Newsletter Date: January 2004
Volume 1, Issue 1
With a new Branch Secretary, Helen Branch, taking over after the period of uncertainty caused by former Secretary
John Sollies’ lengthy absence through illness, the Branch is looking to move forward again. Branch activists attended
an Away Day last November and pulled together a development plan, with help from the Regional Office.
Key areas include recruiting more reps and encouraging the reps to be more active.
The Branch also wants to play its part in recruiting more members and has piloted the school workforce, with the
intention of widening this out in coming months. Training and development of Branch Officers and reps is another key
A survey of all Branch members was undertaken last autumn. Although the level of response was disappointing, it did
highlight issues of concern to our members. Inevitably, Single Status, pay and stress at work featured strongly. More
surprisingly, work life balance was a concern to more respondents than some of the Council's initiatives. The survey
also illustrated the shortage of reps and the need for a higher profile for the Branch.
One initiative is to hold the Branch AGM earlier in the day, in the hope that this will encourage more members to
attend. The AGM is a vital part of the democratic function of the Branch, when officers and reps are elected for the
coming year. The Branch Committee urges all members to consider a more active role in the union. With this
newsletter you will receive details of how to stand for election as a rep or officer. If you do not feel able to do so
yourself, can you nominate a colleague who is willing to stand?
All members should attend the Branch AGM on February 16 th 2004 at 12.00pm.
Key Branch activists will be available until 4.00pm, so if you wish to have a chat about any union issues, feel free
to stay on after the formal meeting.
This will be held at The Arts Complex, The Studio, Solihull Central Library.
UNISON DIRECT CONTACT DETAILS
New Telephone Number: 0845 355 0845
Branch Contact Details
Contact Name Helen Branch, Branch Secretary
Telephone Number 0121 704 6048 or 0121 704 6960
Fax Number 0121 704 8246
Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org
Branch Chair Stephen Chamberlain
The demise of Strategic Partnering has not resulted in any slowing down in the Council's attempts to involve
the private sector in the provision of public services. The Council is close to identifying a partner for its
regeneration trust, which is aimed at bringing new funds into north Solihull.
Of more concern to staff is the Leisure Public Private Partnership. Progress has been delayed by one short
listed company dropping out of the race to run the Council’s sports centres. But this has not disguised the
fact that the private funding will come at the expense of staff terms and conditions.
Leisure staff have already suffered from CCT, and management appears intent in taking a similar route with
the PPP. UNISON's attempts to ensure that terms and conditions are protected are not helped by the fact
that leisure is not a statutory function. The Council could choose to pull out of the sector completely.
Negotiations also show the importance of a high level of unionisation, a concern that the Branch is keenly
aware of more generally. It is also a concern that one area where terms and conditions would have been
protected following negotiations by the unions, Strategic Partnering, has collapsed because of issues relating
to affordability. The implementations of private involvement are clear.
Pay 2004 - 05…
The proposed pay claim for this year agreed by the National Local Government Committee has been sent to
Branches for their comments. The Branch has balloted members on the proposed, an increase of 4% and
£200 to bring the minimum hourly rate in line with UNISON's target minimum wage of £6.00 per hour.
The result of the ballot was that members accepted the proposed pay claim.
A proposal by the Employers to require Home Carers to phone in on arrival and departure from Clients has
met opposition from union members. UNISON and GMB have held meetings with all Home Carers who are
concerned that the proposal is impractical and would not improve the service or management staff
relations. Despite the Council's view, Home Carers believed the proposal would do little for health and
safety concerns. Negotiations are continuing.
Xmas Leave Saved!!
UNISON was able to snip a potential issue in the bud, through the actions of a rep. A manager had
responded to a request for leave over the holiday from a member by suggesting that there would be a freeze
in further leave.
Following the rep's intervention, it was agreed that a freeze was unnecessary and that leave would be
acceptable, providing adequate cover was maintained.
Recruitment Survey Winner
Thanks to all members who took part in the recent Solihull UNISON members survey and we would like to
take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Michael Murray, who was the winner of the prize draw.
Michael will be awarded his prize at the forth-coming AGM. Well Done!
News from Maureen Wright, Education Representative…
UNISON has been part of the negotiation process, which has resulted in the National Agreement.
This is the document produced by the National Joint Council (NJC) for Local Government Services, and
contains national guidelines setting out job profiles, grading, training and development advice for support
staff in schools. This is the first time that there has been national recognition of the work that is done by
Support Staff in Schools and this document will provide a basis for negotiations on pay and grading.
Solihull Branch is taking part in the negotiations with Solihull MBC as to how this National Agreement will be
implemented at local level, and to the benefit of our members.
Members will be kept informed of any progress through regular letters and meetings.
UNISON has been involved with other unions in supporting a bid to the Government’s Partnership Fund by
the Council. The project is aimed at improving current work-life balance policies and practices at Solihull.
This reflects one of members’ concerns highlighted through the survey last year.
The bid has been successful and a first meeting to progress the project has been set for the end of January
2004. The Branch will be involved in the project to ensure that the interests of members are taken on
Injury at Work
Thompsons, UNISON's solicitors, have produced a guide outlining the steps involved in claiming compensation
for workplace injury. The Branch hopes it will not be necessary, but if you do suffer a workplace injury,
then contact the Branch office as soon as possible for advice. The Branch may be able to support a claim
and will be able to refer you for specialist advice.
UNISON Holiday Club
Many will be thinking about a holiday next summer now that Christmas is behind us. UNISON's Holiday Club
offers a discount on a range of flights and packages, ranging from 5 - 40%. Even if you are considering a deal
through another agent or on the internet, it is worth contacting the Holiday Club – you may get an even
Telephone: 08705 505 000, or visit www.unison-holiday-club.co.uk. Or why not consider a break at UNISON's
Croyde Bay Holiday Village. Discounts available to members. Hotline: 01271 890890.
OFFICER POST FOR 2004 AGM
Please consent to being nominated for one of the undermentioned
posts for the year 2004 - THE BRANCH NEEDS YOU!
Chair Person Stephen Chamberlain
Vice Chair Person Christine Adderley
Branch Secretary Helen Branch
Asst. Branch Secretary Vacant
Treasurer Lisa Hackett
Asst. Treasurer Vacant
Equality Officer Vacant
Asst. Equality Officer Terry Crofts
Health & Safety Officer John Marsh
Asst. Health & Safety Vacant
Education Officer Helen Branch
Publicity Officer Maurice Barlow
Welfare Officer Elizabeth Dean
Sports/Social Officer Vacant
Young Persons Officer Vacant
Retired Members Secretary Vacant
Affiliated Political Fund Co-Ordinator Vacant
Every member has the right to nominate someone for any of the
above (subject to having ascertained the nominee's willingness).
If there is more than one candidate for any office, a ballot shall be
taken at the annual meeting and each member of the branch present
shall be entitled to one vote in respect of each office to be filled.
Official voting papers will be supplied for the purpose.