councils refuse to grant service and partnership contracts to organisations that won’t sign up to the 10 point plan to protect members at work.
    The campaign, which already has 35 charities and housing associations signed up, is gaining momentum and UNISON hopes that a new focus on council commissioning will encourage more community employers to take violence against their staff more seriously.
    The Charter is a list of 10 basic actions that third
  • Councillors urged to help end violence at work

    The UK’s largest union is asking that councils refuse to grant service and partnership contracts to organisations that won’t sign up to the 10 point plan to protect members at work.
    The campaign, which already has 35 charities and housing associations signed up, is gaining momentum and UNISON hopes that a new focus on council commissioning will encourage more community employers to take violence against their staff more seriously.
    The Charter is a list of 10 basic actions that third
  • Update on FE pay in Wales

    Thanks to lobbying by the Joint Trade Unions in Wales, the Welsh Government has provided additional funding to the Further Education sector in Wales.
    Last week, Colegau Cymru (CC) subsequently made an improved offer on pay to the Joint Trade Unions as follows:All teaching grades up to and including Main Grade 6 lecturers – a rise of 3.5%
    Upper spine (UP 1 – 3) – a rise of 2%
    All staff on Management contract (excluding senior post holders) –  a rise of 1.5%
    Business s
  • Energy merger collapse means uncertain future for staff, says UNISON

    Commenting on the announcement that the proposed merger between energy firm nPower and SSE is no longer happening, UNISON national energy officer Matt Lay said:
    “Bringing together the parts of both companies that look after residential customers was meant to secure jobs and ensure both firms had a future.
    “Now the deal is off, employees will feel understandably anxious about what’s to become of them. Both companies must now act quickly to end the uncertainty, and reassure staff
  • Cuts to CILIP and Surrey: Scotland and Libraries Connected gain

    CILIP are going through a major change, with 11 out of 54 posts being lost. Library services have had ample experience of that sort of thing so we all know what that feels like. Wishing them all the best for the future. Surrey are also having a major, major, major cut – with a cut in usage of 25% since 2010 being used – get this – to justify an over 50% cut in funding and ignoring all the other cuts there since 2010. So that’s not fixed in any way, no sir. There
  • Austerity is still very real for local services, says UNISON

    Commenting on the publication of the government’s local government finance settlement for 2019/20, UNISON head of local government Jon Richards said:
    “This is another £1bn dose of austerity for councils that will lead to yet more cuts to local services.
    “In five years over £6bn has been slashed from central government funding for councils. This has forced many authorities to dig deep into their reserves to protect services and given them no option but to rais
  • The government is making it harder to fight crime, says UNISON

    Commenting on the announcement by police minister Nick Hurd of a new funding settlement for police forces dependent on a council tax precept, UNISON national officer for police Ben Priestley said:
    “This money has not yet materialised, and there’s no guarantee the right amount will be raised.
    “Instead of raising hopes for new money the government should invest in policing and start restoring the huge cuts imposed on the service since 2010. By slashing police funding, all
  • Blog: This Christmas, UNISON members will be working around the clock

    As we get into the final weeks of the year, many people will begin to think about Christmas. For most that means shopping, cooking and spending time with loved ones. But for many UNISON members, this special time of year isn’t a time of rest, it’s a time of work.
    In hospitals, care homes and police stations around the country, UNISON members will be working around the clock, serving our communities and our loved ones as they always do.
    One of the greatest honours and privileges of be
  • Learning to excel

    Growing up in Armagh during The Troubles was not a time for lofty ambitions. You left school, you got a job. And that’s how it was for Lucia McKeever. But then, with encouragement from her trade union, her horizons started to widen considerably.
    Lucia rose through the ranks of first COHSE, then UNISON, before serving as UNISON president from 2014 to 2015 – the first Northern Irish member to hold that office.
    Now, as she prepares to step down from the union’s National Executive
  • That was the year that was – the year in UNISON

    January saw the union launch a campaign to encourage local government pension funds to divest from carbon – in other words, to pull their hard-earned money out of environment-unfriendly businesses.Some £16bn of local government pension funds is invested in fossil fuels and, with five million members in those schemes, the campaign can make an impact.
    Later that month, the higher education service group conference met in Chester.
    “We have to stand up for our members’ rights
  • That was the year that was

    January saw the union launch a campaign to encourage local government pension funds to divest from carbon – in other words, to pull their hard-earned money out of environment-unfriendly businesses.Some £16bn of local government pension funds is invested in fossil fuels and, with five million members in those schemes, the campaign can make an impact.
    Later that month, the higher education service group conference met in Chester.
    “We have to stand up for our members’ rights

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