Here are the results for the 2020/21 NJC Pay consultation for Brighton & Hove Unison.
It was a disappointing turnout, but these are unprecedented and challenging times for our members. As ever, we stand in solidarity with them and are ready to represent and support them through what are likely to be increasingly anxious times.
RESULTS FOR: Brighton & Hove Unitary
NO. OF MBRS CONSULTED: 2,671 (via email: please see note below*)
VOTES CAST: 290
ACCEPT THE OFFER: 192 / 66.2%
REJECT THE PAY OFFER: 98 / 33.8%
*Due to the CV19 restrictions, it was possible only to reach our members via e-mail for this consultation. If you did not receive this communication, it is because we do not hold an e-mail address on our records for you and have not had your agreement to use it under GDPR regulations. This can be a work or home e-mail address. If you think we do not hold this information or if you haven’t given agreement to us using your e-mail address, would you please provide this information so that we can contact you as needed. When contacting us to provide this, please use the following e-mail address: email@example.com. Thank you
Our wonderful Branch Secretary, Sue Beatty, is retiring at the end of this month. Read her message to all members below.
Her dedication, determination and commitment to supporting our 4000 members, and helping them work in a safe, inclusive and fair workplace has been incredible. Thank you Sue Beatty, and we hope you have a great, well deserved retirement.
Dear UNISON Member and colleague,
I hope this finds you well at this difficult and challenging time.
As you will recall, I sent an e-mail to you earlier this year to let you know that I was retiring from the Branch Secretary role in UNISON Brighton & Hove Branch. I was due to leave at the end of March and the plan was, as always around that time of year, to hold our AGM at which a new Branch Secretary would be elected. Because of the CV19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown, the branch was not able to hold our AGM and I was asked to continue in the role for a few months to provide stability to the branch through the worst of the pandemic issues, which were arising for members.
I am writing now to let you know that w.e.f. from the end of July, I am stepping down from this role and will retire from Brighton & Hove City Council as an employee. This means that currently the branch is without a named Branch Secretary until such time as we can hold our AGM to elect my successor. However, cover for this role will, in the interim, be provided as follows:
Richard Woolven (Branch Officer/Treasurer/Service Conditions Officer) will cover two of the 5 days
Andy Richards (Branch Chair) will cover two of the 5 days
Sue Beatty (me) will be employed by the branch as a UNISON employee (part time hours) to support and advise branch staff as needed and to “triage” work that arrives into the office. However, as I am no longer BS and will be employed by UNISON, I have no role in any decision making regarding the business of, or running of, the branch.
We believe the above arrangements will work well until we can hold our AGM which we are anticipating will be late September. Once we have been given the go ahead to hold the AGM ( in a venue such as the Brighton Centre where social distancing can be easily maintained) you will receive a letter giving details of this. Please try to attend. Whenever an election of a new Branch Officer or Secretary takes place, it is always helpful to have as many members attend as possible in order to ensure that members have input into who is elected to work in their best interests.
I would like to say a huge thank you for being a UNISON member; we are and always have been a strong branch, in which we put our members first. Without your support and loyalty, this branch would not be the success it is, of 4000 members across both the Council and within a range of employers across the City. You, together with a great branch office team and brilliant workplace representatives, are what makes this branch the success that it is. An injury to one is an injury to all; when we stand united we are strong.
I wish you the very best, both now during such a time as this pandemic, and for the future, whatever it may hold for us all.
Unison is consulting all NJC members on the current pay offer from the employers of 2.75%. All members have a vote on whether to accept or reject this offer. If you have not received a ballot paper via email please use the link below. You will need your Unison membership number and your date of birth.
This morning the local authority received updated guidance from Public Health (who provide advice to BHCC) that has led to them changing their advice from holding off on opening schools more widely, to giving the go-ahead to start doing so from Monday 15th June.
This swift change of position is – we are told – based upon reassurances from Public Health that they are now “reasonably confident” that the COVID-19 testing is up and running and with sufficient capacity to move forward.
Whilst this branch has little option but to accept the decision of the council we are not in agreement with it.
What This Means
As of Monday 15th June schools and council nurseries will be likely (although not obliged) to start to re-open to nursery, reception Years 1 and 6 pupils and also start to provide face to face support for young people in Year 10 and 12 this term.
This will involve some degree of support staff being required to return to work. However this should only take place safely and in accordance with a COVID-19Risk Assessment.
Our Advice To You
· If you have not seen, do not have access to or do not fully understand the COVID-19 Risk Assessment for your school, let us know immediately.
· If you have seen the COVID-19 Risk Assessment for your school and you do not feel that it is either adequate, safe or otherwise realistic, let us know immediately.
· Any breaches of the COVID-19 Risk Assessment must be recorded by your school as a “near miss” situation in their Health and Safety record keeping. If there these are not being recorded or if these are serious or repeated breaches, again please let us know immediately.
· If you believe that you are at a higher level of risk due to health or other factors, or if you live or care for someone who is, you can request that a Personal Risk Assessment is carried out by you and your manager which should seek to further reduce that level of risk.
· Speak with your colleagues and raise concerns collectively where you can.
· Your safety and the safety of your colleagues, pupils and families is paramount. If you have concerns over safety that you feel are not being taken seriously please let us know immediately.
This is a very challenging time for everyone and managing the wider re-opening of schools safely and sustainably is going to be a huge challenge. Speak with your colleagues, speak to your union and wherever you can raise concerns collectively.
The horrific killing of Black American, George Floyd, is deeply distressing to all trade unionists and our communities. UNISON, together with all trade unions, has a responsibility to be the vanguard of the fight against racism in all its forms, and Brighton & Hove branch reach out to our Black Members and Black Workers to offer both our support and solidarity at this time.
Brighton & Hove branch offer our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of George Floyd and all affected by this hate crime.
In response to the horrific killing of George Floyd in the USA many people in Brighton and Hove are showing their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter campaigns here as well as in America. Events scheduled for the next few days include:
Thursday, 4th June – Labour Party BAME vigil outside Hove Town Hall 5.30 – 6.30pm with full social distancing observed.
Friday, 5th June – Brighton Palace Pier, Brighton Centre and i360 lit up in purple. The city council asks residents to observe a minute’s silence – and take the knee if they wish – at 8pm
Sunday, 7th June – Stand Up To Racism online rally – Black Lives Matter: We Demand Justice at 6pm
Sussex Defend the NHS has called a safe protest to show solidarity with health workers, school and other key workers, and parents, who are resisting returning to work or school without the “5 tests” laid out by trade unions, being met.
All Unison members are invited to join in, and to bring placards or banners. Full physical distancing and safety measures will be in place.
There for You, the charity for UNISON members, is here to help UNISON members get the practical and financial support they need. Despite the current difficulties, we remain open and are here to help in any way that we can.
Currently all staff are working from home and we continue to respond to requests for help and are processing applications as quickly as possible. Other than if there’s no alternative, please don’t send applications through the post as we’re only receiving mail once a week.
Our general enquiry line remains open alternatively, you can send an email. Just leave a message and one of our Support Team we’ll get back to you within 1 working day.
We are already receiving applications from members who are in financial difficulties as a result of the Coronavirus. In some cases, this has sadly meant providing support to those who have lost loved ones – including help with funeral costs.
CoVid19 Response Fund
For many of our members, work and household income has suddenly changed overnight. Whether as a result of ill-health, loss of income or increased work-related costs, many will be feeling anxious about how they will make ends meet, pay household bills and put food on the table.
We want members to know that we are here to help in whatever way we can and is why we’ve established a special CoVid19 Response Fund. This new hardship fund will help ease the immediate financial pressures faced by members including those who have become more vulnerable by providing an immediate grant of £250 to help with essentials.
To be eligible for a COVID-19 grant the following must apply either to the member and/or their partner:
Suffered a reduction in earnings as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis which has put them in financial difficulty (this could be linked to work or health related reasons) and/or
Member and/or partner is a key worker with increased work-related costs as a result of the crisis, e.g. transport, care, or laundry costs.
Be a UNISON member with at least 4 weeks membership and have paid their subscriptions;
Have savings of less than £800
Be applying for or in receipt of any statutory help that they may be entitled to.
How members apply
Members in financial difficulty can apply direct by completing a simple online application form and attaching some supporting documents which will help us reach a quick decision.
By way of a reminder, please also note that we have introduced a streamlined version of our main financial assistance application form which members can now complete electronically. We are actively encouraging members to use the electronic form where possible as this will result in us receiving the application sooner. Members can apply without going through the branch – something that may be helpful if you are a key worker or other reasons make it difficult to have contact with members.
IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR ALL UNISON MEMBERS RE REOPENING OF SCHOOLS ON 1 JUNE
UNISON is not in agreement with reopening schools on 1st June and we urge our members not to agree to doing so.
You will no doubt have heard the government announcement on Sunday that restrictions on schools are to be relaxed on 1st June for far wider re-opening. This announcement was made without consultation with trade unions nationally and without any of the meaningful guidance or clarity it deserved. This has caused a great deal of concern and worry to our members, parents and school heads.
This branch firmly believes that this government announcement, particularly with regards to re-introducing the youngest pupils who are least likely to be able to adhere to social distancing without adequate guidance, is thoroughly reckless and presents an unacceptable level of risk to pupils, members, their families and to the wider country.
Locally, having met with BHCC on Wednesday afternoon (13th May) it was agreed that any lifting of current restrictions should be made on the basis of safety of pupils and staff rather than that of an arbitrary date. Council officers as well as councillors have made a firm commitment to ensuring that safety comes first and details of how and when this is likely to be achieved been sent out to all school heads.
What this means is that whilst we will continue to engage with the local authority and schools with regards to how the lifting of school restrictions might be safely achieved, we will not be engaging with regards to meeting any arbitrary date such as June 1st at this stage as we do not believe it is yet safe to do so. The current schools arrangement must remain in place until such a time as it is demonstrably safe to do otherwise.
This branch expects all educational providers across the city to honour and stand by the commitment to safety that is being championed by BHCC, as any irresponsible re-opening of other schools or colleges places the entire city at risk.
In the event that you are currently being pressured to return to re-opening your school on 1st June and/or being rota’d as such we would advise you to provide the following response in writing:
“Trade unions including my own are in dispute with the government guidance that schools are to re-open on 1stJune. Whilst I and my union are willing to discuss and be consulted upon how the school will be able to reopen in the future, I have been instructed by my union that it is not currently safe to do so and that I am not to engage with regards to returning on 1st June at this stage. We expect all education providers to follow BHCC who have provided guidance and understand the firm joint union position. This is a national dispute we expect all employers to treat it as such.
If you have any further questions or require any further information please feel free to contact the branch
UNISON calls on government to make clear how it will keep pupils, parents and staff safe
Following last night’s announcement by the PrimeMinister that he plans to increase the number of pupils allowed to attend primary schools in England on 1 June, UNISON is asking the government: how exactly are you going to keep pupils, parents and staff safe?
Of course schools will need to re-open – but only when it is safe to do so. Differing messages from the four UK governments over the weekend have added to the confusion and concern.
Along with the other education unions and the TUC, last week we wrote to the government asking it to work with us to plan for further re-opening when the time is right and when it is safe to do so https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/unions-set-out-needs-safe-reopening-schools-letter-education-secretary The plan needs to address a range of issues including PPE, testing, tracing, isolation and social distancing. We have also called for school debts to be written off and for increased funds to help schools cope. The Prime Minister didn’t address any of these issues last night and it remains to be seen if the guidance due out over the next couple of days will do so.
UNISON believes the government should not be cavalier with the safety of pupils, parents and staff in England. Over the next few days we will continue working with other education unions to seek answers and will have a meeting of our national schools committee later in the week. As planned, we will also be surveying UNISON members in schools on your views. Please keep an eye out on the UNISON website and your emails for more information.
UNISON’s top priority remains the safety and wellbeing of pupils, parents, staff and our communities.