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Get help with winter fuel bills with our winter fuel grants

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Members living on a low income constantly struggle to make ends meet – and this can be particularly acute in the winter when the cost of heating homes rises as the outside temperature falls.

But it’s not all bad news – help IS available. The union’s welfare charity There for You has once more set up a limited fund to help members on low incomes towards the cost of their winter fuel bill through a one-off payment of £60.

The process is very similar to previous years and an amount of money has been ring-fenced to support this initiative. However, once it’s gone it’s gone!

So don’t miss out. Apply early and send your form and supporting paperwork in as soon as possible. All the information you need can be found below. Alternatively, contact UNISON Direct on 0800 0857 857 for a form to be sent to you.

Just one more thing: please don’t keep details of this grant a secret. Help us to help even more members and let your work colleagues know that help is at hand. There will be many, like you, worrying about how they will cope this winter.

Completed applications need to be sent to There for You, (WFG) UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London, NW1 2AY by Friday 15 February 2019 at the latest.

Winter Fuel Grant application form

Winter Fuel Grant Q&A

Winter Fuel Grant poster

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Christmas and New Year Office Closure 2018/19

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The branch office will be closed from 3pm on Friday 21st December, 2018 and will reopen on Wednesday 2nd January, 2019.
During this time please contact UNISONDirect on 08000 857 857 if you require support.
May we take this oportunity to wish all our members a Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

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Annual General Meeting 2019 - Friday 22nd February, Stanley Park Golf Club

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Our 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place on Friday 22nd February 2019, 6.30pm, Stanley Park Golf Club, North Park Drive. It will be followed by a Northern Soul night and buffet.

At the AGM we will elect our Branch Officers, Representatives and ratify the election of Workplace Stewards for the forthcoming year.

The preliminary agenda is available here. If you wish to submit a motion, please send it to the Branch Office, with the name of the proposer and seconder by no later than Friday 28th December 2018.

A nomination form for Branch Officers, Representatives and Workplace Stewards has been posted to all our members, these are also be available to print off from here.  If you wish to stand for a position in the branch, please ensure that your nomination form is received at the Branch Office by no later than noon on Friday 21st December 2018.

All branch members are invited to attend the Annual General Meeting and can bring along their partners or a guest for the Northern Soul night and buffet that follows.

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IMPORTANT EXPENSES ADVICE FOLLOWING REMOVAL OF ECU ALLOWANCE

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Dear Member

Please see the model letter for individual UNISON members to use when dealing with managers in relation to the withdrawal of personal vehicles for Council business.  This can be downloaded as Model ECU word document here, or in Model ECU letter pdf format here.

This follows information which has been brought to UNISON's attention this morning. An email from HR has been forwarded to managers who have then cascaded it to staff and is in relation to the Council's Expenses Policy.

It states that, in accordance with the Expenses Policy, staff should not be reimbursed from petty cash. This is a red herring. This only applies to expenses which have already been incurred.

The Council is putting pressure on UNISON members to provide their own money - in effect, their own petty cash - to pay for transport. We strongly urge people to be resolute and refuse to do this.

We are urging you NOT to use your own money to pay for alternative transport. You are under no contractual obligation to do so. If Council departments have not made arrangements for how they will deal with the refusal of staff to use their vehicles, then that is their responsibility.

They have had a significant period to prepare for this, so we ask people not to make the situation easier for the Council.

This action will only work if members refuse to use their cars en masse and also refuse to use their own money to pay for transport. It is the only way the Council will be forced to see that their policy to take approximately £1,000 off you per year is a mistake.

If staff use their car for Council business or pay up front for travel expenses, it will undermine our effectiveness.

We must remain united!

Regards

 

Dave Dickinson

BRANCH SECRETARY

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Essential Car User (ECU) - Call for Action

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UNISON URGES MEMBERS NOT TO USE THEIR VEHICLES ON COUNCIL BUSINESS FROM NOVEMBER 1ST

UNISON is calling on all members who formerly received Essential Car User (ECU) allowance to stop using their car for Council business from the 1st of November.

This follows Blackpool Council deciding to terminate all Essential Car User (ECU) payments from that date when everyone will then be classed as ‘casual’ car users. The information seems to have been sent to those who have signed up to the buy-out. (NB: The Council has informed UNISON that the buy-out will be extended to all staff who lost their entitlement to ECU following the compliance review in 2017.)

UNISON has consistently stated that the Council’s decision to withdraw the allowance is a huge mistake. Not only is it unfair in expecting staff to continue to use their car without being paid an allowance for wear and tear, damage etc, but it would also be more costly to pay staff to use alternative modes of transport.

In meeting after meeting with the Council, we have repeatedly argued that the withdrawal of ECU is a false economy. The only way of demonstrating this now is for staff to exercise their contractual right to not use their vehicles for work business.

The responsibility for this state of affairs lies squarely with the Council. The onus, therefore, is on the Council to continue to provide services to the public at the same level of efficiency as when staff were paid the ECU allowance. Members, in exercising their right to not use their own car, should simply state to their manager that they will not be using their car for work business. We will not tolerate any attempts by managers to encourage, cajole or threaten staff into using their vehicles for work if they have clearly stated that they will not use it.

UNISON must stress that voluntarily withdrawing the use of your own car is not industrial action as staff are no longer contractually obliged to provide or use their car for work. You will not be refusing to travel or carry out your duties but the Council will have to put an alternative in place to facilitate any travel that you have to undertake.

While we acknowledge that there will be occasions when members will find it difficult to not use their car, the only way we can have a significant impact is to consistently refuse to use it. 

We have complied a document, "Information For UNISON Members Who Are Casual Car Users", which addresses the issues you may experience in refusing to use your car..  This can be downloaded here.

The strength of a union is its members willingness to fight back against unfair working practices. We urge you to stop using your car for FREE and to encourage staff who aren’t UNISON members to join and to take part.

If you have any questions, please contact the branch on 01253 478492 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A .pdf copy of this notice can be downloaded here.

 

Dave Dickinson

BRANCH SECRETARY

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Essential Car User (ECU) Update - Council's latest ECU buy-out letter

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Dear Members

In the next few days, you may receive a letter from the Council. It is being sent only to those who refused to sign up to the Essential Car User (ECU) buy-out. The letter in simple terms is just another request for you to voluntarily sign up to the buy-out with the threat, as before, that if you do not sign up voluntarily then the Council will dismiss and re-engage you anyway to force the removal of ECU. UNISON produced this advice sheet from the last voluntary buy-out offer which is still applicable in general terms (you can also downlaod the .pdf version here).

UNISON must tell you, however, that the Council’s letter contains a disgraceful deceit. Specifically, it states:

"We are aware that you did not sign by the original buy-out deadline and one of the reasons for this may have been as a result of UNISON advising that a dispute had been lodged. Now that the dispute process has concluded we would like to offer you the opportunity to accept the Council's buyout of £625 gross (circa £500 net) by signing and returning the attached slip by Friday August the 10th 2018."

The dispute has NOT concluded. Far from it; UNISON has notified the Council that a Trade Dispute exists and this has not been withdrawn by UNISON. The Trade Dispute still exists and it is in furtherance of that Trade Dispute that UNISON can ballot for formal industrial action. There can be no reason why the Council would come to the conclusion that the dispute has concluded. UNISON therefore believe that this is a lie.

The intention of the Council is clear. It seeks to persuade those, who have courageously refused to be bought off by the Council's paltry offer, and convince them that UNISON has given up and called off the dispute.

UNISON believe that this is the latest in a series of acts of bad faith by the Council. Last year, while UNISON sought to discuss new criteria for ECU, the Council was already drawing up its 2018/19 budget to make a £265k saving from ceasing the allowance.

We are again asking members to NOT sign up to the buy-out. If the Council moves to 'dismiss and re-engage' those who refuse to sign, all terms and conditions will remain the same. The only difference will be that they are then casual car users with no obligation to use their car for work purposes.

UNISON believe that the cheapest and most efficient way to provide Council services is to pay the current allowance to those staff who need a car for their job. The only way to show the Council that this is the case is to cease using your own car for work. If any action is implemented it must be widely supported and will mean escalating costs for the Council.

Going forward, UNISON held a members' meeting on Thursday at which we agreed to suggest to those who have had their ECU allowance removed already if they want to exercise their contractual right to not use their own car for work. This would be in anticipation of the outcome of any industrial action ballot for those currently in receipt of ECU. (To be clear, any casual car user can withhold the use of their car for work purposes immediately as you are not under a contractual obligation to use your own car for work. Those who are still in receipt of ECU have to be covered by a lawful industrial action ballot before they can withhold the use of their car as they are contractually bound to use their car.)

We would like to ask members who are casual car users whether they would prefer to act now in withdrawing the use of their car or if they would prefer to wait until the outcome of an industrial action ballot is known.  Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to let us know your preference 

For any action - whether that is by casuals or those still in receipt of ECU - UNISON will give comprehensive advice on what to do. We will also support you 100% with any issues related to implementing a 'work to rule' or industrial action.

We will provide further updates in the next days and please contact us if you have any other queries.

Regards

Dave Dickinson

Branch Secretary

UNISON Blackpool Local Government Branch  

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