Author Archives: Daniel Sartin

The cost-of-living crisis is hitting UNISON members at West Sussex County Council hard so we all must focus on achieving a successful NJC pay claim for 2022-23.

However, due to an increasing number of UNISON members contacting the branch office concerned with their ability to continue to use their private car for council business due to the cost of petrol, the UNISON West Sussex branch entered negotiations with the Council for a temporary uplift to NJC mileage rates.

The branch is pleased to report the Council has agreed to a temporary increase to the NJC mileage rate it uses from 46.9 pence to 58.7 pence per mile in response to exceptional cost of living pressures.

This will be payable to staff for whom NJC mileage rates apply from 1 July to 30 September 2022 and will be kept under review for affordability in discussion with UNISON.

Unleaded petrol cost £167.7 pence per litre on average in the Southeast in May 2022, up from £129.6 pence per litre in May 2021 (AA figures).

The council intends to revert to the previous mileage rate at the point petrol prices drop back to 2021 rates, but also wishes to keep the increase under review to check affordability and impact.

UNISON West Sussex recognises there are few, if any, equivalent examples of such action in neighbouring authorities and welcomes the council’s commitment to staff to help meet some of the impact of the cost-of-living crisis in this way.

The West Sussex branch remains committed to successful national NJC bargaining to resolve cost-of-living issues for members, because ultimately, we all need and deserve a pay rise which matches inflation. Look out for communications from the branch on the 2022-23 NJC pay claim.

Meanwhile, the branch welcomes this move by WSCC and trusts members will welcome the measure also.

We are delighted to report that after years of campaigning by UNISON West Sussex, the county council has decided to bring all its services currently managed by Capita back under WSCC control on October 1st 2022.

Members might remember the independent research we commissioned previously which demonstrated the inefficiency and costliness of the contract for council tax payers and staff, plus the multiple TV and media appearances the branch made as part of that campaign.

The decision to insource 100% followed a period of uncertainty where a small number of Capita staff – around 35 of the approximate 400 currently working on the Capita contract – thought they might be retendered to another private organisation, or even Capita if they chose to bid for the work.

This will not now happen meaning that 100% of services with staff currently tendered to Capita will come to WSCC by October. This is a huge relief to the 35 who had been identified to potentially remain in the private sector and not transfer with the majority of their colleagues.

It means primarily they will get to work for WSCC, widely seen as an employer of choice by anyone working for Capita. It means on day one they will qualify for a local government pension, rather than the statutory minimum scheme Capita chooses to use for its staff.

The existing TUPE consultation has been widened and extended to include the new cohort and three extra consultation meetings have taken place this week. The branch is working hard during this consultation period with members and WSCC to iron out the irregularities and complexities which inevitably arise after outsourcing failure. The key issues are how quickly to remove the ‘two tier’ workforce issues that will arise on day one:

  1. How quickly can staff be transitioned to NJC-job-evaluated role descriptions
  2. How to replace an element of pay based on discredited performance indicators in the Customer Service Centre

The branch has meetings scheduled with the WSCC Director of HR to work through these issues, which must be resolved to give the workforce and the critical services they provide stability from October and give them the best possible chance of performance continuity.

If you’re a member impacted by the above, feel free to get in touch with the branch office though you will be in close contact with your local Capita reps throughout the process.

The West Sussex Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) is a statutory pension scheme with 80,000 members in it. Those 80,000 people are either active LGPS members who are in work, pensioners in receipt of a pension, or deferred members who no longer work for an employer in the LGPS but who have a pension they will benefit from at a later stage.

The West Sussex LGPS has over 200 employers in it, from West Sussex County Council to academy schools, social care providers, Capita and so on: so many UNISON West Sussex members are in the LGPS. West Sussex LGPS has £5.5 billion in assets, all created from your deferred wages, which are used to pay out pensions for LGPS members.

Governance and oversight of the West Sussex LGPS is made up of two bodies:

  1. A Pensions Committee, made up of County Councillors, but also with seats reserved for a representative of scheme members and a representative of employers other than WSCC; and
  2. A Pension Advisory Board, whose job is to scrutinise the decisions of the Pensions Committee, made up of a chair and representatives of scheme members and employers.

UNISON has always, in the history of the West Sussex LGPS, provided the representative of scheme members on the Pensions Committee. This was a seat taken by former branch secretary, Chris Earwaker, current Branch Secretary Dan Sartin, and more recently, by Judith Taylor the West Sussex branch’s Pensions Officer.

However, when Judith decided to step down from the Pensions Committee after five excellent years, West Sussex County Councillors, rather than accepting a UNISON nominee to replace her – from what is, after all, the recognised trade union – decided instead to seek applications from the 80,000-strong LGPS membership, who the Councillors themselves would then interview for the position!

It was apparent to the UNISON West Sussex branch that Councillors did not want UNISON to play any formal role in LGPS scheme governance – despite the Pensions Committee being a direct link to oversight and governance of billions of pounds of our members’ deferred wages! The West Sussex LGPS is our pensions, our deferred wages – not theirs, and Councillors had no business telling UNISON we could no longer fulfil the role as scheme member representative.

It was clear that Councillors still believe an important function for them is to re-live the political battles of the 1980s, and the West Sussex branch sees the decision to exclude UNISON as hostile and provocative. We made representations to the most senior council officers, but they were unable to bring common sense to the councillors.

The branch asked its new Pensions Officer, Tim Stretton, to go through the interview process, and he was appointed to the vacant role. We are delighted for Tim and congratulate him. Tim will do a brilliant job for all scheme members.

We know UNISON members feel strongly that their deferred wages should have UNISON input to their stewardship, so we have managed to achieve and maintain this important role in a roundabout way. In our recent survey on Pensions, 86% of UNISON West Sussex members strongly agreed or agreed with the statement: “To me, it is important that UNISON members are the member representatives on the scheme’s governance bodies: its Pensions Committee and Advisory Board, and this should be maintained.”

So the good news is that UNISON maintain representation on the Committee with governance oversight of your LGPS pensions and contribution.

But we now also need to find a UNISON member willing to take a seat on the Pension Advisory Board (see 2, above), as Tim has had to give up his seat on the Advisory Board to take up the seat on the Pension Committee.

Could you take on the vacant Advisory Board role?

Full support will be given by the branch, including with your application if you need it.

Applications for the vacant Advisory Board seat must be submitted by Wednesday 6 July.

Please contact branch secretary Dan Sartin directly if you would like to find out more, via the branch office at office.unison@westsussex.gov.uk or 01243 777636. Retired members of the branch are eligible for this position.

We would love to hear from you so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Marilyn Cox, UNISON West Sussex rep from Field Place Infant & Nursery School in Worthing, has been elected to the national UNISON Local Government Service Group Executive.

The result was:

Marilyn Cox: 2,991 votes (89.7%)
Sarah Barwick: 343 votes (10.3%)

Marilyn is a teaching assistant and will stand up for all our members including those like her on low-pay. Congratulations Marilyn on such a convincing win!

And many thanks indeed to all branch members who took part in the vote.

Marilyn Cox

What’s a Service Group?

UNISON’s 1.3 million members are a diverse bunch. We represent public services workers across many different occupations and employers: from the nurse to the social worker to the charity worker to the university administrator.

Because of this, UNISON splits its 1.3 million members up into Service Groups so their core interests are looked after. Our Service Groups are led by their Service Group Executives (SGEs). SGEs are decision-making bodies of lay members who are elected by all the members in their respective Service Groups. The SGEs are then responsible for agreeing the strategy of the union in how it relates to key employers for pay bargaining and all other matters relating to your terms and conditions at work.

This is important work – even more so at a time of a national cost of living crisis. So who represents you and determines the strategy your Service Group adopts on pay matters a lot.  SGE reps have an elected term of office of two years.

The Government has no solutions for working people:

  • wages are not keeping pace with inflation now at its highest in THIRTY YEARS,
  • many public sector workers on low pay are struggling with energy bills that have been hiked by 54%,
  • National Insurance is UP,
  • food prices are UP, and
  • in the sixth wealthiest economy in the world, working people, the elderly and the most vulnerable in our society are having to choose between heating and eating.

Enough is enough, something must change, as families across the country are bearing the brunt of the cost-of-living storm.

We need to send a strong clear message to the Government that “We Demand Better” and the Government must listen to working people that have kept this country going over the last two years, working in the NHS, Education, and other vital public sector frontline services. Every worker needs a real pay rise in 2022 and they need it now, especially with energy bills set to increase again in October.

Let’s come together on 18 June to speak out.

UNISON members will be marching with thousands of people from all over the UK, followed by a rally in Parliament Square. Join us in London, EVERYTHING IS GOING UP, EXCEPT OUR WAGES!

March Schedule

10:30 – Gather at Portland Place, London W1B 1PR

(The short march will form up at Whitehall Place at 11am)

12:00 – March departs toward Parliament Square

13:00 – Rally starts in Parliament Square – Westminster, London SW1 3BD

Travel Arrangements

UNISON would advise train travel is relatively easy for those living in the Southeast, is safe and environmentally friendly.

UNISON West Sussex branch can offer to reimburse a limited number of members’ train tickets on a first come first served basis for members that have registered an interest in attending the event. Members interested in this offer, should use the registration form at the bottom of the page and return the registration form below prior to the TUC event on 18 June, providing both the cost and travel details. After the event to receive a reimbursement please send your ticket and/or receipt, together with membership number and name as proof of purchase for reimbursement of travel costs to the branch office address below:

UNISON West Sussex, County Hall, Chichester, PO19 1RQ or email the form to office.unison@westsussex.gov.uk

Download branch registration form here

Download flyer here

Useful links:

https://www.unison.org.uk/events/tuc-national-demonstration/

https://www.tuc.org.uk/DemandBetter

Struggling to make ends meet? Worried about back-to-school costs? Help is on hand.

From 24 June 2022, UNISON’s welfare charity There For You is setting up a limited fund to help UNISON members on a low income with school clothing costs by way of a one-off payment of up to £70 per child.

To apply, download the application form from https://www.unison.org.uk/get-help/services-support/there-for-you/financial-assistance

Please contact UNISON Direct on 0800 0 857 857 if you need a paper copy of the form posting out to you.

Please note: this grant fund will close once enough qualifying applications have been received.

Lighthouse Financial Advice is offering free, one-to-one financial advice consultations exclusively to UNISON West Sussex branch members on Wednesday 13 July 2022.

Date and venue:

Wednesday 13 July 2022: Bridge House, Worthing (BN12 4SE)

To take advantage of this opportunity and book your free 30-minute consultation with a fully trained and expert financial advisor, please contact:

Lisa Barratt on 01273 513717 or email lisa.barratt@quilter.com

Help on offer:

Lighthouse Financial Advice is the trusted financial advice partner of UNISON. Book a free, one-to-one financial consultation for advice on how you can:

  • Build up a nest-egg tax-efficiently, for yourself or for your children or grandchildren;
  • Boost your pension provision, so you will be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement;
  • Protect your family’s income, so they have enough money if the worst happens;
  • Take your pension, LGPS or private sector pension, and get the best possible income.

Appointments are available to all branch members (from any employer) between 10:00 and 16:00 and must be booked in advance on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are interested, but are unable to attend on the days above, please contact Lisa Barratt at Lighthouse Financial Advice, via the contact details above, to be put in touch with a local financial adviser.

For more information, download the flyer.

The West Sussex branch will be visiting WSCC office hubs across the county during June.

Branch officers will be on hand to discuss employment issues with you at the following venues across core hours of 10am-4pm. There will be information on a range of UNISON benefits including legal support, UNISON learning, and financial support through our welfare charity There for You. Non members will have the opportunity to join up and there will be UNISON goodies available so grab your colleagues and visit us at one of the following events:

  • Tuesday 7 June, Worthing – Bridge House
  • Wednesday 8 June, Crawley – Crawley Library
  • Thursday 9 June, Shoreham – Glebelands
  • Tuesday 14 June, Horsham – County Hall North
  • Wednesday 15 June, Bognor – Durban House
  • Thursday 16 June, Worthing – Bridge House

The May/June 2022 edition of Branch Lines is now available for you to download!

Branch Lines – May/ June 2022 edition

This edition brings you up to date with major local issues affecting members, including:

  • Cost of living crisis
  • NJC Pay latest
  • Mileage & parking
  • Covid latest
  • Reasonable adjustments for disabled workers
  • Education White Paper
  • Capita insourcing latest
  • Bridge House transfer
  • Adults’ services recruitment

Look out for an edition being posted to your home address or school workplace.

Please ask non-members to join us and get involved as a workplace rep to support your branch.

The government’s message is simple – academise! A damaging response that will result in unnecessary structural change and having no evidence of changing pupils’ classroom experiences or better educational outcomes. This White Paper is short on new ideas.

Branch Schools Convenor Keith Manville has prepared a briefing paper for all school support staff members.

Download our Briefing Paper

Download (PDF, 276KB)