Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Disabled Members belonging to Scotland’s largest public service union, UNISON, are starting a campaign to get their MSPs to support a private members Bill that wants to extend free bus travel to people on the lower rate of Disability Living Allowance, as well as allowing community transport to accept free bus passes.
The Regulation of Bus Services (Scotland) Bill is being put forward by Charlie Gordon MSP and will also allow local councils to step in and put local franchise for services out to tender.
John Nisbet (Chair of UNISONScotland’s Disabled Members’ Group) said “Extending the access of Scotland’s public transport to a wider group of disabled people is very important in the fight to ensure they get equal access to services. This bill would not only directly benefit those on disability living allowance, but regulation could ensure improvements in accessibility. For example it has already been drawn to UNISON’s attention that many buses have no access for visually impaired people with guide dogs.”
To go forward, the bill needs the support of 18 MSPs from two of the major parties at Holyrood. UNISON is putting links on their website http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/betterbuses/index.html, encouraging members to sign a petition in support of the bill- www.scottishlabour.org.uk/bus, and to send letters to their own MSPs urging them to back the bill http://www.writetothem.com.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
As the private sector, and right wing politicians continue to demand more competition in the delivery of public services, one consumer of postal delivery services - a service that has been exposed to competition - has found that 'choice' has meant an extra cost of nearly £11 per parcel this Christmas.
Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser, said "In fact as the allegedly empowered consumer, neither I nor anyone else, has any 'choice' in this service at all, as the sender decides who to use - but the extra cost, hassle and time are all placed on us. This is why UNISON is running our 'Public Works' campaign to defend and advance public services and those who deliver them."
This is an actual history of a consumer of mail delivery services.
At Christmas time, like many consumers, Dave Watson receives a number of small parcels. Goods ordered for himself and others, presents received etc. Dave works during the day and no one is at home to receive deliveries that don't fit through the post box. So he has to collect them.
Before competition the Royal Mail delivered all these items. If needed, Dave would visit his local sorting office to pick up undelivered packages. Since competition, this Christmas he has had to make 3 trips to his local sorting office PLUS 3 trips to one parcel company, 2 further trips to another parcel company and one to a third.
All of these sorting offices are further from his house than the local Royal Mail sorting office which is a 2.4 mile round trip and takes 18 minutes. Company 'A' is 6.3 miles from Dave's house and back, and takes 38 minutes. Company 'B' is 22 miles return and takes 63 minutes, and Company 'C' needs an 8.4 mile trip and takes 47 minutes. So if you work out the extra cost in time and fuel*, the additional cost of 'competition' in delivery services to this consumer was £65.51 or a staggering £10.92p per parcel. Not forgetting the 0.02 tons of extra carbon emissions!
Neither does this extra cost include any extra costs added into Postage and Packaging charges levied by private delivery firms.
Dave said "This shows how efficient and cost-effective public services are NOT delivered by spurious notions of choice, but by comprehensive and locally delivered, publicly-run services. Royal Mail has had its critics recently, but these inefficient and costly private alternatives should warn us of the dangers of further privatisation."
Note for editors:
*The sum below sets out the additional costs in terms of cash, time and environmental impact.
Company 'A' - 6.3miles x 3 = 18.9 38mins x 3 = 1hr 48mins
Company 'B' - 22miles x 2 = 44 63mins x 2 = 2hr 06mins
Company 'C' - 8.4miles x 1 = 8.4 47mins x 1 = 47mins 71.3 miles 4hr 47 mins
Less cost of collection from Royal Mail - 2.4miles x 6 = 14.4miles 18mins x 6 = 1hr 48mins
Total extra 56.9miles 2hr 59mins Car cost: 56.9 miles at 40p mile (HM Revenue & Customs rate) = £22.76.
Time cost: 3hrs @ £14.25 (avge workers wage) = £42.75.
(This travel in this car also cost an extra 0.02 tons of carbon emissions).
Friday, December 18, 2009
UNISON, the UK's largest public sector union, is today (Friday 18th) appealing to the public to behave themselves after their office parties. The Friday before Christmas, the annual office party day, is dubbed "black" Friday by paramedics and ambulance workers, because they face an increase in drink-fuelled violence.
On this day, the number of 999 calls goes up along with violence, threats and abuse. This year, with heavy snow forecast, the day will be even more difficult for those emergency workers. The union wants people to enjoy their office parties, but says they should leave paramedics and ambulance crew to get on with their jobs in peace.
Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said: "The Friday before Christmas is the day that paramedics dread. It is shameful that ambulance crews, who are out 24/7 with the sole aim of saving lives and caring for the sick and injured, become the target of violence, intimidation and abuse. This year, with heavy snow forecast, the day will be even more difficult for those emergency workers.
"I am appealing to the public today and every day to leave ambulance workers to get on with their jobs in peace. If not, the next time you dial 999, our life saving paramedic maybe out of action."
In Scotland the operation of the Emergency Workers Act has given some support to hard-pressed ambulance crews - but David Forbes - UNISONScotland's Regional Organiser for the Ambulance Service says some people still need to change their attitude.
"Ambulance staff know that Scotland values them and the service they provide, but there are still a small minority who when they have too much to drink, seem to want to abuse and attack us, or think that ambulances are some kind of taxi service. All these people achieve is to damage the service for everyone else."
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
UNISON has reacted angrily to the possibility of a future cap on public sector pay and pensions, floated in Chancellor Alistair Darling's pre-budget report. He said "I can announce that, for the two years from 2011, we will seek to ensure that all public sector pay settlements be capped at 1 per cent."
Dave Prentis, UNISON's General Secretary said:
"I am not going to sign up to this. I know how our members feel - they feel angry and betrayed. It is just not on to make nurses, social workers, dinner ladies, cleaners and hospital porters pay the price for the folly of the bankers.
"The people who earn most should pay the most. Instead we have the disgraceful spectacle of rich bankers threatening to leave the country if they don't get their massive bonuses. Where is their loyalty? In tough times the rich should show leadership, not run off to the nearest tax haven."
In Scotland, both public service pay and pensions are devolved and any similar aspirations will need to be decided by the Scottish Government.
Glyn Hawker, Scottish Organiser for Bargaining and Equality said
"We will be pressing the Scottish Government not to adopt similar measures. It is their responsibility and they must take a responsible decision that benefits the economy and public services here.
"For every £1 a public sector work earns they spend 70p in their local community. Any squeeze on their pay will put a stranglehold on local businesses and services, cutting off much needed income.
UNISON has welcomed the proposals to impose a one-off levy on large bonuses in the banking sector and the introduction of measures to tackle tax avoidance and evasion. The potential increase in Scottish public finances as a result of the Barnett formula received a cautious welcome.
"We don't know yet where the Treasury - announced additional moneys will be spent, but it is important that public services in Scotland and those who deliver them are fully funded to drive us out of recession, and continue to deliver quality services."
The union also reacted strongly against Tory suggestions of even more damaging cuts in public services.
Dave Prentis said
"We know that if our public services are cut just when our communities need them most, the manufacturing industry will also go into crisis. Manufacturing is dependent on public procurement to keep going. Attacking public service jobs and pay is misguided. It will make the recession worse. It will undo all the work that has been done towards giving our communities world-class services."
For further information please contact:
Glyn Hawker, Scottish Organiser 07876 441 237(m)
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser 07958 122 409(m)
Chris Bartter, Communications Officer 07715 583 729(m)
Saturday, December 5, 2009
The people of Scotland sent a strong message to world leaders today (Saturday 5 December) ahead of vital climate change talks in Copenhagen next week.
The Wave, a family-friendly march through the streets of Glasgow, demonstrated the concern felt by ordinary people that world leaders meeting in Copenhagen for the forthcoming UN summit should share Scotland’s ambition on climate change, that the poorest must be protected and that nations must act fair and fast to address the problem.
Those who marched from Bellahouston Park to Kelvingrove Park enjoyed a range of entertainment from speeches and live music to events specially laid on for the many children present.
The Wave was organised by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS), which represents over 60 organisations and 2 million people across Scotland - including Oxfam, Christian Aid, SCIAF and WWF - the largest civil society coalition since Make Poverty History in 2005. There were simultaneous Waves in Belfast, Dublin, London, Paris, Brussels and Berlin.
Mike Robinson, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said:
“I am delighted so many people braved the December weather to take a stand against climate change. Scotland has the strongest climate legislation in the world and the turn out today shows why – people care. Leaders meeting in Copenhagen over the next two weeks should be in no doubt, the eyes of the world are on them and we must see the western world in particular, setting the scale and immediacy of targets we know we need to prevent runaway climate change.”
Selina Shelley, an Oxfam Global Campaigner from Bangladesh, who spoke
at The Wave march, said:
“In my home country of Bangladesh, people are struggling every day to cope with
the impacts of climate change. Floods, natural disasters and severe weather events
are robbing families of their children and taking homes, jobs, food and water.
“World leaders meeting in Copenhagen next week must strike a fair and binding deal
to cut emissions and prevent people living in countries like Bangladesh suffering
further from climate change.”
Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, said:
"RSPB believes that birds and wildlife are already showing visible signs of how our climate is changing around us. Like the canary in the coal mine, they are alerting us to the dangers ahead. These signs of rapid environmental change are already upon us, with, for example, our sea-bird cliffs along North Sea coasts in summer a pale shadow of their former glories, as birds like puffins and kittiwakes struggle to find the food they need.
"The politicians in Copenhagen must show courage and come up with a binding agreement to cut our emissions and reliance on carbon fuels. Our best hope for averting dangerous climate change is by acting now."
Notes to Editors
 Key demands of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland
Share Scotland’s ambition - Earlier this year, the Scottish Parliament passed the most progressive climate change legislation in the world. This Act sets vital international precedents and is an example that other wealthy nations must follow. SCCS wants to see the UK government ensure that developed nations commit to at least the same ambition as Scotland.
Protect the poorest - SCCS calls on the UK and other wealthy governments to provide their fair share of the resources needed, on top of existing aid commitments, to help people in poor countries adapt to climate change. This means ensuring that the EU commits to delivering at least $150 billion new and additional public financing from 2012 which is vital if developing nations are to be protected from the devastating impacts of climate change caused by others.
Act fair and fast - SCCS calls on the UK Government to push urgently for a fair global deal in Copenhagen, which limits global warming to under 2 degrees C. The UK must commit to reducing its carbon emissions by at least 42% by 2020 through domestic action, and call on other rich countries to do the same.
 At the UN Copenhagen Climate Change Summit Dec 7-18, world leaders will agree a new international climate deal that will come into force when the first phase of the Kyoto treaty expires in 2012. http://en.cop15.dk/
 Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS), which represents over 60 organisations and 2 million people across Scotland http://www.stopclimatechaos.org/scotland
For more information on The Wave www.the-wave.org.uk/scotland
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Date: 02 December 2009
On Thursday 3rd December 2009, Partick Thistle will host a Show Racism the Red Card stadium event. The event, which will be held at Firhill Stadium will involve young people from 6 local primary schools and UNISON - the sponsors of the new Partick Thistle / Show Racism the Red Card squad poster which will be launched on the day.
Now an annual event in the calendars of Partick Thistle and Show Racism the Red Card, the aim is to provide anti-racist education in an enjoyable and focussed environment.
The young people attending the event will have the opportunity to explore issues around racism through watching a Show Racism The Red Card film and joining a Q&A panel session with Show Racism the Red Card's Education Worker Atta Yaqub and the club's Assistant Manager Gerry Britton, alongside players David Rowson and Ian Maxwell.
Gerry Britton, a long-time supporter of the campaign said, "Partick Thistle are once again delighted to welcome Show Racism the Red Card to Firhill Stadium for their latest workshops with local schoolchildren. The work done by SRTRC is vital if future generations are to be educated on the evils that racism can cause in our society. The new squad poster is a welcome addition to our resources."
Partick Thistle's first team squad will also be in attendance to meet the young people and provide the opportunity to get autographs, as well as win prizes for their input in the discussion session.
Steven Gilliland, Active Schools Coordinator said "This event is a great opportunity for the children and young people involved! It is another opportunity to encourage them to get their 60 minutes of physical activity each day whilst learning more about challenging racism. It is also great that it's at the home of the local football club, Partick Thistle."
Billy Singh, Campaign Manager with Show Racism the Red Card, said "Club events are an excellent way for our campaign to promote the message of anti-racism to young people. They have seen the players at matches, on TV and in the newspapers, and if the message is coming from the footballers, then they stand up and take notice that racism is totally unacceptable in our Scottish society. It also shows the strong links between Show Racism the Red Card and its supporters Partick Thistle and UNISON. Our education team, across the UK, deliver workshops in schools, and this part of their remit is crucial in getting our message out there".
Shireen Bonner, (Black Members Officer UNISON's NHS Glasgow Clyde & CVS Branch) "We are proud to be here today on behalf of UNISON supporting 'Show Racism the Red Card'. It is another great day for the campaign and for Scottish football. We are proud today to say we won't put up with racism - NOT IN OUR NAME AND NOT IN OUR GAME."
Cathy Miller (Branch Secretary of UNISON's NHS Glasgow Clyde & CVS Branch) said "UNISON has always been opposed to racism and discrimination. We have been in the forefront of campaigns against those who perpetrate racism and will continue to actively support Show Racism the Red Card."
-- ENDS --
Note to editors:
1. Thursday 03 December 2009. 12:00pm - 2:45pm
2. Event takes place at the Jackie Husband Stand, Firhill Stadium
3. UNISON NHS Glasgow, Clyde and CVS Branch are sponsoring the 2009/10 Partick Thistle FC / Show Racism The Red Card squad poster 4. Further information on Show Racism The Red Card: www.theredcardscotland.org
Stay in touch with UNISON Scotland's latest news releases on our website http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/news/index.html and frequent updates on our blog http://unison-scotland.blogspot.com/
Weds 2 December 2009
UNISON Scottish Water Branch today launches its new website. The Branch represents 1200 staff in Scotland's public water authority - Scottish Water.
The new website will keep members up to date with the latest news on Branch and UNISON Scotland matters.
On this site Scottish Water members can also:
· find out where to get help and advice
· contact the Branch
· find out about UNISON membership
· catch up with Branch information such as health & safety and education courses
· connect to other useful websites
· there's even a page for retired members
UNISON Scottish Water Branch members are encouraged to add the new website to their favourites and check it regularly for updates.
UNISON Scottish Water Branch looks after the interests of operatives and office staff in water and wastewater treatment, water and sewerage networks, laboratories, call centres, design and construction of capital works - i.e. all categories of employee in all the functions of the authority, with members in offices and depots throughout Scotland.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Climate change is a health and safety issue for the planet – trade unions call for strong Copenhagen deal
Scottish trade unions warned today (Tue 24 Nov) that climate change is an urgent health and safety issue for the planet and its people, and called on world leaders to reach a strong deal in Copenhagen.
The are also urging their members to support The Wave, Scotland’s largest ever climate change demonstration, in Glasgow on Saturday 5 December.
Scottish Trade Union Congress General Secretary Grahame Smith said that it is vital that the UN talks in Copenhagen in December (7th-18th) secure an ambitious, just and legally binding deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
He joined UNISON’s Scottish Secretary Matt Smith and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) Chair Mike Robinson in leading a Mexican Wave the UNISON staff conference, to support The Wave event.
The family friendly ‘Wave’ demonstration is organised by SCCS, the largest civil society coalition since Make Poverty History in 2005. Similar events are being run in London and around the world to show the strength of public support for a strong UN climate deal.
Grahame Smith said:
"Climate change is a trade union issue – an urgent health and safety issue for the planet and its people.
"Trade unionists internationally want world leaders to agree a deal that is fair to developing countries, whose people are already being hit the hardest, and fair to working people by ensuring a just transition to a low carbon future. That is why our members will be supporting The Wave."
Matt Smith said:
"UNISON Scotland worked hard with other members of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland to lobby for the world leading Scottish Climate Change Act that we hope will be an example to other countries at these crucial talks.
"Trade unions also want to see action on climate change in every workplace across Scotland."
Mike Robinson said:
"The Wave on Dec 5th promises to be a great demonstration of support for a strong climate deal in Copenhagen and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland welcomes trade union support.
"We want to encourage thousands of people across Scotland to join us and send a clear message to world leaders at these crucial talks.
"We need a safe planet for people to live on. It is vital that other industrialised nations share Scotland’s ambition by making substantial cuts to their greenhouse gas emissions. We have a responsibility to protect the poorest and those most affected and that means committing to fair and fast action to prevent dangerous climate change."
Notes to Editors:
The Wave will start at 11am in Bellahouston Park on 5 December, with a march to Kelvingrove Park where there will be a rally with live music, speakers, face-painting, kite-making and stalls. Full details on The Wave are at: www.the-wave.org.uk/scotland ‘Mexican Wave’ videos showing supporters of The Wave are at: http://the-wave.org.uk/
Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) is a diverse and growing alliance with over 60 Scottish members representing more than two million supporters, ranging from environment and international development groups (SCIAF, Oxfam, WWF, etc) to faith organisations, trade unions, student societies, care providers and many more (see www.stopclimatechaos.org/scotland).
UN Copenhagen Climate Change Summit: world leaders will agree a new international climate deal that will come into force when the first phase of the Kyoto treaty expires in 2012.
The STUC/Scottish Government 2009 communiqué on climate change is at: www.stuc.org.uk/news/643/stuc-and-scottish-government-issue-joint-communique-on-climate-change
Monday, November 23, 2009
UNISON, Scotland's largest public service union UNISON today warned that shared services will not necessarily save local councils money, and indeed could cost extra money in the short term.
The union was commenting on the publication of the report by Sir John Arbuthnott that recommends Clyde Valley councils work more closely together and share services to respond to likely cuts in funding.
Mike Kirby - UNISON's Scottish Convenor, said "While UNISON has always been in favour of delivering our public services efficiently, all the evidence is that shared services don't deliver savings in the short term if at all. Indeed they mean increased expense initially as new processes and systems, accommodation and IT have to be bought. The National Audit office suggests it takes on average five years before any savings are seen. We will be looking at this report carefully and in particular we want to ensure that the engagement with the trade unions that Sir John has started, continues as individual councils look at the implications. Upwards of 76,000 jobs are involved in the affected councils."
UNISON also points out that sharing services can also mean centralising services, and that this can remove jobs and accountability from local people.
Mike Kirby said "We need to ensure that increased efficiency doesn't come at the cost of cuts in accountability and damage to local economies. If roads need to be repaired in West Dunbartonshire, would this be better decided locally or in some corporate HQ elsewhere in the central belt?"
"Often jobs created by public services are very important for a local economy - particularly in rural areas. There have been examples abroad where centralisation of services has damaged that. Already in the areas being discussed the percentage of people claiming working-age based benefits is almost 22%, it is important that we don't increase the damage that recession has already brought to ordinary people, or add to the number of people having to claim benefits."
Notes for editors: UNISON is running a campaign called 'Public Works' in Scotland, stressing the importance of public services to the delivery of services, and to boosting the economy when coming out of a recession. It is part of the union's UK 'Million Voices for Change' campaign.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
UNISON, the union representing police support workers, today condemned threatened cuts in Strathclyde Police staff jobs and redundancies as inefficient and discriminatory.
Today's statement to staff by Stephen House, Strathclyde's Chief Constable, says that savings needed to meet shortfalls in the force budget of £16m pounds next year, will be borne primarily by police support staff rather than by police officers. UNISON says that this would be inefficient and discriminatory.
Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Policy said: "This is a return to 1970's policing, most forward looking forces are looking to expand the role of support staff to release police officers to tackle crime. The Scottish public want police officers out on the streets not stuck behind a desk doing support work. If Mr House is looking for efficiencies, then he needs to use more police staff to do the important support work - not make them redundant."
UNISON also suggests that this move is potentially discriminatory. Dave Watson said "The bulk of police staff are women, whereas the bulk of officers are men. We are anxious to see the Equality Impact Assessment that the force has to produce for any major organisational change."
The union - who represent 1500 staff working for Strathclyde Police - has made it clear that they will fight any attempt to make staff compulsorily redundant.
Dave Watson said " UNISON recognises the difficult position that the force is in, but to ask for staff co-operation in delivering efficiencies at the same time as threatening them with losing their job, is not something we can accept."
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
UNISON, the union representing housing workers, today welcomed the clear rejection of housing stock transfer delivered by Renfrewshire's council tenants in the Ferguslie Park area of Paisley.
The Ferguslie Park tenants voted by 53% to 46% against proposals to transfer the council housing stock to a housing association.
Mark Ferguson, UNISON Renfrewshire Branch Secretary said:"We are pleased that tenants have delivered this vote in favour of retaining democratic control over their houses. They have refused to be coerced by the threats to future investments. Now they deserve serious investments in stock improvements by the council."
UNISON has fought against council house transfers for some time alongside tenants, other trade unions and housing campaigners. The union has called for a 'fourth option' to ensure that investment is available for council housing in a similar way to the investment thrown at stock transfer, PFI or so-called 'arms-length management companies.'
Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Policy said:"This result confirms previous ballot results across Scotland, and shows that there is a pressing need for the Government to allow democratically accountable councils to have the same ability to invest in housing as that granted to other stock owners. Direct investment would be cheaper and deliver faster improvements, yet governments persist in favouring stock transfer as a precursor to much-needed investment."
Thursday, November 12, 2009
UNISON, the UK's largest public sector union, has today (12 November) accused councils of fuelling suspicion and undermining public confidence in social workers, by barring them from speaking out in the media.
On the anniversary of the verdict of those involved in the tragic death of Baby Peter, the union is calling on councils to get the public to back social workers, by shining a light on their day-to-day work.
To restore confidence in social workers, the public needs to be given the facts.
Social workers deal with around 568,000 child referrals in the UK every year. Setting up a child protection plan requires intensive investigation and work with the child, the family and other agencies, including police and the health service. Since the Baby Peter case, UNISON branches report a 25% to 50% increase in the number of calls from the public and agencies, reporting suspicions about child abuse or neglect. This creates severe pressures on understaffed departments.
Helga Pile, UNISON National Officer for Social Workers, said: "Social workers have nothing to hide. Of course they observe client confidentiality, but they should be allowed to play their part in helping the public understand wheat they do and the pressures they work under. But they are gagged from doing so by many councils. That drives a wedge of suspicion between them and the public. They work with some of the most vulnerable and troubled people in our society - people who don't have a voice, and it's sad that the professionals who work with them are prevented from having one too.
"Councils could make a real difference by letting the public see what front-line social workers achieve every day. "
Commenting on the impact of the Baby P case, Social worker A - a UNISON steward and children's social worker, said: "Despite the difficulties the profession faces I continue to call myself a social worker with great pride. Why? - because I can see the positive impact of my work on the lives of the people I work with, many of whom are some of the most vulnerable members of society. I also witness the commitment and skilfulness of my colleagues as they go about their work implementing interventions that change people's lives for the better.
"For me the biggest impact of the baby P case was the very public devaluing of social work generally as a profession. This left many social workers, including myself, feeling dispirited, vulnerable and annoyed at the way the work of so many dedicated and skilled practitioners was rendered invisible. This has created a less than positive atmosphere to work in and has led to more children being taken into care."
Social worker B, UNISON social work convenor in a county council and a social worker said:
"Child protection and family support social workers were condemned nationally at the time, but had no direct way to respond other than to remain committed and dedicated to their jobs. There has been a significant increase in referrals, the general public are more aware of their responsibilities and partner agencies are sharing information at an earlier stage. This in turn has an impact on caseloads, personal stress and professional anxiety.
"As a workforce, social workers cannot publicise their successes but as a profession they have remained dedicated and committed in the face of the rising tide of referrals of an increasingly serious and complex nature. As a workforce we need to be proud of what we do achieve, recognise how much good work we are doing and how important it is to work with other agencies to support and protect vulnerable children."
Monday, November 9, 2009
UNISON, the education union, today announced that its members would lobby the graduation ceremony of Glasgow College of Nautical Studies tonight (Mon 9 November 2009) in its continuing campaign to reverse the college plans to close its Thistle Street nursery.
The lobby will take place at Glasgow Concert Hall, tonight (9 November) at 6.30 pm. It is not planned to interfere with the functioning of the ceremony.
Scott Donohoe, Assistant Secretary for UNISON's Glasgow city branch said "We are using this public event to draw attention to the appalling decision by the college to close its nursery and withdraw a childcare service from students and staff.
"The college has always intended to close the nursery despite the constructive views & input of UNISON, the staff, MSP's, parents etc. It is clear that this service cut has been driven by the prospective merger of city colleges, and it shows that this merger does not have any affordable childcare arrangements for staff and students. A major reduction in standards in the current economic climate. In the 21st century, parents with children should have a right to support to help them continue with their studies."
UNISON has called for an Equality Impact Assessment, required under Gender Equality legislation, and which has not been carried out the union says. They have also demanded other information on the decision making process of the college and the other merger partners through a Freedom of Information request.
Scott Donohoe also points out that the union has not ruled out further industrial action.
"Members have already demonstrated their commitment to action in defending this service," he said, "and we give notice that UNISON will resist compulsory redundancies with all means at our disposal."
The union called off industrial action on 20 August this year in return for a commitment to a joint review of nursery provision by both the college and UNISON.
The union is also writing to the Secretary of State for Education and Lifelong learning to raise the issue.
Note for editors: Thistle Street nursery, run by Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, is set to close in July, 2010, with the loss of 54 places for children, and 19 jobs. Nine places from the nursery have already been lost with the closure of the baby room in September this year.
Stay in touch with UNISON Scotland's latest news releases on our website http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/news/index.html and frequent updates on our blog http://unison-scotland.blogspot.com/
Friday, October 30, 2009
The leader of UNISON, Scotland’s public service union today said that education support staff were crucial in the drive to bring the country out of recession.
He criticised business leaders, right wing politicians and media commentators who have called for finance cuts in education, as ‘risking a further recession’.
Addressing a conference in Edinburgh today (30 Oct), Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary of UNISON, said “Education is one of the key supports for economic infrastructure. When big business accuses public service of being a drain on the economy, they conveniently forget the role of public education in providing them with an educated workforce. This is just one of the reasons why public service investment must be kept high. To cut spending on education and other public services at this crucial time could condemn the Scottish economy to further recession.”
Matt also stressed the key role of education support staff in delivering Scottish education. “Too often, politicians and the media focus on teachers and lecturers, and ignore the rest of the education team.”
He said, “From classroom assistants to school meals staff, and from early years workers to librarians, they ensure our kids get a high standard of education. However, as in other parts of the public sector, support staff in education tend to be the lowest paid and least valued, and it is no coincidence that many of them are women.
“Politicians must become aware that support staff are no longer prepared to play a secondary role. They need to be valued and consulted in the development of Scotland’s education.”
The conference for Education Support Staff is also being addressed by the Minister for Schools and Skills, Keith Brown MSP, and representatives from CoSLA and the SQA. It is taking place in the Barcelo Carlton Hotel, North Bridge, Edinburgh).
Monday, October 19, 2009
UNISON, Scotland’s education union, today called on the court of Stirling University to restore staffing levels at the university to avoid cuts in numbers that will dramatically reduce standards of cleanliness and hygiene. At a lobby of the court meeting in the university today, the union also outlined concerns for the training of future nurses.
The lobby was organised by the joint unions to protest about the loss of 174 jobs at the university.
Marion Adamson, Regional Organiser for UNISON said:
“We are very concerned that the massive cuts in important areas will mean a drop in standards of cleanliness. For example – in student residence kitchens the level of cleaning is being halved because of the numbers cut. This could have a serious impact on student health.
“And we also have a concern for the standards of teaching for student nurses at a time when their numbers should be increased – not reduced. If numbers of teachers leave, then either the numbers of nurses being trained will decline, or a drop in teaching standards may result. This could impact on future care to patients at a time when we need really well trained newcomers as the experienced staff of the post war baby boom are mostly retiring now.”
Note for editors:
The lobby is being organised jointly by the UCU, Unite the union, and UNISON. It is taking place from 1.00pm today on the Cottrell lawn. There is also an online petition to oppose these draconian cuts at www.ucu.org.uk/stirlingcuts
For Further Information Please Contact:
Janette MacConachie (Stirling University UNISON Br Secretary) 01786 449471 (o)
Marion Adamson (Regional Officer) 0131 226 0067(o) 07904 326 812 (m)
Saturday, October 17, 2009
17 Oct 2009
"The Herald’s campaign to highlight the plight of the elderly in Scotland this week has too often exposed a society that appears past caring. Our exclusive reports have revealed that complaints of abuse against the elderly are on the rise and that councils are increasingly being forced to place elderly people on at-risk registers."
Key public figures giving their views on The Herald’s campaign include Stephen Smellie, Chair of UNISON Scotland’s social work issues group.
Stephen Smellie's full statement to The Herald:
“The care of Scotland’s older people is one indicator of how civilized our society is. The problems highlighted by the Herald are an indication that something is significantly wrong with the way that care is delivered.
“Pressures for outsourcing and privatisation all too often mean that services are pushed out to tender and contracts granted – not on the basis of the quality of the service - but purely on its cheapness. This is not the best value for care for our older people but risks the kind of treatment highlighted.
“Even when the service is kept in house, cost pressures often mean cuts in time and resources to visit and look after clients. When services are provided under contract, voluntary providers are often told to provide services on less than the in-house service would receive. When you then factor in the private sector’s need for a profit, the kind of problems that have been highlighted are put into context.
“Now we face even greater pressure, and real fears of cuts in public funding in coming years. This will only lead to the problems becoming worse rather than better. At a time of increasing demand, levels of service should be better resourced – not cut. Properly trained, and resourced staff with the time to deal with our older people in a civilized way – whether employed directly by the authority, or in our voluntary organisations - are the only way to deliver the service they deserve. We owe it to them to deliver no less.”
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Racism Shown the Red Card in Perth and Kinross
Perth & Kinross branch of UNISON has teamed up with St Johnstone FC, the Community Safety Partnership and the Perth and Kinross Council to sponsor St Johnstone squad posters, as part of the “Show Racism the Red Card Fortnight of Action.”
See story on Branch website: www.unisonpk.org.uk/SRTRC09.htm
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Date: Wed 14 Oct 2009
UNISON, the education union, today accused the management of Glasgow College of Nautical Studies of bad faith and breaking promises as it emerged that the college plans to close its Thistle Street nursery in July 2010, with the loss of 54 places and 19 jobs – using compulsory redundancies. A further 9 places have already gone with the closure of the Baby Room on 24 September. The union called off industrial action on 20 August this year in return for a commitment to a joint review of nursery provision by both the college and UNISON.
Scott Donohoe, Assistant Secretary for UNISON’s Glasgow city branch said:
“The promises of management, the commitment to a joint review and the whole consultation process in this exercise has been a complete sham. Members called off planned industrial action in good faith, with a college commitment that UNISON would be involved in a joint review of the nursery provision and the nursery would remain open until July 2010 at least. Despite a number of business plans being forwarded that predicted a balanced budget, this commitment was blatantly abandoned by the college.
"It is now quite clear that the college always intended to close the nursery despite the constructive views & input of UNISON, the staff, MSP’s, parents etc. It is also clear that this service cut has always been driven by the prospective merger of city colleges, and this demonstrates the lack of commitment in these merger plans to the provision of affordable childcare arrangements for staff and students given the current economic climate.
“Members have already demonstrated their commitment to action in defending this service, and we give notice that UNISON will resist compulsory redundancies with all means at our disposal."
The union is also writing to the Secretary of State for Education and Lifelong learning to raise the issue.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Date: Thu 8 Oct 2009
UNISON Scotland today called for decisive action from public sector employers and the Scottish Parliament to reduce violent assaults on members in the course of their work.
A UNISON report on ‘Violent Assaults on Public Service Staff in Scotland’, which will be presented to the union’s annual Health and Safety conference in Stirling tomorrow, has found that more than 25,000 assaults on staff were recorded for the year 2008/09.
The figures were obtained through Freedom of Information requests from employers of UNISON members. Although the total is down on the previous year, UNISON is concerned that the overall number of assaults on staff remains stubbornly high, and completely unacceptable.
In particular, the total for local government has increased, although in health and other sectors, some reductions have been recorded.
Dave Watson, UNISON Scottish Organiser said: “A reduction in the headline figure on violence against staff is welcome – but any act of violence on a member of staff going about their business of providing vital public services is completely unacceptable. To have over 25,000 in a year is shocking. And we are concerned at the continuing increased level of attacks on local government workers.
“It is clear that where rigorous monitoring and active preventative measures are in place, this has resulted in improvements for the health and safety of our members. But some employers are clearly failing to monitor violent assaults effectively, and as a result are failing to do enough to protect their staff.”
The Centre for Healthy Working Lives has established a Task Group to develop best practice guidelines for reporting of assault statistics for local government. The group, including representatives from CoSLA, some individual local authorities, STUC and UNISON Scotland, expects to report soon.
UNISON’s local government branches and safety representatives will then seek negotiations in each authority on how the proposals are to be implemented.
UNISON Scotland is also campaigning for further legislation to protect public service workers from violent assault. Dave Watson said: “We campaigned successfully for extensions to the provisions of the Emergency Workers Act 2006, which resulted in community health and mental health nurses being included. But more needs to be done. We want a broadening of the scope of the law to include other public facing staff, such as social workers, housing staff and traffic wardens.
“UNISON Scotland will be working with Hugh Henry MSP, whose proposed Proposed Workers (Aggravated Offences)(Scotland) Bill was published in June. The Bill aims to build on the Emergency Workers Act but to widen it to more public sector workers and to include private sector workers who provide a service to the public, such as shop workers.”
Notes to editors:
1. The UNISON Scotland report ‘Violent Assaults on Public Service Staff in Scotland’ is based on a Freedom of Information survey of 27 local authorities and 10 health boards in Scotland, and other public sector areas in which UNISON organises, including police, universities and colleges, NDPBs. The total number of assaults recorded over the year was 25,046, a drop of 7,221 over the previous year’s total of 32,267. If the figures for health and local government are taken into account, then assaults have decreased by 2,560 from 26,814 to 23,164 over the year.
The largest single decrease is however, in Strathclyde Police where their numbers of assaults have fallen from 4,547 to 921, the majority of these to police officers. The report will be presented at UNISON Scotland’s annual Health and Safety Conference in Stirling tomorrow, Friday 9 October 2009.
2. Proposed Workers (Aggravated Offences) (Scotland) Bill In June, 2009, Hugh Henry, MSP published a Public Consultation on his proposed Private Members Bill, Workers (Aggravated Offences) (Scotland) Bill http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/bills/MembersBills/documents/20090713 FinalConsultationdocument revised.pdf to which UNISON made a response at the end of September 2009 http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/WorkersAggravatedOffencesScotlandBillOc.pdf
See also UNISONScotand's Violent Assaults on Public Service Staff in Scotland Follow up Survey 2009 (pdf)
You can now follow the Falkirk Council UNISON Branch online.
The branch web site address is:
The branch are now also using Facebook and Twitter:
Date: Thursday 8 October 2009
Staff at a body set up after the Dunblane massacre face the sack as government funding is to be cut to less than half that needed, UNISON said today.
Staff at the Central Registered Body in Scotland (CRBS), set up by the Scottish Government on a recommendation by Lord Cullen's report on the massacre, were told on Monday that they have until Friday (9 October) to opt for voluntary redundancy or face compulsory redundancies.
The body, which is run by Volunteer Development Scotland (VDS) and funded directly by the Scottish Government enables voluntary organisations that work with children to register and get disclosure checks on volunteers and employees, free.
UNISON said that they had been told by the Chief Executive, George Thomson, that government funding had been dramatically cut - leaving the body £115,000 short for 2009/10.
James Douglas, Stirling Branch Secretary of UNISON, who represent the staff at CRBS said:- "This is a disgraceful cut by the Scottish Government, which will hit both dedicated staff and valuable services to our kids. Providing such a vital agency with less than half of their required funding threatens most of the staff with either voluntary or compulsory redundancy. If this happens the work of CRBS will immediately start to pile up, and eventually voluntary organisations - especially small ones - working with children will be unable to get volunteers or staff checked, they won't be able to use them, and in many cases will have to close."
The union is also questioning the management of the crisis by VDS. James Douglas said "To pressure staff to take decisions on their whole future in less than five days, to impose a pay freezes whilst still engaging expensive consultants shows the wrong priorities. Before rushing headlong into compulsory redundancies CRBS and VDS need to point out to government the implications of their cuts, and to talk to staff unions about alternatives."
Note for editors:
The Central Registered Body in Scotland (CRBS), is run by Volunteer Development Scotland, and directly funded by the Scottish Government. It provides a service to voluntary sector bodies by processing free checks on volunteers and employees to Disclosure Scotland, allowing these bodies to avoid expensive charges, maintaining a register of organisations too small to register direct with Disclosure Scotland, and providing advice and assistance. They have 29 staff based in Stirling.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Date: Fri 25 Sept 2009
A Scottish plinther will pay tribute to the public service that helped his dying mother during his hour on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square on Monday (28 September).
Kevin O’Neil, who works as an area organiser for UNISONScotland, will hold up speech bubbles featuring messages from the UK’s largest public sector union’s Million Voices campaign and its Scottish arm – Public Works - as part of Antony Gormley’s One & Other project.
The campaign is close to the 40-year-old’s heart, as the NHS helped his mother when she suffered a brain tumour.
Mr O’Neil, who started off working as a postman, has been working for the union for six years. He has also completed a number of sponsorship activities for various charities, including running and abseiling, to raise in excess of £17,000.
Mr O’Neil, who lives in Inverkeithing, Fife, said:
“I wanted to say something in memory of my mother, who died seven years ago of a brain tumour. The NHS is an amazing institution and gave her endless support. It is a shining example of how vital public services are, especially during a financial crisis, and I cannot praise the dedication of its staff enough and I know my mother felt the same.
“This is exactly the principles espoused by UNISON’s Public Works campaign and I am proud to be able to support this and add to our Million Voices from the plinth.
“I have always admired Anthony Gormley’s work and think it is fantastic that everyone can be involved in creating a piece of art. After watching the launch of One & Other on television I turned round to my wife and told her I needed to apply and I feel lucky to have been chosen.”
Notes for editors:
Kevin O’Neil will be appearing on the Plinth in Trafalgar Square, between 4pm and 5pm, on 28 September. UNISON members have been texting, tweeting and logging on to www.unison.org.uk to add their voice to the campaign and a selection of their messages will be read out by Kevin.
The union, which has more than 1.3 million members, is using the Million Voices campaign and Public Works – its Scottish arm, to call for social justice, good jobs and quality public services. The campaign was launched in the UK at UNISON’s Annual Conference and the Scottish launch was yesterday (Thursday 24). This will be taken to all the party conferences during this autumn – including the SNP conference in Inverness where Scottish Convenor, Mike Kirby will address a fringe meeting run jointly with APSE (the Association of Public Sector Excellence).
Kevin’s oneandother page is at http://www.oneandother.co.uk/participants/Inverkev;
the Public Works site is at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/publicworks/adayinthelife.pdf
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Date: Thurs 24 Sept 2009
UNISON, Scotland’s healthcare union, today welcomed unprecedented support for their campaign on car parking charges, and urged MSPs to back a private member’s bill to ditch them.
The campaign calls on MSP’s to support Paul Martin as he attempts to introduce a bill in the Scottish Parliament which will tackle the charges which still exist in some hospital car parks and require NHS Boards to have managed car parking schemes.
The campaign has already generated over 2,000 emails and 5,000 postcards to MSPs.
UNISON Regional Organiser Matt McLaughlin said:
“UNISON is right behind this bill and so are our members and the general public. It is a scandal that NHS staff are being forced to park in back alleys and side streets putting themselves at risk of criminal harm through fear of incurring a charge for coming to work.”
UNISON emailed 9,000 members asking them to email their MSP and to date 2,000 emails have been generated via the unions web link. However, some MSPs are refusing to back the bill meaning it is at risk of falling.
UNISON is reacting angrily to the response received by some members.
“Not surprisingly Tory MSPs have refused to support NHS workers. But it is also obvious from the responses from SNP MSPs that they are merely toeing a central party line, and refusing to back staff and patients on this issue. This do-nothing approach from the SNP will be a surprise to many people – after all their party was very vocal in the opposition to parking charges when they were in opposition.”
And Matt called on MSPs from other parties to back Paul Martin’s bill:
“With over 5,000 signatures gathered in less than 3 weeks on this issue it is clear that staff and public are not convinced the current measurers are working and think further action is required. UNISON calls on all the major parties not to let them down and to back this bill, ensuring that staff and patients get a fair deal from their NHS.”
Date: Thurs 24 Sept 2009
A headlong rush to cut and privatise public services will lead to delays in coming out of recession, said the public service union UNISON today.
'Public Works', the Scottish arm of the union's 'Million Voices for change' campaign, is launched today with a leaflet demonstrating the importance of public services to everyone's lives and pointing to the huge costs that would fall on people if public services were not available.
Matt Smith - UNISON's Scottish Secretary, said:
"'A day in the life...' follows an average woman through her day and points out our dependence on public services - from water and sewerage, through environmental health and refuse collection, to education and health care, it is not only the disadvantaged who rely on public services, but all of us."
"If these services are cut back or privatised the increased costs of paying for them individually can only increase the cost burden on hard-pressed families. We estimate the average household gets more than £10,000 a year in benefits and public services. Public delivery provides value for money through economies of scale and stopping shareholders taking profits out of the pot. A year's domestic waste collection sourced privately would cost around £2,500, and the average cost of a year's education outside the public sector in Scotland is around £8,200."
UNISON is today (Thursday) briefing activists at meetings in Scotland, and will be campaigning to sign up members and non-members to back Scotland's public services at a time when they are under sustained attack from big business.
UNISON points out that cuts in public sector jobs, pay and pensions will only lead to less money being spent to stimulate the economy, and if public services were cut they would order and contract less with the private sector.
Matt Smith said:
"Far from being the drain on the economy argued by those who created the economic crisis, the public sector contracts for supplies and services from the private sector - especially important when private industry faces reduced order books.
"In addition money spent in the economy by public service staff will not be there if we accept the advice of the right wing think tanks to cut jobs, pay and pensions. Now is the time to build a fairer society based on social justice, good jobs and quality public services."
Notes for editors:
The union's 'Million Voices' campaign was launched in the UK at UNISON's Annual Conference and will be taken to all the party conferences during this autumn - including the SNP conference in Inverness where Scottish Convenor, Mike Kirby will address a fringe meeting run jointly with APSE (the Association of Public Sector Excellence).
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Attn: Newsdesks, political & environment correspondents
Tuesday 22 September 2009
Climate change campaigners today urged Scotland’s water industry regulator to ensure that it and Scottish Water prioritise complying with new climate change legislation.
The call is a response to the Water Industry Commission for Scotland’s consultation on its draft determination (proposal), which sets price limits on water charges. The Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) coalition is concerned that the resulting current investment plan for Scottish Water, one of the country’s biggest electricity consumers, would only finance climate change objectives ‘if possible’.
The draft determination for 2010-2014 concentrates on Priority 1 objectives set by the Scottish Government, while climate change is Priority 2.
Yet all public bodies will soon have new duties under the world-leading Climate Change (Scotland) Act to contribute to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and to plans to adapt to deal with flooding and other problems caused by global warming.
SCCS, which includes unions, environmental and international development organisations, said that excluding action on climate change objectives from the business plan that runs halfway to 2020 makes no sense when urgent early action is required to achieve the Act’s interim target of 42% emission cuts by 2020.
SCCS Chair Mike Robinson said: “The Scottish Government and wider public sector should be leading by example to help meet the important 42% target.
“It is extremely disappointing that Ministers set climate change as only a Priority 2 objective for Scottish Water, while limiting charge rises in a way that severely restricts options for spending on Priority 2 objectives.
“We have written to the Water Industry Commission for Scotland urging it to make funds available to Scottish Water so it can meet climate change objectives and new duties under the Act in this investment cycle.”
Lloyd Austin, Head of Policy, RSPB Scotland, said: "As one of the biggest electricity consumers, Scottish Water has the potential to make huge energy savings which will help reduce the long term costs to consumers.
"Early action on climate change adaptation and mitigation will not only help achieve statutory requirements but also ensure the long-term future and viability of the water industry."
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser, UNISON, said: "There is a lesson here for all public bodies as their new climate change duties will come into force in less than 18 months.
"In planning ahead and preparing budgets, they should be ensuring they can comply with the new duties.
“At Scottish Water there is potential for huge savings in energy costs and this requires strategic planning and prioritisation of investment that the regulator must allow for. The overall objective is to protect the planet for future generations. People expect the public sector to take a lead on this crucial issue."
Notes to Editors
1. The deadline for commenting on the WICS Draft Determination is Wed 23 Sep. The Draft Determination is at www.watercommission.co.uk/view_Determination.aspx
2. Sir Ian Byatt, WICS Chairman, is giving evidence on the Draft Determination today (Tuesday 22) to the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee at the Scottish Parliament.
3. SCCS believes that the Ministerial objectives on climate change as already given to Scottish Water are essential in fulfilling the new duties but without investment they risk not being achieved. Obviously objectives which are required by European Law must be met, and we have no argument with including, for example, Drinking Water Quality as a Priority 1. To reduce electricity consumption, investment is needed to help reduce leaks and encourage consumers to use water more wisely, thereby avoiding pumping water unncecessarily. Scottish Water’s energy demand is currently rising by one and two per cent each year. See www.scottishwater.co.uk/portal/page/portal/SWE_PGP_ABOUT_US/SWE_PGE_ABOUT_US/FIND_ABT_CLIM
4. Information on the new public bodies Climate Change Duties is at www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/climatechange/scotlands-action/climatechangeact/publicsector
5. The Wave - Scotland’s biggest ever demonstration in support of action on climate change – takes place in Glasgow on Saturday 5 December 2009, timed to coincide with the crucial UN climate summit in Copenhagen. Tens of thousands of people will gather in Glasgow and London. The Wave is organised by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland. www.stopclimatechaos.org/thewavescotland
6. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) is a diverse, growing coalition of organisations campaigning on climate change. The SCCS Coalition has 60 Scottish members, representing more than 2 million supporters (40% of the Scottish population), ranging from environment and development groups to faith organisations, trade unions, student societies, care providers and many more. SCCS was instrumental in securing a strong climate act for Scotland. For full details visit http://www.stopclimatechaos.org/scotland
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Public services union UNISON Scotland today challenged the Scottish Government to protect jobs and services following John Swinney's Budget statement in Parliament.
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary of UNISON, said:
"The public will not support a budget which asks them to bear the brunt of cuts in the middle of this crisis caused by free market madness and bonus grabbing bankers.
"And make no mistake about it - what John Swinney is offering is cuts to public services.
"What we need in this recession with unemployment continuing to rise is support for the public sector to provide essential jobs and services – not cuts."
UNISON questioned the sustainability of Mr Swinney's announcement of a third year of council tax freeze given the additional funding pressures the recession is placing on local government.
Matt Smith said:
"The Finance Secretary makes the usual pledge to protect frontline services. But there are no expendable jobs. The false distinction between "front line" and "back office" is a mask for cuts which will impact on vital public services.
"We face real cuts in local government and a third year of a council tax freeze is regrettably not viable.
"Health boards also face a spending squeeze because of growing pressures on limited resources. And we are now seeing the resurrection of Private Finance in the Scottish NHS through the hub initiative, based on English Local Improvement Finance Trust PPPs.
"And the hard-pressed voluntary sector, which delivers vital services, will face even further constraints."
Matt Smith called for funding settlements to local government, health boards and the voluntary sector to sustain jobs and services and support the economy in the face of the recession.
Date: 17 September 2009
In a landmark decision, Britain’s trade unions have voted overwhelmingly to commit to build a mass boycott movement, disinvestment and sanctions on Israel for a negotiated settlement based on justice for Palestinians.
The motion was passed at the 2009 TUC Annual Congress in Liverpool today (17 September), by unions representing 6.5 million workers across the UK.
Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: ‘This motion is the culmination of a wave of motions passed at union conferences this year, following outrage at Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, and reflects the massive growth in support for Palestinian rights. We will be working with the TUC to develop a mass campaign to boycott Israeli goods, especially agricultural products that have been produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.’
The motion additionally called for the TUC General Council to put pressure on the British government to end all arms trading with Israel and support moves to suspend the EU-Israel trade agreement. Unions are also encouraged to disinvest from companies which profit from Israel’s illegal 42-year occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.
The motion was tabled by the Fire Brigades Union. The biggest unions in the UK including UNISON voted in favour of the motion.
UNISON Scottish Convenor Mike Kirby, who recently returned from a Scottish Trade Union Congress fact-finding mission to Israel and Palestine, spoke in the debate.
"The delegation questioned the officials on Israel's failure to comply with UN security council resolutions, on the high number of civilian deaths and casualties, the political timing of the attacks on Gaza and Israel allowing the ceasefire with Hamas to expire. We did not receive any satisfactory answers to these questions", he said
"We need a campaign of focused and selective action against arms sales to Israel, against the illegal settlements and for a targeted consumer boycott. We need to get as many people involved as possible. Our aim is not to put jobs at risk, but to build political support and awareness. This is our generation's responsibility."
The motion also condemned the Israeli trade union Histadrut’s statement supporting Israel’s war on Gaza, which killed 1,450 Palestinians in three weeks, and called for a review of the TUC’s relationship with Histadrut. Britain’s trade unions join those of South Africa and Ireland in voting to use a mass boycott campaign as a tool to bring Israel into line with international law, and pressure it to comply with UN resolutions that encourage justice and equality for the Palestinian people.
Notes to Editors
• Media contact: Palestine Solidarity Campaign 020 7700 6192
• The full motion passed on 17 September can be viewed at: http://www.congressvoices.org/2009/76-palestine/
• The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is the largest solidarity movement with Palestinians in Britain – and is supported by thousands of individual members alongside 18 national trade union and hundreds of local trade union affiliates.
For more information: http://www.palestinecampaign.org
• The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aims to pressure Israel into complying with international law. http://www.bdsmovement.net/
Saturday, September 12, 2009
UNISON Scotland's Kevin O'Neil will promote UNISON's Million Voices For Change on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth on 28 Sept.
He will be taking part in Anthony Gormley’s One and Other on Monday 28th September. He will be on Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth from 16:00 to 17:00 to promote UNISON’s “A Million Voice for Change” campaign.
He has attached his “plinther” profile, please check it out and if you’re in London on Monday 28th September, then please come along and support him.
If not, then please watch on line and please leave a comment on the One and Other web site for Kevin.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Page last updated at 09:08 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 10:08 UK
Scotland's Information Commissioner has ordered the release of key financial data from a £50m PFI contract for Kilmarnock jail.
The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and the private jail's operator had resisted giving the information to the union Unison.
They argued it would substantially prejudice the contractor's commercial interests.
Unison said it was "a major victory for the public's right to know". ...
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Date: Wed 9 Sept 2009
Scotland’s Information Commissioner has ordered the release of key financial data from a controversial £50m Private Finance Initiative prison contract.
The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and Kilmarnock Prison Services Ltd (owned by Serco) had strongly resisted providing the contract’s financial model to UNISON Scotland, arguing it would substantially prejudice the contractor’s commercial interests.
UNISON’s Scottish Organiser Dave Watson today welcomed the decision by the Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, describing it as “a major victory for the public’s right to know”.
Mr Dunion ruled that, at the time of UNISON’s initial request in 2006, the significance of the information would have diminished substantially since the 25 year contract was signed in November 1997.
Dave said: “UNISON has long argued that there is excessive secrecy around PFI and Public Private Partnership (PPP) contracts. Too often the public is denied information about the costs of hospital, school and prison contracts on the grounds of commercial prejudice or commercial confidentiality.
“This decision is extremely important and should help pave the way for greater access to information about all PFI/PPP contracts.”
UNISON had also requested the Full Business Case (FBC) for the Kilmarnock Prison, but Mr Dunion accepted this was not held. Scottish Ministers informed him that in the early days of PFI/PPP projects, FBCs were not always prepared.
Dave added: “The fact that there is no Full Business Case for the prison speaks volumes about the way public funding has been wasted on PFI/PPP. The public was always told these projects would deliver value for money but has seen these claims unravel spectacularly over the years. The figures have frequently been manipulated, or withheld, or in this case, were not even calculated beforehand in any meaningful way.
“Mr Dunion’s decision will help shine a light on this contract and, hopefully, on others so the real costs to taxpayers can be assessed.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Full details of ‘Decision 104/2009 UNISON Scotland and the Scottish Prison Service’ are on the website of the Scottish Information Commissioner at: www.itspublicknowledge.info/applicationsanddecisions/Decisions/2009/200701446.asp (This details that a range of other information on this and the Addiewell prison contract was also withheld initially but later published voluntarily by the SPS during the investigation by the Scottish Information Commissioner.)
2. The Kilmarnock Prison Contract, with redactions, is on the SPS website at: www.sps.gov.uk/MultimediaGallery/c141a308-7050-4e3e-a061-295c1a5c8942.pdf
3. Mr Dunion has called for the extension of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 to cover private companies carrying out public contracts (and other relevant bodies) and the Scottish Government is currently considering this.
4. The UNISON Scotland At What Cost report on the aggregate costs of PFI/PPP projects in Scotland is at: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/comms/atwhatcostoct07.pdf