Blog 25: Christmas Special – including a year in review! (December 2018)

Hi Dudes,

Blog 25 here and it is our Christmas special. Hang onto your baubles folks it’s gonna be quite the sleigh ride. As the seasonal snow dampens my keyboard I’m hoping to take you on a journey through the lens of UNISON Leeds Teaching Hospitals 2018, and a muse upon the upcoming twelve months. There will be no mention of the “B” words – Brexit, Back stops, or Borders – I promise.

The first half of the year was dominated by three main events. Our Branch AGM where Denise was (for the 3rd year) appointed Branch Secretary. She is also now on the Service Group Executive which means not very much to those of you not in the purple UNISON bubble, but does ensure that your Branch is represented at the highest level on the health side of your union. It is a reward for years of hard work by Denise on your behalf, and also means we as a branch are more likely to directly influence wider events, and your voice is far more likely to get through quicker to the national negotiating teams. (Hopefully).

Spring and Summer was also spent challenging the Trusts plans to move two thousand staff into a separate Wholly Owned Company. It was an emotional and busy time for the Branch. A time where our members could not have made it clearer how proud they were of being NHS workers. Also as a Branch we learnt loads regarding Industrial Relations, and made valuable contacts with the region’s M.P’s , Labour councillor’s, and with the regional T.U.C. Personally I was extremely energised. I will never, ever stop fighting for a properly funded, fully public NHS. We loved and were inspired by our “proud to be 100% NHS” slogan and it is one we will continue into 2019.

The third main event was the controversial “payrise”. Many members were hoping for more, whilst the negotiating team will point to the fact that the 1% pay cap was lifted and the band one rate abolished.

The reorganisation of band one into band two is sure to be one which keeps us in work in 2019 and beyond.

The second half of the year has seen the Branch trying to promote two campaigns. Grovember, where we have been trying to recruit new members to help strengthen our voice locally and nationally. This has been a great success. Over a hundred new members in the last month within your Branch.

The second campaign has been our commitment to support White Ribbon UK. Lots of you have now taken the pledge

“Never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women”
To learn more please follow the link below.

On a Branch level we have been busy throughout 2018 on individual cases: – Attendance Management, Conduct, Organisational Change, policy work, Flexible working, etc. At times it feels never ending, but I am very proud of how our reps have managed to cover your cases and provide expert support and a listening ear in times of need. The Branch’s professional relationship with managers and HR also continues to grow. The ability to have informal conversations to prevent more formal action on both sides of the table is necessary and only possible with good relations and mutual trust.

Its been a busy year and 2019 won’t be any less busy. As I’ve said the band one negotiations, the fallout from whatever way the “B” word goes with Europe, the prospect of another General Election, ole Donny Trump’s upcoming impeachment, and the continuing fight to protect our NHS…. Oh and your Branches’ UNISON AGM – 5th March – 07:00am @ LGI , and 16:00pm @ SJUH. Give us a shout on extention 64369 for more information, but this is your opportunity to become more involved in your union.

UNISON General Secretary David Prentis (or at least his ghost writer) is quoted as saying about UNISON members (public servants)
“……so whether you’re spending this festive period with family, or gritting our streets, travelling long distances to see loved ones or driving around your community caring for those who can’t care for themselves, I want to say thank you. Thank you for everything you do for all of us, now and every single day of the year. I can never say that enough – no-one ever says that to you often enough. You are the glue that holds our fractured communities together, especially at a time when cuts and austerity have caused such havoc and harm.”

I think that sums it up quite nicely especially when due to the effects of austerity, the historical pay cap, the ending of nursing bursary’s, and the fog over the B word there are almost 41,000 vacant nursing posts in the NHS – and it is estimated that the number will grow to almost 48,000 by 2023. We know that nurses are not the only workers within our mighty hospitals, but I think those figures show what we all feel. You do an incredible job with diminishing money and resources. Happy Christmas everyone, stay safe.

….Speak soon xxx