Friday, 27 February 2009

Enable staff in pay action ballot

Date: Friday 27 February 2009

UNISON members working for Enable, the charity that works with people with learning disabilities, are to be balloted on strike action over pay, their union UNISON today.

The ballot follows a 2 to 1 rejection of the employer’s offer of a £300 rise for the lowest paid, plus a £100 non-consolidated payment; 2% for the second lowest grade of staff with £50 non consolidated payment and only 1.5% for the remaining staff. Staff in Enable were due a pay rise from 1st October 2008, when inflation was running at 5%.

Last year UNISON lodged a claim for an increase of 5% or £1000 whichever is the greater, an extra day’s holiday and an end to a system that pays people differently for doing the same job. In December 2008 Enable finally made their offer.

Simon Macfarlane, Regional Organiser said:
"Our members are sick of receiving below inflation pay settlements from Enable and have clearly voted to reject this poor offer. These staff cannot continue to subsidise vital care and support to some of the most vulnerable in our community by poverty wages.

"This offer is simply unacceptable. It is clear from its overwhelming rejection that there is a level of anger and frustration amongst our members, even at a time of economic uncertainty. We are recommending they vote ‘Yes’ in this ballot. Our members don’t want to take action that will impact on people with learning disabilities, but they will if Enable force them in to it. Enable must get back round the table and make a more serious offer."

The union says there are other issues at stake too. Members are annoyed that if you look after someone in Glasgow you get paid £6.67 an hour but if you look after someone in Bearsden you get paid £7.24, and urges an end to this geographical discrimination.

Simon MacFarlane said:
"UNISON knows the funding pressures there are on the voluntary sector, and we are calling on employers to join with us when we lobby the Scottish Parliament for fair funding for the sector on 17th March."


For Further Information Please Contact:
Simon Macfarlane (Regional Organiser) 0870 7777 006 (w) 07703 194 132 (m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0870 7777 006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)


Real pension divide is between bosses and staff - UNISON

Date: Friday 27 February 2009

In the wake of the news that Fred Goodwin has already started drawing a pension of £650k per year, UNISON - Scotland's public service union - says that this highlights the real pensions divide in the UK economy.

A briefing by the union issued today (27 February), summarises information from the Pensions Policy Institute, the National Association for Pensions Funds and the TUC to point out that the majority of company directors can retire at 60, with a final salary pension 25 times higher than the national average which they accrue twice as fast as both their workforce and the public sector workforce.

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser, said:
"This information from independent sources, shows that those with the real gold-plated pensions are private sector directors. The very people who are leading the clamour to attack the pensions of low-paid, hard working public service staff. Fred Goodwin's pension is simply one example - the top directors in FTSE 100 companies averaged a pension of £333,664 p.a. in 2008 - and this figure has gone up by 4% since the previous year."

In addition - despite the manipulated statistics put out by organisations like the Taxpayers Alliance - public sector workers tend to pay more into their pension than private sector staff, and accrue their pension at the same rate as staff in the private sector. However the pension for new entrants to public sector pensions is only similar to a medium private sector final salary scheme.

Dave Watson said:
"The Taxpayers Alliance, and other private sector-sponsored campaign groups again spit their vitriol against public service workers. For example, local government workers like classroom assistants, home carers, social workers, refuse collectors, and dinner ladies, contribute all their working lives to gain a pension that averages just £3,800 pa, yet the Taxpayer's Alliance, would apparently prefer them to have that pension cut and force them to rely on state benefits."

"They would be better employed directing their firepower at the real gold-plated pensioners. Big business bosses who award themselves generous pensions while closing decent schemes for their staff. But they won't of course, because this would be biting the hand that feeds them."


Note for editors:
The briefing from UNISONScotland is available from either contact below, or on the Scottish website -

For Further Information Please Contact:
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser) 07958 122 409(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)


Thursday, 26 February 2009

Accounts Commission misses the point on local government

Thursday 26 February 2009

UNISON – the union representing staff delivering local services - has slammed today’s Accounts Commission annual overview report on local government, as piecemeal and inaccurate.

Matt Smith, UNISON’s Scottish Secretary, said:

“Unfortunately the Accounts Commission’s report skips over the significant cost implications of local councils complying with the law and delivering equal pay which could run into millions of pounds; mistakenly advocates the use of shared service to achieve ‘urgent savings’ when all the evidence shows that shared services based on cost savings don’t work*; advocates an increased concentration on the failed mantra of ‘competitive’ services; and recommends increasing the bureaucracy to collect more accounts information rather than addressing the increased need for public services in a recession.”

The union also points to the irony that an earlier report by the Accounts Commission slated the public services for unplanned and unmonitored overuse of consultants, whereas this one advocates concentration on shared services – where consultants are increasingly used as a prop to make the case.

Matt Smith said:

“We have tried to get information from both central government and the local government Improvement Service on the use of consultants. Both have refused our Freedom of Information requests – central government because they didn’t keep a record of the work companies do, and the Improvement Service because they were not covered by the FOI(S) Act. We do know that consultants are strongly involved in promoting shared services, including some prominent failures, and wonder that this contradiction hasn’t occurred to the Accounts Commission.”

“It is a pity that at a time when local councils face significant challenges from the current economic crisis and underfunding from central government, they are not being better served by the body set up to overview their performance. The Accounts Commission can surely do better than advocating local government being sidetracked into expensive reorganisation of services, risking increased waste of money on failed shared service development, and ignoring a huge cost implication for local government.”


Note for editors:
*As an example of the problems with Shared Services, the shared IT services project between the Department for Transport and its seven agencies was supposed to be up and running last year and save £57m. By this year only two agencies and the DfT were using it and the costs have risen by £81m.


Wednesday, 18 February 2009

50 frontline jobs at risk in Stirling as budget overspend looms

Date: Wednesday 18 February 2009

Plans to close residential homes in Stirling as a result of a budget overspend could result in the loss of 50 frontline jobs, the council's UNISON branch has warned.

At a meeting with Stirling Council management on the 22nd January 2009 UNISON were issued with an HR1 possible compulsory redundancy notice for 170 jobs. After UNISON challenged the redundancies the SNP council leader, Graham Houston, made the following statement:

“There will be no cuts to frontline services but making savings on this scale does mean a reduction in the number of posts by simplifying, streamlining and standardising management structures.”

The Depute council leader, SNP councillor Scott Farmer, challenged UNISON’s position by stating that the SNP administration is committed to frontline services and these changes will enable us to deliver more effective and efficient services.

James Douglas, UNISON Stirling Branch Secretary, said:

“If this is the case, why are the council proposing to close both Wellgreen and Beech Residential Homes which could make 50 frontline care staff redundant.

A decision will be taken on Thursday, 19th February, 2009, at the Council’s budget meeting with little or no consideration given to residents, their families or the staff affected. I would ask that the general public assist UNISON in protecting public services by contacting their local councillor, MSP and MP in supporting care for the elderly members of our community.”


Wednesday, 11 February 2009

UNISON welcomes decision on Local Income Tax but warns of imminent cuts in local services

Date: Wed 11 February 2009
For immediate release

UNISON, Scotland’s local government union, has welcomed the decision to drop the Local Income Tax by the Scottish Government today - but issued a warning that the actual financial settlement for Scotland’s local councils announced in the same speech by Finance Secretary John Swinney will lead to real cuts in public services this year, with even more damaging threats for next year.

The union says that despite claims by the Government of increasing cash for local government, this budget will inevitably mean staffing cuts and services to the public will be lost. Council budgets are under pressure from the settlement for three reasons:

1. A large chunk of the money from the Scottish Government has been ring-fenced to pay for the council tax freeze, and can’t be used to deliver services.
2. The budget deal with the Tories to cut business rates will mean less money.
3. Income to councils from sales and service charges is dropping due to the recession.

At the same time demand for public services from local councils is increasing due to that same recession.

Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser said:

"We welcome John Swinney's acceptance of reality - that there was neither Parliamentary support nor a viable financial basis for the SNP's Local Income Tax plan. It would have resulted in hundreds of millions of pounds lost to local councils with a disastrous effect on jobs and services.

"Unfortunately, the local government settlement which John Swinney did announce today will still have the effect of budget cuts for Scotland's councils. UNISON is opposed to the continued Council Tax freeze which will increasingly cause jobs and services to be cut back.

"A recession is the time to invest more money in local services, not cut them back. In addition to increasing demand as people turn to public services to help them cope with the recession, properly funded public services actually boost the economy."

UNISON is planning a campaign to promote local services and to ensure they are available for the increasing number of people who were likely to depend on them.


For further information please contact:
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary 07771 548997 (m)
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser 07958 122 409 (m)

Friday, 6 February 2009

Deadline TV: Glasgow Community service strikers take further action

Donald McNaughton, Unison member and community services supervisor at Glasgow City Council, speaks to Deadline News TV press agency about the strike...

"WORKERS at Scotland’s biggest council who have been on strike for five weeks have taken their protest to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament.

"Community service supervisors at Glasgow City Council travelled to Edinburgh as part of their on-going dispute over pay and hours.

"The employees – who look after people carrying out non-custodial sentences in the community – handed a letter of protest over to justice secretary Kenny MacAskill.

"The 21 workers started the industrial action on January 6 after talks broke down between the union Unison and the council over a re-grading of their posts."

More here...

Other news stories at Deadline News TV

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Parents eleventh hour bid to save uni nursery

Parents eleventh hour bid to save uni nursery

Feb 4 2009 by Lynn Jolly
Paisley Daily Express

TODDLERS took to the streets with their mums yesterday in a last-ditch protest aimed at keeping their university nursery open.

Plans are in the pipeline to shut the nursery at the University of the West of Scotland’s Paisley campus.

And, just an hour before members of the governing university court met to make a final decision, parents appealed to them to show some compassion.


John Gallacher, regional organiser for the staff’s UNISON union, said: “There are 30 staff across both campuses. And if the decision to close the facilities is confirmed these people will be made redundant, and it will be compulsory.

“If this happens these will be the first compulsory redundancies in the history of the UWS – and it would be a dark day.”

Click here for full story in Paisley Daily Express

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Community Service strikers to lobby Parliament

Wed 4 February 2009

Glasgow Council's 21 Community Service Supervisors, on strike for five weeks over proposals by Glasgow Council to cut their pay, are to lobby the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (Thursday 5th February).

The supervisors remain on indefinite strike action, but the Council remain intransigent and are still refusing to withdraw the pay cuts the strikers face under "service reform" proposals.

The members will be lobbying parliament from 10.30 onwards and will be handing in a letter of protest to the Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill MSP, highlighting their dispute.

There will also be a rally outside the Glasgow City Chambers on Friday 6th Feb at 12.30pm
Brian Smith, Secretary of UNISON's Social Work Stewards said: "The failure of Glasgow City Council to address the causes of this dispute has driven the members to approach politicians in the Scottish Parliament.

Already Sandra White MSP and Robert Brown MSP have agreed to meet the members to seriously discuss the problem - which is more than their employer has agreed to do in the five weeks they have been out. They will be pointing out to politicians that plans to increase the amount of Community Service handed out are being stymied by this dispute in Scotland's largest authority."


Note for Editors:
Community Service Supervisors supervise serious, violent and repeat offenders who have been given community service as an alternative to prison. They work on their own every day with five offenders undertaking gardening, home decoration, joinery or environmental projects. The Council want to give them additional duties - assessing work requests from the public, developing new placements, training offenders, placing offenders in appropriate squads and assessing offenders "attitude, development and employability" and bring compulsory increase in hours and days worked.

The Council want to pay them Grade 4 for this new job. The job should be Grade 5 under the Council's grading system, and workers doing the same job with offenders in individual work placements will be on Grade 5. The new grade also still leaves many of our members facing pay cuts of over £2,000 caused by the Council's 2007 equal pay review.

The cuts in pay affect all those who currently drive (the majority) and weekend working staff. For example a Supervisor who drives and works every Saturday and Sunday currently earns around £21,000 pa. Council pay offered is £18,500. A wage cut of £2,500 The basic core pay proposed is £16,000, (without the driving monies or weekend enhancements). This is too low and does not reflect the value of the new job under the Council's own job evaluation scheme.

For Further Information Please Contact:
Brian Smith (Secretary - Glasgow SW Stewards) 07870 914 361 (m)
Donald McNaughton (Steward - CS Supervisors) 07988 038 805(m)
Mandy McDowall (Regional Officer) 07903 846 427(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729 (m)

Tories could deal with social worker crisis themselves

Wednesday 4 February 2009

UNISON, the UK's largest public service union, representing 300,000 social care workers including 40,000 social workers, today (4 February) called on the Tories to stop whingeing about social work shortages when they could take action to deal with the problem in many cases.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary said:

"Last week UNISON described the shortage of social workers as a 'ticking time bomb' and called on councils to take urgent action.

"It's a bit rich for the Tories to start whingeing about the crisis in recruiting and retaining social workers when they run most councils in England and some in Scotland.

"The answer to the problem lies in their hands. They could start by paying more to recruit and retain social workers and other key council staff if they had the political will to do so.

"Why don't they just get on with the job and stop wasting public funds asking their friends in local government for answers to questions they should already know?"

In England and Wales the Tories run 216 councils, 104 are No Overall Control, 48 Labour, 27 Lib Dem and 8 Independent. That means the Tories run 54% and are often the largest group on the NOC ones. They also Chair the Local Government Association.

In Scotland the Tories run 2 councils, are partners in 6 more and give support to the administration in a further 5.

Stephen Smellie, Chair of UNISON's Scottish Social Work Issues group will tell the Scottish parliament's Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture committee today that the pressures in Scotland are also high.

"Councils in Scotland are the bodies responsible for recruiting and retaining social workers. Parties in control of those councils need to take action to deal with the problems of social work staffing and resources - especially in the children and families service."

UNISON has produced an eight-point plan aimed at tacking the crisis in child protection in Scotland.

UNISON’s eight-point plan: (reflecting the position in Scotland)

Co-working on all child protection investigation visits: child protection investigation visits to be done by two practitioners.

More social workers and support staff: an urgent action plan to fill vacancies and to review staffing levels across all social work teams.

National caseload management standards: enforced through the inspection process and regularly audited by the council leadership, with sanctions against employers who breach the Scottish Social Services Council’s Code of Practice for Social Care Employers.

More resources: a planned programme of investment in children and families’ social work.

Cull of bureaucracy: a root and branch zero-based review of all bureaucracy.

To increase the responsiveness of and resources to the widely respected Children’s Panel system: creating a system which ensures that social workers can service it properly and that the resources are in place to allow its decisions to be implemented.

Better support and more reflective practice: Social workers should have at least two years post-qualifying experience before being allocated child protection cases. There should be consistent, high quality supervision that is both supportive and challenging.

Measures to rebuild morale, confidence and status of social workers: redress the devastating impact on morale through re-instigating the campaign run by the previous Scottish Executive to promote positive public awareness about what social work achieves.


For Further Information Please Contact:
Mandy McDowall (Regional Officer) 07903 846 427(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

For information on the position across the UK contact:
Mary Maguire – Head of Press and Broadcasting - 07771 548 957
Anne Mitchell – Press Officer – 07887 945 307

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Scottish Climate Change Bill: Dave Watson on BBC Good Morning Scotland

BBC Good Morning Scotland
Tuesday 3 February 2009

06:55am Dave Watson of UNISON Scotland interviewed by Gary Robertson on the Climate Change Bill.

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland calls on Parliament to deliver strong climate legislation

Tuesday 3 February 2009: For Release 00.01


Key members from across the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition will today (Tuesday 3 February) present their evidence on the Scottish Climate Change Bill to the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee (TICC).

2009 is a critical year for action on climate change with global deal negotiations in Copenhagen in December.

The Scottish Climate Change Bill has the potential to be the most important piece of legislation for a generation. However if it is to become world leading and set Scotland on the path of a green economic revival it needs to be sharpened.

SCCS, the leading coalition of environment, faith and development organisations, is calling on the Scottish Government to act now to cut dangerous carbon emissions and not delay serious reductions until 2020.

Key asks include:

1. Set out a framework that will achieve at least an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

2. Establish in statute annual emission reductions of at least 3% year-on-year from the start, not just from 2020.

3. Include all emissions in the targets in the Bill, including those from international aviation and shipping, from the very start.

4. Establish a Scottish advisory body, a Scottish Climate Change Commission in the primary legislation, which should be established when the Bill is enacted.

5. Set in place a statutory limit of 20% on the proportion of emissions reduction effort that can be met through the purchase of international credits. At least 80% of the effort to cut emissions should take place in Scotland.

Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland said:

“This is not just an issue for future generations but for vulnerable people across the world today who are suffering the negative effects of climate change. Government commitments for domestic action on climate change have the potential to make a real difference and show leadership to the rest of the world but annual emission reductions of at least 3% year-on-year need to kick in right from the start.”

Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser, UNISON, said:

"The fact that UNISONScotland is represented in this discussion shows the breadth of support for strong action by the Scottish Government on climate change. In particular, the public sector must be given a key leadership role and made accountable for it.

"Also, there are so many crucial differences between the Scottish and UK contexts that an independent Scottish Climate Change Commission is essential."

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland said:

“2009 is a make or break year for agreeing a new international deal on climate change. Scotland could have a huge influence on the rest of the world by setting really tough targets and including all international aviation and shipping emissions from the start.”


Notes to editors

1. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) is a diverse, growing coalition of organisations campaigning on climate change. The SCCS Coalition has 30 Scottish members, representing more than 1.5 million supporters, ranging from environment and development groups to faith organisations, trade unions, student societies, care providers and many more. For full details visit

2. SCCS will be holding a Climate Change Rally in April 2009. All coalition members and their supporters are being encouraged to spring into action for a strong Scottish Climate Change Bill. We will be gathering to lobby MSPs outside the Scottish Parliament, from 11am – 2pm, on Wednesday 22nd April 2009. For further details of the rally see SCCS website.
3. The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition Scotland priorities for the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill are that it must:

• Set out a framework that will achieve at least an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

• Establish in statute annual emission reductions of at least 3% year-on-year from the start, not just from 2020.

• Include all emissions in the targets in the Bill, including those from international aviation and shipping, from the very start.

• Establish a Scottish advisory body, a Scottish Climate Change Commission in the primary legislation, which should be established when the Bill is enacted.

• Set in place a statutory limit of 20% on the proportion of emissions reduction effort that can be met through the purchase of international credits. At least 80% of the effort to cut emissions should take place in Scotland.

• Establish duties on all public bodies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the national target.

• Set in place robust, transparent reporting measures so the Scottish Parliament is well informed on progress in meeting targets and Government is held to account.

• Ensure that strong enforcement measures are set in place in statute.

• Scotland counts all its emissions, including those produced by products and services we consume.

• Be explicit that sustainable development is key to the intention and delivery of the statute.