• New presidential team elected

    New presidential team elected
    UNISON’s national executive council (NEC) convened on Friday afternoon, at the end of national delegate conference in Brighton, to elect a new presidential team.
    The council elected Steve North of Salford Local Government Branch in the North West as president, with Julia Mwaluke, also from Salford City Local Government Branch as senior vice president, and Lyn Marie O’Hara of UNISON City of Glasgow branch as junior vice president.
    The article New presidential team elected first a
  • Conference hails striking members

    Conference hails striking members
    Images: Marcus Rose
    The final day of UNISON’s national delegate conference saw delegates rise to celebrate all those members who had been out on strike during the last year.
    General secretary Christina McAnea called the strikers forward to rapturous applause from the floor, with representatives from each of UNISON’s 12 regions:Eastern: Bedfordshire Hospital and Colchester City Council
    East Midlands: Ashfield Academy, University Hospitals of Leicester and Northampton General Hosp
  • Opinion: The New Deal will be transformational

    Opinion: The New Deal will be transformational
    By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea
    Labour’s election is full speed ahead, and the polls still predict a Labour majority. With that, comes delivering the New Deal for Working People.
    I’m sure the party’s promise to make work pay is turning out to be a key part of their popularity throughout the campaign.
    We worked closely with the Labour Party and other trade unions in turning this idea into a manifesto pledge and a deliverable plan. We put the need
  • Too little Trust?

    Too little Trust?
    EditorialThere have been many different new types of library governance since austerity began in 2010. We’ve seen Leisure Trusts taking over (a mixed picture), private companies (failure), local charities/parish councils taking them over and volunteers (at least 621 and rising, proving surprisingly resilient). A different type of Trust, though, has had – at least from my inexpert eye – been entirely successful. This is the Library-only Trust (Devon’s “Libraries Unli
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  • Feargal Sharkey brings star quality – and rage – to conference

    Feargal Sharkey brings star quality – and rage – to conference
    Feargal Sharkey with UNISON delegates. Photo: Steve Forrest/Workers’ Photos
    UNISON’s national delegate conference (NDC) enjoyed a spot of real star quality earlier this week, when a fringe meeting on the climate crisis saw a special guest in singer and clean water campaigner Feargal Sharkey.
    “My father would be cock-a-hoop that I was standing on a union platform,” he told those attending.
    His dad was a trade union official who took him to his first union meeting at age ei
  • UNISON passes motion to recognise Palestine as a state

    UNISON passes motion to recognise Palestine as a state
    The third day of UNISON’s national delegate conference, chaired by UNISON president Libby Nolan, saw delegates pass a composite motion in solidarity with Palestine – but not before several impassioned speeches were heard.
    The debate came shortly after Palestinian ambassador to the UK Dr Hussam Zomlot’s speech to the union.
    Introducing the motion on behalf of UNISON Scotland, Tony Slaven said: “After the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, a ceasefire is needed urgently.
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  • ‘Justice for the Palestinian people is justice for all’

    ‘Justice for the Palestinian people is justice for all’
    The highlight of this year’s national delegate conference was a speech from Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom Dr Husam Zomlot (pictured), who was welcomed with a standing ovation.
    Thanking the union for its warmth, he began with an acknowledgement of UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea’s recent trip to the West Bank. “I know Christina got a taste of what it means to live under Israel’s military occupation.
    “You may think it’s the deadly milita
  • ‘System change, not climate change’

    ‘System change, not climate change’
    “This is a crisis that all trade unionists and every person should be angry about.” That was how Tony Wright introduced a motion on climate change for the NEC and UNISON’s national delegate conference in Brighton this week.
    “Climate change is already affecting every aspect of what our members do. Public services are huge carbon emitters,” he continued.
    “We use the full might of public funding to ensure that our public-sector contracts are used to commit to a
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  • NHS employers need to pay staff fairly or face strike action

    NHS employers need to pay staff fairly or face strike action
    NHS managers must ensure health workers are on the correct salary bands for the jobs they do and avoid the need for further strike action this year, says UNISON today (Friday).
    Since 2021, the union has taken an employer-by-employer approach to help healthcare assistants across the UK win wage rises, including around £80m in back pay, to make up for years of being paid significantly less than they should have been.
    UNISON’s Fair Pay for Patient Care campaign has prompted salary
  • Weapon and drug use ‘widespread’ among students on college premises

    Weapon and drug use ‘widespread’ among students on college premises
    Violence, crime and substance misuse are now widespread across colleges, with students regularly carrying weapons and drugs or arriving intoxicated, according to new data released by UNISON today (Thursday).
    Seven in ten (70%) support staff said drug abuse among students is a problem in their college, a survey conducted by the union found.
    And more than a third (34%) said crime involving weapons is a concern, while almost a fifth (19%) believed gang culture is a problem at their institution.
    Thr
  • UNISON renews its support for domestic abuse refuges

    UNISON renews its support for domestic abuse refuges
    Delegates at UNISON’s national delegate conference have unanimously passed a motion that commits the union to take action on domestic abuse service provision and ensure ‘access for all’ in refuges.The motion was supported by several emotive speeches from members who had personally experienced domestic abuse.
    Introducing the motion, Farida Gullam (pictured) from the national women’s committee said: “Every week, two women are killed by a partner or ex-partner and one
  • Cementing the legacy of the Year of Black Workers

    Cementing the legacy of the Year of Black Workers
    Images: Marcus Rose
    Debate continued Wednesday morning at national delegate conference with a group of motions concerning Black members.
    The motions came on the same morning as the High Court ruling that the government’s decision to scrap key recommendations from the independent review into the Windrush scandal was unlawful.
    The first motion, supporting Black members experiencing racism, focused on training and education as an effective way to combat racism.
    Moving the motion, Anette Heslo
  • Celebrating Pride, rainbow lanyards and pronouns

    Celebrating Pride, rainbow lanyards and pronouns
    Munroe Bergdorf, LGBT+ activist, model, writer and broadcaster addressed UNISON’s national delegate conference on Tuesday afternoon, wishing delegates a “Happy Pride Month”. Pride is, by its definition a protest … a push back against shame, she told them.
    “It is the remembering and the learning from history.
    “As far as we’ve come … we’re now facing a highly funded, concerted and sustained conservative [campaign] to force us back into shame.
  • Conference hears the promise of a national care service

    Conference hears the promise of a national care service
    Images: Marcus Rose
    Just days after Labour included a pledge in its general election manifesto to build a national care service, UNISON conference debated a composite motion on the subject.
    Moving the motion this morning, Jordan Rivera of the NEC (pictured below) said: “As an NHS occupational therapist working in an elderly care ward, I see patients staying in hospital on a daily basis, because they can’t get care,” adding that, every day longer they spend in hospital, they are
  • ‘Our members need a Labour government’

    ‘Our members need a Labour government’
    Images: Marcus Rose
    Spirits were high at UNISON’s national delegate conference in Brighton this morning as general secretary Christina McAnea delivered an invigorating speech to delegates. It focussed on the union’s power to defeat the Tories in the upcoming general election on 4 July.
    Ms McAnea praised the union’s tenacity in the face of successive Conservative governments, which she described as “hell-bent on curbing workers’ rights.
    “Over the last 14 years
  • Time to put an end to the chaos and cuts

    Time to put an end to the chaos and cuts
    general Addressing UNISON’s annual conference in Brighton today (Wednesday), UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:
    “Everyone has suffered over the past 14 years of Tory chaos and cuts.
    “The UK’s had a revolving door of clueless prime ministers and Cabinet members who’ve made political choices that exacerbated the cost-of-living crisis and allowed living standards to plummet.
    “Social care is beyond broken. Its shortcomings are having an appalling
  • Campaign this weekend for the New Deal for Working People

    Campaign this weekend for the New Deal for Working People
    UNISON members will be joining other trade unionists across the country this weekend, taking to the streets to campaign for Labour’s New Deal for Working People, a key offer of the party’s general election manifesto.
    The New Deal is a comprehensive plan to improve the lives of working people by strengthening individual and collective rights – benefitting public service workers across the UK.
    It is the culmination of years of joint work between the party and its affiliated
  • Delegates pledge to challenge exploitation of migrant workers

    Delegates pledge to challenge exploitation of migrant workers
    On the first day of UNISON’s national delegate conference, delegates debated the need to challenge the exploitation of migrant workers, particularly in social care.
    Paramedic Glen Carrington, from the NEC, said that, as an immigrant himself, being seen as ‘inferior’ was deeply unpleasant.
    Mr Carrington described how, earlier this year, he was called to a care home a number of times and each time, saw a nurse, “dead on her feet”. The third time, he asked if she hadn&
  • High Court rules government’s Windrush failings are unlawful

    High Court rules government’s Windrush failings are unlawful
    The government’s decision to scrap key recommendations from the independent review into the Windrush scandal was unlawful, the High Court has ruled today (Wednesday), says UNISON.
    The court found Suella Braverman was “not justified” in breaking promises to create a migrants’ commissioner and boost the powers of the chief inspector for borders and immigration.
    Both recommendations had come out of the Windrush Learned Lessons Review – overseen by Wendy Williams.&
  • President opens union’s national conference in Brighton

    President opens union’s national conference in Brighton
    Image: Steve Forrest/Workers’ photos
    UNISON’s national delegate conference opened today in Brighton with a speech from UNISON president Libby Nolan.
    After speaking of her personal experience over decades in the union movement she turned to contemporary issues: “We know that the problems in this country come from billionaires in yachts, not leaky dinghies.
    “We say loud and clear, refugees and asylum seekers are always welcome here – solidarity to everyone in thi
  • Local government education wins and woes

    Local government education wins and woes
    Image: Steve Forrest/Workers’ photos
    Focus turned to education on Monday afternoon at local government conference with a series of motions on further education, the crisis in schools, and the school support staff negotiating body (SSSNB).
    Mike Short national secretary for local government and education opened the session with a speech outlining the achievements over the last year and the challenges they will face in the years to come.
    Moving a motion on further education (FE) pay Carl Grea
  • The energy sector at a ‘pivotal moment’

    The energy sector at a ‘pivotal moment’
                                                                                                           Image: Steve Forrest
    Delegates at UNISON’s energy conference met in Brighton on Monday to discuss the issues and challenges affecti
  • LG conference: Finance, funding and cuts

    LG conference: Finance, funding and cuts
    Image: Steve Forrest/Workers’ photos
    On Monday morning, local government (LG) conference in Brighton turned its attention to the perilous state of council finances, funding and cuts.
    The context for the debates which followed was set by Paul Bell, UNISON national officer, who moved sections of the LG annual report dealing with finance and service delivery.
    “This past year has presented us with the toughest financial challenges local government has faced since austerity began in 2010,
  • Sexual harassment and sexism rife in schools

    Sexual harassment and sexism rife in schools
    Sexual harassment is widespread in schools with staff the target of physical advances, inappropriate comments and lewd remarks, according to findings published by UNISON today (Tuesday).
    A survey conducted in collaboration with UK Feminista*, and published on the opening day of the union’s annual conference, shows one in ten (10%) female support staff in secondary schools say they’ve been sexually harassed, mainly by male pupils but also by their male colleagues.
    Among staff in
  • Building on the Year of LGBT+ Workers

    Building on the Year of LGBT+ Workers
    Local government delegates in Brighton have been celebrating the successes of the union’s Year of LGBT+ Workers, while accepting that the fight to achieve LGBT+ equality and acceptance is far from over.
    A composite motion noted that the year devoted to LGBT+ workers is providing an opportunity to promote UNISON as the union for LGBT+ workers in local government, raise awareness of LGBT+ rights, challenge discrimination, negotiate LGBT+ inclusive policies and recruit and activate LGBT+ memb
  • WET conference: Invest to protect our environment

    WET conference: Invest to protect our environment
    Image: Steve Forrest/Workers’ photos
    A key theme at Sunday’s water, environment and transport (WET) conference in Brighton was a lack of investment in the country’s environment.
    Opening business was a motion discussing the Canal and River Trust funding. It noted that, in July 2023, the government announced a reduced grant to the trust from 2027. This funding reduction is equivalent to £300 million in real terms and, in Canal and River Trust’s own words, “will
  • WET conference examines failure of privatisation

    WET conference examines failure of privatisation
    Image: Steve Forrest
    UNISON’s water, environment and transport conference, held in Brighton on Sunday, was dominated by an examination of the failures of privatisation in the water industry.
    The conference came during renewed media scrutiny of water companies after a new report came to light highlighting thousands of instances of sewage being discharged into waterways in dry weather in 2022, in “illegal spills”.
    On this note, one motion took aim at the situation calling the cur
  • Young members are ‘the future of our union’

    Young members are ‘the future of our union’
    Image: Steve Forrest
    UNISON local government delegates have affirmed their commitment to supporting and developing young members and activists within their service group.
    Meeting on the first day of their conference in Brighton yesterday, they heard that young members are “the future of the union”.
    But they also accepted that, while there have been recent strides in recruiting young workers, young members are still under-represented as activists.
    Proposing the motion on the topic for
  • Opinion: Seeing the reality of life in occupied Palestine

    Opinion: Seeing the reality of life in occupied Palestine
    By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea
    Travelling from Amman in Jordan to Ramallah the administrative centre of the Palestinian West Bank, as I did recently, gave me a first-hand view of the grim reality of being in an occupied territory.
    I was there in the last week in May as part of an international trade union delegation, at the request of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU).
    It was the first time all eight international union federations had come together, repres
  • ‘Essential services are crumbling before our eyes’

    ‘Essential services are crumbling before our eyes’
                                                                Christina McAnea in Brighton. Image: Steve Forrest
    UNISON’s local government conference opened in Brighton yesterday with an urgent call to a likely Labour government to rescue services that are suffering from “a disastrous funding crisis.”
    General secretary Christina McA
  • Cuts to children’s centres hitting the most disadvantaged

    Cuts to children’s centres hitting the most disadvantaged
    Children’s centre closures across England have devastated communities and left vulnerable families without access to vital education and health support, says UNISON today (Monday).​
    Freedom of Information (FoI) requests by the union reveal that over a third (38%) of council-run children’s centres in England have closed since 2010 when the government implemented austerity measures and slashed councils’ financial support.
    There were at least 3,106 council-run children&rsquo
  • Change for local government can’t come soon enough

    Change for local government can’t come soon enough
    Fourteen years of Conservative governments have left council finances in disarray, forcing them to make cuts to vital services, says the head of the UK’s largest union today (Sunday).
    UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea was making the remarks earlier in a speech to open the union’s annual local government conference. The event takes place in Brighton today and tomorrow.
    Christina McAnea told delegates: “Change can’t come soon enough. An increasing number o
  • Don’t mention it

    Don’t mention it
    EditorialHmmm. It’s been an odd election. Themes which are extremely important to us all such as Brexit and the Environment have had barely a mention. A party to the right of the Conservatives is having the strongest showing of any such party I can remember in a national election. And the main argument appears to be all about taxation rather than the importance of what the taxes are for.The Conservatives commit to “continuing to support” libraries and, in the same Manifesto, pr
  • Closure of more than a thousand youth centres could have lasting impact on society

    Closure of more than a thousand youth centres could have lasting impact on society
    Huge cuts to youth services risk creating a “lost generation” of young people unable to access vital support at a crucial time in their lives, UNISON says today (Saturday).
    New research conducted by the union has found that funding cuts have led to the closure of more than two thirds of council-run youth centres in England and Wales since 2010.
    The loss of so many facilities and the specialist workers who run them has put teenagers at risk of isolation, being swept into gang and knif
  • The deadline to register to vote in the general election is 18 June

    The deadline to register to vote in the general election is 18 June
    Only people who are British or Irish citizens, or citizens of a Commonwealth country who have the right to remain in the UK, currently have the right to vote.
    UNISON’s partner JCWI can give more detailed information about migrants’ rights and the general election.
    If you have the right to vote but have not registered yet, it takes just five minutes, and you can do so here. The deadline to register is 11:59pm on Tuesday 18 June 2024.
    The article The deadline to register to vote in the
  • Labour’s manifesto offers the country real change

    Labour’s manifesto offers the country real change
    Commenting on the launch of the Labour manifesto today (Thursday), UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:
    “This manifesto sets out a clear plan for the future. It shows how a Labour government could rebuild a Britain broken after years of Tory austerity and chaos.
    “Unlike the party that’s been in power for the past 14 years, a Labour government would be committed to public services.
    “Essential services aren’t a drain on the public purse, 
  • What public service workers want this election

    What public service workers want this election
    According to new data, the top three issues for UNISON members this election are the cost of living, the economy and health.
    When it comes to working conditions, they predominantly want to see the government ensure that increases in the minimum wage take account of the cost of living, and that the gender pay gap is closed. Members also want to see zero-hours contracts and fire-and-rehire scrapped.
    The results come from a survey of public service workers that UNISON commissioned Thinks Insight &a
  • What public service workers want from this election 

    What public service workers want from this election 
    According to new data, 76% of UNISON members feel like the country is headed in the wrong direction. And the top three issues for UNISON members this election are the cost of living, the economy and health. 
    When it comes to working conditions, UNISON members predominantly want to see the government ensure that increases in the minimum wage take account of the cost of living and that the gender pay gap is closed.  
    Members also want to see zero-hours contracts and fire-and-rehire
  • Labour plans to boost school nurseries ‘make a lot of sense’

    Labour plans to boost school nurseries ‘make a lot of sense’
    Commenting on Labour proposals to create 3,000 new school-based nurseries, UNISON assistant general secretary Jon Richards said:
    “Childcare has become a nightmare for many parents, especially the less well-off.
    “That’s because the larger private equity-backed nursery firms follow the money and pay staff low wages to get higher returns. That leaves less-affluent parts of the country poorly served.
    “New nurseries attached to schools could make the world of di
  • More than one kind of censorship

    More than one kind of censorship
    EditorialA fair bit about censorship in the UK this week, although from a different slant to what we are used to from the USA. Over here the articles are from several generally right-wing newspapers, and whatever GB News is, complaining about the ease with which children’s books can be banned. One ban is because of the use of the word “n*****” and the classic Fungus the Bogeyman ban is due to the use of the “g******g”. Both words, to be fair, especially the n* one,
  • Councils face ‘existential crisis’ without proper investment from next government

    Councils face ‘existential crisis’ without proper investment from next government
    Commenting on a new white paper from the Local Government Association that calculates councils in England face a £6.2bn funding shortfall over the next two years, UNISON head of local government Mike Short said today (Friday):
    “Councils are facing an existential crisis because of years of severe government underfunding.
    “Wave after wave of budget cuts to essential services has harmed communities immensely, with the worst off always the hardest hit.
    “Authorities have&
  • Opinion: 10 reasons why the civil service can’t do probation

    Opinion: 10 reasons why the civil service can’t do probation
    Since Chris Grayling’s disastrous 2014 probation reforms, first part of, and since 2021 all of the probation service has been run centrally from Whitehall, as part of His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) in the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). Its staff are civil servants. As a consequence, HMPPS has struggled with operational delivery. A central model of probation delivery is simply too remote and too top-down to manage probation effectively or efficiently.   
    UNIS
  • Christina McAnea joins solidarity mission to Palestine

    Christina McAnea joins solidarity mission to Palestine
    Last week, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea joined a solidarity mission to Ramallah in Palestine on behalf of Public Services International (PSI).
    The solidarity mission marks the first time such a large and high-level group of union leaders have convened in Palestine. The visit comes amid mounting international condemnation over the ongoing killing of civilians in Gaza and in the West Bank.
    The visit underlined the global labour movement’s support for an urgent ceasefire in Gaza
  • Pre-election period

    Pre-election period
    EditorialPublic libraries were clearly not a major focus for electioneering this week, without a single article spotted. CILIP is hoping that this will change and we can hope, although of course currently employed library staff would get into potential hot water if they were political in their jobs at this time. Certainly, wherever cuts are announced, such as in Nottingham, people mobilise but they do so in an ad hoc fashion and not in any meaningful national way. Speaking of that city, it&rsquo
  • Cutting staff is a false economy and won’t help the NHS meet its targets

    Cutting staff is a false economy and won’t help the NHS meet its targets
    Commenting on a survey by NHS Confederation published today (Friday) suggesting many health leaders are considering staff cuts to balance their books, UNISON head of health Helga Pile said:
    “Tackling the mounting pressures on the NHS will be a major priority for whoever forms the next government.
    “No part of the NHS should be cutting staff when what’s really needed is for many thousands of vacancies to be filled. False economies like these are foolhardy in the extreme.
    &ld
  • Diane Abbott is an inspiration to many people

    Diane Abbott is an inspiration to many people
    Commenting on the speculation surrounding Diane Abbott, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said today (Thursday): “When Diane Abbott was elected in 1987, she blazed a trail for Black women in political and public life.
    “As the first Black female MP, she proved barriers could be broken, showed that becoming a politician was for everyone and inspired many people to follow her into the House of Commons.
    “That’s why her courage, determination and outstan
  • Opinion: ‘The past is gloomy, but the future doesn’t have to be’

    Opinion: ‘The past is gloomy, but the future doesn’t have to be’
    By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea
    It’s hard to believe that, less than a week ago, a rain-soaked prime minister rolled the dice in front of the nation. It’s been a hapless campaign start for Rishi Sunak, but at least he put us out of our misery and called the general election. In his own words, we can now decide between “the past and the future”.
    Calling the election is just about all we can thank him for. He may try to distance himself from his party’s r
  • National election called: public librarians know which way they will be voting

    National election called: public librarians know which way they will be voting
    EditorialSo, an election has been called. The British public can now decide on who they think is best to govern them. On hearing the news, I immediately ran a poll to see which political party the nice people on Twitter who follow me think should win. The result wasn’t really open to interpretation. I could be wrong but I think a 87.3% vote for Labour would mean they take government. Out of 142 votes, the Conservatives and Lib Dems tied on five or six votes each, with Reform getting none.
  • Beleaguered public services need investment not an army of reluctant teen ‘volunteers’

    Beleaguered public services need investment not an army of reluctant teen ‘volunteers’
    Commenting on Conservative proposals that would see 18-year-olds either join the military or do ‘volunteer’ work for a year, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said today (Sunday):
    “This is a desperate attempt to distract from the issues that matter to voters and suggests Rishi Sunak has completely lost the plot.
    “It shows how quickly the government is prepared to abandon the communities it promised to ‘level up’.
    “The cost of this hare-brain
  • Fairer work will be good news for millions, says UNISON

    Fairer work will be good news for millions, says UNISON
    Commenting on the Labour Party’s plan to make work pay, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said today (Saturday):
    “There will be a clear choice in July. A vote for a party that understands the huge struggles employees and their families have been facing. Or one that’s persistently let working people down these past 14 years.
    “Labour’s new deal best illustrates that choice. It will make work fairer and boost the economy too.
    “That’s why its measure

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