Friday, February 26, 2010

UNISON calls on SPT to recognize staff work

UNISON, the main union representing staff in Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) is calling for the partnership meeting today (Friday) to acknowledge the work put in by staff during the turmoil caused by the high profile resignations of senior board members and management.

Robert Rae (UNISON regional organiser) said "While the fallout of expenses revelations and resignations continue to be played out in the media, UNISON members within SPT continue to provide a valuable service for the travelling public in Strathclyde. This seems to have been overlooked in the current climate."

UNISON is calling upon the SPT officers at their meeting, and their new chairperson, to acknowledge the commitment of their employees.

Robert Rae said: "We would urge the officers of SPT to acknowledge their staff's commitment to getting the job done. They are working diligently providing a public service day in, day out despite the issues at the top."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Union fury at slap in face for low paid

Date: Thu 25 February 2010

Unions representing around 150,000 Scottish Council staff, today reacted with anger at what they said was CoSLA’s high-handed dismissal of their pay claim. UNISON, along with fellow unions Unite and GMB had submitted the claim for 3% for 2010-2011, but at a meeting yesterday, the claim was simply dismissed without any negotiations.

Dougie Black, UNISON Regional Organiser, and Lead Negotiator said: “Despite the fact that CoSLA have already agreed to pay teaching staff 2.4% and their senior managers 2.5% this year, as part of multi-year deals, it appears that the value that they put on the main group of staff who deliver their services is nothing. These staff include the lowest paid in Scottish Local Government. For them it is a slap in the face.”

The unions are also angry that the employers chose not to address the detail of the trade unions’ claim but simply dismissed it in its entirety.

Jimmy Farrelly, Senior Industrial Organiser Unite, said: “Just as the rejection of their claim shows how little councils value their staff, the brusque and dismissive treatment of their negotiators is further proof of the lack of understanding that these employers have. It is similar to the treatment that lords offered to their serfs.”

John Begley, GMB Organiser, said: “Despite many authorities making provision for pay for SJC employees this year they now appear to want to backtrack on this and leave our members high and dry.”

Further talks have been offered by the employers, and the unions will now consult with their branches and consider if there is any likelihood of serious negotiations.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives issues guidelines to tackle violence in the workplace

Date: Wed 24 February 2010

Scotland’s local authorities have come together to protect staff from violence in the workplace following the launch of new guidelines.

The Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives has teamed up with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) in an effort to stamp out the risk of physical and verbal abuse.

They have drawn together good practice to form guidelines, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, which aim to provide a tool for those working in local authorities, whether they are practitioners, managers, individual workers or elected members.

The guidelines, Managing Occupational Violence and Aggression in the Workplace: Tools and Strategies, was launched today, Wednesday, 24th February, at an event held in CoSLA’s headquarters in Edinburgh.

Kenny MacAskill, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, spoke at the event which was attended by representatives from 21 local authorities, trade unions, health boards and the Scottish Business Crime Centre.
The new guidelines will allow local authorities to compare recommendations against their existing standards and encourage the involvement of staff in agreeing and monitoring procedures.

It is estimated that 38% of people working in a public-facing occupation in Scotland have suffered verbal abuse by a member of the public in the last 12 months. The number of assaults reported against people working in local government rose from 9,121 to 9,910 in 2009.

Over a million people in Scotland deal with the public as part of the daily working routine and those who face possible verbal or physical abuse can include classroom assistants, refuse collectors, care workers and councillors.

Many incidents however go unreported due to a lack of robust reporting procedures or perceptions that being abused is part of the job.

Linda Shanahan, Violence Prevention Manager for the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives, has led on the development of the guidelines which aims to raise awareness of the reasons behind why some violence occurs, and to provide tools to manage it.

She said: “Over the past year, we have been working closely with CoSLA, UNISON and a range of local authorities to develop these guidelines which are unique in its approach and encourage local government to take a pro-active approach to developing best practice.

“Employers have a duty to protect their staff and the Centre can provide them with support to tackle this unacceptable issue and reassure them that the reporting of incidents involving violence in the workplace need not be a complicated process.

“Being on the receiving end of work-related violence can contribute to long-term health problems such as stress and depression, resulting in extra costs from absenteeism and leading to difficulties in staff retention.”

At the launch of the guidelines were over 20 Scottish local authority representatives from a range of disciplines as well as others including trade unions and the NHS. They heard from a range of speakers including Steve Bell, Strategic Director of the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives; Dave Watson, UNISON’S Scottish Organiser, and Ronnie McColl, CoSLA’s health and wellbeing spokesperson.

UNISON Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said: “Any act of violence on a member of staff providing vital public services is completely unacceptable.

“It is clear that where rigorous monitoring and active preventative measures are in place; this has resulted in improved staff safety. This new guidance will give local authorities the tools to make real progress in tackling this issue.”

Ronnie McColl, CoSLA’s health and wellbeing spokesperson, added: “Local authorities recognise staff are their greatest asset, so it is essential we do all we can to provide a safe working environment and provide guidance on how to minimise risk to the personal safety of council staff and elected members when doing their jobs.

“A great deal of work has been done in councils across Scotland on developing policies to tackle violence in the workplace and much of this good work has been incorporated into this guidance.

“I welcome this guidance and believe it will promote the sector as an exemplar in good practice to which others can aspire.”

The guidance collates examples of best practice in the prevention of violence against staff and involved input from 15 local authorities, along with a range of other experts.

The Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives is helping to reduce work-related ill health by 20 per cent and days lost to ill health by 30 per cent. In Scotland, 2.2 million working days are lost every year due to sickness absence at a cost to employers of £1.2 billion (£1,600 per employee).

Local authorities can receive a copy of the new guidelines or free and confidential advice from the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives, by visiting or by calling the adviceline on 0800 019 2211.


Issued by the BIG Partnership on behalf of the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives.
For further information or interview requests, contact Kim Munro on 0141 333 9585 (office), 07966 224910 (mobile) or or Ross Barker on 0141 333 9585 (office), 07963 349762 (mobile) or

Note to Editors
The Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives was established in 2005 as part of NHS Scotland. It can offer advice on the latest health and safety legislation, occupational health support and help with health promotion. For a free and confidential advice or to arrange a workplace visit, please call the adviceline on 0800 019 2211.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Edinburgh takes to streets to isolate Nazis

Thousands of people demonstrated in Edinburgh today peacefully under the 'Scotland United' banner to further humiliate the so-called English/Scottish Defence League's attempt to bring its message of hate to the city.

While demonstrators from trade unions, faith groups, students and ordinary members of the public staged a peaceful protest through the city centre, less than 100 fascists were corralled in pubs by the police and sent home again humiliated, as they were in Glasgow in November.

In a gesture of unity, the rally in Princes Street Gardens heard from the leadership of all the main parties. Kenny MacAskill, SNP Scottish Justice Minister, Ian Gray, Labour Party leader, the city's Lib Dem council leader Jenny Dawe, and Tory spokesperson Ruth Davidson who beat the BNP candidate into fourth place in Glasgow North East.

It also heard from organiser Aamer Anwar, Osama Saeed of the Scottish-Islamic Foundation, Shami Khan of Edinburgh and Lothians Racial Equality Council, Weyman Bennett of Unite Against Fascism and Dave Moxham, STUC Deputy General Secretary as well as student leader Liam Burns.

Jenny Dawe said there was no place in Edinburgh for racists, Ian Gray called on the memory of the Scots who went to Spain in the 1930s to fight fascism and Weyman Bennet noted that he had always been told to turn the other cheek. "Well I've turned all four and I'm still fighting", he said. Shami Khan said, "Racism is a cancer that has to be cut out".

"We students have one word for the range of cultures in Edinburgh", said student leader Liam Burns. "That is 'welcome'".

The demonstrators marched off up the Mound to the Meadows. So many of them young people determined to stand up against racism. Many others seasoned campaigners alongside a multicultural mix of individuals and families who had never demonstrated before. All with the same purpose; to say there was no place in our city for the fascists. A warmth and a unity that would shame the thugs around the corner.

We were joined by UNISON colleagues from Glasgow, Dundee and parts further.

In a moving moment, the march fell silent outside the Mosque in Potterrow as elders and worshippers stood and waved in dignity.

Meanwhile the so-called Scottish Defence League were surrounded by police at the railway station and in a High Street pub, heckled by anti-racism demonstrators. Later they were herded away by police out of the city.

At the end of the march Dave Moxham and Aamer Anwar praised the demonstrators for standing up against fascism and thanked the council for their help and the police for how they had managed the situation.

Unity indeed on a day when that unity, and decency, stood up to hate.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Accounts Commission report 'misses the point' - UNISON

Thursday 18 February 

Commenting on today's report from the Accounts Commission on Scottish Local Government, Dougie Black, UNISON's regional organizer and lead negotiator for local council workers said: "It is disappointing that the Accounts Commission seem to have missed the point again.

"Shared services cost money in the short term, they don't save it; cuts to so-called 'back room' service just mean hauling front line workers away from service delivery to cover background work; and 'alternative delivery' means either expensive profit-driven private provision or services provided on the cheap by cutting resources, training, pay and conditions.

"The real question is - why do bodies like the Accounts Commission not talk to the people who use these services - all of us - the people of Scotland. We didn't cause the recession, we didn't drain the public coffers of money to prop up the banks - why should our services pay for that when the bankers who are responsible are still awarding themselves huge bonuses?

"Local Government is already facing cuts of over £300m, and job losses of 3,500 plus. That is why UNISON is running its Public Works campaign, is contacting local communities who depend on these services, and organising a 'Stop the Cuts, March and Rally' in Glasgow on April 10, as the next stage in that campaign."


Note for editors:
Details on UNISON's Public Works Campaign are available on
UNISON's Alternative Budget can be found at


Saturday, February 13, 2010

98% of city childcare workers threatened and abused

UNISON, the union representing Glasgow’s residential child care staff, today released the results of a survey of their residential childcare members about violence at work over a twelve month period. At the same time, the union at UK level has issued a ten-point plan to address the problem of violence against social work staff.

The survey finds that the vast majority of the city’s residential childcare workers were worried about violence in their job, and they don’t feel that their managers take their concerns seriously.
The survey also found that a majority of workers have been physically assaulted (53%) and threatened with a weapon (51%) in the past year. Almost all workers responding (98%) said that they had suffered threats or verbal abuse.

Andy McCallion, UNISON’s Glasgow branch Residential convenor said: "This survey was organised because our stewards were telling us that the levels of violence were increasing – both in frequency and in extremity. Even we, however, were surprised at the levels of the concern and the frequency of the violence.”

However, the union has found similar problems across the UK, and today issued a ten-point plan* to tackle the issue. Helga Pile, UNISON’s UK Officer for Social workers, said: “There is a chronic problem across the UK with violence and threats against staff working in social care. Threats and assaults contribute to stress, ill-health, sickness absence and high staff turnover. Employers have a responsibility to protect their staff, but sadly, social care has become a high risk job.

“First on the list to tackle this is additional funding from government to tackle violence against social workers and social care staff. Measures to address this should include thorough risk assessments that are revised following any incidents, co-working on visits and redeploying anyone who is threatened or abused whilst the incidents is fully investigated.
“Also vital is a new system to encourage social care staff to come forward and report incidents, and to record them more accurately, as well as improve the way incidents are responded to on a local level.”

In Glasgow, the union also asked their members about attitudes to the violence from their managers, and was concerned to find that 85% of respondents did not feel that management outside the direct workplace took violent incidents seriously enough.

Andy McCallion said "The bald statistic was backed up by many of the comments on the questionnaire. Comments like – ‘we are not being listened too’ or ‘we are the only group of staff where zero tolerance doesn’t count.’. It is time that management started recognising that being verbally abused and threatened on a daily basis is NOT part of the job, that incidents need to be brought out into the open and tackled, and that the placements need to look at all the individual needs of the service user, other service users living in the home, and the resources available.”
UNISON has raised the survey findings in negotiation with management to improve the service to young people in residential units, and to build a safer working environment for our members. The ten point plan will be used both at local level with individual employers, at Scottish level in the joint working group set up with the Scottish Government, the STUC and CoSLA, and directly with employers representative groups.


Note for editors: The survey was carried out during March/April 2009 by sending 286 Questionnaires to members’ home addresses. 55 were received back. Glasgow City Council currently has 17 Children’s Units with 113 young people looked after in them. Copies of the results can be obtained from Chris Bartter (below)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Home Carers kicked in teeth by private care company

Date: Mon 8 Feb 2010

UNISON, Scotland’s care workers’ union, today condemned the news that over 300 low paid Home Carers employed by Choices - Care at Home, are to have their contracts of employment ripped up and replaced with “zero hour” contracts, removing any guarantees of how long, or if, they will work in any given period.

Choices Care Workers received letters from the company on 28 January. In them Assistant Director of Operations, Fiona Ford, tells Home Carers that the cut in conditions is due to company difficulties and not enough work from local authorities. The Home Carers, currently paid just 5p above the National Minimum Wage, were shocked at the news and many have contacted UNISON for advice.

Stephen Smellie, Secretary of UNISON in South Lanarkshire, said, “This is an atrocious way to treat a group of dedicated low paid workers who deliver essential services to elderly and disabled people living at home”. UNISON is urging the Home Carers to join the union to fight the company over this and other poor working conditions.

Stephen Smellie said,
“There has been no consultation with anyone over this. Not staff, not UNISON, certainly not service users and not local authorities, were consulted. The company should change their name to “NO Choices Care at Home”.


Note to Editors:
Choices bought over the home care company Domiciliary Care Scotland just before the BBC did an expose of DCS’s practices on Panorama last year Local Authorities contract out home care services to companies like Choices because they are cheaper Such companies like Choices Care at Home, already have recruitment and retention issues. The Panorama programme highlighted how poor wages and poor conditions led to a lack of staff and poorer services to service users.

UNISON’s Public works campaign is part of the union’s UK million voices for change campaign. Details at

UNISON’s Alternative Budget can be found at


Saturday, February 6, 2010

UNISON General Secretary launches Scottish 'Public Works' campaign

Date: Sat 6 Feb 2010

UNISON's general Secretary, Dave Prentis, today launched the public service union's major 'Public Works' campaign fighting back against cuts in public services.

Speaking at a rally in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, he attacked all political parties' 'Macho Politics' and announced that the union's research has uncovered cuts of £300m across Scottish local government with a planned job loss of over 3,000.

"No school cleaner gambled billions on the stock exchange." He said, "None of them created this recession. Why should they be expected to pay for it?"

Dave also pointed to the danger of cuts plunging the economy back into recession as public spending is the only engine of growth we have. "Spending on public services makes sense if you are trying to grow the economy. "

He said, "for every pound spent on public services, 64 pence goes back into the local economy."

Dave made it clear that all the major parties were to blame in a rush to the bottom, but reserved particular criticism for David Cameron's Tories who, he said, hadn't changed

"They are calling for savage cuts - using the crisis to dismantle the welfare state. 20% cut in public expenditure over two years, but tax cuts for the rich . a world of haves and have nots."

He also urged Gordon Brown to learn from President Barack Obama's decision to stand up to American bankers. "Lets hear more about pay freezes for bankers," He said. "Lets hear Gordon calling for every last dime to be paid back to the taxpayer."

Dave Prentis with UNISON health members at the Public Works rally in Glasgow 6 Feb 2010

The rally, was attended by around 400 UNISON delegates from branches all ac ross Scotland, and invited guests from communities fighting cuts. It agreed to build towards a mass march and rally later in the spring and decided to make public spending a major campaign issue in the forthcoming General Election campaign


Note for editors:

UNISON's Public works campaign is part of the union's UK Million voices for change campaign. Details at

UNISON's Alternative Budget can be found at


Friday, February 5, 2010

UNISON General Secretary to launch Scottish campaign with attack on £300m local service cuts

Date: Fri 5 Feb 2010

UNISON, Scotland’s largest public service union, will hold a rally in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, tomorrow (Saturday) at which the union’s General Secretary – Dave Prentis will launch their Public Works – anti cuts campaign.

Dave will announce that the union’s research has uncovered cuts of £300m across Scottish local government with a planned job loss of over 3,000.

The rally, will be attended by around 400 UNISON delegates from branches all across Scotland, and invited guests from communities fighting cuts. It will take place at 12 noon in the exhibition hall of the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow.

Dave Prentis will urge the government to call time on financiers who say that public spending isn’t sustainable at the same time as taking million pound bonuses.

“No nurse got a million pound bonus for gambling other people’s money,” he will say. “None of our members created this recession, why should they be expected to pay for the recovery?”

He will also point to the danger of cuts plunging the economy back into recession as public spending is the only engine of growth we have.

The media are welcome to attend the rally and to photograph or film. Dave Prentis will be available for interviews. Please contact Chris Bartter, below for access and to arrange any interview.

Note for editors: UNISON’s Public works campaign is part of the union’s UK million voices for change campaign. It will be formally launched by UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis at a rally in Glasgow’s Royal Concert hall on Saturday 6 February at 12 noon.
Details at

UNISON’s Alternative Budget can be found at


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Scotland United against racists and fascists - demo Edinburgh 20 April

Scotland United Rally
Saturday 20 February 2010: Assemble at 11.30am Ross Bandstand ~ Princes St Gardens Edinburgh

‘Scotland United’ is a coming together of trade unionists, anti-racists, and faith groups for one purpose - to hold a rally & march to celebrate multicultural Edinburgh on Saturday 20th February.
This is in response to the anti-Muslim protest planned by racist bigots of the Scottish & English Defence League who wish to march on the same day.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

2010 Budget will fail to deliver for Scotland - UNISON

Date: Weds 3 February

 UNISON, Scotland's largest public service union, said today that - despite government claims - damaging cuts in services were being planned by Scotland's authorities, and the Scottish budget would fail to meet the needs of the Scottish people and was likely to threaten the economic recovery.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said "The budget will not cover the increased demand that Scottish people now make on their services, nor will it cover the increased costs. That means cuts in services, cuts in jobs and cuts in the amount that public authorities pump into the economy. It looks like a triple whammy for the people of Scotland."

"This crisis was not caused by the public sector and we know that public services work, yet some politicians and media commentators seem to think it axiomatic that our services and those who deliver them should pay for the irresponsibility of our private sector banks. As part of our Public Works campaign, UNISON has produced an alternative budget that shows how the cost of bailing out the country's financial sector can be met without cutting the vital services people depend on"


Note for editors:
UNISON's Public works campaign is part of the union's UK million voices for change campaign. It will be formally launched by UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis at a rally in Glasgow on Saturday 6 February. Details at

UNISON's Alternative Budget can be found at


Monday, February 1, 2010

UNISON signs recognition deal with Police Service Authority

Date: Monday 1 February 2010

Scotland’s public service union, UNISON will today (Monday) sign a recognition agreement with the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA), and fellow trade union, Unite, which will confirm them as the unions recognised to represent police staff working for the Authority.

UNISON is the largest union representing police staff in Scotland and has around 550 members currently covered by this agreement across Scotland.

Kenny Laing - Chair of UNISON’s SPSA Sub-Group said:
“I am delighted that this agreement has been drawn up and signed. At a time when there is much work to be done in job evaluation, harmonising conditions and with various modernisation agendas, it is clearly very important that UNISON is able to represent and negotiate with the SPSA as effectively as possible. That is even more important as we face very difficult times for public sector finances.

“I look forward to continuing to work hard, alongside my other UNISON stewards, for the members in this new formal consultation process.”

UNISON has had good relations with this new employer and the agreed structure will enable issues to be addressed in an agreed procedure by both employer and union.

Jo Brigham, SPSA Interim Chief Executive said:
“The establishment of this agreement between SPSA, UNISON and Unite is a very positive step. Although we have been consulting informally with the unions, the agreement will allow us to move forward with a recognised and consistent process. This will strengthen SPSA’s working relationship with the unions and allow us to better understand and communicate with one another. We look forward to our first formal meeting in February.”

Peter Veldon, UNISON’s regional officer for Police staffs said
“It is important that UNISON’s key role within other Police staffs across Scotland, is now replicated in this new authority. There is much to be done in the next few months and membership of UNISON is essential to ensure that staff views are considered in all parts of SPSA and to ensure the best possible results for employees during the negotiations.”