Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Council right to dump flawed shared services proposal – plan had 'Edinburgh trams' written all over it

Wednesday 31 August 2011


UNISON Scotland tonight (Wednesday) welcomed the decision of West Dunbartonshire Council to opt out of shared services scheme for support services. The plan would have involved considerable upfront investment and disruption, which would have delivered only modest savings - in the unlikely event of targets being met.

UNISON has analysed the full business case for the Clyde Valley Shared Services scheme. There is very little evidence to support the sweeping financial assumptions in the proposal. Savings are based on current delivery models, not the systems that will be adopted in this massive shared services operation. 

There has also been a lack of staff engagement and involvement in the development of the scheme – this is a ‘one size fits all’ solution covering many different Council areas. It is no surprise that individual councils will not think it meets their requirements.

UNISON’s Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said: 
"We are glad that West Dunbartonshire has backed away from taking a risk with people’s services and council taxpayers money.

"This shared services plan was based on a poor business case and flawed assumptions - it had Edinburgh trams written all over it.

"If councils are serious about reform they will engage with their staff before drawing up schemes. Reforms will only be successful when they are driven from the bottom up with the aim of improved services, not from the top down with the aim of meeting cash targets. A proposal developed in darkened rooms without any meaningful staff or trade union engagement was unlikely to stand up to proper scrutiny. Tonight’s decision proves that."


Note to editors:

UNISON Scotland analysis of Clyde Valley Shared Services full business case is at
www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/
b009_BargainingBrief_ClydeValleySharedServicesBusinessCase_August2011.pdf



For further information / comment  contact: 
Dave Watson 07958 122 409, Stephen Low 0795 685 2822




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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Quarriers staff set strike date - but renew call to go to Acas

Tue 30 Aug 2011


UNISON members in Quarriers have set a date for strike action to oppose the imposition of pay cuts of up to 20%. But even as they announced the 24 hour action beginning on Tuesday 6 September, union reps renewed their call on Quarriers management to take the dispute to Acas.

Workers at Quarriers are opposing a package of cuts that will see some staff taking huge reductions in wages as well as higher pension contributions, reduced sick pay and other reductions in terms and conditions. Last week they voted by a margin of 3 to 1 in favour of strike action. At that point UNISON renewed their offer to Quarriers management to take the cuts package to Acas, an offer that was repeated today.

UNISON members in Quarriers will strike FROM TUESDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 2011 AT 8.00 AM UNTIL WEDNESDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 2011 AT 7.59 AM. This will involve a disruption to services but UNISON will ensure that life and limb cover is provided.

UNSION Regional Organiser Simon Macfarlane said:

“No one wants to be taking strike action but Quarriers have left us with no option.  The proposed cuts to pay and conditions will be absolutely devastating on staff, and in the longer term will impact on the service Quarriers provide to vulnerable adults and children. If you are sick with worry and losing your home it is hard to totally focus on the care you are giving. Once again we ask that Quarriers management agree to take this dispute to Acas.”
 
ENDS

Notes to editors:
1.    The result of the postal ballot on strike action was 69% in favour of strike action with 24% against.

2.    Details of the proposed cuts including impact statements by UNISON members can be found on the UNISON Quarriers branch website here http://www.quarriersunison.org.uk/15941_69001.4039.html

For further information please contact:
Stephen Brown (Branch Secretary) 07584 503858
Simon Macfarlane (Regional Organiser) 07703 194132 or
Stephen Low, (Policy Officer), 07956 852822


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Monday, 29 August 2011

UNISON: Skills Development Scotland staff have no faith in new strategy

Monday 29 August 2011

Skills Development Scotland union UNISON has revealed that the agency's staff have no faith in its new Careers Information and Guidance (CIAG) strategy.

Just days before the ministerial launch of a key part of the CIAG, a comprehensive survey by UNISON of the staff who will be responsible for its implementation shows that they do not believe it can deliver.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) will be launching the new web-enabled service – My World of Work (MyWOW) - on 31 August. This is central to the CIAG strategy and will mean a major shift away from school and community based face to face guidance.

UNISON surveyed members in SDS about the proposed new strategy. A total of 410 responses were received, just under 50% of the membership.

Almost all respondents had huge reservations about a strategy that will be overly reliant on web-based services which UNISON members feel cannot offer high quality advice and guidance. There is a view that the strategy is predominantly driven forward due to financial constraints but dressed up as modernising the service.

And UNISON members in SDS overwhelmingly (94%) believe that the new MyWoW system will fail to offer clients high quality advice and guidance.

UNISON Regional Organiser Gerry Crawley said:

"The Scottish Government should listen to the real experts in this field – UNISON members. It’s a pity the Minister can’t take time to meet with us about improving this strategy. We want to ensure the best possible careers guidance for Scotland’s young people. It seems like the Scottish Government want to fob them off with a cheap ‘point and click’ option".

ENDS


For further information contact  
Gerry Crawley, UNISON Regional Organiser, 07958 121 805


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Friday, 26 August 2011

Quarriers staff vote yes to strike action to oppose 20% pay cuts

Friday 26 August 2011

The men and women who care for some of Scotland’s most vulnerable adults and  distressed children have voted massively for strike action. UNISON members at Quarriers are determined to resist brutal pay cuts on staff which will see over 560 staff take a pay cut of 10% while others will lose as much as 23%.

The postal ballot for strike action returned a 76% yes vote for strike action and aan even higher 85% result for action short of a strike. When the ballot result was announced UNISON repeated their ofer to  take the ongoing dispute to Acas for arbitration, but Quarriers management have spurned the offer.

In addition to pay cuts, which will see some members lose £400 a month. There are also proposed cuts to sick pay, increased pension contributions and other protections removed.

Stephen Brown, UNISON Quarriers branch Secretary said today:

“The attacks Quarriers are making on our members are unprecedented. No one can cope with a 23% pay cut and for Quarriers to suggest that they will set up a Hardship Fund for their own staff funded out of their own pay cuts shows how much the organisation has lost touch with its values.

William Quarrier set up Quarriers in the 1870s to help underprivileged children not to use wage cuts to drive staff into poverty”.

Speaking today Simon Macfarlane UNISON Regional Organiser said:

“Our members want to be doing their jobs caring for people  - not arguing with Quarriers management. But the proposed pay cuts will force people out of the job and impact on the work that they do with the people they care for.

“A 3 to 1 vote for strike action must surely send a message to Quarriers that their proposals are unacceptable. We call on Quarriers to get back round the table and to remove their threat to dismiss and re-engage all their staff – let’s take this to ACAS and see if it can be resolved

In recent weeks Quarriers have seemed to be more intent on attacking UNISON instead of negotiating. We call on these attacks and for Quarriers to get down to the real work of trying to find a way forward.

ENDS


Note to editors

1. The ballot result was for Strike Action:  voting “Yes” 219(69%) Votes “No” 69(24%) 3 spoilt papers. Turnout 44%. For industrial action short of a strike votes were voting “Yes”: 245(84.8%)  Total number voting “No”:44 (15.2%)              

For further information please contact: 
Stephen Brown (Branch Secretary) 07584 503858
Simon MacFarlane,( Regional Organiser) 07700 3194132

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Scotland's water quality even better

The quality of drinking water in Scotland is the best it has ever been, according to the annual report of the Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR).

They report that well over 99 per cent of tests on samples complied with strict regulatory standards. Consumer satisfaction with the water supply across Scotland has also increased. In 2010 with Scottish Water receiving fewer contacts from consumers concerned about the quality of their supplies.

A Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) spokesman said:
"We are delighted with these results that show Scottish tap water is top quality. Households can be confident that the drinking water from their tap has been tested thousands of times each year, and that it meets some of the tightest quality standards in the world.

In contrast the regulator expressed concern over the quality of private water supplies. 18.35% of samples taken from these supplies last year contained the E.coli bacterium.

Public clearly works. Join the campaign to keep our public water service out of the hands of the privatisers. It's Scotland's water and it's not for sale.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

UNISON: FOI reveals Scottish Water has no business cases for PFI deals - and Parliament was misled


Monday 22 August 2011

No business cases can be traced for multi-million pound PFI wastewater contracts – and a Scottish Parliament committee appears to have been misled – according to a decision by the Scottish Information Commissioner over Scottish Water.

UNISON Scotland has welcomed the groundbreaking Freedom of Information (FOI) decision by Scottish Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion, but said it was “scandalous” that it showed Scottish Water has no business cases for nine PFI contracts.

The decision also reveals that Scottish Water conceded it may have misled a Scottish Parliament Committee over the documents.

The Commissioner Kevin Dunion has ordered Scottish Water to provide UNISON with full financial information on its PFI wastewater contracts, over-ruling their objections that this would substantially prejudice the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information.

Following a lengthy investigation, he found that, incredibly, Scottish Water does not hold any Full Business Cases (FBCs) for the multi-million pound water and sewerage PFI contracts, therefore does not have to release them to UNISON.

FBCs are supposed to provide the case for proceeding with a PFI contract although critics, including UNISON, argue the figures are often ‘massaged’ to support PFI over conventional financing.

The Commissioner’s Decision Notice shows that Scottish Water admitted, in effect, to misleading the Scottish Parliament’s Transport & Environment Committee in 2001, informing him that “it was possible a document had been liberally referred to as an FBC when it was not actually an FBC.”

UNISON’s Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said it was “scandalous” that either the projects had been approved without any FBCs that could be scrutinised to examine claimed value for money issues, or that these key documents had been lost.

He added: “Scottish Water says that FBCs were not required to be carried out for these early PFI projects, but the Scottish Government’s own website still to this day says that FBCs were published for two of the nine contracts and Scottish Water told MSPs that at least three existed, yet it has not been able to trace them.

“We also asked the then Scottish Executive for these documents and they too said they were not held, but at that time we assumed at least that Scottish Water would have them. We will be pursuing the mystery of the missing or non-existent FBCs with the Scottish Government again.

“We expect MSPs will also be concerned to learn that they were led to believe in 2001 that FBCs were carried out when it seems highly likely that these contracts were approved on the basis of minimal ‘back of an envelope’ calculations, which is a disgrace.”

The nine contracts, most of which run for 30 years, cost nearly £600 million in capital costs and around £130 million annually.

Following UNISON’s initial Freedom of Information request to Scottish Water in 2006, some information from seven contracts was provided at different stages, with all of the information from three being released - Moray, Tay and Daldowie. (The Scottish Executive had separately provided some information on two other water PFI contracts.)

Mr Dunion said: “Scottish Water did not provide any reasoning as to why the disclosure of particular information in certain contracts appears not to have damaged Scottish Water’s interests while the disclosure of similar information in other contracts would, or would be likely to, prejudice those interests substantially.”

Dave Watson added: “For too long commercial confidentiality has been used to keep the true costs of PFI from the public. This decision shows how important it is for Freedom of Information legislation to be extended to cover private companies providing public services as so many are not covered, including the privatised English water companies.

“In this case, the Scottish Information Commissioner concluded that the information withheld was subject to the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004. The EIRs can cover the contractors whereas FOI legislation doesn’t. The Scottish Government last year dropped their limited plans to extend the legislation but should reconsider this urgently.”


ENDS


Notes to editors

1. The full Decision Notice ‘Decision 166/2011 Unison and Scottish Water PFI/PPP Wastewater contracts Reference No 200701447’ is available from Monday 22 August on the Scottish Information Commissioner’s website at www.itspublicknowledge.info/ApplicationsandDecisions/Decisions/Decisions.php

2. The  Scottish  Parliament’s Transport & Environment Committee 2001 Report on Inquiry into Water and the Water Industry is at www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/historic/x-transport/reports-01/trr01-09-vol01-01.htm. The reference to a document referred to as an FBC when it was not is at paragraph 57.

3. The Scottish Government information on PFI/PPP contracts ‘Done Deals’ is at www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Government/Finance/18232/donedeals

4. UNISON Scotland’s Report ‘At What Cost’ is at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/comms/atwhatcostoct07.pdf




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Saturday, 20 August 2011

MOBILISE raises the roof with anti-cuts poetry - Sat 20 August


Not content with having the actual POET LAUREATE Carol Ann Duffy giving TWO special readings today (3pm and 5.30pm - get down here now!) at our final day of MOBILISE: The Anti Cuts Festival on Edinburgh Fringe - we are bringing poetry and campaigning together again tonight in a SPECIAL SNEAK PREVIEW of the UNISON-commissioned poem  For the People by Glastonbury Festival poet-in-residence Tony Walsh, aka Longfella.

Tony will read the hard-hitting anti-cut poem tonight as part of the MOBILISE show which begins at 8.30. We expect the poetry performance to take place around 10pm - so be here, have a drink, have a laugh, have some fun... and get inspired.

Come along to Fringe Venue 138 - UNISON Office, Belford Road and join in - campaigning can be fun.


(NB If you can't make it you can read the whole poem below.)



Activate, agitate, debate, laugh, mobilise
Mobilise is on all week from Sat 13 - Sat 20 August. Tickets for the evening's entertainment (£6/£4) are available at www.mobilisefestival.co.uk or 0131 226 0053 or on the door at UNISON Offices, Douglas House, 60 Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3UQ - map here www.mobilisefestival.co.uk/where-are-we.
All other events are FREE!

Cafe/wine Bar open all day and until 11pm

For more Mobilise Festival information please contact Nancy Kelly on 07904 342230 or the UNISON Press Office. Find out more at UNISON Scotland website: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/mobilise11



=====================================

FOR THE PEOPLE
by Tony Walsh (aka Longfella)

commissioned in 2011 by UNISON The public services union



I was asked to write a poem on behalf of public services 

And I’m proud to be allowed to and I want to get the hurt in this
And I want to get some truth in here and to get behind the mysteries
And to think about the future here from lessons in our histories

And I want some recognition of my colleagues who have served 

And to show the demolition of what this country still deserves
And I want to ask the nation, see the real cause of the trouble
Not to fight us but unite with us, our struggle is your struggle

And so this… is for the people:

And so this is for the people who are shouting at tv 

With “It’s good to hear that somebody is speaking up for me!”
And so this is for the people who are crying over bills 

And the water rates can drown them and the gas bill gives them chills

And so this is for the people who are turning off the heating
For the voiceless and the choiceless cos it’s either that or eating
And so this is for the people who are looking at the banks 

Asking “How come they’re still motoring, when we’ve got empty tanks?”

And so this is for the people who are feeling like a victim 

In the fall out from the bailout of a failed financial system 
And so this is for the people who’re denied by student loans 
Those who scrimp and save but still can’t raise enough for decent homes

And so this is for the people who are frightened in their pelts
But you’re tightening your nooses while we’re tightening our belts
And so this is for the children as the future of our nation 

So let’s talk of value not of cost and fund their education

And so this is for the people who have seen their gateways closed
When the local vocal folk who spoke were choked until they froze
And so this is for the people for whom libraries saved their lives
Shouting “throw the book at those who look to cut us with their knives”

And so this is for the people who know lives are saved by culture
But have seen the arts all torn apart by Philisitines and vultures
And so this is for the people who are being demonised 

Being scapegoats just to scrape votes for these peddlers of lies

And so this is for the people who are learning that the truth
Is “decimation, decimation, decimation” is your message to our youth
And so this is for the people who stood up for our conditions
Through the centuries of injustice and the Tory opposition 



And so this is for the people and their strikes to get us welfare
Win equality and dignity, win us pensions and our health care
And so this is for the people who fought hard until they died
Against the poverty and indignity of working people’s lives 



And so this is for the people who campaigned for women’s rights
For contraception, votes and childcare, equal pay and all those fights
And so this is for the people who remember in our bones 

How we fought against injustice and the right to decent homes

And so this is for the people who are turning in their graves
At the assaults on their advances for a dignified old age 

And they think we don’t remember this! They think that we’ve forgotten! 
And swap centuries of progress for their fast race to the bottom

And so this is for the people who give years of dedication 

In the thankless tasks and all they ask is modest compensation
And so this is for the people in our cities and our towns 

In our shires and in the valleys, in our glens and hills and downs

For the vital public services, the needs in our communities 

Those providers who provide us with so many opportunities 
And so this is for the carers who work the hardest of us all 
Day after day after night after day and who catches when they fall?

And so this is for the people who need help to get them dressed
And for those who smile while all the while they wipe your mother’s mess
So don’t talk to me of “cushy” like the Tory press have tried
Because for thousands upon thousands – it’s still barely dignified

And so this is for the people who can spot divisive fools 

Setting worker against worker. There they go, divide and rule.
But we know that stood together is our strongest, safest bet
But they’ve bought us off with trinkets which they’ve sold to us with debt 



And so this is for the people who are aching every day 
For someone to say to Cameron just what I’m about to say 
And so this is for the people at the rough end of your smooth
Those who know that you are lying when your lips begin to move

And so this is for the people who are spitting blood and thunder
When you drop the ball, we watch appalled, another thud and blunder
And so this is for the people who are bitten hard and raw 

In this rumble in your jungle which is blue in tooth and claw

And so this is for the people who are deafened by the screams
In their daily living nightmare world of Maggie Thatcher’s dreams
And so this is for the people at the sharp end in eighties 

Weren’t invited to the nasty party, learned what Tory hate is

And so this is for the people who recoil Clause 28 

And your “Hang Nelson Mandela badges” a part of all the hate.
And so this is for the people who can see through all your games
Yes, you’ve hired a smiley choirboy but the songs are still the same

And he’ll happily kiss babies but he flatters and deceives 

Says “I mean it most sincerely, folks.” Then batters us and leaves.
And you’re still the nasty party and you’re party clothes are fake
So don’t expect us to respect you when you throw us crumbs of cake

And so this is for the people who first formed the NHS 

Against the fierce opposition from, go on – I’ll let you guess!
And so this is for the people who see Cameron roll his sleeves
And he can wash his dirty hands all day. It’s poison when he breathes!

And so this is for the people who see Lansley picking sores 

With his answers filled with cancers which his snakeoil never cures.
And so this is for the people who regret the choice they made
When they voted liberal democrat and now they’ve been betrayed

And so Nick Clegg, if you’re listening, can you hear your people weep?
Can you hear the people crying? Does your conscience let you sleep?
And so “Stand up to the Tories, Nick!” the voters cry and bellow
But by now they’ve seen you’re blue not green and, like your tie, you’re yellow

And you’ve weasel words and even worse your pledges were all hollow
And they “agreed with Nick” but now they’re sick, they see you suck and swallow
And the ruthless, truthless Tories do the same old Tory things
You’re their puppets now you Muppets! And they’re pulling all your strings

And so this is for the people who you smile at as you fail 

But your throats will slit on voting slips with a cross against betrayal
And so this is for the people who can see a global story 

For the mud stained and the blood stained who can see no hope or glory

And so this is for the people as you prostitute the earth 

Who are destitute but resolute against your sense of worth 
And so this is for the people who have heard you make an oath
To make sustainable attainable in a system based on growth!? 



And so this is for the people know that that remains unseen 
There’ll be camels through a needle’s eye first! Do you think we’re green?
And so this is for the people who just look and look again 

And can only see a government of privileged white men 


And so this is for the people who can see you’re millionaires
In your spivvy suits and in cahoots with shady billionaires 

And so this is for the people who can see you’re in the thrall
Of the trillionaires and zillionaires who are squeezing our …Town Halls

And they’ve kidnapped all our futures and they’re holding us to ransom
And they’re screwing knives in ruined lives unless we pay them handsome
And they’ll measure this in misery, they’ll measure this in debt
And they’ll measure this in poverty, they’ll measure this in deaths

And they’ll measure this in ghost towns and closed down old communities
They’ll measure this in hauntings from the ghosts of opportunities
But our grandchildren will judge this as a criminal deceit 

And they will take the corpse of justice and they’ll lay it at your feet

And Osbourne, Clegg and Cameron flash their blades like cavaliers
With the rapiers and the cutlasses of mad free marketeers 

And they genuflect to Thatcher but in truth they’re even worse
As they rob the poor to feed the rich like Robin Hood reversed

And we see them in Cathedrals hiding blood stains on their pslams
What did Jesus do to moneylenders? Now there’s a call to arms!
They’re just the storm troopers of blitzkrieg, economic shock and awe

But it’s shocking and it’s awful, and we’re not taking any more

And so this is or the people who refuse to be a pawn 

To be money shots on honey pots in economic porn 
And we see their countenance malign and their dark satanic ills
But we’re rising from our slumbers and we’ll chase them to the hills


And so this is for the people who are standing to be counted 
For the decent men and women and the campaigns being mounted 
And so this is for the people who would join us if they dared
Our unvanquishable numbers will soon have them running scared



And so again, I ask the nation, see the real cause of the trouble
Please don’t fight us, help unite us. 

Our struggle is your struggle


And so this is for the people and the soul of William Blake 
And the spirit of our forebears and the world they tried to make


And they tied a blood red ribbon around the scroll that tells us how
And they fought so we could read it, and by God, we’re reading now



So bring your bows of burning gold now! Bring your arrows of desire!
Bring me your spears, oh clouds unfold now! Bring me chariots of fire!



We will not cease from mental fight, nor will our sword sleep in our hands!
We’ll fight in union, sing in unison for this green and pleasant land!






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MOBILISE Saturday 20 August – There Is A Better Way: Creative campaigning



Saturday is the last day of MOBILISE: The Anti Cuts Festival at Edinburgh Fringe. Our finale brings all our themes together under the banner of There Is A Better Way as we celebrate the relevance of creative arts to campaigning. We are joined by the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy for not one but TWO reading sessions and we end our week with a Gala version of the Mobilise Show with special guests.

Come along to Fringe Venue 138 - UNISON Office, Belford Road and join in - campaigning can be fun.

Today's Events

12:00-2:00 Workshops: Drama with Active Inquiry; There is a Better Way: Busting the Myths about the Economy with Jennifer McCarey and John Slaven

2:00-3:00 Rise Up - anthems against the cuts: The First of May Band (aka Banner Theatre)

3:00-4:00 Carol Ann Duffy Poet Laureate reads

4:00-5:30 The Art of Struggle – the Role of Visual and Performing Arts in Trade Union Campaigns (Discussion)

5:30-6:30 Carol Ann Duffy – more from the top poet


7:00-8:00 Dave Anderson: How to talk to Old People (music and comedy show)

 8:30-10:30 The MOBILISE Show hosted by top standup Susan Morrison, featuring star guest comedians Philip Differ and Robin Ince, and music from House Band Eddie and Fraser.


PLUS Cafe/wine Bar open all day and until 11pm


Activate, agitate, debate, laugh, mobilise
Mobilise is on all week from Sat 13 - Sat 20 August. Tickets for the evening's entertainment (£6/£4) are available at www.mobilisefestival.co.uk or 0131 226 0053 or on the door at UNISON Offices, Douglas House, 60 Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3UQ - map here www.mobilisefestival.co.uk/where-are-we.
All other events are FREE!

For more Mobilise Festival information please contact Nancy Kelly on 07904 342230 or the UNISON Press Office. Find out more at UNISON Scotland website: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/mobilise11



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Friday, 19 August 2011

Clyde Valley shared services

Our latest briefing on the Clyde Valley shared services business case is now available.

Clyde Valley Councils are being asked to make a high risk decision based on a business plan that can only be described as sketchy. They will be committing their councils to an outdated business model with no escape route or capacity to maintain their own democratic accountability. All in return for modest savings that are difficult to evidence. It is simply the wrong approach, at the wrong time, with huge risks for limited returns.

Support UNISON Plymouth City Council Branch in fight against derecognition


Fri 19 Aug 2011
Urgent message from UNISON Plymouth City Council Branch
Derecognition

As you may be aware Plymouth City Branch was informed yesterday morning it was being derecognised by the employer with immediate effect; the branch was required to vacate its office in the Civic Centre, and all facilities time etc was removed.

This decision was made by the City Council due to a breakdown in negotiations – namely UNISON’s refusal to sign an agreement to detrimental changes in our members’ terms and conditions.

We did not sign because our legal advice clearly states that the agreement is discriminatory.  Rather than return to talks to address the inequalities in the agreement the Council derecognised City of Plymouth UNISON.

This is clearly a big local story for UNISON’s Plymouth City Branch, and has been covered in local press and radio as well as nationally on political blogs etc. Today Dave Prentis has called for Plymouth City Council to “drop the macho politics and get back round the negotiating table".

All support for Plymouth City Branch is very much appreciated as we fight to protect the rights of our members. Please cascade details through your networks to all branches as we call for the widest possible awareness and support of this appalling attempt by the Council to silence our members rather than listen to the voices of their staff.

Plymouth City Branch has set up a Facebook site to support the call for Re-recognition – visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Get-Plymouth-City-Council-to-Re-Recognise-Unison/134393739988210?sk=wall

Messages of Solidarity can be sent to PCC Branch at office@unisonplymouth.net

Or please encourage messages of #solidarity on Twitter to @cityplymUNISON

News and updates also available from www.unisonplymouth.net and via the @cityplymUNISON and @UNISONSW Twitter accounts

Thanks for any support and help you are able to provide.

Helen

Helen Willis
Regional Manager, Unison South West Region


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MPs highlight PFI costs

More evidence today on the cost of PFI from the Westminster Treasury Select Committee. Their report says that PFI is poor value for money and their should be a stricter criteria for its use.

The main recommendations are:

  • The Treasury should consider scoring most PFIs in departmental budgets in the same way as direct capital expenditure, adjusting departmental budgets accordingly;

  • the Treasury should discuss with the OBR the treatment of PFI to ensure that PFI cannot be used to ‘game’ the fiscal rules;

  • the Value for Money assessment process should be subjected to scrutiny by the NAO;

  • the Treasury should review the way in which risk transfer is identified.


  • These recommendations are remarkably similar to the points made by UNISON over many years. In Scotland we detailed these costs in our 'At What Cost' report. We are entitled to say 'told you so' based on an analysis of schemes going back more than a decade. If governments had listened then, the taxpayer would have been £millions better off and still had the new schools and hospitals. It is and never has been an either or option.

    Sadly there is no sign of PFI coming to an end. The UK government may be reigning back, but schemes are still being approved. The Scottish Government, through the Scottish Futures Trust, has approved a whole new programme of PFI schemes in Scotland. The next generation will continue to pay for this folly .

    MOBILISE: Friday 19 August – Defending Our Rights


    Friday's theme in MOBILISE: The Anti Cuts Festival is defending our rights. The ConDem agenda cuts across the legal rights of workers and service users. Jobs and care packages are cut, pay and pensions frozen. Workers and service users are united in their experience of justice as a remote and hypothetical notion. Our discussions at MOBILISE today combine equality rights, human rights and employment rights as they apply to everyone - and we ask: “How Do We Get Access to Justice?”

    Come along to Fringe Venue 138 - UNISON Office, Belford Road and join in - campaigning can be fun.

    Today's Events

    12:00-2:00 Workshops: Standup Comedy Skills with Susan Morrison; Busting the Myths about the Economy with Stephen Low

    2:30-4:00 MOBILISING for street action

    4:00-5:30 Delivering Access to Rights and Justice: Suzanne Craig (chair); Bronwyn McKenna, UNISON Assistant General Secretary; Patrick McGuire, Thompsons Solicitors; Dave Moxham, STUC; Ian Hood, Learning Disability Alliance

    5:30-7:00 Rise Up: The First of May Band aka Banner Theatre


    5:30-7:00 Rise Up - anthems against the cuts: The First of May Band (aka Banner Theatre)

    7:00-8:00 Dave Anderson: How to talk to Old People (music and comedy show)

     8:30-10:30 The MOBILISE Show featuring top comedians Vladimir McTavish, Lee Camp and James Dowdeswell and House Band Eddie and Fraser.


    PLUS Cafe/wine Bar open all day and until 11pm


    Activate, agitate, debate, laugh, mobilise
    Mobilise is on all week from Sat 13 - Sat 20 August. Tickets for the evening's entertainment (£6/£4) are available at www.mobilisefestival.co.uk or 0131 226 0053 or on the door at UNISON Offices, Douglas House, 60 Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3UQ - map here www.mobilisefestival.co.uk/where-are-we.
    All other events are FREE!

    For more Mobilise Festival information please contact Nancy Kelly on 07904 342230 or the UNISON Press Office. Find out more at UNISON Scotland website: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/mobilise11



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    Thursday, 18 August 2011

    MOBILISE on Thursday 18 August – Scotland: A Radical Nation?



    Thursday is radical history day in Mobilise: The Anti Cuts Festival at Edinburgh Fringe. From land raiders to the UCS occupation, many Scots pride themselves on belonging to a radical tradition. MOBILISE explores the reality behind the tradition and asks whether the reputation is alive and well in 21st century Scotland.

    Come along to Fringe Venue 138 - UNISON Office, Belford Road and join in - campaigning can be fun.

    Today's Events


    12:00-2:00 Workshops (Thomas Muir and the Scottish radicals - with Murray Armstrong; Political cartooning - with Martin Rowson)

    2:30-4:00 MOBILISING for street action - a message for reactionary judge Henry Dundas/Viscount Melville who is memorialised amongst the bankers of St Andrews Square

    4:00-5:30 Panel discussion: Scotland - a radical nation? Chaired by Susan Morrison

    Murray Armstrong on Thomas Muir and our history
    Helen MonaghanMargaret Wallace and Vera Coates from the Lee Jeans occupation of 1981
    Veterans of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in Jimmy Cloughley, George Kerr and Davey Torrance with unique film footage
    Andy Anderson from the Skye and Kyle Against the Tolls Campaign


    5:30-7:00 Rise Up - anthems against the cuts: The First of May Band (aka Banner Theatre)

    7:00-8:00 Dave Anderson: How to talk to Old People (music and comedy show)

     8:30-10:30 The MOBILISE Show featuring House Band Eddie and Fraser with top comedians Simon Munnery and Vladimir McTavish



    Activate, agitate, debate, laugh, mobilise
    Mobilise is on all week from Sat 13 - Sat 20 August. Tickets for evening shows (£6/£4) are available at www.mobilisefestival.co.uk or 0131 226 0053 or on the door at UNISON Offices, Douglas House, 60 Belford Road, Edinburgh - map here www.mobilisefestival.co.uk/where-are-we.
    All other events are FREE!

    For more Mobilise Festival information please contact Nancy Kelly on 07904 342230 or the UNISON Press Office. Find out more at UNISON Scotland website: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/mobilise11


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    Wednesday, 17 August 2011

    Mobilise: the anti-cuts festival - the week so far...



    Some random pictures from the week so far... got any you'd like to share?

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    Activate, agitate, debate, laugh, mobilise
    Mobilise is on all week from Sat 13 - Sat 20 August. Tickets for evening shows (£6/£4) are available at www.mobilisefestival.co.uk or 0131 226 0053 or on the door at UNISON Offices, Douglas House, 60 Belford Road, Edinburgh - map here www.mobilisefestival.co.uk/where-are-we.
    All other events are FREE!

    For more Mobilise Festival information please contact Nancy Kelly on 07904 342230 or the UNISON Press Office. Find out more at UNISON Scotland website: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/mobilise11

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    Video: Educate Agitate Mobilise! What we are all about



    Another short video from Filmmaking workshop on Wednesday 17 August 2011 - part of UNISON Scotland's Mobilise Anti-Cuts Festival on the Edinburgh Fringe.


    Activate, agitate, debate, laugh, mobilise
    Mobilise is on all week from Sat 13 - Sat 20 August. Tickets for evening shows (£6/£4) are available at www.mobilisefestival.co.uk or 0131 226 0053 or on the door at UNISON Offices, Douglas House, 60 Belford Road, Edinburgh - map here www.mobilisefestival.co.uk/where-are-we.
    All other events are FREE!

    For more Mobilise Festival information please contact Nancy Kelly on 07904 342230 or the UNISON Press Office. Find out more at UNISON Scotland website: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/mobilise11

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    Video: Mobilise - Stop the Cuts



    This short video was made at the Filmmaking workshop on Monday 15 August 2011 - part of UNISON Scotland's Mobilise Anti-Cuts Festival on the Edinburgh Fringe.


    Activate, agitate, debate, laugh, mobilise
    Mobilise is on all week from Sat 13 - Sat 20 August. Tickets for evening shows (£6/£4) are available at www.mobilisefestival.co.uk or 0131 226 0053 or on the door at UNISON Offices, Douglas House, 60 Belford Road, Edinburgh - map here www.mobilisefestival.co.uk/where-are-we.
    All other events are FREE!

    For more Mobilise Festival information please contact Nancy Kelly on 07904 342230 or the UNISON Press Office. Find out more at UNISON Scotland website: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/mobilise11

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    Mobilise gender equality day Edinburgh

    Wednesday at MOBILISE Anti-Cuts Festival is Gender Equality Day, and we’re aiming to get as many women as we can together for a placard and banner making session from 12 noon at Belford Road, then for a silent protest at 2:30 in St Andrew’s Square. You are of course welcome to bring your children!

    A study by the House of Commons Library in July 2010 www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jul/04/women-budget-cuts-yvette-cooper showed that women will bear the brunt of 75% of the cuts.

    "Of the nearly £8bn net revenue to be raised by the financial year 2014-15, nearly £6bn will be from women and just over £2bn from men." (Guardian report 4 July 2010)

    Public sector jobs cuts are likely to mostly affect women, whilst benefits are being slashed, and taxes hiked for low earners. It makes a mockery of Cameron’s pledges for a family friendly government. Combined with the endemic problem of the low pay ceiling, this is pushing gender equality into the dark ages.

    Women from all walks of life will be gathering in Edinburgh’s financial heartland at St Andrew’s Square – by the Bank of Scotland headquarters and Harvey Nichols – for a dignified public protest at the erosion of gender equality these cuts are causing.

    So if you’re a comedian, actor, director or other artsy type in town for the Fringe, or just an ordinary working mother (and all mothers are working mothers), come out in support. Join us for a placard and banner making session from 12 noon at Belford Road, then for a silent protest at 2:30 in St Andrew’s Square. You are of course welcome to bring your children!


    Activate, agitate, debate, laugh, mobilise
    Mobilise is on all week from Sat 13 - Sat 20 August. Tickets for evening shows (£6/£4) are available at www.mobilisefestival.co.uk or 0131 226 0053 or on the door at UNISON Offices, Douglas House, 60 Belford Road, Edinburgh - map here www.mobilisefestival.co.uk/where-are-we.
    All other events are FREE!

    For more Mobilise Festival information please contact Nancy Kelly on 07904 342230 or the UNISON Press Office. Find out more at UNISON Scotland website: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/mobilise11

    Scotland the tax haven?

    The Scottish Government paper on devolving Corporation Tax has been published. UNISON Scotland is not only a strong advocate of devolution, but we would generally be regarded as in the 'devolution max' camp. This is reflected in our evidence to the Calman Commission and elsewhere. However, we have opposed the devolution of Corporation Tax and here are just four of the reasons:
     
    1. The there is little evidence that cutting taxes on business creates new jobs. If there is a link, it is marginal and there are more cost effective ways of using the same money to create more jobs. Most of the savings are likely to go into big company profits and shareholders pockets.
    2. Like the UK Government's enterprise zones, at best this might displace jobs from one part of the UK to another. Turning Scotland into some type of tax haven is not the basis for a strong economy with real jobs. At worst it will simply lead to 'brass plating' were companies notionally move their headquarters to Scotland, but no real jobs are created.
    3. Devolution of taxation is not a free lunch because there will be a corresponding cut in the block grant. Northern Ireland estimates have just increased to £400m and it would be much more for Scotland. The Treasury estimate is £2.6bn is probably an over estimate, but £800m is still big. Even if the Scottish Government is right that the lower tax rate will lead to a higher yield, there will be several years during which public services will have to be cut to fund the gap. Obviously this is the worst time to take such a risk. In any case the evidence for higher yields (Laffer Curve) is again slim.
    4. Lower tax rates in one part of the UK could come up against state aid rules and what is known as the Azores judgement. In essence Scotland could face an additional cut in public spending. The cost to the block grant could be as much as £1 to 1.5bn. That's a lot of schools and hospitals.
    There are many other arguments against this policy articulated by a range of groups across the spectrum. Respected tax expert Richard Murphy's commentary is always worth a read. 
     
    The only winners from this policy will be big business. The losers will be the rest of us through cuts in jobs and public services. Scotland the tax haven? No thanks.
     

    Evening News: PFI hospital helipad 'almost useless'

    Edinburgh Evening News 16 August
    THE helipad at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary has been left "almost useless" for the last four years with two-thirds of emergency flights unable to land, it has emerged.
     
    The Evening News has discovered that the location of the helipad at the Little France site, among trees and hillside, means it can only operate in daylight hours because of a change in Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules.

    That means the majority of patients being moved to the ERI by helicopter have to instead land at Edinburgh Airport, before being transferred to an ambulance, adding up to an hour onto their journey.

    Unions said it was yet another example of how the "flawed" PFI deal to build the hospital at Little France had a negative impact on services...
     

    Brian Cavanagh on healthcare debate at MOBILISE: 'the union movement at its best'

    Brian Cavanagh reports back from the healthcare debate at UNISON Scotland's MOBILISE Anti Cut Festival in Edinburgh on Tuesday 16 August 2011.

    Healthcare Debate at Mobilise Festival 16 Aug 2011

    I took part in a great panel discussion about the future of health care in Scotland. The panel included a wide range of expertise and experience from across the health care sector and beyond - with the key focus of the speakers on the big challenges faced by health care organisations.

    The choice in the term health care and not the health service was deliberate and stimulated some good discussions and debate from the floor. Effectively chaired by Lilian Macer, the discussion moved beyond the usual conversations dominated by the financial situation into a much more significant debate about what the future of health care can look like:

    What are the challenges of running a health care system with increased demand and expectations?

    What does a quality experience actually feel like – when the pressure is on – to do more for less?

    With an ageing workforce, how do you get the right skill mix and match?

    How do you achieve the holy grail of integrated health and social care?

    Despite many years of discussion and some interesting joint work, what needs to be done to develop a process that is user centred?

    A couple of taboo topics were also raised: In a rights and responsibility culture, what responsibility have people for their own health? (This produced some lively exchanges!) There was also lot of discussion on the wider lessons of partnership working: It’s easy in good times – the test of partnership is in tough times!

    Led by UNISON, this event provided a forum for thoughtful discussion about the difficult times healthcare in Scotland faces and, rather than being a moan fest, identified some key areas where a different approach can improve patient care even in a time of austerity. It was the union movement at its best: passionate, practical and with solutions

    Brian Cavanagh

    Blog posted at www.mobilisefestival.co.uk
    17 August 2011


    (Brian is a former chair of NHS Lothian)


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    Wednesday 17 August – MOBILISING for Gender Equality


    Today’s theme in Mobilise: The Anti Cuts Festival at Edinburgh Fringe is the massive gender discrimination within the Condem agenda -public service cuts, pension attacks, welfare changes and taxation all have a disproportionate impact on women, compounding the longstanding and endemic problem of low pay. Stand up for gender equality. 

    Come along to Fringe Venue 138 - UNISON Office, Belford Road and join in - campaigning can be fun.

    Today's Events

    12:00-2:00 Workshops (Video Skills, Public Speaking, Slam Poetry, Better Way)

    2:30-4:00 MOBILISING for street action – Silent protest for Gender Equality

    4:00-5:30 Women in the Frontline Against the Tories & the Cuts (Debate)

    5:30-7:00 Rise Up : The First of May Band aka Banner Theatre

    7:00-8:00 The Low Pay Game show – a case study

    8:30-10:00 The MOBILISE Show

    Activate, agitate, debate, laugh, mobilise
    Mobilise is on all week from Sat 13 - Sat 20 August. Tickets for evening shows (£6/£4) are available at www.mobilisefestival.co.uk or 0131 226 0053 or on the door at UNISON Offices, Douglas House, 60 Belford Road, Edinburgh - map here www.mobilisefestival.co.uk/where-are-we.
    All other events are FREE!

    For more Mobilise Festival information please contact Nancy Kelly on 07904 342230 or the UNISON Press Office. Find out more at UNISON Scotland website: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/mobilise11


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    Public sector pension plans pose danger to private firms

    17 Aug 2011


    Undermining the huge investment power of local government pension funds (LGPFs), is a dangerous financial gamble, with serious consequences for the UK economy, warns UNISON, the UK’s largest union today (17 August). A study by the union reveals the enormous risk posed to companies on the London Stock Exchange, and to major UK banks, by Government plans to change the pension scheme. 

    The scheme’s investments, worth a whopping £160 billion last year, make it equivalent to one of the largest institutional investors in the world. The funds own 1.5% of shares in the largest companies on the London Stock Exchange – investing nearly £11 billion in the top 11 companies. LGPFs also own 1.5% of UK banks shares.

    Dave Prentis, UNSION General Secretary, said:

    “Local government pension funds are a steady and significant stream of investment for many big UK firms. Worth £160 billion, it’s a huge financial boost to private companies, and to the UK economy as a whole.

    “But this could all change if Government plans to raise contribution rates, price people out of the scheme. A quarter of local government workers already opt out because they can’t afford to save for their retirement.

    “At least 20% more could opt out if contribution rates go up further. This will hit cash flow hard and could mean investments are cashed in early. The worst case scenario is that the schemes collapse entirely. This would be a disaster for the taxpayer, who would have to pick up a massive means tested benefits bill later on down the line.”

    Top facts on the local government pension scheme:

    The scheme went through a thorough review in 2008 to make it sustainable and affordable for the long term. And it worked – a fact confirmed by a recent report by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA).

    Local government workers already pay between 5.5 and 7.5% of their salary into their pension. The average pension in local government is £4,000, dropping to just £2,800 for women.

    The local government scheme could fund all its liabilities for twenty years without a single penny more in contributions.


    UNISON UK Press Release


    Further info:
    Tables with amount of LGPF holdings in major FTSE companies and banks, available from the press office.
    http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2405


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    Tuesday, 16 August 2011

    Scottish Defence League not welcome in Edinburgh

    The Scottish Defence League along with its English counterpart has called a march and rally in Edinburgh on the 10th September, one day before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

    Mobilise: Tuesday 16 August – Defend The NHS


    Today’s theme in Mobilise: The Anti Cuts Festival at Edinburgh Fringe is Defend the NHS. Come along to Fringe Venue 138 - UNISON Office, Belford Road and join in - campaigning can be fun.

    Today's Events


    11:00-2:00 UNISON Scotland Health Activists Rally

    2:30-4:00 Workshops (Carry on Campaigning, Cartoon Capers, Better Way)

    4:00-5:30 What Future for Healthcare in Scotland (Debate)

    5:30-7:00 Rise Up : The First of May Band aka Banner Theatre

    7:00-8:00 Poetry Readings

    8:30-10:30 The MOBILISE Show

    Activate, agitate, debate, laugh, mobilise
    Mobilise is on all week from Sat 13 - Sat 20 August. Tickets for evening shows (£6/£4) are available at www.mobilisefestival.co.uk or 0131 226 0053 or on the door at UNISON Offices, Douglas House, 60 Belford Road, Edinburgh - map here www.mobilisefestival.co.uk/where-are-we.
    All other events are FREE!

    For more Mobilise Festival information please contact Nancy Kelly on 07904 342230 or the UNISON Press Office. Find out more at UNISON Scotland website: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/mobilise11


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    Monday, 15 August 2011

    Mobilise: Monday 15 Aug – Our City’s Not For Sale!

    Today’s theme in Mobilise: The Anti Cuts Festival at Edinburgh Fringe is Our City's Not For Sale - the campaign against privatisation as Edinburgh faces a massive £1 billion privatisation and drastic cuts to fund the Tram Fiasco.

    Come along to Fringe Venue 138 - UNISON Office, Belford Road and join in - campaigning can be fun.

    Today's Events

    12:30-2:00 Workshops (Songwriting – Protest in Harmony, Cartoon Capers, Video Skills, or Comedy Skills)

    2:30-6:00 MOBILISING for street action

    6:00-8:00 Public meeting – our City’s not for Sale (NB venue for this is City Chambers)

    8:30-10:30 MOBILISE Show

    Activate, agitate, debate, laugh, mobilise
    Mobilise is on all week from Sat 13 - Sat 20 August. Tickets for evening shows (£6/£4) are available at www.mobilisefestival.co.uk or 0131 226 0053 or on the door at UNISON Offices, Douglas House, 60 Belford Road, Edinburgh - map here www.mobilisefestival.co.uk/where-are-we.
    All other events are FREE!

    For more Mobilise Festival information please contact Nancy Kelly on 07904 342230 or the UNISON Press Office. Find out more at UNISON Scotland website: www.unison-scotland.org.uk/mobilise11


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    Thursday, 11 August 2011

    UNISON Mobilises for action at Anti-Cuts Festival

    Artists will paint a real picture of the damage caused by public sector cuts at UNISON's Mobilise Festival in Edinburgh, alongside musicians, comedians and special guests. The festival against the Government's cuts, which runs from 13 to 20 August, will include daily debates, followed by live music and open mike slots.

    Tuesday, 9 August 2011

    Clyde Valley shared services

    We now have the latest excuse for a business case for the Clyde Valley shared services project. Our briefing on the initial business case is on the UNISON Scotland website and sets out a range of concerns. The latest version addresses few of these issues.

    The claimed savings are based on some very broad assumptions. Throughout the document there are some very suspicious neat rounded numbers or percentages that give the clear impression that detailed work has not been done. There is also only a limited sensitivity analysis.  A big part of the claimed savings come from 'self-service' delivery systems. Well you don't need a massive shared services structure to introduce this and all it does is to displace support service costs to operational staff. It is therefore a paper saving that takes staff away from service delivery.

    Other costings are very optimistic and in particular redundancy costs. They assume only 25% of the staff reductions will be achieved by redundancy. Given lower staff turnover and other factors this is an obvious under estimate. An important factor would be office location, but again the document is very vague about actual locations, referring vaguely to a 'distributed model'. No vagueness about the big budget for 'specialist expertise', or in plain English, consultants. Even with these optimistic assumptions the financial savings are still low for the investment required.

    There is no Equality Impact Assessment. Apparently this can wait until April 2012, after the decisions have been made! Same applies to environmental and climate change assessments, statutory duties that are just ignored.

    Another key issue is the organisational model. The business case rejects the obvious best solution, a joint board, on the most spurious of grounds. The assessment uses some highly subjective judgements to weight the analysis in favour of a public/public company model. This is despite the strong track record of joint board structures in Scotland (e.g. Tayside Contracts) and the legal problems under procurement law of the other options. They still brush over the VAT and Corporation Tax issues with the company options. A cynic might conclude that this is being done deliberately to push it into the private sector as a second stage operation, claiming 'legal problems'. The main argument against a joint board is the unknown attitude of the Scottish Government. This is frankly bizarre as the Scottish Government has spent £millions trying to get shared services going and is almost certainly going to be supportive.

    Possibly the weakest aspect of the business case is the workforce aspect. The document talks about engaging the workforce and even quotes from the Christie Commission report. As the business plan was developed without any staff input this is a bit rich. What the Christie Commission report highlights is the importance of bottom up service design. This proposal is a classic top down, one size fits all plan that ignores staff and service users. If the authors had read all the Christie report this is explained very clearly in s.4.47. 80% of transactions using this type of service delivery model relate to failure demand i.e. sorting out mistakes. Rather than ensuring that when someone turns up for a service they are met by staff who can help them through it.   

    In summary, this is simply the wrong approach to service design. Even the private sector panel commented that it has big risks with size and complexity. Councils are asked to take this risk in return for at best modest savings. Even those savings are unlikely to be realised due to optimistic assumptions and cost displacement. This plan has 'Edinburgh Trams' written all over it.

    UNISON SCotland site back online once more

    The UNISON Scotland website www.unison-scotland.org.uk is back online - we hope it stays up this time :-) Sorry for any inconvenience. 

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    UNISON Scotland website down yet again

    Apologies to anyone trying to use www.unison-scotland.org.uk - the site is down as of 2pm today due to more hosting problems... hope we can resume normal service soon.

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    Monday, 8 August 2011

    UNISON Scotland website back online

    The UNISON Scotland website http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/ is now back online - hosting problem resolved.

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    Huge gap in private sector pensions – UNISON response

    8 August 2011


    UNISON, the UK’s largest union, called for pension fairness, as a study by the High Pay Commission revealed a huge inequality between the value of, and access to, pensions in the private sector.

    The study, out today (8 Aug), revealed that 97% of FTSE 350 company executive directors have a company-backed pension - compared to just one third of UK private sector workers. This means nearly 15 million private sector workers do not have access to a scheme to which their employer contributes.

    The average FTSE 100 lead executive with a final salary pension could expect to receive nearly £175,000 - completely dwarfing the £6,000 pension those private sector workers who are in a scheme can hope to receive.

    Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:
    “This study shows just how unfair pensions provision is in this country. At the top of companies, nearly all directors have access to a pension to which their employer contributes. When they do retire, they’ll get a six figure pension.

    “Then at the bottom, two thirds of workers do not have a pension that their employer pays into. And the so-called ‘lucky’ ones that do will only get £6,000 a year when they retire.

    “Many of the most vocal critics of public sector pensions are the same company directors who are set to retire on a fortune. This is rank hypocrisy - employers need to understand the importance of decent pensions.

    “For all the private companies, who shirk their responsibilities to provide their workers with decent pension, it only increases the burden on the taxpayer.

    “The taxpayer ends up paying more in means tested benefits, and in increased take up of health and social care services.”

    ends

    UNISON UK Press release
    http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2399
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    Website still down

    The UNISON Scotland website is still down at 09.30 Mon 8 August. Our hosting company is aware and is addressing this. Check back later for details. We will tweet when back online.

    Sunday, 7 August 2011

    UNISON Scotland website down

    We are sorry that UNISON Scotland website appears to be down this morning (Sunday 7 Aug 2011). We are investigating so please check this blog for any updates.

    Friday, 5 August 2011

    'Its' 2011 - not 1611' UNISON reminds John Mason MSP

    5 August 2011


    Public services union UNISON condemned John Mason MSPs motion on equal marriage. The MSP has tabled a motion in Holyrood which "No person or organisation should be forced to be involved in or to approve of same-sex marriages."

    UNISON’s Equalities Officer Eileen Dinning said:
    John Mason is trying to use a motion about free speech to say that homophobia is a perfectly respectable point of view.

    It’s not, and by even suggesting so John Mason is showing how little he understands the Parliament he has just been elected to. Since its inception the Scottish Parliament has proved itself to be a significant legislator on LGBT rights.

    John Mason's motion opposing gay marriage is not only ludicrous but is out of step with a modern and progressive parliament. His views are not representative of the majority of Scottish people and he needs to come back to the year 2011 and remember it's not 1611."


    Notes to editors
    1. The text of John Mason’s motion may be found here
    http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/Apps2/MAQASearch/QAndMSearch.aspx?mspid=5110&isinanything=true&resultsperpage=10

    2. For further comment please contact Eileen Dinning 07958121845



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    Tuesday, 2 August 2011

    UNISON lambasts police boards for ‘bully boy tactics’ and calls for negotiation not intimidation

    UNISON, the union representing police staff, says police boards are employing ‘bully boy tactics’ in a bid to force civilian staff to accept a severe cut in terms and conditions.

    The union has been in talks with police boards over the cuts, which are predominantly targeted at shift workers, for a number of months. Yesterday (Monday), the official side – which includes police board conveners and representatives from the eight forces – issued a letter to staff outlining their ‘final offer’ and demanding a response by Friday, August 5.

    Peter Veldon, regional organiser for UNISON, said: “To issue a letter like this while negotiations are still continuing and demanding a response in five days’ time is totally unreasonable and can only be described as ‘bully boy tactics’.

    “The cuts outlined by the police boards would have a massive impact on our members and, while we’re willing to negotiate, the proposals put forward so far – which would see more than a third of staff having their pay chopped – have been completely unrealistic.

    “Police boards are under pressure from the SNP Government to artificially maintain police numbers and, as such, the cuts are falling entirely on civilian staff. This is not only unfair, but it will have a huge impact on frontline policing as officers are taken off the streets to perform the roles of civilian staff at a huge additional cost to the taxpayer.

    “We’re keen to seek a resolution with police boards but this must be done through negotiation, not intimidation.”

    The union has also been critical of the police board’s attempt to make these swingeing cuts before any decision has been made on the future structure of police boards, which is expected to be made next month.

    Raymond Brown, chair of UNISON’s police branch, said: “The vast majority of shift workers earn under £21,000, most of whom are low-paid female workers, and to cut their allowances by up to 12 per cent will have a massive impact. For some, it will be the difference between being able to pay the mortgage at the end of the month or not.

    “Police support staff are being attacked from all angles – they’re axing our jobs, they’re taking police officers off the street to backfill our roles and now they are planning to decimate our terms and conditions.

    “It’s unfair to target workers this way and we’ll continue to fight to defend our members’ terms and conditions.”

    Monday, 1 August 2011

    Edinburgh privatisation ‘worse than the trams’ say unions as communities take action


    1 August 2011

    Unions have warned that the fall-out from Edinburgh council’s £1billion privatisation plans could be ‘worse than the trams’, as citizens take things into their own hands by organising public meetings across the city to demand answers from the council.

    The unions are backing up the meetings with a hustings on 15 August to give the public a chance to question candidates in the Central ward by-election.

    Kevin Duguid, secretary of Edinburgh council’s ‘staff side’ which includes UNISON, Unite and GMB unions, said: “In the absence of any real consultation by the Lib Dem/SNP coalition on Scotland’s biggest ever council privatisation project, UNISON held a public meeting on June 27. The response was amazing with most people shocked that they had heard nothing about plans that would privatise all or part of just about every council service.

    “Since then, shocked communities have shown what the real ‘big society’ is by setting up their own local meetings to demand answers.

    “A packed meeting organised by residents at Meadowbank on July 27 took councillors to task, with another planned for August 2. Residents in Southhouse have also called a meeting for August 11, with reports coming in of others on the way. People are furious that wholesale privatisation of their services – mentioned by no party in their manifesto – is being pushed though without their say.

    "UNISON calls on council tax payers across Edinburgh to follow the lead of Meadowbank and Southhouse - organise your own local meeting. We will support you in calling the council to account."

    John Stevenson, UNISON branch president, said: “Public services need to adapt to meet our needs but there will be little flexibility in a fixed contract and private companies will charge a fortune for any changes.

    “Just like the trams, we could easily end up with no services while disputes between the council and contractors drag through court. We could waste millions on lawyers' fees and – just like the trams – massive costs if the contracts fail.

    “And on top of all that, the council has so far failed on key legal issues. It has not engaged disabled people in discussion about access to the new services as required by law. There has been no assessment of sustainability issues to ensure that the private companies protect the environment and develop greener ways to deliver services and reduce carbon emissions. The people of Edinburgh can’t even get to see the business case because it’s secret.”

    Edinburgh Unite leader Stephen MacGregor said: “The council must put the brakes on privatisation and at least consult properly with communities. This is a massive decision that will affect Edinburgh’s services for years to come – and one that is almost certain to come back and bite the council – and it’s the council tax payer and public service worker that will pay the price.

    “Our taxes should be gathered to deliver services and protect the vulnerable, not to pay profits to private companies or dividends to shareholders.”

    ENDS

    You can find out more at www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/citynotforsale

    .

    Tony Benn to headline UCS 40 Anniversary Concert

    Shop Stewards who were part of the UCS Work-In in the shipyards of Glasgow and Clydebank today announced a series of events organised to mark the 40th anniversary of the famous industrial dispute. PRESS RELEASE FROM UCS Co-ordinating Committee