World Mental Health Day 2017 Tea & Talk

UNISON are hosting Tea and Talk events between 11am -1pm on World Mental Health Day, 10th October 2017.

Oxfordshire County UNISON Branch is launching a campaign to promote positive mental health in the workplace and to improve support and provision for those in work with mental health conditions. UNISON officers and reps welcome members and non-members to come to our stall for tea and cake and to take part in our quiz, pick up information, give us suggestions about improving mental health at work.

Events will be held at the following venues;

Speedwell House (Oxford) 11am-1pm First Floor kitchen
Abbey House (Abingdon) 11am-1pm Second Floor kitchen
Knights Court (Cowley) 11am-1pm Second Floor kitchen
Samuelson House (Banbury) 11am -1pm Second Floor Breakout area.

As part of the campaign the branch is working with Oxfordshire MIND on an Olympic torch style event which will visit organisations across the county on the day collecting contributions to a World Mental Health Day Book which will be presented to Cllr Ian Hudspeth in a celebration at County Hall at 4.30 pm. The book will contain contributions of poems, photos, art work, personal experiences and pledges from people across the Oxfordshire in recognition and support of the those with mental health issues and the people who support them in our communities and services. UNISON’s Tea and Talk events will be offering the chance to make contributions to the book too. If you would like to attend the event at County Hall please contact

Branch news

Mental Health Survey

Branch members should by now have received an email about our Mental Health Survey please do take the time to fill it in, it’ll only take a few minutes and it will help us a huge amount to plan the right campaign for you. It is for all members, not merely those who have or have had mental health conditions, if you’ve worked with or for someone then it’s just as valuable to get your opinion. We want to promote positive steps and attitudes to mental health in the workplace and everyone is part of that. If you haven’t received your link to the survey or haven’t been able to fill it in for some reason please get in touch with us so we can give you the link or sort out any issue.

Don’t forget it’s World Mental Health Day on Tuesday October 10th and there will be an event near you – details to follow. If you’d like to be involved with our campaigning then use the link above to get in touch.

2017, Branch news, campaigns, Equality, Mental Health ,

Pay Up Now!

Public sector workers need a pay rise!

For years now, public service workers have seen their pay held back by government in the name of austerity. First a freeze then a cap saw public sector pay rise by just 4.4% between 2010 and 2016 while the cost of living rose by 22%.

That’s no way to treat people like you, hardworking people who play such a vital role in looking after us and holding our communities together – keeping us safe, healthy, educated, and cared for.

But the tide may be turning. The government is now under real pressure to scrap the 1% cap on public sector wages and UNISON is leading the fight to get you the pay rise you deserve. More and more people are listening and supporting our Pay Up Now! campaign.

Now it’s up to us, in UNISON, to keep that pressure on until we get:

  • an end to the pay cap;
  • government money made available for an immediate pay rise for all public sector workers;
  • an end to government interference in bargaining arrangements for all public sector pay.

We can’t miss this opportunity. They won’t pay up if we don’t all speak up. So, please get involved in our campaign and help us win. Together we can do it.

2017, Community, Local Government, Low Paid Members, Oxford, Pay, Schools, Social Work, UNISON, UNISON National, UNISON SE Region , , , , , , ,

EU citizens: UNISON returns to Parliament to defend members


UNISON members will join a mass lobby of Parliament on 13 September to speak up for the rights of EU nationals in the UK and British citizens in the European Union.

UNISON has an estimated 70,000 members who are EU nationals and is calling on the government to commit to all their rights to continue to live and work in the UK after Brexit.

This will be the second lobby of Parliament this year over the issue. The first, in February, helped to put it at the top the Brexit agenda in the minds of many MPs and peers.  The new lobby comes when the negotiations are under way, with citizens’ rights seen as one of the major obstacles to an agreement.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposal in June, which offered “settled status” for EU nationals who have been in the UK for five years, was criticised by many, including the prime minister’s EU counterparts and citizens’ rights groups.

One important sticking point was Ms May’s refusal to accept the European Court of Justice as the arbiter of any future disputes over citizens’ rights.

Katia Widlak of UNISON’s strategic organising unit called the offer “pathetic”, adding that it fell short of the EU’s own, earlier position paper, which guaranteed EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU ‎the continuity of their existing rights.

“The UK government proposal is already watering down some of those existing rights by restricting freedom of movement and the right to family reunion,” she said.

The lobby, organised alongside the 3 million, British in Europe and other citizens’ rights groups, will put the following demands to MPs:
◾keep the rights already held as EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU;
◾guarantee these rights for life under the European Court of Justice;
◾support ring-fencing an agreement on citizens’ rights from the rest of the UK/EU negotiations;
◾introduce a free, easy-to-use registration process for EU citizens in the UK.

UNISON has reserved rooms in Parliament from 2–6pm, where members can meet their MPs.

There will also be a gathering at the nearby Emmanuel Centre, where speakers will include Labour’s shadow secretary of state for exiting the EU, Keir Starmer.

Ms Widlak is expecting an even greater turn-out than February’s successful lobby, including some British citizens currently living in the EU, who will be returning home to take part.

And she urged all UNISON members to take part, either on the day or through an e-lobby .

“Citizens’ rights are in phase one of the Brexit negotiations, which are supposed to be concluded by October,” she said. “This could be the last opportunity we have to influence what happens. It’s crucial that we maintain the pressure.”

Register for the event


Branch news, campaigns, Migrant Workers, UNISON National, UNISON SE Region , , , ,

LGPS Pension Update August 2017

Our fund continues to gain value and is now worth £2.2Bn! Overall, the LGPS in the UK is in fine form with over 5.3M members; and 14,000 separate employers in 2016. Also, the scheme remains in a positive cash-flow position when investment income is included. And the total assets of all the LGPS funds remains at £217bn, which makes it the largest pension fund in England and Wales and the third largest in Europe.

So a big ‘well done’ to our previous LGPS Pension Committee members and a hearty ‘welcome’ to our new committee who have made an excellent start in looking after our funds and exercising their duties. The Pension Committee is almost entirely new with Councillor Kevin Bulmer as its new chairman and Counciller Ian Corkin as the deputy chairman.

The new committee started their tenure with an immediate training session that began with their roles and responsibilities and a great deal of discussion about their fiduciary duties. There was also much discussion and plenty of support to ensure that ethical and political considerations are fully considered when making investment decisions. This includes a full discussion over the merits in investing in fossil fuels and the implications for our carbon footprint and any effects on climate change.

Pool Funds (Project Brunel). The Brunel Pension Partnership (BPP) Ltd was formally created at a meeting in Bristol on 18 July as each of the founding funds signed the Shareholders agreement to establish the company. Just as a reminder the BPP is one of eight national pooled funds, and will oversee the investment of the pension assets for the Avon, Buckinghamshire. Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Environment Agency, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, and Wiltshire Funds.

There is still much to do to get the BPP ready to start trading on 1 April 2018 as buildings; IT; and administrative arrangements all have to be set up. One milestone has been met, but there are still quite a few to go before BPP can start trading.

LGPS Administration. The administration of our LGPS is now conducted from:

Pension Services, Oxfordshire Pension Fund, 4640 Kingsgate, Cascade Way, Oxford Business Park South, Oxford OX4 2SU

Please phone to make an appointment on: 03300 241 359

Pension Statements. Your new yearly pension statement should be arriving with you over the month of August, happy reading!

Philip Wilde

Observer to the Pensions Committee

2017, Branch news, LGPS, Local Government, Membership benefits, Pensions , , , ,