UNISON SURVEY: SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE

Help us to help you!

UNISON are carrying out  a survey to find out how you feel about your current level of skills and what skills you think you would want for the future. This survey will help us develop future training courses to support you in your workplaces.

This quick survey will take only 15 mins to complete.  There are no wrong answers, we just want to hear about your views. For taking the time to do the survey you will have the chance to win an all expenses paid weekend trip to Croyde Bay, Devon or the chance of winning £200 or £100 Love2Shop voucher UNISON SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE SURVEY

 

RACE DISCRIMINATION SURVEY

 UNISON voices needed for EHRC survey

Racial harassment in higher education: our inquiry

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is running two surveys – one for higher education staff and one for higher education students. They want to hear from staff and students who have experienced, witnessed or helped in an incident of racial harassment from September 2015 onwards.

Staff

We welcome individuals meeting the following criteria to participate in the staff survey:

  • you were employed as a member of staff, either academic or non-academic, by a publicly funded higher education institution at any time between September 2015 and now
  • you worked at publicly funded higher education institution in England, Scotland or Wales
  • you experienced or witnessed racial harassment in this setting, or helped someone who was

Complete the racial harassment survey for staff (link to Smart Survey) 

The deadline for completing the survey is Friday 15 February 2019.

 

UNISON MEMBER LEARNING

Building Confidence in Women, 2-3 March 2019

1 night residential at Novotel Hotel, Leeds

Cost to branch £150 per delegate

Building Confidence in Women, 6-7 July 2019 – places available

1 night residential at Novotel Hotel, Leeds

Cost to branch £150 per delegate

 

Everyday Living Everyday Numbers – 12 March 2019

Non-Residential at Commerce House, Leeds

Cost to branches: FREE

Pre-Retirement Workshop – 20 March 2019

Non-Residential at Commerce House, Leeds

Cost to branches: £10

Confidence Building (Power to be You) – 22 March 2019

Non-Residential at Commerce House, Leeds

Cost to branches: FREE

Assertiveness Habit – 25 April 2019

Non-Residential at Commerce House, Leeds

Cost to branches: FREE

Women’s Assertiveness

Assertiveness training offers a means of learning an invaluable set of communication skills, which helps us to express our opinions, needs, and feelings honestly and directly. The philosophy behind assertiveness training is expressly non-competitive and great care is taken to enable each participant to strengthen their self-esteem and prevent themselves being manipulated or exploited. The course is delivered in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. You will leave the weekend with some useful techniques to be able to assert yourself in different situations.

 “ The training has been really good, I now feel ready to assert myself. Both outside and at work. Thank you!”

Women’s Assertiveness, 22-23 June 2019 (places available)

1 night residential at Novotel Hotel, Leeds

Cost to branch £150 per delegate

Women’s Assertiveness, 26-27 October 2019 (places available)

1 night residential at Novotel Hotel, Leeds

Cost to branch £150 per delegate

If you would like to attend please email j.ward@shu.ac.uk.

 

Student Loans: are you paying back the right amount?

Members who are paying back a student loan should check that the correct amounts are being deducted.  

 There is no indication that this is a widespread or systematic problem, but the possibility of error exists and could have significant financial consequences.   We have had some examples over the last year of members who have became aware that they were overpaying on their student loan, and so we thought it was useful to raise awareness of the issue.

 Refunds can be made where mistakes are made, but note that issues need raising with the Student Loan Company.   The University payroll team is instructed by HMRC (who get their information from SLC) of any changes to student loan repayment plans, and are not otherwise able to make any changes.

 First of all, check that you are liable to make repayments. There are tens of thousands of people who are known to have started repaying too early. Liability only starts in the April after you graduate or leave higher education. And you don’t need to repay unless your earnings have reached the necessary threshold in any tax year.   The current threshold for those who started University during or after 2012 (England/Wales) is £25,000.  It’s different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.   

 Secondly, check that repayments have been stopped or started as appropriate if your earnings dropped below the threshold in a month – although the earnings threshold is for a tax year, the calculation will be on a monthly basis.

 Thirdly, check that you are not still paying despite having paid off your loan.   Again, tens of thousands of people have ended up overpaying because of the way in which HMRC annually report earnings to the Student Loans Company – eventually this should be detected and notified to the affected individual, but let them know if you spot it yourself.

 Finally, check that you are paying according the correct repayment plan.  Plan 1 is for those who took out their loan before 1 September 2012.  Plan 2 is for those who took out their loan on or after that date.   Repayment rates are calculated differently for each plan, which is why it matters.

 If you want more information or need to check any details, see the Student Loans Company website:  http://www.studentloanrepayment.co.uk

 If you have overpaid and want to be refunded, call the Student Loan Company on 0300 100 0611.  You might need personal data such as national insurance number, payroll number and PAYE reference.

 Example of newspaper coverage of student loan overpayment, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/student-money/hmrc-blames-student-loans-company-mass-overpayments/

Dan J Bye

 

Voluntary Living Wage – a qualified welcome


The National Minimum Wage became law in 1998, taking effect the following year.  It introduced different minimum hourly rates according to age bands. In 2015, George Osborne announced that for over-25s, the minimum wage would be renamed the National Living Wage and increased significantly.  This was primarily a way of outflanking the Labour Party, which had proposed a lower rise in the minimum wage.   The change was introduced from 2016.

 Confusingly, a voluntary “living wage” has been in existence since 2011, arising from campaigning going back to the early 2000s.   The Living Wage Foundation sets the level of the voluntary – or as we prefer to call it, Real Living Wage based on the cost of living.  The aim is to provide a worker with the minimum pay rate required to provide their family with the essentials of life, which the statutory so-called National Living Wage does not do.    Employers signing up to the Voluntary Living Wage undertake to maintain the pay of their lowest paid staff at the independently set level, and are recognised for doing so.

 Here at Sheffield Hallam, UNISON first raised the Real Living Wage issue back in 2012.  We therefore welcomed the University’s decision to pay the Voluntary Living Wage to our lowest paid colleagues from August.  

 This takes the form of a Voluntary Living Wage Supplement, paid to staff on Grade 2 (we do not use Grade 1 here) and the first spinal point of Grade 3 whose hourly rate would otherwise fall below that rate.  There are over 100 people impacted by this move.

 The Voluntary Living Wage was adjusted to £9 per hour in November, and affected staff should see that reflected in their pay packets soon.  

 Our welcome for this move is a qualified one, however, because the University has decided not to become an accredited Voluntary Living Wage employer.  Also, the method chosen to pay the Real Living Wage – a supplement on top of basic pay – flattens out the pay levels for staff on Grade 2.  Nor does the supplement apply to contract staff and casual staff who are not counted as employees, although it does apply to placement students and apprentices.

 Nevertheless, the move is a genuinely progressive move that benefits a large number of workers, and we hope that it will be maintained in the years to come.

UNISON and The Open University workshops 2019

Please note that annual leave or flexitime would need to be used if you want to attend.  Not covered by facilities time.

To Apply

Please complete a application form which can be downloaded from our website at:-  http://www.unison-yorks.org.uk/education.html

Forward your completed application form to your branch for approval.

If you have any questions please contact Tanya Shearer on email: t.shearer@unison.co.uk or Tel: 0113 218 2330 (Please note that places are limited so this will be confirmed to applicants directly)

 Places are limited so please do let us know as a matter of urgency if you are not able to attend so that someone else can attend in your place.

 

NATIONAL UNITY DEMONSTRATION AGAINST FASCISM AND RACISM SATURDAY 17 NOVEMBER

We are seeing the biggest rise in support for fascism, the far right, racism, Islamophobia and Antisemitism since the 1930s.

Hate crime has spiked to unprecedented levels. Whilst fascists and racists are mobilising on a scale not seen for decades, the far-right movements are gaining power across the globe.

The election of Jair Bolsonaro marks an extremely serious point in the rise of the global far right. It came a day after the shocking antisemitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, in which 11 people were killed.

The majority of society opposes fascism and racism, but we can only defeat it if we come together and take action.

The 17th November is our chance to show that in our thousands and millions we are proud of our diversity, and we stand united in our determination to drive back this toxic wave of hate.

The demonstration is initiated by Stand Up To Racism, co-sponsored by Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism, officially backed by the TUC and Unite, whilst also supported by Diane Abbott MP, John McDonnell MP amongst others.

Our Branch has agreed to pay the cost for 5 tickets for members who wish to attend the demo – this is on a first come first served basis.