The Echo UNISON Newport City Branch - Autumn 2011 Issue 15 Welcome to your newsletter for September 2011. Unison Office Our address is UNISON Office, West Wing, Civic Centre, Newport, NP20 4UR. You can contact Kaz in the office on 01633 233419 or via email to Don’t forget to let us know if you change firstname.lastname@example.org. your name, address, job or workplace. Also We also have a website! please have your Membership number www.unisonnewportcc.com ready. PAY CLAIM 2012/13 You may have noticed that there have not been any ‘cost of living’ pay rises for some years now. The proposed 2012/13 pay claim links two years of ‘non offers’ with redundancies, inflation, attacks on pay and conditions, the car allowance ‘freeze’ and the attack on equalities and the LGPS in a wider, high profile ‘workforce’ campaign. In order to catch up with inflation since 2009, Local Government workers would have to have a pay rise of 11%. It would be unrealistic for UNISON to enter negotiations with a Pay Claim of this amount. However, UNISON is consulting with members a proposed claim of: A substantial increase on all pay points which recognises the hardship being suffered by local government workers - in particular the lowest-paid. UNISON will also call for an end to attacks on terms and conditions. The Employers have not paid any increase to pay for some years, and the majority have not paid the £250 promised to those earning under £21,000. A massive 70% of council employees have been denied this small buffer against the rise of the cost of living across the UK. A joint survey by UNISON and PCS of more than 10,000 public sector workers reveals the crippling impact of the Government’s cuts and pay freeze on family life across the UK. The interim report shows a third of respondents have personal debts of £10,000 or more. As money coming in has grown tighter and the cost of living has risen, 71% cut down spending on food, 33% on vital healthcare such as dentists and prescriptions, 22% on children’s footwear and clothes, 47% cut down spending on keeping fit, while 89% reduced spending on going out. The Government wants to force up pension contributions in the public sector, adding to the poisonous mix of pay freezes and rising inflation. The result is that almost a quarter of respondents in a recent UNISON/PCS survey said they would ‘definitely, or probably’, leave the scheme. This would push more public sector workers onto state benefits when they retire and put the remaining schemes in jeopardy. Can you afford to say NO to the Pay Claim? Speak to your local steward for more details. Responsible Social Networking The next time you’re about to upload pictures of your birthday party, night on the town, a football match bash or your having a good time after six pints of lager, onto your Facebook profile, think about what might happen…….. You may have had a bad day at work, the boss has had a word, you missed that promotion and you feel like the world should know how you feel…..think carefully before you do it. Although many of us use Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or other social networking sites to keep in contact with friends, mates and family, remember these are not the only people who can see them! And you would be surprised at just who can view your profile…… Here are some tips for social networking….. Be smart about what you write online. Think carefully about who you allow to become your ‘friend’. Be careful what you write about yourself. Show ‘limited friends’ a cut-down version of your profile. Don’t be caught out by pictures posted online. Disable all options, then open them one by one, think how you will be Separate business from pleasure if using your networking profile. necessary – have another site for work colleagues like LinkedIn. Think before you post! A few statistics – 48% of employers admitted they monitor employees’ use of email and the Internet. 25% of employers reported that they have fired an employee for information on their social networking profile. The most common reasons for termination were due to negative posts about the company or another employee, because they shared confidential information or because they represented themselves in an unprofessional manner. SO NEXT TIME, THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK!!! Help us to help you by checking your membership details via our new My Details web service. It’s secure, quick and easy and you can do it online right now via this link http://www.unison.org.uk/membership/update. asp Legal Expenses Insurance Many insurance companies will try to include legal expenses insurance for personal injury claims with your insurance policy, often at an additional cost. As a UNISON member you get free legal assistance when you sustain a personal injury through UNISON's legal assistance scheme. This is provided by UNISON's lawyers Thompsons Solicitors. UNISON endorsed insurers, UIA and LV Frizzell, who do not include legal expenses insurance to cover these circumstances in the policies offered to UNISON members and refer all such claims to Thompsons Solicitors. For information about the UNISON legal assistance available from Thompsons please contact UNISONdirect tel 0845 355 0845. http://www.unisontravelclub.co.uk/ Tell Us!!!! If you move home, change jobs, reduce your working hours or just change your phone number, please tell us in the UNISON Office as soon as you can. This will assist us in keeping your records up to date. It is important that we have your correct details, as this will make us more effective as a Union and ensure that you have appropriate information and representation. Our contact details are on the front of this newsletter. Thank you! http://www.uia.co.uk/unison/home-insurance Win £500 of shopping vouchers!!! Enter UIA’s fabulous 2011 Prize Draw and each month you will have a chance to win a £500 shopping voucher. This is a Love2Shop voucher which can be redeemed at 85 leading retailers including Boots, Halfords, Waterstone’s and Debenhams. To enter, visit www.unisoninsurance.co.uk/competition. Terms and conditions apply, see website for details. Closing date is 31st December 2011. WHAT ARE THE GOVERNMENT TRYING TO DO TO OUR PENSIONS ? Make us pay around 50% more in pension contributions. They call it a 3% increase, but that’s an extra 3% compared to your current contributions of around 6% of salary. So if you pay £100/month, that means your contributions could go up to £150/month ! What do we get for that ? Nothing! No improvements on the pension scheme, so its simply a tax on your pension which disappears into the pension scheme with nothing for us. You could say it’s a case of ‘pay mill owner for permission to come to work’ ! 1. Less pension when we retire – a pension based on a career average salary and not your final salary. 2. Work for longer – they want to increase your retirement age. SO NOW IT’S OVER TO YOU ! PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR INDIGNATION IS ! YOUR UNION MAY ASK YOU TO SUPPORT ACTION IN THE FUTURE Unison are still negotiating hard on your behalf, but with a government apparently intent on confrontation, if you want to keep a modest pension for your old age Unison may ask you to support yourself and your colleagues to keep your hard earned pension. Did you know ? In the early 1990s, the then Conservative government told Councils that they could pay fewer contributions or even nothing into our pensions, yet they didn’t give us that option ! “You have ‘gold plated’ pensions” We know that, because they tell us so ! They’re so gold plated that, in fact, the average pension paid to women is £2,780 pa, with an overall average for all pensioners of £4,200. Gold plated ? Tin plated more like ! Even the Welsh Local Government Association agree with Unison ! The employers’ association agree with Unison’s prediction, that this will result in around 40% of employees leaving the pension scheme – thus affecting its long term viability. They wrote to Chancellor Osborne on 6th June to tell him so. Even a Government minister is worried about the changes. Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health’s concern that the increase in contributions will make employees leave the scheme, were leaked to the press this summer. He also thinks the contribution increase could make employees leave the scheme in droves. How much pension will there be left for you when you retire ? You signed up, many years ago to be paid a fair (not ‘gold plated’) pension when you retire. If you were a self employed person buying a private pension and the pension company tried to back out of its agreement, you would have just cause to complain, wouldn’t you ? So are you going to let the government rip up its agreement with us ? What else have we had to endure ? As if you didn’t know, we haven’t had any inflation increase for our pay, when inflation is currently around 4.5 %. Then we’re supposed to cover for those who have been made redundant or taken early retirement. Our pensions are unaffordable, right ? Wrong ! There’s more money going into the Local Government Pension Schemes than going out. Recent independent valuations have proved this. So where’s the problem ? There isn’t one ! The pension schemes were changed in 2008 to make them more affordable and that’s what they are – affordable. In fact, from 2008, the proportion of contributions made by employees compared to employers, went up. The ConDem government can afford to give its friends handouts. Trade union research has revealed that Alliance Boots, a Swiss controlled private equity operation, were given no-strings £75m tax credit from taxpayers’ money recently. No jobs created, no benefit to the UK economy. And it’s just one of hundreds to benefit in this way. Yet they tell us our pensions are unaffordable ! SO, ARE YOU GOING TO LET THEM ROB YOU OF YOUR RETIREMENT ? "UNISON is defending public service pensions because everyone deserves dignity in retirement" Photographs courtesy of reportdigital.co.uk_rgb, Roy Peters, John Harris, Duncan Phillips and Paul Box Deaths at Work Went Up Last Year. The Government’s Response ? Reduce Health and Safety Controls ! There has been a dramatic increase in the number of deaths at work over the last year throughout the UK. The Health and Safety Executive’s figures for 2010/11 show that fatalities at work have increased by 16% since 2009/2010 (up from 147 to 171). That means that 171 people did not come home to their families in the last year as a direct result of their job, and this number doesn‘t include the tens of thousands of people killed each year by work-related cancers, road-side accidents at work, occupational heart disease, work-induced suicide and the effects of unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. These figures should be the clearest sign to the Government that they need to stop the deregulation madness, but no changes have been mentioned following the release of these statistics. It seems that profit is more important than people’s lives. Injury rates typically rise as a recession ends and in order to stop this dramatic increase in fatalities, the Government needs to realise that the last thing workers need is less regulation - because a death affects not only the worker, but the wife, the mother, the children of the worker as well. So are profits more important than people ? PLEASE PASS ON TO ANYONE WHO WANTS TO JOIN, THEN 3. WHAT YOU WILL PAY – FROM 1 October 2003 SEND TO THE UNISON OFFICE. THANK YOU! Please tick the appropriate box for your earnings before deductions. 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