Two of Somerset’s campaigners for good services for people with learning disabilities won UNISON Get Active awards.
Paul Kitto is UNISON LD convenor and works for Dimensions, the company the Learning Disability Service was outsourced to. He has led the Care not Cost campaign against cuts to services in the county.
Paul won the “Eric Roberts rep of the year” award
His work building an army of UNISON reps resulted in staff rejecting proposals to cut pay and conditions in a 99% “no” vote. They forced Dimensions to back down in the face of staff and customer unhappiness.
Changes proposed by the new management threatened the quality of care for disabled people. Paul and other LD stewards organised events from lobbying council meetings, to a bake-off for the whole LD Service community.
Ewa Marcinkowska, another LD Service member of staff, was presented with the UNISON Get Active awards for Equality.
Ewa’s work in the LD Service has focused on promoting fairness and equal rights for staff, particularly for those like herself who speak English as a second language.
She is currently campaigning to make sure the Learning Disability Service recognises the value of all staff no matter their cultural background, nationality, ethnicity, gender or anything else.
Ewa is Branch Equality officer and works on reaching out to people from the EU and other countries. This has become a pressing issue for EU citizens working in public services following the Brexit vote.
Ewa supported stewards in the branch representing members facing inequality and discrimination and has been tirelessly working on success of LD campaign.
Paul and Ewa received their UNISON Get Active awards at the annual event in Taunton on Friday 26 January 2018.
“With outsourcing of public services becoming common practise, our Learning Disability Services group have had the organisation, enthusiasm and passion to step up. Every one of them is an advocate for our most vulnerable.
“We are fighting to ensure quality services. We will never accept that people should take this cost cutting lying down. That’s why we’re out talking to our elected representatives getting the people’s voice heard.
“I applaud everyone of our LD campaigners among the staff, customers and supporters. With support from UNISON we have shown what working together can achieve and never forgetting that when we stand together we have a voice.”
“It is heart warming to be recognised for the work we have done individually and collectively. This award is as much for me as for all dedicated Learning Disabilities stewards, EU network activists.
We’re all UNISON members who are standing together for fairness and equality in hundreds of ways. I’m so proud working alongside with them all to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
“Equality and Diversity is trade union priority. Staff must be treated with respect and protected from discrimination. Active unions reps make sure workplace policies promote diversity and equality.
” ‘We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.’ “