Wednesday, 24 June 2015

UNISON Labour Link backs Dugdale and Rowley for Scottish Labour leadership

UNISON Labour Link, the affiliated section of Scotland’s largest trade union, has given its backing to Kezia Dugdale MSP in the contest for the next Scottish Labour leader and Alex Rowley MSP for Deputy Leader.

UNISON Scotland Labour Link Chair Gordon McKay said: “With the election of a majority Tory UK government UNISON members need a strong Scottish Labour Party more than ever. However, Scottish Labour needs to change direction, start listening to its friends and pursue policies that will win the support of working people. The old politics simply won’t do. We believe they will make a good team. Kezia will provide energetic leadership and Alex offers experience and commitment. They have both shown they are prepared to take Scottish Labour out of its comfort zone.”

Sunday, 21 June 2015

We don’t have the luxury of resting. Deep Breath, Heads Down, UNISON, charge!

#undc15 UNISON vowed to defend quality public services and the public sector workers, to defend trade union rights and to encourage a fair, inclusive and tolerant society, drawing together a cohesive political strategy in response to the Tories’ immediate onslaught and escalation of attacks on public services and society itself.

Moving an emergency motion on Friday, Jane Carolan, NEC, said that the union could take some positives from its campaign in the run up to the general election, a campaign that was based on the fundamental principles that this union was founded on – the principles of social justice and equality.

Equality reps key to fairness at work and must have facility time

UNISON will put equalities at the heart of its bargaining agenda and will campaign with the TUC and through Labour Link for facility time for equality reps. Conference recognised that austerity has rolled back equality successes and significantly increased workplace inequality.

Supporting the motion on Friday on behalf of the NEC, Scotland’s Davena Rankin said, “Maya Angelou once said: ‘It is impossible to struggle for civil rights, equal rights for Blacks, without including whites. Because equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air: we all have it, or none of us have it. That is the truth of it.’”

Friday, 19 June 2015

Homes for people not profit

#unDC15 There is a massive housing crisis across the UK as a result of Government policies. Too little social housing is being built and apart from Scotland, those that are built are being sold off. In many places rents are unaffordable and the bedroom tax has created more poverty and homelessness.

Delegates backed a call for government and Labour councils to stop implementing the bedroom tax; for an end the privatisation of social housing; for enforced rent and quality controls over private landlords and for a massive social house build programme.

Conference Stands With Rab

#uNDC15 Conference rose to applaud sacked SECC UNISON rep Robert O'Donnell as he was invited to address Conference. Another emotional standing ovation followed.

Conference then unanimously passed a motion calling for Glasgow City Council leadership to urgently meet with UNISON Glasgow City Branch officials to pro-actively discuss the situation at the SECC with a view to granting SECC full statutory trade union recognition and collective bargaining rights to UNISON and their members.

Thanks for donating to Kobane health services

#uNDC15 Thanks to Scotland delegates who have raised £391 towards rebuilding health services in Kobane

Social care staff need UNISON - and some good news from Scotland

#uNDC15 Conference showed just why social work and social care workers need UNISON as it backed a range
Kate Ramsden:
Social Workers' contempt conviction overturned
of measures demanding safe staffing levels. The union will call on all the UK governments to review staff numbers and introduce regulations to force employers to report staff levels and vacancies annually.

It also raised concerns about social workers being named in reports which will add to the abuse staff often face due to the negative portrayal of the profession in the media and TV dramas. It was not only a concern for staff but also for people who may need services.

Thanks to the Conference stewards

#uNDC15 Thanks to the stewards who have been scanning us in and out all week, and a special thanks to the self proclaimed 'Golden Girls', Scotland's own Barbara Fulton and Margaret Ferris.

Confront the Tory lie on services

#uNDC15 UNISON will up its fight for to keep public services public - publicly owned, democratically accountable and delivered by the public sector, busting the austerity myth and continuing to challenge outsourcing and privatisation.

Jane Carolan, NEC, explained that UNISON had put forward a vision of public services in its manifesto, asking politicians of all parties to support the policies. "The outcome of that election could not be any worse for the services that we serve. The Tories won!"

Devolution protocol needs updated to reflect the world we live in

#uNDC15 The fast moving debate around devolution across the UK was high on the Conference agenda this year, with two motions and a lunchtime fringe.

Over 200 delegates packed the joint region fringe meeting on the topic on Wednesday, which looked at the different models for public services in the devolved administrations and the proposed city partnerships in England, and the implications for UNISON and the trade unions.

Keep up support and solidarity with Palestine

#uNDC15 UNISON reaffirmed its support for the Palestinian people and for a free Palestinian state and will step up our contribution to the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

This comes on the back of Israel's terrible assault on Gaza last summer and delegates condemned the lack of meaningful response by the British Government, the EU and the UN to the targeting of civilians during that conflict, which is prohibited by International law.

Fighting for justice for Bhopal

#uNDC15 UNISON vowed to put pressure on UK, Indian and US governments to get justice for Bhopal, and to get the Indian Government to ensure adequate healthcare, employment opportunities and pensions for those affected.

It's thirty years on from Bhopal, the Union Carbide industrial disaster, that caused 25,000 deaths and left 120,000 chronically ill. Thirty years on and it continues to maim generations. Thirty years on and there is still no justice.
Lilian Macer, Scottish Regional Representative, slammed the continued failure of Union Carbide and its 100% owner Dow Chemicals to clean up after the disaster.

"It is an absolute disgrace that upwards of 100,000 people in the city are still seriously ill and the drinking water of a further 20,000 has been poisoned by chemicals leaking from the abandoned plant. There should be no hiding place for the criminals that caused this disaster."

Lilian described the unimaginable horror on the night. "Shortly after midnight on 3 December 1984 poison gas leaked from a factory in Bhopal, India, owned by the Union Carbide Corporation. There was no warning.

We must place activist training and member learning at the heart of our union

#uNDC15 Activism is at the very heart of our union and as we face the threats from a vicious and vindictive Tory Government it has never been more important to organise ensure our representatives are confident and skilled.

Conference responded to this challenge by setting out a wide ranging strategy to train, develop and support activists.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Violence against women is a gendered issue

#uNDC15 UNISON will campaign to educate and improve understanding of violence against women as a gendered issue, providing guidance, sharing good practice and ensuring branches can represent all parties fairly and impartially.

Helen Duddy, Lanarkshire Health, said "It is devastating to hear in news reports almost daily about women being assaulted, beaten, raped and murdered. On average two women each week are killed by a current or former mail partner.

“The figures are shocking - as is the fact that too often the law doesn't effectively hold male perpetrators of violence to account."

Helen explained this is an equalities issue, "We are very clear in UNISON that this is a gendered issue absolutely recognising that men and boys can also be victims of violence too. We have also praised the work of the Zero Tolerance Project in Scotland and the Everyday Sexism Project which records women's daily experiences of sexism, assault and harassment."

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

UNISON sets out a strategy to reverse the decline in public sector pay

#uNDC15 As our pay has declined, the rich simply get richer and richer. So UNISON will look to build support for progressive taxation systems, getting the message across that increasing pay will promote a healthier economy, and campaigning to change the neo-liberal policies that have been evident in not only Tory Governments but Labour ones too – policies that see the suppression of pay, the maximisation of profits, and the reduction of taxation.

“We will not be walking away from a fight,” said Gordon Mackay, NEC “This union’s strategy for fair pay is simple – Recruit, Campaign and Organise. And in case there is any doubt let me be absolutely clear, that includes sustained industrial action – co-ordinated campaigns with other unions. This union will protect and defend our members at all times.”

And Jane Aitchison, South Lanarkshire, called for UNISON to re-invigorate the Pay Claim Cycle “We need to win the arguments with members, the public, the media and our politicians. Our pay has been squeezed for over 30 years – deliberately.”

National bargaining essential for members pay, terms and conditions

#uLDC15 Delegates backed a call from Northern Region for a range of supports to enable branches to campaign for in-house services and to keep the National Joint Council as the negotiating body for local government members’ pay, terms and conditions.

#uLGC15 Although Scottish delegates were not able to vote, East Dumbartonshire’s Tommy Robertson supported the motion but asked delegates “not to forget your comrades in Scotland who face the same issues.”

Tommy told delegates that in Scotland too we have employers moving away from agreed negotiating structures for terms and conditions.

With regards to TUPE, Tommy pointed out that the Local Government (Scotland) Act states that there should be no two tier workforce “but this doesn’t help people who have already found their service outsourced.”

School support staff don’t have enough hours in the day

#ulgc15 Scotland’s Carol Ball, Vice Chair of the Local Government Service Group Executive, called for support staff in schools to be properly recognised for their contribution to the wider education team, as delegates backed a campaign to reduce school support staff workloads alongside a campaign for increased funding and decent pay.

Carol said that a UNISON survey has shown that 80% of school support staff members are worried about workload. Numbers have reduced leaving more work for those left behind, compounded by a lack of cover in some authorities for absence or maternity leave.

Unions are an integral part of Scotland's Fair Work Convention

#uNDC15 Conference delegates backed a range of measures to combat the rise of vulnerable employment and casualisation across the UK and to restore decent jobs, decent pay and decent standards in the public, voluntary and private sector.

Scotland's amendment highlighted the Working Together Review in Scotland which has led to the establishment of the Fair Work Convention - a stakeholder body providing leadership in industrial relations and promoting Decent Work and Dignified Lives for working people.

Scottish Convener, Lilian Macer, was a member of the Working Together Review and is now one of the trade union representatives on the Fair Work Convention.

Give our members confidence that they can make a difference

#uNDC15 As conference condemned the growing inequality in this country and backed a national and international political campaign to rebalance the economy to deliver a fair distribution of wealth, Aberdeenshire’s Kate Ramsden issued a challenge to all delegates, calling on them to get the message out to our members that austerity is not just bad for our members and the services we provide, but is also bad for the economy.

Kate said: “People – including many of our members - don’t believe that this Tory government has presided over the biggest mass transfer of wealth from the rest of us to the super rich, but it’s true.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Facility time is vital for unions but also for employers

#ulgc15 Delegates slammed attacks on the trade union facility time and called on the union to support our members with training, finance and other resources to fight these attacks but also to organise to increase our activist base.

Moving the motion for the Service Group Executive, Western Isles Alison MacCorquodale delivered an excellent maiden speech and told delegates that securing and maintaining adequate facility time was already one of the major challenges facing us in Local Government.

She warned, however, that with the election of the Tory majority government, we now face a crisis.

“We have a government which wants to attack facility time because it wants to attack the trade unions. This is not about saving money, this is about trying to break us because we are a threat,” slammed Alison.

Zero tolerance, training and involving staff are key to dealing with violence in schools

#ulgc15 Local Government Conference heard the problems of challenging behaviour in schools from the front line as two Scotland delegates brought their experience to the debate.

Glasgow City’s Sylvia Haughney, a support for learning instructor for 34 years, told delegates: “Staff in mainstream school may find it hard to understand that when an ASN colleague has been slapped six times during the course of the day or kicked 10 times the next day, that somehow this can be normal despite it being entirely unacceptable.”

Susan Kennedy, speaking for the Service Groups Executive, quoted one school support worker with almost ten years experience told us that they would leave the profession if they had another job to go to “I have been physically assaulted twice to the point where I ended up in hospital and was forced to take time off work, and other colleagues have ended up in similar situations. Not only is this damaging to staff morale, but it is incredibly disruptive to pupils and constantly affects their ability to learn."

Monday, 15 June 2015

UNISON launches childcare charter for West Dunbartonshire

Date: Monday 15 June 2015
UNISON has launched a positive 10 point Charter for Early Years services run by West Dunbartonshire Council.

Staff feel the quality and value of their interaction with children is being diminished as to date there has been minimal engagement with the workforce or their union UNISON on how the expanded provision is delivered.  

The Charter sets out basic principles about how the Council should work with staff to  implement the Scottish Government’s commitment to increase provision of 600 hours free nursery places for all 3 and 4 years olds, and the further expansion to some two year olds coming this August.

This is time for a reset and for the council to adopt a genuine partnership approach with UNISON so that we can work together in the best interest of young children and families.

Simon Macfarlane, UNISON Regional Organiser today said:
"The increase in free childcare provision is a major step forward for young children and their families and UNISON believes this provision is best delivered by local authorities.

UNISON calls on MSPs to oppose fees increase for health and care professionals

Date: Monday 15 June 2015

UNISON is calling on MSPs to oppose new legislation which aims to substantially increase registration fees for professions registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.  

The Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee will consider this subordinate legislation (regulations) at its meeting on Tuesday, 16 June. UNISON is requesting an opportunity to give evidence to the committee to say why they oppose increased fees.

Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland head of bargaining and campaigns said:
"Staff have no choice but to pay this fee to work and at best have had a meagre 1% pay rise in accordance with the Scottish Government pay policy.

"On the other hand the Health and Care Professions Council is proposing a 12.5% rise to their professional fees. 

Arbitrary freeze on teacher numbers – bad for our members, bad for our children

#uLGC15 North Lanarkshire’s John Mooney brought a Scottish perspective to the debate on organising in schools as Local Government delegates backed a range of measures to support recruitment in schools and campaigning of school issues.

John slammed the Scottish Government’s insistence on an arbitrary freeze on teacher numbers. He warned, “This ill thought out, non scientific, arbitrary freeze on teaching numbers brought in by Scottish Government leaves our members in schools bearing the brunt of cuts which will detrimentally impact on our children’s education.

“Our members, mainly low paid women, are vital to ensuring that children get the support in schools that they need. We have a responsibility to them and to our children to make sure they are organised and their voice can be heard.”

John called for everyone to get behind the motion in our branches and to recruit, organise and campaign for school support staff.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Bring together library members to share and learn

#uLGC15 Falkirk’s Gray Allan warned UNISON's Local Government Conference of the dangers of outsourcing library services as Local Government delegates pledged to campaign against the closure of library and leisure services but also called for support and training to engage in commissioning and procurement to ensure that UNISON can play an integral role in protecting jobs and services.

A librarian himself, Gray told delegates that he is not a local government worker but a “company man” after Falkirk’s library and leisure services were outsourced four years ago to Falkirk Leisure Trust Ltd.

“We are now under the microscope,” said Gray. “Visits are dropping, issues are dropping but polling shows that popularity is very high.”

He warned that statistics hand a weapon to Trusts.

“I am told my service is ‘failing’, that it’s ‘not generating income’, that ‘sports centres are keeping me in work’. And it’s the same for all library services in Trusts in the UK.”

Gray called for UNISON to bring together library members whether in local authorities or outsourced, to share experiences and to learn from each other.

“But above all we must work to bring library services back in-house and away from the madness of the market.”

Friday, 12 June 2015

UNISON sorely disappointed that SECC refuse to reinstate Robert O’Donnell

UNISON are sorely disappointed that the SECC have up held their decision to dismiss Robert O’Donnell.

Robert is a gardener for the SECC. He was dismissed on 25 May 2015. UNISON represented him at an internal appeal on 10 June. The decision to uphold the dismissal of Robert O’Donnell for gross misconduct was confirmed today (12 June)

UNISON continue to support Robert O’Donnell. We are concerned that the recognised independent ACAS code of practice was not properly followed. We are consulting Robert on the way forward.

A UNISON spokesperson said ‘this is a difficult time for Robert and his family and we are supporting him in every way we can. We are sorely disappointed that the SECC upheld their decision to dismiss Robert. Even though we presented them with a number of grounds why we felt their decision had not followed ACAS independent code of practice. We are consulting with Robert to decide on the best way forward.’

Robert O’Donnell was a UNISON member and the health and safety representative at the SECC.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

NHS union to discuss pay bargaining

Date: Thursday 11 June 2015

Over 60 stewards and union staff from NHS union UNISON meet in Ayr today (Thurs) to plan the union's future strategy on pay in NHS Scotland.

Speaking at the annual policy event Tam Waterson Chairperson of the Scottish Health Committee said:  “UNISON believes in the NHS and UK bargaining on pay and conditions, however our members across the UK have experienced different pay deals, determined simply by which nation they live in, the time is now right for Scottish unions to negotiate with our government on pay."

Pay for NHS workers is determined by an independent pay review body (PRB). In recent years only the Scottish Government has honoured the recommendations, however the union remains critical over the level of pay awards which amount to a real terms cut in NHS workers' wages.

Tam Waterson said:
"UNISON has welcomed the Scottish Government's commitment to the PRB and we recognise that this is better than our members received in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

UNISON welcomes call from Reform Scotland to review 1000 extra police officers policy

Date: Thursday 11 June 2015

UNISON Scotland welcomes the report from Reform Scotland The Thinning Blue Line released today (Thursday 11 June 2015).

This report mirrors much of what UNISON said at the time Police Scotland was being proposed.  UNISON agrees with Reform Scotland that we should: give local authorities more say in local policing; reform the Police Scotland board to make police more accountable to local authorities and communities; and review the 1000 additional police officers policy.

The union has always also said that the policy - which means you replace the civilian police staff with police officers - is not cost effective and not the most effective way to fight crime.

Dave Watson from UNISON said:
"The policy to increase 1000 police officers while slashing the police budget by £1bn has been a disaster.

"As this report shows, the crime clear up rates of individual police officers is dropping, in our view this was always going to happen.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

UNISON demands Stirling and Clacks councils release elusive report

Date: Wednesday 10 June 2015

UNISON has called for the immediate release of all Ernst & Young documentation relating to the future of social care and education in Clackmannanshire and Stirling Councils.

In particular, UNISON demand the release of a report - by accountants Ernst and Young, commissioned by Stirling and Clackmannanshire councils - which was supposed to be a balanced investigation into the business case for the two councils to share services.

It was proposed that the report would take seven weeks, but it has taken over 30 weeks thus far and has been in the hands of senior council officers of both councils for well over a month.
UNISON believes this is an excessive amount of time to make this report public.

Trade unions, staff and many of the elected members are now asking how objective this report is going to be. The longer it drags on the more suspicious and uneasy the staff are becoming about potential decisions being taken behind closed doors.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Delivering leisure is no fun, says UNISON

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Staff delivering culture and leisure services across Scotland are coming under increasing pressure as job losses and lack of investment make their work increasingly difficult.

A survey of culture and leisure staff by UNISON found that over half regularly work more than their contracted hours and seventy one percent say that morale in their workplace has gone down in recent years. Staff say they are under increasing pressure as staff leave and are not replaced

The survey examines Sport Scotland figures on charging for services and discovers that prices for popular sporting activities have been increasing over the cost of inflation.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Pension funds to build houses

Falkirk Local Government Pension Scheme Fund has awarded fund manager Hearthstone Investments £30 million to invest in social and affordable housing in Scotland.
Over 300 affordable homes are expected to be delivered with the Scottish Government providing an initial investment of over £6 million towards 126 social homes in Falkirk and Clackmannanshire. Hearthstone predicts its ‘Housing Fund for Scotland’ fund will achieve £150 million total investment from a number of pension funds, delivering over 1,000 affordable and private rented homes.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Scotland v Qatar game - SFA must challenge Qatar on workers rights

Thu 4 June 2015
 From Simon McFarlane, secretary UNISON Scotland International Committee:

As you will have seen the FIFA story is continuing to grow and run. We need to ensure everything possible is done to keep focus on labour rights in Qatar. There is a lot of activity around the Scotland v Qatar game tomorrow (Friday 5 June) in Edinburgh. The SFA have so far done little to challenge Qatar on workers’ rights (over 1,400 deaths and the Kafala system – all power lies with employer including whether you can leave).

If you can get to Edinburgh tomorrow and join the campaigning activities, please do so, details below. If you can’t please support the campaign in other ways. One simple thing you can do is print off an A4 message from the Playfair Qatar site and post a selfie of yourself holding it up (ideally with a football top on) , see: and 

There’s a Facebook page for tomorrow at 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

UNISON demands Nicola Sturgeon uphold promise of no compulsory redundancies at Glasgow Kelvin College

Wednesday 3 June 2015
UNISON is calling on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, to uphold the Scottish Government promise that there would be no compulsory redundancies in Further Education sector because of the College Regionalisation programme.

Thirteen catering staff at Glasgow Kelvin College are under threat of compulsory redundancy.

Mandy McDowall, UNISON regional organiser for further education said:
"The First Minister must intervene as a matter of urgency. 

"We were informed by the Scottish Government at the beginning of the college regionalisation process there would be no requirement for compulsory redundancies within the Further Education sector, and this commitment must be honoured."

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Student nurses bursaries not fit for purpose, says UNISON report

Tuesday 2 June 2015

UNISON  is calling on the Scottish Government to urgently increase bursary rates for Student Nurses and Midwives in the next academic year. This recommendation is part of the UNISON’s report Caring, Learning and Worried about Money which was published today (Tuesday 2 June 2015).

The survey of student nurses across Scotland found that 85% of student nurses relied on financial support from family and 83% say they have been in debt in the last year. Around half (42%) were running up credit card debts, 14% took out a loan and 6% had turned to high street loan companies.

Matt McLaughlin UNISON’s regional organiser for the NHS said: 
 "The present system of funding student nurses and midwives is clearly unfit for purpose.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Scottish children cannot wait another 15 years for high quality childcare, says UNISON

Monday 1 June 2015

Responding to another Independent Review of the Scottish Early Learning and Childcare Workforce, UNISON has called time on the Scottish Government, demanding they now act to deliver improved childcare and early years education in Scotland.

The report, which has been published today (1 June 2015), was commissioned by the Scottish Government.  

Carol Ball, chair of UNISON Scotland education issues group, said:
 "It’s time for action on childcare and early years. This is the second major review of the early years and childcare workforce in less than ten years and the Commission for Childcare reform has also published its interim findings.

"The recommendations in this report are similar to those in previous reports.
"When a similar childcare and early learning  workforce review was published 2006 UNISON accepted we had to allow time for the private and voluntary sectors to catch up, for example,  to work towards a better qualified workforce.