100 jobs at risk at Newcastle and Stafford College

Around 100 staff at Newcastle and Stafford College risk losing their jobs after the college announced plans to save £2m. The trade unions representing college staff said the college’s plans would have a devastating impact on educational opportunities in Staffordshire and called on the college to give full details of any outsourcing plans.

UNISON and the University and College Union (UCU) believe the majority of redundancies would affect staff based at the Stafford site with as many as 25% possibly losing their jobs. The unions have said they understand the need for some rationalisation in a newly merged college.

However, they question the college’s commitment to growth and local people’s educational needs if the plans lead to a reduction in courses and larger class sizes.

The unions said those at risk include lecturers, assessors, security staff, finance & payroll staff, technicians, support staff, library staff, learning support staff and those with administrative roles

The unions say the outsourcing element of the plans would result in a further 30 catering and cleaning staff moved to contractors and a further 14 jobs could be lost as the college plans cease running it’s nursery, which unions argue would make it much harder for local people to attend college.

Steve Elsey, Area Organiser, Staffordshire UNISON said: “This latest announcement has come as a fresh blow for Staff at the college, with many staff left dismayed at the prospect of the Stafford Campus loosing 25% of its staff which would include lecturers, assessors, technicians and staff in the security, finance, support service, library, learning support and administrative departments.”

Mike Steer, local UNISON rep and member of college staff commented: “Staff understand the need to rationalise services and staffing across the merged college. However, these latest proposals appear to conflict with the interests of the local community, such as plans to increase class sizes and reduce the number of courses on offer.”

UCU rep Steph Tague said: “Some rationalisation was expected, but as the college already has ambitious growth plans in place these proposals seem to make little sense. The college needs to be focussing on offering local people a broad range of courses, not increasing class sizes or narrowing the curriculum.

UCU Regional Support Official, Rebecca Stewart said: "Closure of adult and community courses in Stafford with no replacement for provision planned is a blow for local people. These proposals also disproportionately affect those teaching staff on part time precarious contracts and aren't the rescue they were hoping for".







Report suggesting merger between Police and Fire “Dangerous Political Experiment” says UNISON.

Staffordshire UNISON Representing Support Staff at Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service has claimed that the report titled Protecting and Enhancing Frontline Services “Is there a case for full integration” Is “fatally flawed”

Steve Elsey – Area Organiser, Staffordshire UNISON said:-

“When the unions were spoken to earlier in the year about this work being undertaken it was touted as an investigation into a wide range of potential options - from remaining as mutually independent Services - utilizing the current building stock to co-locate, developing further formal and informal collaborations or full integration. After 10 months work by the project team the report only addresses the question of the potential for full integration, ignoring all the other options which staff and unions believed were being considered.”

He went onto say:-

“No one would dispute that working in a supportive and collaborative manner can bring a number of benefits for Staffordshire residents and many would not be aware that significant joint working already exists between the Police and Fire but this report lacks any detail on how the projected approximate financial savings would be achieved apart from showing that 75% of the projected savings would come from slashing support staff jobs.”

“This report is supposedly making the case for a full merger of Police and Fire & Rescue Services however there are no details  of what the costs, dangers and threats of a full merger could be both in the delivery of services and public engagement, trust and confidence.  All in all this has all the makings of a dangerous and egotistical political experiment, based on a very scarce evidence base.”

Local UNISON representatives Mandy Neale and Tim Wareham who are fire service staff were stunned to read the report with Mandy Neale commenting:-

“Having been involved in some discussion about the range of options which we believed were being considered I was shocked to receive a report titled “Is there a case for full integration” such a bold move would require a change of current legislation and would make Staffordshire one of the very first authorities to consider such a move.  Our members have real concerns not just for the future of their jobs but also for the future of services provided by our members to both the public and to support front line fire fighters.”

Tim Wareham went onto say “Our members are very concerned about further politicising of Fire & Rescue Services which would, under these proposals come under the authority of the Police and Crime Commissioner.  The discontent in our membership at the lack of depth and detail in this report is clear, our members already work collaboratively with the Staffordshire Police in a number of areas, much of this good work seems to have been overlooked in this report as does the opportunity to pursue further collaborative opportunities whilst retaining our independence.”




100 Staff at risk of redundancy at Burton & South Derbyshire College

UNISON have recently been advised that over 100 members of staff are at risk of redundancy at Burton and South Derbyshire College with the College leadership blaming dramatic and continued government cuts for the reason to axe significant staff over the past two years.

UNISON condemns the cuts agreeing with the college that government cuts are a significant factor in the college’s difficulties and calling on the college leadership to make the case for FE to the government and local MP’s

Claire Breeze, UNISON Regional Organiser Said:-

“Sadly the staffing cuts at the college are a direct consequence of yet more Tory cuts impacting upon our young people’s education & future opportunities.  Many hardworking, dedicated and well trained college staff will be thrown on the scrap heap, all in the name of 'Austerity'.”

Claire went on to say “UNISON is getting increasingly concerned about the future prospects for colleges across the region, colleges are already being run on a shoestring and we are seriously concerned that should these cuts continue the existence of a number of colleges within the region are at risk, leaving young people without access to college education which could easily result in increased unemployment leaving communities and lives devastated.  Enough is enough. This government needs to rethink its ideological plans and start funding our colleges adequately and meaningfully to enable communities and children to thrive and prosper not to live in despair and poverty without hope.”

Kevin Lees, UNISON’s Local Rep at the college said:-

"It's been 12 months since the last redundancies were made at Burton and South Derbyshire Community College. Since then staff have worked extremely hard to achieve targets under difficult circumstances and are now faced with this dilemma which adds further pressure upon them. I would now urge supportive measures for their staff for at least the next 12 months if we are to move forward successfully in support of those communities which we serve."


Staffordshire UNISON welcomes Kingsmill Report on working conditions in the homecare sector

The Kingsmill Report on working conditions in the UK care sector is "A comprehensive programme of recommendations that would begin to redress the exploitation of the homecare workforce," said UNISON's Head of Local Government, Heather Wakefield. 

The report, released 15 May recommends a new care charter based on the Ethical Care Charter pioneered by UNISON which would be binding on all local authorities including Staffordshire County Council and would ensure that the care the Council commission is not delivered on the backs of exploited workers and is policed by the Care Quality Commission. 

The Charter described in the report would if adopted commit local authorities who commission homecare such as Staffordshire County Council to ending 15-minute visits, ensuring providers pay care workers for their travel time and end the use of exploitative zero hour contracts. It would also ensure councils and service providers are transparent in their price setting. 

The report, authored by Baroness Denise Kingsmill, sought the views of several of the union's members who are employed as homecare workers.

Heather Wakefield added, "Many of the issues tackled by the Kingsmill report were not even being discussed a few years ago. We’ve worked hard over the past 18 months to get councils to adopt the UNISON Charter voluntarily, and if councils like Islington, Southwark, Wirral, Reading, Renfrewshire and Lancashire can make this commitment, we believe that other councils should too. 

"We also welcome the focus on strengthening the enforcement of the National Minimum Wage, and the recognition of the damage done to care quality by widespread use of zero hours contracts. Until these Victorian working practices are stamped out of care altogether it will be impossible to raise the status and standing of care.

"People who rely on homecare deserve dignity and respect, and the only way to deliver high quality care is to ensure that workers receive adequate training and good quality conditions." 

Steve Watson, representing UNISON’s Private Sector members added, “Having recently joined the UNISON team at Staffordshire Branch the problems with working conditions in the care sector were very apparent. Our members working in this sector face the difficult decision of whether to provide the proper level of care or stick to the 15-minute visits they have been assigned to, many providing this care, in their own time, in order to give the people they are caring for some dignity. It is great to know we have been listened to and that these recommendations have been produced.”



UNISON Welcomes Decision To Keep Services In House

UNISON today welcomed Staffordshire County Council’s announcement that services previously being considered as part of the Core+ project will remain in house. The announcement today draws to an end a nine month project that has been considering the future of back office services such as ICT, HR, Procurement and Finance where business cases for two potential options have been considered. The two options being considered were:

  • To transfer the services to Entrust (Staffordshire County Council & Capita’s Joint Venture)
  • Keep services in house and redesign the delivery models whilst working with SAP, the Council’s current IT systems provider.

Steve Elsey, Staffordshire UNISON’s Branch Secretary, said: “We are delighted at the decision to maintain services in house, UNISON have been concerned since the start of this project that the likely change in shape and function of the council over coming years is likely to change the requirement for these services more than could be imagined and on that basis it seemed unwise to commit to a 19 year contract for delivery of services which in time may no longer be required, with services maintained in house the flexibility remains to tailor services and staffing requirements to the ever changing face of local government.”

He added: “UNISON have been doing a lot of work with the staff affected and throughout the process many questions have been asked which have challenged the Council’s thinking over the viability of outsourcing these services. We would like to thank our members for getting involved and for making their concerns known, the road ahead will be challenging for all of us, with the financial challenges clear.”

Core+ Update Press Release181.56 KB