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.