UNISON

Derby Council climbdown leaves problems

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By Ralph Peters

On 15 to 17 March there was a dramatic reversal of the bullying and confrontational attitude that Derby’s Labour Council had until then shown to Unison in the 10 month long dispute with school support staff.

The sudden change followed several weeks in which increasing solidarity had been shown towards the school support staff. Local support for them in the community of Derby had always been strong and personal support of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell had been known for a long time. But in the local Labour Party there had been none.

Derby Council has offered the TAs a deal. But problems remain.

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Brighton teaching assistants

Teaching assistants in Brighton and Hove are still in dispute over the council’s plans to cut the number of weeks a year they are paid.

After three successful days of strike action and two large strike day demos it looks as if GMB and Unison leaders are losing their nerve.

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Support the Liverpool social workers!

Sixteen Liverpool striking social workers, and their supporters from London and Surrey, picketed the General Social Care Council’s conference in London on 27 November.

Speaking at the event was Tony Hunter, the new President of the Association of Directors of Social Services. Until they met the Liverpool pickets, delegates may not have realised that he is also the Director of Social Care at Liberal Democrat controlled Liverpool City Council, where more than 120 child care social workers have been on all out strike since August.

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Brighton teaching assistants

A grumpy and harassed looking Ken Bodfish (OBE), Brighton and Hove Labour council leader, rushed into a council meeting on 25 November. He looked visibly shaken by the 350 teaching assistants and their supporters who had turned up to protest on the second day of their strike.

“I would like to see a proper wage that people can actually live on. I’m a single person and need tax credits to bring up my wage,” teaching assistant Diane Askew told the local paper.

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Remodelling = cheap education

The Brighton and Hove teaching assistants’ strike is caused by the Remodelling Agreement, signed by all the unions involved in education except the National Union of Teachers.

Under the guise of “recognising the professional status” of support staff, and of “improving their chances of promotion”, teaching assistants (TAs) and other support workers are being forced to work more for less pay.

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Support Scotland's nursery nurses!

Nursery nurses in Scotland are continuing their indefinite strike action after the Scottish Parliament rejected calls for a national pay settlement. Around 300 of the 5,000 nurses on strike demonstrated for improved pay outside the Scottish Parliament as MSPs debated the issue on 11 March.

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Agenda for Change: more battles ahead

UNISON and Amicus have both accepted the NHS pay package, “Agenda for Change” (AfC). UNISON members voted 3 to 1 to accept the deal, on a low (25%) turnout, while 57% of Amicus members accepted the deal and 43% rejected it on a 40% turnout.

This is a clear victory for the union leaderships, and leaves the Society of Radiographers (SoR) as the only union to reject AfC.

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Reject Agenda for Change!

By Kate Ahrens, Unison NEC (personal capacity)

On a very close vote, Unison’s special health sector conference on 7 October decided to recommend that we vote yes to Agenda for Change (AfC), the government’s proposed new pay scheme for health workers. Unison health workers are now balloting on the scheme..

But that is only half the story. The conference was denied a card vote, which would have shown how evenly split the union is over the proposals. And Amicus, the other major union also balloting this month, has not made a recommendation either way.

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Hands off Unison! Hands off John Gray!

A Unison Branch Officer in Tower Hamlets, John Gray, is being disciplined for challenging a management decision to stop a day’s pay to a Unison steward. Defend the right of union reps to represent their members!

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