Stand Up To Racism
• Stop the scapegoating of immigrants
• No to Islamophobia
• Yes to diversity
• No to anti-Semitism
Called by Stand up to Racism - Backed by Unison, Unite, PCS and UAF
March 21st - national demonstration
Far right and fascist organisations are gaining support across Europe including in Britain by using arguments that wrongly blame immigrants for the fall in living standards, economic problems and austerity. Just this weekend there was a large scale racist demonstration in Newcastle organised by PERGIDA. It was only the presence of thousands of trade union members and anti-racists that prevented the racist arguments winning the the day.
In the UK there is a tidal wave of Islamophobia and racism coming from the top of society—and it will worsen during the election campaign—but this has produced a strong anti-racist reaction from a significant number of people.
It is vital we demonstrate against attempts by the rich and powerful to divide and rule us. We need unity against austerity.
Last night's branch meeting voted unanimously to recommend branch members to vote to reject the latest pay offer believing that it is completely inadequate and that the government can be pushed to offer a better settlement by further strike action.
Ballot papers are starting to arrive and members are urged to return them straight away with a vote to reject.
The meeting discussed how it was the prospect of escalating action that forced the government to ask for talks and make the slightly improved offer in the hope of silencing the anger over years of pay cuts and cuts in the NHS.
The meeting criticised the offer for falling far short of Unison's aims of 1% consolidated pay rise for 2014/2015 and an above inflation pay rise for 2015/2016, while also opening the door to government sought reforms of the Agenda for Change pay scheme as negotiations on this are part of the pay offer.
The government has already applied for cuts in unsocial hours, and has previously indicated it wants to abolish incremental pay rises. The introduction of incremental freeze for higher bands in the pay offer sets a precedent for future negotiations, and should be rejected.
If the offer is accepted most staff will get only 1% over 2 years, though wages have fallen behind prices by at least 10%. The fact that no new money is being made available speaks volumes about the government’s attitude towards NHS pay - they are prepared to rob one set of NHS workers to buy the rest of us off, but won't tackle tax evasion that could raise more than enough money to fund the NHS.
The branch meeting reflected discussions between stewards and members across Oxfordshire trusts where the majority opinion expressed is that the offer does not address the issue of recent pay cuts and low pay, and opens the door to further cuts.
A delegate to the Women's and also the Black Members conference reported wide spread dissatisfaction on the conference floors at Unison Head of Health Christine MCAnea's announcement that the offer was "the best that could be got through negotiations". Our delegate reported that members could not understand why the action had been called off for such a poor offer when there was growing support for the strikes.
Even those set to benefit most from the pay offer have expressed the opinion that the deal should be rejected as "pathetic". Press headlines have focused on the lowest paid getting 5%; however this would apply to just 3,000 staff in England.
As the general election approaches the government is increasingly vulnerable to pressure. The last thing it wants is disruption drawing attention to the scale of dissatisfaction with the state of NHS pay and crisis in the NHS. We have the best opportunity in years to win real changes - a strong vote to reject is essential to making the most of this opportunity.
Branch meeting on Pay
6pm Tuesday 17th Feb
McInness Room, Warneford Hospital - free parking
This meeting is open to all members and gives the opportunity to discuss the latest pay offer, and decide whether the branch will recommend whether to accept or reject the offer in the forthcoming ballot.
Christina MCAnea, Head of Health in Unison, has admitted "this isn't a great offer", and many members have asked the question as to why the action was suspended when the strikes had forced the government to enter talks and make an offer. There is also concern that part of the offer includes a review of other aspectgs of Agenda for Change at a time the government has appplied for cuts in unsocial hours payments.
Full details of the offer can be seen online here
The meeting will also give updates on the living wage campaign and look at the possibility of mounting a campaign for Oxford weighting to help staff deal with the high cost of living in Oxfordshire.
Pensions choice 2 - Oxford based briefings and 1:1 financial advice for Unison members
The OUHT Joint Union Committee is currently working with Lighthouse Financial Advisors to run a number of lunchtime sessions at the main OUH sites. These sessions are open to members in OUHT, OHFT and SHFT but if you want to take advantage of one to one follow up sessions you will need to bring your union membership card along and book a brief follow up meeting. Members are entitled to a free half hour advice session.
In addition the Oxford University Hospitals Trust is in the process of putting together a “Retire and Return” policy.
We understand the main feature of this will be the possibility of agreeing prior to retirement to return in a similar role on a fixed term contract.
Should this be agreed there will be a varying impact on pensions depending on membership of the different NHS schemes.
Faced with a 12 hour strike the government approached the unions to make an offer in return for the strike being called off. This shows the power the two previous strikes had to force the government to talk when it previously had refused and imposed a pay freeze for most NHS staff for this year and next. Members will now be balloted as to whether they accept or reject the government's offer.
Intitial reactions from branch members has been to question the union leadership calling off the action. Many report the mood for the strike being good and believe the planned strikes could have forced the government to make greater concessions.
The branch is in the process of organising a branch meeting to allow members to discuss the offer and next steps in the pay campaign, including whether to launch a campaign for a cost of living supplement for all staff living in Oxfordshire.
The pay offer ony offers a very small rises for the lowest paid - at the expense of highest pay bands (detail at end with what the new payscale would look like if accepted). However there is nothing to address the substantial losses staff have suffered bearing the brunt of government imposed austerity. For the majority of staff there is still no pay rise this year, and for those who got the 1% consolidated, they will lose it at the end of the year, so in effect their pay will be the same next year if this deal is accepted - this will affect around 30% of NHS staff. For most staff the what is on offer the equivalent of a paltry 1% increase for the 2 years 2104-2016. The offer also serves the purpose of dividing the opposition to the government policy of keeping NHS wages depressed.
Annual General Meeting
Friday 23rd January 2015
Four Pillars Hotel,
Abingdon Rd, Oxford.
Fight for fair pay - save the NHS
Roger McKenzie - Unison Assistant General Secretary
Andrew Smith MP (invited)
£500 cash prize raffle open to all members attending the meeting before 7.30 pm
Followed by party until 11.30pm with music, bar and hot and cold buffet
The meeting is open to all members - no booking required unless you want a meal.
If you would like a meal email branchsecretary[at]ouh.org.uk or use the booking form here
Strike materials and diaries will be available at the AGM
Elections for the following Self Organised Group Officers
will take place on Thursday 22nd January
at East Oxford Health Centre, Manzil Way, OX4 1YH. Training room 1 on level 3.
Black Members Self Organised group 17.30-18.30
Disabled Members' Self Organised Group 18.30 - 19.30
New year - New strikes
Strike Thursday 29th January 9 am to 9 pm (picket lines from early shifts to remind people to come out at 9am.) Mid-morning joint union rally- time and venue to be confirmed.
Strike Wednesday 25th February for 24 hours from midnight
Between these two strike days we are asking you to take your breaks and not do unpaid overtime. We will continue to work with employers to ensure that patient safety remains our priority during the action we are taking.
The industrial action thousands of health workers have already taken has kept pay in the media spotlight and won public support for NHS staff. That action is helping us to win the argument over pay — even NHS leaders are now calling for a change of direction, recognising that more pay freezes will damage the NHS and patient care.
That puts more pressure on the government. Now we have to increase that pressure to make Jeremy Hunt change his pay policy and treat you fairly.
A fair deal for 2015
UNISON is very clear. This dispute is not just about the 1% PRB- recommended increase that was taken away from you last year. It is about the government’s plan not to give you a pay rise this year too.
That’s another year of your pay falling further behind the cost of living, of 77,000 staff earning below the Living Wage and of politicians saying you’re not worth a decent pay rise.
Now the government has announced plans to cuts unsocial hours payments which will make staff even more hard up and will make the recruitment problems worse.
The Scottish Parliament has agreed to honour the full recommendations of the NHS Pay Review Body and introduce the Living Wage (effectively abolishing Band 1 and the lowest Band 2 pay points).
Following the last strike the Welsh Assembly also agreed the living wage, a one off payment and a consolidated pay rise next year.
Despite wages falling by over 10% and the forthcoming General Election so far the government refuses to budge in England.
Workers in Oxfordshire have far higher living costs than colleagues in Wales and Scotland. We need to organise effectively to win pay justice in England and some recognition (and pay) because we are in a high cost area. This pay campaign involves strikes, work-to-rule action, lobbies of MPs and marches.
Time to step up
That’s why we have planned two more days of strike action. A twelve hour strike between 9 a.m. and p.m. on Thursday 29 January and a 24 hour strike on Wednesday 25 February. Between these two strike days we are asking you to take your breaks and not to work for free. We will continue to work with employers to ensure that patient safety remains our priority during the action we are taking.
We know you support our fair pay campaign but it is only by standing together in UNISON that we can win a proper pay rise this year.
Step up and take part – help to make the action more successful and make a difference for yourself, your colleagues, your patients and the NHS.
Pension Choice 2 - Unison advice sessions
NHS staff who still have benefits in the 1995 scheme are being offered a second chance to transfer these benefits to the 2008 pensions benefits scheme with advice that they could benefit from such a transfer.
However this might not always be the case and very much depends on a number of factors including the age you wish to retire and whether you have tapered protection from the imposition of the 2015 scheme which will force many NHS staff to work longer before being eligible for a full pension.
Members have requested advice on whether to transfer their benefits and stewards in OUHT and OHFT are in the process of organising advice and briefing sessions from a Unison National Pensions advisor and Lighthouse Financial advice - a Unison affiliate. Unison reps cannot give pensions advice themselves.
We will notify members when dates, times and venues for these briefings are confirmed but you may wish to register your intrest in the briefing/advice session beforehand. You can do this online here.
Advice leaflets on the scheme are available online here.
Not content with years of pay freezes that have seen NHS pay shrink by at least 10% the government is now seeking to cut wages further by asking the Pay Review Body to change the pay system that would see wages reduced further.
The government has attacked annual increments as "unfair and unaffordable" and said that unsocial hours payments "do not reflect modern practice".
The government has suggested options for changing unsocial hours premia which include:
If annual increments are abolished we can be sure that staff will not then be moved to the top of the current bands as the aim is to reduce the NHS pay bill further, meaning more cuts for exerienced staff if past increments are removed to equalise pay across bands.
These attacks can only undermine recruitment and retention of NHS staff.
The current pay dispute is essential to defeating future attacks on pay. Support the strikes on 29th January and 25th February.