The harrowing events last week in Manchester once more bring home the risks we now all face.
In a world where children at a pop concert are so despicably targeted, few are safe. For us, our jobs and work locations make us potential targets. We will continue to seek Departmental assurances that critical incident readiness is prioritised everywhere. We urge members to be on alert and take all possible care both on duty and when travelling to and from work. But also to keep on doing what you do, improving national security.
We have been horrified beyond measure by those exploiting this deepest of tragedies to score political points about immigration, implicitly denigrating our members. As we have deplored disgusting slurs against Muslim friends and colleagues. Our strength is collective, we must reserve our intolerance for the terrorists. At times like these we see the worst in human nature, but also the best. Unsung you may be but ISU members are amongst the best.
We will continue to reflect our pride in our members and the fine work you do.
Pay 2017 negotiations recently commenced. An initial meeting has been held and we expect now to reconvene after the General Election. Pay discussions are confidential and the ISU respect that confidentiality, so we cannot yet comment upon the Departmental position. However it is important we reaffirm our own stance.
ISU members deserve a significant pay rise. For the last seven years, our members have seen real term pay cuts. Wages have not kept pace with the cost of living. Our people now work harder than ever before, in ever more stressful conditions, for a lower standard of living. Our families are missing out because an employer that speaks incessantly about ‘Values’ simply does not value its own staff adequately.
It’s high time the Department matched their rhetoric with deeds. Our people aren’t stupid – they know when appreciation and value are sincerely expressed and they also know a PR exercise when they see it. Few believe they are genuinely valued by the Department. And the longer that ‘value’ doesn’t extend to a decent pay rise, the less they will believe it. Few are now as loyal to the Department as once they were – and indeed very many continue to vote with their feet.
And now in every area we have ambitious ‘Transformation’ plans. The details are wide-ranging but common to all is a need for creative thinking and commitment to new ways of working. Change is difficult, the Department will not succeed unless they take their people with them. Instead they have people searching for the exit because they feel patronised and undervalued by their employer. If the Department want to deliver Transformation they need to start by valuing their staff properly.
We will update members further as talks progress.
Pensionability of SDA
A major vote of thanks to our Gatwick Branch, who have identified and pursued a pension issue with great tenacity. It appears that, since the introduction of the Alpha pension scheme in April 2015, SDA has not been treated by SSC and MyCSP as the pensionable allowance it is for those now in Alpha. If unremedied, this would obviously lead to people receiving significantly reduced pensions.
So we have raised the point urgently with the Department. They have confirmed it is an error, most likely arising from IT failure. It’s very unfortunate that this seems to have impacted SDA staff who have borne so much else in recent years. However this genuinely appears no more than unhappy accident.
We cannot yet give further detail on this, because Departmental investigations continue. Plainly we need to understand full extent of these issues before agreeing next steps. We have been clear however that we expect the issue to be resolved reasonably and without detriment to members. We will update you as soon as we are able.
We remain concerned that the declared welfare focus of the Department’s Attendance Management policy is too often overlooked, while unsupportive management process to issue Attendance Warnings is instead prioritised. However much of what reaches us is anecdotal. The more detail we have, the stronger we can press.
In particular we hear of situations where staff postpone or even cancel surgery to avoid risk of Attendance Warnings. If this is so, it really is shocking. No employer with genuine concern for their staff should take actions which jeopardise their health. We are keen to press for specific policy recognition for surgery and post-operative recovery to alleviate concerns members report. It would be useful to hear details of any specific cases of this nature to Mark.Gribbin@theisu.co.uk and/or Clare.Rampton@theisu.co.uk
ISU National Chair