YOUTH CLIMATE STRIKE ACTION 20 09 19

‘This is not a single-generation job. It’s humanity’s job….Let’s all join together, with your neighbours, co-workers, friends, family and go out on to the streets to make your voices heard and make this a turning point in our history’ – Greta Thunberg and 46 youth activists from the International movement.

On 20th September young people across the globe not only continued their monthly strike action (inspired by the environmental activist Greta Thunberg), but called on all workers, trade unionists, community groups  and adults to join them as part of a massive global day of action. Millions of people from Sydney to Manila, Dhaka to London and New York marched for urgent action by world leaders on climate breakdown. This just 3 days before the UN emergency climate summit.

Five thousand joined the students here in Sheffield, with the branch  joining the march through Sheffield along Arundel Gate to the City Hall. There were speakers  from Sheffield Trades Council, Sheffield Climate Alliance, Sheffield Stand Up to racism, but it was the voices of the young and future workers that dominated the rally and inspired many to join them in their stand against the inertia of those in power, demanding a climate emergency an  calling for action to be taken now.

Sheffield Hallam University Branch sent the following message of support to those young people who took to the streets:

“Sheffield Hallam University UNISON Branch sends solidarity to all the young people around the world striking today. Above all else you have shown great strength in creating a wave of urgency and resistance that has shown the way in the struggle against this climate crisis. It is time for all trade unionists, workers and everyone on this planet to join you in calling ‘time out’ to all those in power who continue to ignore you. Together, we can build a better world.”

We will be sending out more information as to future activities from our branch around the climate emergency. If you are interested in getting involved please contact Lucinda Wakefield at l.m.wakefield@shu.ac.uk

 

SHEFFIELD TELEGRAPH: SUPPORT STAFF JOBS TO GO AT SHU

Article published in Sheffield Telegraph

The Sheffield Telegraph recently published an article about the number of support staff leaving the University following the implementation of the Professional Service Operating Model for Student and Academic Services.  As a major employer in the city, the loss of so many jobs at SHU is clearly significant.

The article prominently carried a quote on the situation from Branch Secretary Dan Bye, referring to the overwhelming support for UNISON’s motion of no-confidence in the implementation process, a motion we believe has been vindicated by events since the new year.

 

 

 

 

UNISON RESPONDING TO THE ANNOUCEMENT OF THE HILLSBOROUGH INQUEST VERDICT

Responding to the announcement of the Hillsborough inquest verdict, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said:

“After 27 years of lies and cover-ups, the families of the 96 finally have justice. This has been a struggle that united a city and then a nation behind the battle for truth and accountability.

“For too long, smears in the media and by the authorities meant that justice was denied. UNISON has been proud to stand with the families and the campaign from the outset. We shared their desire for justice because many of our members saw what really happened on that terrible afternoon.

“This has always been a cause that is close to my heart. Like so many people, I will be thinking of friends and family today, and those who were taken from us all those years ago.”

MAKE SURE YOU DON’T LOSE OUT ON TAX CREDITS

Tax Credit

Can your members afford to lose up to £50 a week?

If they qualify, low-paid workers need to claim in-work tax credits before universal credit arrives in their area.

Across the country, a million people in low-paid jobs have yet to apply for tax credits. This will include low-income UNISON members. But they need to hurry up and apply before it’s too late and universal credit arrives in their area.

If people don’t claim tax credits by the time the full universal credit service arrives in their town or city, they could end up much worse off. This is because, while chancellor George Osborne backed down over cuts to tax credits in his Budget last July, cuts to universal credit work allowances remain and came in this week.

If members leave it until universal credit comes in to claim support they’re entitled to, they will lose out. But if they claim tax credits before, this will be protected.

So UNISON, in partnership with benefit experts Entitledto, has launched an online calculator as part of a campaign to encourage people to take up the benefits they are due. Members can find it at unison-takeup.entitledto.co.uk.

Use the UNISON/Entitledto tax credit (take up) calculator

 

WE RECLAIMED OUR LUNCH!

This branch of UNISON is running a campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of taking a proper break at lunch time. Taking a break has been shown to improve wellbeing and mental health as well as increasing productivity – a win-win for everyone!

Reclaim your lunch July 2015

 

 

 

 

 

As a start to the campaign we organised a picnic lunch in the Peace Gardens on Wednesday 8th July. Several members attended the lunch where there was fruit available, a raffle and the chance to catch up with colleagues. We also had two new members sign up on the day.

The main raffle prize of a pedometer was won by Lucy Davies, Sue Lund and Sarah Bond won t-shirts, Lucinda Wakefield and Barbara Mainland won vouchers for SHU Active.

Hallam Active has generously donated more free class vouchers and if you were unable to attend the lunch and would like to make use of the vouchers, please contact Tracey Holland who will arrange to send you a voucher. If you give the gym a try, let us know how you get on!

We are planning further follow up activities – if you have any suggestions just let us know!

 

 

OVERTIME AND HOLIDAY PAY

In early November, an Employment Appeal Tribunal decision in three linked cases hit the headlines.   The central issue was whether holiday pay should be calculated to reflect regular but non-contractual overtime pay.

 

Traditionally, the pay workers receive while on holiday has often been calculated on the basis of a week’s “basic salary”, which would exclude things like allowances, expenses, commission payments and overtime.  A 2004 case established that overtime should only be included if the employer was contractually required to provide overtime (which is rare, more usually workers are required to work overtime but employers are not required to provide it).   A succession of recent cases has started to change this.   In one, Lock v British Gas Trading Ltd (involving a UNISON member), the European Court of Justice eventually ruled that holiday pay should include commission payments, if these were part of normal pay.  A significant drop in earnings was assessed to be a deterrent to workers taking their annual leave, thereby breaching the Working Time Directive.

 

In the latest test cases (Fulton v Bear (Scotland), Hertel (UK Ltd) v Wood and Others, and Amec Group Ltd v Law and Others), the judge reversed the 2004 decision, concluding that where employees were required to work overtime when it was offered, even if employers were not required to offer it, overtime pay and other allowances which constitute “normal pay” should be included in holiday pay calculations.   Holiday pay should include all regular work payments, so that workers do not suffer financially when taking annual leave.

 

This ruling would seem to enable claims to be brought in respect of underpaid holiday pay, where it has been incorrectly calculated in the light of the above ruling.  

 

However, the advice we have received from UNISON Yorkshire & Humberside Regional HQ suggests that caution is required.

 

First of all, the ruling could still be appealed – final resolution may take a long time yet.

 

Secondly, the ruling can be interpreted in different ways. 

 

Thirdly, it is not clear that we have anyone at Sheffield Hallam who this ruling would apply to, regardless of interpretation.   

 

Fourthly, the ruling also states that the new entitlement would only apply to the basic four weeks’ statutory holiday entitlement under the Working Time Directive, not all annual leave entitlement (i.e. not including contractual leave and the additional 1.6 weeks leave provided for in UK law) .  This minimum statutory leave, it seems, was determined by the judge to constitute the first 20 days of annual leave taken in any leave year.  

 

Fifthly, for a claim to be valid it must be made within three months of an underpayment for holiday. 

 

And sixthly, where there has been a series of underpayments, a claim could theoretically be made to recover back pay for the historic series of underpayments.  However, only those underpayments made within three months of each other count as part of a series for which back pay could be claimed.   In other words, if there has been more than a three month gap between underpayments for annual leave, the series is broken and the amount of back pay that could be claimed is limited to the most recent period of leave for which there was an underpayment.   This is a significant limitation, given holiday patterns and given that only the first 20 days of annual leave in a leave year counts anyway.

 

In conclusion, this judgement is interesting but complex, and any member who believes that they have been underpaid for holiday in the light of this judgement should contact Dan Bye, Branch Secretary, as soon as possible.