Friday, 7 April 2017

Brookes Unison AGM

Talk by Tony Jones (Unison Regional Official)

Tony spoke about the attack on the NHS at our AGM. He says we need to fight for the NHS or it won't be there in 5 years' time in its current form. Tabloid headlines claim that the NHS is under massive pressure - but there are currently no epidemics causing this pressure, so it must be caused by funding cuts.

The NHS only needs an extra £8 billion pounds over the next five years (which isn't actually all that much money in the context of government spending). Theresa May says that this funding gap has to be filled by "efficiencies" (in other words, cuts & closures). The Sustainability & Transformation Plans for the NHS were drawn up in secret. They were going to be released for consultation, but were leaked in advance.

Noam Chomsky says that underfunding a service you want to privatise is a classic right-wing technique. The government is reducing funding for the NHS to make it seem unsustainable; operations are being cancelled, there are longer waiting lists, cuts to A&E departments. This is a manufactured crisis.

What can we do about it? Campaign. Spread awareness. Vote in local elections. Write to your MP.

Local branch matters

  • A huge thank you to all our Officers that are stepping down, thank you for the support 
  • Our HERA job evaluation convenor called for grading review volunteers, who will also be needed to speak to members 
  • Branch Accounts for 2016 were approved
  • Branch Officers and Stewards were elected 
  •  Branch Recruitment and Organisation were discussed
  • Concerns were raised about bullying culture in the University and a lack of adherence to procedure: it was recommended that people invest in a recording device for meetings 
  • Future campaigns/priorities were discussed, based on the members' survey
  • Let us know if there are any further issues around car parking 
  • There was a move to a daily parking charge to discourage cars. Charges frozen for 3 years. New parking system was delayed. 
  • Unison response to Brexit was discussed. More support needed for EU members in the branch.
  • Branch Committee proposed changes were agreed: new positions for a LGBT Officer and a Disabled Members Officer. New titles for roles of Casework Convenor, Collective Bargaining Convenor, Grading Convenor.

Unison Pay Claim 2017

  • A joint claim from Unison & UCU has been sent to UK Universities for a pay increase of RPI + 3% or £1200, whichever is greater, plus £10 ph minimum wage 
  • Oxford weighting: management say they pay sufficient salaries; however, our member survey indicated that pay & pay inequality were the biggest issues for members 
  • We need more members to get involved in campaigns, including the national pay campaign
  • The gender pay gap is still an issue; so is gender segregation by job type

Change, Brexit, racism, bigotry - a talk by Tomasa Bullen, Solent University

  • Changing political climate with regard to HE
  • Both Southampton & Oxford voted Remain overwhelmingly
  • Students now expect instant responses and feedback due to paying fees 
  • Support staff are still paid less and treated differently than academics despite many of us being equally qualified 
  • We need £10 minimum wage & cooperation between unions.
  • The HE Bill currently going through Parliament increased student fees to £9250 pa
  • The TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) has 3 levels - bronze,silver,gold. Fees will be higher for universities who achieve silver & gold in the TEF. 
  • Union facilities time is being cut in HE sector 
  • But unions have the power of public pressure, adverse publicity, and solidarity across the sector 

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