Thursday, 31 January 2013

Union warns on public safety concerns raised in Audit Scotland report

Thursday 31 Jan 2013
UNISON today (Thursday) warned that damaging cuts to trading standards and food safety services in environmental health are putting the public at risk when safety should be paramount.

The public service union welcomed the fact that a new Audit Scotland report highlights the pressures on these essential services and calls for urgent action to strengthen protection for consumers.

Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, said:
"Our members working in trading standards and food safety, within environmental health departments, tell us about many of the concerns noted in this report.

“For Audit Scotland to find that ‘the long term viability of councils’ trading standards services is under threat’ and to raise concerns about food safety staffing and training levels and loss of expertise demonstrates the seriousness of issues we have raised consistently.

“Members of the public expect to be able to rely on checks being carried out and expect these key services to be properly funded. This is another example of the enormous damage to vital public services caused by government funding cuts at UK, Scottish and local levels.”

The report suggests that COSLA and councils work together to ensure strong national co-ordination for trading standards. UNISON supports co-ordination and collaborative working, but would be sceptical about any suggestion that there should be a national service.

Dave added:
“The recent horse meat in burgers scandal also highlighted the importance of independent meat inspection in abattoirs. There is industry lobbying and EU consideration of relaxing the current standards. UNISON wants to ensure that there is no threat of privatisation and industry self-regulation. We must maintain an independent meat hygiene inspection service as this service is being devolved to Scotland.”

For information please contact:
Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, 07958 122 409
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 877 000
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07876 566 978


Note for editors

1.    UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working mainly in the public sector in Scotland and represents staff in council trading standards and environmental health departments.
2.    UNISON was responding to the Audit Scotland report ‘Protecting Consumers’.

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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Glasgow equal pay tribunal victory for UNISON




Wed 30 Jan 2013

UNISON Scotland has welcomed an Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling on equal pay which could improve the chances of low paid workers, mainly women, seeking fair comparison with other workers in councils and their associated “arms length organisations” (ALEOs).

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has decided that UNISON members working in ALEOs set up by Glasgow City Council can compare themselves with Council employees, and with employees of other Council ALEOs when claiming equal pay.

Mandy McDowall, UNISON Scotland Regional Organiser said:
“This is a welcome ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal and an important victory for our members.

“It means that the law allows employees of one employer to compare themselves with workers in another employer if the employers are associated – and that councils can’t slip out of their duty to ensure equal pay and fair treatment simply by hiving off services into arms length organisations.”

The Council had argued that the ALEOs were not associated employers but were completely separate companies. They also argued that because some of the ALEOs were limited liability partnerships, they could not be an associated employer, because that only applied to companies.

The Appeal Tribunal dismissed that argument, declaring that there was no justification for putting such a narrow meaning on the legislation. They went on to say that the provision allowing comparisons across associated employers was an anti-avoidance measure to prevent employers splitting up their workforce to avoid equal pay comparisons. In order to achieve that aim, they were prepared to give a broad interpretation to the legislation.

Mandy McDowall added:
“This victory shows that workers seeking equal pay are stronger together in UNISON.”



Notes for editors

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working mainly in the public sector in Scotland and represents staff in all of Scotland’s local authorities.

2. The Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling in the case of the Glasgow ALEOs was confirmed on Friday 25 January. The claimants in this case are mostly low paid women who were transferred out to the ALEOs but want to claim equal pay with their former male bonus-earning colleagues within the Council and other ALEOs like City Building LLP.


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Secret EU plans to privatise water

Secret plans of EU Commission to privatise water leads to support for campaign over Water as a Human right

A German comedian took the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) center stage on TV Tuesday evening, Erwin Pelzig, a celebrated comedian pointed his audience to the secret plan of the European Commission to privatise water services. The German TV programme Monitor   (EN subtitles) had revealed earlier how new EU rules could lead to more privatisation of water services. It also showed how the EU Commission has put private water company representatives in a number of crucial expert groups that advise the Commission. Their advice is predictable: introduce more competition. It is only the latest in a series of attempts of the Commission to push for private water in the EU. A letter  of the European Commission’s Greek desk in response to EPSU and other groups underlines how ideological the approach of the Commission is. It believes private water services will deliver more.  And now the Greek government is pushing for the privatisation of the publicly owned water companies of Athens and Thessaloniki. In the autumn 51% of the shares should be brought on the market.

Trade unions, anti-poverty campaigners and many others do know what that means: it leads to increased prices and higher profits for the private water industry as ample evidence including from the London based research group PSIRU  has demonstrated.  Erwin Pelzig underlined this also in his show on ZDF. He is upset that the Commission plans will lead to price increases for something as crucial as water. And he did a remarkable thing at the end of the broadcast. He first told his audience that he could not show the website of the European Citizens Initiative. The rules of the public broadcasting company prevent this. He then says that the rules do allow how to show a car. He walks to the car, pulls out a placard and puts that in front of the car. It shows the website of the European Citizens Initiative while the audience exploded in applause and laughter. That same day 100.000 mainly German but also some Austrians signed up.  

UNISON supports the European Citizens Initiative and Dave Prentis is a member of the organising committee. But we need more people from the UK to sign up. People sign up electronically to make sure that water becomes a Human Right and is not for sale.  The initiative demands that the European Commission stops plans to liberalise water services. Together with workers and citizens we seek to achieve 1 million signatures. Signing up is really easy. Please go to the website:
https://signature.right2water.eu/oct-web-public/index.do?initiativeLang=en   at the end of the page click on support, select UK and sign up to the initiative.  We need your voice.


Tuesday, 29 January 2013

#RPP2 #climatepromises SCCS: @ScotGov climate change plan lacks ambition/credibility



29 Jan 2013

The Scottish Government has shown an ‘extremely worrying’ lack of ambition in its new plans to reduce emissions, a leading coalition said today. [1]

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) [2] slammed the government’s second climate action plan, the draft Report on Proposals and Policies 2 (RPP2), accusing it of failing to fully grasp the multiple benefits for the economy, society and the wider environment to be gained from a transition to a low carbon economy.   The Royal College of Nursing today added their voice to call for more focus on measures which reduce emissions and can improve the health of Scots across the country.

With the Scottish Government having missed its first climate target, SCCS believes this draft plan fails to put us back on track to cut our emissions and play our full part in tackling dangerous climate change, committed to in the 2009 Climate Change Act.

Reacting to the draft action plan, Tom Ballantine, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said:

“It is extremely worrying to see the lack of ambition demonstrated by the Scottish Government when it comes to reducing our climate emissions.  We have the strongest climate laws in the world and the Government has gone to great efforts to highlight this example globally.

“Sadly, missing the first climate target last year does not appear to have been the wake-up call needed for Ministers to put fresh impetus into their climate action plans. This new plan does little to reassure us that future targets will be met, putting Scotland’s credibility at risk at home and abroad. 

"While there has been some good progress in insulation programmes for homes, it fails to tackle the growing emissions from our transport sector. It calls into question how serious the Government is about delivering on the Act and actually reducing Scotland's emissions year on year.

"We need Members of the Scottish Parliament to come together, as they did in 2009 when passing the Scottish Climate Change Act, to ensure that Scotland's climate ambitions can be realised."

Although there are strengthened commitments to tackle emissions from heating and electricity, the package as a whole lacks credibility.

SCCS is calling on MSPs to suggest key improvements when it undergoes Parliamentary scrutiny, including essential policies to tackle the growing emissions from transport, home energy use and land use:

On transport, Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said:

"The Scottish Government has again shirked its responsibility of cutting emissions from the transport sector. It has failed to bring forward as confirmed policies the measures that are required now to turn around emissions in this critical area. The plans for transport are even worse than in the previous plan. They have decided to delay action on cutting transport emissions until 2025, in the vain hope that they can pluck something out of the air in the final three years.

"The Parliament must ensure that the Government isn't allowed to hide behind its claims that it doesn't have the funds to cut transport emissions, or that it's Westminster's fault. The Scottish transport budget has risen, not fallen, in recent years but the Government has chosen to spend these extra funds on new road-building rather than on reducing emissions. Under this government, we've seen a 40% increase in roads spending while the funds devoted to sustainable transport have remained static."

On homes, Theresa Fyffe, Director of Royal College of Nursing Scotland, said:

“It’s now widely accepted that climate change is a very real threat to the health and wellbeing of people across the world, and the RCN supports action that enables Scotland to play its part in reducing harmful carbon emissions.  Nurses are on the frontline of patient care and know only too well the health problems that can arise as a result of higher temperatures, extreme weather events, and other climate related impacts. 

“The people most likely to be affected include the elderly, children and the poor - we all have a responsibility to take action and we will support our members to do their bit, but leadership on this global issue must come from Government.  A fully funded National Retrofit Programme combined with the introduction of minimum standards of energy efficiency for all housing are necessary if we are to address the national shame of fuel poverty and the challenge of climate change.”

On land use, Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, said:

“The proposals for peatland restoration are very welcome and encouraging.  Scotland's peatland is globally important for biodiversity but restoring degraded peat bogs has additional wider benefits including securing the vast amounts of carbon stored in the peat soils, improving our water quality, and providing opportunities for tourism. RSPB Scotland and other land managers look forward to working with the Scottish Government to deliver this commendable target, but await details on what funding will be put in place to achieve this important work."

Ends

Notes to Editors

(1) Low Carbon Scotland, the Report on Proposals and Policies (RPP)
(2) Stop Climate Chaos Scotland is a diverse coalition of more than 60 organisations campaigning together on climate change, including environment, faith and development organisations, trade and student unions and community groups.


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#RPP2 #climatepromises SCCS: Scotland must get its climate change strategy right

29 Jan 2013



Tom Ballantine, chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, writes in The Scotsman today:

"TODAY the Scottish Government will publish its second climate change action plan.


The plan will set out how Scotland will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2027. After the considerable setback and embarrassment of last year, when the government missed the first legally binding target to reduce Scotland’s emissions, this action plan is a must-seize opportunity to get us back on track.

In 2009, in response to the voice of the Scottish people, the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the Scottish Climate Change Act. This legislation was not just a statement of intent but a world-leading commitment to take action to tackle climate change. Today’s plan from the Scottish Government will tell us if that promise is to be kept or broken.

If we are to get back on track, having missed our very first climate target, the new plan must be credible and transparent. The previous plan was undermined by a reliance on possible future actions to cut emissions. This time the Scottish Government must provide clarity and confidence with a firm statement of action and not a list of intentions.

The new plan must mark a step change in effort, particularly to reverse the projected growth in emissions from cars. More effort is also needed to secure warm and affordable homes for all. These are the two sectors where emissions have risen significantly over the past three decades or so, and if Scotland is serious about delivering on its climate promises, these areas will require particular effort...."

Full report here and BBC Scotland report here




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Monday, 28 January 2013

UNISON slams ‘damaging’ Stirling Council plan to cut vital services and jobs

Mon 28 Jan 2013

Stirling UNISON branch has criticised a decision by the local council to give formal notice of up to 250 redundancies ahead of negotiations over budget plans - which should be intended to avoid such measures.

James Douglas, Stirling UNISON branch secretary, said:
“We knew we were facing a challenging round of negotiations, but the employer’s move to take this drastic action is totally unnecessary and unwarranted. It suggests that damaging decisions to cut vital services on which our communities – and indeed our members and their families - depend have already been made.

“Some of the proposals coming forward are completely unwarranted. The council are saying staff can either face job losses just now or work longer hours for no pay - which in their words will ‘allow for staffing numbers to be reduced.’ But we’ve already had a pay freeze for the last few years – and jobs have gone too.”

Staffing levels at Stirling Council have been reduced over the last five years but these have been managed through negotiations with UNISON in order to avoid reductions in service delivery. In addition to the notice of 250 redundancies, the employer has also now proposed wide ranging changes to employee terms and conditions.

UNISON Regional Organiser David O’Connor said:
“UNISON has worked with Stirling Council in facing up to the challenges that have come our way and I am bitterly disappointed that we have got to this point.

“We’ve achieved a lot mainly through the hard work and dedication of Council employees.
However, you can only cut so much before you reach breaking point. We are now at that point.”

Lesley Russell, UNISON branch chair said:
“Our members are incensed at the cuts to jobs and services which are being proposed. UNISON would hope that a negotiated agreement can be reached - but we cannot rule out the possibility of industrial action to protect our members and the vital services they deliver.”

ends



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Pension investment

The Herald is running a story today about investments in the Scottish local government pension scheme (LGPS). They say:

"SCOTLAND'S public-sector workers are unwittingly pouring hundreds of millions of pounds through their pensions into funding cigarette manufacturers and companies dealing in arms. More than £220 million is tied up in tobacco firms – including those behind Marlboro, Benson & Hedges and Lucky Strike – despite guidelines that recommend ethical and social factors must be taken into account by councils administering the funds. The Scottish Government requires the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) to "take ethical and social considerations into account when making investment decisions".

The Herald's Leader column asks: "How will they feel about the report in The Herald today revealing that they are unwittingly investing more than £220m in tobacco firms?"

The answer is not impressed but not entirely surprised. Governance of the Scottish LGPS is probably the worst of any funded pension scheme in Scotland. While there has been some improvement in recent years there is only limited scheme member representation. Decisions are taken almost entirely by councillors. There is also no provision in the legislation that members serving on these committees have to make investment decisions in the best interests of beneficiaries or address potential conflict of interests with the councils that make up the fund. UNISON believes that the current arrangements sit outside the requirements of European law, particularly Directive 2003/41/EC, known as the IORP Directive. I covered these issues in more detail in a blog post last year.

The Scottish LGPS will be the subject of significant renegotiation in the coming months as a consequence of the UK Public Service Pensions Bill. One of the recommendations in the Hutton Report on public service pensions that UNISON Scotland welcomed, was the call for stronger member involvement in the governance of pensions. This is something high on our list of priorities to resolve in the current review.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Developing the Scottish Human Rights Agenda: Compliance, good practice and legal challenge

The Scottish Government is developing a distinctive track record in giving effect to human rights in Scotland and that approach takes place against a broader context of the need to comply with human rights law. The publication of ‘Do the right thing’, work on the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UK and the consultation on a proposed Children and Young People Bill which will ‘embed the rights of children and young people across the public sector in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)’ are examples of just some of the relevant policy developments which are currently unfolding.

In practical terms the need to comply with the detail and spirit of human rights will present a significant challenge for those organisations which do not understand how legislation and case law is driving change in policy, practice and service delivery.

To explore these issues there is a conference on Tue 5th Feb 2013 at The Carlton Hotel, Edinburgh. The conference is organised by MacKay Hannah and can be booked here.

Speakers

Roseanna Cunningham MSP
Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs, Scottish Government

Juliet Harris National Development Officer, Together
Tressa Burke Chief Executive, Glasgow Disability Alliance
Emma Gray Head of Policy and External Communications, Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
Dave Watson Head of Bargaining & Campaigns – UNISON Scotland
Professor Alan Miller Chair, Scottish Human Rights Commission
Diane McGiffen Chief Operating Officer, Audit Scotland
Tam Baillie Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

STV: Unison protest calls for Glasgow City Council to scrap disability cuts

23 Jan 2013 STV: Video

Unison protest calls for Glasgow City Council to scrap disability cuts


http://local.stv.tv/glasgow/magazine/211109-unison-protest-calls-for-council-disability-cuts-to-be-scrapped/

By Rachael Fulton

Carers, disability rights campaigners and unionists rallied outside Glasgow City Chambers on Wednesday to protest against proposed council cuts.
Hoisting their Unison placards emblazoned with demands to scrap learning disability service cuts, the assembled crowd of service users, carers and their supporters braved the Glasgow cold to make their voices heard.
Speakers such as carer Grace Harrigan and Ian Hood of Learning Disability Alliance Scotland gave emotive speeches at the steps of the City Chambers, calling for Glasgow City Council to protect its vulnerable and scrap plans to cut funding.
Author, artist and long-standing supporter of the anti-disability cuts campaign Alasdair Gray also took to the podium to lend his voice to the rally, his impassioned words met with uproarious applause from the audience.
Full story and video at STV site

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Pictures from UNISON Glasgow Rally to defend learning disability services

Jan 23 2013 
Pictures of UNISON Glasgow Rally to defend learning disability services and adult day care centres
on UNISON Scotland Picasa gallery

From Glasgow Personalisation Rally 23 Jan 2013

https://picasaweb.google.com/117247006402711752943/GlasgowPersonalisationRally23Jan2013#


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UNISON wins pay deal of up to 4% at South Lanarkshire College

Wed 23 Jan 2013

UNISON members at South Lanarkshire College in East Kilbride have won a landmark pay deal which will see a rise of more than 4% for the lowest paid staff.

The negotiated pay increase of 2.95% or £550 (whichever is greater) plus a consolidated £15 on all scale points will be backdated from 1 August 2012.

Graeme Forrester, UNISON’s lead negotiator at South Lanarkshire College, said:
"We welcome this pay award, which will see our lowest paid members receive an increase in excess of 4% in real terms.

“And the offer also increases the minimum annual leave entitlement from 22 to 25 days - which is a victory in UNISON’s ongoing fight for equality for all workers."

The final deal includes an additional three unconsolidated annual leave days offered and a consolidated salary uplift of £15 (pro-rata) in addition to the previously tabled 2.95%. That means most staff will benefit from a consolidated salary increase of more than 3%.

Regional Organiser Robert Rae said:
“This is an excellent deal at a time when public sector workers face a pay freeze, rising prices and cuts to vital services – especially in further education.

“Securing a decent advance in pay and holidays  in the current climate shows once again that workers are stronger together in UNISON.”


ends


Note for editors

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working mainly in the public sector in Scotland and represents staff in all of Scotland’s local authorities. UNISON represents staff in all of Scotland’s further education college.



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UNISON welcomes South Ayrshire equal pay settlement

Wed 23 Jan 2013

Local government union UNISON is today celebrating a historic equal pay settlement for hundreds of council staff in South Ayrshire. The deal finalised this week will be worth thousands of pounds for some of the lowest paid staff, mainly women, in manual, admin, clerical and support jobs.

Renee Gillan, UNISON South Ayrshire Branch Secretary, said:
 “We are absolutely delighted with this fantastic news for hundreds of workers who have faced pay discrimination for many years and who will now receive substantial compensation. This win will make a massive difference to everyone who has been involved in this campaign.” 

The South Ayrshire deal settles more than 500 claims which were lodged in 2006. These had been subject to legal challenge by the Council on a technicality which ultimately failed at the Court of Session. A planned appeal by the Council to the Supreme Court is being put on hold as part of the settlement deal.

Joe Lynch, Regional Organiser, said:
“UNISON is proud to stand up for the principle of ‘equal pay for work of equal value’. We have had to fight this through the courts - which has taken a long time - but today’s settlement means we have won on that principle.

“This victory shows once again that workers are stronger together in UNISON.”

ends
Notes for editors
1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working mainly in the public sector in Scotland and represents staff in all of Scotland’s local authorities. 

2. The equal pay claims were brought mainly by female staff who were claiming that their work was of equal value to male manual workers who received a bonus. The Council argued that the female employees had not complied with necessary procedural steps so the claims were invalid. The UNISON claimants won the point at the Employment Tribunal and the Court of Session. The Council had appealed to the Supreme Court, but that appeal will now be put on hold pending the settlement of the individual claims.



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UNISON on unemployment figures: government still failing to stimulate economy

Wed 23 Jan 2013

Commenting on the small drop in unemployment, UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said:

“Any fall must be welcome but progress is still painfully slow for the 2.49m people still desperately looking for a job. The number of high street names going into liquidation shows there is no room for complacency. And only yesterday the Government announced more than 5,000 cuts to army personnel.

“We know that many thousands of public sector workers jobs are under threat as council budget cuts mean that elderly care centres, nurseries, swimming pools and other valued services face the axe.

“The Government is failing to stimulate the economy which is a vital ingredient to creating significant, long-tem, full-time jobs."

ends

UNISON UK news release:
http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2940

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Carers, celebrities & campaigners rally for learning disability services and day care centres

22 January 2013

Carers and service users will unite with trade unionists, campaigners and celebrities including author(s) Alasdair Gray (and James Kelman) at a rally in George Square tomorrow – Wednesday 23 January from 12.30pm - to call for an immediate halt to cuts and an independent review into Glasgow’s learning disability services.

Sam Macartney, of Glasgow UNISON branch, welcomed the postponement of the council’s decision on cuts to learning disability services, closure of three vital day care centres and job losses.

Sam Macartney, Convener of Daycare Services, said:

“Glasgow City Council has put off the vote planned for Thursday (24 January) on the proposed cuts in learning disability day centres and services. This is of course entirely down to the pressure exerted on the council by those who use the services and their families, their supporters in the various campaigning groups including the Defend Glasgow Services Campaign and the trade unions.

“However, there are still no changes to the proposals and we must keep up the pressure on the council.

“We are calling for:

An independent review to be carried out into learning disability services and day care centres in Glasgow – as called for by Glasgow City Council’s own Carers Champion, Chris Mason

A halt to all changes and cuts – including cuts to services, jobs or closures of centres – while the review is carried out

Glasgow City Council Social Work Services to hold an open all-Glasgow meeting for all carers

And vitally - an increase – not a cut - in the money available to the total learning disability services pot, to make individual personalised budgets higher, because the cuts to personalised budgets are at the root of most of the problem.

“The protest planned for Wednesday 23 January at 12.30pm outside the City Chambers goes ahead. Let’s step up our efforts to defeat these proposals to cut vital services to the most vulnerable in our community.”

Rally details
Wednesday 23 January 2013
12.30pm in George Square, Glasgow
Speakers include those who use the services and their families, elected representatives including councillors and MSPs, prominent authors and academics, trade unionists and disability rights campaigners.
Confirmed speakers:
  • Tommy Gorman, carer
  • Grace Harrigan, carer
  • Ian Hood, Learning Disability Alliance Scotland
  • Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary, STUC 
  • Alasdair Gray, author and artist – who also brings a message of support from writer James Kelman

Other speakers to be confirmed
  
Note for editors
Glasgow City Council’s controversial plans for personalisation of care services includes a proposal to close three day centres that accommodate about 130 people each on weekdays. Around 136 jobs are also under threat.

Direct and highly emotional personal evidence of why this is not a good plan was provided at a well-attended conference at UNISON’s Glasgow City branch office on 10 December 2012 called by the Defend Glasgow Services Personalisation Network – a network of carers, service users, campaigners and trade unions planning to defend these key services.

See our blog post on the 12 December event here:

and a useful STV news report here:



Monday, 21 January 2013

Water a human right - not for sale

Water a human right – not for sale – support a European Citizens Initiative

The European Citizens Initiative (ECI)  to collect 1 million signatures calling for the EU to recognise the Human Right to Water, has close to 300.000 people supporting it already. It calls for recognizing the human right to water rather than continuing to explore plans for liberalization of water services.  A German broadcast exposed the European Commission’s plan to privatise water and how it is influenced by the multinational companies. www.wdr.de/tv/monitor/sendungen/2012/1213/wasser.php5  English transcript available at: http://www.right2water.eu/fr/news/monitor-commission-plans-water-privatisation) This would also effect Scottish Water.  The Commission promotes further competition, seeks to introduce smart meters, and trading of water rights in its Blueprint for water (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:52012DC0673:EN:NOT ).

The ECI is a new form of European action created by the Lisbon treaty,  which provides an opportunity to get the European Commission to listen to citizen views rather than just lobbyists in Brussels. UNISON and the other UK public service unions are member of one of the supporting organisations – the European Federation of Public Services Unions, and the whole union movement supports it through ETUC. 

Supporting the initiative is simple: go to  http://www.right2water.eu/  , read the statement of the ECI objectives, and sign up. All over the EU almost 300.000 have done so. Let’s join them.  And please encourage others to do so by circulating this message. 

Friday, 18 January 2013

Evening Times: MSPs hit out over plan to close Glasgow day care centres

18 Jan 2013

Evening Times Political Correspondent Stewart Paterson reported today:
 
THE closure of day centres for adults with disabilities in Glasgow was debated by MSPs at Holyrood.

He said the closures were a cut to services and was concerned the consultation process has not sufficiently considered the views of users and their families.
 
Several city MSPs debated the issue with Labour MSPs stating that it was not a cut as any savings were to be spent on new social care services. They said if the council was given a fairer settlement from the Scottish Government it would have more cash to spend.
 
See the full report on the Evening Times website.

The transcript of the debate is on the Scottish Parliament website at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=7685&mode=pdf 
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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Neil Findlay MSP: Call for a review of convictions against Scottish Miners and other arrested during the 1984/85 strike

From Neil Findlay MSP - please use this link
http://www.neilfindlaymsp.com/the-conviction-of-miners-and-others-during-the-198485-miners-strike/ 
to email Justice Secretary asking for indendent review of Scottish convictionss during miners' strike 1984/85

Dear Friend, you may have seen recent press coverage of the campaign being run by David Hamilton, MP for MidLothian and I calling for a review of the convictions of Miners and others arrested during the 1984/85 Miner’s strike. Since making this call the response has been remarkable with over 650 people emailing the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny McAskill and the Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police supporting our call for a review of these cases. Press coverage has been extensive with the main TV news and all of the major newspapers covering the story. We have since been contacted by a significant number of people who were involved at the time and who say their convictions were either bogus or based on the exaggerated claims of the arresting officers.  These cases need investigates to ensure that the injustices of Hillsborough and Orgreave were not been repeated in Scotland.

I am therefore asking two things:-

1)    If you, members of your family or friends and relatives haven’t yet signed up to the campaign then please do so today by clicking on the following link and taking 1 minute to complete the email template. This will send an email to Kenny McAskill and the Chief Constable calling for a review of the cases.

2)    If you have an email list please send it out to your contacts asking them to sign up to the campaign

I want to thank everyone for their support to date –

Neil Findlay MSP
January 2013
www.neilfindlaymsp.com


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Glasgow Evening Times: Unions hit out at city budget proposals

Thu 17 Jan 2013

Union leaders have warned planned cuts in Glasgow's spending will hit frontline services and schools

The city council has had to find £70million of savings in its £2.3billion annual budget over the next two years because of a reduction in Scottish Government funding.

As the Evening Times revealed yesterday, the cuts include shedding 600 jobs, increasing the cost of school meals and fitness classes and higher parking charges.

Brian Smith, Glasgow branch secretary of Unison, said: "We are disappointed another 600 jobs are going to go on top of the 3000 taken out over the last couple of years.

"To say that is not going to have an impact on frontline services is a joke, because it clearly is.

"As well as cuts to jobs and services, there has been a bit of a step change in terms of charging, with increases in school, leisure and parking charges against a background of people not getting wage rises.

"If you have a couple of children, drive your car into the city and go to the gym it will have an impact on you."

...

See full story on Evening Times website:

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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Horsemeat scandal should have been picked up in UK

16 Jan 2013

Proper government investment in trading standards and meat hygiene services could have meant the horsemeat burger scandal was picked up in the UK rather than relying on the Irish authorities UNISON said today.

The UK’s largest union said that swingeing cuts to these vital services are severely limiting the ability of hard-working officers to protect the public, and warned against watering down EU meat inspections.

Food labelling is one of the many issues overseen by trading standards officers, yet services across the UK have shrunk as their budgets have dwindled.

There have been dramatic falls in levels of activity across the board including: a 29% drop in new prosecutions a 26% fall in the total number of scheduled inspections a 24% fall in the total number of visits for enforcement purposes

In the UK meat inspectors in abattoirs physically inspect all meat leaving the premises –which is vital to safeguard consumers. Despite this, within the EU there are plans to water down these proposals, or allow the industry to self-regulate, which UNISON has strongly warned against. UNISON assistant general secretary Karen Jennings said: “While horsemeat isn't a threat to health, it does pose the question ‘do we know what's in our burgers?’ “The public deserve to have confidence in the products they buy; this confidence comes from trading standards services having the resources available to check the labelling products and pick up offences early, and from the work of meat inspectors and vets in abattoirs.

“Trading standards officers work hard to ensure that products pose no risk to consumers, but as their budgets are slashed, their ability to identify problems, inspect premises and prosecute wrongdoers has become severely limited.

“The real danger in this case is the quality and wholesomeness of meat in abattoirs. We need to avoid disease and contamination, and things like excrement making it into our food. This danger is avoided in the UK by the work of meat inspectors and vets in abattoirs.

“The issue with horsemeat in burgers is yet another example of why the industry isn't fit to regulate itself. It is vital that we continue the independent physical inspection of meat in the UK and the rest of the EU."

(From UNISON UK website )
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£16,000 compensation for UNISON member who fell down lift shaft at work

16 Jan 2013

Trade union solicitors Thompsons has secured damages totalling £16,000 for a UNISON member who suffered a serious trauma at work. Irene Turnbull was left with physical and psychological damage after falling down a lift shaft which she believed to be a cupboard.

In July 2009 Mrs Turnbull was tasked with showing a maintenance man around the Mitchell Library where she worked as a venue officer. Her employers Culture and Sport Glasgow had supplied her with a building map which indicated where she was to take the maintenance man and included what was clearly marked as a cupboard.

Mrs Turnbull opened what she believed to be the cupboard door, and as she reached forward to turn on the light she fell down what was actually a lift shaft.

Mrs Turnbull sustained a radial fracture and injuries to her lower back and right hip. As well as this there was significant psychological suffering due to the nature of the accident including anxiety and adjustment disorder.

As a Unison member Mrs Turnbull was entitled to the legal services of Thompsons at no cost and they raised the claim on the member’s behalf.

Mrs Turnbull said: “I was very happy with the service I received from Thompsons and was pleased with the outcome. This is the first time I’ve had an accident at work and the whole experience was very traumatic. Having someone who could help make this easier was a huge relief.”

In this case liability was not disputed but the insurers made a pre litigation offer of only £6,000. Thompsons were able to negotiate a further £10,000 on top of this. Anne Marie Harbison, who represented Mrs Turnbull said: “This was a horrible experience for the client which will have a lasting affect on her, long after the physical injuries heal. This has been reflected in the damages awarded and I’m pleased we were able to argue successfully for this on behalf on Mrs Turnbull.” 

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Barnardo's staff shocked by pension scheme closure - UNISON

Wed 16 Jan 2013
Staff at Barnardo’s are shocked and angry at reports that the charity is to close its career average staff pension and replace it with a vastly inferior scheme.  UNISON, the union representing workers at the charity, called the decision  “premature and a bitter disappointment to staff who are only now being consulted after the event”

Simon Watson, UNISON National Officer for the Third Sector, went on to say:

“Staff working for Barnardo’s are fully committed to helping children throughout the UK and do a fantastic job.  They do not get big pay packets or bonuses, so their pension and saving for security in their retirement, means a lot to them and taking that away is a real betrayal.

“Barnardo’s should have consulted fully with UNISON and at least provided more detailed financial information.  The financial information that UNISON has obtained simply does not point to an urgent financial need for this drastic decision.   Management need to think again about their mission which must include caring for its staff in their retirement.”

Barnardo’s are obliged to undertake a formal consultation by the pension regulator. UNISON will use this period to seek alternatives to closing the scheme.


Ends



UNISON UK News Release:
http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2934

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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

STUC Backs Freedom of Information Bid in Scottish Parliament

15 Jan 2013

STUC news release 

The Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) has added the voice of Scotland’s trade union movement to those calling  on the Scottish Parliament to back a series of amendments to the Scottish Government’s Freedom of Information Amendment (Scotland) Bill.

This Bill is to have its Stage 3 debate in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday and a series of amendments are proposed to ensure FOI rights extend to public services provided by private, voluntary and arms-length bodies. 

STUC Deputy General Secretary, Dave Moxham, speaking prior to the parliamentary debate (Wednesday 16 January) said

“We support the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS) in arguing that FoI rights must be maintained and extended not curtailed and reduced.

“With the estimated number of arms-length bodies in Scotland delivering public services now exceeding 130 the need to know how public money is being spent is critical for transparency and accountability.

ENDS


Stage 3 Briefing for MSPs is at www.cfoi.org.uk/scotland.html  

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