Newsletters

A message from our Branch Secretary Manda Brown: 

I don’t know about all of you, but I will be glad to see the back of 2020, as Public Sector workers we have all worked tirelessly, some putting their own lives on the line literally, and that of their families when working directly with the public delivering all those essential services that we do so well.   The public now, more than ever, have a very clear understanding about what we do and are very grateful.  Why then is this Government intent on imposing a pay freeze?!  How dare they after everything we have done, happy to clap us all and happy to shed millions to their cronies, but when it comes to rewarding us all, suddenly the money tree has been hacked to the floor and there are not even shavings left for us.  

 I know you are all angry too and you gave us a clear steer of where you wanted us to pitch our 2021 pay claim when we surveyed you a few weeks ago, and you did not tell us you were looking for a freeze, you overwhelmingly steered us as a Branch to take a 10% rise steer to the National Negotiating Team (NJC), all of these have been added to Regional and National steers for the negotiators to prepare a collective claimMore news on this to come in the next few weeks as we progress our negotiations with the other unions and then the employer side nationally. I am one of 2 elected representatives s from the South West that sit on the NJC.    

 We must organise like never and we need you all to play your part.  Please contact us if you want to roll your sleeves up and become active.  You could start by sending us a very short video clip of why you think a pay freeze is an insult and how it will impact you. 

 Our Pensions and Exit Pay Caps are also affecting us, and we have been active in sending our firm and loud responses to MPs and Government around these ludicrous legislative changes, that were meant to stop fat cats but have now led to our members being affected and they are certainly not fat cats! Anyone with long service could be at potential detriment. 

 I want to pay tribute to you all for keeping going when the going has been extremely tough especially those on the front line and in schools, you’ve been amazing.   I hope you will all take some to rest and spend time with those of whom you have not been able to more recently. 

I hope too that the easing of Lockdown doesn’t backfire on us but that we can enjoy the less restrictive lifestyles. 

 We are destined for more hard times yet more restructures and redundancies are announced.  I know how weary and scared you all are and are concerned about your futures.Therefore, we must stand together as a collective and support each other, we need to challenge future changes and ensure any changes are fit for purpose and don’t create more distress and ultimately lead to the decrease in public services  

Take care, stay safe and we will see you all again in 2021, hopefully with a better year ahead’.   

Yours in solidarity   

Manda  

 

The Public Sector Exit Cap 

The Government has introduced a cap on the amount of money a public sector employer can pay when an employee leaves their employment. It is called the public sector exit cap, or £95k cap. It applies to employees leaving public sector employments from 4 November 2020.  

The exit cap is most likely to affect you if you are a public sector employee aged 55 or over and you are made redundant or leave your employment due to business efficiency. This is because the amount your employer pays to the pension fund so that you can receive your pension early is included in the exit cap calculation.  This is a further attack on our Pensions and will likely impact those members with long service.   The Local Government Pension Scheme’s Scheme Advisory Board has produced frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help members understand the government’s recently introduced Exit Cap Regulations 2020. These FAQs were produced following a request by UNISON and incorporate comments by us.  UNISON has lodged a Judicial Review seeking to challenge the legality of the regulations. If you are concerned that you may be impacted by this change then please contact the branch.  

Dorset Council Terms and Conditions 

We recently surveyed our members on the New Dorset Council terms and conditions, many thanks for your responsesoverwhelmingly staff were concerned about any potential reduction in annual leave, losing weekend enhancements and having to work 5 days out of 7.  We also heard from members are struggling financially with the additional costs of working from home We will be taking all your comments on board when we look to negotiate a collectively agreed set of Terms and Conditions for Dorset Council, these negotiations will be starting in January 2021.   Your engagement in our surveys is crucial, especially as we are no longer able to organise in the workplace.  Look out for other surveys coming out soon and again thank you for your participation so far!  

Don’t forget to keep your contact details up to date! 

Please use MyUnison to update your contact details, this is how we can keep in touch with you and help us identify emerging issues within groups, collate common issues within employers, send out papers when we need to, make quick contacts should the situation arise,so we can protect your interests. Please see here for further information (Sinead can you link this to Ken’s document, thanks) 

Covid-19 Vaccine Guidance 

UNISON has provided guidance for members in Social Care, see here for more details.  

Dorset Community Share – Helping our Communities at Christmas  

Our very own Administration Assistant Sinead McCarney has been instrumental in setting up Community Share, a Dorchester based charity founded in March 2020 at the start of the first lockdown, they have provided essential food boxes to vulnerable people in our communities across Dorset including many carers.  

For Christmas they would like to provide a Christmas meal in a box for those who need them most and have launched a Reverse Advent Calendar campaignsimply collect 21 items to help someone have a Christmas to remember over 21 days. Drop them off to Community Share and they will then top up these with Christmas meat and veg (plus a treat or two)  

 Find out more at www.facebook.com/CommunityShareUk or www.communityshare.org  

 Conferences and Courses: 

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, all UNISON Conferences have been cancelled this year and those that were due to be held at the beginning of 2021.   

Our Disabled Members Officer Angela Markey attended the Disabled Members Live event that was held instead of the disabled members conference.    Here is Angela’s report on the event:  

 

Black Members Live! 22-23 January 2021 

The national Black members committee is organising a series of virtual events in place of the usual Black members conference – online and live! 

Online sessions will include keynote panels, webinars and workshops. To attend Black Members Live! you must be a Black member of UNISON.   In UNISON, we use the term ‘Black’ in its broad political and inclusive sense.  Find out more at:  https://www.unison.org.uk/events/black-members-live/ 

Upcoming courses and learning opportunities 

UNISON South West have pulled together a series of learning events for the first quarter of 2021.  Given the uncertainty around the Pandemic these courses will all be held virtually, see here for the latest course available and to book your place!  

 

UNISON’S Covid Response Fund 

The COVID-19 response fund reopened, offering grants of up to £500 to help members whose household incomes have been affected in any of the following ways: 

  • You and/or your partner are currently furloughed 
  • You and/or your partner are currently receiving Statutory Sick Pay and are either shielding, self-isolating or off sick due to other COVID-related reasons 
  • You and/or your partner have been made redundant or lost your job due to coronavirus 
  • You and/or your partner’s employer have reduced your working hours, including loss of regular overtime (applicable also where partner is self-employed and loss of earnings can be proven) 

Find out more information and how to apply here 

Did you know? 

UNISON members get a total package of free legal advice and representation from Thompson Solicitors in:* 

  • Personal injury claims 
  • Accident at work claims 
  • Claims of the upmost severity including brain injury, spinal cord injury, amputation and fatalities 
  • Industrial disease or illness claims including asbestos. 

Your membership also includes: 

  • Employment law advice accessed via your UNISON rep’ 
  • Settlement agreements 
  • Work-related criminal law advice 
  • A free initial assessment in clinical negligence cases and then special funding terms 

 

Visit www.unison.org.uk/legalservices for more information about the legal services you can access as a UNISON member. 

 

 And lastly, we want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and massive thank you for everything you do You have been among those facing the daily battle with the pandemic keeping our vital services going.  This Country could not have got through this past year without our amazing public sector!    Let’s hope 2021 isn’t as bad as this year but whatever happens we are in it together. 

UNISON Dorset Branch   

 

 

Welcome Issue 15 

Urgent Schools Update – Lockdown #2

We are now in our second lockdown, however schools have remained open.  UNISON believes that to help bring the national rate of infection down, to ensure the safety of pupils, staff and the community, and to prevent further damaging ad hoc closures, schools and nurseries should instead return to the position of the first lockdown – open only for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers.

However, current government guidance does not go far enough to keep school staff and pupils safe, so UNISON are calling for urgent measures to help protect them while they are in schools, these measures include:

  • Reduce risks by maximising social distancing and implement existing contingency plans for reduced class sizes and home learning (schools already have these plans in plans in place).
  • Move all clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), clinically vulnerable (CV), staff over 60 and pregnant staff (3rd trimester) to home working as they are at the highest risk from becoming seriously ill if they catch the virus. CEV and CV staff who cannot work from home to stay at home on full pay.
  • Individual risk assessments for staff in other higher risk groups, such as Black staff, older male staff and those with weight issues, who are at increased risk of adverse outcomes if they contract the virus. Staff identified as being at particular risk should also be allowed to work from home.

See here for further measures proposed and health and safety advice.  If you are concerned, then please contact the branch asap.

Becoming more involved

Our Schools are particularly facing very a difficult time at the moment and being part of our union is more important than ever.  However, being a member of UNISON is more than just a membership card; it’s about what we build together to become a more powerful union. There are a number of ways that you can become more involved:

  • Workplace Contact: The role of a workplace contact is to let your branch know what’s happening in your workplace and to help the union get messages to its members. It’s a good learning opportunity and starting point to get involved in the union – many stewards and branch officers begin their journey in UNISON as a workplace contact.
  • Workplace Representative: UNISON workplace representatives (reps), are the most important link between the union and its members. As a rep, you will help organise your colleagues into an effective, strong and welcoming membership.  Full training is provided and you will get paid time off to fulfil your union duties such as representing a member in a grievance or disciplinary meeting.  We will support you every step of the way.
  • Health & Safety Representative: Being a Health and Safety Rep means you will be playing a crucial role in making sure your workplace is safe, secure and clean for all your colleagues and service users.  You’ll also gain new skills as you will be fully trained and meet others who are passionate about workplace safety.  Safety reps talk to members about their health and safety issues and work together with management to resolve these.  You also will investigate potential hazards and raise concerns with your employer to improve safety in the workplace.

Updated Guidance for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and Clinically Vulnerable Employees

New national restrictions came into force in England on Thursday 5 November and are due to remain in place until Wednesday 2 December.   The National Joint Guidance has provided updated guidance for employees that are considered vulnerable:

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable

Those who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable must work from home. If their current role cannot be carried out at home, potential redeployment opportunities could be considered but only for roles that can be carried out from home. If the employee cannot work from home then, as previously advised, employers will have no option other than to accept that some employees will be staying at home on normal full pay for the duration of these restrictions.

Clinically Vulnerable

Those who are classed as clinically vulnerable, including women who are pregnant, should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise their contacts with others. This should prioritise working at home if they are able to do so. Employees who cannot work at home should only attend the workplace if it is COVID-secure. Potential redeployment opportunities could be considered but, again, only to a workplace that is COVID-secure.

See here for more information.  Please contact the branch if you have any concerns about your workplace.

Dorset Council Terms and Conditions Survey

Many thanks to all of you that have completed this survey, responses are still coming in and you have until Sat 14th to complete it if you haven’t already.  Many similar themes are coming up, with a number of respondents concerned about the possibility of working 5 days out of 7 and a potential reduction in annual leave.  We have also heard from members that are suffering a financial loss because of having to work from home and concerns about the rising costs during the winter months.  This is something we have and are continuing to raise for our members, if you are being impacted then please get in touch.

 Survey of National Joint Council Pay Claim 2021/22

We have received a huge amount of responses so thank you!  Initial results show that 55% are in favour of the 10% pay claim, this information will go back to the National Joint Council and help form part of their decision for the headline pay claim for 2021/22.  We believe that

5% or £10 an hour, whichever is greater

8% or £10 an hour, whichever is greater

10% pay increase for everyone

And don’t forget its Election Time!

This is your chance to have a say in who leads the union and who represents all our members.  The election only comes around every five years so use your vote and make sure your voice is heard.

 

 

 

Welcome to issue 14

 

Dorset Council Terms and Conditions Survey 

If you haven’t completed the terms and conditions survey, there is still time to do so.  

We were made aware of a few of you having problems opening the link, however the email sent last week corrected this issue and it is working.  But if you still have problems accessing it then please let us know.  The survey runs until 15 November 2020. 

Voting is now open! 

Ballots for the General Secretary election are being posted out from today (WEDNESDAY 28 OCT) and voting remains open until 27 November. Please complete your ballot as soon as you get it – don’t put it on that post pile that never decreases!  UNISON have put together a short video outlining the value of UNISON’s General Secretary to the everyday life and success of the union, you can find it here 

 Black History Month Quiz 

We have come to the end of another successful Black History Month; however, the learning doesn’t stop there!  Our Black Member’s Officer Flo has put together a quiz, not to test your knowledge but to inspire you to go and find out more about Black History.  If you return your completed form back to the branch, you will be put into a prize draw, the winner will be picked at random and will win a £25 Love2shop gift voucher. 

Test your knowledge here > https://unisondorset.org.uk/test-your-knowledge-with-out-black-history-month-quiz/

 

Save our Union Learning Fund! 

You may have heard that Government have cut the budget for the Union Learning Fund.  This is a national programme run by the TUC to enable union members to access lifelong learning resources through at trade union. These are funds that all members can access, and provide bursaries, discounts and financial support to members to up-skill and further their careers. The Learning Fund is a massive success. Not just for employers, staff and public services, but for the economy too. That success delivers a return of £12.30 for every pound invested – and at a time when our economy is under real pressure the decision to scrap the fund simply doesn’t make sense. UNISON is leading the charge on demanding another U-turn from the government. To find out more, click here: https://www.unison.org.uk/news/article/2020/10/power-union-learning/ 

There’s also a petition to sign demanding the reinstatement of the fund here: https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/uk-gov-don-t-cut-union-learning 

Exit Payments:  UNISON challenges the Treasury 

UNISON has sent a letter to the Treasury’s solicitor that could pave the way for further action over the exit cap regulations. Unite and the GMB have submitted similar letters, which raise questions about the proposals to bring in a cap of £95,000 on public sector exit payments.  

Read the full story here 

Visit the Exit Payments web page for more details and how to get involved with this campaign.  If you think you may be affected by this cap then please get in touch with the branch asap, as the legislation comes into force next week.   

 

Registered Social Workers 

 This is a reminder that all registered social workers in England must renew their professional registration with Social Work England by 30 November 2020. They are also required to record one piece of CPD as part of the renewal process. If you haven’t already, please reactivate your online account with SWE, record CPD and prepare for the registration renewal process. 

  Thank You Social Workers! 

 UNISON is supporting a live virtual event for social workers on Thursday, 26 November, from 4.00 pm – 5.00 pm.  

The special ‘Thank You Social Workers’ event, hosted by the Social Work Awards charity, will reflect on the unique challenges of COVID-19 and recognise the bravery and dedication of social workers during the pandemic. It will feature inspiring messages from celebrities, interviews filmed with frontline social work practitioners and first-hand stories told by young people and adults who have received social worker support.  

 Tickets are free of charge and registration opened Monday, 19 October here 

 

 Other News 

Schools: TAs covering twice as many lessons in the pandemic 

A UNISON survey reveals a huge rise in the number of teaching assistants doing higher-grade work as teachers fall ill or have to self-isolate due to lack of testing. 

 Read the full story 

Find out more about UNISON in schools 

 Police and justice: more PCSOs needed to combat COVID-19 

Rebuilding the workforce of police community support officers would be the best way of ensuring that the public follows COVID rules, UNISON says.  

 

Read the full story 

 

Welcome to issue 13

Black History Month 

October marks Black History Month and this year it is more important than ever that we educate ourselves about Black history, heritage and cultureas part of understanding racism and standing in solidarity against it.   

Our Black Member’s Officer Florence has been working closely with Dorset History Centre to bring you a month’s worth of Black history from Dorset and beyond. here’s the first and there will be many more to come so watch this space! 

https://news.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/dorset-history-centre-blog/2020/07/01/black-voices-matter/ 

 Unison South West are also holding series of webinars during Black History Month including: 

 Challenging Racism at Work 

Date: 30 October 2020 Time: 11:00-12:00 

Date: 27 October 2020 Time: 14:30 – 15:30 

Date: 15 October 2020 Time: 14:30 – 15:30 

 General Secretary Election 

The general secretary election is your chance to vote to elect the most senior person in the union. Being a member, or retired member, of UNISON entitles you to a vote if you were a member on 28 July 2020 

Dorset Branch nominated Paul Holmes for General Secretary because: 

  • Paul has the best record of leadership and fighting for members;  
  • Paul is the members’ candidate, from the shop floor;  
  • Paul will take the job on his current wage of £32,000, declining the £100,000 available;  
  • Paul will massively increase funding to branches so we can support you better;  
  • Paul has a track-record of winning disputes and elections, which other candidates do not;  
  • Paul’s leadership will be inclusive, developing talents from across our whole union, and involving retired members;  
  • Paul is popular across UNISON and can win!  

 

 Dorset Council Terms and Conditions 

You will have a received a survey from us asking what your priorities are when we start to negotiate a new set of collectively agreed terms and conditions.  Please respond as we cannot fully represent our members without knowing what is important to you.  The closing date for the survey is the 1st November. 

 Exit Pay Cap 

The Government is attacking our pensions once again… 

Despite the opposition of UNISON, other unions and all opposition political parties in parliament, the final Government regulations implementing a £95,000 cap on public sector payments have now been voted on, and we expect them to be implemented imminently. This means that the final date, after which the cap will apply, could be as soon as 26th October 2020. 

The original proposals were made in 2015 and last consulted on in 2019. Since then the government has taken no further action until now, when the UK is facing a second wave of COVID-19 and public services are stretched to their limits dealing with it.  

This is an unneeded and unwelcome distraction for our employers, and a personal catastrophe for many long-serving members who are about to be made redundant because of the crisis, and stand to lose pensions that they are entitled to under the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) regulations if they are over 55. 

The cap could therefore reduce the exit payments of workers who have decades of public service and earn less than £24,000 a year, almost 25% below the average full-time UK salary. 

If you have already agreed an exit settlement which may be affected by the cap; please contact the branch. 

Read more about the regulations here 

 Petition to get all education workers to be included in priority Covid testing 

UNISON has launched an emergency petition calling on Matt Hancock for all education workers to be included as one of the groups named for priority COVID-19 testing.  It takes a whole team to keep schools, nurseries, colleges and universities running, but when the health secretary announced the list of workers that will be eligible for priority testing in England, in education, only ‘teaching staff’ were mentioned. 

This completely ignores the fact that over half of the staff in education aren’t teachers. 

The union is demanding that when the government announces the full details of priority testing, it includes all education staff – not just teachers. 

You can go directly to the petition here.   Please sign and share with your family and friends. 

#BLAW2020 

This week marks national Baby Loss Awareness Week.  In the UK one in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, every week 56 babies are stillborn with a further 24 dying within the fist 4 weeks of being born. However, this is still seen as a taboo subject despite so many women and families being affected by baby loss.   

Our branch actively works to break the silence surrounding baby loss, we have changed UNISON policy nationally to further support our members who experience stillbirths and have donated towards a cuddle cot at Dorset County Hospital.  This cot allows parents precious time with their babies after they have died. 

Fo#BLAW2020 we have asked Dorset Council to include miscarriage as a reason to request compassionate leave, as currently there is no support for parents going through this trauma, and compassionate leave allows parents to have breathing space while trying to come to terms with the loss of their baby.   We have also requested that Parental Bereavement Leave, which includes stillbirths, is now a day one right and that all employees needing this leave receive full pay as currently it depends on their length of service. Parental Bereavement Leave is in addition to Compassionate Leave.   We will update you when these have been negotiated and agreed. 

 Get Involved! 

If you do want to become more involved with UNISON and your branch, but not sure what role you would like to do, take a look at the Activate Quiz, which helps you to find the role that would suit your interests and skills.  

Upcoming learning events 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to issue 12

General Secretary Election – Dorset Branch Nomination 

 We’ve nominated Paul Holmes for general secretary because:  

  • Paul has the best record of leadership and fighting for members; 
  • Paul is the members’ candidate, from the shop floor; 
  • Paul will take the job on his current wage of £32,000, declining the £100,000 available; 
  • Paul will massively increase funding to branches so we can support you better; 
  • Paul has a track-record of winning disputes and elections, which other candidates do not; 
  • Paul’s leadership will be inclusive, developing talents from across our whole union, and involving retired members; 
  • Paul is popular across UNISON and can win! 

 

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Dorset Council employees, including those in schools, please check your inbox over the next week for our ‘Terms & Conditions Survey’. Your response to this survey will be crucial to how we move this issue forward with Dorset Council on your behalf. Please make time to complete this survey. Thank you. 

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 UNISON celebrates Bi Visibility Day 

Today (23 September) is Bi Visibility Daythis is a day to celebrate and raise awareness of the Bi Community.  Trade unions exist to defend their members from discrimination and to work for better employment conditions.  So tackling biphobia in the workplace is clearly a trade union issue. 

Bisexual workers can feel particularly isolated, experiencing stigma from both straight colleagues and lesbian and gay colleagues. 

Although many workplace equality policies refer to lesbian, gay and bisexual people, few do more than pay lip service to the existence and rights of bisexual workers. 

UNISON can make all the difference by standing up for bi workers’ equality.  Find out more about our work for bisexual equality at: unison.org.uk/out 

 

Updated Guidance for our Branch Activists after our Court success. 

Following on from the Haringey travel time judgment last week, UNISON Bargaining Support have updated our National Minimum Wage Guidance. 

The guidance can be found here https://www.unison.org.uk/national-minimum-wage-6/    

 

Solidarity with Turkey: Defending human and workers’ rights – UNISON international webinar 

 Turkey is one of the worst places in the world to be a trade unionist. Human and workers’ rights, democracy and the rule of law have been significantly eroded since a state of emergency was implemented four years ago. Public services have faced an unprecedented attack and are struggling to respond to the Covid pandemic, whilst despite a devastating increase in violence against women, the government are threatening to withdraw fundamental protections for women’s rights.  

 

Hear from the progressive trade union federations KESK and DISK how they are responding to the political and economic crisis, the Covid 19 pandemic and attacks on women and workers’ rights. 

 Date and time: Monday 28 September, 6pm – 7.30pm 

 Registration: clink on the following link to register for the webinar, which will take place over GoToWebinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7676578389163240459  

 

Enter our Free Prize Draw for a Chance to Win a 32GB iPad

For your chance to win an iPad (T&Cs apply) simply complete the Prize Draw entry form by clicking the image above.  By providing your email address and insurance renewal date, UIA Mutual can then let you know more about their range of great value products.   

UIA Mutual has been protecting UNISON members for 130 years.  They provide our members and their families with great value for money Home, Travel and Pet Insurance.   

The Prize Draw closes at 23:45pm on Saturday 31st October 2020.   

Enter here: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/unisonipad2020 

 

Welcome to issue 11

 

General Secretary Nomination 

The Branch held a hustings on Wednesday with the General Secretary candidates, it was a really informative meeting with lots of interesting questions asked.  The Branch voted to nominate Paul Holmesmore information to follo  in next week’s newsletter… 

We have a fantastic personal account of what becoming a Rep has meant to our amazing Ben Jones, you can read the full story here> https://unisondorset.org.uk/blog/

Learning with Unison 

 Unison South West have some exciting events, webinars and online courses throughout the rest of September and the run up to Learning at Work week (5 – 11 October). 

 This September get on board with UNISON and National Numeracy and take part in Checktember The National Numeracy Challenge is a free and easy-to-use website that you can use to improve your confidence with numbers. It’s ideal for brushing up, checking your current level, or for catching up on learning you missed and it’s all about the maths you need in daily life and at work – no algebra or trigonometry.  

 

 School Support Staff Webinar – 24 September, 5:00 – 6:00pm  

Join this webinar, which will talk about risk assessments working in practice, roles and responsibilities of schools support staff as well as more information about how to get involved in UNISON. Click on the ‘webinar’ link above to register.  

 Hope not Hate: Difficult conversations workshop  

This workshop is for UNISON members and explores practices that seek to understand other’s perspectives; it offers methods for changing the minds of people who have deeply held views.  

Dates and times: 12 October, 10 – 11:30am and 2 – 3:30pm  

15 October, 10 – 11:30am and 2 – 3:30pm  

For more information and to register click here 

A Major win for Unison Homecare Workers!! 

Unison has won a significant legal case for Homecare workers over illegal pay.  The claimants, the majority of whom arwomen will now receive an average settlement of around £10,000, this will have implications for thousands more homecare workers across the Country.  The tribunal found that contractors commissioned by Haringey Council in North London breached wage rules by paying some care staff less than half the minimum wage 

The dispute against three care firms commissioned by Haringey Council was over their failure to ​pay workers a legal wage. Time spent travelling between people’s houses was unpaid, despite the staff having to get from one home to the next to complete their work. 

This meant that the workers could earn well under half the legal minimum wage.  This ruling sends a message to other ​care bosses that it’s ​completely unacceptable to pay staff illegal poverty wages.  This victory now means that travel and waiting time should be treated as working time for homecare workers 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to issue 10 

 

General Secretary Nominations. Have your say. 

One of the most important and exciting membership elections within Unison. 

As you will be aware, Dave Prentis is retiring from his role as General Secretary of Unison and thus a new General Secretary is to be elected. The General Secretary is our public face and leader of our Union, the largest in the UK.  

Branches and regions are currently in the process of nominating candidates for the ballot. This means you! Dorset branch, your Branch is hosting a virtual hustings ( a meeting whereby candidates set their stall as to why they think they are the best candidate) on Wednesday 16th September at 16:30 and will go onto 18:00.  Members were asked to provide  questions,  these needed to be received in advance and have now been collated.  Thank you to those who contributed.   

Candidates for this election must receive so many nominations to be able to appear on the ballot paper and this is part of that process. Your individual member ballot will be issued once the nominations are in and the deadline passed. This ballot will take place in October. 

We would encourage all of you to attend – both so that you can be part of the Branch nomination and make a reasoned decision on whom to elect leader and to lead the union and therefore guide its direction,  this  hustings must be Quorate . Please find the details below: 

Dorset Branch General Secretary Hustings and Nomination Meeting 

Wed, Sep 16, 2020 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM (BST)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/406139125

You can also dial in using your phone.

(For supported devices, tap a one-touch number below to join instantly.)

United Kingdom (Toll Free): 0 800 389 5276

– One-touch: tel:+448003895276,,406139125#

United Kingdom: +44 20 3713 5011

– One-touch: tel:+442037135011,,406139125#

Access Code: 406-139-125

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts: https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/406139125

If the hustings is inquorate, we will hold an extraordinary Branch Committee straight afterwards to hopefully endorse our members views as this quoracy is lower. Only Workplace Reps can attend and vote at this meeting. If this meeting is not quorate then the Branch cannot proceed with any nomination. 

 

Dorset Council Sign up to protect Care Workers in the Workplace 

Following positive discussions with Dorset Councilthey have today, signed up to UNISON’s ‘Stop the Spread’ pledge, a key initiative to support care workers in the fight against coronavirus. 

The commitments include key safety measures, such as priority testing for social care workers and providing lifesaving Personal Protective Equipment. In addition, the pledge will provide key workers in the frontline fight against coronavirus with important employment protections. These include the provision of full pay during self-isolation and leave on full pay for workers caring for a dependent with COVID-19. 

By signing UNISON’s Stop the Spread pledge, Dorset Council are showing a clear commitment to care workers across the county. 

 Returning to School 

This week has seen schools opening in Dorset for the Autumn Term.  This is an extremely anxious time for our School members.  UNISON has provided guidance and steps to take if you have health and safety concerns in your school, please also contact the branch for advice and assistance. We are already aware of some Covid cases within schools which have mean closures of schools or quarantines of smaller groups of staff and young people . 

 Short time working and temporary layoffs. What are your rights? (Non-Core Employers)  

With the furlough scheme coming to an end but many workplaces still not operating at full capacity, we are seeing lots of employers looking to reduce their staff members hours on reduced pay or send them home on little or no pay, what is known as short time working and temporary layoffs.   

In order to legally do this, your contract must include a clause that says your employer has the right to do so. If you are asked to work reduced hours or are temporarily laid off, then you are guaranteed some pay, but this is only £30 per day for up to 5 days in any 3-month period. The fact you are still under contract of employment with your employer will also greatly affect what benefits you can claim.  

Luckily there are time limits as to how long you can be laid off for, a maximum of 4 weeks in a row or 6 weeks in any 13-week period. After that, you must return to paid work or your employer must start the process of making you redundant.  

We have also seen a rise in employers wanting to add clauses to their worker’s contracts to allow short time working and temporary layoffs where one doesn’t currently exist. Not hard to guess why! If this is the case in your workplace, please do contact the branch for help and advice. Changes to your contract such as these, cannot be made without full discussion between you and your employer or without them seeking your permission to make the changes. We can help you make sure that process takes place correctly and help you resist the additional of such detrimental clauses to your contract.  

Working from Home 

You’ll have all seen communication from Dorset Council regarding working from home until the end of March 2021. We would encourage you to undertake regular workstation assessments at home and take up all the various support available either through the intranet, Dorset Learning Online and/or your line manager.  UNISON southwest are also running a webinar on ” Are you sitting comfortably, Promoting positive posture”  on the 23 and 30 September.  If you feel Unison can support you in anyway, again, let us know – even if it’s for a cursory chat and catch up, that’s what we’re here for. 

With work on site increasing too, please make sure you’re checking and following the risk assessments for various activities. Should you notice there’s something that needs to be added or changed on them, let your line manager know – these are working documents and should be regularly reviewed and updated when needed. Again, if there are issues prevailing with risk assessments or you feel at all unsafe whilst carrying out your duties, Unison can support you with this 

Working from home survey 

 The University of Strathclyde’s Department of Work , Employment and Organisation has asked UNISON to work with them on a study they are carrying out on Working from Home (WFH) for all office workers.  It is the first large scale and study and should give us evidence in dealing with employers on this uncharted territory and aims to identify what members want and what the health and safety, work intensity, work-life balance and gender issues are. 

The basis of the study is a detailed survey. The survey is a little longer than ones we normally send out, but the University is keen to get valuable in-depth data. The researchers are also keen to turn round the results round quickly to gain maximum impact. 

We would encourage you to complete this survey as we can use the research to influence the future of WFH to benefit members and respond to employers who might use WFH to the detriment of staff. 

  Young Members Survey 

The Southwest Young Members Forum is carrying out a survey to help identify how to get more young members involved in the union and what kinds of online events young members would be interested in attending.  There are also some exciting opportunities to get involved with UNISON and to help make a difference for young members in the South-West.  

 

This survey closes on Friday 18th September. We would encourage any of our members who are under 27 to fill it in, there is also a prize of a £50 Love2Shop voucher to two lucky survey entrants!  The survey can be accessed here 

 

 

Welcome to issue 9 

 

Pay Update 

The results are in for our branch, unfortunately we received a low turnout, however of those who voted, 77% voted to accept and 23% to reject  We will update you on the National result next week. 

 Schools Update 

For school members and parents, this September will be very different to the normal start of Autumn Term, and many will be feeling anxious about returning to School.  UNISON has provided up to date guidance on what School Reps and staff should expect when they return to the workplace, this includes a checklist of what should be included in the Schools risk assessment, this may be useful guidance for parents too.   

 UNISON wins Access to Work Victory 

UNISON has won a major victory for disabled workers, after the Department for Work and Pensions announced that new help will be available to disabled people who are working at home, with Access to Work extended to include support for specialist equipment, travel costs and mental health. Read more here  

 Learning & Development Opportunities 

There are still a few places left for the following course:  These are free to UNISON members.   

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Issue 9 

Hello and welcome to issue 9 of Dorset branch newsletter, covering the NJC ballot, face coverings in schools, and current vacant positions in the branch.

Pay update

Currently only around 20% of our members have voted in the NJC pay ballot, we would like to get this figure up as high as we can, and this will be the only opportunity to have your say on whether you accept or reject the 2.75% pay offer.  The deadline is 12pm tomorrow (Fri 14th Aug) so if you haven’t already then please vote as soon as possible to ensure your voice is heard.

 Clearer guidance needed on face coverings in schools

UNISON has written to secretary of state for education Gavin Williamson to urge him to allow all school staff to be able to wear face coverings if they choose.

UNISON also supports calls to let pupils wear face coverings too, given emerging evidence that transmission rates among secondary school children could be equal to those for adults.

Read more here

Bringing us /together

UNISON is a partner with /together, a coalition from across the UK that is aiming to bring people together and bridge divides.  We’d like to know your thoughts on how best to harness and build on the renewed community spirit created by the pandemic, so please answer the survey below:

Take the survey here

Opportunities in the Branch

We are also looking for a Vice Chair, this position helps assist the Chair, and includes:

  • occasionally chairing meetings of the branch and branch committee, agreeing the agenda for meetings with the secretary and making sure that business is properly conducted in line with union democracy;
  • advising branch officers and the branch committee on procedure and rules;
  • working closely with the secretary and other officers to provide leadership to the branch.

Full training for this position is given and should only take a few hours each month to undertake.  A full list of officer positions and what they do can be found on the UNISON website.

 

We have also refreshed our website, full of the latest information, events and news. You can also follow us on Facebook. You can follow us here > www.facebook.com/UnisonDorset

Welcome to issue 8

This issue we cover the NJC ballot, current positions, school uniform grants, general secretary position

NJC Pay Ballot Update 

The electronic pay ballot has finally gone out to members after a glitch with the original email.  The deadline for responses has now been extended until the 14th August.  If it’s not in your inbox, please check your junk mail and get back to us urgently if you have not received your ballot by Friday 7th August.   

 We Need You!   

We are currently looking for a Vice Branch Treasurer   This position would involve assisting the Branch Treasurer  in managing branch finances, including keeping accounts and helping to prepare budgets for defined areas of activities such as recruitment and campaigning.   If you are interested or would like more information, then please contact the Branch 

 School Uniform Grant (There for You) 

The price of school uniforms can be eye-watering, and extra money worry is the last thing anyone needs right now. UNISON’s charity There for You is pleased to be able to offer grants to help members with the cost of buying school uniforms. 

Check if you’re eligible for a one-off payment of £50 per child, up to a total of £150. This is a limited fund so please apply quickly. If you’ve already purchased uniform ready for the new school year, you’re still encouraged to apply. 

Apply here  

 General Secretary 

After over 20 years as General Secretary, Dave Prentis is retiring on 31 December. An election will now be run to find our next General Secretary to help take us forward through the very difficult years ahead.    Branches can nominate a candidate and this process will run from 10 August to 25 September.  The branch is looking to hold a Hustings with the candidates, and more information will follow once a date has been agreed.   

Voting will run from 28 October to 27 November and results issued in January 2021. 

 Learning & Development 

There are a few places remaining on the following Unison Southwest webinars: 

Sound Bath Therapy Taster Session 

Bereavement Awareness 

Your Skills Your Future 

UNISON have vastly expanded the online member learning offer with a new partnership with the Staff Skills Academy. This means that UNISON members can access over 550 certified CPD courses for free – including some that are very timely, such as Remote Workers’ Security and How To Manage Virtual Teams. 

UNISON equality survey – last chance to tell us your experiences of work and COVID 19 

With so many members on the frontline of the pandemic, this year UNISON want to hear about your experiences during the crisis. The results will be used to direct our work with government, employers and others, to keep workers safe and fight for better conditions. 

The survey closes this Sunday, 9 August 

If you complete the survey, you can go into a prize draw to win up to £100 of shopping vouchers. Unless you specifically agree to talk to UNISON press team, results are confidential and anonymous.  

 Croyde Bay Holiday Resort

UNISON’s very own holiday resort in North Devon is now out of Lockdown and taking bookings, so you can make the most of your staycation! UNISON members benefit from a minimum 15% discount on standard rates.  They also offer a 50% discount for low paid members, subject to availability.   

Visit their website for more info and available offers:  

 

Unison Dorset Branch 

unison@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk 

01305 224436 

 

                             

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Welcome to issue 7

      Non-Dorset Council employers round up for July. 

 

Redundancies: We have unfortunately seen a large rise in the number of redundancies taking place. As the furlough scheme is beginning to wind up, employers are realising that they will not be operating at full capacity for some time and are putting staff on notice of redundancy. We have been made aware of some employers who are not fulfilling their legal obligations during the redundancy process and are not treating all staff equally. If you do find yourself in this situation, please contact the Branch so we can support you and ensure the   correct process is followed.

 

Disability discrimination cases: During the last few months, many of our members have been unable to work because they are clinically highly vulnerable and have been advised by the NHS to ‘shield’.  Many employers have treated these people as sick and sent them home on statutory sick pay, other employers have forced shielding people to take unpaid leave. UNISON have taken legal advice which indicates paying shielding staff less than their full pay may constitute disability discrimination. UNISON have therefore started a number of legal cases on its members behalf to reclaim their lost earnings. As these are highly unusual circumstances, it is impossible to tell how these cases will progress, but we will keep you informed.

 

Returning to work: We know lots of you have continued to work all through the last few months in your usual workplaces but equally, many of you have been working at home, been furloughed, shielded, off sick with Covid or many other illnesses. Returning to work after a long absence can often be stressful and difficult but particular at this time, lots of people feel apprehensive about their safety and concerned if they will cope physically and emotionally. If you have concerns about your return to work, please do contact the Branch. In recent weeks alone we have helped members get proper risk assessments put in place, revised rotas, use of new technology, phased returns and all sorts of other support measures put in place to help their return to work.

NJC Pay Update

We are still receiving some enquires from members saying that they have yet to receive their ballots, we are investigating this as a matter of urgency, but some may have gone into your spam file, so please keep checking!  The deadline for responding is the 11th August 2020.

 

 Dorset Council Redundancy Multiplier

Back in May, the Trade Unions highlighted that although additional protections under Dorset Council’s Terms and Conditions had been extended to March 2021, the redundancy multiplier was still due to reduce in October 2020, from 1.75% to 1.25%.  We did not feel this was fair given the impact of Covid-19 in delaying restructures, and that this could put some employees at a disadvantage.

We are pleased to announce that this was taken to Cabinet and the extension was approved, which means the 1.75% redundancy multiplier will now be in place until March 2021, however there may be additional implications on Redundancy payments with the introduction of new government regulations on Public Sector Exit Payments.

 

Public Sector Exit Payments

Government has now published its consultation response and the legal regulations that will enact the absolute cap on all exit payments in the Public Sector.

The draft regulations were consulted on last year and, as with previous consultation rounds on this issue, UNISON responded robustly on the MANY concerns this punitive measure raises.  Despite this, the consultation response indicated that none of the concerns were taken on board and the proposals remain unchanged.

The law introducing the cap had already passed and ignored ALL of the points UNISON and other bodies (including employers organisations) raised.  However, we still await the final guidance and detail on how this will all work in practice.  This could have implications for a number of our members.

When does it come into force?

This is likely to come into force in early autumn. The legislation for allowing this cap was agreed in 2015 but final regulations enacting it were published 22nd July 2020.

Who is affected?

Anyone working in the public sector who gets an exit/redundancy/early retirement settlement.  It will mostly affect high earners, but despite previous government promises, it will also affect moderate earners if they have long service such as nurses, social workers, paramedics and librarians – particularly if they were previously entitled to access early retirement as an alternative to being made redundant.

Considering the extent of public service budget cuts and the proposed future cuts, these new proposals to cap exit payments in the public sector are entirely punitive, representing yet another attack on public sector workers and the services they provide.

Unison has provided an updated briefing on the changes here

 

 Learning & Development

Unison Southwest are running several courses over the next few months that are free to Unison members, including Sound Bath Therapy, Bereavement Awareness and a Makaton Taster.  To book a course or to find out more please visit their website

 

 Tolpuddle Martyrs’ online festival success

With the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs’ festival cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis, the South West TUC offered an online alternative. The project broadcast almost three-days of continuous stream through Zoom, Facebook and YouTube in what was a fantastic event!

It included:

  • more than fifty performers
  • several platforms of keynote speakers
  • speakers from Nigeria, Spain, Colombia, Brazil
  • Zoom panel debates and lectures
  • ten full films with panel discussions
  • a range of children’s activities

Zoom offered the opportunity to have multiple streams, overlapping where necessary. The highlights were livestreamed to the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Facebook and YouTube channels. The joint launch all-women panel session that discussed protest attracted more than 22,000 views!

See some of the highlights here: Tolpuddle Martyrs YouTube Channel

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Welcome to Issue 6 

 

This weeks newsletter includes updates with negotiations with Dorset Council, over terms and conditions, Parking, Pay and Schools. We are always looking for new ideas and content so if there is anything you would like to see, or anything you would like to contribute to the newsletter, please get in touch. We are also on the look out for a volunteer Communications Officer, to help keep members up to date on the latest news, so again please contact the branch if you are interested.

 

Terms and Conditions of Employment at Dorset Council 

On 1st April 2019, Dorset Council was formed, the successor to the County, District and Boroughs totalling six councils. The employees for each of these councils had their own set of terms and conditions (T&C’s). Since 2018, UNISON had been involved in negotiating an agreed single set of T&C’s for the new council. Unfortunately, we could not reach agreement on the set, though in several areas our recommendations were listened to and changes made. The employer had to have a Day 1 set to employ new people and so these were imposed by Dorset Council and can be found on the intranet. 

Once Dorset Council was formed, talks continued and towards the end of last year the employer expressed a willingness that a collectively bargained and agreed new set of T&C’s be achieved with the Trades Unions. We understand that there are many complexities within this, including a shifting landscape, that there will always be winners and losers amongst the staff in a negotiation of this type. Our aim however would be to level up and to improve on T&Cs. Then in March this year COVID changed those plans.  

We now know that the aspiration of Dorset Council remains to negotiate an agreed set of T&C’s, with a timeframe now extending into next year. We believe your T&C’s are important, if not the only measure of job satisfaction within a good employer. As we begin conversations again on this at Dorset Council, we welcome your thoughts on what you believe is important along with your ideas on a modern, attractive yet sustainable set of T&C’s. 

 

SO WHAT’S NEXT? 

Please consider your role, explore how the Day 1 terms and conditions relate to your previous set if you have TUPE protection from your old Council. Beware of what is a T&C and what is not.  

We will shortly be sending you a survey to help us gauge your priorities and wishes. There will be space for your further thoughts. Please make every effort to complete this survey. We believe that a collectively agreed set would be an advantage for your future, new employees, industrial relations and Dorset Council. We’ll let you know the results of the survey and we’ll try to keep you informed as we  engage further on this issue. I just swapped the words round 

 

Parking for Dorset Council Staff 

If you have protected parking arrangements either through your Tupe’d terms and conditions or by signing up to the additional protections under the Day 1 terms and conditions, then these arrangements will be in place until at least March 2021.  We have raised the issue of staff who have permits being issued tickets with HR and Management and will continue to raise these matters for you.   

 

Pay update 

We have been hearing from members that they have not yet received an electronic pay ballot.  We are looking into this as a matter of urgency.  It appears there has been an issue with sending out the electronic pay ballots, particularly to Dorset Council email addresses.  This issue has been raised with our National Office and we are hoping to have this resolved asap.  Please also check your junk mail folders as the email is being sent from SurveyGizmo so may not be in your safe senders list. 

 

Schools Update 

To open more widely, schools and nurseries must have produced a plan and a risk assessment to ensure the safety of pupils and staff. Government guidance also says that schools must work with unions on their plans.  Risk assessments and plans are vital, and employers must consult all staff on them in good time before it is safe to return.  Also, risk assessments are live documents and must be constantly updated to reflect changing circumstances. 

UNISON, along with some of the other unions in schools, has produced a comprehensive checklist covering all school settings, including special schools. It will help school staff and reps have discussions with school leaders about their plans for safe reopening and assist them in completing a thorough school risk assessment. 

Read the checklist 

Please see Unison’s guidance on steps to take if you are concerned that returning to work will endanger your health or if you believe that the school plans are not adequate 

#10BillionBailout

Nationally there is a staggering £10 billion Local Government funding gap for 2020/21, unless Government addresses this there could be tens of thousands of job losses and catastrophic cuts to our local services across the Country.  Many of the ​people providing essential services throughout the pandemic ​– including social care, waste collection and environmental health workers – could ​soon be out of work, despite councils having a central role in keeping people safe in the months ahead If cuts were to be applied equally across all services, it would mean £1.9bn slashed from children’s social care spending, £1.1bn from environmental services and £3.5bn from adult social care –an area  already in crisis before the coronavirus outbreak.  A reduction of that magnitude could lead to the loss of 51,000 children’s social workers, 141,000 adult care workers, and almost 46,000 refuse collectors across England. 

If social care – which accounts for more than half of ​local authority spending – and public health were to be protected from funding cuts, it would mean the budget for every other council function such as roads, housing, planning and environmental services would need to be cut by 54% 

What can we do?  We urgently need to raise the profile if this issue, it’s a catastrophe waiting to happen.  Please contact your MP, highlighting the issues above, sign and share Unison’s petition to tell the government that you back the #10BillionBailout, talk to friends and family about this, as it will affect all of us.  We all rely on services provided by local government workers, from collecting our refuse to ensuring where we eat is safe to looking after our most vulnerable in our society. This cannot be achieved without adequate funding from Government.   

 

Equality Matters 

 

Webinar for Trans Members – 30 July 2020  

UNISON’s national LGBT+ committee is holding a webinar for trans members on 30 July.  This webinar is for UNISON members who self-identify as trans, for members with trans backgrounds and members whose gender identity does not fit into the gender binary.  

To register please send an email to out@unison.co.uk  to include your name and membership number. 

Racism – A public health issue webinar – 28 July 2020  

COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the fact that racism is a public health issue. Black people are dying in disproportionate numbers. Behind this current tragedy is a long history of systemic racism at work, in health care and across society.  Join us for a webinar on Tuesday July 28, 2020; 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM BST. This webinar will discuss how UNISON’s work to challenge racism is addressing this. It will cover workplace rights, campaigning and lobbying, legal responses, and immigration. 

Register here 

 

Back to 60 Campaign 

The Branch is sending a message of solidarity and support to women born in the 1950s in their judicial review appeal hearing against pension injustice this week. 

Find out more