Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Pensions Bulletin #26 - vote YES to protect your pension

Vote YES to Protect your Pension

28 September 2011

The latest UNISON Scotland pensions bulletin is now available on our website. Check it out, and more pensions updates and campaign info at 


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Staff at Stow College prepare to strike over pay plans

Tue 27 September 2011

UNISON members at Stow College will embark on the first day of their strike campaign tomorrow (Wednesday) when they walk out in a row over pay.

Support staff at the college will take the industrial action as part of a campaign to achieve the Living Wage for its members.

Staff are angry at the college’s failure to implement the measure, despite the college announcing plans to do so as part of last year’s pay deal. Workers also say the college’s decision not to give workers a pay increase will amount to a real-term pay cut and hit the lowest paid workers hardest.

Chris Greenshields, a UNISON steward at Stow College, said:

“Our members provide valuable services to staff and students at the college, but many are living on poverty pay.

“The SNP Government promised to protect the lowest paid workers from the worst aspects of the recession, yet Stow College refuses to introduce the Living Wage for our members – many of who are low-paid women workers – and on top of this, we are now facing a real-term pay cut.

“The decision to take strike action isn’t a decision we take lightly but we hope this will make Stow College think twice about their decision and decide instead to honour their commitment to fair pay for our members.”

Brian Smith, branch secretary of UNISON’s City of Glasgow branch, said:

“The management at Stow College have implemented a pay freeze, but with inflation over 5 per cent, electricity and gas prices rising by 18 per cent and the ever increasing cost of food this is in effect a pay cut and will hit the lowest paid hardest. The college has also decided not to follow the Scottish Government’s minimum standards of a £250 payment for workers earning under £21,000.

“Stow College cannot use the excuse that the pay freeze is to save jobs as they also intend to privatise some support services. In the past, UNISON members have helped to defend Stow College from attacks from the Scottish Funding Council which threatened the very existence of the college.

“The management should recognise our members’ commitment to the college and its students by treating them fairly.”


Notes to editors

1. UNISON members will be on the picket line at Stow College from 7.30am on Wednesday, September 28. This is the first day of the strike campaign. Canteen members will be on strike three days next week – 4,5 and 6 of October – and three days the week after – 11,12 and 13 October.

2. UNISON has 90 members who work in Stow College in a variety of roles including: learning support workers, admin / clerical workers, caretakers, cleaners and catering workers. Many are low paid with some earning just above the national minimum wage.


Friday, 23 September 2011

Scotland's ambulance workers overwhelmingly reject working time plans

Scotland's ambulance workers have overwhelmingly rejected latest proposals by the Scottish Ambulance Service to resolve a protracted working time dispute.

Members of the UNISON and Unite unions were balloted on the proposed changes to their terms and conditions, with both trades unions returning an 80 per cent rejection of the offer of 12th August.

However, proposals for a lump sum payment of £250 a year for workers to respond to meal break during unpaid time, plus £50 per call-out, fails to address the wider issues at play.

David Forbes, Regional Organiser for UNISON, said: "The employer's offer was put to our members and they have voted overwhelmingly to reject these proposals.

"Ambulance work is very demanding and our members greatly value balance and stability in their working time, during which it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that adequate staff and resources are in place to cover these periods. Our members deal with life and death decisions day in, day out. That's why it's so important to staff - and for the piece of mind of the Scottish public - that often long and stressful shifts are underpinned by clarity in the terms and conditions of this essential workforce."

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said, "This rejection merely scratches the surface of the issue. Our members want to see the Scottish Ambulance Service properly resourced and fit to serve the public. Instead they have been demonised for following imposed working time changes. In 2004, the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) reduced our members' working week by 2.5 hours. Simply trying to pigeon-hole the unresolved issue of unpaid working time as a 'meal-break' fails to address the matter. Lump sum payments merely ignore the problems created by AfC - problems that can be resolved very quickly by the Scottish Government and through a negotiated agreement which both UNISON and Unite members are fully committed."


Notes to editors

UNISON's ballot saw a turnout of 74.1 per cent of members. Of these members, 79.2 per cent voted to reject the proposals. Unite's ballot saw a turnout of 67 per cent of members. Of these members, 80 per cent voted to reject the proposals.

Ambulance workers, along with other NHS staff, work 37.5 hours per week, with an additional 30 minute unpaid meal break each day.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Efficiency Savings

The Scottish Government has published its Efficiency Outturn Report for 2010/11. The public sector in Scotland has generated £2,276m savings against a target of £1,603. That's an additional £673m.

The biggest contributions came from Local Government with £888m and then Health with £821m.

One of the challenges in tomorrow's Spending Review is how to respond to the UK Government's plans to dock £140m (over three years) from the Scottish Government for the UK 'tax' on the pensions of health workers in Scotland. Well here is the answer. Health workers have already found those savings and much more. In fact the savings above target in themselves will cover the Osborne/Alexander 'tax'.

While we welcome John Swinney's congratulations to the public service workers who achieved these savings. A more concrete reward would be to tell the Treasury that Scotland will go its own way. Oh, and by the way, there is more than a bit left over for a pay increase too!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Local authorities must get to grips with the reality of social care costs

UNISON, Scotland’s largest union in public services, today called on local authorities to get to grips with the reality of social care costs.

A report in today’s Herald highlights the growing costs facing elderly and disabled people for a range of services from day care to shopping delivery services.

The article, a result of FOI requests to all of Scotland’s councils, shows charges for these services have doubled in some areas over the past three years.

The union has said this is yet further evidence of how the UK Government’s cuts are hitting Scotland’s most vulnerable people.

Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser, said: “It is time to stop the drastic cuts, end the postcode lottery and focus on providing essential services for those who really need it.

“But it’s not just users who are bearing the brunt of these cuts, it’s also the staff who deliver the services who are facing massive attacks on their pay and conditions.

“The Scottish Government needs to focus on maintaining and improving quality care provision in Scotland or face a race to the bottom in service delivery.”

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Scottish Government can choose to protect our pensions

The UK Government's strategy is clear: they want us to pay more, work longer and get less. However, pension regulation is devolved to the Scottish Parliament - so MSPs have a choice to make. UNISON is currently engaged in discussions with the Scottish Government and is calling on MSPs to reject the UK plans and to protect quality
pensions in Scotland.

Full information on UNISON Scotland's campaign to protect our pensions can be found in our latest pensions briefing at

Stay up-to-date with UNISON Scotland's campaign to protect our
pensions online at or join us on Facebook
and Twitter.

‘Better care, not cheaper care’ – the Scottish Government must aim higher for social care, says UNISON

UNISON, Scotland’s largest union in public services, says the Scottish Government must take responsibility for social care procurement and ensure the focus is on better care, not cheaper care.

The union says current guidance fails to address vital workforce issues and ignores the Scottish Government’s own statutory rules that are designed to end the two-tier workforce. UNISON’s call comes on the day (Thursday, September 15) of a Scottish parliamentary debate on social care procurement.

UNISON says there is an urgent need to review the government’s outdated guidance on social care procurement or face a race to the bottom in service delivery. The guidelines, issued by the Scottish Government in September 2010, outline procurement as a way of generating efficiency savings. The guidance also states the need for a ‘mixed economy’ in care across in-house, third and private sector providers.

UNISON says the Scottish Government must aim higher and says the key to effective service reform is to put the user at the heart of the process to ensure all care packages reflect the needs of each individual. That requires retaining services in-house and involving users and staff in the redesign of services.

One of the current pressures on social care procurement budgets is the drive towards personalisation and self-directed support. While UNSION recognises the role of self-directed support, it must go hand-in-hand with appropriate services and resources for those who choose not to take this option, and must not be used as an excuse
to cut costs.

Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser, said: “We need a government that’s committed to raising the standards in care and that means a focus on quality, not cost.

“Current guidance on the procurement of social care focuses on squeezing more provision from falling budgets – which can only lead to a race to the bottom in service delivery. There’s already evidence of local authorities ‘outsourcing’ budget cuts, with the privatisation that entails, to voluntary sector and charitable bodies.

“The Scottish Government has to urgently review its procurement procedures and put firm guidelines in place to end this practice.

“Major expenditure savings are not compatible with maintaining and improving the quality of care – the first choice should always be better care, not cheaper care.”

Union members from Quarriers – one of Scotland’s largest social care charities – who are facing pay cuts of up to 23 per cent, as well as other attacks on their terms and conditions, will by lobbying parliament today and calling on politicians to raise the standards for social care services and put care before cost.

Stephen Brown, chair of UNISON’s Community Service Group and branch secretary of UNISON’s Quarriers branch, said: “We’re currently witnessing massive attacks on our members who work in care provision with our members in Quarriers facing savage cuts to their pay and conditions.

“Politicians of all parties should be paying close attention to what’s happening across the care sector and asking themselves if they want to see the future of social care being about profits or people.”

Additional information

1. For more information see our briefing on the procurement of social care services at

2. Quarriers staff will be lobbying the Scottish Parliament today (Thursday, September 15). Details of the proposed cuts, including impact statements from members, can be found at

3. Current social care procurement guidance talks of the sharing of risk. This is more difficult with private providers and adds a level of unpredictability to the sector that is not present in in-house delivery. The private sector is, by definition, only interested in providing care where there is profit to be made. This lends itself to a position where ‘straightforward’ parts of social care can be ‘cherry-picked’ for privatisation, while the public sector deals with services for those needing more complex care. For more detailed examples, please see our briefing on the procurement of social care services at

Sunday, 11 September 2011

UNISON lining the streets on first leg of the Tour of Britain

Members of UNISON, the UK’s largest union will today (Sunday, September 11) swap the hospital corridors, classrooms and council offices to line the streets, and welcome cyclists on the first leg of the Tour of Britain. The union, which is sponsoring the tour this year, will bring its public services message to the event. Handing out leaflets, members will remind participants and the crowds, that just as events like the Tour of Britain bring communities together, so too do public services.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

SCCS E-Action: Ask the Government to put its money where its mouth is

Scotland’s Climate Change Act is world-leading but it'll be impossible to meet our commitments if there isn't adequate funding.

UNISON and other organisations in the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition are urging members and supporters to write to MSPs in September, calling for climate change action to be properly funded.

The Scottish Government is planning next year's budget now for Parliament to consider – you can help put the pressure on to ensure they allocate enough money for action on climate change - such as insulating housing and providing better public transport.

To take part in the SCCS E-Action click here (A full briefing on the budget letter writing campaign is here)

SCCS evidence to Finance Committee on preventative spending

SCCS told MSPs that tackling climate change is one of the most important pieces of preventative spending that Scotland, and the rest of the world, must make in order to avoid disastrous social and economic impacts, many of which will fall hardest on the poorest and least able to respond.

The key point: SCCS calls on the Finance Committee to recommend that this budget must, as a minimum, fully fund all of the measures set out in the Government’s own plans to meet our climate change targets as set out in Low Carbon Scotland: The Report on Proposals and Policies.

SCCS evidence in full. UNISON Scotland evidence, including a section on climate change.
STUC conference on low carbon economy, green workplaces, skills and Just Transition

Trade unionists from across Scotland will be taking part in the STUC climate change conference in Edinburgh on Tuesday 4 October. Details here.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Quarriers staff in action - never mind the weather as long as we're together

Here's a quick selection of pictures from Quarriers strike and demo today Tuesday 6 September 2011. A brilliant lunchtime turnout in a rainy George Square, Glasgow - and some effective early picketing. More pics here:  
BBC Scotland report: UNISON members strike over planned pay cuts .

Check out the Picasa gallery for more:


Monday, 5 September 2011

Social care staff facing pay cuts of up to 23 per cent prepare to strike, says UNISON

5 September 2011

Hundreds of social care staff who are facing pay cuts of up to 23 per cent will go on strike tomorrow (Tuesday), says UNISON.

Staff at Quarriers – one of Scotland’s largest social care charities – are striking in opposition of a package of cuts that will see some staff taking huge reductions in wages as well as higher pension contributions, reduced sick pay and cuts to their terms and conditions.

Quarriers staff carry out some of the most difficult work with some of the most challenging and vulnerable members of our communities. More than three quarters of UNISON members voted in favour of strike action last month and will down tools tomorrow for 24 hours as part of their campaign to protect pay and conditions. Members will be picketing workplaces across Scotland as well as holding a demonstration and rally in George Square, Glasgow.

Further talks between UNISON and Quarriers took place today (Monday) after the charity – who initially refused to take their proposals to the conciliation service ACAS despite repeated requests from UNISON – decided late last week to enter into talks. However, this broke down when Quarriers was unprepared to begin a process of constructive negotiation.

Simon MacFarlane, regional organiser for UNISON, said: “We’re very disappointed that these talks have failed. UNISON was prepared to engage meaningfully in these last-minute talks but, sadly, Quarriers did not see the benefit of doing so.

“Our members don’t want to take strike action but with talks failing and Quarriers looking to impose pay cuts of up to 23 per cent, we’ve been left with no other option. Some of our members are facing cuts of around £400 a month which is not only unfair, but completely unaffordable and will have a devastating impact on these workers.

“UNISON was prepared to enter into constructive talks to discuss a way forward and we remain committed to doing so."

Stephen Brown, branch secretary of UNISON Quarriers, said: “Taking strike action isn’t a decision we’ve taken lightly and we want to be back at work doing what we do best – providing vital services to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“The cost of utilities, food and transport are all going up and yet Quarriers expect our staff to take a pay cut of up to 23 per cent in some cases. Our members are rightly worried that they’ll no longer be able to afford to keep a roof over their head or be able to feed their families.

“These brutal cuts are unheard of throughout the rest of the country and Quarriers staff shouldn’t be singled out. Politicians of all parties and at all levels should be looking closely at this situation and asking themselves if this is how they expect Scottish charities to behave. By decimating workers’ terms and conditions, it’s only a matter of time before they decimate the vital services our members provide.”

Public actions in support of Quarriers strike on Tuesday 6 September 2011

Rally and demonstration - Simon Macfarlane, regional organiser, and Stephen Brown, UNISON Quarriers branch secretary, will be available for interview.

• GLASGOW, GEORGE SQUARE:  12 noon – 1pm. 

Pickets - Members will be picketing at the locations below:



Notes to editors:

1. UNISON members in Quarriers will strike from Tuesday, September 6, at 8am until Wednesday, September 7, at 7.59am.
2. The result of the postal ballot on strike action was 76 per cent in favour of strike action with 24 per cent against.
3. Quarriers has warned its staff not to speak to the media about the attacks on their wages and conditions, however, full details of the proposed cuts, including impact statements by members, can be found online at

For further information contact:
Contact Stephen Brown, branch secretary, on 07584 503 858, or Simon Macfarlane, regional organiser, on 07703 194 132, or Trisha Hamilton, communications officer, on 07939 478 461.


Police Civilianisation

Interesting report from the Policy Exchange this morning on money wasted in English police forces because police officers are undertaking administrative jobs. The report said police forces in England and Wales wasted almost £150m a year because one in 20 officers carried out roles that could be performed by civilians. That's 7000 police officers being wasted. 

Sadly, the rather silly publicity seeking recommendation on police officers travelling to work in uniforms, somewhat blunts this important message.

In Scotland the position is even worse. In terms of WTE (whole time equivalent), police staffs comprise 28% of all police personnel in Scotland. In comparison, the figure for England & Wales is 32% (excluding Police Community Support Officers). And that was before the current cuts that disproportionately hit Police Staffs. The 'holy grail' of 1000 extra police officers is being achieved by putting even more police officers into the wrong jobs.

UNISON published a report that explains this in detail and shows how an effective balance of Police Officers and Staffs is the best way forward for Scottish policing. Today's report is an important wake up call for the Scottish Government.