Thursday, 26 February 2015

Make Birmingham a Living Wage City: Citizens UK Birmingham and Midlands TUC visit living wage employers

The Midlands TUC and Citizens UK Birmingham have joined forces in response to the revelation Birmingham Northfield is the top living wage blackspots in the country with 53.4 per cent of the jobs based there paying less than the living wage.

On Thursday afternoon, campaigners will be visiting employers in Birmingham City Centre to present a ‘thank you’ card for paying the Living Wage. Chocolate and campaign speech bubbles will also be presented to staff as part of the campaign to encourage more employers to commit to paying the Living Wage.

Midlands TUC Regional Secretary, Lee Barron, said:

“The appalling Birmingham living wage statistics revealed during Fair Pay Fortnight demonstrates the urgent need to make Birmingham a “Living Wage City. It is simply unacceptable that so many brummies, and people right across the Midlands, are not earning at least the Living Wage.

That is why it is right to give credit to those Birmingham employers who have committed to working with staff and unions to pay their workforce the Living Wage, and we will work with others to urge more employers to follow suit.

“The number of living wage employers is growing rapidly and unions are playing their part in encouraging more employers to sign up and pay it. But we need to see a far wider commitment to pay the living wage from government, employers and modern wages councils – to drive up productivity and set higher minimum rates in industries where employers can afford to pay their staff more.”

Citizens UK Birmingham Organiser, Becca Kirkpatrick  said: 

“Citizens UK shares the TUC’s aspiration to make Birmingham a Living Wage city. Though there is much to do, Birmingham City Council, KPMG, Unity Trust Bank and others have already shown great leadership in helping to increase the number of accredited Living Wage employers here.

More employers every week are discovering that the Living Wage is not only good for the wellbeing of their staff and their families, it’s good for business too. We believe that everybody deserves to earn a Living Wage, and we will organise with our partners all year round to persuade more employers to pay it."

Friday, 20 February 2015

Graph of the week - Tax Revenues by Country

With all the controversy about tax avoidance and evasion we thought it would be interesting to see how the UK’s tax revenue compared with other countries.

So we went to the OECD website, found some data for 2013, downloaded it, and then did a graph.

The graph above shows the tax revenue in dollars per capita. The UK is highlighted in blue. It shows that relative to other countries the per capita tax revenue is low. The graph shows that comparatively speaking the UK is not a high tax country in terms of tax revenue. So it's no wonder we are seeing such savage cuts to public services.

It is not possible to say conclusively that this because of tax avoidance and evasion, but it does leave you wondering.....

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Graph of the week: Percentage of electorate voting for MPs

The data for the graph above came from the Electoral Commission website here and shows that not one MP was elected with over 50 per cent of the electorate (not just those voting).

The range goes from 17.6 per cent at the bottom to 46.1 per cent at the top. We're not claiming this means any MP does not have a democratic mandate – democracy is decided by those who turn up. But it certainly does put into context the Conservative party’s proposals to change the laws around strike ballots so that they will only be valid if 40 per cent of affected union members vote for it. Only 38 out of 650 MPs were elected by over 40 per cent of their electorate.

Aside from the obvious muzzling of workers with genuine disputes, this effectively means we would have two classes of democracy: one premier class of democracy for MPs where those who don’t vote don’t count; and a second class form for workers fighting for their rights where non-voters count as a vote against.

This is profoundly anti-democratic.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

UNISON Joins Campaign to save 190 Lollipop Wardens

UNISON campaigners have teamed up with joined Jack Dromey MP, the GMB and Unite to save Birmingham’s valuable school crossing wardens.

190 jobs are at risk due to Government cuts to Birmingham City Council, which is having to find hundreds of millions of pounds in savings next year alone. Jack Dromey MP, along with UNISON, GMB and Unite, are calling on Birmingham City Council to protect the roles along with the city’s children.

UNISON NEC member and local Labour candidate Mary Locke braved the freezing conditions to speak to parents in one Birmingham school about the proposed cuts.

Mary said:

We are fighting to protect our wardens because they protect our children. They play a crucial role in not only keeping our children safe in and out of school, but in educating the many students they see every day in the importance of road safety. They do a fantastic job and I am proud to represent UNISON in challenging the Council to rethink this decision.

Mark New, Regional Organiser, added:

“I would like to thank Jack Dromey MP, the GMB and Unite for the terrific partnership working that this campaign has benefited from. We must not forget that we are facing this problem in the first place because this Tory Government is punishing Birmingham with excessively heavy cuts, but we must challenge Birmingham City Council to make the right decision in not putting a price on our children’s’ safety.”

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

National Voter Registration Drive 2015

UNISON young members say why its important for young people to vote.

UNISON is supporting the 2015 National voter registration drive taking place this week . Our aim is to encourage  as many members as possible to register to vote in the 2015 general election.

Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:

"This Year the UK has a big decision to make, who do you want to run this country for the next 5 years?

On May 7th every vote will count and everyone needs to make there voices heard. The first step is to make sure that as many people as possible are on the electoral register"

More information on registering to vote or to check if you are registered can be found at

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Issue Over Whistle Blower Amicably Resolved

Today UNISON West Midlands and Worcestershire acute Hospitals put out a joint statement regarding the resent whistle blowing of Stuart Gardner.

“UNISON and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust have agreed that the Trust does not have the authority to exclude an individual paramedic from its premises and the paramedic has received an apology for the suggestion that he should be excluded.

Unison and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust are pleased this matter has been resolved amicably.

A&E departments in Worcestershire, in common with the rest of the country, are experiencing high levels of demand and rely on all health partners working together to care for patients. 

UNISON and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust are committed to providing high standards of care for all patients.”

Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:

“I am pleased to see that the Trust accepts they made a mistake in excluding our rep Stuart from their site.

I am incredibly proud of Stuart Gardner for the professional way he has conducted himself. He did the right thing by trying raise his concerns privately, but when he was rebuffed he felt he had no alternative but to whistle blow.

He showed courage by whistleblowing and he did it in a dignified way. And he’s shown determination to get through this despite the victimisation he has received. He is a credit to UNISON, West Midlands Ambulance Service and himself.

Any UNISON member who whistle blows can expect the full backing of the union.

We know front-line NHS staff are working flat out in difficult conditions and UNISON now look forward to working in partnership with the Trust management to address the issues in A & E.”

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Graph of the week - Tory Hypocrisy on strike ballots

A few days ago the Tories announced, if elected they plan to change the laws around strike ballots so that they will only be valid if 40 per cent of the eligible members vote in favour of the strike. Given that a majority of memebrs voting is also required this means there would have to be a minimum 80 per cent turnout, even with every union member voting in favour of strike action.

We thought we'd take a look at the number of MPs, in the last general election, who were elected by more than 40 per cent of the electorate. The graph above shows that only 6 per cent of MPs met this criteria.

UNISON (West Midlands) Regional Secretary, Ravi Subramanian said "What this graph shows is that the Tories are hypocritical and want to have two classes of democracy. A premier class of democracy for the political elite, but a second class form of democracy for workers trying to defend themselves. Changing the system because you don't like the outcome of democracy is what despots and dictators do."

Friday, 16 January 2015

Patient Lives put at Risk as UNISON Condemn Attack on Whistle Blower

UNISON has today condemned the actions of the Stewart Messer, the Chief Operating Officer at Worcester Acute Hospitals NHS trust. Mr Messer has singled out Stuart Gardener, a UNISON rep and registered paramedic , who criticised the standards of care caused by the excess workload being placed upon Accident and Emergency departments across the region. Mr Gardner used Worcester Hospital as an example in recent media interviews.

Prior to making his comments Mr Gardner advised Mr Messer of his concerns about A&E and his intention to raise this issue through whistle blowing. He was told ‘to go ahead and do it’. He was then subjected to threats before and after making his comments. He has now been barred from attending Worcester Hospitals even if he is carrying out his duties as an operational paramedic.

UNISON have grave concerns that lessons from the Stafford Hospital inquiry regarding whistle blowers have not been learned and rather than dealing with the problems facing the A&E departments the Trust has chosen to personally attack a member.

Ravi Subramanian, UNISON West Midlands Regional Secretary said:

“Our rep Mr Gardner is clearly acting in the public interest in whistle blowing about serious concerns about A & E. The response from the Trust’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr Messer is nothing short of an utter disgrace.

By banning Mr Gardener from the Trust premises Mr Messer is putting patients’ lives at risk. What happens if Mr Gardner is on a 999 call in the area and the best place to take patient is to Worcester Royal Hospital. Is the Chief Operating Officer saying that Mr Gardner will be turned away, and will have to take the patient to a hospital further away, thus endangering patient safety.
The public know that frontline NHS workers are working flat out to deal excess workload in A & E. But how can the people of Worcester have any faith in the management of the hospital when in Mr Messer, we have a Chief Operating Officer who has prioritised victimising a UNISON whistleblower over spending his time addressing the real and serious issues in A & E.
UNISON will not allow patient lives to be put at risk for such a foolhardy and vindictive response when legitimate whistle blowing concerns are raised."