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/