Care sector couldn’t function without its migrant workforce, says UNISON

Commenting on new figures from the Home Office that show an increase in the number of health and care visas issued, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“The government has let social care get into such a dire state that the sector can no longer function without overseas workers to fill the huge gaps in staffing.

“Instead of grappling with the real problems by funding social care properly and tackling the exploitation of migrant staff, ministers now want to make matters even worse by stopping potential carers from bringing their children here with them.

“Major reform of care is long overdue. But until care workers are paid at rates that better reflect the skilled jobs they do, the sector will struggle to recruit at the levels needed to meet growing demand. A national care service and a fair pay agreement for care staff is the only answer.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk

Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk

The article Care sector couldn’t function without its migrant workforce, says UNISON first appeared on the UNISON National site.

NHS pay key to cutting waiting lists, says UNISON

Commenting on the publication of the government’s evidence to the NHS pay review body, UNISON acting head of health Helga Pile said:

“NHS workers should be getting this year’s wage rise in a matter of weeks. But because ministers were so late getting the pay review body process started and didn’t get their own evidence in on time, staff will now have to wait months. This simply isn’t good enough.

“Unless the government gets a handle on pay and gives health workers a fair wage rise this year, many experienced staff will continue to be lost from the service.

“It’s time ministers cast aside the outdated, lengthy and bureaucratic pay review body process.

“Getting health unions and employers in for pay talks would be the fastest, smartest way for the government to start to solve the staffing crisis.

“The government must negotiate a proper pay package for health workers to halt the steady drain of experience from the NHS.

“The public would much rather an efficient NHS, which can see and treat them quickly when they need its help, than have a few extra pennies in their pockets.

“The chancellor should forget about trying to fool the public with tax cuts next week. Instead, his focus should be investing in the NHS workforce to get waiting lists down and prompt treatment for the many people currently too ill to work.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk

 

The article NHS pay key to cutting waiting lists, says UNISON first appeared on the UNISON National site.

A significant pay rise is essential for local government and school staff, say unions

The three local government unions, representing 1.4m council and school employees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, have called for a significant wage rise as they submitted their annual pay claim today (Thursday).

UNISON, GMB and Unite say a decent pay award is essential as staff continue to struggle with the cost-of-living crisis, while the value of their wages has plummeted for more than a decade.

Unless councils and schools can pay competitive rates, employees will find better-paid, less-stressful work elsewhere and new recruits will be thin on the ground, the unions say.

Their joint pay claim, which would apply from the start of April, is for all council employees to receive a wage rise of £3,000 or 10%, whichever is higher.

Council employees – including refuse collectors, librarians, teaching assistants, care workers, cleaners and catering staff – must be properly rewarded for the vital community services they provide, say the unions.

In their submission to the local government employers, the unions point out that council staff have seen 25% wiped from the value of their pay since 2010.

A wage rise well above inflation is the only way to maintain the staff levels necessary to deliver services to the public, the unions say.

Many council employees have experienced considerable increases in their workloads as a result of budget cuts and their own personal finances have taken a severe hit from the cost-of-living crisis.

Council and school workers are often in low-paid roles, with many earning little more than the minimum wage. Any failure to keep pace with costs can be disastrous for them, the three unions say.

UNISON head of local government Mike Short said: “Communities rely on the services provided by council and school workers. But if staff don’t feel valued and can find better-paid work elsewhere, there’ll be no one to carry out these vital functions.

“Everyone will be worse off if local authorities don’t have enough employees to look after the most vulnerable, give children the education they need and keep neighbourhoods safe.

“A decent pay offer is essential. And with so many councils struggling financially it’s more important than ever that the Westminster government invests properly in the local government and school workforce.”

GMB national officer Sharon Wilde said: “Our vital school support staff and council workers must be offered a decent pay rise for this year.

“Members tell us their jobs have become even more stressful in the past year they are really struggling to make ends meet in this cost-of-living crisis.

“Staff are being torn between leaving the job that they love or going to other sectors where the work is less stressful and the pay is better. It’s got to stop.”

Unite national officer Clare Keogh said: “After years of real-term pay cuts, local government employers need to recognise that there is growing anger among local government workers about the way they are treated year after year in pay negotiations.

“These workers provide vital services and yet are not valued by their employer. Many union members are reporting that they cannot pay their bills, they are struggling to pay their mortgage or rent costs and some have even had to rely on food banks. We will not stand by and allow this to happen.”

Notes to editors:
– The claim also calls on employers to agree a clear plan to reach a minimum pay rate of £15 an hour in a maximum of two years, as well as an additional day of annual leave for all staff regardless of their current entitlement.

Research by Landman Economics, commissioned ahead of the pay claim, shows the cost of living has risen by 59.4% since 2010 while pay for local government staff on the national joint council rates used by most authorities has risen by just 27% in that time.

Media contacts:
UNISON M: 07834 864794 E: 
a.barnes@unison.co.uk
GMB M: 07958 156846 E: press.office@gmb.org.uk
Unite M 07718 666592 E: David.Carnell@unitetheunion.org

The article A significant pay rise is essential for local government and school staff, say unions first appeared on the UNISON National site.

A significant pay rise is essential for local government and school staff, say unions

The three local government unions, representing 1.4m council and school employees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, have called for a significant wage rise as they submitted their annual pay claim today (Thursday).

UNISON, GMB and Unite say a decent pay award is essential as staff continue to struggle with the cost-of-living crisis, while the value of their wages has plummeted for more than a decade.

Unless councils and schools can pay competitive rates, employees will find better-paid, less-stressful work elsewhere and new recruits will be thin on the ground, the unions say.

Their joint pay claim, which would apply from the start of April, is for all council employees to receive a wage rise of £3,000 or 10%, whichever is higher.

Council employees – including refuse collectors, librarians, teaching assistants, care workers, cleaners and catering staff – must be properly rewarded for the vital community services they provide, say the unions.

In their submission to the local government employers, the unions point out that council staff have seen 25% wiped from the value of their pay since 2010.

A wage rise well above inflation is the only way to maintain the staff levels necessary to deliver services to the public, the unions say.

Many council employees have experienced considerable increases in their workloads as a result of budget cuts and their own personal finances have taken a severe hit from the cost-of-living crisis.

Council and school workers are often in low-paid roles, with many earning little more than the minimum wage. Any failure to keep pace with costs can be disastrous for them, the three unions say.

UNISON head of local government Mike Short said: “Communities rely on the services provided by council and school workers. But if staff don’t feel valued and can find better-paid work elsewhere, there’ll be no one to carry out these vital functions.

“Everyone will be worse off if local authorities don’t have enough employees to look after the most vulnerable, give children the education they need and keep neighbourhoods safe.

“A decent pay offer is essential. And with so many councils struggling financially it’s more important than ever that the Westminster government invests properly in the local government and school workforce.”

GMB national officer Sharon Wilde said: “Our vital school support staff and council workers must be offered a decent pay rise for this year.

“Members tell us their jobs have become even more stressful in the past year they are really struggling to make ends meet in this cost-of-living crisis.

“Staff are being torn between leaving the job that they love or going to other sectors where the work is less stressful and the pay is better. It’s got to stop.”

Unite national officer Clare Keogh said: “After years of real-term pay cuts, local government employers need to recognise that there is growing anger among local government workers about the way they are treated year after year in pay negotiations.

“These workers provide vital services and yet are not valued by their employer. Many union members are reporting that they cannot pay their bills, they are struggling to pay their mortgage or rent costs and some have even had to rely on food banks. We will not stand by and allow this to happen.”

Notes to editors:
– The claim also calls on employers to agree a clear plan to reach a minimum pay rate of £15 an hour in a maximum of two years, as well as an additional day of annual leave for all staff regardless of their current entitlement.

Research by Landman Economics, commissioned ahead of the pay claim, shows the cost of living has risen by 59.4% since 2010 while pay for local government staff on the national joint council rates used by most authorities has risen by just 27% in that time.

Media contacts:
UNISON M: 07834 864794 E: 
a.barnes@unison.co.uk
GMB M: 07958 156846 E: press.office@gmb.org.uk
Unite M 07718 666592 E: David.Carnell@unitetheunion.org

The article A significant pay rise is essential for local government and school staff, say unions first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Mitie must pay healthcare workers what they are owed or strikes will continue, say UNISON and Unite

Mitie chief executive Phil Bentley must pay healthcare workers in the West Midlands the lump sum they are owed, say UNISON and Unite today (Thursday).

The general secretaries of the UK’s two largest unions have written to Mr Bentley to say strikes* planned for today (Thursday) from 5am and next Friday (8 March) will go ahead unless hospital staff get a one-off £1,655 payment** that other NHS staff have already received.

Cleaners, porters and catering employees are among around 370 workers set to strike again following action which began with Unite in December.

All are contracted by Mitie to work at three hospitals run by The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and are among the lowest-paid staff in the NHS.

The letter to Mr Bentley says that the £1,655 lump sum was part of the deal agreed by the government and health unions last year following strikes in the NHS. The one-off payment has already been awarded to “hundreds of thousands of NHS employees”.

The letter says many of the staff “worked, alongside their NHS colleagues, throughout the Covid pandemic”, and that Mitie is “treating them unfairly and forcing them into hardship” by withholding the money.

UNISON and Unite say the company claims the extra payment is unaffordable. The letter adds: “If that is the case, then we struggle to see how Mitie could pay the £5.9m remuneration package you (Mr Bentley) received last year, or your annual bonus.

“Mitie can easily afford to pay the lump sum. Its profits were generated from the hard work and dedication of low-paid employees. They (the staff) put their own health at risk and that of their families for no additional reward.”

Mitie is attempting to break the strikes by bussing in staff represented by the Prison Officers’ Association from other NHS sites, which the unions say is “despicable”.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Health staff would rather be back at work than on the picket line. But Mitie has forced them into taking strike action.

“The company says it hasn’t got the money to pay this lump sum. Yet it can find the cash to spend on bringing in strike-breaking workers from sites miles away.

“Mitie must do what’s right and pay up now or the strikes will continue.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is shameful that these vital workers who keep the NHS going are being kicked in the teeth by their employer. Mitie is a multi-million-pound company which announced huge profits last year. It can easily afford to pay them the money they are owed.

“Instead, Mitie has dragged its feet every step of the way and forced some of the lowest-paid workers in the NHS onto the picket line in their fight for fair pay. They will have Unite’s full backing.”

Notes to editors:
– *A picket will in place outside the entrance to Russells Hall Hospital, Pensnett Road/High Street, Dudley from 8am to noon today. Photographs will be available on request.
-? **In June 2023, a deal was agreed for all staff on NHS contracts who are on Agenda for Change pay scales. This included a one-off payment for 2022/23.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.
– Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.

Media contacts:
Ollie Hopkins M: 07939 143195 E: o.hopkins@unison.co.uk
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk
David Carnell M: 07718 666592 E: david.carnell@unitetheunion.org

The article Mitie must pay healthcare workers what they are owed or strikes will continue, say UNISON and Unite first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Hundreds of Mitie staff striking today at Dudley Group hospitals

Around 300 of the lowest-paid staff working at hospitals in Dudley will take strike action today (Friday) over their employer’s refusal to pay them a lump sum worth at least £1,655 that has already been given to hundreds of thousands of people employed by the NHS, says UNISON.

The health staff, who work at Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust (DGFT) but are employed by private contractor Mitie, began their 24-hour walkout at 5am. Another strike lasting 24 hours is lined up for next Thursday (29 February).

The workers, who include cleaners, domestics, porters, catering staff and many other important hospital roles, must be treated fairly and handed the money they’re owed, the union says.

In June 2023, a deal was agreed for all staff on NHS contracts who are on Agenda for Change pay scales. This included a one-off payment for 2022/23.

However, Mitie has not honoured this, says UNISON. As a result, its employees have earned far less than their colleagues directly employed by the NHS and doing similar work, the union adds.

Mitie’s claim that the extra payment is unaffordable does not stack up, says UNISON. Last year company boss Phil Bentley reportedly received a remuneration package totalling £5.9 million.

Earlier this month staff voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action following a three-week ballot.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Everyone working in the NHS is part of the same healthcare family and should be paid properly.

“Private contractors should all be honouring their obligation to pay staff what they’re due. It’s time for Mitie and some other firms to make good on these missing payments. That would end this strike in an instant.”

UNISON West Midlands regional organiser Ollie Hopkins said: “Staff care deeply about patients and services. The last thing they want to do is strike, but Mitie has forced them into this situation.

“They have been treated incredibly shabbily. It’s all the more shocking that Mitie is a company making millions in profit each year.

“The chief executive’s annual bonus alone would almost cover this payment for all the Dudley workers. And yet the company says it doesn’t have the money to give some of the lowest-paid staff in the NHS the money they’re due.

“It’s no wonder they’re outraged.”

UNISON steward and Mitie domestic Denise Stevens said: “Mitie can stop the strike action and end the dispute in an instant if managers pay us the lump sum that other NHS colleagues all received.

“None of us wanted to be in the position of taking strike action, but Mitie has left us no choice.

Notes to editors:
– Earlier this week a delegation of the workers, including UNISON stewards, protested and held up banners outside the Shard building in London where Mitie has its headquarters. They also visited Parliament where they met Dudley North MP Marco Longhi, who agreed to write to Mitie, the chief executive of NHS England and health secretary Victora Atkins on their behalf.
– An overwhelming majority of workers (96%) who took part in the ballot voted in favour of strike action. The turnout was 78%.
– A picket line will be outside the main entrance road to Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, today from 8am to 4pm.
– In June 2023, directly employed NHS workers received a lump-sum “non-consolidated bonus” as part of the NHS pay deal. For the lowest paid in the NHS, the lump sum was £1,655.
– Mitie chief executive Phil Bentley is reported to have taken home £5.85m last year. This included his £900,000 salary and £838,000 annual bonus. The company estimates it would cost up to £900,000 to make the payment to staff.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: press@unison.co.uk
Ollie Hopkins M: 07939 143195 E: o.hopkins@unison.co.uk

The article Hundreds of Mitie staff striking today at Dudley Group hospitals first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Hundreds of Mitie staff striking today at Dudley Group hospitals

Around 300 of the lowest-paid staff working at hospitals in Dudley will take strike action today (Friday) over their employer’s refusal to pay them a lump sum worth at least £1,655 that has already been given to hundreds of thousands of people employed by the NHS, says UNISON.

The health staff, who work at Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust (DGFT) but are employed by private contractor Mitie, began their 24-hour walkout at 5am. Another strike lasting 24 hours is lined up for next Thursday (29 February).

The workers, who include cleaners, domestics, porters, catering staff and many other important hospital roles, must be treated fairly and handed the money they’re owed, the union says.

In June 2023, a deal was agreed for all staff on NHS contracts who are on Agenda for Change pay scales. This included a one-off payment for 2022/23.

However, Mitie has not honoured this, says UNISON. As a result, its employees have earned far less than their colleagues directly employed by the NHS and doing similar work, the union adds.

Mitie’s claim that the extra payment is unaffordable does not stack up, says UNISON. Last year company boss Phil Bentley reportedly received a remuneration package totalling £5.9 million.

Earlier this month staff voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action following a three-week ballot.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Everyone working in the NHS is part of the same healthcare family and should be paid properly.

“Private contractors should all be honouring their obligation to pay staff what they’re due. It’s time for Mitie and some other firms to make good on these missing payments. That would end this strike in an instant.”

UNISON West Midlands regional organiser Ollie Hopkins said: “Staff care deeply about patients and services. The last thing they want to do is strike, but Mitie has forced them into this situation.

“They have been treated incredibly shabbily. It’s all the more shocking that Mitie is a company making millions in profit each year.

“The chief executive’s annual bonus alone would almost cover this payment for all the Dudley workers. And yet the company says it doesn’t have the money to give some of the lowest-paid staff in the NHS the money they’re due.

“It’s no wonder they’re outraged.”

UNISON steward and Mitie domestic Denise Stevens said: “Mitie can stop the strike action and end the dispute in an instant if managers pay us the lump sum that other NHS colleagues all received.

“None of us wanted to be in the position of taking strike action, but Mitie has left us no choice.

Notes to editors:
– Earlier this week a delegation of the workers, including UNISON stewards, protested and held up banners outside the Shard building in London where Mitie has its headquarters. They also visited Parliament where they met Dudley North MP Marco Longhi, who agreed to write to Mitie, the chief executive of NHS England and health secretary Victora Atkins on their behalf.
– An overwhelming majority of workers (96%) who took part in the ballot voted in favour of strike action. The turnout was 78%.
– A picket line will be outside the main entrance road to Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, today from 8am to 4pm.
– In June 2023, directly employed NHS workers received a lump-sum “non-consolidated bonus” as part of the NHS pay deal. For the lowest paid in the NHS, the lump sum was £1,655.
– Mitie chief executive Phil Bentley is reported to have taken home £5.85m last year. This included his £900,000 salary and £838,000 annual bonus. The company estimates it would cost up to £900,000 to make the payment to staff.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: press@unison.co.uk
Ollie Hopkins M: 07939 143195 E: o.hopkins@unison.co.uk

The article Hundreds of Mitie staff striking today at Dudley Group hospitals first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Good employers must do the right thing for menopausal women

Commenting on new guidance issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to employers about their legal obligations to women undergoing the menopause, UNISON head of equality Josie Irwin said today (Thursday):

“The emotional and physical changes of the menopause can be overwhelming. As can their effect on women’s ability to do their jobs.

“All good employers must ensure the best possible ?working environment for all their staff.? Women ?should be able to do their jobs in comfort and not made to feel ashamed or embarrassed.

“A clothing workplace policy that helps stop women from overheating, including suitable uniforms, is a must.

“And flexible working can make a real difference too?. Employers shouldn’t penalise ??women who have to take time off if it’s down to the menopause.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk

The article Good employers must do the right thing for menopausal women first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Good employers must do the right thing for menopausal women

Commenting on new guidance issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to employers about their legal obligations to women undergoing the menopause, UNISON head of equality Josie Irwin said today (Thursday):

“The emotional and physical changes of the menopause can be overwhelming. As can their effect on women’s ability to do their jobs.

“All good employers must ensure the best possible ?working environment for all their staff.? Women ?should be able to do their jobs in comfort and not made to feel ashamed or embarrassed.

“A clothing workplace policy that helps stop women from overheating, including suitable uniforms, is a must.

“And flexible working can make a real difference too?. Employers shouldn’t penalise ??women who have to take time off if it’s down to the menopause.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk

The article Good employers must do the right thing for menopausal women first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Prospective MPs urged to back new national care service

General election candidates from all parties are being asked to support the creation of a new national care service in England.

UNISON says too many people across the country cannot access the social care they desperately need because the current system is broken.

The union wants to see a new service based on high quality care and a fairly rewarded workforce. Although these changes wouldn’t happen overnight, the union believes the reforms would put an end to 15-minute home care visits, long waits for care packages, and low wages for staff.

A national care service would also mean the quality of care is of the same high standard, no matter where in the country it was being provided, says UNISON.

Wages would also be boosted with a new fair pay agreement, lifting care jobs off minimum wage rates and standardising salaries across England.

This would allow care companies to start filling the huge 152,000 vacancies hole in the sector’s workforce, says UNISON.

A national care service would also assist families trying to find out more about the level of care provision on offer locally. The union says that trying to navigate the current system to secure any kind of support can be confusing, complicated, and extremely stressful.

Labour has already pledged to create a national care service and a new fair pay agreement for care workers if the party forms the next government.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting was the first politician to show his support by signing UNISON’s pledge card for the service.

Now the union is calling on every candidate who has been selected to stand in English parliamentary seats at the next general election to sign up too.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Social care is broken. The current fragmented and privatised system is unfit to meet the needs of everyone who needs support. But a better way is possible.

“Care workers are the beating heart of a system that should be able to look after everyone’s loved ones with compassion and kindness. But without the cash or sufficient staff, the sector is struggling to deliver, putting unbearable pressure on the NHS and families.

“If the country is to have a care service of which it can be truly proud, care workers must be valued, recognised and rewarded as the skilled professionals they are.

“That requires radical change. Too many families are suffering because they can’t access the support they need and because care isn’t seen as the priority it should be by the current government.

“It’s in everyone’s best interest, no matter how old they are, that England has a national care service. That’s why it’s so important for all the country’s parliamentary candidates to publicly pledge their support.”

Notes to editors: 
– Parliamentary candidates who sign up to the pledge card commit to backing a national care service that would improve the quality of care for all those who need it; support independent living and take a ‘home first’ approach; promote public sector and non-profit delivery of care services; introduce national partnership working by bringing together employers, unions and government; and implement a fair pay agreement in adult social care.
– Candidates are being encouraged to share photos with the pledge card and use the hashtag #LetsMakeCareWork on social media channels.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Dan Ashley M: 07908 672893 E: d.ashley@unison.co.uk
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk

 

The article Prospective MPs urged to back new national care service first appeared on the UNISON National site.