New Ways Of Working, Safe Ways Of Working and Tax Back.

It has to be the ambition of our union to see ambulance workers take control of their working lives. For them to be in charge of their day-to-day work patterns, training, leave, relief cover, environment and community.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful for the people who did the job to also manage the job, and not leave it to other people who are, in the main, managing at arms length, and sometimes managing under pressure, under orders, under stress.  Self sufficiency in the workplace has to be in everybody’s interests.

But is this what New Ways Of Working will deliver?

On the one hand I know the New Ways Of Working Team believe that it will if given the chance, and they are working with staff in good faith.

On the other hand a lot of members are not convinced and they are worried and sceptical. There are concerns that this will bring  piecemeal change through the back door. Others believe that it undermines the trade unions, the constitution and the Partnership Agreement.

Unison’s position on New Ways Of Working has always been very clear: we do not oppose it as a principle or a concept: we do not oppose staff being approached to be asked if they would like to participate with New Ways Of Working.

This does not mean, however, that the Union will take a back seat if there is misrepresentation or misinformation given to staff.

We want a successful Service with our members fully involved with changes that have an impact on their working lives.

We trust our members and representatives to be able to decide if this is good for them, their station and their patients. I don’t believe it is the Union’s role to dictate what is good for every station and every member of staff but it is our role to be guardians and caretakers of terms and conditions.

We are realistic enough though to realise that both national and Service-wide agreements can be, and should be, adapted to suit local conditions on stations and Complexes but that comes with a health warning: decisions concerning fundamental change have to be made in the context of overarching joint agreements.

Some of the proposals under New Ways Of Working, for example, team working, more stable training days, reliefs not being treated like second class citizens and better facilities, I personally support, as do a lot of people, and would encourage all stations to work towards this whether they accept New Ways Of Working or not.

However, it has to be the decision of the staff as a whole regarding New Ways Of Working. It cannot be a decision solely taken by the management.  That would be Old Ways Of Working. If anything on our Service has to change, then staff have to be at the centre of consent. We all should be moving forward – together.

____________________

All the Unions have now agreed the new Health and Safety Partnership Agreement. Led by Unison, the Unions have now brought health and safety back centre stage within the Service. Back centre stage in a serious way, with a serious agenda and a serious commitment.

The new Health and Safety Partnership Agreement makes sure the Trade Union is fully involved (bizarrely we were not in the old system as lines of accountability were blurred) with the Chair of the Staff Side becoming the Trade Union Lead and Joint Chair of the Corporate and Operational Partnership Groups.

Staff Side seats on the Corporate Health and Safety Group will now be allocated as Trade Union seats with Health and Safety representatives nominated by the Unions and accountable to the Unions and their members. This will make it stronger.

Management or Unions cannot deal with health & safety on their own. It needs a joint approach. Health and safety is the responsibility of everybody but it needs  partnership working to make it happen.

A new Operational Health and Safety Partnership Forum will also be brought in for the first time.  Sector H&S Representatives and Operational Management will form the Forum and will deal with all  day-to-day operational H&S issues.

The Staff Side of this Forum will elect a Health and Safety Lead.

This is good for us. It has taken longer than we would have hoped to bring about this positive change but now that it is here both management and the Union has a duty to make sure it works.

Dates for inaugural meetings will be confirmed soon.

____________________

 LAS UNISON has managed to get one hundred and ten thousand and fifty eight pounds (£110,058.00) tax rebate on members union subscriptions to date! This money is already in members bank accounts.

There is still quite a few members who have not claimed or returned their forms. We are the only Union within the London Ambulance Service that has this benefit after a twelve year legal battle with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

Don’t let it go to waste. If you have not yet claimed please either contact me via email or go direct to taxbackadvice@unison.co.uk with your name and membership number. You can find more information at http://www.unison.org.uk/healthcare/taxrelief.asp

It is your money and your right to claim thanks to Unison.

Eric Roberts

Branch Secretary