February is the month of romance, what with Valentine’s Day, the Heart UNISON campaign week and all that – and UNISON members were definitely feeling the love during the last 28 days.
The month kicked off with good news for members working at Solihull sixth form college, where branch treasurer Julie Robinson’s tenacity paid off with an extra eight days’ pay a year – back-dated for six years – for colleagues on term-time only contracts who had been historically underpaid.
And the women workers of Glasgow were definitely feeling the love as they celebrated final victory in their 12-year long fight for equal pay. Following their strike day at the end of last year, the council ratified a £548m settlement to compensate for their years of unequal pay.
And care worker Clare Tomlinson-Baker had cause to celebrate with the news that her case seeking minimum wage payment for when she works sleep-in shifts – backed all the way by UNISON – could be appealed to the Supreme Court.
General secretary Dave Prentis highlighted the importance of the issue when he commented: “Across the UK, thousands of care staff work sleep-in shifts looking after vulnerable adults and children, many with significant, challenging needs. As a society we should be celebrating the valuable job care workers do, not expecting them to survive on a pittance.”
At the same time, care-home workers in north-west England voted for industrial action over their employers’ decision to withdraw “top-up” payments for sleep-in shifts.
Many of these themes were highlighted at the union’s women’s conference in Bournemouth. As assistant general secretary Christina McAnea told delegates: “Being the biggest union – being the biggest women’s union – gives us power and with that power comes responsibility.”
February also featured an unseasonally warm spell, with the UK’s first recorded winter temperatures of more than 20˚C – so it was good to note that UNISON’s own Croyde Bay holiday resort showed its love for the environment by seriously reducing its plastic consumption as the North Devon coastal resort develops a distinctly green tinge.