Thursday, 30 June 2011

‘Care before cost’ says UNISON as it urges the Scottish Government to save St Philip’s

UNISON Scotland will today make an urgent plea to the Scottish Government to put care before cost and to reconsider its decision to close St Philip’s secure unit.

Representatives from the 259 staff at the facility, who will lose their jobs if the unit closes, will demonstrate outside the Scottish Parliament tomorrow morning to urge MSPs to save St Philip’s.

The secure unit, in Plains, North Lanarkshire, received notice on June 17 that it had not been awarded a contract, meaning it will no longer be able to receive referrals from the courts and Children’s Panel.

The site also houses residential care and education facilities, which will have to close due to the loss of contract for the secure unit.

UNISON, Scotland’s largest union in community and voluntary sectors, said staff are still hoping the Government will see sense and put the priorities of the vulnerable young people they care for first.

Janet Stewart, UNISON’s area organiser, said: “The unit was built only five years ago at a significant cost, including £5 million of public money, and it has consistently performed well in all facility inspections so the decision to close it is absolute madness.

“We’re urging the Scottish Government to put care before cost and to prioritise the needs of the vulnerable young people who are cared for at St Philip’s by this dedicated team of staff.

“We feel that our concerns are falling on deaf ears and we only hope they listen to us before it’s too late.”

Frank McAteer, a care worker at St Philip’s, said: “We have an excellent facility and our staff work really hard to ensure these young people have the best standards of care. That’s why it has come as such a massive blow to find out that we’ll all lose our jobs and the young people will have to be moved elsewhere.

“Most of us who work here live locally to the facility, so it will not only be a big loss to the young men who attend St Philip’s, it will also be a massive loss to the local community. Many of us retrained to be care workers after the closure of the steelworks, so this is the second time a government decision has thrown us on the scrapheap.

“We’re asking the Scottish Government to think seriously about their decision and to realise that it’s not too late to save St Philip’s.”

Labour MSP Siobhan McMahon, who will be attending the demonstration tomorrow, will be questioning the Scottish Government’s decision during First Minister’s Questions.

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