Welcome to our website. We are a Health Care Sector UNISON branch with around 1200 members of whom approximately 800 are employed by Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust. Our other members are employed by a wide range of community health care employers across Manchester including Independent Hospitals, Nursing Homes and GP Practices. From January 2015 we have welcomed (back) into our branch members employed by Health Education England, NHS England, Public Health England and the Manchester CCGs. Many of these members used to be in our branch – employed by NHS Manchester or the Strategic Health Authority or the Manchester and Merseyside Deaneries. We’re pleased to have them back with us.
We hope that you find this web site both helpful and of interest. We wish to provide information about the branch and how to access help when you need to, as well as having links to UNISON’s National and Regional Websites, and to organisations campaigning about the NHS and other issues.
In addition we hope to keep you up to date with activities and priorities of the branch. We see this branch as an active, campaigning UNISON branch and hope to provide you with details of upcoming events we will be attending as well as reports, links and photographs as we develop this website.
There is a contact form available for you to contact the website administrators. There are further contact details of branch officers and stewards under the ‘Branch Activists’ tab.
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.
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
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.”
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