Categories
Branch Secretary

We are the 4000!

Dear Colleagues,

LAS UNISON Branch is proud to announce a momentous occasion, we have reached our 4000th Member!

Not only is UNISON the largest Union in the Country, LAS UNISON is the biggest Ambulance Branch in the Country, we are also the largest Health Branch in London!

4000 Members is not just an accident, it is because of our hard working representatives across our Service that continue to represent all our members interests day in day out.

Our Members have continued to support our Branch and the great things we have done over the years. We recruited strongly throughout the years of austerity to keep UNISON going, but the work will not finish here, we need to keep growing and become stronger and more members make us stronger.

It’s something we should all be proud of, all standing together, all supporting each other, all protecting our public services and especially our precious NHS.

As Nye Bevan said “The NHS will last as long as there are folk with the faith to fight for it”

LAS UNISON will always be at the front leading our fight to keep our NHS Public, the NHS is not for sale

You may be aware there is a General Election coming up!!

Please remember this is not just about Brexit, our public services are in crisis, so “vote for public services”

It’s only a month until Christmas so I would like to wish all our members and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Yours fraternally,

Eddie Brand
LAS UNISON Branch Secretary

Categories
General

Consultants & Consultation

I have really enjoyed working for this Service over the last 32 years. I started at Hackney on day work, then re-graded and started on the Edmonton complex working out of Tottenham where a few years after I became the Station Representative. Some years later I moved to Romford to be nearer home and then continued to be the representative for UNISON.

Some years after this I took on the role of Staff Side Chair and UNISON Branch Chair where I was now getting involved in all kinds of consultations within our Service with my great friend Eric Roberts before his untimely death in 2016.

Along with our Senior UNISON Representatives at our Branch Committee we dealt with the introduction into the LAS of Agenda for Change, Rest Breaks amongst many other issues and did we get them perfectly right, no, but we did the best for our members.

These all came about after consultations with managers that knew this Service, that knew the pressures of working in Ambulance Services and most of them knew what it is like to work in the NHS, Can I say the same now? No, sorry, I can’t!

I now feel this is going to get a lot more difficult with Paul Woodrow Director of Operations to be leaving later this year. Paul has worked in this Service for 29 years working in all our roles across all areas and all grades.

Paul has been a pleasure to work with during the time I have known him and I know he wants the best for this Service and the Staff in our Service, I wish you all the best Paul in whatever you do.

Where does this leave us now? I fear for the worse, I am fed up having to explain to new directors how our Service works, and how our LAS consultation machinery works.

Tim Stephens (Staff Side & UNISON Branch Chair) and I used to laugh every time we were told that there would be a new interim director, or substantive director coming in to the LAS, knowing that we would have to sit down and explain all that I have mentioned above, but it is getting a little boring!

Also having to explain to consultants the same issues and challenges, and remember that a lot of these people are on more a day than most of us are on a week!

But let’s get back to the majority of the directors and interims in the London Ambulance Service, I am sick of writing to them and being ignored, I don’t expect you to jump when I write or when our Senior Sector representatives write, but please just be a little bit courteous!

I don’t know why I expect anything else because even when I am walking towards some of them on Waterloo Road they look at the floor and continue walking.

Gone are the days when you would get a knock on the door and one of them would like a chat about what’s going on in our service or even a chat about the footy or other news!

Please, when reading this don’t feel that I am a “snowflake” I would rather be told to bugger off, at least you know where you stand.

You may have seen our news last month that the full job evaluation panel took place on the request for re-evaluation of the EAC job description; the result being that the job role is now valued at band 5 according to the NHS Job Evaluation scheme.

Our Branch wrote to the service on the 13th May, an email that our Chief executive was included in, stating that UNISON require urgent discussions on the disparity between EAC’s current pay at band 4 and the result of this evaluation.

As we want to communicate this development to our affected members, can we now meet as soon as possible to progress our discussions to resolve this issue? We would also like to know if, when and how the LAS intend to transition pay for our EAC’s from Band 4 to Band 5? We are still waiting for a reply…

But don’t worry the consultants will continue to be paid obscene daily rates!

Our work continues.

If you have moved, changed workplace, surnames can I ask that all our members update their details ASAP. This is really important for our branch and required by law for any future industrial relation difficulties.

This week I was informed that I have been elected to UNISON’S National Executive Council, if you voted for me a “big thank you”. My period of election is 2019-2021 and I will do my best to raise issues for public sector workers in London.


Please Support Your Union

Information on all issues can be found elsewhere on our website.

If you are reading this, work for the London Ambulance Service or are eligible to join, and are not yet a member of UNISON, Join Today!

We are stronger together. We are all Frontline.

Eddie Brand – Branch Secretary

Categories
Branch Chair

Winter Pressures

Dear LAS UNISON Member,

Hope you had a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year.

But it seems to me 2018 is here and nothing has changed, our call rate is still increasing beyond being funny and if we are truthful we are finding it difficult to cope.

Hospitals across London and all across the UK are also finding it difficult to manage.

Every day and every hour Ambulances are being queued, just waiting to unload the patient that they have conveyed to a local A&E – it is becoming the norm.

It is called “winter pressures” but it seems to me that our pressures seem to last all year; winter, summer and relatively mild pressures!

Only last week our Prime Minister said “The NHS is better prepared for this winter than ever before

Then the same week we get told that the NHS have cancelled all non-emergency operations, which Officials have estimated, that this could lead to up to 55,000 deferred operations – such as cataract surgery and hip replacements.

Then we find out that across the country, Nearly 5,000 ambulances spent more than an hour queueing outside A&E during the festive week – the highest levels this winter.

A total of 16,900 people were forced to wait for more than 30 minutes to be seen by staff at emergency departments over the Christmas week, up from 11,900 the previous week.

Our Service are still having to fly to the other side of the world to get trained Paramedics to come and work in London, when our own Staff are willing and waiting to be trained.

Our Service is still using a private ambulance company to cover shortfalls.

This is not an NHS that is well prepared, this is not the health service that the people of London and the rest of the country deserve; last year was one of the most difficult we have had to deal with and everybody at LAS UNISON are proud of the way our members went about their work helping people in some of the most difficult of circumstances.

This week the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremey Hunt made an informal visit to the Headquarters of the London Ambulance Service and stated; “I was particularly impressed to hear about the efforts of their dedicated staff to plan for winter; they have clearly been effective in helping ensure good care for their patients.”

Which is always very nice for LAS Staff to be praised, but it’s not just praise that our members need, giving public service workers a pat on the back isn’t going to put food on their table, petrol in their cars or pay their bills.

This is why UNISON has led the “Pay up Now! – Scrap the pay cap” campaign – this is still top of UNISON’s agenda and more information will follow.

Here is to hoping we have a successful 2018, and I hope to see you at our AGM in March.

If you are reading this, work for the London Ambulance Service or are eligible to join, and are not yet a member of UNISON Join Today!

We are stronger together. We are all frontline.

Eddie Brand (Branch Secretary)

Categories
Branch Secretary

Eric Roberts

My great friend and our Branch Secretary passed away a year ago today; Eric is still massively missed, not only by his family but by everyone that was lucky enough to know him.

The great work that Eric did for all health workers will never be forgotten and today I would hope that everyone will raise a glass to Eric and celebrate his life.

Rodney Bickerstaffe

In October we lost another great Trade Unionist, Rodney Bickerstaffe former General Secretary of our former Union NUPE and then UNISON. Rodney was a great friend of us all at LAS UNISON and he is another that will be missed and our thoughts go to his wife Pat and their family.

We are so lucky to be surrounded by passionate UNISON representatives that continue to work hard on our behalf week in week out, not only representing all our members’ needs but making sure our branch moves ever stronger.

Lobby of Parliament

Recently one of our members Laura Barrett, Paramedic at West Ham Station became a UNISON TV Star! Helping UNISON Ambulance operational group at a lobby of parliament to support the private members bill to aggravate violent offences when perpetrated against emergency service workers and those that support them.

The next day Laura appeared on the BBC2 Victoria Derbyshire show explaining about the hideous violent situations that Laura has had to face just trying to carry out her duties looking after the people of London. This is why this bill must be made law – Emergency service workers, including staff working in the NHS providing healthcare must benefit from additional legal protection against assault and violent attacks.

Thank you and well done Laura.

I can promise you that whatever you read from other unions – LAS UNISON is the largest union in our Service and UNISON nationally are the largest Union in the country. Also our Ambulance operations group which represents all the UK’s Ambulance services is the largest in the country.

Presently, it seems that on a weekly basis, one of our Senior Sector representatives get at least one call from a member of another trade union asking for advice or representation – I am sorry but we don’t do that – if you want representation from the largest trade Union in the LAS you will have to join us!

Being the largest is why in July 2017 UNISON was able to defeat this government in our landmark victory over Tribunal fees, UNISON defeated this government in the highest UK court – The Supreme Court, and UNISON took the case on behalf of anyone who’s ever been wronged at work, or who might be in future. Unscrupulous employers no longer have the upper hand. Anyone in England, Scotland and Wales wanting to pursue a case against their employer has had to find as much as £1,200 but these fees will now be refunded.

Pay Up Now Campaign

This is also why UNISON are leading on pay and the “Scrap the Cap – Pay up Now” campaign every single person who works in public services needs and deserve a pay rise. It’s time for the pay cap to be scrapped, for the government to provide additional funding for public sector pay and for employers to pay up now.

Our Branch attended the “Scrap the Cap – Pay up now” (Britain deserves a pay rise) rally in London on 17th October 2017 and I would also like to thank our members that took time out of their busy schedules to support our Branch and our region.

LAS UNISON will continue to do our best for our membership and will continue to grow because our representatives understand what it is like to work in a busy publically funded Ambulance Service and we want many things but the main one is that ALL staff that work in our service are properly rewarded for the great work they do day in day out “Scrap the Cap – Pay up Now”

Eric’s Blog Picture

As Eric used to sign off on his blog –

If you are reading this, work for the London Ambulance Service or are eligible to join, and are not yet a member of UNISON Join Today!

We are stronger together. We are all Frontline.

 

Eddie Brand (Branch Secretary)

Categories
Branch Secretary

El Presidente

Dear UNISON Member,

Let me introduce myself, my name is Eddie Brand and I am the new Branch Secretary for our great Branch, the London Ambulance Service UNISON Branch.

One of the largest Ambulance Branches in the UK and one of the biggest Health Branches in London.

I am very proud to be holding this position as it is something I always have wanted to do, but in the future – it shouldn’t have been time yet.

As you all know, Eric Roberts our previous Branch Secretary, was cruelly taken away from us, from his family, his friends, his work colleagues and our great Union at the end of last year.

Eric was the only Branch Secretary our Branch has ever had in place, since the conception of our Branch in 1995. Before that, Eric was the Branch Secretary for the North-West NUPE Branch.

Personally, not only was Eric a great friend but he was also like a father figure (He would hate me saying that) to us all.

As I recently said at Eric’s memorial which was held at the Trade Union Congress in London – Eric was our Branch, he was a calming influence with a wise head that held it all together.

As you are probably aware, Eric is UNISON’s President (The first Ambulance Worker to hold this position) and I know I am slightly biased but he would have been our best President, he was known to his good friends as “El Presidente”

But I know Eric would have wanted our Branch to grow stronger and stronger and do the best for our members, our service and the Trade Union movement, so that’s what we will try to do.

I am lucky we have a great team in our Branch, the officers, the Branch Committee, the Senior Sector representatives and the workplace representatives and finally our members from all areas of our Service.

Also, the great help and advice that we receive from our Regional Officer and the London region of UNISON.

We made the decision at our January Branch Committee to carry on with the UNISON London Ambulance Service blog that Eric had started “Eric’s Blog” but we all know that none of us have the great humour and creative skill that Eric had, so please excuse me and try and stay awake!


At a recent Staff Council, UNISON added to the agenda “The London Package” this is what Eric first wrote in 2014 to then Chief Executive Ann Radmore then again in 2015 to the next Chief Executive Fionna Moore.

UNISON calls for:

  • All Paramedics at Band 6.
  • A re-think of the Senior Paramedic role.
  • Technicians’ future to be secured.
  • Make it easier, and affordable, for our own staff to study to become Paramedics.
  • Make it financially attractive for all staff to stay with LAS.
  • Create a unique London Package for all our staff that recognises the stresses and strains of working in London.
  • Outside of this we should review all Bandings as a result of ‘Market forces’. London is different. London is unique.

So, some of these issues are still outstanding and we will continue pressing ahead for changes so we can see these matters come to fruition.

It’s a shame that our Senior Management didn’t start earlier with these issues as we may not have had to go the other side of the world just to Staff our Ambulances, although it has been great getting to know them, they have fitted in with us quite well and we welcome them as members of our union.

Also on the Staff Council was the issue of Rest Breaks and Annual Leave that Management would like to see changes.

 

But if we took the same attitude as the Senior Management team did in 2014 and 2015 with Eric’s London Package letter, we may see changes in 2019 if it takes 2 years like the band 6 issue!

But we will talk and meet with them regarding these issues and I can promise we will consult with our membership on both these matters.

We won’t accept changes just for change sake, these must be acceptable to our members.

In addition at the Staff Council and in a recent RIB edition we were informed that The Service was also going to look at the previous Management restructure which will include Clinical Team Leaders.

I wrote to the Director of Operations the next day to confirm that UNISON will be involved in all areas including Job descriptions if necessary.

I was given assurances the same day via email.

I hope to see you at our AGM 17th March 17:00 Start at Unison Centre, 130 Euston Road NW1 2AY.

I will now sign off as the great Eric Roberts did!

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Support Your Union

____________________

 Information on all issues can be found elsewhere on our website.

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If you are reading this, work for the London Ambulance Service or are eligible to join, and are not yet a member of UNISON Join Today!

 

We are stronger together. We are all Frontline.

 

Eddie Brand – Branch Secretary