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Report from Ian Croskel - South East NPS

posted 26 Oct 2017, 05:07 by Jo Sykes   [ updated 26 Oct 2017, 05:14 ]

Recent Activities

In September I attended the UNISON New Stewards Network and Training Day at our lovely UNISON HQ in London Euston. Dave Prentis popped in to thank us all for our efforts as UNISON stewards which was nice. He talked, amongst other things about the ‘Pay Up Now’ campaign which he had sponsored and was looking for the 100,000 signatures,  signed by UNISON members in the petition, in order to get it debated in Parliament. It stood at 62,000 at the time and I am sure you all know it has now reached well over the required 100,000 signatures since then and will be debated in Parliament in November 2017, so well done all those members who signed it.

It was nice to meet up with other stewards from around the South East Region from all parts of the public sector and listen to their experiences. We did a workshop in the morning and one in the afternoon from a number of choices which were useful. My only regret is that when I came down from my morning workshop held on the floor above, everybody else was talking how nice it was of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party Leader, who happened to be in the building, to pop in and have a quick chat, so I missed him. Oh, well, next time Jezza.

In October I attended an NPS Health and Safety meeting, followed by a Trade Union General meeting with senior NPS management and other Trade Union reps, my first such meeting in my new workplace steward role.

I know the phrase Health and Safety meeting will get most of you running for the nearest exits but it was actually quite instructive and a good opportunity to ask questions. One example was discovering the lack of reporting of health and safety incidents particularly around threats and intimidation and verbal abuse towards staff. We were given the stats which showed there was hardly any of these incidents which I know not to be true from personal experience. It makes it look like our jobs are lovely and stress free which they are often aren’t, so find your incident report forms and get reporting. It is something I have brought back to my workplace. I also managed to ask why NPS staff were no longer given free medical exams every year and that I thought this was a legal requirement at least for staff who were expected to work night shifts. Management have promised to look into this and I will report back when I receive an update.

The Trade Union General meeting afterwards was also instructive. Things like being told the main cause of staff sickness was stress. No surprise to anybody after pay freezes, privatizations and reorganisations.

There was talk about the problems recruiting staff due to vetting delays. The main problem seemed to be that the recruitment was handled by one organisation and vetting by another and there was no communication between the two. Again this has been a problem at my workplace with people being offered a job and it taking up to four months to be vetted and put into post.  All in all very interesting and again a chance to ask questions of senior management. For example I managed to get a guarantee that there was no change in the likelihood of staff expected to work on their own in approved premises which had been a worrying rumour going around recently.

All in all a useful experience and I would recommend finding your workplace if you have any burning issues as this is an opportunity for them to bring it up for you.