Sunshine and showers – April’s highlights

April may have started with the Easter holidays but there was no rest for UNISON staff, activists and members. And there was only one issue on everyone’s mind – pay.

Parents and children campaign at Westminster

Pay, pay, pay

The first half of April was dominated by pay. The union accepted the local government pay offer after consultation with branches. The two year deal affects hundreds of thousands of local government members and, amongst other highlights, will see a 16% pay increase for those currently on the lowest scale and a pay increase of between 15% and 4.3% for those on the current SCPs 7-28.

Members in Hull who work in recycling started the month with a 14 day strike for decent pay and a better sick pay scheme. Last year one of the members in Hull was diagnosed with cancer but was denied sick pay.

And pay dominated UNISON’s health conference this month as the NHS pay consultation  opened. Led by UNISON, the health unions have secured £4.2 billion of new money to fund a proposed three year pay deal for NHS staff.

The proposals will end the 1% pay cap and give all staff meaningful increases and that is why the union is recommending health members vote to accept it. Full details of the deal are available here, where you can also find our pay calculator to find out exactly how your pay will be affected.

The ballot is open now and closes at 5pm on Tuesday 5 June. If you’re a health member, you can vote here ­– all you need is your UNISON membership number and date of birth.

Getting ready for the NHS birthday

Elsewhere at health conference general secretary Dave Prentis called the summer’s 70th anniversary of the NHS “the time to shape its future for the next 70 years” and wrote a moving blog about his own personal debt to NHS staff.

There were also debates about racism in the NHS,  the fight against wholly owned subsidiaries, and the threat to the health service of alarmingly underfunding.  

Still on pay, there was a pay victory at the Court of Appeal for Nottingham City Council employees. And the University of Bath agreed to reinstate the living wage.

Defending public services

Moving away from pay, more organisations in the Community sector signed up to UNISON’s fight against violence at work, and Blaenau Gwent became the first Welsh council to sign UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter.

And some of the youngest UNISON campaigners ever travelled from Salford to Westminster (with their mums) as part of their campaign to keep open five council run nurseries.

And finally, there was a memorial service for a giant of the union movement and a UNISON legend – Rodney Bickerstaffe. Here’s what the current general secretary had to say about him.