Document Sample
UNISON NEWSDESK Powered By Docstoc
					                                   Oxford Brookes University

                      March 2010
   ** Oxford Brookes University UNISON Branch Newsletter **


Please come along to your AGM – we would like all members to
attend in support of your branch and your fellow members.

Refreshments will be provided and time off with pay should be
allowed – if you have problems getting time off to attend, contact
Jon Appleton ( or your local UNISON

WHEATLEY – 9.30am, J116, Wednesday 24th March

HARCOURT HILL – 12.30pm, F1/15, Wednesday 24th March

GIPSY LANE – 9.30 am, SG51, Thursday 25th March

The AGMs will feature:

- Professor Lucy Vickers on human rights in the workplace
- National UNISON speaker on UNISON‘s Million Voices for
       Change campaign – and your chance to add your voice
- Discussions on pay, pensions and the University reorganisation
- Review of the last year including branch finances
- Elections of Branch Officers for 2010-11
- Raffle and prizes for attendees – including mystery prizes and a
brand new laptop!

We look forward to seeing you there!

The Branch has added its voice to UNISON‘s national ―Million Voices‖ Campaign.
Our pledge for the campaign is:

―The services we provide protect, enrich and change lives. They matter to us and
communities we serve because Higher Education is essential to raise aspirations,
promote equality and safeguard ours - and our children‘s - future by educating and
training professionals who are the key to our well being in every part of society.'

Please visit to add your voice to the campaign, or fill in one of our
‗voice‘ bubbles at the AGM. Our Million Voices Campaign contact is Marie Jones –
contact for more information.


Our Women‘s Officer Marie Jones joined the national Million Women Rise in London,
joining women UNISON members from across the Region on behalf of the Branch on
Saturday 6th March, to celebrate International Women's Day and to demonstrate
against male violence. For more information on women‘s campaigns and other
events, please contact


The UK is to officially recognise Workers‘ Memorial Day, and this recognition will take
formal effect this year on 28 April, the international day of action for safety and health
at work, Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper has announced. The day is
already widely commemorated in the UK and official recognition will reinforce its
significance and raise awareness of the workers who are killed, disabled, injured or
made ill each year by their work. Commemorations will continue to be led by
individuals, trade unions and safety campaigners. Workers‘ Memorial Day, which
originated in Canada in 1984, is now recognised as a national day in 19 countries.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber, welcoming the news, said: ―This special day
commemorates the many thousands of people who have died as a result of their
work and we‘re pleased the government has taken the step of recognising it.
Workers‘ Memorial Day has been an important date in the trade union calendar for
many years and we look forward to working with ministers to increase its profile.
Workers‘ Memorial Day is when workers around the world remember the dead and
campaign for improved workplace safety to protect the living.

―To mark the day this year, the TUC is calling for a minute‘s silence in workplaces up
and down the country at noon on Wednesday, 28 April.‖


UNISON Representatives at Clive Booth Hall have been active in unity in obtaining
protective work wear for our members ranging from Wellingtons and waterproof
clothing which were essential and much appreciated by the UNISON members. If it
wasn't for UNISON representation we wouldn't have managed to obtain them for our


The Conservative Party has given yet another indication to the Daily Telegraph that
they are going to attack the unions if they get in power. This time it is over unions'
political funds. The Daily Telegraph reports:

 ―Currently, unions only need to ask members every 10 years if they want to
contribute to their political funds, which also include spending on campaigning and
lobbying. Around £8 million a year is channelled through the political funds to Labour
party coffers in this way. Under the Tory plans, union members would have to choose
to contribute to the political fund every time they pay their annual subscription. Asking
individual union members to tick a box supporting Labour every year was a key
sticking point in talks to reform party funding which collapsed amid acrimony two
years ago. Mr Cameron has pointed out that many union members are not Labour
supporters and yet are often unwilling contributors to the party‖.

Cameron seems all too willing to attack something he apparently knows nothing
about – no UNISON member contributes a penny to the Labour Party unless they
specifically choose to and all the ballots on UNISON‘s political funds have resulted in
over 90% of members supporting the fund. What Cameron also doesn‘t mention is
that it costs UNISON over £500,000 each time it ballots members on the political
fund and of course, Cameron would much rather members‘ money was spent on
pointless ballots than going to the Labour Party. Nor is Cameron saying a lot about
the tax status of his own party‘s deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft.


Resist the temptation to purchase travel insurance from your travel agent. Great
value travel insurance cover isn't just about paying low premiums, it's also about
having plenty of choice and the reassurance that you will be covered. When you take
out travel insurance with UIA (starting from £8.78 for 7 days in Europe) you can take
advantage of the following features:

                Exclusive premiums for UNISON members and their families.
                Single trip or annual, multi-trip options.
                2 levels of cover.
                24/7 worldwide assistance.
                Family rates with children under 4 covered free.
                10% discount if you buy on-line.

Members should visit for further details, a quote or to
take out a policy or call FREE on 0800 66 88 55. Then just relax in the knowledge
that you are safe in the hands of UNISON‘s approved, mutual insurer.


Enter UIA's fabulous 2010 prize draw and each month you will have a chance to win
a £500 shopping voucher. The prize is a £500 Love2Shop voucher which can be
redeemed at 85 leading retailers including Boots, Halfords, Waterston‘s and
Debenhams. To enter, visit Terms and
conditions apply, see website for details. Closing date is 31st December 2010.


UNISON supported Fairtrade Fortnight at Brookes which ran from 22 Feb to 7 March.
The idea was to encourage people to swap their usual food for fair-trade stuff. Each
swap will prove that people want the developing world producers to obtain a better
deal. Hopefully, you gave it a go – if so, tell us how you got on!


An attack on collective bargaining and national pay structures in the public sector has
been outlined by an academic in a report for Centre Forum, a ―liberal‖ think tank.
Alison Wolf, professor of public sector management at King‘s College, London, has
called for sweeping reforms in pay bargaining arrangements in the public sector.
She attacks national pay systems that ―ignore local differences, handicap struggling
regional economies‖, managers and institutions to cope sensibly with and ―make it
impossible for public sector managers and institutions to cope our fiscal crisis‖. Wolf‘s
solution is that five million people employed in England‘s public services should
receive individual contracts from their employers, instead of pay and conditions set at
national level. Otherwise, high profile reforms, such as the ―pupil premium‖, which
would give extra money to schools with disadvantaged pupils, will achieve little. If
these schools could pay significantly more to attract the best teachers, their pupils‘
prospects could be transformed. National wage bargaining prevents this, says Wolf.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of the public sector union UNISON, said: ―Breaking
up national pay bargaining in the public sector and introducing different pay rates for
different areas, would be a recipe for chaos — as well as a bureaucratic nightmare.
Instead of hospitals, schools and councils getting on with delivering services to the
public they would have to set up separate bargaining machinery, train extra staff and
hold long and potentially damaging negotiating meetings. They would then have to
deal with the fall-out of a divided workforce leading to shortages, as staff move to
where the pay rates are higher. The fact is that a nurse in Cumbria should be paid
the same as a nurse in Cornwall or Colchester, for doing the same job.‖

Centre Forum is not so much ―liberal‖ as in effect pushing the Liberal Democrat‘s
cause and its various bodies are jam-packed with Lib Dems from both Houses of
Parliament. Its advisory board includes the party‘s leader Nick Clegg and shadow
Chancellor Vince Cable, while former party leader Paddy Ashdown is one of 11 peers
on the advisory board.


UNISON is working with Maternity Action, who campaign to end inequality and
promote the health and well-being of all pregnant women, their partners and children
from before conception through to the child's early years.

UNISON women's conference policy is to support women to be able to continue to
breastfeed at work, and we have therefore sponsored a new factsheet from Maternity
Action outlining breastfeeding mother's rights and their employer's obligations. The
factsheet can be downloaded here: For
more information, contact your Women‘s Officer, Marie Jones, at


UNISON has long supported the call for more effective measures to support lone
parents - nine out of ten of whom are women - and their families, including measures
such as improving access to quality childcare and flexible work, and a benefits
system which does not penalise working lone parents.

We are now pleased to add our name to the Gingerbread campaign, Time to Lose
the Labels, which aims to end the stigmatisation of lone parents as benefits
scroungers and failing parents. For more information visit the website on, or talk to your Women‘s Officer and Equalities Officer,
Marie Jones –


Fit notes, which are set to replace doctors‘ sick notes for employees from April, will
include a tick list of options on how employers can help a patient return to work, the
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed. The ―fit for work‖ option
has been dropped. The latest version of the fit note has been drawn up after a
widespread consultation. The revised fit note will include two options for doctors to
choose from: ―not fit for work‖ and ―may be fit for some work, taking account of the
following advice‖.

The DWP said it had taken advice from the Association of British Insurers on this
issue, because of the implications for employers‘ liability insurance. This is an
acknowledgement that it is not the doctor, but the employer, in consultation with their
employee, who is best-placed to make the decision as to whether they can
accommodate any changes to facilitate a return to work.

 ―The doctor is giving advice on what an individual can or cannot do based on the
patient‘s health condition. It encourages employers to initiate discussions with their
employee, to consider what could help to achieve an early return to work, and
whether or not any changes can be made. In the event of an employer not being able
to facilitate a change or an adjustment, the advice given on the statement will be
evidence that an individual has a health condition which prevents them carrying out
their current role.‖ There are then four options that, ―if available, and with your
employer‘s agreement‖ the person may benefit from: a phased return to work;
amended duties; altered hours; and workplace adaptations. More space is provided
for a GP‘s comments. The DWP‘s response to the consultation recognised that the
options listed were ―not exhaustive‖ and may not be suitable for certain health
conditions or job roles. But, it said, a more detailed list would overcomplicate the
process of completing the fit note. The list is intended to encourage discussions
between the doctor and patients, as well as between employee and employer, about
the best course for getting back to work, the DWP said. Doctors will not be able to
recommend an option for ―occupational health assessment‖, the DWP says, because
of fears that this would become a ―default‖ option and simply defer decisions being
made. In some circumstances such a further assessment could be suggested as
beneficial in the space provided for GP‘s comments.

It‘s not clear how ―Fit Notes‖ will work in practice here at Oxford Brookes but, if you
have any questions or any problems with them, contact your UNISON representative
as early as possible.


The richest 10% of the population are more than 100 times as wealthy as the poorest
10% of society, according to an analysis of how unequal Britain has become by the
government-appointed National Equality Panel. An anatomy of economic inequality in
the UK analyses the degree to which the country has become more unequal over the
past 30 years. Although the paper points the finger at the Tories, who presided over
the dramatic divisions of the 1980s and early 1990s, Labour can take no comfort
from the report.

On one measure, by 2007-08 Britain had reached the highest level of income
inequality since shortly after World War II. The top 10%, led by higher professionals,
amass wealth of £2.2 million, including property and pension assets, by the time they
come close to retirement, while the bottom 10% of households, led by manual
workers, have assets of less than £8,000, the report says. When the highest-paid
workers, such as bankers and chief executives, are added to the equation, the
division in wealth is even more stark, with individuals in the top 1% of the population
each possessing total household wealth of £2.6 million or more. The report says that
the government has failed to bridge the gulf that existed between the poorest and
richest in society in the 1980s. ―Over the most recent decade, earnings inequality has
narrowed a little and income inequality has stabilised on some measures, but the
large inequality growth of the 1980s has not been reversed,‖ it says. A central theme
of the report is the profound, lifelong negative impact that being born poor, and into a
disadvantaged social class, has on a child. These inequalities build up over a
person's life, according to the report.

Other findings are:

     divisions between social groups are no longer as significant as the inequalities
      between individuals from the same social group;
     inequality growth of the last 40 years is mostly attributable to gaps within
      groups rather than between them;
     nearly half of Bangladeshi and Pakistani households are in poverty;
     white British pupils with GCSE results around or below the national median are
      less likely to go on to higher education than those from minority ethnic groups;
     Pakistani, Black African and Black Caribbean boys have exam results at the
      age of 16 well below the median in England;
     girls have better educational outcomes than boys at school and are more likely
      to enter higher education and achieve good degrees, but women‘s median
      hourly pay is 21% less than men‘s.

The significance of where you live is another theme with ―profound and startling
differences‖ between areas. The report says the government is a ―very long way‖
from fulfilling its vision, set out in 2001, that ―within 10 to 20 years no one should be
seriously disadvantaged by where they live‖.

Median hourly wages in the most deprived 10th of areas are 40% lower than in the
least deprived areas, according to the report. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber
said the report describes in graphic detail "just how unfair and unequal our society
has become thanks to ‗market knows best‘ policies. We have now tested to
destruction the theory that wealth trickles down — it doesn‘t."


This was tabled by Colin Burgon, MP, on 25 January 2010. The motion supports the
LGPS and questions the Chancellor's announcement of a 1% cap on employer
contributions in the December 2009 Pre-Budget Report:

―That this House recognises that the reformed Local Government Pension Scheme
(LGPS) introduced for all existing and new members in April 2008, and April 2009 in
Scotland and Northern Ireland, is an affordable and sustainable scheme for the long-
term provision of pension saving for those working in local government and allied
employment; notes that discussions on the mechanism to meet future cost
fluctuations of the new LGPS between Government, employers and unions are
ongoing through the Department for Communities and Local Government's Policy
Review Group; and therefore calls on HM Treasury to acknowledge that any proposal
to cap increases in employer contributions to a funded pension scheme such as the
LGPS outlined in the Pre-Budget Report is within the context of the existing policy
framework, not a substitute for open and transparent agreement between the
scheme's stakeholders.‖

Please write to your MP and encourage them to support and sign up to the
Motion. It’s best to use your own words but if you need some guidance …

Dear [name of your MP],

Please support EDM 697 and the long term sustainability of the Local Government
Pension Scheme (LGPS).

In April 2008 (2009 in Scotland and Northern Ireland) a new LGPS was agreed by
stakeholders and introduced for all existing and new members. The new scheme also
established the CLG Policy Review Group to discuss and develop a long term
approach to addressing fluctuations in future scheme costs.

The Policy Review Group has been meeting regularly since the start of the new
scheme and discussions are ongoing with all stakeholders keen to ensure the
scheme's affordability, viability and durability for members, employers and society as
a whole.

Employers contribute an average of 13.6% for members currently building up
retirement savings in the scheme. Unlike other public sector schemes, the LGPS is a
funded scheme, the largest in the UK with around £120 billion in assets, much of
which is invested in UK businesses. Since the new scheme was introduced, income
from scheme members has increased by 15%. The LGPS is a cash rich scheme.
Year on year, the LGPS generates £4-5 billion more in income than it spends on
pensions and administration. In the new scheme the highest earners pay more for
the scheme than lower paid members. On average members are paying in 0.6%
more than before the 2008 scheme reforms were introduced.4 million people are
saving - or have saved - for their retirement through the LGPS. The vast majority are
women who receive on average £2,600 in pension from the scheme. The LGPS
trade unions support the agreed approach to monitoring and reforming the LGPS that
recognises the scheme's distinctive context.

Yours sincerely, etc


UNISON is campaigning for equal treatment for part-time workers who still get a raw
deal at work. The hourly pay rate for part-time workers is just 60% of the hourly rate
for male full-time workers.

Nearly half of UNISON's members work part-time - the overwhelming majority of
them women. Some occupations, like hospital domestics and school meals workers,
are nearly all part-time. We're working to ensure:

   Equal pay for work of equal value
   Equal rights to bonus and other pay enhancements
   Equal access to fair pensions
   Equal access to quality training and promotion

UNISON is winning equality for part-time workers through:

 Negotiations at national and local level
 Providing advice and information for members and reps to enable them to assert
their rights
 Representation in individual and collective grievances in the workplace
 Legal action, using equal pay and sex discrimination legislation and the new part-
time workers regulations, taking cases to the House of Lords and the European Court
where necessary
 Lobbying for strengthened legislation UNISON has had major successes in
winning equal rights for part-time workers on pay, shift enhancements, paid bank
holidays and pensions.

The Part-Time Workers Regulations

But now part-time workers are protected from discrimination on the grounds of their
part-time status through the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable
Treatment) Regulations 2000. It may also be also possible to make a claim on the
basis of indirect sex discrimination if there is discrimination connected to part time
work. While we are continuing to lobby for further improvements in the regulations,
above and beyond what we have already achieved, we're already using the new
regulations to achieve equal treatment for our part-time members.

Talk to your rep

If you think you're being treated unfairly because of your part-time status, talk to your
UNISON rep. For the full text of the regulations and accompanying guidance notes,
visit the government's DTI website:


… I do care about my kid’s education

…I do care about how safe and crime-free my neighbourhood is

…I do care about my local NHS and the services it provides

'You want me to get involved in politics? Oh help – there's no way that I have the
time to spend sitting around in endless meetings, listening to a few blokes discuss
the finer points of a book by Marx!'

Go on – how many women do you know who've thought like that? How many
UNISON members think like that? Like trade unionism, a lot of people have an idea
that that‘s what politics is – and it's done by men. And let's be honest – when you're
juggling work, caring duties and running a home, who wants to spend time like that?

Unfortunately, all too often the perception that politics is a man‘s game is a reality –
women are woefully under represented in Parliament and as councillors. But really,
that's only a small part of the story. Politics isn't just about dry debates – it's about
real issues that matter to real people, including UNISON members.

Our members care about their children's education, about making their
neighbourhoods safer, about local health services and about the health of the planet
– and that's politics too. In all those areas of our lives, we can make a difference by
getting involved. You could become a governor at your children's school or join the
parent-teacher association. That's politics.

Our members are concerned about health care and other services in their
communities. Your local involvement network (LINk) can help you join with
individuals and community groups to improve local services together. And that's

UNISON members are concerned about crime, and about making their communities
safe for everyone. Get involved with your safer neighbourhood team or think about
becoming a magistrate or volunteering to help Victim Support. That's politics too.

And of course, if you're a member of UNISON, you're doing politics already. Perhaps
you could even contemplate a course to become more active.

But the easiest, easiest thing of all is to use your vote.

Around the time of International Women's Day on 8 March, this is at the heart of a
message that UNISON is keen to spread to all women. Our members worry about
what sort of a world we'll leave our children. With so many decisions about the
environment, about making homes more energy efficient and about public transport
made at local, national and European level, you can make your voice heard by
making sure that you vote.

Women gained the right to vote the hard way – it was 1928 before all women over
the age of 21 finally won the right to have their say in the political life of the nation.
We should make absolutely sure that the sacrifices that achieved that are never
forgotten or wasted.

UNISON has 1.3 million members – and 75% of them are women. Just imagine what
a force that could be.

That's why the union has launched a new campaign to encourage women to get
involved – to encourage them to see that politics isn't dry discussions and that politics
isn‘t just something that men 'do'. The centrepiece of the campaign is a series of
postcards explaining that, while people might say: "I don't" about politics, they care
about issues that are political.

And the key message is to get involved – and to use your vote.

For more information on UNISON‘s ‗Don‘t do politics‘ campaign or to get hold of
some of the postcards, contact your Women‘s Officer Marie Jones –, or visit and type ‗don‘t do politics‘ in
the search box.

Still think you don’t do politics? You can’t afford not to……


Work is not a guaranteed route out of poverty, according to research by the Joseph
Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

The way employers organise their workforces, and the support people receive to
remain and progress in their jobs, are key factors. The JRF found that many people
slipped in and out of poverty because they moved repeatedly between
unemployment and low-paid, temporary work. Employers in industries with fluctuating
and often seasonal demand — such as food processing, packing, cleaning, childcare
and leisure — could offer a better mix of permanent and temporary employment
opportunities without jeopardising their business, the study found. The public sector
should use its purchasing power to favour companies that offered greater job
security, the study also said. Getting people off benefits and into work had been a
key part of the government‘s drive to tackle poverty, and work ―does remain the best
defence against poverty‖, the study said. However, this applied primarily to those with
permanent contracts who had the chance of promotion or a pay rise.

Even before the recession about a fifth of those in poverty were moving between
work and unemployment, and entering work could not provide a sustainable route out
of poverty ―if job security, low pay and lack of progression [once in work] are not also
addressed‖, the JRF said. The need to ensure that work was lasting and supported
had been recognised in welfare-to-work contracts, which pay providers for keeping
people in work for at least 26 weeks. But the way employers organised their
workforces also played ―an important role in the low-pay, no-pay cycle‖.

The research looked at how employers in 26 sectors with fluctuating demand
organised their workforces. Each typically offered the low-paid low-skill jobs that were
often a first step into the labour market. Some companies had a ―permanent‖
workforce model, with few temporary staff. Demand fluctuation was handled by
overtime and multi-skilling so that people carried out different jobs at different times.
Others employed mainly temporary workers. Although the researchers had not
undertaken a full economic analysis, it was ―striking‖ that there appeared to be little
difference in the effectiveness of the companies. They suggested that some
employers ―could offer greater job security without jeopardising their businesses.

                                         - 10 -

The lucky member in the draw to win a fabulous bicycle kindly donated by
Summertown Cycles was Hilary Govier from the Student‘s Union. Hilary was one of
96 members who entered the competition by sending in a minimum of 25 words
containing a minimum of four letters from these four words: ―Oxford Brookes
UNISON Branch. The draw was made by Mr Stephen Bryan, Branch Manager of
Marston Auto Parts, our prize sponsor for this month‘s competition.

We would like to express our gratitude to Summertown Cycles for their generosity
and support for our UNISON Branch here at Oxford Brookes. So, whenever you need
a bike, accessories or repairs do remember them and call in at either of their two
shops in Summertown and Oxford City Centre. Summertown Cycles are situated at
202 Banbury Road and Lincoln House, Market Street in the City Centre. They also
post code your bicycle for the protection of theft. You can call them in Summertown
on 01865 316885 or Oxford on 01865 728877. On the web at ‗bikezoneoxford‘ or
‗summertowncycles‘ for expert advice. They are open Mon-Sat 9:00am to 5:30pm
and on Sunday 10:30am to 4pm, with late night opening in Summertown on
Thursdays‘ till 7:30pm. Please note their shop in Oxford opens from Mon –Sat 9: am
to 5:30 but closed on Sundays.


This month, one lucky member will win a Kenwood car stereo including fitting, kindly
donated by Marston Auto Parts. All you have to do is send your entry telling me the
exact business address of Marston Auto Parts, telephone number and the type of
business they do – email to or text to 07833703998 by
31st March 2010.


We are very excited to let you know that, for all members who attend one of our
UNISON Branch AGMs on 24th and 25th March (details on the front and back page of
this newsletter), you will be entered into a prize draw to win not only one of two
mystery prizes, but also a new laptop!

Yes, you could be the proud owner of a new laptop, kindly donated by MCM
Computers in Cowley Road. Here‘s the science bit –

Laptop details are: Mini110c Compaq2 Laptop computer Intel Atom N270 with
webcam + Bluetooth, 6 cell batteries.

We in UNISON thank MCM Computers for donating this super prize. The winner will
be asked to attend a photo shoot outside the shop with its owner, Mr G Ghulam
Yasin, which will be published in our next edition with full coverage naming the
winner drawn at our AGM.

All fully paid up UNISON members who attend one of the AGMs on 24th or 25th March
will be automatically entered into the prize draws for the laptop and the two mystery

We look forward to seeing you there!

                                        - 11 -

         WHEATLEY – 9.30am, J116,
          Wednesday 24th March

 HARCOURT HILL – 12.30pm, F1/15,
     Wednesday 24th March

       GIPSY LANE – 9.30 am, SG51,
           Thursday 25th March

All members are eligible to attend and time off with pay should be
allowed by your line manager – if you have problems getting time
off to attend, contact Jon Appleton ( or
your local UNISON representative.

We look forward to seeing you there!

This newsletter is published by the Oxford Brookes University branch of
UNISON. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the branch or of
UNISON nationally unless explicitly stated. While every effort is made to
ensure that the information included is accurate, it should not be relied on
without seeking appropriate professional advice.

Michael Holder (Chief Reporter). Editorial Team: Jon Appleton and Marie Jones

                                     - 12 -