Stephen gave a comprehensive presentation on how the government’s austerity measures are creating a more unequal society.
He debunked many of the myths and misdirections put out by the UK Government and George Osborne as he outlined how their approach to dealing with the deficit is not working and could never work.
He showed how the UK Government's assertions that unemployment is reducing is based on increasing underemployment, with a rise in full time employees leaving the labour market and the current trend in growth of part-time jobs and self employment driving people into working longer for less and unable to make ends meet.
He showed how women have borne the brunt of the austerity measures, with female unemployment growing rapidly, and with cuts to public services and welfare benefits impacting much more on women.
And he showed that the private sector has not stepped in to fill the gaps left by cuts to public services
A comparison was made to the previous Labour government, who spent more money on the public sector to keep the economy moving. The Coalition stated two years ago “cuts are good for growth” but instead we are seeing growth steadily fall.
Stephen warned AGM that the Coalition's austerity cuts have only just begun and private companies cannot be encouraged to invest any of the trillions they are sitting on. Other countries invest far more money into their public services without suffering austerity.
Stephen’s research had shown that taxation could be used to rebalance the deficit far better than the cuts, but that taxation had to be fair unlike the ‘bedroom tax’ which will hit those members who need the most support.
Stephen's presentation was well received and there was a lively question and answer session afterwards.
Living wage win
"The biggest boost for Branch has been the ‘Living Wage’ for our lowest paid members," she said, committing the Branch to continue to fight for members pay, pensions and terms and conditions, with our lowest paid members firmly to the fore.
However, Inez highlighted that branch needs to increase its membership to have a stronger voice over these issues and encouraged AGM to assist with recruitment of new members.
We are not all in this together
Susan told members, "With the reduction to local government jobs, reduced public services and slashed benefits the government’s actions are not in any way, shape or form going to support our failing economy, but plunge us deeper into recession, poverty, homelessness and unemployment.
"Local government jobs and public services are essential to keep our local economies ticking over.
"Our branch has had a high focus on supporting our low paid members, with the government’s decisions and actions affecting them the most, but I feel it is important to stress that the poverty gap is ever increasing between the working class and the wealthy and will impact on many more of our members over the coming year," added Susan.
She called on members to stop listening to the propaganda. " We weren’t responsible for plunging this country into debt, it was the greedy bankers, the tax cheats, the politicians on the fiddle and the current government who have embellished the truth, and who have pushed up the deficit further with their unfair policies.
"Our disabled members are not lazy; they have the right to have their needs met to enable a decent quality of life. They also deserve support to enter and be supported within the workplace – unfortunately there aren’t sufficient jobs or support thanks to the cuts.
"One thing is for sure", warned Susan, " We are not all in this together, it is them and us by their design, they reap all the benefits whilst we lose ours, and we are hit with footing the bill. We feel the pain and segregation as they roll in money and riches."
Extend the living wage
Naida said, "People should not be expected to work for wages which don’t keep up with inflation. This causes misery to both workers and their children who are forced to do without the basics of life or make a choice between heating their homes and having food on the table.
"Other parents have to juggle several jobs, taking time away from caring for their families".
"And it’s not just a moral issue," added Naida, pointing to research that shows that paying the living wage is good not just for low paid staff and the local economy, but also for the businesses themselves.
"Paying the living wage makes good business sense with employers able to absorb the small costs of a wage increase through higher productivity, lower recruiting & training costs, decreased absenteeism and improved worker morale."
Recruitment key to challenging attacks on our living standards
"Trade unions are at the very forefront of the fight against the government’s austerity measures," Kate told the meeting. "There was never a more important time to stand up and be counted. We need to keep up our efforts to challenge the myths about austerity and to encourage our members – all of you – to mount an effective defence of pay, terms and conditions and pensions.And to speak out against poverty and the demonisation of the poor.
"But to do that effectively we need more members," she said, calling on all at the meeting to take away application forms and do their bit to encourage colleagues to join.
Steve Gray added, "Everyone needs to speak out against poverty and challenge this Government who describes the poor as “slackers and scroungers”.
"But to do that effectively we need more members and a louder voice."
Thanks to Ann for keeping the books
No change to rules
Please note: Links from email invitations are now working
Click here for a poster Please print off and put up in your workplaces.
Invitation to attend the 2013 Branch AGM
Whether we work for Aberdeenshire Council, a related employer or the voluntary sector, we have all had a very challenging year, as the Westminster Government's spending cuts continue to bite. With worries about job security, unmanageable workloads, cuts in our standard of living and attacks on our pensions, it has never been more important to be part of a union. Please come along to the AGM to hear what UNISON is doing to defend members' jobs and services, both nationally and locally, and to find out what you can do.
We are very fortunate to have Stephen Boyd, Assistant General Secretary of the STUC coming along to this year's AGM. Stephen will give a presentation on the austerity measures and how they are creating a more unequal society and doing nothing to deal with the deficit.
The AGM is your chance to have your say on the issues of the moment and gives you a chance to raise issues or discuss concerns with Branch Officers.
A buffet is available from 6.30 p.m. and members of the Branch Committee will be on hand to answer any questions or just to chat.
We very much hope that you will come along and look forward to seeing you there.
1. Chairperson’s remarks
2. Appointment of Tellers
3. (a) Minute of AGM 2012 Click to see Minutes of last year's AGM
(b) Matters arising
4. (a) Annual Report
(b) Redraft of Branch Rules for approval: Click here to see Redrafted Rules
(c) Approval of Honoraria: for Branch Treasurer and Auditors
5. Election of Branch Officers
6. Treasurer’s Report and Presentation of Accounts
The accounts for the year ended 31 December 2012 To be available at meeting
8. Guest Speaker – Stephen Boyd, Assistant General Secretary STUC will give a presentation on the austerity measures and how they are creating a more unequal society and doing nothing to deal with the deficit
9. Any other competent business
(This should be advised to chairperson before the start of the meeting)
10. Close of meeting - It is recommended the meeting should
If you wish advance copies of the papers to be tabled at the meeting, please contact the Resource Centre on 01224 620624 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
All Branch members are invited to attend the 2013 Branch AGM.
The AGM is the branch's supreme policy making forum. It will elect the Branch Officers and stewards for 2013, set policy on important issues affecting all members and can amend rules.
The preliminary notice was sent out on 10th Dec, to allow members time to consider and put forward nominations and motions and to meet deadlines for the agenda which will be sent out no later than Friday 25th Jan 2013.
But don't let the talk of motions and deadlines put you off. This is your chance to raise anything you would like the branch to be doing, provided that it is within UNISON rules. If you would like to raise an issue but don't know how to write a motion, get in touch with Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair. You can email her or contact her via the Branch Resource Centre on 01224 620624 and she will help you to find the right way to do it.
UNISON members in Aberdeenshire have faced difficult challenges over the past year with cuts to jobs, services and terms and conditions whilst the council has uncovered a £20 million underspend.
As a branch, we are still trying to get the message across that austerity is not the way to deal with the economic problems and is in fact making matters worse. Inequality is increasing massively. In the past three years the 1000 richest people have increased their wealth by £155 billion. That's enough to pay the deficit and still have £30 billion left over. At the same time, 1.6 million children in the UK live in severe poverty. That can't be right.
Come to the AGM and find out more about how UNISON is campaigning to protect public services and members jobs, and get involved!
Branch officer and steward posts
Nominations are invited for stewards and branch officer posts. Any nominations should be on the forms below and should be returned to Inez Teece, Branch Secretary at UNISON Freepost (AB048), 7 Alford Place, Aberdeen AB10 1ZQ no later than Wed 23rd Jan 2013.
Motions and other business
Any member can submit a motion or let us know of any other business for consideration at the AGM. Motions need to be signed by two members and sent to Inez Teece, Acting Branch Secretary at UNISON Freepost (AB048), 7 Alford Place, Aberdeen AB10 1ZQ no later than Wed 23rd Jan 2013.