10 October, 2011 | By Steve Ford NURSING TIMES

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has issued a statement “clarifying” its position on industrial action, after unions threatened the regulator with legal proceedings.

Thanks to the 32 branch members who took the trouble to come to work early or on their day off to call for a yes vote in the ballot to stop the cuts to NHS pensions. The action at the Warneford and Littlemore sites was a huge boost to the campaign and a brilliant example of the kind of collective strength we have.

Thought I'd share some news round an initiative at the Warenford Hospital. On Oct 7th UNISON members due to work will come in half an hour early to stand at the two hospital entrances with placards encouraging other memebrs to vote yes in the industrial action ballot.  We'll be handing out leaflets to explain the pensions campaign to everyone going on shift.  Staff rostered off or on leave are volunteering to fill in gaps.  

We already have volunteers from three wards and hope to get support from CMHTs, admin and clerical and faciities. We are aiming to cover early wards shift, 9 am starters, late ward shifts and night shifts. We also have volunteers to do the same at Littlemore hospital. It has been easy to get members to agree to take part, and this is a great way to show the strength of feeling for action and help to win more to vote yes and join the union.

Perhaps other constituencies could aim to do the same.  Naturally the more staff on each site involved the more effective.  Why wait to the Nov 30  to ask people to be active.  It also helps us sort out our organisation and the mood on the ground. Every steward and member should consider doing this at their site, and when they have done that look at a site that hasn't been done.

Feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss or to get support for an action you would like to carry out to build the yes vote.

All the best. Ian Mckendrick, Branch Communications Officer

UNISON, with other national unions, is in negotiations with the government over proposals to:

  • increase NHS pension contributions by 25% - 70%
  • increase the normal retirement age by up to 8 years
  • reduce the rate of growth of pensions in relation to inflation (up to 12% reduction in value of pension)

If these changes are imposed then all NHS staff can expect other detrimental changes to pay and conditions to follow. It will also impact on the rate at which services will be taken over by private contactors.

More information on the pensions campaign can be found on the UNISON national website

UNISON is now balloting members over the proposals and what action they wish to take in the Autumn and is asking members to make sure their home and work address details are up to date, as is there workplace, to ensure you recieve the relevant information and can have your say in any ballot. You can update you details by UNISON direct on 0845 355 0845 or through the national website if you know your UNISON number.   Alternatively you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to update your details.

The next pensions briefings to take place are:

Jubilee House 12.30pm Monday 26th Sept Conf Room A&B

Rectory Centre, Rectory Rd, East Oxford, 12-2 on Monday 26th September.   Download Rectory centre poster

Fulbrooke centre, Churchill hospital - seminar room, 12-2 on Tuesday 27th September.  Download Fulbrooke,Churchill poster

Nuffield Health centre, Witney - seminar room, 12-2 on Tuesday 27th September. Download Witney poster 

Wantage hospital - seminar room,  12-2 on Wednesday 28th September.   Download Wantage poster

Banbury, The Fiennes Centre (Horton hospital site) ,  12-1.30 on Thursday 29th September.  Download Banbury poster

Bicester community hospital - seminar room,  2-3.30 on Thursday 29th September.  Download Bicester poster

Luther Street 2.30pm Thurs 29th Sept.

Abingdon, Foxcombe court - meeting room 3 12-2 on Monday 3rd October Download Foxcombe court/Abingdon hospital poster

Townlands Hospital, Henley - Maurice Tate room 3 12-2 on Monday 7th October Download Townlands Hospital poster

Meeting times are this long to allow people to drop in depending on their lunch break. All welcome.

We need members in each work area to volunteer to be pension contacts and help prepare for the industrial action ballot that could see three million public sector workers strike on Nov 30th.  If would like to volunteer or help organise or publicise a meeting in your locality please mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Pensions

The NHS scheme is under attack with current and potential future members looking at paying more, receeiving less and working longer.  UNISON is campaigning against these changes.

The following meetings have been organised to update you on the pensions issue – they are organised by UNISON but open to all staff. You may attend any of the meetings since these all deal with national issues.

 

All Staff Meeting: Monday 8 August 12:15pm – 1:30pm Seminar Room, Chest Unit, Churchill Hospital
Contact: Bryan Nicholls – ORH Unison Convenor (01865 2) 20123

All Staff Meeting: Tuesday 9 August 1:pm – 2pm NHS Oxfordshire, Conference Room A, Jubilee House Cowley, Oxford

All Staff Meeting: Wednesday 10 August 12:15am – 1:30pm Meeting Room in the Staff Restaurant, Horton General Hospital, Banbury Contact: Sheila Snooks, Unison Senior Steward in the X-Ray department (01295 2) 29185

All Staff Meeting: Wednesday 10 August, 5.30 pm, McInness Room, Warneford Hospital, Headington, Oxford.  Right click to download workplace poster

All Staff Meeting: Thursday 25 August, 10am, Northway Community Centre, Marsdon, OXFORD, OX3 9RF organised by Ridgeway Stewards.

The union is currently involved in negotiations with the government to try to protect our pensions. We hope these will be fruitful but only union members can decide. The union will need to ballot us about whether to accept or reject the government’s final offer – we urgently need union members to update their membership details to ensure we all get a say in any proposals.

Please go to www.unison.org.uk/membership/update.asp or phone 0845 355 0845 to update your home address, your job title  and workplace details.

If your colleagues are not members of an NHS union they will not get a say in the future of the pension scheme – please invite them to join at www.unison.org.uk/join or phone 0845 355 0845.  Alternatively you can recruit a friend using the form available on this website and get £5 for every new recruit (this offer is not open to stewards)

The recommendations of the government endorsed Hutton report can be summed up simply:

 

PAY MORE

The majority already pay  6.5% of their wages each month into the NHS pension scheme. Hutton proposes a 50% increase - almost 10% of our wages.  That is an extra £60-70 a month for those at the top of band 5 - until we retire.  This adds up - over ten years this would mean a loss of wages of over £8000.

 

GET LESS

Up until April 2011 the value of pensions was increased each year in line with inflation measured by the Retail Price Index (RPI) which takes account of housing costs. Consumer Price Index (CPI) ignores housing and is typically almost a percentage point below the RPI. From now on the government says it will use the CPI measure. Year on year this will erode the real value of our pensions in retirement. An 80 year-old pensioner would be 12% poorer today if the CPI had been used for the last 20 years.

 

WORK LONGER

Work till we drop: Most members of the NHS Pension scheme have the right to retire at the age of 60. The government is planning to raise the retirement age to 68 – 8 more years of pension payments and 8 years less of payouts. It cuts the value of the scheme considerably.  The loss of eight years of a modest pension of £5,000 a year would result in a loss of £40,000 - not including the extra contributions!

UNISON is campaigning to stop pensions changes that leave public sector workers poorer.