Local government conference: The body where our national policies on terms and conditions and service specific issues are set.
Three of us from PiU attended the annual local government conference, which took place in a hot and sunny weekend in Brighton. For two of us it was a first conference, which we participated in enthusiastically. For Kevin it was his first conference as a member of the national service group executive ( Look for him behind the speakers in photos)
Here are some of our impressions
For me it was all about the NJC Pay claim of 5 % and building the campaign towards 2018 when our rise comes due:
There was a feeling of optimism in the conference following the general election outcome, sense that we have an opportunity to win a fair settlement for public sector workers. Now it’s up to us, in UNISON, to keep that pressure on until we get:
An end to the pay cap; government money made available for an immediate pay rise for all public sector workers; an end to government interference in bargaining arrangements for all public sector pay.
The following facts need to be held at the forefront of our minds:
- 8 years of below inflation pay deals
- Inflation rate currently over 3 %
- In real terms our wages are worth 20% less of what they were in 2008
Conference confirmed the need for us to start our campaign now to ensure victory. This means engaging with members to get support on action for our claim, building our memebrship and updating our records to ensure we can run a legal ballot under the new draconian Trade Union Act 2016 Watch this space!
Local government and the cuts. Pay restraint has not saved jobs. Look around you. We need to seek alliance with politicians of all stripes to demand fair funding for Councils so that can pay our claim and maintain services. Shortly after conference I attended National Service Group Exec to be informed that the Local Government Finance Bill had vanished from the Queens Speech. Austerity was always a political choice: Time to make a different one.
Workplace mental health and local government:
As a social worker I was shocked but not surprised we have to have this debate
Conference recognised that there is an increasing workload with reduced staffing, constant reorganisations and threats of job loss resulting in increase in work related mental health issues experienced by members. It recommended that there is a need for UNISON to campaign for more support and recognition of this serious issue, in terms of ensuring employers understand this and put measures in place to avoid over working staff and offering support and help when effects of mental ill health manifests itself,
Employers are beginning to take employee mental health seriously in response to trade union pressure. Employee assistance schemes now frequently include access to counselling so look out for help that may already be available. Livewell are also providing training in mental health first aid which we may be able to get reps on if they express an interest. UNISON should be rolling out it’s own mental health champions training following conference’s decision
Don’t forget http://www.who.int/mental_health/world-mental-health-day/en October 10th
Saving the LGPS and good pension scheme:
Which remains a defined benefits one, and though it’s not directly under threat and there are no current proposals to change it, to look after our pension scheme long term we need to ensure that people are still taking it up – for example, did you know that can join it and pay only half the contributions. The local government part of Plymouth in Unison will be taking up the offer from conference of an expert to come and advise us about what we can be doing locally to ensure we secure a long-term viable scheme.
All the motions form local government conference can be found in the link below