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.