Wednesday, 31 July 2013

UNISON challenges supermarkets to support safe meat hygiene inspection

UNISON, the UK’s largest union, today called on the country’s biggest supermarkets to back its campaign to guarantee that the meat they sell is safe to eat and their products labelled correctly.  

The union is contacting Britain’s biggest supermarkets urging them to oppose plans by the EU to drastically cut the meat inspection regime.  

Meat hygiene inspectors are employed in abattoirs up and down the country and inspect every carcass for signs of TB, dog and human parasites, foot and mouth and other diseases as well as faecal contamination. They are also responsible for ensuring that any contaminated meat does not get into the food chain via burgers or sausages.

A recent survey published by Mintel showed that less than half (49%) of consumers trusted the safety of their food and 37% disagreed that supermarkets were aware of the origin of their food. In addition independent research conducted for Labelling Matters shows that 83% of consumers in the UK want to know which farm system has been used to produce their meat and dairy products, and 79% said farm animal welfare was important when deciding which food products to buy.

Paul Bell, UNISON National Officer for Meat Hygiene Inspectors, said: “The reputation of some of the biggest supermarkets in the country has taken a real knocking because of the latest horse meat scandal.  It is in their own interests to reassure customers that they are doing all they can to make sure that the meat they sell is safe to eat..." 

Read more on the UNISON UK website.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

STV & BBC reports on union opposition to new employment tribunal fees

STV News at Six reported last night on union opposition to the introduction of employment tribunal fees.

Bernard Ponsonby's report  included interviews with UNISON Scotland Legal Officer Suzanne Craig and Jim McCourt of Inverclyde Advice & Employment Rights Centre.

Suzanne explained how the punitive fees will put people off taking claims to employment tribunals.

Watch the clip on STV Player (9mins 50s into the programme).

And the BBC reported on UNISON winning the right to challenge the fees. The judicial review will take place in October.

UNISON members won't have to pay, as we said here.

Monday, 29 July 2013


#JoinUNISON (remember union members won't have to pay)

UNISON UK news release...

“The timing could not be more critical, but today we are one step closer to justice for workers” said UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis. The comments come in the wake of a ruling by the Royal Courts of Justice that the union has permission for a Judicial Review hearing, over the introduction of fees for claims in Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunals, is to go ahead in October.

Dave Prentis went on to say:

“I am pleased that UNISON has been successful in getting permission for a Judicial Review hearing.  The introduction of punitive fees for taking a claim to an employment tribunal, would give the green light to unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over already basic workers’ rights.

“The Government should not put a price on justice.  It is disappointing that in the interim fees will still be paid, but we will be making a strong case for a Judicial Review in October because we believe that these fees are unfair and should be dropped.”

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Dispute over pay at Citizens Advice Direct goes to ACAS


UNISON is tomorrow (Wednesday) taking a dispute over pay cuts of up to 6% at the Citizens Advice telephone service to ACAS.

The Scottish telephone and web based advice service Citizens Advice Direct (CAD) wants to withdraw its current contribution based pay scheme under which staff who achieve targets can earn a pay rise of up to 6% annually.

In a consultative ballot, 100% of UNISON members rejected the latest changes to staff terms and conditions. They are angry that eligible staff would lose out significantly this year and in the future.

Deborah Dyer, Regional Organiser, said in advance of tomorrow’s talks at ACAS in Glasgow: “Our members have worked very hard but are being told they won’t be paid the rise they are due, which would be added to their salary for future years too.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Access All Areas in Scotland - UNISON Scotland's Disabled Members Newsletter

Read the first issue of Access All Areas in Scotland. This issue covers National Delegate Conference, report on meeting with Independent Living in Scotland's Pam Duncan, upcoming conferences and events, Mobilise13 and progress on developing new website. Click here for a pdf on the Disabled Members' website.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

UNISON Personal Assistants Project launched in South Lanarkshire

Union project offers personal assistants (PAs) and support workers training and employment rights advice

The public services union UNISON's new PAs project has launched in South Lanarkshire.
It offers networking, advice and support to personal assistants (PAs) and Support Workers who work for disabled and elderly clients.
PAs are being invited to a series of meetings in July and August around South Lanarkshire to find out more.

Nelson Mandela International Day 18 July - ACTSA Scotland Book Appeal

The United Nations has designated Nelson Mandela’s birthday every 18th July as Nelson Mandela International Day, when people throughout the world are encouraged to give 67 minutes of voluntary service to the community in whatever way they choose, to help change the world for the better.
On that date this year ACTSA Scotland (Action for Southern Africa) is asking people to use their 67 minutes to sort out and bring us children’s books to be sent to school libraries in Nelson Mandela’s home Province of Eastern Cape, with which Scotland has a particular link.
What are needed are children’s books of all kinds, in English, to encourage reading for fun. This helps to develop fluency in reading English which is vital for all parts of the children’s education. (Their mother tongue is mainly Xhosa, but education is mostly in English).


Commenting on the unemployment figures, which show that long-term unemployment has reached a 17-year high, Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:

“Every job lost is a personal tragedy and the government has to do more to tackle the persistent jobs crisis.

"Stopping the slew of job losses from the public sector and giving Britain a pay rise to get people spending is what our economy needs to recover.”

Regional unemployment between March and May

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Local Government Pay Ballot Helpline Number

PAY BALLOT HELPLINE NUMBER  -   UNISON Direct 0845 355 0845.

The UNISON Direct number above can deal with enquiries regarding members who have not received/need replacement ballot papers.

This number will be available between 10 July and 12 noon on 7 August. No ballot papers will be sent out after this period. We have been advised that it will take up to 3 working days for replacement/other ballot papers to reach members.

(Details of the Yes to Fair Pay campaign are online at )

Inflation up – Scotland’s local government workers deserve fair pay

UNISON Scotland said today that inflation rising to 2.9% is grim news for hard pressed workers struggling to make ends meet.

The public services union is currently balloting members in local government on strike action to win an improvement on COSLA’s pay offer of just 1%.

Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said:

“Sustained high inflation, coupled with a prolonged pay freeze, then squeeze for millions of public sector workers across the UK, has hit families hard.

“Parents are cutting back on food, clothes, even on things for their children – they are being priced out of basic living. Meanwhile, it is still boom time for British bankers who are dominating the EU bankers’ rich list.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Social housing is key says UNISON - as Audit Scotland finds ‘failure to meet need’ for homes

Thu 11 July 2013

Housing services union UNISON has called for a massive investment in social housing to meet the shortfall of homes identified in a hard-hitting report out today.

The Audit Scotland report ‘Housing in Scotland’ finds that the “supply of housing is not meeting current levels of need”, and argues that welfare reform – otherwise known as benefit cuts - “will further increase pressure on the sector”. The report concludes that more funding sources are needed for new social housing to meet the massive shortfall in homes being built.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Labour party and trade union link

Dave Prentis blogs: UNISON has always given its members the choice of opting in to its affiliated political fund, that gives them a say in the democratic processes of the Labour Party, or of opting in to the General Political Fund, independent of any political party. Our processes are democratic and transparent. UNISON has never operated the arrangement whereby we pay Labour Party membership fees for new members.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Chill winds blow on Further Education

The impact of cuts in Scotland's FE sector is highlighted by Dave Watson in the latest edition of Scottish Policy Now.

Dave argues that budget cuts and centralisation are the wrong approach for Scotland’s Further Education sector. A strong economy needs a skilled workforce and colleges are just as important as universities in delivering a fairer, more prosperous Scotland.

He also points to the recommendations of the Christie Commission that the Scottish Government claims to be implementing. That report called for bottom up design of public services - not centralisation.

For more on UNISON Scotland's concerns over the direction of FE policy visit our cuts campaign page.

Building homes for the future

Dave Watson has an opinion piece in the Scotsman today on UNISON Scotland's new housing policy.

He sets out the case for building and renovating homes for the 180,000 people on our housing waiting lists and the 60,000 in overcrowded homes. Yes, thats overcrowding, not something we hear much about since the introduction of the 'Bedroom Tax'.

What's different about the UNISON approach is that we set out how we might finance a new programme of house building using pension funds. Better than investing in tobacco companies.

A fairer and more prosperous Scotland needs better housing. Here is how to do it.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

UNISON calls on councillors to back Fair Pay as strike ballot opens

Tue 2 July 2013

Local government union UNISON today (Tuesday) emailed Scotland’s councillors asking them to support Fair Pay for council workers.

UNISON is balloting members in local government on strike action to win an improvement on COSLA’s pay offer of 1%. The ballot opens tomorrow (Wednesday 3 July) and runs till 13 August.

Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said: “We have asked every councillor in Scotland whether they think it is fair that their employees have been offered a miserly 1%, when the value of staff pay has fallen by more than 10% in the last three years.”

The email to councillors points out that there is money available to improve the offer. Indeed the Labour group in COSLA had proposed an offer of 2.5%. Although this was not carried, it shows they believe the money can be found.

Mike Kirby added: “The employers’ offer is the first in three years and in that period housing costs, domestic fuel and travel to work costs have risen considerably. Our members work hard delivering quality public services day in and day out. We believe they deserve fair pay and a commitment to annual rises in the Living Wage. That is why we are balloting on strike action to win a better pay offer than the miserly 1% which was offered and rejected.”

“We believe a better pay offer is affordable - and it would in fact benefit local economies in a big way as council workers spend more than half their wages locally.”