Saturday, March 25, 2023

NHS Pay offer - UNISON 2023 ballot : Gordon McKay

An intelligent and convincing guest post by UNISON Health NEC member (and real life NHS nurse) Gordon McKay on the latest NHS pay offer to settle the strikes. I am so proud of my UNISON NHS comrades such as Gordon and LAS Eddie Brand,, who have not only delivered a significant victory for NHS workers but also a road map for other public service workers to win similar claims. I declare an interest in this road map in my current UNISON pay dispute with my employer. 

"After a sustained campaign of industrial action by a number of our health branches UNISON have forced the UK Tory Government to make a significantly higher pay offer to English NHS workers after saying the previous offer was final and would not be increased.

Last Autumn the Tories gave NHS workers a £1,400 pay increase even although inflation, particularly on food, energy and housing was running significantly higher.

UNISON’s response was to ballot all our NHS members in England but disappointingly even with all of the hard work put in by branches and members, due to the savage balloting restrictions placed on trade unions by this Tory Government only eight UNISON branches got over the 50% turnout threshold to make strike action legal.

The response from supporters of Time for Real Change in our union was to simply ballot everyone again, not withstanding the cost, the limits on branch activists and staff and the previous results. I argued instead we should target re-ballots on several branches to allow us to concentrate our resources in the branches that had gotten nearest to the threshold figure. The Health Group Executive agreed and we re-balloted ten health branches and in a great show of success we got nine of these ten branches to not only vote for industrial action but to do so in large enough numbers to get us over the legal thresholds to allow us to take action.

Six days of strike action by our members took place between December 21 2022 and February 10 2023. That industrial action and hard negotiating have now resulted in the Tories increasing their offer. As well as the original £1,400 an additional lump sum beginning at £1,655 for the lowest paid and rising through the bands has been offered. On top of that a pay rise of 5% for 2023/24 has ben offered even although the Tories had originally told the Pay Review Body only 3.5% would be on the table. Additionally, a pay increase of 10.4% has been won for the lowest paid.

What I wont pretend to people is that we have won everything our members deserve but due to the courage of members who took action and strong negotiating this right wing Tory Government have been forced to make significant concessions they vowed they wouldn’t do.

It is now up to our members to decide as it should be. Members will receive their electronic ballot papers  via an email link and voting will run from March 28 to April 14. I will listen to and support our members in whatever decision they take. Our members are there when we need them in their daily jobs. I promise I will be there when they need our union to support them".

Gordon McKay

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Margaret Gray, nee Matthews 1941-2023

Helen, Lucy and I lost our Mum on Tuesday evening. She died at her home in Ruthin peacefully in her sleep. She had been in poor health for quite some time but we did not expect to lose her so soon.
The picture of Mum pushing one of us in a pram, shows her looking young and glamorous. She always said that she was at her happiest when looking after us.
We would like to invite family and friends to her funeral service which will take place at 1pm Thursday 6 April at St Mary’s Church, Lenton Pool, Denbigh LL16 3LG.
The burial will be at 2pm at Denbigh Cemetery, Ystrad Rd, Denbigh LL16 4RH.
The Wake will take place after in Guildhall Tavern, Hall Square, Denbigh LL16 3NU. Please confirm if able to attend for catering purposes
Funeral directors RW Roberts & Son, Gorffwysfa, Ystrad Rd, Denbigh, LL16 4RH.
Flowers welcome or donations to Hope House Children’s Hospice
John, Helen & Lucy Frisby
Grandchildren Matthew, Rachel, Hannah & David. Great Grandchildren Evan & Rohan

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

125th Anniversary of the 1st Ever "Labour" Council - West Ham 1 November 1898 - 2023


I have posted in the past on former Cllr George Coe on my blog, and .

I now have further information from his Grandson and it appears that this year (2023) is the 125th anniversary of the 1st “Labour” council in West Ham and I believe the UK.

I think we ought to organise something to mark the occasion. I have contacted Newham Labour Group and local Labour Colleagues about how we can celebrate this important anniversary. Watch this space.

(note pamphlet is from 100th anniversary in 1998)

Monday, March 13, 2023

Why are 45% of leaders white high social class men while only 1% are working class black women?

 A very powerful statistic provided by "Progress Together" which aims to "work to create a financial services sector in the UK in which EVERYONE working in it is both enabled and has the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

The measure of success will be: Greater levels of socio-economic diversity at senior levels, across our membership".

Sunday, March 12, 2023

West Ham Park Street Survey


In West Ham, the ward I represent as a Newham Councillor (E15 postcode), a consultation and survey is taking place on "seeking local views on issues relating road safety, air quality, walking, cycling, and traffic in the area". This survey (and proposals) appears to have most impact on residents in Forest Gate South ward (I think E7 Postcode) but many of my constituents will also have a view.

The survey was is now live for 3 weeks and will close on Saturday 1st April 2023. I have already taken part online and it was quite straight forward and took about 5 mins. I want as many residents as possible to take part. 

A map of the consultation area (see top) and link to survey is available here:

Postcard/paper version of the survey should have been delivered to all addresses in the West Ham Park consultation area over the weekend (see bottom).

Ward Councillors have been invited to a MS teams briefing by Council officers on Wednesday 22nd March 2023. "This will allow us to address any comments you may have received from the public regarding the consultation". My next Council surgery is Saturday 18 March 10-11am at the Vicarage Lane Community centre or email/ring via the Newham Council website (search find your councillor)


Saturday, March 11, 2023

Dan Tomlinson for Chipping Barnet


It was great to attend fundraising dinner last week for the Labour candidate in Chipping Barnet, Dan Tomlinson. I went with my UNISON colleague (and political secretary to London Labour Link) Joel Bodmer. 

Dan was supported by @unisonglr #LabourLink committee during his successful selection process to be the official Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Chipping Barnet. 

Dan gave an inspiring speech on his local background, wider life experience and what he can offer the people of Chipping Barnet if elected as their MP.

Some great speeches also by London Assembly member Unmesh Desai and Rushanara Ali MP. 

My run of luck in Labour Party raffles continued and I for the second time in a row I won first prize in the (enviable) raffle. I choose a bottle of House of Lords whiskey, signed by the very good friend of UNISON, David Lammy MP. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

"Over-55s braced to work into their 70s as cost-of-living bites"

 A dreadful story. While some of us may want to think about working after retirement, nearly all of us would want to have the choice and not be forced to work until we drop. The answer is greater financial support by employers and government for pensions.

Check out this report in HR news

  • "Over a quarter (26%) of over-55s in work think they will still be working in their 70s
  • 44% say the cost-of-living crisis has made retirement impossible
  • Yet just 37% have a financial plan for retirement; only 43% know how much is in their pension

Over a quarter of over-55s believe they will still be working in their 70s, with the majority lacking a financial plan for retirement, new research by My Pension Expert has revealed.

The UK’s leading at-retirement adviser commissioned an independent survey of 2,000 UK adults. It found that the cost-of-living crisis has significantly impacted retirement plans, with 44% of over-55s in work believing it has made retirement impossible.

Over a third (37%) say the current economic climate has derailed their financial plans. Over a quarter (26%) think they will still be working in their 70s.

My Pension Expert’s research showed that, while Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is urging over-55s to either remain in work or re-enter the workforce, for millions, they do not feel they have a choice either way. Just 35% of over-55s think they will be able to retire when they want to.

The survey also revealed that many over-55s are not sufficiently prepared for stopping work. Less than half (43%) know how much they have saved in their pensions, and even fewer (37%) have a financial plan in place for retirement...".

Thursday, March 09, 2023

UNISON Greater London Labour Link Regional Forum 2023

This week we had our UNISON Regional Labour Link Forum meeting for Greater London delegates in our headquarters in Camden.

Labour Link is the UNISON Political fund affiliated to the Labour Party which members decide whether or not they wish to join. 

I am the elected Chair of the Regional Committee so I Chaired this Forum meeting with Vice Chair Yvonne Green. In my opening remarks, I did welcome recent opinion polls which appear to show that Labour will win the next General election but cautioned everyone that the Tories are the most successful election winning machine in Western Europe and we underestimate them at our peril. 

Saying that, we should be now planning what to do in power, since it may happen soon. Almost definitely within 18 months. 

Our guest speaker was the Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Uxbridge & South Ruislip, Danny Beales. He was nominated by our committee and is standing against a certain part time MP, Boris Johnson. Good luck to Danny and his team!

Next we had our work plan, campaigning, financial report, Labour unions report, motions (Great debates and a honest exchange of views) This resulted in 2 great motions being passed and selected to be sent to National Labour Link Forum. 

A series of in person UNISON canvass and virtual "dialogue" sessions are being planned for the May local elections (not in London this  year) so watch this space. We will be supporting our members who are standing for Council seats whenever possible. Full training and support offered to new canvassers. 

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

International Women’s Day: Protecting Women's Right to Strike


"It’s fitting that today, 8th March, is International Women’s Day and it was also going to be one of the most important strikes in UNISON history, if the government hadn’t finally given into pressure thanks to the four days of action taken by our ambulance members and the thousands of members set to join the action. 

UNISON is the women’s union, we have over 1 million women members and women are disproportionately the lowest paid in the public sector as well as carrying out some of the most important roles. We are proud to have our first woman General Secretary, Christina McAnea, leading from the front and standing on picket lines shoulder to shoulder with these workers these past few months. 

The NHS pay dispute is about ensuring that our members, including predominantly women carrying out roles as healthcare assistants, nurses, cleaners, administrators and paramedics, can pay their bills, look after their families and be fairly paid for keeping the public safe. These women are also fighting for the NHS, for safe staffing levels and to hold the government to account. 

Instead of spending the last few months trying to resolve the dispute, the government instead launched heinous anti-strike legislation- which has only this week been condemned for failing to meet the UK’s human rights obligations. 

The legislation, enforcing minimum service levels, will disproportionately impact on Women’s rights- and as the largest women’s union, we know this all too well. Public services with a predominantly female workforce including health and education would have their rights affected by the bill.

The schools workforce is 75% women, with 89% of support staff women. In the NHS, 77% of the workforce are women and 82% are women in social care. This bill is a direct attack on UNISON members and our right to campaign for pay and better terms & conditions. 

UNISON will continue to campaign for every woman that has taken industrial action over the past few months and for their right to strike. This government can’t be allowed to continue to attack workers and the rights of women.

Abiola Kusoro - London NHS Hospital Worker


Monday, March 06, 2023

UNISON Community Conference 2023 - Day 2

I posted on Day 1 here on the UNISON annual Seminar/conference for Community (Housing Association & Voluntary sector workers). Which went pretty well. 

Denise and I started the 2nd day leafleting delegates as they arrived for conference and chatting to them about us standing in the forthcoming UNISON NEC elections

Supporters of our opponents were there, handing out leaflets, which is fair enough, however they were being supplemented by local non UNISON members, selling ultra left papers and some (not all) were being typically aggressive and intimidating. Water off a duck's back to me. 

I welcomed the opportunity to explain to delegates why I walked out of conference last year due to the NECs imposturer President being there.

Check out my account of the day based on my twitter feed below:-

Conference opened with a welcome speech by our Chair followed by standing orders report (some very nice words and gift of flowers to long serving @unisontheunion staff who are retiring). Next, our
@UNISONCommVol annual report was accepted.

Then motions & amendments. Powerful arguments & sharing of personal experiences- Young Members, fire & rehire. Sick pay in Social care & levels of sick pay.

My Greater London Vol org branch colleague @jcreed551 moves his branch motion on the outrage that many low paid workers are being charged for their own #DBS checks!

Motion 7: Championing a real #livingwage for Community. This motion had a bumper of great speakers - low paid workers telling it as it is...especially Denise Thomas my NEC running mate.

More imp motions & debates on social care, charity sector pay, women in community, staff crisis, survival of LGBT+ services, regional development and legacy of year #disabled worker.

There was a standing ovation for our long standing, Cymru Wales, NEC member, Sian Stockham, a low paid care worker, on the announcement she had been awarded an OBE. 

Conference is now over. At station with my branch and employer colleague @JoeOgundemuren. It was great to hear so many young members from London and elsewhere speaking & participating in our
@unisontheunion democracy. 

There was some great debates but disappointing that a small number of speakers chose to spend all their time attacking the Labour Party rather than the Tories. Then they all finished their speeches calling for unity? Shows their priorities I suppose.