Blog: Help us fight back against the government’s ‘Rights Removal Bill’

Your basic right to justice could be taken away, but at UNISON we’re doing everything we can to stop the #RightsRemovalBill.

This is another ambush from the Westminster government on our basic rights, and it’ll hit the most vulnerable hardest.

Our human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that we all rely on every day, even when we don’t realise it. They belong to us and are protected in law by the Human Rights Act.

But the proposed Bill of Rights – we’re calling it the Rights Removal Bill – is being forced through Parliament against all advice, and with no rationale except to prove the government can dominate the powerless.

Parents trying to get an education for their disabled child, older people trying to get decent care, and families seeking a safe and secure home, all rely on their human rights to challenge wrong decisions or harmful policies, to try and make their lives better.

The government is deliberately peddling negative stereotypes and debunked narratives to get this bill through, as well as minimising it as just a ‘tweak’ to ‘strengthen rights’. The Rights Removal Bill does not create new rights or strengthen existing protections; it only removes access to, and weakens the rights we already have.

Even the government’s own, lengthy and expensive independent Human Rights Act Review, which UNISON gave evidence to, said change wasn’t necessary and that, if anything, the problem was that too few people understood how the current system worked – not that it needed to change.

Both Scottish and Welsh governments issued strongly worded statements outlining their concerns with the UK government’s proposals, but those voices are being dismissed as it pushes ahead anyway.

In Northern Ireland, by undermining the European Court of Human Rights within the UK, the bill risks jeopardising the Good Friday Agreement and the political and policing structures that ensure peace and stability. This cavalier attitude to the impact on devolution risks legal chaos and confusion.

This bill will limit access to justice for all of us by placing new hurdles in the way of our right to be heard. It will create a new imbalance of power in favour of the state, losing rights explicitly designed to curb abuse by the state, and creating different categories of ‘humans’ based on the government’s determination of who deserves ‘human’ rights and who doesn’t.

The bill will result in more cases having to be go to European courts rather than British ones, and will limit freedom of speech – including whistleblowing – while pretending to enhance it.

UNISON nationally is working on this with a coalition of civil rights groups including Liberty, Amnesty and the British Institute of Human Rights.

Together, we must act now to stop the bill.

You can help with just two minutes of your time – have your say on the new bill.

The article Blog: Help us fight back against the government’s ‘Rights Removal Bill’ first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Exam board staff to strike on A-level results day, says UNISON  

Staff at exam board AQA are planning to strike over pay later ?this month on the day students receive their A-level grades, says UNISON today (Monday).

The 180 workers?, including those in customer services ?who would normally take calls from schools, parents and pupils about the results, will take action from Wednesday 17 to Sunday 21 August.

UNISON says this could cause issues for thousands of teenagers trying to contact AQA on Thursday 18 August?, A-level results day.

The union says ?this is the last thing dedicated AQA staff ?want to do. But employees are left with no alternative, while exam board executives refuse to budge beyond a pay offer that’s substantially below inflation.

?Wages ?at AQA increased last year by just 0.6%?, says UNISON. This year employees have been offered 3%, less than a third of the lowest measure of inflation (9.4%?). Last week the Bank of England said inflation could hit 13% by the autumn.

?UNISON says AQA is stubbornly refusing to discuss pay with staff. The union is also critical of senior managers for threatening workers ?with the sack and ?re-employment on inferior contracts if they don’t accept ?the current offer.

These new dates will be the third round of industrial action. AQA staff are also due to strike this Friday and into the weekend (12 to 15 August). They previously took action the weekend before last (29-31 July?).

UNISON ?North West regional manager Vicky Knight said: “?Employees at AQA are disappointed ?the company will neither talk to them nor ?come back with a realistic pay offer. ?This leaves staff ?with no choice but to escalate their action.

“Disrupting A-Level results day is not a decision ?anyone has take?n lightly. However, AQA staff have been treated appallingly and ?only bold action ?will get their employer to the table.

“AQA ?must come up with a serious offer to prevent any further disruption.”

A striking AQA worker said: “A-level results day is a really crucial time?. Many people can remember what it was like receiving ?their grades. No one wants to disrupt that?.

“After the first ?weekend of strike action, ?AQA staff were flooded with messages ?of support, many ?from people ?with children awaiting their grades?. They don’t mind waiting longer ?for the results if it means the people work?ing so hard to deliver th?em get paid fairly.

“?AQA colleagues are coming together ?to tak?e a stand against what’s happening. It was clear from the picket line turnout that there’s growing support, and we’re determined to win a fair resolution.”   

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:
Sam Doherty M: 07432 549759 E: s.doherty@unison.co.uk
Vicky Knight M: 07508 877057 E: v.knight@unison.co.uk
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk

The article Exam board staff to strike on A-level results day, says UNISON   first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Get ready for Green UNISON Week

This September, the union is once again supporting and encouraging branches to mark Green UNISON Week, using it to celebrate, discuss and share how the union is working to green public services.

From 23 of September to 1 October, branches across the UK will be asked to consider organising a week of activities to call for urgent action to tackle climate change.

Green UNISON Week also gives members the chance to show support for the school climate strike on Friday 23 September.

Christina McAnea said: “The climate crisis could not be more real and is being felt across the globe. Green UNISON Week is our chance to focus in and highlight these issues – it also gives young people a global space to demand politicians take seriously the damage being done to our planet and act to save its future.

“Engaging with members and employers is vital if we are to ready ourselves and engage on this issue,” continued the general secretary.

“We’re encouraging branches to run a week of activities for members and most importantly to engage with employers on how they can reduce their own carbon footprints and ensure their employers have a plan to green their workplaces completely. It’s never been more important!”

Anti-trade union laws mean that UNISON branches cannot take strike action, but there are many ways to show support for the school campaigners and take part in Green UNISON Week.

We’ll be updating you on new events and activities that you can take part in nearer the event and there are some activity ideas and resources attached below for you to start mapping out the activities you want to run.

Key actions

Does your UNISON branch have an environment rep? If not, encourage your branch and any interested members to get involved and become green reps. You can find others who share your concerns about climate change and Green UNISON Week can be your springboard into starting a new green UNISON network where you work.

Find out what your employer is doing to reduce the organisation’s environmental impact. Ask your employer to share this information with UNISON.

Hold a UNISON green event. You could run a lunchtime stall in the canteen, a film show or a talk. Why not invite a speaker from a local environmental campaign group or a school student climate striker to support young people on the 23 September.

Run a green workplace training activity. Talk to your UNISON learning rep/s and look into running a lunchtime activity session for green reps and members who’d like to learn more.

Resources/events – with more to come nearer the time

Sign up to our network to receive green updates here, including guidance on green bargaining and being a green workplace rep.

Find out more about the Fridays for Future youth climate strike on 23 September here.

Find out how your branch can take part in the UK Big Green Week and in Scotland, at Stop Climate Chaos.

Be part of Green UNISON

Use hashtags #GreenUnison in Twitter and Facebook events, photographs and solidarity messages from your branch or as an individual.

Use UNISON’s Greening of Public services logo in your green work.

The article Get ready for Green UNISON Week first appeared on the UNISON National site.