This site is the official site of the Doncaster local government branch of UNISON. Contact us at Hall Cross House, 1 South Parade, or on 01302 320793. To join UNISON call the branch office, or alternatively call UNISON Direct on 0845 355 0845 or visit www.unison.org.uk
Due to the
volume of calls etc regarding the forms that were recently sent out requesting
information on financial losses, please note that we are now asking members to
complete only the following information on the forms.Once this has been provided we will do all
the calculations on your behalf and forward this to Thompsons solicitors.
Deadline has been extended to Monday 17th December 2012.
Please provide the
Name & Address
Date of Birth
Date Commenced Employment
commenced employment means length of service you can use to calculate a
redundancy payment e.g. If you worked for another Authority immediately prior
to working for DMBC (without a break) this can be included in this date. Your
contract of employment will have this date on.
This is the
date the council gave you in your termination letter.
Age at date of dismissal
Length of Notice Period entitled to in
This is the
number of week’s notice you were given in your termination letter from the
Gross Weekly Wage
provide a copy of your March & April Payslip and we will calculate other
Overtime and Mileage
provide details of any overtime or mileage that you claimed between 1st
May 2012 and the end of your notice period.
return the requested information by the deadline**
This week we
attended the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for Adults and Communities, to
discuss the Governments proposals to set up new boards for the NHS, and the
monitoring by Local Councillors.
concern is one of the provisions up for consultation. It states that the NHS
will be tasked with delivering service improvements against a backdrop of needing
to make efficiencies (political speak for cutting the budget), whilst
considering the financial and clinical sustainability of the proposals within
existing resources (i.e. maintaining the current budgets).
Now we can
comprehend cutting budgets, even if we disagree with it, and we can comprehend maximising
services within the same budget. The question is; how is the NHS meant to increase patient
services at the current budget level whilst at the same time cutting those very
told that NHS budgets would increase in real terms??
To err is
human, but to really mess it up takes the ConDem Coalition.
Well it seems as though the Government is intent on doing so!
Not for themselves and for their very wealthy friends who are content to count (or bathe in) their money, happy in the knowledge that when they get caught they will, miraculously, suffer from collective amnesia you understand, but the price of justice for you, me and tens of thousands of people like us seems to be about to be set at £1200.
What this sets out is simply this - that from some point during late 2013 a new, "two-tier," fee structure will be introduced for those working people wanting to take a case to ET. For claims (including Unfair Dismissal and Discrimination) an initial fee of £250 will be payable just to submit a claim followed by a further payment of £950 to go to a hearing. So, a grand total of £1200, just to secure a shot at securing any kind of justice!
True, your employer may have to foot the bill for this if you win (on top of any compensation awarded) but you still have to find this money in advance of being allowed to proceed.
In some cases the fees are lower - a claim for, "Unauthorised Deductions from Wages," for example will cost £160 to submit and a further £230 to face a hearing. This is peanuts to many employers (and to Cameron's, "Millionaires Boys Club," Cabinet) but to many workers this will hugely restrict any access to justice they might once have enjoyed.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission, opposing these changes and the impact on combating discrimination in the workplace argued that,
"The Commission believes that requiring payment of a fee to bring a discrimination claim may breach the principle of effectiveness as it will make it difficult for individuals to enforce their EU law rights. We do not believe that the measures...will ensure that no one is denied access to justice through the introduction of a fee."
What this is is a transparent and naked attempt, by a government hostile to workers rights and to the limited protections afforded to working people, to discourage claims being brought to law and to give even greater freedom to bad employers to exploit their employees. Highly paid lobbyists and professional whingers acting on the behalf of employers (the CBI and Institute of Directors) continue to complain that it is too easy for workers to pursue misconceived claims, but as anyone who has ever tried it knows the truth is it's already tough to get justice.
Trade Unions need to ensure that commitments are given that would see a future Labour government repeal these changes and to begin now to put in place arrangements for determining who should pay these costs. We can not afford to wait and our members deserve clarity - justice is hard enough to come by without doors being slammed in their faces when their time of need is at it's greatest.
As you are probably aware, DMBC was intent on introducing Car Parking charges for some Town Centre staff wef 1st July 2012. Due to the fact that an inadequate period of consultation has taken place and the proposals have not been discussed or ratified by the Employee Relations Committe, UNISON have lodged a Formal Trade Dispute with DMBC. Please see letter below:-
Those Social Workers (and other Social Care staff) struggling to cope with the demands of working under unreasonable caseloads and ridiculous hours might want to take a look at the following link to the UNISON website; www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/20748.pdf
The "Up to Standard?" Branch Guide, provides advice to activists and to Branches on using the, "Standards for Employers of Social Workers in England," to inform negotiations and dispute resolution to supprt UNISON members working at the sharp end in both Children's & Adults Social Care.
Particularly now, with a formal, "Dispute," lodged in support of Social Workers and Social Care Assistants in TFS East (Vermuyden) and TFS West (Martinwells) over the unsustainable workloads and the continuing expectation that UNISON members (and others) will work all the hours God sends to shore up a system creaking under the strain, these, "Standards," are massively important.
The real problem is shortage of staffing and under-resourcing for all teams and, for an increasing number of staff the solution seems to be to look for work elsewhere with less pressure and better support. All of this, taken together with DMBC's arrogance and determination to impose pay cuts to hard-pressed workers and it doesn't take a, "Rocket Scientist," to figure out that recruitment and retention of committed Social Care staff will get more and more difficult.
You might also want to take a glance at the following, "short guide," for Social Workers - your comments would be gratefully received. (just click on the image to enlarge)
We have all heard Children's Services managers "talking up," the progress that has been made since government intervention in 2009 but for many this increasingly seems like an illusion.
Case-loads continue to be at a level which are damaging to personal well-being and professional practice; hours worked continue to creep up with staff members carrying ridiculous and unsustainable TOIL balances - effectively delivering weeks of, "free," work to DMBC; supervision, when it does take place, is more often about case management than real support and the numbers of agency staff continues to be too high and is increasing as permanent workers look elsewhere for greater support and continuity.
Doncaster UNISON believes that urgent steps must be taken in DMBC to stabilise the current situation. Rather than seeing increasing use of Capability and Disciplinary procedures when workers succumb to the pressure we believe that you must be properly supported to do the work you do. We will shortly be bringing together UNISON activists in Children's Services to begin to plan for a campaign around the challenges you face - your input can make all the difference!
It has been an interesting week so far at Conference with
many things discussed and debated both in main conference and the various fringe meetings. The debates have included Health & Safety, Fair Pay and the links
between UNISON and the Labour Party.
have had 3 new young delegates to conference this year; Emma, Jodie &
Kirsty. They are pictured below with
UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis and other members promoting the Hope not
Hate campaign around racial equality and the fight against racism.
In Conference, Dave Prentis put forward the arguement about how we need to
fight the Public Sector pay freeze and plan for the biggest ever demonstration in London on 20th October this year. He also went on the offensive and put forward that it is no longer acceptable for the
Labour Party to follow the austerity arguments put forward by the ConDem
Government, only not as quick and not as severe. The support of UNISON for the Labour Party could be in question if this is the best they can offer. Paul Kenny from the TUC has today backed up
these comments with a similar view.
Today is also a day that sees debates on Rule Changes, in
particular internal disciplinary rules and Branch finances. These debates will have major implications
for UNISON members and individual branches.
Details of the outcomes of these debates will be relayed later.
Tomorrow will see Pensions debated once more, this time with
all service groups in attendance. Again
the outcome of this debate will be relayed to you at a later date. The Branch emergency motion in support of the
"68 is too late" campaign has, unfortunately, not been accepted on to
the agenda for debate. Although this is
a disappointment the point will be put over in the pensions debate.
UNISON Conference 2012, held in Bournemouth this week saw a key debate on the future of your Pension Scheme. Doncaster UNISON played a leading role in this debate, moving Emergency Composite 1, which called for Conference to give a clear and transparent assessment of new proposals to all members, in other words to tell members whether we believe this is a, "good," or a, "bad," deal. This motion, supported by many other branches was, unfortunately in our view, not carried. However, what was agreed is that a process of consultation with members will take place over the next 4-5 weeks and will be followed by a ballot of members at the end of July!
We do not believe that this is an appropriate timetable, particularly as many of our members based in schools will break for the summer holidays in July and may not have been able to attend briefings on the new proposals. In addition, what is clear is that this is a timetable demanded by the Con-Dem Coalition government to suit their aims of attacking the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). Indeed, as admitted by Heather Wakefield (UNISON National Officer), "...this is not our timetable!"
So what are the, "Highlights," of the, "New Look LGPS 2014," and what do we think?
•A Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE) scheme using CPI as the revaluation factor (the current scheme is a final salary scheme).
Our View:- There is no funding issue with the current final salary scheme, indeed it takes in 4 bn more every year than it pays out. When we took strike action on 30th Nov 2011 we were told that a Career Average Scheme would be inferior and that we were defending the Final Salary Scheme. Uprating by CPI (rather than RPI) only looks good if we assume low levels of growth in wages. That may fit right now, but historically wage levels have increased at a level higher than this every year.
•The accrual rate would be 1/49th (the current scheme is 1/60th). Our View:- This seems to be better - this means that for every year you pay into the scheme your pension pot will grow by 1/49th of your actual pay for that year. However, if you remember that this will be on a career average salary and not final salary it doesn't sound quite as good.
•There would be no normal scheme pension age, instead each member's Normal Pension Age (NPA) would be their State Pension Age (the current scheme has an NPA of 65).
Our View:- Linking your retirement age to the state pension age (SPA) means that many UNISON members will face working to 68 (increasing potentially to 71 if the government get what they want). This means potentially more members dying in service, or being physically unable to work to this age, more dismissals through capability and of course fewer years in retirement. Any future increase in the SPA would automatically apply to the age you could then retire.
•Average member contributions to the scheme would be 6.5% (same as the current scheme) with the rate determined on actual pay (the current scheme determines part-time contribution rates on full time equivalent pay). While there would be no change to average member contributions, the lowest paid would pay the same or less and the highest paid would pay higher contributions on a more progressive scale after tax relief.
Our View:- The fact that contribution rates will change for nobody until 2014 and for the overwhelming majority there will be no increase (in fact you may pay slightly less) is positive. The industrial action in Nov 2011 did force Government to reconsider their plans for this. However more highly paid members will see contribution rates increase significantly. But you will be paying more because your retirement age is going up to 68. Also making all pay (including overtime and additional hours) pensionable means that in the future you will see 6.5% average taken from all your pay and not just a part of it. This does mean your pension pot will be bigger but it also means you will pay more.
•Members who have already or are considering opting out of the scheme could instead elect to pay half contributions for half the pension, while still retaining the full value of other benefits. This is known as the 50/50 option (the current scheme has no such flexible option).
Our View:- The average pension for local government workers is £4200 per annum and for women workers this falls to £2800. If you take this along with up-rating by CPI and paying only 50% contributions this will mean an even lower pension for the lowest paid workers. The real issue for people who currently don't feel able to afford a pension is the rotten culture of low pay and pay freezes in local government - 50% of a very low pension after a lifetime of public service is no reward at all.
•For current scheme members, benefits for service prior to 1st April 2014 are protected, including remaining „Rule of 85‟ protection. Protected past service continues to be based on final salary and current NPA.
Our View:- This simply means that the value of what you have already paid in will be protected and if you meet certain age criteria you will be able to access your pension if your age and length of continuous service added together is 85 or greater.
•Where scheme members are outsourced they will be able to stay in the scheme on first and subsequent transfers (currently this is a choice for the new employer).
Our View:- This is a welcome move to protect staff who find themselves in a TUPE transfer situation. In the current climate of outsourcing and privatisation in the public sector any protection to members pensions is welcomed. Currently a new employer simply has to provide a pension scheme of an equivalent value to that of the LGPS. However this protection doesn't change the fact that your right to stay in the pension scheme will still be on the new provisions of LGPS 2014.
When we took strike action on 30th Nov 2011 we did so on the basis that we would not, "Work Longer, Pay More and Get Less!". It is Doncaster UNISON's view that although some elements of the new proposals are not as bad as they might have been, overall they fall well short of the objectives that you and millions of other public sector worker took action to defend. The unity that we saw across the Trade Union movement gave us the upper hand in challenging a weak and vicious ConDem government. Doncaster UNISON will now be arranging a series of meetings and briefings in order to consult with our members. Time is short, please make every effort to attend one of these meetings.
Full details are available online at - http://www.unison.org.uk/pensions/lgps.asp
Further to Jo Millers letter 30th May, which was previously posted on this blog, we have now written to her again (Letter below). As you will see, we are again asking DMBC to reconsider its position over Terms & Conditions. In light of £4.5 Million underspend by DMBC in 2011/12, this seems like it would be a reasonable course of action. Should that not happen, we will lodge legal claims for members.
Many people will have also seen the post on our Facebook site yesterday about what is happening in Southampton. It appears that the Local Authority there are looking at re-instating previously reduced Terms & Conditions.
Our One Voice Newsletter will be out next week, there will be updates on Pensions and a further update on Terms & Conditions.
As many of you will have seen, DMBC has just published its
accounts for the financial year 2011/12.These show an under spend by DMBC of £4.5 million.As we have always stated, there was
sufficient money to avoid the draconian cuts to our members Term &
The Mayor has stated that “Some of the under spend will now
be used to put some things right that have needed sorting for a while.For instance we must invest more in our
customer services to provide a better service for residents..”This is why there is currently corporate review of this service that will have a further detrimental impact on jobs.
He states further that “We also have to ensure that we
address the increased demands and pressures in Children’s Services which are
significant.”This is why there is
currently a consultation on reducing the number of children’s residential care
homes in Doncaster.
Let’s face it, we have always said there was money in the
budget to avoid the scale of cuts to our members Terms & Conditions.And despite the constant denial of this fact
by DMBC, we have been proven right, yet again.You were asked to believe that the cuts were necessary, would save jobs
and protect services.With this clear
evidence of £4.5 million being available, is anyone from DMBC coming forward to
try and reverse the cuts to Terms & Conditions or prevent further job
LETS BE CLEAR, NOW IS THE TIME FOR DMBC TO DO THE RIGHT
THING AND GET BACK TO THE TABLE WITH TRADE UNIONS. LETS SEE THE £4.5 MILLION
PUT TO GOOD USE AND REDUCE THE IMPACT OF CUTS TO TERMS & CONDITIONS ON THE
STAFF THAT PROVIDE THE SERVICES TO THE PEOPLE OF DONCASTER.
Due to the Bank Holiday we haven’t produced a One Voice
newsletter this week, so have decided on a brief update via the Blogspot.
Members are starting to return Letter B (unfair dismissal claims) to branch
office and as at Wednesday lunchtime the figure stood at around 300 returned
letters.Other unions have also had
large numbers returned.We are ever
hopeful that DMBC will enter into further negotiations over Terms &
Conditions, but while they persist with the “see you in court” attitude, Doncaster
UNISON will defend it’s members with every means available .
Staff Car Parking Charges is once again on the agenda for
DMBC.After being shelved for a time, to
concentrate on cutting your Terms & Conditions, DMBC have now put forward
proposals to charge staff for the use of 4 town centre car parks; Council
House, Scarborough House, North Bridge and Chappell Drive.
Do we think the current system is fair? No we don’t!
Do we think these proposals are fair? No we don’t!
Due to the new found confidence in attacking members
pay, at a recent consultation meeting DMBC have stated that these charges will
be introduced on 1st July along with the expansion of a car pool
system or unknown, worse proposals will be imposed.We believe that members will see that this is just another
way to attack a group workers in isolation. Negotiations are ongoing with DMBC, but the deadline of 1st July is looming large. We have asked our stewards to forward to branch office any thoughts that they and our members may have on the matter to incorporate into these negotiatioons.
1.A Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE)
scheme using CPI as the revaluation factor (the current scheme is a final
2.The accrual rate would be 1/49th (the
current scheme is 1/60th).
3.There would be no normal scheme
pension age, instead each member’s Normal Pension Age (NPA) would be their
State Pension Age (the current scheme has an NPA of 65).
4.Average member contributions to the
scheme would be 6.5% (same as the current scheme) with the rate determined on
actual pay (the current scheme determines part-time contribution rates on full
time equivalent pay). While there would be no change to average member
contributions, the lowest paid would pay the same or less and the highest paid
would pay higher contributions on a more progressive scale after tax relief.
5.Members who have already or are
considering opting out of the scheme could instead elect to pay half
contributions for half the pension, while still retaining the full value of
other benefits. This is known as the 50/50 option (the current scheme has no
such flexible option).
6.For current scheme members, benefits
for service prior to 1st April are protected, including remaining ‘Rule of 85’
protection. Protected past service continues to be based on final salary and
7.Where scheme members are outsourced
they will be able to stay in the scheme on first and subsequent transfers
(currently this is a choice for the new employer).
We will have further updates on pensions proposals when they become available.
Further to UNISON's letter dated 18th May, Jo Miller has now responded. The letter below was recieved at 18:00 last night. It is clear from this response that our advice was correct and despite rumour to the contrary Letter A is being accepted by DMBC as it does not place condition on acceptance of new T & C's. Any managers who query this with members should have there attention drawn to this letter. Your employment is not at risk by returning Letter A along with the signed contract. Should members feel uneasy about submitting Letter A, they should simply return the signed contract to DMBC, but still return Letter B to UNISON for us to initiate legal claims on your behalf.
Jo refers to the majority of staff in terms of them being sympathetic to DMBC's plight of spending cuts. Whilst this may be true, how many staff were harassed, bullied and threatened into signing the variations to contract? We would like to hear from members willing to speak to our solicitors if they feel this was the case! It appears that DMBC do not wish to enter further negotiations with the Trade Unions as we requested in our letter. We believe this position will change when potentially 1300 legal claims are lodged by Trade Union members. UNISON will always try to protect and fight for all its members.
News reaches us as we all move in to the weekend that DMBC have sent a letter to UNISON Regional HQ in Leeds responding to the news that Doncaster UNISON is now preparing to initiate Unfair Dismissal claims for hundreds of members. This despite the fact that the letter telling them came from the Doncaster Branch!
So what are we to make of this odd move and JM's seeming refusal to engage with locally elected reps?
Well it is exactly what it is! Having spent much of her recent career, "operating," at top levels & despite her oft tweeted commitment to, "engagement," it seems that JM believes that DMBC only needs to talk to those at the top!
Not that Yorks and Humberside UNISON should remain blameless in this - the involvement of Regional Officials earlier in the year was a classic example of how to, "muddy the waters," and may have created the impression for our esteemed leader that such behaviour (rude, though we are sure unintentional!) was acceptable.
For the avoidance of future misunderstanding perhaps we can offer the following advice; UNISON members in Doncaster elect their local representatives (Convenors and Stewards) and it is to those members that we are accountable. Regional Officials are paid employees of UNISON and, as such, facilitate the work of the Branch. Communications from the local Branch should secure a response TO the local Branch!
Either this or there is a risk that the Corporate DMBC approach could begin(?) to smack of, "I'll talk to your mother!"
Yesterday, Jo Miller posted on the council’s intranet that
she had responded to the letter UNISON sent her last Friday regarding legal
claims on behalf of members. We can only assume that Jo's response has gone astray as, to date,
no such communication has been received. She went on to say that “the legal advice
the council has received to date is that we are doing the right things in the
right way”. She further goes on to state
that they have referred UNISON’s letter to the council’s external lawyers for
further advice. If the legal advice is so good, why would it need to be
referred to “External Lawyers”?
On the advice of Thompsons Solicitors, UNISON is confident
that the action we take on behalf of our members at tribunal stands a high
probability of success. Let's hope that
when this external advice confirms our position Jo is not too surprised.
Just because she has communicated to staff that this is
right, doesn’t make it so!! Despite the assertion by Jo that only 804 people
are yet to sign, approx 1300 staff were issued with dismissal notices.All 1300 are able to take up the “unfair
dismissal” claims.UNISON has been able
to waive the4 week rule to access legal
services. This will enable people to join UNISON and lodge a claim against DMBC
with us.Look out for the new One Voice
newsletter next week for further updates.
IS CLEAR THAT IT WILL PROCEED WITH CLAIMS ON BEHALF OF ITS MEMBERS!
At our members meetings over the last 2 days, we have been asked for a Word version of the Jo Miller template letter. Despite various attempts to upload this, we're finding it difficult. In the interim, please contact us at branch office and we will be happy to e-mail the document to members as an attachment. It is important that you do not amend the wording of the document as this was drawn up by our solicitors and the wording is all important.
Please continue to check out this page for updates and advice, we will continue to update regularly.
This is the letter drafted by Thompsons Solicitors for members who have not signed up to the T & C's changes that DMBC are making. You should return this letter to DMBC and not the letter DMBC ask you to return. You should receive a copy of this in the post shortly along with further advice on what happens next and what to do. If you don't receive anything by Tuesday 8th May, please contact Branch Office on 01302 320793 and we will despatch another copy for you.