What we’ve been up to while our front door has had to be shut
We’ve hugely missed the usual buzz of library activity since we closed our doors on 18 March. But the staff have worked throughout, and here’s a flavour of what we’ve been up to…
We were thrilled to get money from the Arts Council emergency fund pot for a podcast project, Begin the World Over Again. Working with Salford outdoor arts organisation Walk the Plank we have commissioned six artists, each with a member of the Bones of Paine writing group, to make a podcast episode about significant aspects of the Library’s collection and the thinking behind them, exploring parallels with our contemporary situation and what the future might look like. We’ve learned a lot about podcasting, and about social media, along the way, and the results have been terrific, hope you agree – you can listen to the podcasts here, and browse more about the themes and the project in general here.
We have also been delighted to present 26 free live-streamed talks so far since lockdown, on a really wide range of topics. Attendance has been higher than our ‘traditional’ annexe audiences, and of course with a wider geographical spread (plus good figures for later views on YouTube). It’s also easier to invite long-distance speakers, such as Maria Bloshteyn who tuned in from Toronto to talk about Russian poetry from the Great Patriotic War. We have also received kind donations from people who have enjoyed the talks. The talks will start up again in February 2021 and you can find out more by keeping an eye on www.wcml.org.uk/events – or by signing up to our free weekly ebulletin here, if you don’t get it already.
Over 200 people watched the third annual Engels Memorial Lecture, which we co-hosted with Marx Memorial Library last month, and this is also available now to watch on YouTube here. You can also relive on YouTube our online fundraiser Radical Sounds – many folk joined us from the comfort of their living rooms on August Bank Holiday Monday for a fantastic mixture of music and readings, curated by our very own Maxine Peake.
We have selected and digitised some interesting material from:
* The Pan-African Congress in Manchester in 1945. This was used not only on our own social media but also was blown up large (see picture, left) to feature in the windows of the old Chorlton-on-Medlock Town Hall, now an MMU building and where the Congress took place.
* The Communist Party, which was presented online as part of the CP centenary celebration on 1 August.
* The Manchester and Salford Film Society (the oldest film society in the UK, whose archive we hold) to mark its 90th anniversary in November (www.wcml.org.uk/90NotOut), and
* The pages of our quirky Engels in Manchester scrapbook to mark Engels’s 200th birthday (www.wcml.org.uk/EngelsScrapbook).
We have lent our Lancashire Women Against Pit Closures banner to the Museum of Wigan Life, along with two suffragette badges, for their protest exhibition which is due to run for a year. The banner looks terrific as it is hung so that both sides can be viewed.
So far, so virtual… We were excited to be able to reopen the library to a maximum of two real life readers per day on 16 September, and until we had to close again on 4 November we were ‘full’ nearly every day. A lot of effort was required to get just two people into the building, but all were very appreciative to be back. We are planning to re-reopen on Tuesday 5 January, again to two readers per day by prior appointment, so do get in touch if you’d like to book a place…
In the meantime take care, in solidarity, all the very best for the festive season and for 2021 from all at WCML
Staff at Sheffield Hallam University’s Students’ Union are fearful for their jobs, following the start of formal consultation this week on proposals to restructure the organisation and slash staff numbers. 40% of Students’ Union staff have been formally placed “at risk”.
Management claim that the proposals are necessary to increase student engagement, prioritise representation, and decrease operating costs. Staff in the Union’s commercial operations, helpdesk and marketing teams are hardest hit under proposals which would see an expansion in the use of placement students on zero-hours contracts. But UNISON members at the Union point to years to underinvestment by Sheffield Hallam University, the impact of COVID-19 on commercial activities, and longstanding staff dissatisfaction with the leadership and direction of the Students Union.
The proposals could not come at a worse time for staff already feeling demoralised but working extremely hard for students during the COVID-19 pandemic. UNISON opposes compulsory redundancies and is working with members on alternative proposals to defend jobs.
The Branch was saddened to learn of the tragic death from COVID-19 of one of our members who worked in the Facilities Management team. On behalf everyone in UNISON, the Branch Committee sends our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. Our thoughts are with you.
We understand that support has been provided to affected colleagues, but it may be helpful to remind everyone of the confidential helplines and other advice provided through the University’s Employee Assistance Scheme: https://sheffieldhallam.sharepoint.com/sites/3005/polproc/eap/SitePages/Home.aspx
Below are one day short courses offered free of charge by Northern College.
To apply visit https://www.northern.ac.uk/courses/short-courses/ and select “apply for a course online” and complete the online booking form. More information about each of these courses can be found on online.
Covid Awareness for Work
Covid Awareness for Work
Introduction to Cloud Computing
Keeping kids safe online
Covid Awareness for Work
When applying, please remember to select the box saying you are a UNISON Member.
November is young workers month and UNISON wants to hear directly from young workers on what support they need from their union <<read more>>
Last week you will all hopefully have received through the post a ballot paper for you to vote in OUR union’s General Secretary elections.
In a member-led union, UNISON encourages you to be heard and to have a say in who you think should be our next General Secretary.
SHU UNISON have nominated Paul Holmes for General Secretary because:
- Members of the Branch know him through his regional work in South Yorkshire:
- Paul has the best record of leadership and fighting for members.
- Paul is the members’ candidate, from the shop floor.
- Paul will take the job on his current wage of £32,000, declining the £138,000 available.
- Paul will massively increase funding to branches so we can support you better.
- Paul has a track-record of winning disputes and elections, other candidates do not.
- Paul’s leadership will be inclusive, developing talents from across our whole union and involving retired members.
- Paul is popular across UNISON and can win.
The Ballot will run from 28th October until 27th November 2020.
The ballot is postal-only. Make sure you vote!
This year our employers offered a 0% pay freeze to all staff in Higher Education. This isn’t just a freeze; it is a pay cut: bills will increase this year, but our wages will not.
UNISON and other Higher Education trade unions are unwilling to accept this “offer” and so you will be contacted in the coming weeks to consult as to whether you accept or reject the offer and would support sustained industrial action to push the employer to make a better offer.
If UNISON has your email address, you’ll be sent an email when the consultation opens.
Please check we have the right contact details for you at MyUNISON before 16th November 2020.
National Pay Bargaining in Other Sectors
To put into perspective what this means for members working in Higher Education, employees included in 262 national pay bargaining deals this year are getting a better pay rise than us. Just 42 are seeing a pay freeze. Below are figures relating to pay offers this year being offered in other sectors:
In the public sector:
- Council workers are all getting pay rises at different rates, which varies from around 2% (with more for the lowest paid). For example:
- Northampton Council staff – 4% offered with 6.2% for the lowest paid.
- Scottish Public Sector staff – 3% offered, with 4.1% for the lowest paid.
- 8.4% for the lowest paid at the Department for Education.
- Sport England staff – 2% offered.
- Police Service staff – 2.5% offered.
- Department for Work and Pensions staff – 2.5% offered.
- Dental staff – 2.8% offered.
In the private sector:
- Home Bargains staff – 15% offered over 2 years.
- Tata Steel staff – 6.5% offered.
- G4S staff – 6% offered.
Consultation on the Pay Offer
We believe all staff in Higher Education deserve a pay rise this year, especially when we consider all the hard work that staff have put in to keep the University running, from security staff working throughout the lockdown period, maintenance staff ensuring the campus is maintained to a high standard, admin and support staff ensuring that students are receiving enough support during this time and are able to register to their programmes, academic staff moving to online teaching and many more. We all deserve more than a pay cut.
Consultation of members starts on 3rd November and ends on 30th November
For more information go to: UNISON Higher Education Campaign Page
Are you suffering financially as a result of coronavirus?
From 16 November, you can apply to our COVID-19 response fund for a grant to help you during this difficult time. We have received generous grants from CHSA and UNISON which enable us to support members who are struggling.
Online applications will open on 16 November and can be accessed here – make a date in your diary to apply, as we expect this limited fund to be in high demand.