Events/Campaigns

Branch AGM 2017

The Branch AGM in 2017 will be held on Friday 24th March, at the Mechanics Institute, Princess Street, Manchester.  There will be a buffet from 5.30pm; the meeting will start at 6.15pm.  This will be followed by a Social (from about 7.30pm) - to give all members the chance to celebrate the Branch’s achievements, and to look forward to the new branch which will be formed in July 2017.  The Social features the band That Brother Thing, with Ben Jackson (Branch Secretary) on drums!

AGM 2017 letter

AGM 2017 reminder notice

AGM Nomination Form 2017

Write to your GP in Manchester

If your GP practice is in Manchester (even if you are not a Manchester resident) please write to them asking if they know about the proposed service closures, what they think the impact will be on their patients, and whether they will join the campaign to try to keep these services open.  You can urge them to raise their concerns with the CCGs and the LMC in Manchester.  There is a model letter to send to GPs, but please feel free to edit this.

The Branch has written to all GPs in Manchester and will publish their replies as soon as possible.

Write to Manchester councillors and candidates for election 5th May 2016

The campaign has produced model letters for you to send to find out what councillors and candidates will do to fight for better mental health services and against the proposed closures.  Feel free to adapt these letters.

There are two letters: one for current councillors and one for candidates.  If you are a Manchester resident, please use these letters to question sitting and prospective councillors about what they are prepared to do to fight for mental health services.

The list of all candidates is on the Manchester City Council website:  http://www.manchester.gov.uk/downloads/download/6440/list_of_candidates_standing_in_5_may_2016_local_election_statements_of_person_nominated

The Branch has written to all councillors and to candidates in the main parties to ask for their views about the proposed service closures, and what they will do to help the campaign.

 

 

 

Lobby MMHSCT Trust Board meeting, 31st March 2016

The Branch organised a lobby of the MMHSCT Trust Board meeting on 31st March 2016 outside Chorlton House.

At this meeting MMHSCT announced that despite overwhelming support for all the services, it was going ahead with plans to close all 9 frontline services.

The consultation about these services (though not really about whether they should be closed or not) finished on 21st February.  You can view the Branch response to the consultation here: Consultation response

The campaign continues

Following the Trust’s decision to proceed with closing all the 9 services – they are now due to close by mid August – the campaign held an organising meeting on 7th April.  This reviewed what we’d done so far, and made plans for further campaigning.  The notes are available here.

Write to your councillor in Manchester and to all candidates for election on 5th May

The campaign has produced model letters for you to send to find out what councillors and candidates will do to fight for better mental health services and against the proposed closures.  Feel free to adapt these letters.

There are two letters: one for current councillors and one for candidates.  If you are a Manchester resident, please use these letters to question sitting and prospective councillors about what they are prepared to do to fight for mental health services.

The list of all candidates is on the Manchester City Council website:  http://www.manchester.gov.uk/downloads/download/6440/list_of_candidates_standing_in_5_may_2016_local_election_statements_of_person_nominated

 

 

 

Branch AGM 2016: 15th, 16th, 17th March 2016

The Branch AGMs will be held at three times at three venues, to enable as many members as possible to attend.

Tuesday 15th March, 6pm for buffet, 6.30pm for start of meeting:  Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester M2 5NS

Wednesday 16th March, 12.30pm-2pm, Meeting Room 1, SSHU, Park House, NMGH – snack lunch

Thursday 17th March, 12.30pm-2pm, Seminar Room 2, Laureate House, Wythenshawe Hospital, Southmoor Road, M23 9LT - snack lunch

You should have received notice of these meetings, and nomination form for Branch Officers and Stewards, and draft Branch Rules.  If you haven’t had these, please contact Ben Jackson, Branch Secretary: ben.jackson@mhsc.nhs.uk

For all the papers for the meeting, click here:

AGM 2016 letter

AGM Preliminary Agenda 2016

AGM Branch Rules 2016

AGM Branch Officer Posts 2016

AGM Nomination Form 2016

 

 

Response to MMHSCT Consultation on proposal to close frontline services

The branch has produced a response to the consultation, which you can view here: Consultation response

Consultation on proposed cuts to 8 services

Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust and Manchester CCGs were told by the Health Scrutiny Committee to conduct a public consultation into the proposed closure of 8 frontline mental health services, plus the community rehabitation service in Crumpsall.  The rehab service is really separate from the other services, because it is closing as a result of the decision by Creative Support (who provide some of the staff) to withdraw from the service – the few remaining residents will be rehoused, and the MMHSCT staff will be redeployed.  So the consultation, and the financial figures, should really just be about the 9 frontline services.

Inadeqate consultation

The consultation paper which has recently been produced does not actually consult on the proposed closures themselves – it asks people to comment on a limited range of questions, such as any other ideas for making savings (cuts) and how a paltry £200,000 might be reinvested as a minimal alternative to the 8 services.  Respondents are asked to ‘vote’ for one or other of the services if they want them to be retained.  The branch strongly objects to this – this is about crucial services for people with mental health problems, it is not a beauty contest.

Branch response

The branch is preparing a response to the consultation, together with members in the affected services.  We will post a draft on this website as soon as possible.  Contact us if you want to respond to the consultation and would like to discuss this with us: email c.bedale@btinternet.com

Stop cuts to mental health services

Campaign leaflet about the proposed cuts to 8 frontline mental health services, and what the branch is doing to fight these cuts.  Click here for the leaflet: Stop cuts to frontline mh services nov 2015

Sign the online petition

If you would like to sign our branch petition against cuts in mental health services, jobs and staff online, please click on this link: https://www.change.org/p/manchester-mental-health-and-social-care-trust-manchester-deserves-better-mental-health-services-there-must-be-no-cuts-in-services-jobs-or-staff?recruiter=45408890&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

Manchester Deserves Better Mental Health Services – public leaflet

Manchester Deserves Better MH Services – Public Leaflet

Manchester Deserves Better Petition October 2015

Manchester Deserves Better Model letters and emails

Information for Members in MMHSCT July 2015

Information for MMHSCT Members July 2015 click the link to read the Information sheet.

If you work in MMHSCT and have not received this Information sheet – contact Ben Jackson, ben.jackson@mhsc.nhs.uk

Devo Manc

DEVO MANC: future for the NHS?

 

£6 billion of NHS care is to be merged with Social Care Commissioning and given to the new Greater Manchester Combined Authority, run by a mayor.

Taking the ‘National’ out of the NHS starts with Greater Manchester but could spread everywhere.  ’Devo Manc’ is another top-down reorganisation with no consultation.  How can we defend national pay, terms and conditions if budgets are controlled locally?  How will merging two underfunded market-ridden commissioners help to improve social care, produce better outcomes for patients, reduce bed blocking, give local people a greater say in NHS or social care?  Greater integration of health and social care is good in theory.  But without adequate funding (£6 billion won’t cover the area’s health and social care needs) and proper planning, this proposal is mainly an illusory shift of power and a real shift of blame.

 

Lack of clarity and funding

Trade unions should demand more information about the impact for services and staff, and proper consultation before deciding to support this plan. The details are unpublished, and may not be legal, but warning signs are clear:

  • Health care and social care problems will NOT be solved by another expensive top-down reorganisation.
  • £1.2 billion (20%) has been cut from the Greater Manchester health budgets by this government.
  • 40% has been cut from council budgets leading to 25% cut in social care. Nationally nearly a million fewer elderly people in England get home care now.
  • Devo Manc says public health, prevention and health promotion are crucial.  Yet Manchester City Council has just implemented the government’s £90m cuts in public health funding for mental health and health and wellbeing services.  Hundreds of staff are losing their jobs, and services are being slashed or closed.
  • Greater Manchester NHS want to downgrade and close 5 A+E departments.
  • The proposals say the “role of third sector and private sector providers … remains to be determined.”  Social care has already largely been privatised—which means 15 minute social care visits by people on less than the minimum wage (because staff are paid nothing to get from one client to another).
  • Joint Commissioning of Mental Health services has not improved them. Mental health is 27% of health need but gets only 13% of health funding. Many unwell users are discharged from services, with too few beds even for people who need to be sectioned, and there’s a huge increase in use of private hospitals.
  • With a stated commitment to no increase in total costs, the plan will pass responsibility – and blame – for cuts and privatisation to local authorities.

What about democracy?

Nine of the ten Greater Manchester boroughs voted in 2012 against having a mayor.  No-one was consulted over Devo Manc, so the NWTUC voted to support the call for a referendum—although UNISON officials voted against.  The ten Greater Manchester councils—mostly Labour controlled—are disregarding their electorate, staff and trade union representatives.  Their power play with George Osborne apparently by-passed Andy Burnham, a local Labour MP and shadow Health secretary.  He warns that the proposals could break up the NHS and lead to inconsistency across the country.

UNISON and the other unions in the NHS and local government were not involved in the discussions either.  At the UNISON NW region meeting in May and at UNISON National Delegate Conference in June, members from branches in Greater Manchester expressed concern about the way that the deal had been done, and what it could mean for union members and for services.  Tony Lloyd, a former Manchester MP and Greater Manchester Police Commissioner, has been confirmed as interim mayor.  He has not been elected to that position – there will be an election in May 2017.

A ‘Health and Social Care Devolution Programme Board’ has already been set up in shadow form, and will take full control from April 2016.  A new tier of ‘City Region’ bureaucracy will not ‘democratise’ the NHS.

The elected Greater Manchester councils and the government have no mandate for these far-reaching changes to the NHS, affecting all of us.

Also see the Greater Manchester Keep Our NHS Public website for more concerns about Devo Manc: http://keepournhspublicgmcr.com/2015/07/02/devo-manc-and-the-nhs/

Petition Against MH Cuts

Petition Against MH Cuts

Petition Against MH Cuts

Lobby Manchester Council to Protest at Cuts in Mental Health Services

Branch members and Manchester User Network members held a Valentine’s Day demonstration against the cuts in Mental Health Services on Saturday 14th February.  We handed out postcards and asked people to sign petitions to say that we Love Manchester but HATE the cuts which the city council is making in public health funded services.

Recovery & Connect, Supported Housing, Community Floating Support and the Health & Wellbeing Service are all facing massive cuts or total closure.  The responses the branch submitted to the council’s consultation are available from the Branch Office.  The council have paid no attention to our call for the cuts to be halted because of the devastating effect they will have on service users and on staff.

We will be lobbying the full council meeting on Friday 6th March, from 9am on the Town Hall steps in Albert Square.  Please come to show your disgust at these cuts to essential mental health services.

 

Crisis in Mental Health

Following the very successful Crisis in Mental Health meeting in November 2014, various campaign actions are being planned.  These include:

Valentine’s Day Protest, Saturday 14th February, 11.00 Albert Square: against the proposed cuts in mental health services.

Lobby of City Council meeting when budget decision will be confirmed, Friday 6th March, 9am, Town Hall steps, Albert Square.

Crisis in Mental Health Services Conference, Saturday 14th March, 11am-3pm, at Methodist Central Hall, Oldham Street, Manchester M1 1JQ.  There will be speakers, workshops, campaigning ideas.

 

leaflet1

leaflet2

Unison Call For Changes to Hospital Whistle Blowing Laws

This branch supports unison’s call for a change in whistleblowing laws.  The current laws are too narrow and not fit for purpose.

Our employer is currently using their whistle Blowing policy to look at concerns raised by individual and groups of staff (including many Unison Members) but the laws are they are and employers policies do not stand up to true whistleblowing and can make it more difficult rather than easier for staff to have concerns answered.

Members of the branch executive have recently had training about the Francis Report and how to ensure the Trust Executive & Managers are compliant with their responsibilities to care.  The whistleblowing policy is just one part of this.

Look out for a UNISON Survey for members and non-members – Being sent to you and delivered to your work areas soon!

We will be shortly sending surveys to members within the Mental Health Trust to find a snap shot of how they are currently find their working practices and pressures within their roles.

UNISON calls for change to hospital whistleblowing laws

UNISON, the UK’s largest union, has called for a change to whistleblowing laws in the NHS to make sure that all staff are able to report concerns with confidence.

In a report that examines the overall lessons that should be learnt from the Francis, Berwick, Keogh and Cavendish investigations into the NHS, UNISON has made a number of key recommendations that it believes will help to change the culture in the NHS.

The union says that its recommendations will ensure that staff are engaged, valued, listened to and ultimately able to deliver better standards of patient care.

Click here to read Unison Head of Health, Christina McAnae’s opinion …

“It is essential that ALL staff in the NHS across grades and occupations, have a voice and are listened to. There is an urgent need to reassure patients that staff are confident to raise concerns and that those concerns will be dealt with.

“NHS Trust Boards should have to take account of staff views and have a designated board member responsible for these issues. Leaving it up to individual members of staff is just not good enough – it should be made easier for unions to raise issues on behalf of groups of staff and ensure they are protected from harassment and bullying.

“The best NHS organisations have robust, effective partnership working with the trade unions at the heart of their business.  That directly leads to better patient outcomes.  The Government should commit to ensuring the NHS achieves this universally and drops it ill-conceived reforms. ”

The union’s recommendations include:

A change to the whistleblowing legislation to enable groups of staff to raise the same concern and receive the same protection as though they were individuals.

To commit to safe staffing levels, including the introduction of a minimum nurse:patient ratio of 1 nurse to 4 patients.

To place greater emphasis on long-term improvements to patient care rather than a short-term approach to arbitrary cost-cutting targets.

To commission and commit to real staff and trade union engagement including looking at research and different models of how that can be achieved.

To designate a non-executive board member responsible for patient satisfaction and staff engagement.

FBU Pensions Dispute

 

Well donDSC_2615e to the FBU for continuing their fight against government attacks to reduce their pension and increase their working age.

Please visit the FBU website for further information on the dispute and to support their petition to the Government.  http://www.fbu.org.uk/

 

 

 

Caroline visited fire fighters at the Withingon Station on their picket line on 1st November.  Look out for further action and visit your local station.

FBU Picket Line 1 Nov 2013

 

Contact the branch if you would like a branch executive member to attend with you or would like to take the branch banner.

Save Probation Service

 

Probation: keep it public and local

Probation works

STOP THE PROBATION SELL OFF

Please click on more symbol for a letter to your MP.  Please feel free to add your own comments for further impact.  Use Unison link on for further information.

 http://www.unison.org.uk/at-work/police-and-justice-staff/key-issues/probation-keep-it-public-and-local/home

………………………………….MP                                                              Your Address here

House of Commons

London

SW1A 0AA

 

Date…………………….

 

Dear……………………..

Keep Probation Public – Keep Probation Local

I live in your constituency. I am writing to express my fears over the Government’s plans for the future of the Probation Service, as set out in its strategy paper ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’.

The Government wants to split the Probation Service into a small national probation agency and 21 government-owned companies; sell off the companies to the private sector; pay for the contracts via an untried payment by results model; abolish the existing 35 local Probation Trusts and prevent the Trusts from competing with the private sector to run the services they have run for the last 105 years.

Probation is a local service and gains its strength from its links with local authorities, police forces and the community and voluntary sector. The Government wants to break apart these successful local partnerships and replace them with a top-down bureaucratic national commissioning model. The Justice Secretary has prohibited Probation Trusts from bidding to run the very work that my colleagues and I currently provide!

I am pleased that the Government’s Offender Rehabilitation Bill was amended in the House of Lords to require the Justice Secretary to bring his plans for Probation before both Houses of Parliament for ratification. I hope that you will support this amendment when the Bill comes to the Commons this month.

UNISON is campaigning to oppose the Government’s plans and to promote an alternative reform agenda for Probation based on funding local authorities and/or police and crime commissioners to commission local solutions to offending and rehabilitation. You can read more about UNISON’s campaign at: http://www.unison.org.uk/at-work/police-and-justice-staff/key-issues/probation-keep-it-public-and-local/home

I would be grateful if you could

  1. Put our concerns to the Secretary of State for Justice.
  2. Call for proper Parliamentary scrutiny of the Government’s plans for Probation, when the Offender Rehabilitation Bill comes to the Commons for vote later this month.
  3. Call upon the Secretary of State, Chris Graylings, to ensure the investigation, which he called for, into overcharging will be actioned without delay

Yours sincerely

 

 

………………………………………………………………

Branch Support Cross Union Anti-Fascist Demo

No to fascism!  

United demonstration in Liverpool

 

Following attacks at Unite’s office in Liverpool and of PCS activists Unite the Union called a demonstration in Liverpool on Saturday 12th October 2013.  Just 2 weeks after the magnificent demonstration in Manchester in support of the NHS; the trade union movement again pulled together to show that it is also united to fight the threat of the far right.  Unison members again made up a large contingent on the day.
A clear theme of the demonstration and the rally which followed was the MEP elections due to take place in 2014 and the importance of ousting Nick Griffin as one of the North West’s members of the European Parliament.  He does not represent us!
It is a central aim of Trade Unions to fight racism and fascism and build unity and acceptance in our society.  It was good to see cross union unity to fight the enemies of the EDL, BNP, North West Infadels and other fascist organisations.
Another key theme of the rally was the decision of Tommy Robinson to move from the EDL to the Quilliam Organisation.  We should see this as a victory for all the activists, including those from this branch who have supported the fight against the EDL and Unite Against Fascisms fight against the EDL.
The last UAF rally attended by the branch showed that the EDL were losing their position as a street army, being forced to hold the demonstration in Farnworth park well away from the public they hope to influence.  They are without doubt demoralised.
One highlight but definite warning that we need to stay on guard was the Greek speaker who described their anti-fascists movement’s role in the arrest and imprisonment of Golden Dawn members who had recently murdered a prominent rapper.
We must remain strong in the our aims for unity and continue to fight racism, facism and discrimination whenever it surfaces.
To find out more about how to become involved in a Self Organised Group or as an Equalities Officer please contact Caroline – caroline.ridgway1@mhsc.nhs.uk or 07748 960950

 

Enduring Values for the NHS

We need to save our NHS, and the March outside the Tory Party Conference on the 29th September is a vital demonstration to show that this country is against the privatised, dismantled, profit making NHS that is being built by the current goverment.

BUT HOW DO UNISON SEE THE FUTURE OF THE NHS? …

 

March on Tory Party Conference – Save the NHS

Save the NHS!29 Sep Manchester 2

60,000 strong demonstration in Manchester tells the Tories they are not welcome in our city!

As workers within the NHS we are aware that privatisation and cuts in the NHS are driving down quality and services. After today’s demonstration in Manchester the Tories will have got the message just how much ordinary people care about the NHS and the Welfare State.  Despite the problems that we face, support for the NHS is still very high and the public are aware of the importance of the care and services provided and that the privatisation of the NHS will ultimately lead to the end of free at the point of service health care.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “Austerity is having a devastating effect on our communities and services, with 21,000 NHS jobs lost over the last three months alone.

29 Sep Manchester 5

Prentis tells crowd government is privatising the NHS

“Let’s call a spade a spade: this is privatisation, pure and simple”. That was how Dave Prentis described what the government is doing to the National Health Service when he spoke at the rally to save the NHS in Manchester today.

With the Conservative Party starting its annual conference near by, UNISON’s general secretary said that it had come to power, “promising ‘no more top-down reorganisations’, with Prime Minister David Cameron personally assuring the electorate: ‘I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS’.

“What did we get?” he asked, and cited the losses to frontline staff that the health service is now facing, with over 5,000 nurses’ posts alone having gone.

“It’s a race to the bottom. Companies offering up savings they can only meet by slashing the workforce and driving down quality.

No to Austerity!

The demonstration, nearly 1 mile long, included trade unionists, NHS Campaign Groups, individuals and supporters of other campaigns.  The emphasis of the demonstration was the government cuts to the NHS but all other austerity.  This government is continuing to force the people of this country to pay the price for reckless gambling by bankers.

It was great to see members of the branch out on the streets marching for our NHS but the fight needs to continue back at work where the real cost of NHS cuts is staff reporting high levels of stress, unmanageable case loads, short staffing, changes to their working hours and an over-reliance on agency staff.

Our jobs are becoming more difficult, and more unsafe and at the same time our standard of living is going down.

Today we marched together but this is not the end of our fight for the NHS or for decent wages and the right to be able to deliver high standards of care.

We must continue to fight until we get rid of this conservative government and we must back workers struggles but most of all the Unions need to come together and strike together to reverse the cuts and to ensure our NHS and Welfare State is not lost for ever.

UNISON Health Conference, April 2013

There was a much different feel to Health Conference this year than there has been in recent years.  We are now in our 6th year of the financial crisis caused by the system of Capitalism and the culture of casino banking resulting in the huge bailouts, financial deficit and the determination of our governments that working class people and vital public services would be attacked in order to repay these debts.

Recent UNISON Health conferences had seen little debate with unopposed motions being agreed and the conference timetable being raced through.

This was certainly not the case this year with many contested motions leading to a busy conference for branch delegates who intervened in around a dozen debates.

Delegates were:
Ben Jackson & Caroline Ridgway, Co-Branch Secretaries
Leah Gilman, Equalities Officer

There was much discussion about the best ways of moving forward and the direction the is needed for the biggest Public Service Union in 2013 fighting the worst attacks the NHS has ever seen, in fact any health Service has ever seen worldwide.

Themes and Discussions

  • Organising & Recruitment
  • Negotiating & Bargaining
  • Campaigning & Promoting Unison

Recruiting as always, is a high priority for UNISON and you should expect to see a presence of branch members in June during a “recruitment fortnight”.

It can be difficult to maintain high union density when financial pressures, redundancies and austerity are affecting the levels of public sector employment with jobs being lost.  However, there is also a recognition that this is a time when Union’s need to remain strong to defend the public sector and of course it’s members.

Our branch believes:

  • That a visible, campaigning union, fighting the attacks on our NHS and it’s members is the best way to maintain density and to recruit.
  • We noted that the highest recruitment levels were achieved when the Union is fighting, and that the lead up to the Pension Strike in Nov 2011saw by far the largest increase in Unison membership for many years.
  • We supported a motion that we should no further support the NHS Body which has agreed this years 1% NHS “uplift” which in
  • Worryingly the “PRB” are also recommending  “a 1% rise for 2014 and 2015”.  Which are bound to cause a further deficit to our salary

Negotiating & Bargaining

These sessions were no doubt the most hotly contended and debated of this year’s health conference with pay and Terms & Conditions without doubt being amongst our members highest concerns as they continue to suffer at the hands of an uncaring Government determined that Healthworkers should pay for this crisis of capitalism.

The recent ‘compromise’ deal on Agenda for Change, which our branch consulted on in January, resulting in us submitting for rejection after holding stalls on several hospital sites, caused fierce argument with high levels of anger.  We called for “censure” of the Health Service Group, due to what we believe was a flawed and unfair consultation process with questions that were heavily weighed to encourage members to accept these cuts to their terms and conditions giving no encouragement to taking action to defend their sick pay, yearly increments and

Pay and our recent 1% uplift, which in reality is a 2% cut also caused an argument with some stating that this is a positive in the current financial crisis and that members are more concerned about keeping their jobs with constant reorganisations and threat of redundancies.

Our Branch Position

Our members cannot continue to keep taking hits to their pay which is causing financial hardship to hard working, efficient and experienced Health Sector Workers.  A real terms pay decrease of 15-20% is the reality since the burst of the financial “bubble”.

Upto 40% of people working in the public sector rely on benefit top-ups including tax credits and housing benefit. This is degrading.  Working people should be able to rely on a fair salary which is at least a ‘living wage’ without having apply from “benefit top ups”.

We should negotiate pay increases across the 4 devolved nations rather than submit to the NHS Pay Review Body, which increasingly seems to deliver according to Government wishes.

A Fighting Union is a Recruiting Union

Turning Point strikers bring protest to Manchester

Workers Betrayed

Members of UNISON West Midlands Community Branch are leading the fight against attempts by the charity Turning Point to drastically cut their terms and conditions of employment. UNISON is disgusted over the notice sent by Turning Point to its 2,600 staff threatening dismissal if they refuse to sign new contracts that slash terms and conditions. Turning Point are not listening to their staff, and we need to heat-up the campaign to get them to take notice.

Therefore UNISON members in Turning Point in the West Midlands have been on strike today – Friday, 26 April, 2013. The striking members brought their protest to the organisation’s offices in Central Manchester, and other members from Greater London Region will be outside Turning Point’s London office (see slideshow above).

Many members have told us that they feel particularly betrayed because their hard earned TUPE protections are being swept away, including redundancy rights. The organisation has to date denied UNISON recognition although it transferred over by law under TUPE.

If the cuts to pay and other terms and conditions are allowed to go ahead then Turning Point workers will be put on the poverty line. Some are facing reductions in pay of up to £10,000 per year. All staff will be hit by the changes depending on their individual contract terms.

UNISON says it is fraudulent for this organisation to bid for contracts, take public money and then slash workers’ pay. This is of particular concern, as due to the Government’s austerity measures, Turning Point is still targeting new contracts from NHS and Council services.

Ben Jackson, Co-Branch Secretary

Manchester Community & Mental Health Branch sent the following message of support:

“Please accept this email as a strong message of support and solidarity with all of the Turning Pont UNISON Staff who have made a brave stand to defend their terms and conditions against a viscous employer. This kind of undermining of hard won conditions of service must be fought and Tuning Point must come to the table and recognise they cannot rip off their lowly paid workers. Turning Point has massive reserves and the bosses award themselves massive bonuses . . . this will simply not be tolerated!

We must stand together and draw a line in the sand for these rouge bosses and I can assure you of the support of this Branch throughout your struggle and fight back!
As discussed earlier our Branch has many Turning Point members (in Manchester) and we will stand with you whenever you need support.

Please send me a contact address for the striking members strike fund so our Branch can make a donation towards your struggle.

I again send to you Solidarity and admiration from all of our 1200 members.

Thank you to the members from our branch who joined their picket line today.”

Social Work Action Network (SWAN) Conference

Defeating the politics of austerity – towards an alternative future

SWAN is a network of social work practitioners, academics, students and social welfare service users united in their concern that social work activity is being undermined by managerialism and marketisation, by the stigmatisation of service users and by welfare cuts and restrictions. Over 500 delegates gathered in London on the weekend of 12-13 April for SWAN’s 8th National Conference, making it the largest social work conference in Europe.

The conference called for an end to the crisis of social work. During the discussions, social workers highlighted that they are forced to spend most of their time inputting data rather than time spent with service users. They highlighted the removal of resources, the decline in conditions and the rise of performance indicators, as well as an increase in the use of capability procedures for those who speak out about growing caseloads. This ‘neoliberal social work’ is not compatible with user centred, emancipatory social work practice. It is undermining possibilities for democratic and participatory approaches.

Huge concern was expressed regarding the privatisation and outsourcing of social care services to corporations such as Virgin, Atos, Capita and Serco. Private companies are not appropriate providers of social services for the simple reason that they will always prioritise profit over people. Some seek profit without any consideration of the cost to communities. The security firm G4S for example runs prisons and immigration detention centres in the UK and abroad. In Palestine it is involved in the illegal removal of men women and children from the west bank to G4S run prisons in Israel. This is a clear breach of the Geneva Conventions.  The company has a terrible human rights record and is now making profit out of our welfare services.

As the SWAN manifesto highlights; under the con-dem government, and new labour before that, “we have witnessed not only greater levels of material inequality, but also an intensified demonisation of asylum seekers, young people and poor families, the very groups that social workers engage with. Too often today social workers are doing little more than supervising the deterioration of people’s lives. These years of turmoil have highlighted that social work has to be defined not by its function for the state but by its value base. Above all it has been a stark lesson in the need for collective organisation, both to defend a vision of social work based on social justice and also to defend the working conditions that make that possible”.

We need a social work that is committed to social justice and challenging poverty and discrimination. But a truly emancipatory social work is not possible without strong trade unions. Throughout the conference there was a repeated call for unions to lead the fight and for coordinated strike action in defence of our services.  Manchester Community and Mental Health UNISON branch has a proud tradition of not only fighting for its members rights in the workplace, but also of active engagement in broader community struggles for social justice. This type of collaboration is the key to building a broad unified movement. Such unity challenges the vicious tactics of divide and rule and gives us the power to resist the destruction of our services.

If you are a social worker, social work student, service user or carer who would like to know more or get involved in your local Manchester SWAN group contact Claire on 07411488141 Or visit SWAN’s Website at www.socialworkfuture.org

Labour Party Health and Care Policy Review

andy_burnham

Andy Burnham MP

A New Agenda for Whole Person Care

I attended the meeting at Manchester Town Hall, 11th April 2013, where the speakers were Andy Burnham, Shadow Secretary of Health and Paul Foley, Head of Unison Health in the North West.

Andy Burnham was airing his ideas for a joint health & social care service if labour get back into government describing the idea as early stage but listed his main priority: Creating an NHS/Social Care service for 21st century and the “whole person”.  He quoted the World Health Organisation from 1948 of health being “A complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing”.

The meeting centred on the change of national health provision from 1948 when people suffered physical danger, disease and illness to to the current time.  A lot of the emphasis was on living longer and the need for more social care although he talked about all ages being included.

He criticised the separation of physical health needs, mental health needs and social care and talked about the need for an approach with care starting from the home.

In terms of funding his emphasis were Local Councils as lead commissioners and NHS as ‘preferred providers’ .  He was keen on services for both health and social care free at the point of access but lots of discussion then went on about best forms of payment.  He talked of “NHS preferred providers” and of reducing private providers but stopped short of NHS only providers and was keen to maintain voluntary and charity providers.

Paul Foley, from Unison North West Health spoke clearly about the need for adequate funding and services being provided on clinical evidence and funded by taxation (especially of the rich) to provider a “free at point of access health & social care service”.  He also emphasised the need for public provided services; not private, charity or voluntary.

A main concern was whether this would need another reconfiguration of the health service with reorganization after reorganization being pushed onto the health service.  There was some talk about working more closely together but without totally integrated services.  Personally I don’t think this type of service would be achievable under current structures although others disagreed on this.

I also asked Andy Burnham about Mental Health Service users – would a separate mental health service be maintained.  In politician style he reversed the question towards myself.  I stated that a “whole person agenda may help from anti-stigma perspective but funding and prioritizing of mental health would be a strong concern.

Caroline Ridgway

No Bedroom Tax

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Greater Manchester Federation Against The Bedroom Tax was launched on Tuesday 20th July with a meeting attended by 150+ people, a wide range of tenants and activists.

The bedroom tax is arguably this government’s fiercest attack on working class people and disabled people and unemployed since the Coalition has come into power.

This will affect 14,000 households in Manchester and 50,000 in Greater Manchester.  The federation agreed to affiliate to the national No Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Campaign.

At its most basic this is a cut in Housing Benefit (for tenants of social landlords) of 14% of rent for those with 1 ‘extra’ bedroom and 25% of rent for those with 2 or more ‘spare’ bedrooms from April 2013.

Bedroom tax is already in place for those in private rented accommodation.

It applies to people in and out of work. One stated aim of the policy is to incentivise people to work; presumably by placing them in such poverty they are forced to take any job they can. It doesn’t apply to pensioners.

There is no provision for parents who have limited responsibility for children, such as visiting at weekends.

In a phone-in, Lord Freud, the author of the Bill, said to a father of 3 boys who visit him a weekends, that he should live in a 1 bedroom flat and the children share a sofa bed when they visit.

Between 66% – 72% of those affected have at least one member of the household who has a disability.

What to do now

Keep in touch with protests, updates and activities on www.nobedroomtax.co.uk

  • Come to the public meeting: Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, 7pm Tuesday 19th March
  • Attend rally against the Bedroom Tax at Piccadilly Gardens on Saturday 23rd March at 1.00pm
  • Organise local tenants groups in your area
  • Leaflet your local Social Housing areas
  • Request Social Housing Landlords to reclassify their housing as ‘1 bedroom’.
  • Write to MP’s and councillors with complaints.
  • For further information see the website www.nobedroomtax.co.uk

 

UNISON Health Care Service Group Conference 2013

The 2013 UNISON Health Care Service Group Conference takes place from 9.30am Monday 22 April to 4pm Wednesday 24 April 2013 at the SECC Glasgow.

The branch will be sending delegates and visitors to health conference and have submitted a number of amendments to motions, including the following one on Agenda for Change, about the changes which have now been agreed by the NHS Staff Council. Members who came to branch consultation meetings agreed they were willing to take industrial action to defend Agenda for Change, and that the changes are detrimental to Health Workers already facing attacks on working conditions, pension contributions and terms, and who have been subject to a pay freeze. The following is the text amendment which we hope to be able to discuss at Health Conference.

We believe defending Agenda for Change is not just the responsibility of branches but also the responsibility of our national Health Service Group Executive. We note that NHS employers proposed cuts to Agenda for Change of lack of unsocial hours payments in sick pay, reductions in incremental progression, generic profiles etc.

We censure the Health Executive for accepting these cuts to AfC despite clear conference policy from last year opposing any reductions in the pay or terms and conditions in AfC.

We make clear that we will not accept any further cuts in national pay or national terms and conditions and will not just fight local attacks on Agenda for Change but national attacks as well.

Please contact Caroline Ridgway for further information about health conference, if you are interested in attending as a visitor or to find out about the other amendments submitted by the branch.