Branch Officers

Assistant Branch Secretaries

The role of the Branch Secretary

The Assistant Branch Secretaries each take a lead role with different employment groups. Reports to Branch Committee can be found in the archive pages of the relevant directorates and services or you can click on a name below to find reports by the current post holder.

Assistant Branch Secretaries: Lynda Hardie, Derek Muse, Nicky Ramanandi

MARCH 2015

AGM election

Lynda Hardie, Derek Muse and Nicky Ramanandi were re-elected unopposed to the Assistant Branch Secretary positions.


Lynda Hardie

In the 2014-15 Annual Report Lynda reviews the key issues of the last year in Wellbeing, Care and Learning. These she identifies as the proposals regarding Sure Start and its inclusion within the wider Family Services Review and the Care Cooperative proposal within adult social care.


Derek Muse

In the 2014-15 Annual Report Derek reviews the work of the branch in Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), Community & Voluntary Sector (CVS), Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), Newcastle College and Tyne Tunnel (TT2).  Derek dealt with 70 different individual organisations over the last 12 months within CVS.

The year ahead ...

Looking ahead to 2015 I believe that the major issues and challenges faced by this sector will be: Casualisation/Zero hours contracts – With a general election looming this year both Labour and the Lib Dems have made noises about ending or at the very least changing the ways in which organisations can utilise these types of contracts. Hopefully 2015 will see at the very least the beginning of the end of these contracts in Newcastle.

One of our priorities should be to pressurise the City Council into signing up to an Ethical Care Charter similar to which UNISON colleagues in Scotland have negotiated with Renfrewshire Council – this is a charter which sets out minimum standards to protect the dignity and quality of life for people who need home care and for those who provide it. An ethical care council will only commission work from providers who – among other things – do not use zero hours contracts, pay the living wage, pay workers for travel time and allocate staff appropriate time slots to carry out meaningful visits. This approach is one that can be transferred on to other areas of service provision such as early years/nursery provision.

The renegotiated YHN management fee is likely to see further changes to YHN over and above that of the YYN /NCC Review. A reduction in the management fee is likely to see YHN being asked to carry out “more for less” and the Chief Exec has already written to all staff stating “I acknowledge that now, more than at any point, things cannot stay the same.”

Universal Credit – comes to Newcastle later in the year. As well as increasing pressure on YHN front line staff to maximise its income and debt recovery (which in itself is crucial to retaining jobs) it is likely to have a major effect on some of the more vulnerable in our City who could see overall benefits being reduced as well has having to get used to budgeting for themselves in a completely new way.

Further TWAM fragmentation is a major concern as is the projected savings target for next year of £575,000 – at least £275,000 of which may have to come from staffing levels.
The proposed introduction of an extra resource into the Branch office this year will hopefully allow us to spend more time and effort in addressing our concerns and challenges for 2015 and beyond – especially as the CVS sector still has the potential to increase our membership massively.


Nicky Ramanandi

In the 2014-15 Annual Report Nicky reviews the key issues of the last year in the Communities and Investment & Development directorates.

Nicky also provides support to the Black Members and Women’s self-organised groups (SOGs).


Nominations for Assistant Branch Secretary posts

Derek Muse has been nominated for the Assistant Branch Secretary post with responsibililty for YHN.

Lynda Hardie and Nicky Ramanandi are nominated for the other two Assistant Branch Secretary posts.

As these nominations are unopposed there will not be an election at the Branch AGM on 10 February 2014.

Below Lynda and Nicky give their assessments of the challenges facing the branch in the coming year.


Lynda Hardie

We are in year 2 of the 3 year Budget Proposals - it is an increasingly challenging time for all. We are as a Senior Branch Team always looking at increasing and retaining membership alongside other responsibilities.

We have appointed a Schools Convenor post to establish and strengthen our links with our school based staff where there is a good opportunity for increasing our membership, alongside our current recruitment campaigns.

We are currently working on our pay claim and intend to visit key locations on 4th February to engage with members connecting to the national ‘You’re Worth It’ campaign. Pay has fallen 18% since 2010, a key concern along with our being asked to do more for less.

The Sure Start proposals are a massive concern both nationally and regionally and we are focussing on a campaign involving staff, members and service users to highlight the invaluable work that is carried out and the effect the proposals could have. Proposals are one million within this year (brought forward) and a further four million next year – the implications are massive and could result in closures of centres and job reductions.

The House of Commons Education Select Committee published a report stating Sure Start Centres are essential and must be seen as a priority, Labour have established a ‘Friends of Sure Start’ campaign and we are committed to highlighting the integral role that centres play in getting the best for children and families in their communities.


Nicky Ramanandi

The last 12 months have been extremely challenging within the City Council and we know this is set to continue in the year ahead. We are currently in negotiation regarding year two of a three year budget proposal. The budget deficit had been set at £90 million, this in itself has led to significant changes within the council; however, the total has now risen to over £110 million which has meant new proposals have been introduced. The impact this has on services will to be a main focus of activity going forward, this will involve working hard to mitigate against job loss, and to campaign to protect core services.

As part of the senior branch officer’s team we will continue to provide the strategic leadership to the branch. This is a very challenging and difficult time, it is integral we work together as part of a strong, collective team to achieve the best possible support and protection for our members. It is important that members are being represented in restructures and in the union’s negotiating and bargaining agenda.

One of my responsibilities is to work with the Women’s Officer to encourage and support more women to become active in the union. In the year ahead I will also work with members across the branch encouraging them to become activists. In the areas I lead on I will continue to negotiate on behalf of the members, provide representation and support our shop stewards and reps.


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