2015 National Conferences


National Local Government Conference, 14-15 June 2015

National Delegate Conference, 16-19 June 2015

UNISON's national conferences were held in Glasgow and our branch was represented at the National Local Government Conference by Cath McGuinness, Vikki Brannagan, Lorraine Fernandez, Lori Ashbridge, Lynda Hardie, James Imhoof and Ed Whitby.

At the National Delegate Conference our branch was represented by Cath McGuinness, Vikki Brannagan, Lori Ashbridge, Ella Thorp, Mavreen Ncube, Ed Whitby and Conor McArdle.


National Local Government Conference 



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National Delegate Conference



Annual Report 2014/15

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Branch Secretary (Paul Gilroy, NEC)

Equalities (Cath McGuinness)

International (Conor McArdle)

Schools (Lori Ashbridge)


Branch Secretary

Report by Paul Gilroy

A presentation will be provided at the July Branch Committee, but the Branch was well represented at both conferences.

A number of Branch motions and amendments were debated by delegates and supported by the conference delegates in the hall, and the majority of the Branch delegates spoke in debates, sharing the experience of our Branch with the wider union.


Equality Issues

Report by Cath McGuinness

At National Delegate Conference 2015, which was held in Glasgow this year, the Northern Region published its conference bulletin “Northern Focus”. In the newsletter it was good to see that Clare Williams, (Regional Convener) and our very own Nicky Ramanandi, (Deputy Regional Convener), gave a mention to equalities; how equality at work is vital to providing a positive culture in the workplace, tackling discrimination and inequality and how that engaging members and stewards in the workplace is key to helping deliver on equality.

They mention how that in the last 12 month we at Newcastle City Council Branch have delivered a series of half day training sessions, facilitated by Ruth Berkley (regional equalities officer), but, forgot to mention that this was also delivered by Wendy Aitman (Branch Education Coordinator) and Cath McGuinness (Branch Equalities) officers. The response has been really positive, over the period, training approximately 40 members including stewards, and community sector members.

For we activists it is important that we have facility time, its not always about red tape, its about delivering for our members, educating members, influencing our children, families, and communities to embrace diversity. I personally feel that one of the best places to educate would be in our schools, it’s NEVER too early to start recognition that discrimination is wrong.
UNISON, is the only union that is dedicated to self-organization which helps to determine the key issues for each of our SOG’s and young members, it operates to inform members on our agendas for negotiation.

Finally, a big WELL DONE to all of our delegation that represented you the members, delivering our speeches with passion and dignity, having our voices heard from Newcastle City Branch and the Northern Region.



Report by Conor McArdle

There were a number of international guests at this year’s conference.

On the Monday evening, trade unionists, labour rights' activists and anti-privatisation campaigners from Colombia, Swaziland, Israel and Nigeria addressed the UNISON international rally. This was a good opportunity to hear first-hand about trade union developments in those countries and how they are responding to austerity and the liberalisation of public services.

On Thursday during the international debates, we heard an excellent speech from Paul Moist, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees on Canada's experience of free trade agreements and the threat posed by TTIP, CETA and TISA.

There were also a number of international fringe meetings on Cuba, Palestine, Colombia and Qatar.



Report by Lori Ashbridge

I went to both Local and National Government Conference and was delighted by the show of support to staff working in schools. 

At Local Conference, I spoke in support of Composite B, a combination of motions from the Northern Region and Newcastle City on the importance of organising in schools.  I spoke on the fracturing and isolation of schools, the dedication of staff and the increase in sickness and bullying behaviour reports.  That is why organisation, recruitment and retainment of staff is so important. 

Increasing Shop Stewards to help bolster the presence of the union in schools is also a goal.  There were several other speakers in support of the composite; several teaching assistants spoke of being severely overworked and the lack of teaching and support staff. 

When a point of order was made to have the motion put, it was overwhelmingly vetoed in order for more school staff to speak.  I was glad there was such a show of support; as one speaker put it, ‘we are silenced enough in schools’. 

After all had spoken the vote was unanimous in support of the Composite. 


Special Local Government Conference, 24 March 2015

On 24th March a special conference of UNISON's Local Government Service Group convened to debate the 2014/16 NJC pay proposals. A number of issues were considered including: the decision to cancel strike action on 14th October; future pay consultation protocols in respect of local government pay claims; and the best means to secure a decent pay increase for Local Government members.

The branch delegation to the conference consisted of Nicky Ramanandi, Lori Ashbridge, Cath McGuiness, Ed Whitby and Lynda Hardie. A number of motions from branches and regions were
submitted, and Newcastle City Branch had submitted 2 motions, however these were not part of the prioritised order of business.

The conference was lively and a number of emotive speeches were made and some of the major decisions that came out of conference were:

All of the prioritised motions were debated. Clearly there now needs to be a discussion at the NJC and the SGE committees about how these motions, and the others that were agreed, are taken forward. A further update will be provided once these committees meet.


New on Site


Learning at Work Week

15-21 May 2017. The theme this year is Curious and Creative for Learning at Work Week.

Distance Courses

Starting 24 April 2017, these courses can be done online or paper based.


NEC Elections

Branch nominations and ballot details.

'There For You’ Newsletter

This newsletter includes an update on the changes to the Bereavement Support Payment as well as contact details for ‘Down to Earth’, who provide practical and emotional support throughout the funeral process.


Branch Lottery

Winners in March.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/13

Executive pay bandwagon rolls on

Cycle courier entitled to holiday pay

Employment law changes this April

New minimum wage rates kick in

UK lags on maternity

Merger heralds new teaching union

Consultation on caste discrimination



New courses for members and stewards.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/12

Inflation leaps to 3.2%

More regulation of gig economy needed

Appalling risk of suicides in construction

Fat cats — the great pay divide

Racist abuse after Brexit vote

Lack of diversity at top in Wales


Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on Monday 3 April.


Regional Disabled Members Group

Meeting on Tuesday 28 March 2017 at 4.30pm.

Misogyny as a Hate Crime

Nottinghamshire Police have taken the bold step to identify misogyny as a hate crime and Northern UNSION are keen for this to be replicated in our region. The aim of the event is to identify how we can move the issue forward across the region with all three Police and Crime Commissioners.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/11

Swings and scooters of inflation basket

No real improvement in weekly earnings

Cosmetic improvement with Living Wage

Zero-hours contracts at record high

Unemployment falls below 1.6 million


AGM 2017

Agenda and annual report.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/10

Economic forecasts in Hammond's Budget

Mixed fortunes in ethnic women's pay gap data

Company merger and acquisitions in 2016

Numbers on zero-hours contracts at a high

GMB take on DX delivery firm

Former chancellor's nice big earner

Charter to stop violence at work


March/Rally for Durham Teaching Assistants

Saturday 25 March. Hear grassroots, union and guest speakers and watch the Reel News film showing the Durham Teaching Assistants’ story.

LGBT Policy weekend

Saturday 25 March, to plan UNISON LGBT activities for the year ahead.

HOPE Not Hate Event

A joint training session for trade union and community activists on how to organise to defeat the politics of division.  18 March 2017.

NE People’s Assembly

March calendar of events and activities.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/9

Trade Union Act regs come into force

Gender pension gap leaves women short

Violence at work — the nasty truth

Bookseller's £7m salary

Money purchase pension are norm

British Gas denied appeal in Lock case

Government fails in ethnicity review


Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on Monday 6 March.

Retired members

Papers for the retired members' meeting on 17 March.


Branch Lottery

Winners in February.

Workers Memorial Day

Morning seminar and afternoon remembrance service in Hartlepool on Friday 28 April 2017. There is also an Eve of WMD ‘Gig’ on Thursday 27 April.


Labour Research Department Fact 79/8

Government green paper on pensions

A 'Stern diet' for fat cat directors' pay

Employers — don't miss out on talent

Argos repays £2.4 million to 37,000 staff

Economic growth revised upwards

Work fears of disabled people revealed

In the papers

Migrants have helped make Britain. It’s time to celebrate us

NHS at breaking point, according to British Medical Association

Councils prepare to cut essential services to fund adult social care

London transport spending equivalent to £1,500 more per head than North East


Labour Research Department Fact 79/7

Minimum wage cheats named and shamed

Inflation hits three-year high

Unemployment at 11-year low

Inflation erodes growth in weekly earnings

In the papers

Migrants are always the scapegoats. But now they’re taking on Ukip’s lies

I, Daniel Blake is a realistic depiction of life on benefits. Isn’t it?

English social care system for elderly facing 'complete collapse'

North East peers want law to make Government investigate impact of Brexit on region

North East recruitment drive revealed as jobless total in region rises

UK employment growth driven by foreign nationals, figures show

The NHS needs a rethink. Its priorities no longer make sense

Top Labour politicians come to 'UKIP area' Sunderland for Brexit debates and festival

Rothbury Community Hospital inpatient ward closure public meeting this week

Shopping will cost you more as prices rise, but is Brexit to blame?

Campaigners calling for u-turn over Post Office move

UK labour shortages reported as EU worker numbers fall

Britons living in the EU face Brexit backlash, leaked paper warns

Then the Daily Mail came for Gary Lineker, and we said: ‘Enough!’

Brexit survey revealed: What you would do if given second shot at EU referendum

Booming gig economy costs £4bn in lost tax and benefit payouts, says TUC

There will be a shameful betrayal of the Brexit low-paid

Welcome to the new dark ages, where only the wealthy can retire

NHS 'pays £7.5m a year for 20 most expensive agency doctors'

Drive to bring health and social care together is a well-intentioned mess


Disabled Members Policy Weekend

Sunderland, 19/20 May 2017.

Members training

Sign Language (BSL) Introduction, 2 March 2017

Dementia Workshop, 30 March 2017

Reps training

Regional Education Calendar 2017

In the papers

A&E in England had worst delays ever in January, leak suggests

Why was Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes the star of Prime Minister's questions?

Number of patients stuck in hospital 'far higher than NHS data shows'

It's time corporate tax dodgers started losing lucrative council contracts

More council housing needed in the North East - government report reveals

Council tax, youth funding and bins: 6 things to look out for from Sunderland budget meeting

TyneMet and South Tyneside colleges merger: What it means for jobs, campuses and its new name?

Labour Research Department Fact 79/6

Review of tribunal fees finally published

Plan to tackle abusive hiring practices

Insecure work on rise

Twenty eight directors share £68.37 million


Affiliations and donations

A list of affiliations and donations that the branch committee has approved since January 2015.


In the papers

UK faces return to inequality of Thatcher years, says report

NHS ID scheme could deter eligible patients, say MPs

Councils may cut social care provision due to underfunding, LGA says

Nursery schools: ‘What society gives children less chance than their parents?’

Council tax rise planned for Northumberland residents as authority faces £36m cuts

'Trump can't hack Trebs' - the best signs from Newcastle anti-Trump demonstration

Labour Research Department Fact 79/5

Racism at work

Economy grows but there's a shortfall

Advice on gender pay gap from Acas

Tories offer no solution on discrimination

Eight assaults a day in Welsh schools


A quarterly periodical updating branch reps on employment law.


Branch Lottery

Winners in January.


Young Members

Northern Region Young Members AGM

Black Members

UNISON Northern Region Black Members Forum AGM 2017.

LV Car Insurance

Discounted car insurance for UNISON members.


North East March and Rally for #ourNHS

In Newcastle on Saturday 4 February.

Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on 6 February.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/4

Death by a thousand fire service cuts

Guidance on stress

Modern-day slave traders jailed

Fees let bad bosses get off scot free

Top-ranked inclusive employers 2017

Get tough on pay, says pension funds


Women's Network AGM

Agenda and nomination form for the mmeting on 4 February.

Disabled Members

Annual Meeting of the Regional Disabled Members Self Organised Group on Tuesday 31 January 2017.

Members training

Mental Health Awareness Workshop on Thursday 16 February.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/3

Wales to ditch parts of 2016 Trade Union Act

Inflation rates at highest since 2014

Retail inflation eating into earnings growth

UK unemployment at nine-year low

In the Papers

Public sector pay poised to fall by thousands in real terms, TUC says

May’s promise on workers’ rights is hollow if she doesn’t get a deal

NHS crisis: the one act of self-sacrifice that could rescue our health service

Politicians have ignored the working class for too long

World's eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

Crisis, what NHS crisis? Theresa May must stop this denial

Welsh government tables bill to overturn Trade Union Act


Anne Frank Trust Exhibition

UNISON have now been allocated two spots on the 16 January to have guided tours around the Anne Frank exhibition. 

Labour Research Department Fact 79/2

Courier's tribunal win against CitySprint

TUC warns over Brexit threat to workers' rights

Lame excuses for not paying minimum wage

High street store fined over safety

Manufacturing output edges higher

Child poverty briefing


Branch Lottery

Winners in December.


The Trade Union Act and UNISON's Political Fund

Consultation on political fund review: December-January

Reading Ahead

We are having our first Reading Ahead launch at Welford Learning Zone on 11 January between 10am and 11am.

Trade Union Reps courses

Book now to secure your place on one of the courses for Reps at Newcastle College starting in January 2017.

Northern Region Training Programme

UNISON courses in 2017. These courses are free and open to all members unless otherwise stated.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/1

'Precarious pay penalty' of zero-hours staff

Plans for a Universal Basic Income

2017 — economic forecasts for year

'Fat Cat Wednesday' has been and gone

Northern Ireland to reveal political gifts

UK's deficit in trade in goods gets ever worse

UK economic growth revised upwards