Summer 2011 - UNISON Yorkshire and Humberside

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Summer 2011 - UNISON Yorkshire and Humberside
P6 SAVING LIVES AT GUNPOINT
Ray Gray reveals what it is like to be
a member of International Rescue
P9 MISTER 100 PER CENT
New regional secretary John Cafferty
explains why he’s a trade unionist
UNISON
ACTIVE!
THE MAGAZINE FOR MEMBERS IN YORKSHIRE AND HUMBERSIDE
WENDY’S
WAR
One woman’s fight for the NHS - with
the backing of her family p22-24
P20 SHEILA SHOWS THE WAY
How a determined shop steward
fought for mental health centres
NEWSR
LETTEER
WINN
P.4
SUMMER 2011 | ISSUE 9 | £3
WWW.UNISON-YORKS.ORG.UK
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 03
WELCOME
PREPARE FOR BATTLE
OurUnion
General Secretary
Dave Prentis
Regional Secretary
John Cafferty
Regional Convenor
Wendy Nichols
UNISON
Yorkshire & Humberside
Commerce House, Wade Lane,
Leeds LS2 8NJ
T: 0845 355 0845 or freephone
textphone 08000 967 968
W: www.unison-yorks.org.uk
Lines are open 6am-midnight
Monday-Friday and
9am-4pm Saturdays
Editor
Barrie Clement
Consulting Editor
Mary Maguire
Chief Photographer
Jim Varney
Contributors
Marion Batten, Peter Carroll, Rob
Demaine, Alan Hughes, Mary Maguire,
Wendy Nichols, Dave Prentis, Paul
Routledge, Margaret Thomas
DAVE
PRENTIS
GENERAL
SECRETARY
e are about to
enter the most
critical period
in our union’s history.
Our public services are
under threat as never
before. Jobs are going
by the thousand, pay is
frozen and our
pensions are deemed
too good so they must
be cut.
The attack on public
sector pensions has
never really gone
away. Envy is
whipped up by the
establishment who
have the most, but
want to pay the least.
Most of the selfrighteous rage about
public sector “goldplated” pensions
comes from those who
have done pretty well
W
for themselves.
The government is
happy to go along
with this pensions
frenzy and wants to
cut public sector
provision, regardless
of the evidence that
they are sustainable
and affordable.
If we have to take
action to defend our
pensions, our resolve
will be tested to the
limit. And if I thought
that a one-day strike,
a march and a rally
would change the
government’s
position, we’d have
done it by now.
Make no mistake,
this will be a longdrawn out battle. We
will have to use smart
action, remain
disciplined and
united and work
closely with other
public sector unions.
I have been leading
the talks on behalf of
the unions with the
government and
hoping for the best.
But as general
secretary of UNISON,
I have been planning
for the worst.
We will have to
ballot more than one
million members, we
will have to use all
the resources of the
union to back them.
If we are forced to
ballot for strike
action, we must work
all-out to get a
massive turn-out and
an overwhelming yes
vote.
Cover Image
Robert Boardman
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© UNISON 2011
They’re depending on us
In every area of our public
services we are now seeing the
WENDY
real human cost of the savage
NICHOLS
REGIONAL government spending cuts.
CONVENOR
And as we have warned
since the general election, it is
ls
o
h
W.Nic
the most vulnerable who are on
the coalition government’s hit list.
In this edition of UNISON Active! we
once again see how services to young
people who are neither in work nor
education are being slashed.
These young people are being
abandoned. As our members who
work with them tell us, we are
creating a “lost generation” who
will undoubtedly be at greater risk
of falling into a life of crime, drugs
and misery.
Our health service has never been
at greater risk of destruction. The
government says it believes in the
principles of the NHS but is busy
opening it up for wholesale
privatisation.
While the government’s so-called
“listening” exercise on the NHS has
been taking place, real wards in real
hospitals have been closing. The pause
in the NHS re-organisation has been
nothing more than a public relations
exercise.
Sheffield University is leading the
charge on our members’ pensions by
ending the final salary scheme and
forcing the lowest paid workers to
contribute much more for a far lower
pension at the end of their working
lives. Others will follow suit.
But in UNISON we are prepared for
whatever it takes to protect jobs and
essential services aganst this
unprecedented attack. The communities
we live and work in are depending on us.
04 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
NEWS
NEWSR
LETTEER
WINN
The judges were
spoiled for choice
Thanks very much
everyone for your
entries to our
newsletter
competition (Active!
Spring edition).
It was extremely
difficult to decide
who should be the
winner. In fact we
decided to choose
joint winners who
will each receive
£350 in high street
vouchers.
Equal first were
Bradford local
government branch
and the City of
Sheffield local
government branch.
Congratulations!
The judges felt
that these two were
inseparable in terms
of overall quality.
The articles were
informative and
mainly “homegrown” – not
relying on national
material.
But if choosing a
single winner was
impossible, so was
deciding on a
runner-up. So, we
ducked out of that
one as well!
Equal second
were Sheffield
Northern General
health branch and
Doncaster District &
Bassettlaw health
branch, each of
which will receive
£150 in vouchers.
Mind you, these
two weren’t far
behind the winners.
They were just
pipped at the post
because of the
slightly better
content of the joint
winners.
The newsletters of
another three
branches deserve a
special mention.
Leeds community
health branch whose
newsletter just lost
out to the two
runners-up and
Airedale health and
Harrogate local
government
branches whose
entries also
impressed the
judges. In these
cases the judges felt
the newsletters
could benefit from
more local articles and in the case of
Airedale - more
content. However
the judges were
impressed by the
branches’ efforts.
So, keep up the
good work and if
ever you feel that
one of your
newsletter stories
could do with a
regional airing, send
it to Active! editor
Barrie Clement at
[email protected]
yahoo.co.uk or call
him on 07917 881
787.
Pam joins the team
Leeds-born Pam
Johnson has joined
UNISON’s regional
management team
in Yorkshire and
Humberside.
Pam is taking
over responsibility
for health from
John Cafferty, the
new regional
secretary.
Her first job in
the union
movement was
with the Y&H
office of NUPE in
the 80s. Since 1993
Pam has worked in
London, first for
NUPE and then
UNISON. For the
last eight years she
has been head of
learning and
organising.
“I’ve loved
doing the job in
London, but this
was an opportunity
I couldn’t afford to
miss. The main
part of my job as
part of the regional
management team
will be to take the
union forward in
the face of cuts and
to lead the health
team in protecting
the NHS and
building
membership.
“I’m very
fortunate in that
I’m coming into a
well-established
team, some of
whom I’ve known
for a long time,”
she says.
A keen walker
who enjoys the
Yorkshire Dales
and open
moorland around
her Haworth home,
Pam is a Leeds
United supporter.
Pam Johnson
IT’S YOUR LAST CHANCE!
FAMI
FUN D LY
AY
Come to Family Fun Day at the UNISON Races on Saturday 30 July.
FREE entry for children under 18 years when accompanied by a
paying adult*. Mini fun fair in the family enclosure. It’s £4 to ride all
day or £1 per ride. The UNISON Races are a great day out.
l Maximum three children per adult. See page 2 for all the details.
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also receive a year’s free Home Emergency Cover worth £48.
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obtained before 30.09.11. Offer only available to new customers. Please note that the Free Home Emergency Offer may be withdrawn at any time. For quality and protection your call will be recorded. UIA exchange information with other
insurance companies and the police to prevent fraud. UNISON is an Introducer Appointed Representative of UIA (Insurance Services) Ltd and UIA (Insurance) Ltd, which are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Travel
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06 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
Image: Photolibrary
FEATURE INTERNATIONAL RESCUE
H
HIGHLY SKILLED
Ray Gray has more reasons
than most to grasp the power
of that sentiment.
As a team leader for the
SAVING LIVES
AT GUNPOINT
UNISON regional organiser Ray Gray has rescued stricken
people in desperate circumstances all over the world. On
one occasion he had to bury the victims of a vicious civil
war in a mass grave. Here he tells Peter Carroll what it
means to be a member of the International Rescue Corps
s Above: Armed
and brutalised –
children at war
s
e has been
threatened at
gunpoint many
times, risked life
and limb
tunnelling under collapsing
buildings, and saved many
hundreds of lives.
UNISON regional
organiser Ray Gray has
travelled the world with the
International Rescue Corps
for over 20 years, helping
stricken communities cope
with natural and man-made
disasters. Life is precarious,
he says, and therefore
precious.
There’s a scene in
Spielberg’s Schindler’s List
where the hero is handed a
ring which is inscribed:
“Save one life and you save
the world.”
Opposite: Ray third left with
UNISON friends
International Rescue Corps,
he has been part of an
extremely close-knit group of
people (“they are my family,
really”), all highly skilled in
rescuing victims of the most
appalling devastation
imaginable.
They carry bleepers at all
times and within hours of
them going off they will be in
Indonesia, Pakistan, Rwanda,
Japan, or wherever in the
world people need their
expert help to save lives.
Ray and his team made
international headlines in
March when the British
Embassy in Tokyo failed to
provide the necessary
paperwork authorising them to
help victims of the earthquake
and subsequent tsunami.
They had to fly home
because of the bureaucratic
blunder, but not before
donating their supplies to
Japanese relief workers.
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 07
But most of the time
International Rescue is
enthusiastically welcomed
across the globe.
Ray said: “I have been
questioned at gunpoint on a
number of occasions by rebels
wanting to know why we are
there. It is very scary to have a
child of 12 or 13 years old who
is armed, brutalised and
angry, pointing a gun at you.
“That is why the badges we
wear on our uniforms are on
velcro. Many places are
hostile to the union jack so
you just take it off and replace
it with a United Nations
badge. Anything it takes to get
to where the people need our
help.”
Ironically, the child soldiers
caught up in international war
zones and disaster sites are
the same age as most of those
whom International Rescue
are able to save. Children are
naturally more resilient when
it comes to survival.
DEAD BROTHER
In 2005 a 7.6 magnitude
earthquake hit Kashmir. With
the help of UN Land Rovers
and helicopters, International
Rescue arrived at a school
which had completely
collapsed.
The head teacher was
standing beside the collapsed
building, unable to account
for more than 200 of his 700
pupils.
So the team crawled in,
using their specialist sonic
equipment, after voices
had been
heard from
deep
within
the
rubble.
Eventually, in the bowels of
the ruined building, they
found three boys lying on a
bed sheltered by an angle of
collapsed wall. One was
dead, but two were still alive.
The younger boy was a 14year-old called Imran, the
older a 16-year-old, Maqbool.
They got the two boys to
wriggle towards them and
hauled them out. Both were
dehydrated and traumatised,
especially Maqbool, who was
covered in his dead brother’s
blood.
~
UNITED NATIONS
IT IS VERY
SCARY TO
HAVE A
CHILD OF
12 OR 13
POINTING
A GUN
AT YOU
~
addicts in the country.
Tunnelling and winching for
days on end without sleep
requires regular stimulation.
And he has nightmares.
Bulldozing thousands of
those murdered - in the
Rwandan civil war of 1995 into lime pits was a lifechanging experience.
He said: “I couldn’t believe
people could do that to each
other. My heart told me it was
wrong to bulldoze those
corpses but it had to be done
to stop fatal diseases
spreading to the living.”
MOTORBIKE CRASH
Those who feel they could
contribute to this most heroic
of voluntary services have to
undergo a three year training
programme before they are
even allowed to go overseas.
It is gruelling, and some have
completed it only to find that
in real-life they do not have
the psychological strength to
cope with death and
destruction and have to
leave.
Ray says the organisation is
dependent on absolutely
trustworthy teamwork, and it
is not at all surprising that
many of the International
Rescue volunteers are
UNISON members.
Some years ago Ray lost his
teenage son in a motorbike
crash. He was on his own at
the time and two members of
his team, his “family”, moved
in with him for weeks to help
him cope with the tragedy.
Ray is one of the few
registered caffeine
BRAVE MAN
The loss of his son brought
devastating pain, but among
the ways Ray survived was
by helping to save other lives
around the world.
He said: “All this has
convinced me that life is
precious and precarious and I
try to savour every minute
with my loved ones.”
But how do they cope
psychologically with such
harrowing and heartbreaking
experiences?
“We cry a lot when we are
not doing our work. Crying is
a natural, necessary response
to such terrible events. It is
essential to keep us going, all
together.” Brave man. n
YouCanHelp
The International Rescue Corps
needs fund-raisers to keep it
going and welcomes interest from
people who feel they could train to
be a part of the team.
If you think you can help them, go
to website www.intrescue.org, or
e-mail on [email protected]
08 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
MEDIA REVIEW
NOW FOR THE REAL STORY
The papers went absolutely potty over the royal wedding, but there was plenty of
coverage of planet earth too. Mary Maguire casts an expert eye over the media
~
Mary Maguire –
UNISON’s head
of press and
broadcasting
Y
Local angles on the wedding
Image: waynehowes / Shutterstock.com
~
HOURS OF
AIRTIME
WERE ALSO
DEVOTED
TO STORIES
OF THE
CUTS AND
THEIR
IMPACT
ou can’t beat a posh
wedding, a visit from
an American tourist
and lurid details of
the sex lives of the
famous to get the media
salivating. Aah, if it weren’t
for those superinjunctions,
how many more pages could
they fill with those “ten times a
night” raunchy tales. That’s
enough of that.
Just in case this column gets
superinjuncted, I won’t name
the news organisation that
waited until it was firmly in
the dock on illegal phone
hacking, to suddenly shine the
spotlight on a famous
footballer. That organisation
has several newspapers, a
satellite TV channel and is
owned by an Australian
magnate who became a US
citizen in order to make even
more money.
That wedding – the Royal
one - captivated the nation.
Wall-to-wall coverage, the
pomp, the splendour, the
circumstance, the extra bank
holiday, the dress, Pippa – it
had it all. Yorkshire and
Humberside papers found
their own angles.
The Yorkshire Post reported
how tourism leaders would
use the wedding to lure people
to Yorkshire. And
Scarborough News milked its
training courses on how to
throw street parties.
Shortly after the festivities,
the ash cloud attempted a
come-back. The American
tourist who was looking for an
apostrophe in Ireland, wasn’t
going to be beaten. He
climbed aboard Air Force One
out-running the ash cloud,
like something out of a
Hollywood movie, to land
safely in England.
Like a true American
tourist, he had his picture
taken at all the tourist spots:
House of Commons,
Buckingham Palace, Downing
Street. Keen to get a Yorkshire
link, the Doncaster Free Press
pictured Barack Obama
holding a Yorkshire Terrier.
But beneath all this showy
celebration, you find acres of
print and hours of airtime
devoted to the cuts. The true
state of the nation.
Hull hit the headlines as
BBC Look North reported that
the council was accused of
causing chaos. With 1700 jobs
going, UNISON made its
mark on Radio Humberside,
Yorkshire North, Calendar
News, Hull D Mail et al.
UNISON warned of the
impact of police cuts (Radio
York,) and strikes on the cards
in Doncaster (Free Press,
Yorks Post).
Patient care hit by NHS
staff cuts (Telegraph & Argus,
Dewsbury reporter) was the
typical headline voicing the
union’s concerns. And a
UNISON petition against
NHS cuts got support from
the Scunthorpe Tel, Keighley
News, Craven Herald and
many others.
The Spenborough Guardian
told us of the Kirklees
campaign to save the crèche.
And thanks to Scunthorpe
hospital branch sec Julian
Corlett for warning, through
the Scunthorpe Tel, that the
NHS would end up little
more than a brand name with
privateers making huge
profits.
But I leave you with the
following headline from the
Scarborough Evening News:
“Unison celebrates best
quarter ever”. Well done to
the Yorkshire-based
machinery manufacturer. n
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 09
Images: Matt Trommer & Andresr / Shutterstock.com
REGIONAL SECRETARY FEATURE
MR 100 PER CENT
Newly-appointed regional secretary John Cafferty tells Active! editor Barrie Clement
about his family, his Scottish roots and what makes him a convinced trade unionist
M
trade union movement and
his mission to do well by
working people.
That means a 60 to 70 hour
week, although he points out
that his work and his social
life are sometimes difficult to
tell apart. “If you’re having a
pint with colleagues and
talking about important
political issues, is that work
or leisure?” John has always
combined his trade union
activities with work for the
labour movement. “I want to
do the best for our members
and one of the best ways of
doing that is through politics
– especially in the public
sector where national and
local politicians can have a
very direct impact on our
s Above: John’s
a Scot with roots
in England
members’ working lives.
“I want to make life better
for working people – and I
think the best way to do that
is by combining into a single
united voice and that’s got to
be within the Labour Party. If
working people think Labour
isn’t representing their
interests, then they should
join it, change it and make it
reflect working people’s
views.”
SOCIAL HUB
John Cafferty
But he also believes UNISON
should be the voice of the
community as a whole, with
the union’s members
combining with the users of
public services to form the
social hub of a locality.
s
ost activists in
the region will
have seen John
Cafferty at
conferences,
meetings and social
gatherings.
But what is the new regional
secretary really like?
Well, what you see is what
you get.
John eats, sleeps and
breathes the labour movement.
Most other considerations –
with the notable exception of
his family – are set to one side.
The former head of health in
Yorkshire and Humberside,
who became regional secretary
on April 4 keeps a weather eye
on the fortunes of Celtic FC,
but his abiding passion is the
10 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
FEATURE REGIONAL SECRETARY
s
Image: Brendan Howard / Shutterstock.com
s
Left: John’s
father served in
India with the RAF
Among his political
heroes are Aneurin Bevan,
Keir Hardie and Emmanuel
Shinwell– all of whom were
involved in titanic struggles
for what they believed in. He
believes that the Harold
Wilson Government’s
contribution was greatly
under-estimated- especially
the creation of the Open
University and the major
improvements in access to
higher education.
s
s
Left: He had a
job as a caretaker
for 11 years
Left: The young
couple went on
caravan holidays
s
Image: Christopher Elwell / Shutterstock.com
Image: Groomee / Shutterstock.com
Image: Gustavo Toledo / Shutterstock.com
MAJOR SUCCESS
Left: He has
always been
a Labour man
The new regional secretary
learned his trade unionism at
the knee of his maternal
grandfather Pat Conlan.
Pat’s parent’s had migrated
from Ireland in the late 1800s
and Pat who was born in
Glasgow, became a “pupil
teacher” in that city in his
teens – an older pupil who
was bright enough to teach
younger children in
preparation for becoming a
teacher himself.
But this was not to last.
Pat’s mother, and
subsequently father, died and Pat was forced to find
work in Glasgow to feed and
keep himself - in those days
there were no grants or
student loans.
Soon he moved to Alloa,
near Stirling, where he
became a production worker
in the glass works and ended
up as the union convenor, a
post he held for decades. One
of his major successes was the
establishment of a widows’
fund at the company, which
made a death payment to the
widows of workers, whether
they died at work or not.
“One of my first memories
as a young kid - probably
about four or five years old –
was talking to my grandfather.
He would tell me about
working conditions at the
plant, especially how hot it
was there.
“He was highly educated
and one of the best-read men I
ever came across. He was a
very powerful singer who
sang many of the old Scottish
and Irish folk songs. He was
extremely highly-regarded at
the works.
“He never tried to cut any
deals to improve his own lot.
He was concerned about the
people he represented. That
established values and beliefs
in my mind at a very early
age.”
John’s father Michael
continued the trade union
tradition. Michael had served
during the Second World War
as an RAF technician working
on secret aircraft instruments
in India.
When he was demobbed he
joined National Cash Register
as a technician, which took
him all over Scotland. As a
family man Michael craved a
more settled existence and
took a job as a school
caretaker. Within a year or two
he founded the Alloa branch
of NUPE which became
responsible for most of the
union’s members in central
Scotland.
Michael became a senior
figure in NUPE north of the
border and as a teenager his
son John came into contact
with large numbers of the
union’s officials, lay and full
time.
CAREER CHOICE
John remembers conversations
in the late 60s, in which his
father talked of the need for a
national minimum wage and
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 11
SECURITY GUARD
After a spell as a security
guard, he followed in his
father’s footsteps and got a
temporary job as a school
caretaker in Alloa. “The
original intention was to work
at the school for six or nine
months, but I ended up
staying there for 11 years and I
never went back to complete
my degree.”
He was drawn into the
labour movement, developing
his education through union
training courses. “It was
almost as if I woke up one
morning and said to myself,
this is what I wanted to do all
along,” he says. John became a
full-time official with NUPE in
1991.
CARE ASSISTANT
John has three children. The
oldest is Lianne, 31, who
gained a first in biology at
York University and now lives
in Wootton Bassett with her
son Connor and husband
Andy who has just returned
from a six-month tour of duty
with the RAF in Afghanistan.
Donna Marie, 26, is a health
care assistant in the A&E
department at a Leeds
hospital and wants to become
a nurse. Brendan, 23, is at Hull
University in the final year of
a philosophy degree.
John met his wife Linda at a
party while he was at Paisley
college and a few years later
they were married. Linda has
retired from nursing and lives
with John in York.
When the children were
young John and Linda would
go caravanning and York was
one of their favourite
destinations south of the
border. So when he was
appointed a full-time NUPE
official, he chose north
Yorkshire as his patch rather
than the West Midlands or
London.
LONG HOURS
He has now lived in Yorkshire
for more than 20 years. “When
I first came to work here I had
difficulty with the accents and
I know they had difficulty
with mine. But these days
when I go back to Scotland,
believe it or not, I have
difficulty with some of their
accents. The kids have got
strong ties here now and
we’ve put down roots, so it’s
difficult to see us going back.”
So what did he put down as
his nationality when he filled
in the census – given that he
has been known to wear a kilt
on special occasions? “My
ethnicity is Scottish, but I
wrote down British because
that’s my nationality. You can
safely say
I’m not a
fan of
~
the necessity of establishing a
single union for the public
service. It took until 1993 to set
up UNISON and 1999 to
establish the minimum wage.
So John grew up in an
atmosphere which made his
choice of career almost
inevitable. Less predictable
was his interest in chemistry
and geology which he pursued
as a degree course at Paisley
college of Technology, now
part of the University of the
West of Scotland.
In fact he failed to complete
his final year. “I hadn’t done
the work. I scraped through
two exams, but hadn’t done
the work for the others. The
plan was to go back and do the
other two.”
IF WORKING
PEOPLE
DON’T LIKE
LABOUR,
THEY
SHOULD
JOIN IT AND
CHANGE IT
~
Scottish nationalism, or indeed
English nationalism. I think
there’s a case for devolving
decision-making, but I think
the nationalist approach and
the breaking up of the UK is
heading in the wrong
direction.”
So does he have any
weaknesses as a regional
secretary? “One of my
weaknesses is the long hours I
work. I’ve got to address that,
given that the union is always
arguing for a proper work-life
balance for its members. But I
would say that it’s difficult to
do in my job because I’ve met
many of my friends through
the labour movement and the
same goes for Linda. So, as I
say, it’s often difficult to
separate the two.” n
CurriculumVitae
John Cafferty, UNISON’s new
regional secretary, has been a full
time organiser for UNISON and
previously NUPE. Before that he
was a branch secretary and
political activist in Scotland.
John previously managed
UNISON’s regional health,
political, recruitment and
organising, and print and
communication teams.
In his capacity as UNISON’s
regional head of health, John was
also the chair of the Yorkshire &
Humber staff side of the NHS
regional social partnership forum.
Over the 20 year period that John
has worked for UNISON, he has
been involved in all aspects of the
union’s representational work
having covered higher and further
education, utilities, local
government and health. John was
responsible for health for seven
years.
12 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
FEATURE PENSIONS
DAYLIGHT ROBBERY
Alan Hughes reveals how the ConDem government is stealing huge sums of
money from public sector workers, driving many into a poverty-stricken retirement
he Tory Press,
cheered on by the
Taxpayers Alliance,
has been running a
consistently nasty
campaign against public
sector pensions for several
years.
Regular headlines about
“gold-plated pensions”
appear in the Daily Mail and
Daily Express decrying the
pensions enjoyed by “public
sector fat cats”.
Let’s for the moment ignore
the hypocrisy of newspaper
editors who take home
salaries far higher than any
employee in local government
or the NHS and have multimillion pound pension pots.
Let’s instead look at how
the government is in the
process of robbing millions of
employees of the pensions
they have been paying into for
years.
LIVING LONGER
In 2006 the Labour
government negotiated
significant changes to the local
government and NHS pension
schemes following industrial
action led by UNISON. The
changes were in response to
the fact that we are living
longer and, therefore,
pensions require more
funding.
The ConDem government,
immediately it was elected,
announced its intention to
review public sector pensions.
The job of overseeing the
review was handed to Lord
Image: Oleg Golovnev / Shutterstock.com
T
Hutton, an ex-Labour
minister who had happily
accepted his generous exMP’s pension before moving
to the House of Lords.
Not surprisingly, his
appointment and the Hutton
Report which was published
in March 2011 were warmly
welcomed by the CBI and the
Institute of Directors. The
Hutton Report, in brief,
recommends that workers
should work longer, pay more
and get a worse pension.
s Above: Millions
of people face
poverty
PRESS MYTHS
CAREER AVERAGE
The major conclusion of
Hutton was that final salary
pension schemes should not
continue and pensions after
2015 should be based on a
career average. For many
people, who stay in the same
job on roughly the same
salary throughout their
careers, this will not make
much difference. Those
people who progress through
the ranks and move into
senior positions will find
themselves paying higher
contributions for lower
pensions than they would
under the current schemes.
Alan Hughes
So are the pension reforms
necessary?
For UNISON members the
two main schemes are the
local government pension
scheme (LGPS) and the NHS
scheme. Both of these schemes
are cash rich.
Contrary to the myths
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 13
STEALTH TAXES
Other public sector schemes
such as those for teachers,
police, civil servants and the
armed forces face even bigger
changes as they have lower
contribution rates.
The teaching unions and
PCS were due to take strike
action on June 30. UNISON is
awaiting the outcome of
negotiations with the
government, but Dave Prentis,
UNISON general secretary
has warned that the Hutton
Report brings industrial
action “one step closer”.
And then of course, we
have Osborne’s stealth taxes.
Even before consultation has
ended, Chancellor George
Osborne, has slipped in two
measures which penalise
public sector workers and
reduce pensions.
MONEY RAISED
The first measure, which was
included in the 2011 Budget,
was to increase public sector
workers’ pension
contributions by three per cent
in order to raise £1.8 billion.
This is a direct tax on public
sector workers. The money
raised will not go into the
pension funds, but into
Treasury coffers.
The average worker
currently pays £24 a week in
pension contributions. This
will rise to £36 per week for
no extra benefit.
The second change is that
annual pension increases will
be based on the Consumer
Price Index (CPI) rather than
the Retail Price Index (RPI).
This will reduce the increase
by about 15 per cent a year.
These changes to the
contributions and benefits
arising out of the Hutton
Report and the Budget
threaten to undermine the
future of pension funds.
Surveys undertaken by
unions suggest that up to 50
per cent of members could
leave the local government
scheme.
STRIDENT CRITIC
The consequences of
widespread withdrawals from
the LGPS are potentially
disastrous for the schemes,
the members who remain in
them and the economy. The
LGPS invests £40 billion every
year in British stocks and
shares as well as providing
venture capital for new
businesses. If these funds
were to dry up the British
economy would be badly hit
and the already fragile
recovery would be threatened.
The Daily Mail has been the
most strident critic of
public sector pensions,
yet its own website
has revealed the real
pensions crisis.
Most firms
are closing
~
peddled by the press, these
are schemes to which
members contribute. For
example, contributions to the
NHS scheme last year were £2
billion more than pensions
paid out. The largest local
government fund in the
region - West Yorkshire - has
reserves of over £7 billion and
its annual return on
investments easily exceeds the
sums it has to pay to
pensioners.
UNISON believes that
these schemes are sustainable
and that the government
should continue to honour the
2006 agreements.
MILLIONS
ARE BEING
ROBBED
OF THE
PENSIONS
THEY HAVE
BEEN
PAYING
INTO FOR
YEARS
~
down final salary schemes
and replacing them with
defined contribution
schemes.
The problem is that final
salary schemes currently
provide an average annual
pension of about £7500 while
defined contribution schemes
only return about £1300 a
year.
The Mail estimates that up
to 15 million pensioners will
be forced into near poverty.
This means pensioners suffer
more health problems as they
are forced to cut back
spending on food and
heating.
The real pensions scandal
is that millions of older
people face a difficult future.
UNISON is leading the
campaign to maintain
decent pensions for its
members. This is a fight we
cannot afford to lose. n
Pay more, get less
In March hundreds of thousands of
people stood up for public services
at the TUC march in London. Now
we must mobilise many more to
defend our pensions. The
government's strategy on
pensions is clear.
They want us to:
n pay more
n work longer
n get less when we retire.
The key threats are:
n Higher pension contributions
n Increases in retirement age
n Closing the current schemes
and creating new ones
n The end of pension protection
if you face privatisation
n Annual pension increases will be
cut because they will be based
on CPI, not RPI
14 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
ANALYSIS RUGBY
LEAGUE OF ITS OWN
The link between rugby league and UNISON is growing. Barrie Clement examines
our relationship with a community-minded sport and finds it benefits both partners
f all the team sports
in Britain, rugby
league has always
had the reputation
for being the most
open-minded and progressive.
When the great winger Billy
Boston was left out of the
Welsh rugby union side
because of the colour of his
skin, he was welcomed by
league and went on to play for
Great Britain.
O
When the Germans
invaded France during the
Second World War, it was the
rugby union hierarchy which
acquiesced in - and
sometimes supported - the
pro-Nazi Vichy regime in
southern France. Senior
rugby union officials
denounced their colleagues
in league for their “proresistance” sympathies. As a
result, the collaborationist
LEAGUE HAS MANY WORKING CLASS PLAYERS...
s The Eagles are
carrying the
message
government allowed the
union game to take over
league grounds.
And it was the high
number of working class
players in the north of
England which led to the
original split in the game of
rugby. Leaders of what
became league clubs in the
north wanted to pay their
players for missing shifts,
whereas the moneyed middle
RUGBY SPLIT OVER PAYMENTS...
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 15
BRAVE DECISION
More recently rugby league
has developed links with
trade unions led by UNISON.
Our union helps to attract
people to the game and the
game helps promote our
message. It is a virtuous circle.
But the game is not without
its problems. While rugby
league crowds these days are
rarely accused of racism, there
was a particularly nasty case
of homophobia last year when
Castleford Tigers were at
home to the Wrexham-based
Celtic Crusaders.
The Crusaders’ winger
Gareth Thomas, a former
Welsh rugby union star, was
subjected to a barrage of
homophobic abuse. He is the
only rugby league player to
have “come out” as gay.
The Tigers were fined
£40,000 by the Rugby Football
League for the behaviour of
their fans. Such a sum would
be a flea bite to a leading
football team, but it was big
money for Castleford.
UNISON was keen to
ensure that the North of
England’s own game should
remain free of homophobia
and so the region sponsored a
groundbreaking match on
March 13th at Bramall Lane,
Sheffield which sent a clear
message to the public that
homophobia had no place in
the sport.
UNISON teamed up with
the Sheffield Eagles RLFC to
sponsor the “Tackling
Homophobia Day” match
against the Widnes Vikings.
Regional Convenor Wendy
Nichols, and Sheffield Eagles
head coach and chief
executive Mark Aston, both
felt there was an urgent need
to make it clear that
homophobic chants and
insults would not be
tolerated in rugby league.
Mark said he was
delighted that UNISON had
chosen his club to highlight
the issue. “We want to show
that the doors in rugby
league are open to everybody
regardless of their sexuality,
race or religion. Gareth
Thomas has put this issue in
the spotlight and it is great
that he has made such a
brave and progressive
decision.
Rugby League is all about
honesty, respect and integrity.
There is absolutely no place
for any form of prejudice
against individuals in this
sport – as there should not be
in any other walk of life.
Wendy pointed out that
UNISON had always stood
up against any form of
prejudice and bigotry. “I am
delighted that the club has
taken this principled stand
against homophobia.
UNISON is always proud
to be part of the communities
in which our members live
and work and to take a lead
on challenging and changing
offensive, outdated attitudes
to minorities.”
The union has also
established a firm
relationship with amateur
rugby league, through the
regional office and through
branches. UNISON sponsors
TIGERS CROWD ACCUSED OF HOMOPHOBIA...
~
class rugby officials in the
south insisted on strict
amateurism. So there is a
strong political narrative in
the development of the game.
UNISON
HELPS
ATTRACT
PEOPLE
TO THE
GAME
AND THE
GAME
PROMOTES
OUR
MESSAGE
~
Wendy Nichols The Eagles
took a stand
teams fielded by the British
Amateur Rugby League
Association for instance.
SAFE SPORT
Chris Jenkinson, a regional
organiser and a Leeds Rhinos
fan, said the administration of
rugby league had its faults,
but it was a game which was
continually trying to reach out
to the community.
“It’s a safe sport for
spectators. I’ve always felt
comfortable about my safety and the safety of my partner –
when I’ve been watching the
game. It’s always been a
family-friendly sport. You
couldn’t always say that
about football.”
Reaffirming the link
between UNISON and rugby
league, the union also
sponsored a match on May 15
between the Eagles and Leigh
Centurions as part of the “Our
NHS, Our Future” campaign.
Rob Demaine, UNISON’s
regional head of health, said
the sponsorship was part of a
concerted campaign to inform
the public of the threat to
abolish comprehensive health
care and to ask for their
support in opposing the Social
Care Bill.
He said sponsoring the
Sheffield Eagles game was a
highly effective way of getting
the campaign message across
to thousands of people who
would all be negatively
affected if the Bill is passed.
UNISON is now looking
forward to the 2013 rugby
league world cup, hosted by
England and Wales. Chris
believes there could be further
opportunities for getting our
message across. n
THE CLUB WAS FINED £40,000...
16 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
Image: Jim Varney
FEATURE JOBS AND SERVICES
eep spending cuts
are beginning to hit
services and jobs
across Yorkshire
and Humberside,
particularly in local
government and health.
In Hull, over 1,000 jobs
have been lost this year.
Thankfully the new Labourcontrolled council has given a
commitment to in-house
services, protecting jobs and
protecting the people who
depend on UNISON
members.
Women and young people
are bearing the brunt of the
bankers’ recession. Almost
one million youngsters are
unemployed.
Some 70 per cent of our
members are women, many of
them low paid, part-time
workers, who have either seen
their pay frozen or received
an increase below the inflation
rate. Prices are still rising so
our members are struggling
more and more.
D
LOST GENERATION
WOMEN HIT
HARDEST
Government spending cuts are
starting to bite. Regional manager
Margaret Thomas urges activists
to step up recruitment as part of
the battle to save public services
Cuts to the Connexions
service are also set to have a
devastating impact on
vulnerable young people who
are currently not in education,
employment or training.
There is a real danger that as a
result of the ConDem
government policies, the
mistakes of the 1980s, which
led to a lost generation of
young people, will be
repeated. We are actively
seeking meetings with
employers in an attempt to
secure funding to minimise
the impact of the cuts.
It’s been a difficult time
across the region. Around £20
billion of cuts have already
been announced to NHS
budgets. In Yorkshire and
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 17
~
BADLY AFFECTED
In Leeds, UNISON worked
closely with service-users and
their families to stop the
closure of its mental health
day centres. Well done Leeds!
But other areas are still badly
affected. There are massive
cuts in voluntary sector social
housing for instance. And
there are redundancies in
colleges and attacks on
pensions in some universities.
All this despite a proposed
hike of £6,000 a year in
student tuition fees. Staff on
lower salary grades will
suffer, while their
colleagues on higher
salaries are unaffected.
What an example of a
two tier system!
Those that have and
those that have
not!
s
We have been actively
campaigning against these
proposals across towns and
cities, showing a DVD ‘Our
NHS Our Future’ to highlight
the magnitude of the
government’s proposals. The
region and health branches
are continuing to hold NHS
roadshow events to take our
message to the public. We are
emphasising what damage
the government proposals
will do to the NHS. Watch
out for it in your town or city!
Copies of the DVD are
available by contacting
Maureen Hilley at the
regional office, on 0113
2182344.
UNISON members and
activists are having a tough
time, sometimes sharing this
with Labour councils who are
challenged with delivering
services with a much reduced
budget.
Local authorities in the
region are currently facing
cuts of over £500 million and
23,000 job losses. This can
only have a negative impact
on services. We will not sit
back and allow the
outsourcing of services
without a fight. They know and we know - that once a
service is outsourced the
council has limited control
over it, making any future
WOMEN
AND
YOUNG
PEOPLE
ARE
BEARING
THE BRUNT
OF THE
BANKERS’
RECESSION
Left: It’s a
tough time, says
Margaret
s
NEGATIVE IMPACT
financial cuts even more
difficult to manage.
That’s why at all levels
UNISON needs to speak up
for public services and the
people who provide them and
use them. Most job losses to
date have been managed
through voluntary measures.
But this is going to prove
more difficult as time goes on.
If compulsory redundancies
are announced we will
consult our members in that
area on potential industrial
action. UNISON will
continue to fight vigorously to
save jobs and services in the
region. Our door is always
open for discussions with
employers and we are willing
to work with them to
maintain high level services
delivered by a committed
workforce for the benefit of
our society. The sooner talks
start the better for all
concerned.
~
Humberside we expect to lose
2,500 jobs across the health
service through cuts,
reorganisation and the
withdrawal of funding. On
top of that, the ConDem
government is planning to
give £80 billion to GPs so that
they can commission services
- potentially leading to the
break-up and privatisation of
the NHS.
Below: Health
service suffers
£20bn cutback
Community and voluntary
sector organisations will be
badly hit by the withdrawal
of local grants and the
reduction in donations as the
recession bites harder.
The only organisations that
appear to be safe at the
moment are the private
contractors who deliver
“public services” on behalf of
either central or local
government with guaranteed
contract payments. These
contractors are not having
their budgets slashed. In
Sheffield where the council,
like others, is facing almost a
30 per cent budget cut, the
chief executive asked the
privately-run companies to
absorb the same financial cuts
as them. None agreed!
The rally and march in
London on March 26th - and
the outcome of the local
elections in this region showed the level of feeling
towards the ConDem
government’s ideologically
driven ‘Big Society’.
We will continue to
campaign and demonstrate
across the region to make our
voices heard to protect
services and members’ jobs.
Visit our national and regional
websites to check out what’s
happening.
Remember, the more
members we have, the
stronger our influence.
Recruit a colleague! Build
our organisation! n
l For more information
about the fight-back, visit
www.unison.org.uk
and www.unisonyorks.org.uk
18 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
FEATURE YOUTH WORK
WHAT PROSPECTS?
Image: Martin Jenkinson photography
Councils and private firms are allegedly
targeting UNISON activists as they
cut back on a vital service
to young people.
Peter Carroll
reports
A
ENORMOUS RISK
The warnings are coming
from every part of the
country: disadvantaged
young people are being
systematically left to fend for
themselves in the “Big
Society”.
Anthony is 51 and has
helped thousands of young
people in Rotherham find a
way out of the hopelessness
of unemployment and make a
decent life for themselves.
As a personal advisor for
Connexions (which later
became Prospects) in
Rotherham for 17 years he
was on the front-line.
s Anthony now
has to survive
on £65 a week
s
s councils slash
services to young
people, longserving and skilled
UNISON members
are losing their jobs. Anthony
Fenwick was made redundant
after 17 years at Prospects in
Rotherham. His income
plummeted from £600 a week
to just £65 a week in benefits.
He says it is like Thatcher’s
closure of the steel industry
all over again, with young
people and their youth
workers seen as soft targets in
the short-sighted pursuit of
greed.
No work, no
money and no
future
HIGHLY SKILLED
Young people who are neither
in work nor full-time
education are at enormous
risk of falling prey to crime,
drugs and despair.
Anthony is highly skilled in
assessing the needs of these
youngsters and has helped
countless numbers of them
escape the unemployment
trap.
Now he is having to come
to terms with the loss of his
own job, and firmly believes
that councils and privatised
youth services are using the
Peter Carroll
cuts to get rid of vocal and
active UNISON members –
and experienced and
relatively well paid
professional staff.
Anthony said: “When
Connexions was taken over
by Prospects in Rotherham
we went through TUPE and
all negotiations with
management seemed to be
going well.
“Then the general election
came and the coalition
government got in. The
whole tone of the
negotiations changed from
that point.
“We had an inkling that
something was coming along
before the election.”
The something that came
along was the announcement
that the management
intended to cut 15 of their 42
front-line staff through
compulsory redundancies.
The announcement led to a
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 19
ADDICTION
In the last issue of
UNISON Active!
Janet Richley told of
her shock at being
made redundant,
along with all of her
colleagues, by
Connexions in
Scarborough.
She warned that
cutting services to
these vulnerable
~
series of meetings between
UNISON and the
management.
Anthony said: “With our
regional organiser Andy
Freeman we met Prospects’
area manager and their
national human resources
director who said they were
going to make redundancies.
“We offered up changes to
working hours and suggested
volunteer job shares or termtime working only so that jobs
would not have to go and, of
course, the service would be
partly preserved.
“But we got nowhere with
that. They didn’t want to hear
constructive alternatives.”
The staff all received an email telling them not to talk to
the press. Later they were told
that “some money had come
along” and only eight jobs
had to go.
All eight people selected
appealed against their
redundancy and all eight
failed.
“All through the process
human resources set out to
frustrate negotiations,” said
Anthony.
“I believe they have
selected UNISON stewards
and vocal members for
redundancy. The reasons for
that are not difficult to find.”
YOUNG
PEOPLE
AND THEIR
YOUTH
WORKERS
ARE SEEN
AS SOFT
TARGETS
~
people would breed “a subculture where they enter a
cycle of crime, drugs and
unemployment.”
And she believes, like
Anthony, that the
government’s savage cuts are
being used to smash the
unions.
She said: “We are changing
lives but these sorts of cuts
will help to turn the clock
back to Victorian times of low
wages, tyrannical employers
and an easily manipulated,
non-unionised workforce.”
Anthony holds the same
fears for the future.
“I was a steel worker in the
1980s and I saw the lost
generation under Thatcher’s
Government,” says Anthony.
“I have friends and family
who since the 1980s have had
a lifetime of agency jobs,
grabbing what they can.
Whole communities have
never recovered from the
mass unemployment they
created then.
“I never thought that I
would see this happen
again. They wasted those
young people in the
1980s and the young are
being wasted again.
“They talk about the Big
Society but it’s
meaningless. It’s
just greed and
Thatcherism
and the
creation of
cheap and
dispensable
labour.”
The
service in
Rotherham
is now less
personal and
intensive – in
other words less
effective.
And that is alongside cuts
to funding for the probation
service which is also vital in
helping young people escape
a life of crime or addiction.
FIRING LINE
Anthony has been speaking
to former colleagues in
Rotherham. They are all
saying their caseloads have
expanded massively and they
are under enormous stress
trying to carry out their
duties. UNISON is taking
Anthony’s employers to an
employment tribunal.
The employers used a
matrix to decide who to make
redundant which the union
will argue ignored relevant
evidence and failed to make a
fair assessment.
The reasons for that are
quite clear as far as Anthony
is concerned. The job cuts
were to be made at all costs –
and active UNISON
members were always in the
firing line.
Meanwhile he has to cope
with paying his mortgage
and bills on just £65 a week.
For his benefit, and others
like him, let’s hope his
tribunal is successful. n
VitalService
UNISON represents more than
15,000 members in youth and
community work throughout the
UK. We know the services offer a
vital way for young people to grow
and tackle the challenges of
approaching adulthood. They also
form an essential part of local
councils’ strategies for tackling
poverty, inequality and the causes
of crime.
20 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
FEATURE MENTAL HEALTH
SHEILA SHOWS HOW
Image: Robert Boardman
UNISON has achieved a major success in its battle to keep two vital mental health
centres open. Barrie Clement interviews the woman at the heart of the fight
s Above: Sheila
fought every
inch of the way
s
Opposite: The
centres provide
art classes
t’s amazing what can be
done with a bit of
intelligence and
determination – or
gumption, as it used to be
called. The battle to save two
vital mental health centres in
Leeds is a case in point.
They were scheduled to
close leaving around 300
people without a lifeline, some
of them extremely vulnerable.
But on April 13 after a
concerted campaign by
UNISON together with the
centres’ users, Leeds city
council rowed back on its plan.
I
Instead of an immediate
shutdown, the council has
promised a period of
“genuine consultation”, which
will probably take until
September.
That doesn’t mean that the
battle has been won, but it
does mean that the council is
being forced to listen to
UNISON and the service
users.
It may just be possible that
the whole project has been
kicked into the long grass. But
if it does rear its ugly head,
the council will have to face
the redoubtable UNISON
shop steward Sheila Spooner
who, along with her
colleagues, fought the plan
every inch of the way.
“We’ve stopped them
railroading this through. It
means they can’t just do as
they like. But we will be
scrutinising the consultation
in great detail,” she says.
“The centres are extremely
important to those who use
them. The word constantly
repeated is that it is a lifeline.”
The centres’ users have a
wide range of problems. Some
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 21
OBJECT LESSON
One of the allegations levelled
against the centres was that
they were making their users
“institutionalised”. But Sheila
points out that some use the
centres three times a week,
others every couple of weeks.
“How can you become
institutionalised when you
visit a centre three times a
week? You still have your
own accommodation, you still
have to look after yourself
and do your own shopping.”
The centres are equipped
with specialist art facilities
such as pottery kilns and all
have disabled access. “You
can’t just transplant the
service to a church hall,” she
says.
“Some people might just
come for art classes, others for
further education provided by
tutors from colleges with
special links to the service.”
The Citizens’ Advice Bureau
holds surgeries at the centres.
~
would fit most people’s image
of “normality”, says regional
organiser Tony Pearson. Tony
believes their “normality” –
always a difficult concept at
the best of times - may lead
some Leeds councillors to
think that they don’t need
help. But there are often deepseated emotional problems,
some of which would go
unrecognised and untreated if
the centres were shut. Many
have had nervous
breakdowns.
Some of the service users
have more obvious illnesses
after years in the asylum
system. They are often the
butt of abuse in their own
communities. The centres are
a refuge where they can talk
to specialist staff and meet
people with similar problems.
AT LEAST
THE REAL
JOHN
LENNON
WOULD
GIVE US
A CHANCE
~
They are used as a “gateway
for help”, says Sheila.
The report which argued
for the closure of the Stocks
Hill and The Vale centres
misrepresented the service. “It
also misrepresented the
service users,” says Sheila. “It
claimed that they thought
everything was hunky dory
and that they couldn’t wait
for it all to happen. The
council says there would be
alternative services, but we
don’t have any clear idea
what they would be. It’s all
about privatisation. They’ve
made that much very clear.”
The reaction of the Leeds
local government branch to
the threatened closure is a
lesson in how to deal with the
cuts. Sheila found out about
the draft report at 9.30am on
December 8 last year. At 12.30
there was a branch meeting
which carried an emergency
motion sent to the council that
afternoon. “You have to be
vigilant,” she says. Such
vigilance requires a great deal
of detailed work. Massive
reports up to 900 pages long
go to the executive board
every month.
LEGAL OPINION
Sheila, a former teacher
who has worked as
a day centre
officer since
2008, has led
the campaign to
keep the centres
open, using all the
means at her disposal
short of industrial
action.
A shop steward since
2009, Sheila recruited the help
of the region to publicise the
closure threat. Legal opinion
was sought which cast doubt
on the project’s legitimacy
and political pressure was
exerted through the union’s
link with the Labour Party
which has been in control of
the council since May last
year.
GREAT EXAMPLE
Demonstrations involving
UNISON and the service users
have added to the pressure on
councillors. In one demo,
service users held up a banner
referring to John Lennon, the
name of a chief officer in the
council’s adult social care
department, declaring: “At
least the real John Lennon
would give us a chance.”
Tony pointed out that
defence of the 30 jobs at the
centres wasn’t an issue – the
council promised there would
be no compulsory
redundancies. “There is
absolutely no self-interest
involved here. Our members
are faced with people in
extreme distress and they
have stood up for them. It’s a
great example of how we can
work with the communities
our members serve.” n
22 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
THE INTERVIEW WENDY WALL
Image: Robert Boardman
Wendy and her girls
- from the left Millie,
Catherine and Sarah
WENDY’S A WARRIOR
Wendy Wall has lived with cancer for over a decade. Three years ago a young
doctor told her that she was a DNR patient –Do Not Resuscitate. With three
teenage girls to bring up and jobs with the Labour Party and later UNISON to
hold down, she could not accept the doctor’s expectation that she was going
to die. Here she tells her story to Peter Carroll in the hope that it will bring
some comfort to others suffering from the disease. And she urges people to
get involved in unions and the Labour Party and ignore the “false idols” of
consumerism and celebrity, and to find their heroes among those around them
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 23
PAINFUL YEARS
This was the start of three
painful years of
chemotherapy and she took
ill-health retirement from her
job.
But after six months
fighting the “massive
temptation to give in to
despair” she got a job with
former Labour MP for
Keighley, Ann Cryer as a case
worker.
“It was a blessing for me. I
respect her as a politician
and love her as a person. It
took me two hours to get
ready every morning,
taking painkillers and
trying to make myself look
respectable,” says Wendy.
“I loved the people
and I loved working
for the Labour Party.
It gave me a reason
to get out of bed, to
keep going.”
FAITH
One morning she
went out to buy
sandwiches for
the office and
~
T
cancer had come back and
they could see it in my liver,
spine and pelvis. It was like,
Bang!” she says.
“The only thing I asked
him about was
chemotherapy. I think he
thought I was frightened of it
but actually I was frightened
they wouldn’t give me the
treatment. My mother died
of cancer when she was 40
and they couldn’t use chemo
to help her.”
Then she had to break the
news to her devastated
family “How the hell do you
tell loved ones something
like that? It is very, very
hard.”
I STARTED
TO FEEL
ILL AND
COULDN’T
GO ON THE
MARCH
~
collapsed on her return,
unable to speak or breathe.
One of her colleagues,
Linda,(“the most wonderful
person I’ve ever met”) said
she would pray for her.
“I thought, forget the
f****ng prayers, get me an
ambulance, but I couldn’t
speak”, she says.
“I do not have religious
faith but Linda firmly
believes her prayer helped
me. And if there is a god,
and prayers that can be
answered, she is the person
who could do it. She radiates
love.”
TERRIBLE NIGHT
The cancer had spread to her
lungs and she was very
seriously ill. One terrible
night Wendy was convinced
she was going to die. She lay
on the sofa downstairs
clutching her mobile phone
while her husband slept
upstairs with his phone next
to him.
“I didn’t want Tony to go
through the shock of waking
up to find me dead beside
him so I stayed downstairs,”
Wendy recalls.
“I had been treated
with all the
different
chemotherapies
and I thought
I had come to
the end.
“But then my
wonderful
consultant put me
on hormone therapy
and I started to get better.
I am still responding well to
the treatment and I am able
to work and look after the
family (her
teenage
daughters
Sarah and
s
he year 2001 was
Wendy Wall’s
“annus horribilis”.
She was diagnosed
with breast cancer,
her 13-year marriage had
come to an end and then her
parents-in-law both died in a
car crash.
Surgeons performed a
lumpectomy on Wendy and
removed her lymph nodes.
Then she started
chemotherapy and
radiotherapy.
She recalls the pain she
suffered when her youngest
daughter asked her not to
take her into school. The
treatment caused her to lose
her hair and she had to wear
a wig.
But her prognosis was
good and she had started a
new relationship with her
husband-to-be and moved
from Sheffield to Haworth.
“Life was great for a while.
I got a job at Airedale
hospital organising
appointments and became
UNISON’s branch chair and
membership secretary,” she
says.
“Then we went with an
anti-fascist contingent from
Keighley trades council for a
Mayday march in Berlin. I
started to feel ill and couldn’t
do the walk.
“I thought I might have
injured myself while out
walking in the hills – or
overdone the white wine.”
Her GP did an ultrasound
scan and as she was driving
home the hospital rang and
asked her to go for a CT scan
immediately. She did a u-turn
and went straight to Airedale
hospital.
“It was horrible. I was by
myself and they told me they
were really sorry but the
24 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
THE INTERVIEW WENDY WALL
FIND YOUR
HEROES
FROM THE
PEOPLE
AROUND
YOU
~
s
Image: Robert Boardman
~
s
Catherine and teenage stepdaughter Millie).
“I regard myself as being
very, very lucky.”
She’s now working as
UNISON’s branch
administrator at Airedale
Hospital and spends her
days recruiting members and
working in a team of
UNISON colleagues to fight
planned cuts of £11 million
which will lead to
redundancies and ward
closures.
Currently 80 staff face
losing their jobs at the same
Below: Wendy
- fighting cuts
of £11 million
time as the non-executive
board members at Airedale
have awarded themselves
100 per cent pay rises.
UNISON members are also
enduring wage freezes and
are being forced to pay
increased charges in the
canteen and for parking
their cars. Management is
acting like Robin Hood in
reverse.
“I get my socialism from
my father and grandfather.
They used to get the Daily
Worker delivered and I used
to read it as a child,” she
says.
“While ever I have breath
in my body I will do what I
can to protect public
services. I am actively
involved in the Labour
Party and the trades council
as well as UNISON.
“I genuinely fear that the
fantastic treatment I have
received may not be
available to people in future
because it is expensive. We
must fight these cuts in
every way we can for the
sake of everybody.”
She sees her politics as a
sort of secular religion. Take
away the supernatural, she
says, and what is left is
some sort of socialism.
“Do unto others as you
would have done to
yourself, embrace
acceptance and forgiveness
– it’s all there,” she says.
IRON RESOLVE
At the start of her long
illness she recalls two
Macmillan nurses
explaining that, while
doctors say there is no
medical evidence for it,
people’s attitude and
outlook have a bearing on
who survives the disease
and for how long.
She says you have to fight
to achieve a decent quality of
life.
But some things are
sometimes beyond even her
drive and iron resolve.
In March she was booked
to go on the TUC rally in
London but realised she was
not strong enough to cope
with the walking and, to her
great regret and
disappointment, had to stay
at home.
And she admits that she is
not, as she expected,
becoming mellower with
age, sometimes speaking out
when she should have kept
her mouth shut.
“I would say to the kids,
tune in, look at what’s
happening around you. Stop
believing in false idols like
celebrity and consumerism.
“Get involved in the
unions and the Labour Party
and find out what is really
important.
“It is the love of family
and friends that we cannot
live without. That is really
what helps me to do what I
do and deal with this illness.
“I would say to everyone,
find your heroes from the
people around you. And
look after each other.”
DEVOTED FAMILY
Always practical and
prepared, she has organised
a humanist funeral for
herself.
Her devoted family and
her many loving friends are
fervently hoping – some,
undoubtedly, praying – that
it will be a very long time
before that event takes
place. n
26 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
FEATURE NHS
A THOUSAND CUTS
Regional leader on health Rob Demaine believes we are fighting for the very survival
of the NHS in the face of a government hell-bent on privatisation. Here he looks at
how the service is being cut back and undermined in Yorkshire and Humberside
D
Thegoodnews
Health Minister Anne Milton has
effectively caved in to a UNISON
campaign against the privatisation
of the NHS blood and transplant
service (NHSBT). In her letter to
Karen Jennings, UNISON assistant
general secretary, the minister all
but admits a climb-down, stating a
review only is to be undertaken and
the outcome of this will be handed
back to NHSBT to decide what
action, if any, is required.
Campaigning works!
Community Services”
initiative. Hull addiction
services have been privatised
and notice has been given
covering 10 jobs across the
service.
UNDER ATTACK
North Yorkshire has now been
split up among other NHS
trusts including private
providers, with 40 jobs gone
so far and more redundancies
predicted.
The York hospitals NHS
trust is putting its catering
services out to tender and
Yorkshire ambulance is doing
the same with maintenance
and repair. There’s no doubt
that this will have an impact
on both jobs and safety.
At Leeds teaching hospitals
700 jobs are to go through
natural wastage and a freeze
on vacancies. Terms and
conditions are clearly under
concerted attack. Leeds
partnerships is attempting to
move from national terms and
to cut down on sick pay and
incremental progression.
Airedale is £11 million overspent which has resulted in 80
jobs to go and the possibility
of ward closures. There are
attempts to move away from
the nationally-agreed Agenda
for Change terms such as on
travel payments. Staff at
Airedale are quite rightly
angry over the decision of
non-executive members of the
trust board to award
~
eath by a thousand
cuts is the reality
for the NHS in
Yorkshire and
Humberside.
The Tory-led government
seems hell-bent on chipping
away at local services and
hoping no-one will notice.
Well, we notice and we’ll fight
them all the way.
Among the worst cuts are
in Hull and the east coast
which announced the closure
of two wards a year for the
next five years in an attempt
to save £95 million on their
budget. It will mean a
massive 20 per cent cut in the
workforce and the loss of
more than 1000 jobs.
The primary care trust
alone has lost more than 100
staff in various
reorganisations and the
impact of the “Transforming
THE
HEALTH
BILL IS
CLEARLY
AIMED AT
CARVING
UP AND
DESTROYING
THE NHS
~
themselves a 100 per cent pay
rise. Needless to say their
travel to and from meetings at
the trust are paid for.
Parents of young children
working in the NHS in
Doncaster will find it far more
difficult to work after the
decision to close nursery care
provision. Proposals to cut
management costs at
Doncaster to save a proposed
million pounds will also lead
to substantial job losses.
Meanwhile Grimsby Health is
to cut 300 staff by voluntary
redundancies.
Two homes for the elderly
are to close in Sheffield with
the loss of 100 vital respite
care beds. There are moves to
reduce the pay of nursing
staff by moving them down
the grade and skill
requirements as part of
Sheffield teaching hospitals’
£100 million in budget
reductions over three years.
FIRST WAVE
Rob Demaine
Kirklees Trust is undermining
terms and conditions by
moving to social enterprise
staff who will no longer work
for the NHS .
Trusts throughout
Yorkshire are not replacing
vacant posts and are
attempting to reduce pay
protection for reorganisations.
This is the first wave of the
cutbacks with most of the
pain absorbed by economies
or natural wastage, a job
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 27
FALSE ECONOMY
The Health and Social Care
Bill will be the biggest reform
since the NHS was set up in
1948 and it is clearly aimed at
carving it up and destroying
it.
UNISON is already actively
engaged across the region in
fighting for members’ jobs
and negotiating damage
~
vacancy freeze and cuts to
terms and payments.
In some areas the NHS has
become the largest employer
with whole families working
for the service. So where job
losses occur, they will have a
devastating knock-on effect
on the local economy. They
will also leave some of our
most vulnerable people at
real risk.
All this gives the lie to the
Tory-led government’s claims
that front-line services will be
protected. And as to Deputy
Prime Minister Nick Clegg, he
now supports the Health and
Social Care Bill, but in
opposition promised
protection for the service.
UNISON remains
fundamentally opposed to the
government’s plans to bring
about a massive top-down
reorganisation that favours
markets and competition over
the provision of reliable,
expert and unending quality
patient care.
UNISON therefore is
making it clear that the
union’s engagement in the
“listening exercise” should
not be taken as a sign of
support for the Bill or
associated plans. It is rather a
sign that we intend to
campaign against - and to
give clear alternatives to - the
plans being presented.
THE TORIES SEEM
HELL-BENT ON CHIPPING
AWAY AT SERVICES, HOPING
NO-ONE WILL NOTICE
limitation
agreements
through, for
example,
voluntary
redundancies
and agreed
resignations. We
are defending
national terms and
conditions, such as
travel allowance and
unsocial hours
payments. Although
the use of compulsory
redundancies has been
rare so far, the use of
voluntary
redundancies and
MARS (the Mutually
Agreed Resignation
Scheme) has been
widespread in the
loss of front line
jobs.
A recent survey
by the unionfunded website
False Economy,
represents the
most up-to-date
picture of the
effects of
efficiency
savings in the
NHS and reveals
that in England
alone, 24,000 posts
will be lost in hospitals,
another 10,000 will go in
primary care trusts and 6,000
will disappear from mental
health trusts struggling to
save a collective £20bn from
their budgets. More damning
~
facts can be found at
www.falseeconomy.org.uk.
If the Tory-led coalition
gets its way, the first thing
health professionals will
check in the event of a health
emergency will be their
trust’s credit limit, not their
patients’ vital signs. If you
haven’t already done so, sign
up to UNISON’S “A Million
Voices” and support “NHS
Our Future” via
www.unison.co.uk .We
are fighting for the
very survival of
the NHS. n
28 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
FEATURE STEREOTYPES
Image: AISPIX / Shutterstock.com
‘IF THA EVER
DOES OWT
FOR NOWT,
DO IT FOR
THISSEN’
Following our article on Eric Pickles in the last edition of Active! UNISON journalist
Peter Carroll demolishes the idea of a Yorkshire stereotype and derides the Prime
Minister’s ‘quaint provincial bag carriers’ who have built their political careers on it
O
We are encouraged to
believe that the former
Bradford council leader,
busily savaging local
government in the North
from his safe seat in affluent
Brentwood and Ongar,
embodies all the stout
characteristics which we are
supposedly born to.
You know what they are:
hard-headed, careful with
brass, plain speaking,
unsentimental, insensitive,
hard but fair.
Pickles is sold as an
archetypal Yorkshireman
who would happily drown
s Above: ‘See
all, hear all
and say nowt’
his own whippets if they
became economically
unviable. No bones about it.
s
n top of the
revulsion millions
of people feel
towards the Tories’
every media
utterance, in Yorkshire there
is also a nagging sense of
shame.
Every time they parade
their attack dogs as being
Yorkshire born and bred, like
at Crufts, it is hard to resist a
sense of shared liability.
Take Communities minister
Eric Pickles (please, take Eric
Pickles etc, etc.) – the current
Best of Breed in the Tory
Tykes Class.
Right: Minister
Eric Pickles as
Jabba The Cut
William Hague
GROTESQUE LIE
The Old Etonian elite have
once again got their hands
round the throats of the
country. Dutifully, their
Yorkshire “lads” on the front
bench drawl out their flat
vowels to give credibility to
the grotesque lie that “we are
all in this together”.
William Hague, the “14pint-a day” former drayman,
is a fine example of the breed.
He was known briefly to
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 29
FRONT PAGE
But, really, there is no need to
feel ashamed of ourselves
because of them. The truth is,
regional stereotyping is
nonsense, just like any other
sort of stereotyping.
The following story may
help to make my point.
A Yorkshireman and a
Scotsman meet up in
Glasgow to do a business
deal, then go to a restaurant
to celebrate.
After many courses and
drinks, the waiter comes with
the bill.
“I’ll be more than happy to
pick up the tab, laddie, give it
to me,” says the Scot.
The front page headline in
the Glasgow Herald next day
read: “Yorkshire ventriloquist
found strangled to death in
alleyway”.
You see? There aren’t
enough distinct
characteristics for every
region to have a unique one,
just for themselves. Scotland
and Yorkshire must fight it
out for supremacy in the
Premier League of who is the
meanest.
Southerners are unfriendly,
the Irish are stupid, people in
Yorkshire, but also in
Scotland, are mean, Scousers
are light-fingered, the Welsh
are untrustworthy, Brummies
are dull, and so on.
So have you ever met a
Scot who would share his last
fiver with you? Or a Cockney
who is kind and thoughtful,
not a Ray Winston gangster
spiv caricature? Or a
Yorkshireman who cries at
films like “Brassed Off” and
calls everyone he meets
“love”, and means it?
Of course. And here’s the
thing. It’s usually men who
try to peddle this regional
identity myth. Women rarely
feel the need.
They understand what
people have in common; a
shared humanity, a shared
struggle for justice and
equality. Not all of them,
obviously, that would be a
stereotype in itself.
But in my experience,
women are not that interested
in where you are from. They
are far more interested in
what you do and say - in who
you are.
VITAL SERVICES
The taxpayer forked out
countless millions of
pounds for the
carnival of false
consciousness
which was the
Royal
Wedding,
The
Roman
Empire’s
shrewd
strategy of
giving the
~
the amused publicans of
Rotherham as “Billy Fizz”
because he delivered pop to
them in his holidays from
Oxford University – and later
announced that he drank a
pint at every stop, every day.
Absurdly claiming the
mantle of the hard-working,
hard-playing miners and
factory workers of industrial
Yorkshire, Hague went on to
high office and humiliated
himself in several well
publicised Foreign Office
cock-ups.
His only saving Yorkshire
grace, perhaps, was being
careful with his tight Foreign
Office budget by sharing
hotel rooms with his
researcher.
PICKLES
IS SOLD AS
SOMEONE
WHO
WOULD
DROWN
HIS OWN
WHIPPETS
IF THEY
BECAME
UNVIABLE
~
masses bread and circuses is
alive and well.
We were given the big
circus just as vital services to
the weakest and most
vulnerable are being
destroyed, some of them
forever.
In 1990, a TV interviewer
said to Eric Pickles that in
embracing hard-line
Thatcherism at that time
made him like the man who
bought a pair of flared jeans
on the very day they went
out of fashion. Almost as
quick as a flash, he replied
that flares were coming back
into fashion among various
Manchester Indie bands. Ha!
NATIVE COUNTY
Now, he is squeezing himself
back into his old ideological
Wranglers (no offence meant
– we all experience some
“thickening of the waist” in
middle age) and slashing
services in his native county.
There’s a Yorkshire motto
which emblazons many a
mug and tea-towel: “See all,
hear all, say nowt, eat all,
sup all, pay nowt, and if tha
ever does owt for nowt, do it
for thissen”.
Wilfully,
Pickles and
Hague have
confused a selfdeprecating joke
for a political
blueprint.
How
Cameron
and his
Bullingdon
Club pals
must be
laughing at
their quaint,
provincial
bag
carriers. n
30 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
FEATURE ELECTIONS
MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Image: Jim Varney
Mirror man Paul Routledge casts his expert eye over the May 5 election results. He
finds a lot for Labour to cheer – including the victory of seven UNISON activists who
took seats from Lib Dem councillors in Hull giving the Labour Party an overall majority
t was a night to
remember in Yorkshire.
And not just for Labour,
but for UNISON too.
One of the most
spectacular victories on May 5
was Labour’s thrilling capture
of Hull city council. The icing
on the cake was the triumph
of UNISON activist Danny
Brown who ousted Carl
Minns, Lib Dem leader of the
city, from his supposedly safe
seat.
Months of hard work by
UNISON members climaxed
in defeat for Nick Clegg’s
henchman in the Guildhall
I
who invoked redundancy law
to sack 1,700 council workers.
And Danny was just one of
the union’s “magnificent
seven” UNISON members
who took seats from the Lib
Dems in a well-orchestrated
fightback against government
spending cuts.
VOTES TSUNAMI
Dave Craker, a former
UNISON shop steward who
took early retirement from the
council on the eve of the
election, now sits on the
councillors’ benches, along
with fellow union members
s Above: The
‘UNISON seven’
at Hull council
Julia Conner, Andy Dorton,
Alan Gardiner, Dean Kirk and
Peter Clark.
UNISON official Steve
Torrance who organised the
Humber votes tsunami, told
me: “They say if you want to
be heard, speak in UNISON.
Well, we did, and in Hull they
listened.”
Dozens of Lib Dem and
Tory councillors across the
county were given the heaveho by voters on May 5.
Labour scored impressive
gains, taking control in Leeds,
Hull , Sheffield and York .
Ed Miliband’s long march
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 31
administration remains
committed to doing all we can
to protect front line services.”
DRAMATIC RESULT
In Bradford, Labour won five
seats from the Tories and Lib
Dems, confirming veteran Ian
Greenwood as leader of a
minority administration. With
44 seats, he’s only two short of
complete control and looks
certain to win that next year.
York was another dramatic
result, with Labour taking
overall control after gaining
eight seats – mostly at the
expense of the Lib Dems who
have ruled the city since 2003.
At 29 years of age, new Labour
leader James Alexander is one
of the youngest council chiefs
in the country.
In Wakefield , Labour
remains in control with an
increased overall majority of
15 after taking five seats.
Barnsley remains securely in
Labour hands after the party
gained five seats to take its
majority to 23. The BNP put
up 18 candidates in the
borough, but none of them
were elected and they
received a paltry average of
250 votes each – half the
number of three years ago.
It’s worth looking in some
detail at the performance of
the far-Right. In 2008, the BNP
put up 117 candidates across
the county, and they polled
around 75,000 votes. This
year, they could only muster
52 candidates, who got
around 17,000 votes. They
held one seat in Bradford, but
in Leeds they practically
disappeared: down from 33
candidates to two.
Everywhere they stood,
their vote was down.
Infighting within the BNP is
partly to blame for their
~
back to power might just have
begun in Yorkshire. Given a
popular mandate by voters,
Labour is now looking at how
best it can minimise the
impact of ConDem cuts.
Unpopular Liberal
Democrats suffered
widespread losses, and the
far-Right BNP took a pasting,
often coming bottom of the
poll and winning only one
seat out of more than fifty
where they stood.
Cleggmania was well and
truly ended in his
constituency city of Sheffield ,
where Labour clobbered the
Lib Dems, taking nine of their
seats to take control of “steel
city.”
Julie Dore, new leader of
the council, said national
politics had an impact but
they weren’t the only issue.
“It’s the cuts, which have
been too far and too fast in
Sheffield.”
Labour’s gains throughout
Yorkshire would have been
even more spectacular if all
the seats in every council
were up for grabs. But in most
towns and cities, only a third
of councillors were up for reelection.
Even so, Labour took
outright control of Leeds,
taking five seats from the Lib
Dems, two from the Tories
and one from the so-called
Morley Independents.
Council leader Keith
Wakefield commented: “This
sends a clear message to the
coalition government that
their unprecedented funding
cuts have gone too far, too
fast.
He warned that on top of
last year’s £90 million
savings, a further £47 million
would have to be found this
year. “However, this Labour
THEY SAY
IF YOU
WANT TO
BE HEARD
SPEAK IN
UNISON.
WELL WE
DID AND
IN HULL
THEY
LISTENED
~
electoral collapse, but it’s clear
that Yorkshire voters have
seen through their racist
message. Other hard-Right
parties fared even worse. In
Hull, five National Fronters
took only 700 votes between
them, and the so-called
English Democrats were also
trounced.
In Doncaster mayor Peter
Davies’s English Democrat
cronies failed to win any of
the 12 seats it contested, while
Labour won seven to become
easily the largest party with 43.
SMART ENOUGH
The BNP also suffered total
defeat in Rotherham, where
six candidates took only 2,700
votes whereas Labour won 20
of the 21 seats up for election,
increasing its majority by four.
In Calderdale, Labour is in
equal-first position with the
Lib Dems after winning three
seats and in Kirklees, Clegg’s
Party dropped to third place
as Labour gained three seats
to remain leaders of a
minority administration.
The quote of the election
has to be that from Andrew de
Freitas, the outgoing Lib Dem
leader of Lincolnshire North
East council just over the
Humber, who said: “I’m not
surprised. The electorate is
not that sophisticated.”
Oh no? Smart enough to get
rid of five of your six Lib Dem
mates and take the council off
you, Mr Sophisticated! n
Labour2011
GAINS
Kingston upon Hull
Leeds
Sheffield
York
Paul Routledge
HELD
Barnsley
Doncaster
Rotherham
Wakefield
32 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
THE COLUMN A TYKE’S EYE VIEW
PAUL ROUTLEDGE
Political columnist on The Mirror
Don’t let Tories divide and conquer
The Conservatives are trying to stir up trouble by claiming that public sector workers in Yorkshire earn up to 20 per cent more
than their colleagues in the private sector. It’s all based on a conjuring trick by a Right-wing think tank and it’s a dirty fraud
~
WHETHER
YOU’RE IN
THE PUBLIC
OR PRIVATE
SECTOR A P45
LOOKS
JUST
THE SAME
~
s
Below: Tories
get their figures
from a book of
black magic
his is how the Tories do it. First,
they get biased “evidence” from
their so-called think tanks to plant
in the friendly media.
Then, their business pals join in the
noisy campaign. Finally, they do what they
always intended to, while claiming to
respond to “public demand”.
It’s a neat stunt, this Conservative
conjuring trick, and often it works. But like
all their black arts, it’s a dirty fraud.
The latest scam involves two Right hooks
- another attack on public sector wages,
linked to a campaign for reduced rights at
work.
Policy Exchange, a Right-wing think tank
set up by Tory Cabinet minister Francis
Maude (and son of a previous Right-wing
Tory minister) claimed that pay in the public
service is higher than the private sector. Up
to 20 per cent more in Yorkshire for
example.
It isn’t true, but that doesn’t stop ConDem
politicians claiming that public sector pay is
“out of control.” They demand yet more
sacrifices from hospital staff and council
workers already hit by a two-year wage
freeze and massive redundancies.
Right hook two: Chancellor
George Osborne is
reviewing
employment law,
claiming it stops
people getting jobs.
He wants to make it
easier for people to
be sacked, made
redundant, or put on
lower wages by the
abolition of TUPE
regulations.
T
Fat cat bosses in the Institute of Directors
and the CBI cheered him to the rafters, and
he urged them to “get stuck in.”
This deceitful attack on pay and rights at
work is just what you expect from a Toryled government. It’s in their DNA. They’re
trying to divide private and public sector
workers, but as TUC general secretary
Brendan Barber says: “The truth is that
both are having a terrible time.”
Amen to that. Public or private, a P45
looks just the same.
RIPON RIPOFF
Police in Ripon are using the full weight of
their investigative skills to hunt down two
men who allegedly stole a chicken.
Meanwhile their North Yorkshire chief
constable remains in post despite admitting
“gross misconduct” after helping a relative
gain an unfair advantage in a police
recruitment campaign. Am I mad, or is it
just the rest of the world?
DONNY’S DAFT LAD
Doncaster is bidding for city status, but
don’t hold your breath. This is the third try
in ten years, and oddball mayor Peter
Davies isn’t exactly breaking the bank.
The town wants to be ranked alongside
the likes of York, Leeds and Wakefield , and
its public-private bid including the council
and the NHS has attracted celebrity
support. Actor Brian Blessed, who hails
from Mexborough, and local Afghan war
hero Ben Parkinson, back the idea.
Doncaster, once famous for its railway
engineering and coal mines, has in recent
years been notorious for its “Donnygate”
political scandal and child care failures.
Supporters believe the Queen’s grant of
SUMMER 2011 UNISON ACTIVE! 33
Image: Carolina K. Smith, M.D. / Shutterstock.com
city status would give Donny a huge boost.
I’m not sure that it would do all that much
to revive the town’s fortunes, but the bid
deserves better than the mayor’s pennypinching attitude.
Scrooge Davies is in favour as long as it
isn’t a drain on public finances “and
providing it doesn’t cost a lot of money.” He
thinks the town speaks for itself. Hmm. It
did that in 2000 and 2002, and Her Majesty
didn’t quite hear.
Next year, Donny will be up against the
likes of Blackpool, Gateshead, Milton
Keynes, Southend, Bolton and a dozen
others who will vastly outspend Yorkshire’s
best chance of success. For want of a
ha’porth a tar, the ship was lost…
just because it had
outside lavs and
no bathrooms.
Skipton is all very well, but it’s
chocker with tourists. I prefer a walk round
Keighley. And you can’t beat Dewsbury or
Doncaster markets for shopping. If you want
romance, try Arncliffe in Littondale, with a
pint at the Falcon.
As for “hip” – well, hip, hip hooray that
most of Yorkshire is more like Bradford or
Barnsley. Sound and sensible. For us, not for
the bloody goggle-eyed tourists glued to a
guide book written by travel writers who’ve
never lived ‘ere. And with great good
fortune, never will.
STAN’S MAGIC BOOTS
BIN AND GONE
Best gag about America ’s execution of the
Al-Qaeda leader in Pakistan, heard in the
Brookside club, South Elmsall : “Who says
you can’t put the bin out on a Bank
Holiday?”
THEY KNOW NOWT
We all have our best-loved street in
Yorkshire, but we don’t always share the
choice of tourism chiefs trying to sell God’s
own county to visitors.
Nominations for the Google Street View
awards for 2011 are Montpellier Hill,
Harrogate and New Road, Robin Hood’s
Bay as “most romantic” with Petergate,
York and High Street, Skipton as best for
shopping. Call Lane, Leeds and Quay
Road, Whitby are our “hippest” streets –
whatever that means when it’s at home.
These are the choice of tourism bosses
and travel writers. Obviously, they know
nowt about Yorkshire, or us Tykes, because
these are honeypots for day trippers, not
places where real people live.
My favourite street is Railway Terrace,
Normanton, where I was born in the front
room of No 15. Or it would be, if the council
hadn’t knocked it down in the late sixties
As he got older in the 1950s, soccer star
Stanley Matthews had to have a new pair of
lightweight boots every week. They extended
his playing life by several years, and were
made from kangaroo skin by Donald Ward,
chief bootmaker at the Co-op Boot Factory in
Heckmondwike. No wonder he hopped his
way through the defence. Matthews, that is,
not the bootmaker, who died t’other day
aged 83.
Not many people know this fact, and
maybe even fewer wish to know it. n
TorchCarrier
The Olympic torch will be carried through Yorkshire for six
days next June by those who’ve done something for their
community.
Once upon a time, this would invariably have included a
young trade unionist who’d shown real commitment to
fellow workers. I wonder if 2012 will revive that custom?
I certainly hope that UNISON will enter some of its likely
lads and lasses for the draw to choose Olympic flamebearers. After all, the union has carried a torch for working
people in the county for decades.
s Above: Terrorist
Bin Laden even
gets a mention in
South Elmsall
34 UNISON ACTIVE! SUMMER 2011
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS PATERNITY LEAVE
NEW DEAL FOR DAD
Fathers can now take advantage of paternity leave rights which significantly
increase the amount of time they can take off work. Marion Batten reports
~
MINISTERS
WILL LEAVE
LABOUR’S
NEW
RULES
IN PLACE
FOR THE
TIME BEING
~
Marion Batten,
Thompsons
employment
rights manager
in Yorkshire
athers of young
babies qualify for
enhanced rights
under rules passed by
the previous Labour
government.
Those with young children
born or “matched for
adoption” from 3 April
onwards have the right to
take up to 26 weeks’ leave instead of the previous two to care for the baby.
To qualify for the new
right, the father must be an
employee (someone who has
an employment contract), and
must have worked for the
same employer for at least six
months at the start of the 15th
week before the child is born
or matched for adoption.
Before he can start his
leave, however, the baby has
to be at least 20 weeks old
and the mother has to have
returned to work from her
maternity leave. And it has to
finish at the end of the 52nd
week after the child's birth or
placement for adoption.
The baby’s mother must be
entitled to statutory
maternity leave or pay,
maternity allowance or
statutory adoption leave or
pay, for the father to benefit
from the new rights.
The father will only get
paternity pay during the time
his partner would have
received maternity or
adoption pay (currently
£128.73) or maternity
allowance.
F
For example if a woman
goes on leave in mid-February,
has her baby at the end of
April and returns to work in
mid-September, having taken
30 weeks of her 39-week paid
leave entitlement, the father
will only be entitled to a
further nine weeks’ paid leave.
ENHANCED AMOUNT
Under the new rules, he can
go on leave in mid-September
and receive the statutory pay
until mid-November
approximately. He can remain
on leave for a further 13 weeks
until mid-February (the end of
the full maternity leave
entitlement), but cannot claim
statutory maternity pay
during that time.
This allows the mother to
take 30 weeks’ leave (all paid)
and the father 22 weeks, 11 of
which are paid.
If the mother is entitled to
an enhanced amount of
maternity pay under her
contract, the father cannot
claim that sum unless he can
claim enhanced additional
paternity pay under his
contract.
CIVIL PARTNER
Fathers have to give eight
weeks’ written notice before
taking the leave which must
be taken in multiples of
complete weeks - a minimum
of two and a maximum of 26.
The leave is also available to
employees who are not the
father of the baby but who
will be responsible for
bringing up the child and are
married to, or are the same sex
civil partner of, the child's
mother.
SPLIT LEAVE
Although the coalition
government recently labelled
the new rules (introduced by
Labour in 2010) “inflexible”
and not supportive of “shared
parenting”, it has decided to
leave them in place for the
time being while it explores
the options for a more
“flexible” system.
This, it says, should be
simple to administer and
allow mothers and fathers to
split the leave in whatever
way suits them best, while
taking into account the needs
of employers. n
UNISON Travel Club
Exclusive savings on
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Ferries, UK breaks and
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Dianne Jolly 07584 504523
[email protected]
The Tax Refund Company
Vision Express
Are your members
missing out on a
possible tax refund?
Use this NO REFUND
= NO FEE service.
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lenses for UNISON
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[email protected]
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