Around The Departments…

It’s said that you’re never alone with a clone. Well, I could do with one! I have been an Assistant Branch Secretary for five months now, and I’m connecting with the areas I cover, but the sheer amount of work is challenging.

And it’s also a challenging time for members in Manchester City Council and the private sector alike; we all face uncertain times ahead but with the strength of UNISON behind you, you’re always protected.

I hope to meet with as many of you as possible in the next few months; until then, please take issues to your Stewards or come to me and we’ll work to give you the advice, support and representation you need. It’s never been more important to belong to a union.

Neighbourhood Services

As Neighbourhood Services is a rather sprawling directorate, I am still getting around all of the issues in all of the departments here, but I feel that I am getting closer.

I am picking up issues on a piecemeal basis and working to formulate a picture from that, but I will soon be meeting each department to form closer links.

It is excellent to see several new Stewards in this area and I will be working closely with them to ensure they receive all the support and training they need.

As many of you will have attended the briefing meeting recently at the City of Manchester Stadium, you will be aware of the new operating model which the Council are looking to work towards and we will be ensuring that this is achieved in a fair and equitable way for our members, feeding into the m people process.


Private Sector Housing are now at the end of their restructure process; UNISON had some issues with the redeployment process and Jane Slater and I are still handling cases on an individual basis. PSH have been through a significant upheaval and their resilience should be noted. I am monitoring workloads as the new structure beds in to ensure that members are not swamped with work, particularly in areas where there are a high collection of Houses in Multiple Occupation.

There don’t appear to have been many issues from the Housing Strategy restructure and I have been meeting regularly with the Head of Housing to pick up any issues. There are very few redeployees from this restructure, but I am supporting members who are going through this process.

Housing Trusts are another matter. As they revisit budgets in light of the Comprehensive Spending Review, they are identifying savings and are consequently restructuring.

This is bound to have an effect on our members and I’ve been proactive in helping them to find alternative roles in the organisation or in securing voluntary severance arrangements.

The Trusts take a varied approach to union involvement, some working with us to achieve the best mutual outcome, some attempting to put things in place without involving us and finding that this is problematic for them when we do become involved.

I will continue to take a proactive and visible approach to these organisations.

Private Sector

There’s a wide variety of sizes, shapes and challenges in the companies I represent, from funding cuts to difficult working conditions. Each of these companies demands a different approach, but it’s important to remember that, as a Branch, we do not just cover members in the Council.

As the cuts start to bite, many of the charities and private sector companies we represent face difficult futures and it is important that we continue to work with members and management to work smarter and secure jobs.


Libraries is a changing directorate: Sunday opening, book checking machines and enhanced services are all leading to making libraries a value added service in uncertain times.

We have been in discussions with the Head of Libraries, regarding the pilot of formalising Sunday opening at City Library and, as the majority of members have suggested that they wish to have negotiations regarding paying back time, we’ve asked for him to prepare a paper for us to discuss.

We have recently secured a standby payment for those members on ECO rota, backdated to April.

We have a vibrant Stewards’ network in Libraries and we will continue to proactively work on issues that affect members in this difficult time.


As Branch Education Officer, I’ve been creating a regular programme of training for new Stewards and a springboard course for those Stewards who need training in representation and negotiation. These two courses should form the basis of the learning that Stewards need to fulfill their role effectively.

But this is only half the story. There’s another side of the training that UNISON members can access; an open-ended side. Through the UnionLearn project and the Union Learning Reps’ network, you can brush up on your skills, learn something that you’ve always had a hankering to do or study to move into a different job area. With m people about to come on line, there’s no better time to use the available training resources and get the learning that you need!

Contact either the Branch for details on how to get the training you need.

Steve Swift

Education Services – Inclusion

Sensory Services is currently partly in Trading Services. There are 800 children and young people who currently access this service across the local authority. There has been a proposal for this service to be managed by the Lancastrian School on the basis that this school has a wide knowledge base of the service provision.


A Neighbourhood Services’ Conference was held with staff on 2 November at the City of Manchester Stadium as well as a number of staff engagement meetings across the city to discuss the Target Operating Model (TOM).

We’ve also got the Head of Catering & Town Hall Services to consider the outstanding claims for back pay of the 6.7% flexibility payments for some of our catering managers.

There have been a number of disciplinaries, grievances and AMRs’ meetings.

We now have a member based at Heaton Park who will be attending the new stewards’ training.

A specific mailing has been sent to HATS’ members who are schools-based, including an article from U magazine about Audrey Parkinson, a member of the kitchen team at Norfolk Primary school, to encourage more members to be Stewards.

Pupil Referral Unit

A report has been prepared and has been sent to the Education Service Management Team for consideration (10 November, 2010).

We will arrange consultation meetings with members on the staffing structure once we receive it.

Rena Wood

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