UNISON march on London

Archived Articles - March 2016


29th March 2016


A Trade Union can only operate properly with accurate and up-to-date information. With more than 1.3m members and so much change in public services this is a real challenge for our Union.

We rely on members to let us know when their circumstances change but we know that sometime events can overtake us all and people may forget to let us know.

So we're encouraging all members to let us know their up-to-date details and all those who do will be entered into a prize draw and have the chance to win some great prizes!

Full details are available here.

But as a spoiler - you might win £10,000, a family holiday or a dental plan!


21st March 2016

Are you interested in getting more involved in Union activity?

Do you want to be more active in your workplace?

Do you want to help make sure your colleagues are treat properly at work?

There are loads of ways for you to get more involved as UNISON member. Whether that’s running a stall in your workplace, being a local contact to for UNISON information, being a workplace rep or much more.

Workplace stewards are the heart of our trade union. UNISON’s stewards are the reason we win campaigns that result in better lives for our members and all working people. Stewards help to organise your colleagues into an effective, strong and welcoming membership. They:

- Are the first point of contact for members in a workplace

- Talk to members about the union

- Talk to staff about their issues

- Offer advice on issues at work

- Represent members in cases (including at disciplinary and grievance hearings)

- Campaign for better working conditions

- Recruit and organise new members

- Encourage more members to get active in UNISON

- Raise your members’ issues with the branch

- Stewards in workplaces where UNISON is recognised by the employer have rights to time off for training and to carry out their work

Stewards have a right to be involved in how their branch is run and are the most important link between the members and the union.

UNISON aims to have at least one steward in each workplace and department, more in larger departments and where members work shifts.

Want to know more? If so get in touch with Alex Norris via a.norris@unison.co.uk for further information.


16th March 2016

UNISON members are able to participate in important Union democracy outside of their workplace. One such opportunity was the recent Unison Conference for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender members held in Brighton.

Luke Joynes, who is a Branch Rep at The Wells Road Centre was the Branch’s delegate.

This is his report:

LGBT National Committee Annual Report 2015

The annual report was split into sections in the following topics:

- Recruitment & organising

- International

- Campaigning

These reports were all carried by vote.

Conference discussion groups

Delegates were given the opportunity to attend one of the following Saturday groups:

- Don’t mope - mobilise!

Focused on local organising, recruitment, improving density, inspiring new activists and building SOGs.

- Our vision of LGBT equality.

Joint discussion group organised by young members forum and national LGBT committee to present a charter of demands regarding equality in a way people can grasp, challenging the false view that everything has been won and there is nothing left to campaign for.

- Campaigning skills - a practical workshop.

Hands on workshop to hone campaigning skills and give ideas to take back to branches, regional groups and local community. Tory Trade Union Bill was used as a case study and Unison’s campaign against this.

- Tackling biphobia.

Active discussion group to develop skills to tackle biphobia in the workplace and beyond.

Highlighted that social attitude surveys suggest a growing acceptance that some people are lesbian or gay, however biphobia remains widespread - even amongst the LGBT community.

- Working for inclusion.

Two part discussion - Scottish Transgender Alliance present the findings of their first UK-wide survey of issues facing non-binary people and the second part focused on identifying and overcoming sexism.

- Why we do international work.

Guest speaker Anneliese Dodds (South East of England MEP - Labour Party & member of the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBTI equality) took part in a discussion group. People have asked why Unison does international work when there are so many issues facing our members at home, this discussion group looked at the answers.

Guest speakers

Guest speakers at conference included:

Anneliese Dodds (South East of England MEP - Labour Party & member of the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBTI equality).

Centred mainly on collective LGBTI equality work in the European Parliament & wider Labour movement.

Wendy Nichols (Unison President).

Overview of Unison’s work, the importance of the LGBT Conference and awards for recruitment and organisation.

Dave Prentis (Unison General Secretary).

Centred mainly on the Conservative’s attempts to bring in the Trade Union Bill, victories in the last year and the work ahead, also touched on the importance of LGBT Conference and the wider movement for equality.


7th March 2016

The following is the text of a speech that our Branch Chair, Andrea Dickens, gave today - ahead of International Women's Day as part of the Trust's IWD celebrations.

Who changed who...

At the age of 8 I wanted to be a nurse and follow in my mum’s footsteps...as a child I was always the one with the stethoscope around my neck...

My inspiration to follow my dreams came from my grandfather and my father...despite living in a working class mining community where most women stayed at home, looked after the children and the house he did eventually come around to my way of thinking and encouraged me to follow my dream. I was a strong character back then and I know I took after him...the Trade Unions were at the heart of our community and this topic was never far from our table. It became natural for me to be part of those conversations and discussion even at a young age and they valued my opinion.

He didn't always have a positive view about women in the work place because he felt that it emasculated the purpose of men as head of the family and being the main bread winner, however, he soon changed his mind when he saw my determination. And what Andrea wants Andrea gets, he would say.

...and this was the start of my journey.

I left school at 16 and went to work in a factory and it didn't last very long, it made me realise that this kind of work wasn't for me forever. I had a huge amount of respect for the ladies who work there and not undermining what they did because where would this country be without the Land Army and other organisations that kept this country afloat in difficult times...And it made me even more determined.

I started within an NHS organisation at the age of 19 and worked at Harlow Wood Orthopaedic Hospital... I got married and started my family but continued to work as I felt it was an important part of being a mother and a role model for my family.

To cut a long story short my UNISON role started in 2007 however I joined the union back in 1985 on the back of 2 pieces of advice that my father gave me on my first day at work 1) get yourself into the union and 2) find out how many leave days you get...

My career has continued to go from strength to strength and my current role within the trust is Staff Side Chair and I also hold the position of UNISON Branch Chair. I'm proud to say that I'm first woman to hold this Staff Side position and I feel honoured to have been elected into this role, I hope I've made a chip in the glass ceiling with a view to inspire and empower and support other women to continue to make changes to the institution and break down barriers both obvious and hidden that challenge the role of women in the work place and society.

I would like to touch on the views of women who choose a career and to have a family even to date there is still stigma attached to women who want both....why is this?

When will this be accepted as 'normal' why is it still such a struggle?

A great example of this is how we have strived in the NHS to promote and implement flexible working and we have to be honest with ourselves that this benefits mothers/parents who want to work and contribute to society as well as providing a family environment for their children, how long has it taken for us to be comfortable as this being beneficial for business the statistics of women working within the NHS is 81% of non medical staff are women and only 7% are female staff are doctors and dentists the disparity between the pay scale is huge.

In conclusion to that the latter could afford private childcare and minimise the implication for flexible working for the minority of women working in the health service I want to emphasise that I feel this is an important topic to promote equality for women if we don't get this right how can we support women to go to work and be parents. Why in 2016 should we choose one or the other?

This is not just a personal journey for me this is about the bigger picture and if I encourage just one person to follow their dreams it will make it all worthwhile...

My grandpa was my inspiration although we had conflicting views about women in the workplace-when he saw my determination and sheer tenacity to get where I wanted to go he changed his opinion (slightly) but enough to support me to carry on.....this is for my children and grandchildren.