Monday, February 18, 2013

A Branch Secretary Annual Report on 2012

This was my contribution to the Branch Annual Report. "2012 has been another appalling year for many of our members.

You may be one of the many Care and Support workers who have had their wages and conditions slashed or you may work in Housing  Management and had another year of pay cuts due to below inflation cost of living rises.

In one of our major employers, it is estimated that in real terms, average pay has been reduced by nearly 14% in the last 5 years since the link with RPI (Retail Price Index) was broken. No wonder so many of us find it hard to manage and pay the bills. While at the same time rental income for landlords has outpaced inflation and many senior executives have seen their pay go up and up.

Some employers and the Social Housing Pension Fund also seem to have taken leave of their senses
and are trying to close down pension schemes due to “funny money” deficits. This decision is wrong and completely unnecessary since they know that the Government has announced that the way we value pensions is nonsense and are reviewing it.

This year our guest speaker at our AGM (12 February) in the House Commons is Gregg McClymont MP, the Shadow Minister for Pensions. No doubt we will be discussing the issue with him!

It has not all been doom and gloom. We have been able to win better than average pay deals in certain
employers and we have protected many members from some of the worse attacks on terms and conditions. Our stewards and branch staff have made a difference and have kept people in jobs, stopped unfairness and supported members going through difficult times.

What has been pretty obvious to me, is by and large, in the employers where we are better organised, with greater membership density, greater number of local stewards and regular joint consultative meeting between the union and management, we have been able to achieve much better pay, protection and pension deals than where we are weaker.

This should be no surprise. This is bread and butter trade unionism. The more of us in the union, the better organised we are, the better deals we are able to get for our members. It is as simple as that.

From April this year it will soon cost you up to £1200 for an employment tribunal hearing if you are unfairly
dismissed, discriminated against or suffer a determent. You cannot rely on your employer or the law to protect you at work. You can only rely on your trade union.

So once again I ask us all to recruit more members and nurture more activists and stewards. It is in everyone’s interests that this happens and it is the only way in the long term that we can increase your pay and better protect you at work.

John Gray
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