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Solidarity with Greek unions fighting austerity

Solidarity from Oxfordshire Unison Health Branch Executive committee

The Unison Oxfordshire Health branch committee has sent a solidarity message to the ADEDY union federation of public sector workers in Greece which has called a general strike for Wednesday 15th July demanding that the Syriza government does not accept the harshest and most humiliating set of cuts and austerity on Greece in exchange for the possibility of a new set of loans.

"Oxi" is Greek for no.  UK trade unions will  also be saying "no" to austerity in the UK on 4th October in Manchester when there will be a huge demonstration outside the Tory party conference.

Read more: Solidarity with Greek unions fighting austerity

Ballot for strike action at John Radcliffe Hospital

UNISON members at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford are being encouraged to vote YES for strike action this week in response to Carillion's plans to change shift patterns and merge supervisor and dispatcher roles.

The porters at John Radcliffe- who are nearly all UNISON members, are facing pay cuts and job losses amid huge pressure from management to accept the proposals.

After a long period of negotiation by the UNISON team to ensure the lowest possible impact on pay and jobs, both parties have failed to agree and Carillion is now planning to implement the changes from 8 July 2015. 

In response to Carillion’s proposals, members who attended UNISON meetings in late May voted in support of a strike ballot and a public campaign, to put pressure on Carillion to reconsider their changes and protect pay and jobs.

Consultative workplace ballots have indicated unanimous support for strike action, with one member commenting:

"This is not just about pay and jobs, it's about dignity at work."

The ballot will run from 22nd June- 3rd July.

You can send messages of support to the porters at [email protected]

No cook chill in our community hospitals

Unison, Unite and RCN stewards in Oxfordshire Health NHS Trust have launched a pertition calling for the trust to reconsider the decision to introduce "cook chill" catering system in Oxfordshire's community hospitals.

Patient groups have already raised concern about the impact the reduction in quality in cook chill food will have on patient's nutritional intake.  There is already evidence that patients in areas that have already have cook chill vote with their feet and order in food in preference to the hospital food provided if they can afford it. The use of take away food puts patients at risk of poor nutrition and loss of control over food safety.  The problem is of such significance that the trust has had to bring in a policy whereby nursing staff have the additional work of policing food outlets patients order in from and performing safety checks on the food when it is delivered. 

Poorly nuitritioned patients can take longer to recover potentially raising costs of hospital stays.  Impoverishing staff through unemployment is likely to impact negatively on the well being of staff, as is the increased use of low paid staff in cook chill companies, with associated increased demands on the NHS.  The requirement for nurses to monitor take-away food distracts them from other aspects of care. 

All this raises the spectre of the "cook chill" project being a false economy, driven by the government demand for cuts rather than any joined up thinking about the real costs of healthcare of the population the trust is supposed to be serving.

The petition can be signed online here.  A printed version can be downloaded here.

No fascist march in Oxford - demonstrate against the EDL

Oxfordshire UNISON Health branch is calling on members to support a demonstration against the racist and fascist EDL holding a national march in Oxford on Saturday 4th April. Oxford residents opposed to racism and fascism will be assembling for a peaceful protest in Bonn Square from 12 noon to show that the majority reject the EDL's racist lies as they try and scapegoat minorities, particular Muslims, for problems in society.  Facebook event

Local trade unions, including Oxfordshire Unison health branch, plus over 300 people have signed an open letter condemning the decision by the English Defence League to call a national demonstration in Oxford following the jailing of a group of men for sexual exploitation of children. Local councillors, trade union activists, and residents and students in Oxford are included in those who accuse the EDL of exploiting the suffering of these victims of abuse in an attempt to stir up race hatred against the Muslim community and to build there fascist organisation here.

Read more: No fascist march in Oxford - demonstrate against the EDL

Unison backs national march against racism

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.

Read more: Unison backs national march against racism

NHS pay ballot - vote to reject to reject inadequate pay offer and take further action

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.

More Articles...

  1. Pay meeting and pension briefings
  2. NHS members to be balloted over pay offer
  3. AGM - SOG elections - next strikes - pension choice 2
  4. Unsocial hours bonuses and increments under attack
  5. Latest strike bulletin - all out on Jan 29 and Feb 25

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Branch events

04
Oct
Manchester
National demonstration called by the TUC.

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