Welcome to our website. We are a Health Care Sector UNISON branch with around 2500 members most of whom are employed by Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust. Our other members are employed by a wide range of mental health care employers across Greater Manchester including Independent Hospitals, Nursing Homes and GP Practices, or are Retired Members or Unemployed Members from the branches which merged to form this Greater Manchester Mental Health Branch.
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.
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
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.