BRIEFING TO MANCHESTER BRANCH UNISON MEMBERS
WHO WILL BE BALLOTED?
All members of employers within the Branch who are linked with the Local Government Pension Scheme, in practice almost all employers in the Branch.
Initially we were advised employers where there are less than 50 members may not be balloted but it has now been clarified this will not be the case.
ARE NEGOTIATIONS STILL CONTINUING?
Yes but prospects are not encouraging. Apart from the proposed attacks on our pensions the Government will not even give unions information on future Government and employer contributions to the schemes.
A big turnout in the ballot and a maximum YES vote is vital along with strike action if necessary to force the Government to move.
WHAT IS THE TIMETABLE?
The official start date of the ballot will be on 11th OCTOBER and the closing date will be 3rd NOVEMBER.
The result of the ballot will be announced on 3rd NOVEMBER when the ballot closes or on the following day.
WHAT IF YOU DON’T RECEIVE YOUR BALLOT PAPER?
If you do not receive your ballot paper by 17th OCTOBER you should call UNISON DIRECT on 0845 355 0845 who will arrange for a replacement to be sent to you.
WHAT WILL THE QUESTION BE?
This is a trade dispute solely on the issue of proposed attacks on our pensions.
The question will simply ask ‘Are you prepared to take strike action?’
WHEN WOULD WE TAKE STRIKE ACTION?
The national publicity will make it clear that members need to vote on taking significant strike action.
Members need to be clear that one day’s action on its own may not be enough.
If there is a sufficient YES vote and no progress in negotiations UNISON would give notice to the employers by 17th NOVEMBER to take strike action on 30th NOVEMBER.
Dates for any further action will be decided nationally following consultation with service groups.
WHY DO WE NEED TO RECRUIT NON-MEMBERS?
Apart from always wanting to recruit to strengthen our organisation it is vital every non-member in their workplace is asked to join in the next week.
It is the only way they can be legally protected if strike action is taken.
Members are asked to ask colleagues to join if they are not already a union member.
Every member will receive £10 for every colleague recruited.
WILL THERE BE ANY EXEMPTIONS?
Employers may seek exemptions for life and limb / emergency cover but UNISON will be taking a firm line on any and will not in any event discuss it with employers until the ballot has closed.
WILL THERE BE HARDSHIP PAYMENTS?
There is a hardship fund made up of Branch funds and donations.
HOW WILL THE BRANCH COMMUNICATE WITH MEMBERS?
Every steward has been asked to hold a workplace meeting in the next week to circulate information and publicity and enable members to raise any questions.
Branch Officers will attend where possible at the request of stewards.
All information and any updates will be circulated to stewards immediately it becomes available.
The Branch website will be updated daily with any news and developments to supplement the national website.
WILL THE BRANCH BE LEAFLETING OUTSIDE WORKPLACES
Yes. Branch Officers will arrange sessions at major workplaces with stewards and volunteers just before the ballot opens and closes.
WHAT ARE GMB AND UNITE DOING?
They have committed to ballot all their public sector members. Though their ballot timetables may be different they are aiming to take action on 30th NOVEMBER.
HOW DO WE CHALLENGE GOVERNMENT MYTHS AND GET THE TRUTH ACROSS TO THE PUBLIC?
The over riding priority is to maximise our efforts at maximising a YES vote and getting the largest possible turnout.
We will be attacked in the media and by Government so a national media rebuttal section has been set up.
We will take opportunities to reply and raise the issue where we can.
WHAT ESSENTIAL POINTS DO MEMBERS NEED TO CONSIDER WHEN THEY RECEIVE THEIR BALLOT PAPER?
This is the biggest ballot ever taken in the history of our union involving over a million members.
The move in uprating pensions from RPI to CPI alone will reduce your average pension accumulatively year on year leading to its value being cut by 20%.
Government pension proposals on top of this will DOUBLE the employees contributions whilst making members work longer by retiring later and for less pension.
NONE of any additional employee contributions will benefit the pension scheme.
It will be stolen as a Government tax to fund the banker created deficit.
Our members have experienced years of pay freezes, cuts in services, job losses, closure of youth centres and community resources.
We have also seen the privatisation of our health service and our schools and a massive increase in unemployment amongst our young people.
Despite all these attacks because of the way they have been implemented it was difficult to take action on these issues nationally.
But the Government have created this national trade dispute solely on our pension rights.
Whatever the background this gives all our members the opportunity to tell the Government ‘Enough is Enough’.
Every member has the chance to stand up together with our membership of over a million and all those millions more in the other 28 public service unions and say to Government we will not accept these cuts to our pensions. Together we can win.
We urge every single member to vote, and VOTE YES for action.