Friday 31 August 2012

Performance Appraisals, Forced Ranking, Stacked Ranking

When UNITE reps in the IT Services industry were creating our Charter for Fair Pay, one of the issues identified was "forced ranking" - the practice of some companies and managers of pre-determining the proportions of people to receive each score in a performance appraisal system.

There is a mass of evidence about how unfair, discriminatory and counter-productive forced ranking systems are.  There's an interesting article by a management consultant here blaming a variant of this system for Microsoft's poor culture and declining financial performance.  Useful ammunition for union members seeking to oppose the introduction of forced ranking or throw it out where it's already used.

UNITE schedule of meetings 2013

Regional Industrial Sector; Area Activists;
Regional Equalities &
Regional Political Committees

National Industrial Sector Committees &
National Political Committee


National Equalities

December 2012

Jan 2nd – 21st

Jan 22nd – 30th

31st Jan – 8th Feb

March 2013

April 2nd – 19th

April 22nd – 26th

29th April – 10th May

June 2013

July 1st – 12th

July 22nd – 26th

July 15th – 19th

September 2013

Oct 7th – 25th

Oct 28th – 1st Nov

Nov 4th – 8th

Executive Council Meetings:                                              Bank Holidays:

            11th – 15th March 2013                                               1st January 2013
            10th – 14th June 2013                                                  29th March – 1st April 2013
            16th – 20th September 2013                                        6th May 2013
             9th – 13th December 2013                                         27th May 2013
                                                                                                26th August 2013
Finance & General Purposes Committee:                         25th & 26th December 2013

            24th January 2013                                                                  
            21st February 2013
            25th April 2013
            23rd May 2013
            18th July 2013
             4th Sepember 2013
            24th October 2013
            21st November 2013  

Annual Trades Union Congress:

            8th – 11th September 2013

Annual Labour Party Conference:

            22nd – 26th September 2013

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Capita IT Services staff vote to strike over jobs

UNITE members at Capita delivered an impressive 4:1 vote for strike and 9:1 for action short of strike as part of their fight against redundancies, including plans to offshore their jobs to India.

Similar issues concern workers at many IT companies (and IT workers in other industries concerned about outsourcing) so many people will be hoping members win a a positive outcome to this dispute.

Saturday 25 August 2012

UNITE Area Activist Meetings

The details for most of the 3-yearly Area Activist Meetings which elect the Area Activist Committees are now on the UNITE web site on the same page as the industrial and equality conferences.

There's been some confusion about who can attend these meetings, but the following clarification has been sent to Regional Secretaries:

The short answer is that any member of the union in the particular area has the right to attend.

The last Rules Conference adopted an Executive Council statement on Rule Six, which read in part:  "…membership of Area Activist Committees should not be restricted in the way prescribed by Rule Six and should be open to all activists, including those who cannot be workplace representatives because of their circumstances."  Clearly, if that is the case regarding the AACs to be elected at the forthcoming meetings, it would also have to be the case at the meetings themselves.  Given that the term "activist" has no rulebook definition at all, this must mean any member in practice.

However, it should be noted that AACs are divided into constituencies, and only those members attending from a particular constituency should be allowed to vote for the AAC seats from that constituency.  In particular, retired members and community members attending should only vote for the two seats allocated to each of those groups of members on each AAC, in the event that the number of nominations requires an election.

It remains the case that any member delegated to attend the Regional Committee from any AAC must be a workplace representative in the terms of Rule Six.

In terms of notification, branches should be advised as to the arrangements for each Area Activists meeting, and told to notify their members.

Sunday 5 August 2012

Atos - hounding disabled people and giving low pay

Since the "healthcare" branch of IT Services company Atos got involved in assessing benefits for disabled people, it has had nothing but bad publicity, with disabled people protesting about being denied benefits for being "fit to work" despite serious disability and illnes, even conditions that proved terminal shortly after the assessment.

Atos management had the "inspired" idea of sponsoring the paralympics, making life very difficult for satirists who cannot keep ahead of the absurdity of real life. Atos have made the paralympics a target for disability right campaigners such as Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) who plan a "a week of Paralympic fun and games against Atos".

Just to ensure brand destruction, Atos management have also offered staff a below inflation pay offer and refused to commit to the Living Wage, leading to a 76% vote for strike action amongst staff who are PCS members in both Atos Healthcare and Atos IT Services.

Solidarity to everyone protesting against Atos management over the next few weeks!

Thursday 2 August 2012

IT & Comms Regional Industrial Sector Conferences 2012

I'll add details to this page as I find them out:

  1. East Midlands: 2pm, Monday 10th September, The Spot Conference Centre
  2. Ireland: Northern Ireland: 10:30am, Monday 24th September, UNITE Belfast office.  Republic of Ireland: 2pm, Saturday 15th September, UNITE Dublin office.
  3. London & Eastern: 10:30am, Saturday 29th September, UNITE Woodberry office
  4. North West: 10am, Friday 14th September, UNITE, Merchants Quay, Salford Quays, Salford, M50 3SG
  5. North East, Yorkshire & Humberside: 10:30am, Tuesday 11th September, York Railway Institute
  6. Scotland: 2-5pm, Wednesday 26th September, John Smith House
  7. South East: 11am, Thursday 27th September, Hilton Hotel, Cobham
  8. South West: 2pm, Tuesday 28th August, The Barn, Hankridge Way, Taunton, TA1 2LR
  9. Wales: 11am, Wednesday 5th September, UNITE Cardiff office.  Note: this is a combined meeting with the "Electronic Engineering and Electronics", "Energy" and "Servicing and General Industries" sectors.
  10. West Midlands: 1:30pm, Tuesday 25th 25 September, Broad Street Committee Room 1
The official page, which lists them by region rather than sector, is here - please check for updates.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

UNITE's Regional Conferences - make them a priority

Over the next few weeks, UNITE activists should receive invitations to Regional Industrial Sector Conferences, Regional Equality Conferences and Area Activist Meetings - all to take place during September.  I've previously posted the timetable and more explanation of the meetings.

UNITE has created a web page which is gradually being populated with details of the various conferences including dates, times and venues.

The union's records of who is a rep or branch officer are far from 100% accurate, so I would urge all activists to contact your UNITE Regional Office as soon as possible to check that your activist positions are correctly recorded on the membership system, along with any equalities category you belong to.

Unfortunately the official invitation letter that will go out is a bit heavy on jargon and doesn't really explain why a busy activist in a workplace ought to prioritise getting along to the conferences.  Many of the structures don't work as well as they should at the moment because participation is patchy.  Below is my attempt at an explanation in relation to the regional industrial sector conferences.  Very similar arguments and arrangements apply to the Equality Conferences and Area Meetings.

Regional Industrial Sector Conferences - why bother?

UNITE is a very diverse union, organising everyone from vicars to bar-workers.  This is a real strength in terms of the reach of UNITE’s campaigning, but could mean the priorities of members in particular industries don’t get the focus they deserve.  To avoid this problem, UNITE organises in industrial “sectors” such as “IT & Communications”.  The sectors are listed here.

Everyone knows that managers and HR people from different employers get together to exchange information and ideas, and many of them move from employer to employer during their careers.  Everyone knows that what one employer in the sector does today, others will try tomorrow.  To avoid always being one step behind the employers, UNITE reps in the sector need to get together too.  To face up to the range and scale of issues facing members in the current economic climate we can’t afford to be isolated, ill-informed or disorganised.

UNITE’s sector structures allow us to meet, to exchange news and views, to learn from each other,  and to plan campaigns.  They receive reports from the wider union so we can understand how to access resources and support.  They are a crucial part of UNITE’s democratic structures so we can decide what UNITE does in our sector and influence what UNITE does more generally.  This can make a real practical difference at workplace level, for example in shaping the campaigns we run and the training and organising support available.  Taking part in UNITE’s democratic structures is also important to ensure the people who represent your members are accountable.

To work well, the sector needs participation from as wide a range of employers and workplaces as possible.  This will benefit you, your members, and your counterparts from other workplaces.

The union will pay travel and subsistence expenses in line with the normal policy.

Many reps have difficulty securing release from their employer to attend union meetings.  If you have any difficulty securing release you should contact your Unite Regional Officer.  Because of the importance the union attaches to sector meetings there is a real commitment to helping reps resolve any release issues they may experience.

Regional Industrial Sector Conferences only take place every three years.  However, the conferences will elect a Regional Industrial Sector Committee (RISC) which meets four times a year and which in turn elects delegates to various other parts of the union structure.  In order for the sector to function well it is vital that we elect RISCs that represent as broad a spread of employers and workplaces as possible, so that it can act as an effective forum for the exchange of news, views and experiences and be genuinely representative of the members in the sector.  Please consider standing for election to your RISC.

Details of the nomination process for the RISC should be circulated with the official invitation to the conference.  If you’re willing to take part in the RISC please make sure you send in your nomination – even if you are unable to attend on the date of the conference.  You can also submit a motion relating to the industrial business of the sector to the conference - this has to be submitted in advance.

HP workers terminate European Works Council agreement over dodgy job cuts

The failure of HP to consult properly over the latest wave of job cuts has prompted employee reps on HP's European Works Council (EWC) to vote to sue HP, terminate the works council agreement and negotiate a new one under more recent legislation.

The move is reminiscent of the decision in 2009 by reps on Fujitsu's UK Consultative Forum (UKCF) to terminate the UKCF agreement after lack of consultation over jobs, pay and pensions.  This paved the way for the replacement, Fujitsu Voice, whose Charter has far more legal weight.

UNITE's Tony Burke has posted more details of the situation at HP on his own blog.

21 days till the money runs out

UNITE's new film about pay day lenders and promoting the 20th October demo.