Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thanks to all who emailed MSPs to support Protection of Workers Billl

The Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill was defeated in the Scottish Parliament today by 75 votes to 42. Thanks to all those who sents emails to their MSPs to ask them to vote for the Bill, which was promoted by Hugh Henry MSP and supported by UNISON along with other unions and the STUC. 

See reports on BBC News and STV News.

Also see UNISON Scotland Health & Safety campaign page on the Bill at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/safety/protectionofworkers/ for more info including briefings and press releases.



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UNISON Scotland urges MSPs to support Protection of Workers Bill

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

UNISON Scotland has called on MSPs not to turn their backs on those who face violence at work, and to support a Bill to protect them.

MSPs will debate the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill at stage one in Parliament today (Wednesday, December 22) and will decide whether or not the Bill should proceed to stage two.

Violent incidents at work are a major problem in Scotland. UNISON Scotland’s annual Violence at Work survey highlighted more than 30,000 recorded incidents in the public sector last year alone. However, as not all violent incidents are reported, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Last month, the Economy Energy and Tourism Committee recommended that Parliament should oppose the Bill, claiming it would not extend the protection currently available to workers under the common law. But, as the committee recognised, there is no statistical evidence that this approach works. UNISON believes incidents involving uniformed staff may be taken more seriously than the lower level – but just as traumatic – incidents which involve thousands of our members and fall below the radar of current criminal law provisions.

UNISON believes legislation is only part of the solution and must go hand-in-hand with public awareness campaigns, workplace measures and criminal legislation.

Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser, said: “Each year, thousands of dedicated staff providing vital services in our communities are being assaulted at work. These people deserve stronger legal protection and better protective measures and MSPs can not turn their backs on these workers.

“While legislation on its own is not enough, it is part of the solution and sends a clear message that violence against workers is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our society. We therefore urge MSPs to take this matter seriously and to support this Bill to protect workers from violence.”

ends


Notes to editors
1.    Click here to view UNISON’s Violence at Work Survey (PDF)
2.    For further details on the Bill visit www.unison-scotland.org.uk/safety/index.html

For further information contact: 
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser, on 07958 122 409
Trisha Hamilton, Communications Officer, on 0141 342 2877 / 07939 478 461


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Monday, December 20, 2010

Take action now! Email your MSPs to support Protection of Workers Bill

Latest: Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill will be debated on Wed 22 Dec 2010... 

Click here to take action now! Email all of your MSPs for support

It's not part of the job - end violence against workers
It's not part of the job - end violence against workers

UNISON Scotland wants to end violent attacks on public service workers

UNISON Scotland, along with other unions and the STUC, has supported Hugh Henry, Labour MSP for Paisley South, in promoting the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill. This will make it an offence for anyone to assault a public service worker carrying out their job or because of the job they do.

The Bill's first stage debate was expected to be in January 2011 but has been brought forward to Wednesday 22 December 2010 - this Wednesday - in the Scottish Parliament.

You can help by urging your MSPs (including your regional list MSPs) to support the Bill.
Send emails - click here


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Thursday, December 9, 2010

UNISON Scotland attacks council grant cuts

Thursday 9 December 2010

UNISON, Scotland’s largest local government trade union, today attacked the grant settlement for local government as bad for services, communities and democracy.

The settlement means a cut of 5.5% in real terms. Councils are given a classic Hobson’s choice. A cut of 2.6% if they accept the Government’s priorities, or a 6.4% cut if they don’t. If any council wanted to bridge the gap with a Council Tax rise they would need an increase of between 15% and 18%. Not a realistic political prospect for any council.

UNISON Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said:

“This settlement will damage essential services and the local economy. It also heralds a return to ring fencing and a major attack on local democracy. Councils are being turned into the administrative arm of central government.”

The main Scottish Government priority is the Council Tax freeze. This undermines local democracy and the shortfall is increasingly being made up by charges for services. This disproportionally hits low income households who rely on council services, yet it is the wealthiest who gain most from this real terms tax cut.

Mike Kirby said:

“The Council Tax freeze is simply not viable in the current financial climate. It supports wealthy homeowners at the expense of those who rely most on local services. The Scottish Government is keen to talk up this tax cut as part of its election strategy, but less keen to identify the services that will be cut to pay for it.”

The actual financial impact on local services will be greater than this allocation implies. Councils are already planning budget cuts and job losses over and above this grant settlement due to higher inflation, reducing income, rebuilding balances and demand for services in a recession.

UNISON Scotland will be calling on councils to protect services by setting a needs budget and publishing local economic and equality impact assessments.


ends

For further information please contact:
Mike Kirby (Scottish Secretary) 07939 143355
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser) 07958 122409


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Saturday, December 4, 2010

More must be done to protect our ‘Cinderella’ services, says UNISON

UNISON’s general secretary Dave Prentis says more must be done to protect our ‘Cinderella’ services.

Dave Prentis will make the call at the meeting of UNISON’s Scottish Council – which consists of representatives from all Scottish branches covering UNISON’s 160,000 members – today (Saturday).

He will tell members: “Not everything that is valuable is popular. Not everything that transforms lives wins applause. “Will those working with young offenders be as popular as those who work in childcare? Will people supporting drug users be as voter friendly as paramedics? Who will speak up for the ‘Cinderella’ services?

“Who will champion what is right, not just what is popular? I’ll tell you who. We will. We will speak up for the vulnerable. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with those who work in public services, and those who rely on them.”

Dave Prentis will also pay tribute to Matt Smith who is stepping down as Scottish Secretary with UNISON Scotland. Matt has almost 40 years dedicated service to the trade union movement and has held the position of Scottish Secretary since UNISON was formed in 1993.
· Matt Smith, 58, has led UNISON Scotland as Scottish Secretary since it was created in 1993 and is the only one to have held the post. Over the years, Matt has worked to promote policies which advance the interests of members, particularly in relation to low pay and equal pay. He has also played a pivotal part in championing the role of trade unions and ensuring their relevance as a major stakeholder in civic society. In 2004, Matt was awarded an OBE in recognition of his contribution to trade unionism.

Friday, December 3, 2010

UNISON condemns job losses in forensic services across Scotland

UNISON Scotland has condemned the Government’s decision to cut 74 highly skilled forensic and fingerprint jobs in Scotland.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill announced his plans for the future of Scotland’s forensics services yesterday (Thursday), which will mean a move away from four forensic labs – in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee – to two super-labs, supported by four ‘satellite’ units.

The Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) issued an options paper to its staff in July this year outlining possible ways of modernising forensic services in Scotland.

UNISON has consistently argued that the only viable option was to retain services in all four cities.

UNISON’s Regional Organiser Peter Veldon said: “UNISON condemns the loss of 74 highly skilled forensic and fingerprint jobs from the SPSA. The reduction will affect the quality of service in drug analysis in these areas and across Scotland. We would have preferred no job losses at present until decisions are made on the future shape of policing in Scotland and the requirements needed by the new police service on forensic services.

“We would welcome a genuine review in 18 months, but are concerned this is code for a future attempt to cut services in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.”

Adverse weather updates

09.10 Scottish Local Government Conference, Social night and Scottish Council are going ahead as planned.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

False Economy website and video: why the cuts are wrong







Check out the False Economy website http://falseeconomy.org.uk/ from the people who brought you The Other Taxpayer's Alliance http://www.taxpayersalliance.org  - the good one! And here's their video about Why the cuts are wrong.


Why cuts are the wrong cure from False Economy on Vimeo.


More on Scotland from STUC's There Is A Better Way
and UNISON Scotland's Public Works


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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

UNISON Scotland attacks police budget plan

UNISON Scotland will issue a stark warning to MSPs today – cut police staff and you cut frontline services.

The union will tell Holyrood’s Justice Committee that reducing the number of police staff will result in a reduction of services, less police officers on the beat and a potential increase in crime in local communities. It has also branded the Government’s plans to recruit 1,000 additional police officers as nothing more than a “cosmetic political exercise”.

Police boards currently face a real terms cut of at least six per cent and, as police numbers have to be maintained, the cuts will fall almost entirely on police (civilian) staff. Boards have also reported that, as a consequence, they will have to backfill civilian posts with police officers.

UNISON’s Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said: “Police staff deliver a wide range of routine, complex and specialised functions that are central to modern day police forces, while allowing uniformed officers to concentrate on operational policing duties.

“Maintaining an additional 1,000 police officers in this budget is a purely cosmetic political exercise. In practice, even more police officers will be taken off the street to perform tasks they are unsuited or unqualified to do - at a huge additional cost to the taxpayer.”

Many forces in Scotland are already way behind in the efficient deployment of police staffs. In England, 39% of police personnel are civilians (32% excluding PCSOs), while in Scotland it has fallen to 26.5%. The best forces in Scotland have modernised to these levels: Dumfries & Galloway has 33% while outdated Strathclyde can only manage 25%.

He added: “This budget means that efficient forces like Dumfries & Galloway will be dragged down to the levels of the worst; like Strathclyde who have large numbers of police officers behind a desk rather than fighting crime.

“Focusing cuts on police staffs will have serious implications for policing across Scotland and it is vital that we protect the ability to deliver our frontline services.”

Monday, November 29, 2010

STUC: There is a Better Way Campaign to be debated in the Scottish Parliament

From STUC, Mon 29 Nov 2010:

"The STUC's 'There is a Better Way Campaign' will be debated in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 2nd December at 5pm. Elaine Smith MSP has tabled a Member’s motion for debate. This has received considerable support.

"Please contact your MSPs (regional and constituency) to urge them to attend the session at Parliament. If your MSPs have not yet signed the Motion, please ask them to do so."

Scottish Parliament Resolution S3M-07227
Elaine Smith (Coatbridge and Chryston) (Scottish Labour): 
There Is a Better Way

That the Parliament commends the STUC on the launch of its There is a Better Way campaign; believes that deep, savage and immediate cuts are neither unavoidable nor inevitable and that they would actually threaten economic recovery *across Scotland and in areas such as Coatbridge and Chryston*; further believes that a sensible and sustainable response to the current economic crisis is to promote growth and ensure fairness through creating jobs and protecting services, through fair taxation and a living wage, and *would welcome widespread support for the STUC campaign*.

Supported by: Bill Butler, Dr Bill Wilson, Jackie Baillie, Patrick Harvie, Pauline McNeill, John Park, Patricia Ferguson, Marlyn Glen, Rt Hon George Foulkes, Rhona Brankin, Bill Kidd, Cathy Jamieson, Mary Mulligan, Mr Frank McAveety, Ken Macintosh, Michael McMahon, Bob Doris, Sandra White, Sarah Boyack, Karen Whitefield, Dr Elaine Murray, Charlie Gordon, Rhoda Grant, Des McNulty, David Whitton, James Kelly, Cathy Peattie, Malcolm Chisholm, Brian Adam, Jamie Hepburn, Maureen Watt, Hugh Henry, Linda Fabiani, Stuart McMillan, Joe FitzPatrick, Marilyn Livingstone, Dave Thompson, Robin Harper


You can find your MSPs here:
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msp/membersPages/MSPAddressPostcodeFinder.htm
You could also supply your MSPs with additional information about the impact of public spending cuts locally and in your industry, and encourage them to raise particular points in the debate on Thursday in the Parliament.

In the Member’s parliamentary debate there is no vote taken, but a Scottish Government Minister will respond to points raised in the discussion.

ATTEND THE DEBATE 5pm THURSDAY 2nd DECEMBER
Please also encourage your members to come along and fill the public gallery. This will help raise the profile of the campaign and highlight the concerns of many groups and trade unions in Scotland.

Details for Visitor tickets to the Parliament :
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/vli/visitingHolyrood/chamberTickets.htm#chambertickets
PLEASE PASS THIS INFORMATION ON, THANK YOU

Ann Henderson
Assistant Secretary
STUC

Mobile: 07875 208167
Email: ahenderson@stuc.org.uk


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UNISON welcomes ‘living wage’ announcement by council

UNISON Scotland has warmly welcomed an announcement by West Dunbartonshire Council to introduce a Living Wage for its staff.

West Dunbartonshire Council is only the second local authority in Scotland to introduce the Living Wage, following Glasgow City Council who introduced it in 2009. The move means that none if its employees will be paid less than £7.15 per hour and will result in a pay-rise for around 400 low-paid workers.

The Scottish Living Wage Campaign (SLWC) is supported by a range of community, trade union and campaigning organisations including UNISON, the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC), the Poverty Alliance, the Scottish Churches Social Inclusion Network and the Scottish Interfaith Council. Since the establishment of the SLWC, UNISON Scotland has been represented in the campaign as well as campaigning politically for the adoption of the campaign objectives with political parties and the Scottish Government.

Denise McLafferty, from UNISON’s West Dunbartonshire branch, said: “We are pleased to see that West Dunbartonshire Council has decided to introduce a Living Wage for its employees. Low pay is a very real problem for hundreds of thousands of workers across the country and it’s only right that workers get paid a fair day’s pay for a fair day's work.

“The existence of so many low paid jobs traps individuals and families in poverty, denying them opportunities and choices that should be for everyone in a country as wealthy as Scotland. We hope this move will help persuade other employers in the public, private and voluntary sectors to raise the salaries of low-paid staff.”

Sunday, November 28, 2010

UNISON branches on STUC St Andrew's Day march against racism and fascism


UNISON Scotland Kinneil Brass Band on the St Andrew's Day March


UNISON Scotland's Edinburgh and Glasgow branches and the Kinneil Brass band were to the fore once again at this year's STUC March and Rally against racism and fascism in Glasgow.

The event took place on Saturday 27 November, in a combination of sunshine, snow and freezing temperatures. Around two thousand people joined the march to demonstrate value of unity amongst races and cultures in Scotland and to protest against the fascist and racist BNP, and their unwelcome acolytes the Scottish and English Defence Leagues.







More pics of the march at UNISON Scotland Picasa gallery


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Friday, November 26, 2010

Suicide bids stopped by award-winning council scheme

UNISON members at City of Edinburgh Council, who have successfully prevented potential suicides at a social housing block, have been recognised at the Guardian Public Services Awards 2010.

Staff on one of the council’s high-rise estates had been struggling to cope with at-risk tenants until a suicide prevention initiative was set up. More than 200 people in the frontline team have now been trained to spot signs of mental illness and a multi-agency mental health awareness group, including police, social services and NHS members, has been formed.

The initiative was launched after the Edinburgh Tenants Federation raised serious concerns with council landlords about the risk of suicides and the scheme has prevented at least four deaths since.

Personal information on residents and their support needs is now available to staff and information leaflets on mental health services have been delivered to all the council’s high-rise blocks.

The City of Edinburgh Council received the award for Skills Development in the Innovation and Progress category.

UNISON member Michael McCrossan, senior officer for services for communities, said:

“We are over the moon to have received the Guardian award and believe that the initiative has had a huge effect on the lives of council tenants.

“Mental health awareness is extremely important, especially for those living in high-rise buildings, which can be very isolating and lonely.

“It is vital to keep talking to local people, who can raise concerns and help develop the scheme.

“We hope to continue with the good work and prevent many more tragedies.”

Dave Prentis, UNISON’s General Secretary, said:

“It is a huge honour for the team to win this award, as it is such a ground-breaking initiative.

“Training staff to identify problems and have the confidence to deal with them, can clearly help save lives.

“This scheme shows how important it is to empower workers through training.”

MSPs Failing to protect workers from violence says UNISON

UNISON Scotland today responded angrily to the announcement by the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee (EET) that they will recommend to the Parliament that the general principles of the Protection of Workers Bill are not agreed to.

UNISON Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said:
“The nearly 30,000 public service workers subjected to recorded violent incidents last year will today feel badly let down by the majority of MSPs on the committee who reached this decision. They will be joined by many thousands of other workers subjected to violence in the workplace who need Parliament to take action to protect them.”

“UNISON has always accepted that legislation is only part of the solution. But to argue that the current criminal law is adequate, when the prosecution authorities don’t even keep statistics, is a less than adequate response.”

UNISON Scotland welcomes the recommendations urging the prosecution authorities to take this issue more seriously, introduce new guidelines and to collect proper data. However, this has been identified as an issue over many years and little has happened. Meanwhile every year more workers are assaulted.

UNISON Scotland will be calling on MSP’s to reject this recommendation and approve the general principles of the Bill when it is debated in the chamber early next year.


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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Organising to speak up for public services

Mobilise! New Media module
Over 100 activists, paid officials and community activists from across Scotland are taking part in UNISON Scotland’s ‘Mobilise’ campaigning festival this weekend at the STUC in Glasgow.

Focussing on organisation, the event is pulling together a range of campaigning and bargaining tools, including media skills, ‘know your rights’, strategic campaigning, public speaking, involving members, equality issues, new media, economic briefings and myth-busting – along with more esoteric sessions on comedy skills and political song.

An exhibition on trade union history provided the backdrop last night to an evening of ‘inspirational dance’ and tonight’s entertainment includes Carol Laula (who is also doing a music workshop) and one of the masters of political song, Arthur Johnstone.

Opening the event, UNISON Scottish Convener Mike Kirby stressed the need to engage with members and get the arguments across that there is an alternative to the cuts.

The cuts were ideological, not based on financial need. It was a concerted attack on public services and the welfare state that was designed to be ‘irreversible’.

“I don’t like to get personal in political arguments”, said Mike, “But it is hard not to when you see the attacks from a cabinet that thinks poverty is another country”.

It was unlikely that the cabinet millionaires would ever have to worry about the electricity bill or about whether their children could ever afford to go to university or whether they can afford to pay for care for their relatives or themselves.

And the cuts were disproportionately affecting women. Women as public service workers, as service users and as carers, added Mike.

Trade unions and communities had to equip themselves with the arguments to challenge the cuts. But there will come a time – when people are ready, when they see the full force of the cuts – that the “force of argument” will have to move to the “argument of force” through action.

Mike stressed this had to be united action. It must not be seen as public versus private – a problem in the initial stages of the campaign in Ireland. For every public service job lost, another is lost in the private sector. This needed to be a united campaign of all workers and communities acting together.

The event continues through today, finishing at lunchtime on Sunday.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Budget statement - UNISON Scotland initial response

The Scottish Government's commitment to a Living Wage is welcome. But they show little understanding of the reality of life for those on modest incomes. Low paid workers providing public services face increased pension contributions, housing benefit cuts and increasing inflation on essentials such as food and heating costs. That all adds up, not to a pay freeze, but a very real cut in living standards.

Any commitment to avoid compulsory redundancies is welcome, but is far from clear whether this can be delivered. Areas such as local Government are outwith direct Scottish Government control - and the budget document itself discusses lowering staff numbers as a way of implementing cuts. We are appalled at the retention of the Council Tax Freeze - a policy that has already Scottish Local Authorities in excess of £150million. Councils will - as they have been doing already - attempt to plug the gap left by reducing services and increasing charges. This has a disproportionate impact on the low paid - who are also the people who save least from freezing Council Tax.

Local authorities are being offered Hobson's Choice by The Scottish Government. They can accept a cut of 2.6% by signing up to a whole range of Scottish government priorities - or assert their independence and take a reduction of 6.4% - which would mean either decimating services or a Council Tax rise in double figures.

The Scottish Government announce that police numbers will be maintained but neglects to mention that increasing numbers of uniformed officers will be employed on administrative and specialist tasks as Police (civilian) staffs are cut. It is a waste of public money and a cosmetic political exercise to keep police numbers up this way when the public rightly expect them to be visible on the streets.

Mr Swinney should be more honest with the public. When he says efficiency savings of 3% what he means is 'cut'. There is a difference between reducing the budget and being more efficient. Where is the efficiency in a smaller number of people delivering a poorer service?

Despite protesting otherwise Mr Swinney has announced the return of PFI - via his non profit distributing model. This is essentially PFI lite. What he failed to make clear today is the long term impact on revenue budgets by using this model.

Funding capital projects through revenue budgets means long term pain for short term gain.

Women come off badly in this budget. In the equality statement accompanying the budget the issue of unequal pay is largely avoided. There are observations about segregation in the workforce and overall pay gaps but it seems to contains nothing on equal pay litigation in public services other than a commitment to conduct pay reviews for government staff. There appear to be no funds, no capitalisation and no action on the audits that have shown the scale of the problem.

Speaking after the announcement UNISON Scotland Convener Mike Kirby said "John Swinney spoke about choices today - and he made the wrong ones. His pay freeze amounts to a real terms wage cut for many modestly paid people in Scotland. Public Service workers in Scotland face a double whammy, as workers many will see a pay cut. And as service users they will find they are paying more for services that will become ever more threadbare"

ENDS

Notes for editors UNISON Scotland will publish analysis of the Budget Statement in the coming days

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

UNISON calls on Scottish government to protect public services

Date: Tuesday 16 November 2010


UNISON Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to issue a budget that protects public services and avoids the ideological cuts imposed by the UK Government.

While precise figures will not be known until the Government publishes its spending review and draft budget tomorrow (Wednesday), UNISON Scotland’s analysis of planned local budgets shows that councils and health boards are planning much greater cuts than the Scottish budget would indicate.

UNISON’s Scottish organiser Dave Watson said: "There’s a real lack of understanding about the deficit and many believe that cuts in public spending are both essential and inevitable – they’re not.

“The cuts are already impacting on service delivery while demand is increasing. Some 60,000 public sector and 65,000 private sector jobs could go in Scotland because of these cuts, costing the Treasury around £500m in lost tax revenue and £640m in increased benefit payments. This not only adds to the annual deficit, it almost entirely cancels out the saving to the public sector pay-bill. And these cuts don’t just mean job losses, they mean the loss of vital public services that we all rely on.”

The cuts will put further pressure on public bodies which are already facing increased demands on services due to the recession, reductions in income, the council tax freeze and cuts in business rates.

Dave Watson added: “We expect the Scottish Government to articulate an alternative economic approach based on the Better Way promoted by the trade unions in Scotland. This approach, based on fair taxation and cutting real waste, is more in tune with Scottish opinion than the ideological cuts imposed by the Tories and their Liberal partners.”

ends

Notes to editors
1.    For more information on UNISON’s alternative to the cuts visit www.unison-scotland.org.uk/publicworks

2.    Trade unionists and service users from across the country will lobby their MSPs at the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday) ahead of the Scottish Spending Review. The STUC-organised lobby is part of the There Is A Better Way campaign. For more information visit www.thereisabetterway.org


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Thursday, November 11, 2010

UNISON welcomes Water Bill consultation

UNISON Scotland today welcomed the announcement of a consultation over the proposed Scottish Water Bill. The aim of the Bill remains to keep Scottish Water in public ownership, but to allow the utility to expand its operations and engage in wider activities such as renewable energy projects.

It also provides an opportunity to promote a wider vision of water resources. UNISON particularly welcomes the Minister’s commitment to retain the control of Scottish Water in public ownership.

UNISON’s Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said: “UNISON Scotland shares the long term vision that Scotland’s water is much more than the provision of a utility. It is a vital economic asset that will become even more important in the years to come. If the 20th Century was dominated by oil, then the 21st Century will be dominated by water provision. Wet countries like Scotland are well placed to exploit the economic and environmental opportunities.”

UNISON expects that the usual vested interests will use the Bill consultation to yet again argue the case for privatisation. This would involve selling off assets paid for by the taxpayer over many years at a fraction of its true value.

We would be selling off huge swathes of Scotland, almost certainly to foreign interests, together with the opportunity to exploit Scotland’s water potential for the benefit of big business rather than the people. Charge payers would face higher bills to pay for the purchase debt, fees and directors salaries.

Dave Watson added: “Those arguing for privatisation, or the Trojan horse that is mutualisation, have no vision beyond a quick profit for their companies. They are tied to a narrow privatisation ideology that Scotland rightly rejects. When communities across the world are reclaiming their water, it would be crazy for Scotland to abandon our greatest asset.”

UNISON Scotland regards the Bill consultation as an important step towards a broader approach to water in Scotland. The current approach of the Scottish Water Board and the regulatory framework can act as barrier to this larger vision for Scotland’s water.

Scotland needs a democratically accountable, strategic approach to water that is broader than simply providing a utility, important though that is. On Scottish Water much emphasis is placed on the £140m of government financing for capital in the current financial difficulties. Less well known is the fact that £90m is returned through loan repayment.

None of this would be necessary if Scottish Water had prudential borrowing powers and UNISON would argue for the early adoption of this approach. The implementation of the Calman recommendations or the relaxation of HMRC budget guidance could achieve this.

This would also enable a public service solution to the exploitation of the renewable energy opportunities, rather than another expensive ‘partnership’. We need to develop Scotland’s capacity to exploit renewable energy.

For further information please see UNISON Scotland’s Defend Scotland’s Water briefing at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/water/index.html

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

UNISON welcomes withdrawal of Accenture jobs threat

UNISON has today welcomed the announcement by Accenture of its withdrawal of redundancy proposals from employees working on its ScottishPower contract.

This outcome means that hundreds of employees – based in East Kilbride (South Lanarkshire) and Queensferry (North Wales) – who were facing redundancy and the insecurity of unemployment as Christmas approached can now look forward to a more stable flow of work and job security for the foreseeable future.

The announcement by Accenture follows months of detailed negations and discussions between trade unions, Accenture, ScottishPower and parent company Iberdrola.

Accenture told staff this week it had secured significant new project work and had therefore extended the scope of its support contract with ScottishPower.

Gerry Crawley, regional organiser for UNISON, said: “This is great news for our members who have gone through a difficult time and suffered a lengthy period of uncertainty about their jobs.

“This decision is testament to the hard work of all those involved, together with the support of local politicians, in preventing job losses at a time of great economic uncertainty.”

In a statement to its ScottishPower workforce, Accenture said: “We consider this to be a very positive outcome. It is a position that saves jobs for the foreseeable future and will result in a stable demand position for additional project work to at least the end of 2011 and hopefully beyond.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

‘Now we can concentrate on defending services’ says Aberdeen’s largest public sector union

Date:  2 November 2010
UNISON, Scotland’s largest public sector trade union, says it is relieved that the long running increments row with Aberdeen City Council is now resolved, and wants to get on with defending public services in the city in the face of crippling budget proposals.

Aberdeen city councillors voted to approve the deal brokered by ACAS which means that all council staff due a pay increment in April 2010 will now receive it.  The unions and the council are hopeful that all payments, including back pay, can be made before Christmas.  The unions and the council have agreed to enter into immediate and meaningful talks on a range of issues connected to the Council’s budget proposals.

Karen Davidson, Branch Secretary of Aberdeen City UNISON, said: “We are relieved that council staff will now get the agreed rate of pay for their job and we are glad that this distracting issue is behind us.  With-holding the increment was a breach of our contract and it affected hundreds of low paid workers who were entitled to an increment for the first time this year.  Individuals will not get huge amounts of money out of this – a personal carer helping someone to stay in their own home will get £9.99 more a week after a year in the job, when she has got more skills and experience which enables her to give a better service to her clients. 

“We have established a vital principle here – that employers cannot use the current tough financial climate as an excuse to break contracts of employment.  Our members stood up for their rights this year and carried on doing their jobs in very difficult circumstances.  Our employer now knows that they must work with their staff and the unions to achieve savings.”

Karen continued: “UNISON knows there are difficult decisions to be made in Aberdeen about the vital services that we all depend on.  We want to be fully involved in the decisions about what our services should be in the future.  It’s not buildings and equipment and complicated processes that ensure people get care, receive high quality education, can enjoy parks, libraries and leisure centres and have their bins emptied – all of this comes down to the commitment and effort of council workers.”

ends


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Saturday, October 30, 2010

UNISON call commits Labour to defending public services

Saturday 30 October 2010

UNISON today called on Labour to focus on protecting public services and to build a nationwide campaign to defend vital services.

The union – which represents more than 160,000 members providing public services across Scotland – received huge support for its contemporary motion which was debated at the Scottish Labour Party Conference in Oban today.

The motion called on Labour to build a robust campaign in defence of public services and to urge public bodies, particularly local authorities, to publish full details of the impact the cuts will have on local services and local economies. It also highlights the importance of public investment and expenditure in sustaining employment and demand, as well as providing essential help and support to those struggling with redundancies, reduced incomes, repossessions and rising joblessness.

Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser, said:

 “Labour has today committed to defending public services and to fighting the coalition’s cuts agenda. The scale of the threat to jobs and services cannot be understated and public services must be seen as part of the solution to our economic difficulties, not part of the problem”

Gordon McKay, Chair of UNISON Labour Link Scotland, said:

“Today Labour has shown that it is on the side of the people. The party is now committed to resisting the austerity agenda dreamt up by the Con Dems after their friends in the city had wrecked the economy. Alternative budgets and economic impact assessments will play a crucial role in publicising the damage that is being done to services.”




ends

For more information on UNISON’s alternatives to the cuts go to www.unison-scotland.org.uk/publicworks

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

UNISON's Better Way - some of the first 20,000 reasons to Mobilise



UNISON Scotland members and supporters formed a main part of the STUC's 20,000-strong There is a Better Way march and rally in Edinburgh on Saturday 23 October 2010.  Here are some of the reasons why they were demonstrating against the ConDem cuts and for a Better Way to fund our vital public services. And here are reasons for members to get involved in UNISON Scotland campaigns - Public Works: and the Mobilise 2010 campaigning event on 19-21 November in Glasgow.

(See UNISON Scotland site http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/ for more info)


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Sunday, October 24, 2010

UNISON on the Edinburgh demo - NHS Glasgow Clyde CVS branch



Here's the UNISON NHS Glasgow Clyde and CVS branch video of yesterday's 20,000 strong march in Edinburgh, as featured on UNISON Scotland YouTube channel


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Sunday Mail: 20,000 Scots take to streets of Edinburgh to protest against spending cuts



THOUSANDS of Scots marched in protest at Government spending cuts yesterday as Treasury axeman Danny Alexander battled to justify them.

More than 20,000 joined a rally in Edinburgh to oppose the spending review announced by the Con Dem coalition on Wednesday.

Union leaders warned of strike action over the slashing of public services, which will see Scotland lose around £3billion over the next four years.

Up to 50,000 of the 500,000 public service jobs under threat will be lost in Scotland and the same number could go in the private sector.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress organised the rally and general secretary Grahame Smith said: "If members decide that the best way is to take industrial action then they will do that. I'm not saying that as a threat, but as a fact.

"We want to work constructively with employers but if they are not willing to do that then members will take action to protect their rights."


Full story at Sunday Mail website

More UNISON pics and story to follow here on this blog and on UNISON Scotland website.  


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Saturday, October 23, 2010

STV: 20,000 take part in Edinburgh cuts protest


23 October 2010 12:39 GMT

20,000 take part in Edinburgh cuts protest 
More than 20,000 people took to the streets of Edinburgh in a demonstration against cuts to public services.

The march and rally took in unions, political groups and concerned members of the public in a show of unity against the UK Government's spending review.

Organised by the Scottish Trades Union Congress, it aimed to highlight fears about the impact of Chancellor George Osborne's savings package.

Huge cuts amounting to about £81billion across the UK were unveiled on Wednesday - and Scotland is expected to lose about £3 billion over the next four years.

The colourful procession gathered outside City of Edinburgh Council headquarters and stretched at its peak along the entire route to Princes Street Gardens, exceeding organisers' expectations.


Full story at STV website

More UNISON pics and story to follow here on this blog and on UNISON Scotland website.  



BBC Scotland: Unions protest in Edinburgh over public sector cuts



Edinburgh cuts rally, pic by Des Loughney 
A rally in Edinburgh to protest at public sector cuts was attended by more than 20,000 demonstrators.

Union group the STUC arranged the event to demonstrate against measures in the UK government's Spending Review.

STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said: "We launched this campaign to dispel the myth that there is no economic alternative to these cuts.

"There is an alternative. Get people back to work, get the economy growing again, and the public finances will largely take care of themselves.

"We also launched this campaign to expose the lie that it is those with the broadest shoulders that will bear the brunt of the cuts."

Union leaders said they had been "overwhelmed" by the response to the protest rally attended by people from across Scotland.

See full story at BBC Scotland News

More UNISON pics and story to follow here on this blog and on UNISON Scotland website. 


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Friday, October 22, 2010

STUC predicts major turnout for There is a Better Way march and rally in Edinburgh

Thousands of trade unionists, community activists and members of general public will join the STUC-led 'There is a Better Way' march on Saturday 23 October.

STUC General Secretary, Grahame Smith said:
“Given that we called this event as a launch rather than an end point for our campaign, we are both surprised and delighted by the response we are receiving - not just from our members but from wider Scottish society.

“The intensity of the response will only increase when the implications of the Comprehensive Spending Review sink in over the next two days.

“You only have to look at the list of organisations attending and sending supportive messages to understand the depth of anger and growing level of support for the campaign.”

Notes:
On 23rd STUC will announce a range of future protest activities as well as committing to joint campaigning work with Scotland’s key civic and community organisations.

March details:
Arrangements
The march musters 11.00am at East Market Street Edinburgh at the south side of Waverly Station.
The march will set off at 11.30am. It will travel a route along Princes Street.At approximately 12.30am the march will assemble at the Ross Bandstand in Princes Gardens.The rally will begin at some stage between 12.30 and 1pm depending on the size of the march.



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Thursday, October 21, 2010

"We are all in this together" – pull the other one...


Tory Chancellor George Osborne keeps saying "we are all in this together" as if we are all sharing the pain of the deficit reduction. Less than a day after his ruinous Comprehensive Spending Review the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) have shown this to be a lie.

The full IFS briefing materials can be found here. But the real story can be shown quite simply by looking at the graph above.

The key test is how the cuts affect people as a proportion of their income – the graph shows a number of things but the thing to look at it the white line. This shows the cuts per income decile as a proportion of income (the axis for this line is on the right). This shows that those on lower incomes suffer more that those on higher incomes.

Clearly we are not "all in this together."

What we have is a millionaire Tory Chancellor, in a Cabinet of millionaires, looking after the interests of millionaires.
(Thank East Mids colleagues!)


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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tens of thousands of Scottish jobs could go – UNISON response to Comprehensive Spending Review

George Osborne has condemned the country to decades of hardship and the people to unnecessary wholesale unemployment, with his “ideologically driven, no hope, no ideas, cuts CSR” warned UNISON.

Following the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review, Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said: “For CSR read Cuts Strangle Recovery. The Tories’ ideologically driven, no hope, no ideas, cuts agenda is poisoning the country’s chances of recovery, infecting the public sector and costing jobs in the private sector. The much-trailed cuts come as no great surprise, but the scale is a devastating blow to communities who depend on essential public services.

“This Saturday will see thousands of people take to the streets of Edinburgh to demonstrate against the cuts and send a clear message that there is a better way.”

The union says that some 60,000 public sector and 65,000 private sector jobs could go in Scotland because of these cuts. They could cost the Treasury around £500m in lost tax revenue and £640m in increased benefit payments - adding to the annual deficit and almost entirely cancelling out the saving to the public sector pay-bill.

In Scotland, the Barnett consequentials are every bit as serious as expected. In practice the impact will be greater because councils and health boards have additional costs over and above these allocations.

Councils and health boards have to live in the real world where inflation is more than double the nominal Treasury assumption.

STUC: today's deep and immediate cuts will have "devastating impact across Scotland"

20 Oct 2010


Demo Sat 23 Oct
Responding to the Spending Review announced by the Chancellor today, Grahame Smith, (Scottish Trades Union Congress) STUC General Secretary said:

“The deep and immediate cuts announced today by George Osborne will have a devastating impact on workers, communities and businesses across Scotland. It is disappointing if hardly surprising that he took the opportunity to repeat every myth and distortion on the origins and extent of the current economic crisis peddled by this administration.

“The cuts are not unavoidable and the coalitions programme is not fair and progressive. It is simply provocative to continually assert that ‘we are all in this together’. It is shocking that benefit recipients, the most vulnerable members of our society, are being forced to shoulder the steepest cuts, apparently in order to allow the Chancellor to seek to score a cheap political point.

“The spending plans announced today do nothing to address rising unemployment or to provide effective assistance to the unemployed. The Government argues that jobs growth in the private sector will more than compensate for the half a million jobs it predicts will be lost from the public sector over this spending review period. And yet, only this morning, the Bank of England has stated that ‘private sector remains very cautious about expanding the labour force’.

“At the There is a Better Way march and rally on Saturday in Edinburgh, the workers and communities of Scotland will send a very clear message to the Chancellor and his coalition colleagues that they will not accept these brazenly ideological cuts without a fight. The Government will do well to listen.”


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thousands rally against cuts at Westminster

Thousands rally against cuts at Westminster
Thousands of public sector workers have packed Central Hall to capacity with standing-room only as they protest against the coalition government's plans for huge cuts in public spending. Messages from the rally are giving us updates on events.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Investing in quality public services - the best alternative to austerity cuts‏

Investing in quality public services - the best alternative to austerity cuts‏ - including an excellent paper by David Hall of the University of Greenwich on ‘why we need public spending’.
http://www.qpsconference.org/sites/default/files/PSIRU_Report_final_11-10-2010.pdf

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Campaign Skills Festival 19-21 Nov - Sign Up Now

From devolution to the poll tax, UNISON members have generations of experience to draw on as we build the campaign to defend vital public services - the fight of our lives. MOBILISE 2010 is a campaign skills festival. A celebration of years of trade union activity and a platform on which to build and organise for the challenge ahead. With access to up to five modules or workshops over the weekend and some longer course, the event will equip you for the coming campaign. For information or to register contact: Gillian Bannatyne g.bannatyne@unison.co.uk 0141 342 2829 Venue - STUC, 333 Woodlands Road, Glasgow 19-21 November 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

UNISON response to Hutton report on pensions

07/10/2010
Dave Prentis
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, has responded to the Hutton report on pensions published today. He said:
“Our key priority is to make sure that our members’ pension schemes, that they pay into all their working lives, remain sustainable and affordable and that there is no damaging race to the bottom. We will seek to maintain, using all means possible, the agreements reached two years ago to make our public service schemes sustainable and also protect existing members of the scheme.

“This is an interim report, and UNISON will continue making the case for public sector pensions throughout the course of the review.

“It is only right that the report recognises that public sector pensions are not gold-plated. We are pleased that Hutton recommends keeping a defined benefit scheme, but we are adamant that the final salary scheme should be retained.

“There is a real danger that taking a career average to calculate pensions will see the low paid getting less in their retirement – especially as the government has switched from using the RPI to using the CPI to calculate pensions.

“Public sector workers already pay a sizeable amount into their pension schemes year in, year out. Many of our members would struggle to pay more. Council workers, including home carers, librarians, social workers and dinner ladies, pay in 6.4% of their wages, while NHS workers pay an average of 6.6%.

“Plans to make public sector staff work until they drop will hit the low paid hard. For many public sector staff, working longer is not an option. Many nurses, home carers, paramedics and refuse collectors are already forced into early retirement because of the physical nature of their jobs, and the damage it does to their health.

“It is time the government turned their attention to the private sector, where two thirds of employers don’t provide a single penny towards their employees’ pensions, forcing taxpayers into picking up a massive long-term benefits bill.”


UNISON UK News Release:http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2006



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STUC welcomes Hutton acceptance that public pensions are not ‘gold plated’

7 October 2010

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has welcomed the acknowledgement from Lord Hutton that public sector pensions are not ‘gold plated’ following the publication of his report into public sector pensions.

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary said:
“While welcoming Lord Hutton’s acceptance that defined contribution or money purchase schemes are not the way forward for public sector workers we are concerned that the proposal of higher contributions from public sector workers may reduce the number of members who choose to enter pensions schemes.

“This is self defeating as future Governments will have to meet the cost of supporting public service workers who retire without pensions.  Our fear is that those increased contributions will hit the most vulnerable workers, the low paid and part-time workers who are predominantly women.

“The coalition Government when considering Lord Hutton’s recommendations should remember that public sector pensions schemes have already undergone substantial change with retirement ages in many being raised to 65 in line with the private sector.

“The Government should also review the current method of evaluating pension schemes to provide a more accurate and realistic projection of scheme liabilities.

“The myth that public sector pensions are ‘gold plated’ derives from the race to devalue private sector pensions driven by the greed of large corporations and their share holders, It is deceitful for organisations such as the Institute of Directors to justify transferring the risk for pensions savings to public sector workers to legitimise the tactics of private sector employers”


STUC News Release:
http://www.stuc.org.uk/news/785/stuc-welcomes-hutton-acceptance-that-public-pensions-are-not-gold-plated

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Anger on pay but members decide to defend services first

Members in local government are angry about pay and worried that the imposed pay cut will hit the low paid the hardest. However, their priority at this time is to protect and defend vital public services as councils up and down the country slash budgets, jobs and services.

This was the message from a consultation with members across Scotland on the councils' imposition of a 0.65% pay offer this year with a two years' pay freeze, as delegates met to consider the next steps and agreed a plan of action to defend vital jobs and services and to press for decent pay which values public service workers.

Branches had consulted members and they were clear that, despite the anger, their main aim was for a campaign that will....

· urge all our members in local government to join with other unions and service groups to support the STUC "There is a better way" Demonstration on 23rd October in Glasgow.

· lobby political leaders with the message that there is an alternative to cutting jobs and services

· link with branches to co-ordinate a campaign of opposition to the cuts, and to get out the message that public service cuts will damage the economy and local communities and that there is a better way

· keep pressing the employers for a decent pay rise for council workers through the conciliation (ACAS) service if possible

· work with the other public service unions for a decent pay rise next year and the year after.

"Pay is inextricably linked with cuts and job losses as local authorities axe vital services," said Dougie Black, lead negotiator.

"Whilst the loss of these services impacts dramatically on members' jobs it also has a huge impact on local communities. UNISON as the largest public sector trade union in Scotland recognises this and is actively encouraging and strengthening links with local community groups and voluntary organizations."

The Scottish Employers (CoSLA) have imposed a non negotiated pay settlement of 0.65% for 2010/11, 0% in 2011/12 and 0% in 2012/13 for all council and related staff. This represents a pay cut in real terms for all our members and hits the lowest paid hardest.

The Trade Unions have consistently sought to resolve this dispute through discussion and negotiation and laterly were seeking the involvement of ACAS to arbitrate however the employers have refused to cooperate and are simply ignoring the established Scottish Bargaining Machinery.

Despite previous statements from the employers about how they value their workforce the reality is that they are treating their employees with contempt.

Click here for the full Local government briefing


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Monday, October 4, 2010

STUC slams Chancellor’s Tory Conference speech

October 4th 2010
 
Commenting after George Osborne had delivered his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, Grahame Smith, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary said:

“It is hugely unfortunate that the Chancellor has used this occasion to shamelessly repeat every distortion used to justify Coalition policy. The implications for growth and employment across Scotland and the UK are dire.

“The Chancellor tries to further embed the conventional wisdom that there is a consensus in favour of massive and rapid cuts. He invokes the ‘bond markets’ as supporters of austerity but fails to cite evidence in this regard because none exists. He chooses to ignore that the OECD’s ‘support’ for his austerity programme has been weak and inconsistent. He appears unaware that the rating agencies are wholly discredited.

“He wilfully ignores those other authoritative voices who continue to challenge Coalition policy: Nobel Economic laureates such as Stiglitz and Krugman, dozens of prominent UK and international economists, the Chief Economic Commentator at the FT and a wide range of civic organisations.

“The Chancellor deliberately sets out to confuse by claiming that anything other than strict adherence to the emergency Budget programme will provoke ‘market turmoil’. Once again, the implication is that austerity will be rewarded by the markets when evidence from the Eurozone suggests that the opposite is true. The fact is that interest rates on index-linked gilts have been 1 per cent or less for more than a year and spreads over German bunds have been 1 percentage point, or less, throughout the crisis. The market view of the UK’s credit worthiness is clearly not contingent on the cuts programme laid out in the emergency Budget.

“A mature reassessment of the fiscal position at the Spending Review is essential. It is highly likely that a new programme, one that makes consolidation contingent on growth, would be rewarded by the markets.

“The Chancellor’s brazen ignorance of the daily challenges facing those in poverty is shocking. Benefit recipients will be justifiably appalled that the Chancellor thinks the current system amounts to an ‘open ended cheque book’.

“This speech has done nothing to dispel the notion that the Chancellor’s approach is ideological not pragmatic. He describes unions as a vested interest but goes on to cite employer lobbying bodies as if they are an independent voice of reason. The British people will see through this.”

Press release on STUC website:
http://www.stuc.org.uk/news/784/stuc-on-chancellor-s-conference-speech

See also STUC's There is a Better Way site http://www.thereisabetterway.org/ for more on ConDem cuts and the need for properly funded public services.



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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Reports from STUC black workers conference

UNISON's Nahid Aslam is sending up to the minute reports from this weekend's STUC Black Workers' Confrerence in Glasgow at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/blackmembers/bmstucconf.html

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Support across Europe for ETUC Day of Action: Morning Star

Austerity-mongers rattled by huge protest in Brussels / Britain / Home - Morning Star
Thu 30 Sep 2010

The halls of EU power in Brussels trembled to the footsteps of more than 100,000 workers on Wednesday as they converged from across Europe to reject crippling austerity cuts.
Trade unions and activists representing 24 countries brought the city to a standstill as they snaked their way through the streets with a thunderous march that ended in a rally at the Esplanade du Cinquantenaire park.
As Spanish workers staged a general strike and Greek rail staff walked out over privatisation, the common call in a multitude of languages was for co-ordinated action against the biggest attack on Europe's working class since the 1930s.

See full story and more in the Morning Star
http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/95860


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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

UNISON SCOTLAND NURSING CONFERENCE TUESDAY 2 NOVEMBER 2010 10-4.30pm - Trades Hall, 85 Glassford Street, Glasgow

Our public services are increasingly under attack and proposed job cuts in the NHS in Scotland could have a major impact on services and quality of patient care.

This one day conference is open to our members across the whole nursing family, including nurses, midwives, health visitors and healthcare assistants.

Together we will consider the key issues currently affecting members and offer an opportunity to discuss and debate the future for nursing in Scotland. £20.00 per delegate payable by your Branch. Contact Fiona Martin on 0141 342 2820 or f.martin @unison.co.uk

Speakers:

Nicola Sturgeon Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing

Keynote Speaker Ros Moore Chief Nurse for Scotland: 'My Ambitions for Nursing in Scotland'

Roger Thompson NMC Director of Standards and Registrations Increasing Public Protection: moving beyond the register

Gail Adams Head of Nursing for UNISON Launch of ‘Speaking Up and Speaking Out’ and ‘Raising and Escalating Concerns’

Mick McKeown, Principal Lecturer at University of Central Lancashire with Dave Mercer, Senior Lecturer at Liverpool University: Why nurses should not be in BNP Debate: Do we need as many registered nurses? Debate/discussion on skills mix and use of competences for Healthcare Support Workers.

Chair: Bridget Hunter, UNISON Lead Officer for Nursing in Scotland

‘Fat cat’ bankers should tighten their belts – not the public

‘Fat cat’ bankers should be forced to tighten their belts, not the public - that’s the message from UNISON Scotland.

To mark the European Trade Union Confederation’s (ETUC) day of action on Wednesday, September 29, members and activists will gather in the city centre to pull on the belt of a ‘real’ fat cat and send a clear message that the public should not be left to pay the price for the bankers’ mistakes.

The stunt will coincide with the launch of UNISON Scotland’s Tell A Pal initiative, which urges members to spread the word that there is a real alternative to the cuts and privatisation agenda.

On the day, UNISON members will be handing out copies of the Tell A Pal leaflet which feature four key messages covering cuts in services, fair taxation and economic impact.

It will also urge as many members as possible to show their support for public services by attending the STUC demonstration in Edinburgh on October 23.

Scottish organiser Dave Watson said: “The bankers caused this problem and now they’re at it again with their big bonuses, while the public are left to pay the price by losing the services they rely on.

“It’s our communities who will suffer the most from these cuts, yet it’s the public who are being told they should tighten their belts not the bankers. We want to spread the word that there’s a real alternative to the cuts and we don’t have to lose the services that we all rely on. “It’s time the fat cat bankers were made to tighten their belts, not the public.”

ENDS

Notes to editors You are invited to send a reporter/photographer and/or crew for a photo opportunity outside Marks and Spencer in Argyle Street at 12.30pm on Wednesday, September 29.

Public sector workers will be pulling on the belt of a person dressed up as a ‘fat cat’. Scottish Organiser Dave Watson will be available for interview on the day. For more information on the alternatives to the cuts visit www.unison-scotland.org.uk/publicworks

Monday, September 27, 2010

Head of Scotland’s biggest public sector trade union set to stand down

After almost 40 years of service to the trade union movement, Matt Smith will be standing down as head of Scotland’s biggest public sector trade union later this year.

Matt, 58, has led UNISON Scotland as Scottish Secretary since it was created in 1993 and is the only one to have held the post.

Over the years, Matt has worked to promote policies which advance the interests of members, particularly in relation to low pay and equal pay. He has also played a pivotal part in championing the role of trade unions and ensuring their relevance as a major stakeholder in civic society.

In 2004, Matt was awarded an OBE in recognition of his contribution to trade unionism.

Matt was also a key voice in the campaign to establish the Scottish Parliament, serving on the McIntosh Commission on Local Government and a Scottish Parliament, as well as a member of the Calman Commission on Scottish Devolution.

Matt said: “It has been a great privilege to lead UNISON in Scotland. This has provided many opportunities to serve and to work with colleagues committed to advancing our public services and those who work within them. I am particularly proud to have contributed to the creation of our Scottish Parliament which is now so essential to the life of our nation.

“We face exceptionally challenging times ahead and I know that UNISON is committed to supporting and promoting our public services. I am very proud to have been a part of UNISON for almost two decades and I believe that now is the time to hand over and to let others continue with this work.”

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Matt has played an integral role in shaping and developing our organisation at UK level and, in particular, within Scotland. His passion and determination for protecting public services has seen him lead UNISON through many challenges over the years and he is highly respected by everyone in his field. Over the past four decades Matt has made an exceptional contribution not only to public service but to the trade union movement as a whole. He will be missed by all of his friends at UNISON and we wish him every success in his future endeavours.”

A former President of the STUC, Matt was recently appointed by the Scottish Parliament as a Commissioner with the Scottish Human Rights Commission. He also serves on the Scottish Standards Commission, is a member of the Employment Appeals Tribunal and is a serving JP in Ayrshire and JPAC member. Matt is also an executive member and Honorary Fellow of the Scottish Council for Development and industry.

Over the years, Matt has served in a wide range of public and voluntary organisations. He is a former member of the Church of Scotland Church and Nation Committee and former vice chair of the Broadcasting Council for Scotland. He also served as an elected councillor and Dean of Guild in the former Stevenston Town Council and was a parliamentary candidate in 1979.

Matt Smith will be standing down as Scottish Secretary in December 2010. His replacement will be announced later this year.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tell a Pal There is a Better Way

There is an alternative to cuts. Click here for a postcard and links to 'Tell a Pal' what the alernatives are. Spread the word and build for the demo on 23 October. Public service cuts are driven by ideology not economics. There is nothing inevitable about public service cuts - they do not make economic sense. http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/publicworks/tellapal.html

Monday, September 20, 2010

SCCS calls on Ministers to strengthen climate change legislation

Date: 20 September 2010

Climate campaigners today called on Ministers to use their powers to strengthen Scotland's world leading climate legislation.


Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) welcomed a consultation on draft guidance to public bodies on their new climate change duties, which come into force in January.

The duties say that public bodies must consider climate change in all they do and act in the ways best calculated to help deliver the tough targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Public bodies must also adapt to future changes in the climate in a sustainable way. But the reporting regime is only voluntary, meaning it may have gaps and so may not provide sufficient information to help monitor what action is being taken across Scotland by the public sector.

SCCS said that Ministers should use their statutory powers under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 to set up an effective mandatory annual reporting system. This would underpin the success of the new duties and should include proper scrutiny of the reports.

Tom Ballantine, Chair of SCCS, said: "Early action on cutting emissions is vital to preventing runaway climate change. If we don't get the reporting system right from the start, we could lose valuable time and Scotland would be at risk of a dangerous early delay in meeting its world leading targets.

"This would damage confidence at a time when the public sector and the Scottish Government should be leading by example and driving forward the policies to deliver the targets."

Dave Watson, UNISON Scottish Organiser, said: "We have ample evidence from other reporting regimes that not only do voluntary measures not deliver the information you need, but the organisations themselves would also welcome a reporting template which they can incorporate into their existing annual reporting mechanisms. The guidance should provide this."

SCCS will be submitting a response to the consultation that also argues for more emphasis in the guidance on involving the workforce and the general public in what their local councils, health boards and other public bodies are doing to protect the planet.

Dave added: "We won't achieve these targets without bringing on board everyone in Scotland and the public sector has a crucial role. The guidance must make that clear and encourage a bottom up approach, not a top down one.

"The most important thing that is needed is a step change where all public bodies incorporate climate change into their business planning so that it is routinely taken into account in decision-making.

"If that is happening, it will be straightforward to report on what the organisation is doing to comply with the duty. With mandatory annual reporting and proper monitoring we will be able to effectively assess the overall picture to see if we are on course to meet the targets."


ENDS


Notes to editors


The Public Bodies Climate Change Duties Consultation can be viewed online on the consultation web pages of the Scottish Government website at www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2010/09/16112110/0


Stop Climate Chaos Scotland is a diverse and growing alliance with over 60 Scottish members representing more than two million supporters, ranging from environment and international development groups to faith organisations, trade unions, student societies and many more.

www.stopclimatechaos.org/scotland

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Monday, September 13, 2010

'We will defend all that we hold dear'


13 Sep 2010


UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, stands with public service workers
Moving the motion on public services at TUC Congress today, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis spoke of the injustice of the Coalition's cuts.

Describing, Bob Diamond, the new boss of Barclays, who is paid £11m a year, Mr Prentis said: "We're told he's worth every penny, says he wakes up every morning with a smile on his face", whilst, he said, "public service workers across the land wake up every morning, not with a smile on their face, but worried whether they still have a job because of the failure of bankers like Mr Diamond."

And the cuts were unjust he said, as the coalition takes "a chainsaw to our public services", whilst "banks are posting record profits."

And they were unjust he said, as "bankers are back to their bonuses, hoping that no one will notice the income of the top 1% of our society is now greater than the total pay bill for our NHS, our schools and our local government put together."

He spoke of the alternative to the cuts that the coalition government refuses to pursue.

"The coalition says they can't ask their friends in big business to pay tax. That would discourage enterprise. They can't regulate the financial system or there'll be fewer jobs in the city.

"But with breathtaking hypocrisy, they take away the benefits of the poor and disabled. They undermine the job security of low paid workers. They let our communities feel the pain."

Outlining further alternatives he said: "If there's money to bail out bankers and their bonuses, if there's money for war, for Trident, there's money available to protect our public services.

"And if money is tight, never mind a pay freeze for our members. How about a pay freeze for the bankers? We’ve seen enough of what they've done. We've had enough of their greed, their arrogance. It's them, not our members, who should be doing more for less."


Read more of this story on UNISON UK website
http://www.unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=6326



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Sunday, September 12, 2010

UNISON attacks Scottish CBI hypocrisy over public service cuts


12 September 2010

UNISON Scotland today responded to a call from the Chair of CBI Scotland to end the ‘war of words’ over public services. At the CBI Scotland annual dinner Linda Urquhart declared it was time to “call a halt to ‘them and us’ attitudes which have prevailed for decades”.

UNISON Scotland Convenor Mike Kirby said:
“A halt to them and us attitudes from big business would indeed be welcome. However, it is hard to take such calls seriously when the rest of Linda Urquhart’s speech was an unrestrained attack on public service delivery.”

“The current financial crisis was caused by private corporate folly and the deregulated financial system that the CBI supported. It is public service workers and the communities they serve that are paying the price of the policy agenda promoted by big business. To impose this failed policy on public services would be further economic vandalism.”

The CBI leaders speech also called for further privatisation of public services. Evidence submitted by UNISON Scotland to Parliament last week shows that this approach has cost the taxpayer millions of pounds in extra costs and undermined the integrated delivery of services.

Mike Kirby said:
“In a week that has seen the spectacular collapse of a leading outsourcing company (Connaught), it is a strange time to call for the imposition of further chaos on hard pressed councils. Public services should be democratically accountable to local communities, not to the Boards of big business who are driven solely by the need to make profits.”

ends

Note to Editors:
UNISON Scotland’s briefing to parliament on these issues can be found online at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/ briefings/index.html


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Thursday, September 9, 2010

UNISON urges MSPs to champion a better way forward for Scotland

9 September 2010

UNISON Scotland is warning political leaders to ignore the recommendations in the Independent Budget Review (IBR) and instead to champion a better way forward for Scotland.

Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said the financial projections vastly understates the scale of cuts in local services and said the public should not be left to pay the price for bailing out Britain’s banks.

He said: “The financial projections, whilst disastrous for public services and the economy, actually understate the scale of cuts in local services.

“The IBR fails to question the necessity for these cuts, adding to the myth that cuts in public spending are both essential and inevitable. Cutting public spending now will simply prolong and deepen the recession – it is an ideological, not economic, response to calls for cuts in public spending and will devastate the nation’s public services.”

UNISON’s analysis of planned local cuts shows that councils and health boards are planning much greater cuts than the IBR would indicate. This is because real inflation is likely to far exceed the notional Treasury allowance for inflation. Public bodies also face increased demands on services due to the recession and demographic change, plus reductions in income in addition to the Council Tax freeze.

Dave added: “The public should not be left to pay for the failure of private corporate folly through cuts in services.

“There is a credible economic alternative to the cuts and privatisation agenda and political leaders will be judged on how far they distance themselves from this report. Instead, our MSPs should be championing a better way forward for Scotland.”

ends

Notes to Editors:
1.    A parliamentary debate on the Independent Budget Review is being held today (Thursday, September 9).
2.    UNISON Scotland’s briefing to MSPs can be found online at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/index.html


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UNISON Scotland Briefing for MSPs on Independent Budget Review

9 September 2010

Ahead of a debate on the Independent Budget Review in the Scottish Parliament this morning, UNISON Scotland has published a Briefing for MSPs on our website www.unison-scotland.org.uk

 "The IBR report does not address the disastrous consequences of spending cuts for Scotland. Whilst some of the factual analysis is helpful, the solutions are largely a rather tired rehash of right wing economic orthodoxy. There is an alternative, and UNISON is calling on MSPs to champion a better way forward for Scotland."

Briefing: Key Points
  • The financial projections, whilst disastrous for public services and the economy, actually understate the scale of cuts in local services.
  • There is a credible economic alternative to cuts in public spending.
  • The privatisation of Scottish Water would contribute nothing to the capital budget; result in higher bills to the charge payer and transfer control of Scotland’s greatest asset abroad.
  • Outsourcing will cost more and break up integrated service delivery.
  • Shared services will make, at best, only a long term contribution to cost savings.
  • It is unfair to ask public service workers to pay for the failure of private corporate folly through pay cuts and reduced pensions.
  • Universal provision is more efficient and contributes to a better performing more equal society.
  • Cuts at this level and at this time in the economic cycle, will damage the economy and result in huge job cuts in the private as well as the public sector.
  • There is a better way! At UNISON Public Works and the STUC Better Way websites.



See full briefing here: Briefing for MSPs


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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

PCS and UNISON forge alliance to fight cuts

Wed 8 Sep 2010


Two of the UK’s biggest public sector unions, UNISON and PCS, representing
1.7 million workers, have pledged to forge a powerful alliance to fight back
against the coalition government's cuts to jobs and services.

The unions are joining forces to campaign, co-ordinate and, where possible,
take action in unity and support of each other.

The government’s assault on the public sector threatens the livelihoods of
750,000 public sector workers. Job losses are already leading to drastic
cuts to services that people rely on especially the poor, the old and
vulnerable.

The unions will campaign together to build support for a realistic
alternative to the cuts agenda. One that would protect and create jobs to
secure the economic recovery, tax the banks, big business and the
super-rich. They will also campaign for the non-renewal of Trident, to put
an end to wasteful spending on consultancy and agency staff, against
expensive privatisation, and to build a fairer society.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:  "This is no paper policy, this
alliance has teeth.  Working together we can build an effective fighting
machine to combat the cuts and protect vital jobs and services.  And, when
the circumstances are right, we will take action together.

"Across the country UNISON will work with the PCS to promote an alternative
economic vision to the Con Dems’ monosyllabic cuts agenda.  We want to build
a fairer future for all, not just a haven for the super-rich."

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "The millionaires in David
Cameron's cabinet insist that we are 'all in this together'. But low-paid
public sector workers and other vulnerable members of our society do not
share this view when they can see the government's plans seek to punish them
for the mistakes of bankers and financial speculators.

"Our alliance with UNISON is a crucial first step towards building the kind
of united opposition that will be needed to oppose the government's spending
cuts that will tear communities apart and destroy the public services we all
rely on. PCS is committed to an alternative programme of economic growth,
collecting the £120 billion in taxes avoided, uncollected and evaded each
year, creating jobs, curbing the use of civil service consultants and
reducing waste.”

The unions are setting up a national liaison group to promote joint activity
and co-ordinate a national campaign together. The group will work with the
TUC and co-ordinate public sector alliances across central and local
government.

To forge the partnership further PCS and UNISON are organising a There is an
alternative event with the aim of bringing together trade unionists,
politicians, academics, voluntary and community groups.

Across regions the unions will twin officers and organisers, developing
regional campaign teams, regional events and roadshows building on links
with voluntary groups.

At local level the unions will develop support links between members and
activists including joint workplace and public meetings and joint local
activities.


Original release on UNISON UK site:
http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=1967




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Saturday, September 4, 2010

We've got the argument. We've got the alternatives. We've got the vision - get out there and organise for it

There is an alternative to savage cuts in public services is the message from a strategy meeting of unions and community groups hosted by UNISON Scotland.  The 270 delegates united behind a call from Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, to build "Our vision of a good society. A society based on fairness, solidarity, and democracy. A society in which public services are there to enable everyone to participate.

"This vision, and these values, have always been fundamental to our ethos as a union. Because it's what our members try to turn into reality every day when they go to work.

"So let's not be fooled by the scaremongering about the debt", said Dave. "And let's not fall for the lie that that this society can't afford decent public services. The money is there in our economy, if we want to raise it and put it to good use. But this government doesn't want you to realise that.

"Not because half of the cabinet are millionaires who don't want to pay their share…although half of the cabinet are millionaires who don't want to pay their share.

"It's because of an ideology. An ideology that hates public services. An ideology that loves privatisation. An ideology that sees public service employment - millions of people caring and helping and educating - not as an achievement to be celebrated - but as a problem to be tackled."

Underlining the point, the STUC's Stephen Boyd exploded the myths about the crisis, blow by blow. The STUC's new 'There is a Better Way' campaign (http://www.thereisabetterway.org/) is a crucial resource for showing not only that the cuts are ideologically rather than financial driven - but also how they will hinder a recovery and possibly throw us into a further recession.

But this meeting was not just a talking shop. It was there as the first step in a series of events as participants moved into workshops to develop practical plans to take the campaign forward.

Nobody underestimated the task. As Dave Prentis told UNISON's National Conference in June, "the next four years will test us all. Test our resolve. Test our nerve. But we will pass the test. The world has changed - new worries, new fears. And our members look to us to lead. This is no time to hang our heads. It is time to stand tall."

He returned to that theme in Glasgow "We've got the argument. We've got the alternatives. We've got the vision. What we need to do is get out there and organise for it".