Government must act swiftly to cap ‘horrific’ energy price hikes, says UNISON  

Responding to Ofgem’s confirmation today (Thursday) that the energy price cap will be updated more frequently, UNISON head of energy Matt Lay said:

“The government must stop pretending it’s done enough. Support for consumers has so far been pitiful. Other European governments have been both swifter and bolder to lessen the blows from big bills.

“All but the richest consumers face a terrifying prospect this winter. Many simply don’t have the means to pay. Swift and radical government action is needed to cap the horrific price hikes predicted. Otherwise, there will be a crisis of unimaginable proportions.”

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 Fatima Ayad M: 07908 377215 E: f.ayad@unison.co.uk

The article Government must act swiftly to cap ‘horrific’ energy price hikes, says UNISON   first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON urges caution over new pension scheme

UNISON is urging caution after this week’s announcement by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that it is launching a new UK pension model.

The UK government seeks to introduce collective defined contribution schemes as an alternative to the UK’s current two primary pension scheme models – defined contribution and defined benefit.

The new scheme is a result of the Pensions Schemes Act that was passed in 2021.

UNISON sees defined benefit schemes as vital in providing decent pensions for many public service workers. However, millions of public service workers – including UNISON members – are not eligible to join such schemes and are dependent on defined contributions schemes instead.

The union has negotiated with employers in these sectors and has successfully brought about a number of relatively high-quality defined contributions schemes for members in recent years.

UNISON head of pensions Glyn Jenkins said that caution was needed when employers consider any changes to existing pension arrangements. “These new pension arrangements must not erode current provision,” he commented.

“UNISON supports improving member outcomes through the introduction of collective defined contribution for members in defined contribution schemes, but the new schemes should not be used to replace viable defined benefit schemes.”

Mr Jenkins pointed out that, on the basis of the union’s experience, many defined contribution schemes will not provide an adequate income for their members.

This is for a number of reasons, including, “woefully inadequate levels of contributions – especially from the employers – and charges on investments.”

He continued: “Collective defined contribution schemes should improve the position for members in defined contributions schemes. Even though such schemes do not guarantee benefit levels, they do set a target benefit level that may be reached.”

The article UNISON urges caution over new pension scheme first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Blog: I urge members to make sure they have their say on pay

UNISON members working for the Environment Agency, together with Scottish health members, are being consulted on their respective pay offers.

If you’re an NHS worker in Scotland, you only have a few days left to have your say on the 5% pay offer. UNISON, along with other health unions, asked for an above inflation pay award, so we’re asking members to reject the pay deal.

For EA members, the consultative ballot that opened this week closes on 2 September. The agency is underfunded, and its workers are undervalued and underpaid.

I’ve said before that poverty is created by political choices – and pay is decided by choices too. Choices are made by the Cabinet Office about how much money the agency gets to protect the environment, support our communities and reward staff.

I urge our EA members to reject the insulting pay offer of 2% plus £345, which follows a 0% rise for most staff in 2021, which itself came after a decade of below inflation pay deals.

Unsurprisingly, workers in both the NHS and the EA are suffering from the cost of living crisis. Wages are thousands of pounds below where they would be now if they’d kept up with inflation over the last decade. Earning enough to live in the present and plan for the future is not a reality for most public service workers.

NHS and EA staff work in very different circumstances, but have the shared aim of protecting people’s health. Their work is interlinked, as a poor environment doesn’t support a healthy population. Losing staff because of poor wages and declining standards of living is a risk to everyone.

Our members are always key to delivering huge public programmes that benefit millions, whether it’s the COVID vaccine roll out, or huge flood defence improvement programmes. Their work is always 24/7.

Squeezing public sector budgets undermines the ability of both the NHS and the agency to protect people, support our communities, and reward staff to make sure experienced and skilled staff are retained.

The government needs to put its money where its mouth is and recognise the value to our society of having well-paid, well-resourced workforces able to deliver every day and ready to deal with crises when they come.

Until they do, we need to keep up the pressure and make sure every member responds to our consultations.

You will have received an email ballot, but if you haven’t, then contact UNISON Direct on 0800 0 857 857.

The article Blog: I urge members to make sure they have their say on pay first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Pay key to solving crisis in social care, says UNISON

Commenting on a report published today (Thursday) by the levelling up, housing and communities committee, which calls on the government to put more money into the social care sector, UNISON head of business and community Donna Rowe-Merriman said:

“The buck stops with government. Only ministers can solve the crisis in social care. Poverty of ambition and lack of will lie at the heart of their planned but rather limited reforms.

“The urgent priority must be a proper pay rise across the entire care sector. Low wages and inadequate sick pay explain why thousands of staff are quitting for better paid jobs elsewhere.

“The government also needs to ban profiteering, bring in proper regulation, and create a national care service. This would help improve staffing levels and the quality and availability of care, lessening the pressure on an overwhelmed NHS.”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

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£30m ambulance contract as effective as sticking plaster on wound, says UNISON

Commenting on the new £30m contract awarded by NHS England to St John Ambulance in an attempt to ease pressure on the ambulance service, UNISON ambulance lead Alan Lofthouse said:

“Th?is move ?is not what an under-pressure NHS needs. It will be about as effective as sticking a ?tiny plaster on a gaping wound.

“Putting additional non-NHS ambulances on the road without ?tackling the staffing crisis or the lack of capacity in A&E departments will mean even longer vehicle queues ?outside hospitals.

“The money ?would have been far better spent investing in pay, staffing, services and social care, so patients don’t have to wait hours to be seen and then can be sent home safely to recover.”

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
Fatima Ayad M: 07508 080383 E: F.ayad@unison.co.uk

The article £30m ambulance contract as effective as sticking plaster on wound, says UNISON first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON recommends that EA members reject ‘insulting’ offer

UNISON members working for the Environment Agency (EA) are being consulted on the latest pay offer, with the union recommending that they reject the employer’s offer of 2%, plus a £345 one-off consolidated payment, and take part in industrial action to seek improvements.

The offer falls short of the claim the EA unions jointly submitted in March this year and follows a 0% rise for most staff in 2021 after a decade of below inflation pay rises.

UNISON national secretary Donna Rowe-Merriman said: “EA Members are seeing this offer as an insult – especially as offers for other public sector workers are higher.

“The EA is underfunded, and staff feel undervalued and underpaid. How much money the agency receives to protect the environment, support our communities, and reward staff, is decided by political choices made by the UK government.

“The money is there for the EA to be properly resourced – including staff salaries.”

Ms Rowe-Merriman noted that, in the last two years, members have seen attacks on their terms and conditions, as well as a “lack of parity in pay between field operations staff and other staff grades.”

She said: “The government needs to put its money where its mouth is and recognise the value to our society of having a well-paid, well-resourced workforce, able to deliver environmental protection 24/7 and protect communities in times of environmental crisis.”

UNISON members are being consulted via an online ballot, which is running from 1 August to 2 September 2022.

Visit the campaign page

The article UNISON recommends that EA members reject ‘insulting’ offer first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Ridiculous pay plans would have spelt total disaster for the NHS, says UNISON

Commenting on reports today (Tuesday) that Conservative Party leadership contender Liz Truss has backed down on plans to cut the pay of public servants across the UK, UNISON deputy head of health Helga Pile said:

“The NHS is in the depths of the biggest staffing crisis it’s ever faced. Last month’s below-inflation pay award isn’t enough to stop experienced health workers from leaving a service that’s on the edge. This ridiculous policy would have spelt total disaster.

“Rather than make ill thought-out promises to appeal to Conservative party members, candidates should be thinking about what’s best for the country, the NHS and its patients.

“Cutting the wages of nurses, porters, paramedics and healthcare assistants in parts of the UK would have been the stuff of nightmares. Staff would simply have left for other hospitals paying better wages, or gone to work in other sectors, creating yet more chaos for struggling services.

“This sorry episode only serves to deepen the despair of staff battling to care for patients in horrendous conditions. That those vying to be PM were even thinking about slashing pay will be a huge blow to morale.

“The problems facing the health service need tackling from a national perspective. The starting point must be a reset on wages to an award that cushions staff against rising prices and helps the NHS boost its workforce so it can deliver for the millions awaiting treatment.”

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

The article Ridiculous pay plans would have spelt total disaster for the NHS, says UNISON first appeared on the UNISON National site.