Happy Pride season

‘While there is lots to celebrate and be proud of, we can’t forget the discrimination and harassment LGBT+ people continue to face’

Happy Pride season to all of UNISON’s LGBT+ members.

As always, UNISON activists will be at many Prides across the UK, being on stalls, marching and promoting our LGBT+ equality work in workplaces and branches. And after the last two years, we have even more reason to celebrate coming together this year.

While there is lots to celebrate and be proud of, we can’t forget the discrimination and harassment LGBT+ people continue to face.

From failures to progress with reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, to excluding trans people from proposed legislation banning conversion therapy, the UK government has constantly attacked trans rights.

With the recent comments by the attorney general, about schools not having to accommodate children who want to change gender under current legislation, this is a clear attack on trans children’s rights and a dog whistle to transphobes. This is also illegal under the 2010 Equalities Act.

I made it clear at last year’s LGBT+ conference and I’ll say it again: I have never felt, as a woman, that my rights were threatened by giving rights to trans women.

I am happy that our national LGBT+ committee is making trans equality a priority campaign, which we are officially launching at our UNISON centre on Friday 15 July. If you’re interested in getting involved, please email our LGBT+ national team on out@unison.co.uk.

Meanwhile, our national trans ally training has been a major success, with over 100 UNISON members benefiting from going through the training. It’s activities like these, that make our workplaces more inclusive for everyone and I urge all UNISON members to take up the training.

Let’s be proud of our achievements over the years on LGBT+ inclusion, and keep equality at the heart of everything UNISON does.

Be safe, and enjoy Pride season.

UNISON cost of living special

The rising tide

What are the root causes of the cost of living crisis? What is the human impact? And how can we start to find a way out? UNISON investigates

“I don’t sleep very well anymore. You’ll be there at three o’clock in the morning, which is always the ‘dark time’ – even when I’m on shift, that’s the hard time. And it’s scary. You sit there and think, ‘If I lose this job tomorrow, I’d probably lose the house within two months. It would be that quick.

Pat Jones is a care worker for people with learning disabilities, branch secretary of Ymlaen/Forward branch and, somehow, still an optimist. Two months ago, the driveshaft on her car broke and it wiped out her savings. Pat was just relieved that she had a friend of a friend who could do the repair job cheaply for her.

Now, her daughter – a single mother and also a care worker – and two grandsons are due to move back in with her, because her daughter’s home became too costly to repair and she will have to sell it.

For the next 12 months, at least, Pat’s home office will be her grandsons’ bedroom. Her daughter will take her room, and Pat will be on the sofa, with her two dogs and two cats. Pat is just pleased that she’s been able to help her daughter and save her from getting into debt.

The rising cost of living has been a creeping issue for some time now, felt by most in terms of pennies in the pound. A single below-inflation pay deal could be critical for some, placing their finances on a knife-edge. But now, after a decade of inflation outstripping public sector pay deals, with the price of an average shopping basket rising at unprecedented rates, households facing the heaviest tax burden in the UK since the 1940s, and one of the worst energy and gas price surges in living memory – now, the cost of living ‘issue’ is a full-blown national crisis.

Simply put, this is a critical, make-or-break period for millions of people in this country.

Membership Entitlement: Your FREE £5,000 Accidental Death Cover

UNISON is committed to offering members valuable membership services and we wanted to highlight one of your key membership entitlements which is arranged by UNISONProtect as an approved provider.

Your UNISON membership entitles you to free insurance cover, which pays your loved ones £5,000 if you die from an accident.

Cover is for UK residents aged 18-69. It lasts for one year and then you can renew it again for free. For full terms and conditions, please click here.

Whether you’re renewing your free cover or setting it up for the first time – register online today, it only takes a few minutes!

Register Now

Plus, did you know that your family (UK residents aged 18-69) are also eligible for the cover? Simply ask them to complete the form too.

Following your registration, a UNISONProtect representative will telephone you to set up your free cover and explain the other benefits available.

It’s quick and easy to apply and is yet another reason why it pays to be a UNISON member!

Questions and answers about the ballot

Which groups are being balloted for strike action?

The membership groups that we have formally notified employers we will be balloting are all mem­bers employed working in schools, who provide services to the running and operation of the school, and all members working in early years and in waste and recycling services.

Why are only certain groups being balloted for action?

It is important to stress that this campaign is for all local government workers. The decision to only ballot certain groups of workers for strike action is tactical – to ensure we maximise the impact of our action on vital service areas likely to force the employers hand.

What is the deadline for returning my ballot paper?

We must receive your completed ballot paper by 10am on the 26th July 2022 so you need to get it in a post box a couple of days before this to make sure you meet the deadline.

What should I do if I misplace my ballot paper?

Call the ballot helpline on 0800 0 857 857. This Helpline will be open from 8am on 15th June 2022 to 12 noon on the 20th July 2022.

Why can’t I vote online?

Legislation governing industrial action stipulates that a formal industrial action ballot must be con­ducted by post.

Why should I vote for strike action?

• The failure to provide a meaningful increase to the Scottish Local Government Living Wage means that those on the lowest pay would still not reach a £10 per hour rate of pay never mind the £12 per hour called for in our claim.

• This offer is weighted towards those on the highest pay and will further exacerbate the issue of endemic low pay which plagues this sector.

• The offer fails to address many of the other issues outlined in our claim such as the need to allevi­ate the burden of paying professional fees for those on the lowest wages and achieving a no-det­riment reduction in the working week to address issues of work-life balance.

• UNISON would not ask you to take strike action unless it was absolutely necessary. We have ex­hausted all other options in terms of trying to get movement from your employers.

Will I get any financial support if I vote to take strike action?

Yes, all members taking strike action will be financially supported by UNISON. Further details will follow.

I am employed on multiple contracts with my local authority – am I being balloted to take strike action in all my roles?

You are only being balloted on your role as an employee working in a schools, for the purpose of pro­viding services to the running and operation of the school, or your work in early years or in waste and recycling services.

I’m not being balloted for strike action – what can I do to show my support for the campaign?

There are a number of things you can do to show support for the campaign and it is important that you do so colleagues included in the ballot know that you stand with them.

You can: https://join.unison.org.uk

You have been offered another pay cut and not a pay rise

Hi, I am Lorraine Thomson. I am a UNISON member, and I am the Branch Secretary for the UNISON Stirling Branch and the Chair of UNISON Scotland’s Education Issues Group.

Many services are still recovering and feeling the effects from the pandemic, Holyrood continues to underfund councils, and the failure to provide local government workers with an inflation busting pay rise in the midst of a cost of living crisis continues to put a strain on a largely overworked workforce.

In real terms you have been offered another pay cut and not a pay rise.

The services provided by council workers are what makes a decent society possible. They are not a drain on our society, but an achievement of our society.

UNISON members deserve a fair pay rise. Their fuel costs have went up. Their heating costs have went up. Their food costs have went up! The cost of everything has gone up. But their pay has not!

That is why we are asking members who work in Waste Services and Early Years and Schools to vote yes for strike action.

Your pay ballot should be hitting your doorstep now and it is in a blue envelope. You should return it as soon as possible.

The ballot is open until 29 July.

We need to show decision makers that we are serious about the cost of living crisis and what comes into our pay packets.

Vote yes for strike action.

Strike action is always a last resort, but local government workers are again being overlooked for a decent pay rise. Enough is enough!!

UNISON to ballot 25,000 school staff and waste and recycling workers

UNISON to ballot 25,000 school staff and waste and recycling workers for strike over pay tomorrow, after Kate Forbes refuses offer of last-ditch talks

UNISON will start an industrial action ballot tomorrow (Friday 10 June) for 25,000 local government workers in schools, early years, waste and recycling across Scotland. The ballot will take 7 weeks and will close on 26 July. 

UNISON are recommending the workforce vote yes to strike action as the only way left to move the employer’s position.  They intend to shut schools across Scotland when children return after the school summer break.

In a last-ditch attempt to avert industrial action processes UNISON wrote to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Minister of Finance Kate Forbes, on 1 June to ask that they meet with the trade unions to discuss the funding for local authorities to improve the pay offer.

Kate Forbes has written to UNISON today and said ‘it would not be appropriate to interfere in these negotiations, given their devolved nature’ and that ‘it is therefore for you to negotiate with COSLA and ‘respectfully declined the tripartite meeting being proposed by COSLA’.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government said: “Local government workers have been offered a miserly 2%.  With inflation at a 40 year high this goes nowhere near compensating them for the cost-of-living crisis or the loss in the value of their pay following real terms pay cuts over a decade of austerity. This comes on the back of the Scottish government announcing cuts to public services that Margaret Thatcher would be proud of, in their recent spending review.” “The fact they will not sit down with COSLA and the trade unions to try and find a solution is a kick in the teeth to all local government workers. They have forgotten already who was educating our children, cleaning our communities, caring for our vulnerable and burying our dead throughout the pandemic. Local government workers keep society running. We have no option left and will ballot 25,000 school, nursery and waste and recycling workers tomorrow.”