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The Institute of Employment Rights welcomes the announcement by Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, Margot James this week that Sir Ken Knight has been appointed to Chair an independent review into electronic balloting for unions.

The government was forced into conducting the review after trade unions and Labour MPs fought for the right for trade unions to use electronic balloting systems during the passing of the Trade Union Act (TUA) through parliament earlier this year.

Initially, the Tories argued that electronic systems could be open to fraudulent activity, but as it was pointed out during the debate, these are the very same systems used by the Conservative Party for their own internal elections such as that of their nominee for London mayor.

The review, and the government's response to it, will be presented to parliament by December 2017 at the latest and will investigate any security issues with electronic balloting.

Currently, trade unions are limited to using postal ballots, which are expensive to run and less effective in gaining a significant turnout to votes. This impedes trade union democracy and could now significantly weaken the ability of trade unions to fight back against unfair treatment by employers after the TUA introduced new support thresholds of a 50% turnout for industrial action ballots, and an additional 40% of support for strikes from the whole workforce (with abstentions effectively counted as 'no' votes) in many public services.

The Living Wage
The Living Wage

New living wage rates set

UNISON welcomes increases announced at start of Living Wage Week

UNISON has welcomed the increase in the living wage announced simultaneously in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Manchester as part of Living Wage Week.


The new rates are £8.45 an hour for the UK outside London and £9.75 an hour within London, to take account of the higher cost of living there.

General secretary Dave Prentis commented: "UNISON has been proud to support and campaign for the living wage from the outset.

“And the living wage has become an integral part of our own campaigning.”

New rates are the rate needed to affor a basic but decent life                

CAMPAIGN: UNISON working to achieve the living wage

DOWNLOAD: Young Workers’ Month living wage briefing

CAMPAIGN: Making Waves for a living wage in the water industry

DOWNLOAD: UNISON guide to bargaining for the living wage

From the General Secretaies Blog

Earlier today, I was in Redditch to meet our Redditch and Bromsgrove branch and hear about the brilliant work they’ve been doing – especially on reducing the stigma of mental health issues.

It was great to meet staff who have benefitted from the branch’s work, as well as some of the team who have provided help at the branch, which covers Redditch Borough Council and Bromsgrove District Council.

I took part in one of their quarterly “Time To Talk” sessions where UNISON members can enjoy relaxation techniques, discuss health concerns with a pharmacist and talk about their finances.
Over the four years the scheme has been in place, it has helped dozens of staff, leading to a drop in sickness rates and a general increase in acceptance of issues which are often difficult to confront.

One example of this incredible work is Wayne, whose story brought me to tears. He has faced real struggles in his life – from abuse in a children’s home, to drug use and years of depression – that most of us could never truly understand.

Wayne said that UNISON “rescued” him through the Time to Talk project, and that before his life was just about “suppression and surviving”.

He told me that thanks to the branch, he’s now living his life, rather than just surviving, all because he opened up and talked. For the first time in his life, he said, he’s now moving forwards.

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Wayne’s story – and the dozens of other members who have been helped – is a testament to the great work done by branch secretary Laney Walsh and her team.

They were worthy winners of a regional UNISON health and safety award for their mental health work in 2014, and are an example of what our union at its best can achieve for members in the workplace.

I will never forget my visit here today, the dedication of the branch, and the impact their work has on people like Wayne.

Days like today make me so proud to be UNISON, and of everything our activists and members do to make each other’s lives better, alongside helping our communities every single day.

It’s time to talk for a change.

For further information and links, please visit the original article on the UNISON website

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