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UNISON has just released a new report called "Hand in the Till".

The report highlights the fact that since 2010, under current plans, £16bn will have been cut from central government support to local councils in England by 2019/20.

It also draws attention the growing surplus in the central share of Business Rates. The surplus is projected to grow by £1.8bn next year and reach £8.4bn. The report puts forward the simple proposal that in 2018/19, and in future years that growth in the government's share of Business Rates surpluses should be invested in local services and returned to local councils. It would result in billions of pounds being re-invested in local councils in England.


Nov 10, 2017

Following a recent key judgement on payment for sleep-in shifts (LELR 525), the government has launched a scheme to ensure that social care providers now pay workers what they are owed.

Under National Minimum Wage (NMW) regulations, sleep-in shifts can count as work for which NMW is payable. However, historically many providers paid a flat rate which was below the NMW. The result is that those providers are now liable to pay (often substantial) sleeping time arrears.

Following an assessment of the risks posed to the social care sector as a consequence of these liabilities, the government has now launched the Social Care Compliance Scheme (SCCS). Social care employers who have incorrectly paid workers below the legal minimum wage hourly rates for sleep-in shifts can opt into the scheme, giving them up to a year to identify what they owe to workers.

In instances where a worker complaint has been received, social care employers will be contacted directly by HMRC regarding the scheme, although they can also self-select where applicable. The SCCS scheme will require providers to conduct a thorough self-review in order to identify and then to repay any wage arrears to workers.

In return, providers will normally be offered a period of twelve months in which to conduct the self-review with access to HMRC technical support, and then up to three months to pay all arrears. Providing all arrears are paid within the SCCS timescales, these employers will not be subject to financial penalties or public naming.

Regardless of when an employer enters the SCCS, the deadline for repaying arrears to workers will not be later than 31 March 2019. Employers who decide not to opt-into the scheme will not be offered any further concessions and will be subject to the full HMRC investigative process – including financial penalties, public naming and possible prosecution where appropriate.

Iain Birrell of Thompsons Solicitors commented: “Sadly this is not the positive move it seems. The problem arose in part because as late as February 2016, HMRC was issuing guidance to its own staff that stated care workers were not entitled to the national minimum wage while asleep, other than in exceptional circumstances. Care providers followed that advice and will understandably fail to see why they should be at risk of censure for following official advice.

The crisis which now exists is exacerbated by the very tight financial margins in the industry, often as a result of the government’s own budget restrictions when awarding local authority contracts. There is little guidance for care providers as to how to calculate their own indebtedness, but the scheme builds-in an incentive for them to minimise it as much as possible.

Once again those who lose out are the workers themselves who have to wait for wages they are owed, and hoping that their employer doesn’t go bust in the meantime. The National Minimum Wage Act has been around since 1998 and this debacle is nothing short of scandalous.”

Click here to read the government scheme in more detail.


Nov 10, 2017

Graph of the week

I knocked up a little graph to compare how the public sector pay cap over the past six years compared to rising prices – it does not make pretty reading.

 

Thing to do #1 – check how YOUR pay has been affected

The above graph only gives the general picture. If you want to see how much money you have lost because of the pay cap please go to the UNISON website at the link below. Then scroll down to take a look at the pay calculator. All you have to do is enter your salary and it will tell you how much money you have lost over the past 7 years since the pay cap was implemented.

https://www.unison.org.uk/our-campaigns/pay-up-now/

Thing to do #2 – sign the petition

What are you waiting for?  At the time of writing we have raced to 80,000 signatures in just over a week – that's 80% of the way to a possible parliamentary debate. If you can get just a handful of friends to sign, we'll soon hit the 100,000 mark and beyond to keep the issue of public sector pay right at the top of the agenda.
Go here to sign it:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/200032

Thing to do #3 – attend the lobby of parliament on 17 October

UNISON’s Pay Up Now! campaign is putting real pressure on MPs and the Westminster Government to end the pay cap for all public sector workers, and give everyone the pay rises they need and deserve. The pressure we are putting on Conservative MPs is already beginning to pay off, but we’re saying loud and clear that we need the government to fund proper pay rises for all public service workers, not picking and choosing who gets a pay rise.

That’s why, on 17 October we need UNISON members to take the arguments directly to the politicians in Westminster.
Link to the Facebook page event:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1764165350279336

More info here:

https://www.unison.org.uk/events/unison-tuc-lobby-parliament-pay/

UNISON motion agreed at Labour Party Conference

Last week was Labour Party Conference and UNISON submitted a motion on public sector pay that was carried. Details are below.

Composite 2: Public Sector Pay

Conference notes that on September 12th the government removed the public sector pay cap, but only for some sectors and is still only offering below inflation pay rises. The vast majority of public sector workers remain subjected to the punishing 1% pay cap.

Conference notes that CPI inflation stands at 2.9%, according to September 12th ONS data.

Conference notes that this means public service workers – including those employed in the private and voluntary sectors delivering public services - are facing yet another year of real terms pay cuts.

Conference notes that despite widespread public support for public services and those who provide them, the government have still failed to act and deliver the meaningful pay rise all public service workers need and deserve. Services are already suffering from recruitment and retention problems.

Conference welcomes Labour’s commitment in the 2017 manifesto to end the public sector pay cap.

Conference believes that what is best for public services is a return to meaningful pay negotiation/bargaining across the public sector, with pay rises fully funded by the government and a return to at least pre Tory austerity levels of pay across ALL public services.

Conference resolves that Labour’s next manifesto will commit to fully funded, above inflation pay rises across all public services, reversing the impact of the pay cap and restoring public sector pay to at least pre Tory austerity levels in real terms under the next Labour government

Mover: UNISON
Seconder: Bolsover CLP

Cheers
Ravi Subramanian
Regional Secretary


Oct 3, 2017

Unison has won a landmark case in the Court of Appeal that extends unions' consultation rights to all workplace issues that affect their members.

Employers previously only had to consult with unions where the law explicitly required it, such as when employees are transferred from one employer to another, or when workers are made redundant.

But Unison took the London Borough of Wandsworth to task after it made parks police redundant without consulting the union, and the ruling in Unison's favour by the Court of Appeal sets a precedent that means employers will now have to consult their workers over a wider range of issues.

Unions will now need to be involved in issues around working hours and holiday pay, Unison has reported.
General Secretary for the public sector union Dave Prentis said: "It means that employees in any workplace where there's a union will now benefit from greater protection at work.

"The message to bosses is they will have to treat their staff more fairly over pay and working conditions. If they fail to consult unions then they will be acting unlawfully and could be taken to court."


Sep 5, 2017

UNISON has won a landmark court victory today (Wednesday) against the government, which means that employment tribunal fees will now be scrapped.

The Supreme Court – the UK’s highest court – has unanimously ruled that the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees four years ago.

From today, anyone who has been treated illegally or unfairly at work will no longer have to pay to take their employers to court – as a direct result of UNISON’s legal challenge.

The government will also have to refund more than £27m to the thousands of people charged for taking claims to tribunals. This is since July 2013, when fees were introduced by Chris Grayling, the then Lord Chancellor.

Anyone in England, Scotland and Wales wanting to pursue a case against their employer has had to find as much as £1,200. This has been a huge expense for many low-paid employees, says UNISON.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The government is not above the law. But when ministers introduced fees they were disregarding laws many centuries old, and showing little concern for employees seeking justice following illegal treatment at work.

“The government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong – not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too.

“It’s a major victory for employees everywhere. UNISON took the case on behalf of anyone who’s ever been wronged at work, or who might be in future. Unscrupulous employers no longer have the upper hand.

“These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up.

“We’ll never know how many people missed out because they couldn’t afford the expense of fees. But at last this tax on justice has been lifted.”

UNISON assistant general secretary Bronwyn McKenna said: “The Supreme Court correctly criticised the government’s failure when it set the fees to consider the public benefits flowing from the enforcement of legal rights enacted by Parliament.

“The effective enforcement of these rights is fundamental to Parliamentary democracy and integral to the development of UK law. UNISON’s case has helped clarify the law and gives certainty to citizens and businesses in their everyday lives.”

The decision marks the end of a four-year fight by UNISON to overturn the government’s introduction of fees.

https://www.unison.org.uk/news/press-release/2017/07/unisons-tribunal-fee-verdict-victory-everyone-work/


Jul 27, 2017

The Local Government Association (LGA) is consulting councils on our pay claim and holding a series of regional meetings between now and mid August. It is crucial we maximise political pressure on local employers – as well as national - during this period. Given the drastic ongoing cuts to local government funding, we want councils to call on the LGA to make urgent representations to Government for additional funding to meet our claim. The first stage of our campaign is to build awareness of the NJC pay claim at local level with members and councillors.


Jul 24, 2017

Please see the following link for the 2017 Equality Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2V868JJThis survey closes at 5pm on Monday 7 August 2017

Completing our survey entitles members to go into the draw for three nights for two people at Croyde Bay Holiday Resort! (You do need to provide your email address for this purpose.)
 
Making workplaces fairer and more equal for our members is a central part of the work that UNISON does, and this survey will help us find out how well we are succeeding and where we might need to consider making changes to our priorities

Jul 13, 2017

Jul 6, 2017

Jul 6, 2017

Jun 28, 2017
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