Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Triple dip recession looming - UNISON

Commenting on figures from the Office of National Statistics confirming that the economy contracted by 0.3% at the end of 2012, Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said:

“Most rational people try something different if what they are doing is simply not working. Osborne is defying rationality by sticking to his failing plan A – a plan that is clearly damaging the economy and driving the country to the brink of a triple dip recession.

“Instead of blaming the weather, he should look in the mirror.   The country needs a credible plan for growth and that means calling a halt to cuts in public services and public service jobs.  

“When jobs are under threat and when millions of public service workers have suffered a pay freeze followed by a pay squeeze, the economy starts to flat line. That’s because people do not have the money to spend in their local shops, cafes or businesses and the high street and local economy is hit hard.”



Workers must be central in public service reform, not treated as puppets or pawns

27 March 2013

UNISON will today (Wed) tell a committee of MSPs that redesigns of public services must not treat workers as pawns to be moved around recklessly, ignoring best practice lessons.

The public service union has warned the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee that new ways of delivering services must operate from a proper framework to deal consistently with staffing issues.

Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland’s Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, will tell members that workforce issues are too often neglected when planning reforms such as integrating adult health and social care.

He said in advance of giving oral evidence: "Consultation papers and legislation frequently give the impression the workforce is an afterthought. So we get last minute scrambled together agreements on important issues around staff transfer, pensions, secondment and so on, with no consistency or learning from best practice.

"It is just wrong to treat staff in this way, like puppets or pawns who can be moved around with no rules for how their rights and conditions are transferred and protected.

"Given that most public services rely on people, not machines, this is an extraordinary omission."

He urged the Committee to recommend that the Scottish Government sets in place a broad staffing framework based on best practice.

This would cover a range of key issues including: staff transfer, pensions, secondment, training and development, equality duties, governance and procurement - covering the protections that should prevent setting up a two tier workforce when services are contracted out.

Dave added: "We also want the Scottish Government to take on board one of the key recommendations from the Christie Commission.

"Redesigns of services must be based on genuine engagement with staff and users from the bottom up. It should not be about expensive management consultants imposing solutions from the top down."

Notes to editors:
  1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland.

  2. Our evidence to the Local Government and Regeneration Committee is online at

    Tuesday, 26 March 2013

    Shelter welcomes UNISON housing plan

    Commenting on proposals by UNISON to use Scottish council pension funds to invest in much needed social housing, Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said:

    “This is exactly the kind of innovative thinking Scotland needs to claw back much-needed housing supply after decades of under-investment and the loss of over almost half a million socially rented homes through Right to Buy.

    “Scotland’s housing crisis is widespread and touches all sections of our society, including many public sector workers who I’m sure will welcome investment in housing for future generations.

    “At the last count we estimated that a minimum of 10,000 new homes per year are needed to meet growing demand. We expect this number to be much higher today. Nevertheless, the Scottish Government has again targeted the housing safety net with a disproportionate 40% cut to the housing budget.

    “We welcome this innovative plan which, if progressed, will not only make a real difference to the tens of thousands of families and individuals stuck on housing waiting lists but will revive Scotland’s construction sector. This is a step in the right direction to ending Scotland’s housing crisis for good.”

    Magnificent effort by public service workers in snow-hit Kintyre & Arran

    26 March 2013

    Magnificent effort by public service workers in snow-hit Argyll and Bute, Arran and Dumfries & Galloway

    UNISON today praised the work of public service staff clearing roads, working to restore power and supporting snowed-in communities hit by Friday’s storm.

    As engineers fight to restore power to areas affected by the snow, the public service union said all those public service and utilities workers involved had made a magnificent effort in appalling conditions.

    Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said: “Communities in several parts of Scotland have been hit in different ways by the storm. Across the country those affected are grateful for the hard work and commitment of public service and utility workers who pull out all the stops to support the most vulnerable. Our emergency services, health and council workers, along with energy and roads staff are all doing a fantastic job.”

    Marion Power, UNISON branch secretary in Argyll and Bute, paid tribute to workers in Kintyre clearing snow, restoring power and offering practical support and advice.

    She said: “Council workers, health staff and the emergency services pull together at times like this to ensure vulnerable people are supported and services restored as soon as possible. We know people have been working round the clock, some with little or no sleep for days at a time.

    “Everyone has faced incredibly difficult conditions but there has been such a  team effort, including roads and utilities workers, and people affected helping their neighbours and anyone they see needing help.
    “Our members have had to endure several years of pay freeze and real terms pay cuts, but they deliver such an essential service, highlighted in times of crisis.”
    Stephanie Herd, UNISON branch secretary in North Ayrshire, added her support, as council and other staff face unprecedented conditions on Arran. She said: “Conditions have been atrocious but, as ever, the dedication of teams from all the services is clear.”

    Monday, 25 March 2013

    Horsemeat, tax dodging and procurement - opportunities to act

    25 March 2013

    Stop Climate Chaos Scotland is a signatory to a letter in today's Scotsman saying that the forthcoming Procurement Reform Bill is a major opportunity to tackle school meal supply chains, tax-avoiding companies and climate change.

    The STUC is also a signatory.

    This is the text of the letter....

    Horsemeat in kids’ school meals and multinationals’ tax avoidance are two recent scandals to have captured the public’s imagination, and are arguably more likely to grab readers’ attention than the subject at the heart of this letter: the Scottish Procurement Reform Bill.
    Yet, this imminent reform of Scotland’s procurement processes (essentially, how our public sector buys things) represents a fantastic opportunity to tackle tax-avoiding companies, school meal supply chains and much more.
    From apartheid-related boycotts and beyond, Scots have long understood how to harness their buyer-power to bring about positive change. Last month, Scotland became only the second country to be declared a Fair Trade Nation, reflecting a vast increase in our propensity to seek out fairly-traded goods.
    Two weeks ago, a Christian Aid poll found that 55 per cent of Scots are considering boycotting companies that they perceive to be avoiding taxes (a far higher percentage than the UK-wide figure). If we are taking these actions at individual level, it seems reasonable to expect our governments to follow suit. Scotland’s biggest consumer is our public sector, which spends a whopping 
£9 billion per year on our behalf.
    The Procurement Reform Bill, due to pass through the Scottish Parliament this year, is our opportunity to demand high standards of our public sector suppliers in areas such as fair trade, carbon emissions, tax practices, labour standards, community-based solutions, animal welfare and more. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government in shaping this legislation.
    Chair, Enough Food for Everyone IF Scotland

    Full letter and signatories on the Scotsman website

    Innovative pensions fund plan for new social housing in Scotland

    25 March 2013
    UNISON today launched a proposal to use Scottish council pension funds to invest in much needed affordable social housing.
    Preliminary discussions with housing associations have shown keen interest in the plan which could potentially unlock many millions of pounds for building new homes.
    UNISON’s head of bargaining and campaigns Dave Watson will set out the innovative proposal at the Scottish Federation of Housing Association (SFHA) Development and Investment Conference in Crieff today. (Monday)
    He said that at a time of tight public finances, with £11 billion of Scottish Local Government Pension Fund (LGPS) assets currently invested overseas, it makes sense to switch investment to socially useful projects like housing.
    Dave added: “Scotland is crying out for new social homes. Shelter Scotland estimates we need 10,000 every year but last year only 4,295 were completed.
    “The housing crisis is also set to get worse with welfare reform changes, including the bedroom tax, direct payment of housing benefit and other cuts affecting our most vulnerable families.
    “The LGPS currently invests a massive 45% of its £24 billion funds in overseas equities.
    “We believe that scheme members, many of whom are UNISON members, want to see money invested ethically and to benefit local communities.
    “Pension funds invest in arms and tobacco companies. We are sure public sector workers would much prefer their money being used to build new homes. Many of our members find it difficult to access housing in the current property market.”
    UNISON Scotland is involved in discussions about developing one or two initial projects to test the idea with one or more local authority pension funds.
    Dave said: “Housing associations have always represented a very low risk to lenders. Public finances are under pressure. Commercial borrowing is difficult.
    “We believe that this is stable, long term investment with a very low risk of failure. If we have success with initial projects it could potentially lead to many millions of pounds for housing at a time when it is desperately needed.”
    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 a range of staff delivering important services in housing.
    3. The Future Homes Commission argued last year that Britain needs a revolution in the scale, quality and funding of home building, recommending a kick-start from an independent Local Housing Development Fund, financed and owned by local authority pension funds.
    4. Richard Murphy, of Tax Research, said: “At a time when conventional pension fund investment policy is simply guaranteed to lose people money in the UK because of inept management, market corruption and excessive charges why aren’t pension funds being invested in things that we really need, like housing, where the payback over a period of, say, 25 years is exactly the sort of return a pension fund needs?" 

    Saturday, 23 March 2013

    UNISON Scotland turns the lights out for #EarthHour 2013

    23 March 2013
    UNISONScotland visitors will notice today that we "turned the lights out" on the UNISONScotland website homepage as a gesture to raise awareness of WWF’s Earth Hour 2013.

    Ok, it saves no energy; modern displays use the same amount of power regardless of what they display but it will draw attention to WWF’s Earth Hour - an inspiring message of hope and action – and a global demonstration about climate change.

    Today, Saturday, March 23, 2013, Earth Hour invites people around the world to turn off their lights for one hour – from 8:30pm to 9:30pm in their local time zone (we've started a earlier to remind people of the event and we'll return to the usual page a little later).

    WWF’s Earth Hour 2013 aims to unite the world’s people to demonstrate their concern about climate change.

    UNISON supports the Earth Hour campaign, and we have darkened our homepage today to help spread awareness of what we hope will be a highly successful global event.


    Friday, 22 March 2013

    86 jobs cut: Proposed college merger cuts are ‘thin end of the wedge’

    22 March 2013
    Scotland’s further education support staff union UNISON and college lecturers’ union EIS today jointly condemned a move to cut 86 jobs in a new merged Glasgow college.
    The unions reacted with anger as news broke of the job losses planned before, during and after the proposed merger of Stow, North Glasgow and John Wheatley colleges.
    UNISON’s Brian McQuillan, steward at John Wheatley College, described the merger cuts as “the thin end of a very big wedge.” He said:

    "These merger cuts are a devastating blow for the people of Glasgow and for further education. The college management refused our offer to work with them to find alternatives to job losses and denied us the opportunity to approach our Board to discuss.
    Chris Greenshields, chair of UNISON’s Further Education Committee, said: “The cuts are in addition to more than 120 jobs being lost in the new Clyde College where we understand every person that asked for a package was given one. What kind of strategy for course and service provision is being followed?
    “Our college students desperately need the essential services our members provide as they embark on those first steps into education. Without these services our students could fail to progress."
    North Glasgow College UNISON steward Chris Rogers added: “This decision should have been delayed until after the three colleges merge in November, so as to ensure a smooth transition and guaranteed services for our students.”
    EIS Convener at Stow College Charles Montgomery said: “The failure of the college managements to provide any educational rationale for these cuts in jobs and provision of services demonstrates quite clearly that they have little interest in the impact this will have on the communities that we serve. We believe there is another way.
    “The irony is that millions of pounds will be spent on voluntary severance packages when the money should be used to provide educational services to our most deprived communities. Over 90% of Glasgow school leavers don’t go directly to university and many come through our colleges where these savage cuts are being implemented.
    "The colleges also provide a vital second chance for adult returners in areas facing long term unemployment."
    The three colleges which serve some of Scotland’s neediest communities have already over the last few years cut jobs, courses and services. The 86 job losses planned in the current merger cuts round will cover support roles as well as lecturers.
    The job losses follow a cut of 120 posts which has already been approved at the new Clyde College.
    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 a range of staff delivering important services in further and higher education.
    2. Already more than 1,300 jobs have been lost from Scotland's vital FE colleges in the 18 months or so before Education Secretary Mike Russell announced that he wanted a further £50 million of savings as a result of mergers.
    3. In written and oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee on the Post-16 Education Bill on 5 February, UNISON argued that Russell's cuts "will have a catastrophic effect on the key services our members provide to our students. We cannot continue to cut while the sector deals with the biggest changes in over 20 years."

    Support public water services as a human right for all on #WorldWaterDay @right2water

    22March 2013

    UNISON today marked World Water Day with a call for water to be a human right and not for sale.

    The public services union used today, March 22, to urge support for a European Citizens Initiative (ECI) that states water and sanitation are essential public services for all.

    UNISON is encouraging people in Scotland to sign the water ECI’s online petition demanding that the European Commission stops plans to liberalise water services.

    Andy Nisbet, secretary of UNISON’s Scottish Water branch, said: “In Scotland we enjoy the benefits of Scottish Water being publicly owned, a policy which has very, very strong public support.

    “Today on World Water Day I encourage everyone who believes water is a human right to sign the petition at .

    “We are calling on the European Commission to legislate to implement the human right to water and sanitation as recognised by the United Nations, and promoting the provision of water and sanitation as essential public services for all citizens."

    UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis is a member of the organising committee of the ECI, which will be formally launched on 1st April.

    Andy added: "The ECI is a new form of European action created by the Lisbon treaty.  It provides an opportunity to get the European Commission to listen to citizen views rather than just lobbyists in Brussels.

    “Our petition has been the first to gather more than the required one million signatures, to submit the proposals as draft laws. This is a phenomenal achievement.

    “But we want to have as many names as possible to deliver the message that water should not be privatised.

    "Adding your name to this petition really can make a difference and you will be part of the historic first ECI to be launched.”


    Notes to editors:
    1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland. As the largest trade union in the Scottish water industry, UNISON members are both providers and users of water in Scotland.
    2. UNISON and the other UK public service unions are members of one of the ECI’s supporting organisations – the European Federation of Public Services Unions, and the whole union movement supports it through ETUC.  See ETUC news release.
    3. The petition is at

    4. The objectives are:

    The EU legislation should require governments to ensure and to provide all citizens with sufficient and clean drinking water and sanitation.
    We urge that:
    1. The EU institutions and Member States be obliged to ensure that all inhabitants enjoy the right to water and sanitation.
    2. Water supply and management of water resources not be subject to ‘internal market rules’ and that water services are excluded from liberalisation.
    3. The EU increases its efforts to achieve universal access to water and sanitation."


    Wednesday, 20 March 2013

    UNISON Scotland slams Osborne Budget as ‘a broken record of broken hopes’

    20 March 2013

    UNISON Scotland leader Mike Kirby has described today's Budget by George Osborne as a "broken record of missed targets and broken hopes" and slammed the government's austerity strategy which makes public service workers pay for the sins of the bankers and the markets.

    UNISON Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said:
    “Even in the Chancellor’s own terms, this Budget is a broken record of  missed targets and broken hopes, which shows that austerity is not working.”

    “A budget of the rich for the rich who will gain from the removal of the 50p tax rate, and for those of the middle England stereotype who gain some small tax breaks.

    "The increase in personal allowance does little to assist many public service workers, who are still in a job, and in lower income households, having suffered by falling real wages, cuts to tax credits and rising gas and electricity prices.”

    “The single tier state pension to be introduced from 2016 will present many more losers than winners, a £6 billion windfall for the Treasury from 2016-17, alongside big national insurance increases from the ending of contracted out rebates on NI for those who’ve been providing for life after work through occupational pension schemes.”

    "The announcement that the government will seek significant further savings through reforms to progression pay is another disgraceful attack on public service workers who are being punished for the sins of the bankers and the markets.

    Progression pay is the contractual process by which staff reach the rate for the job. It is not a pay rise."

    “The £2.5 billion extra cuts in public services may fund house building and other projects, but at the cost of revenue for other public services, when the public has greater trust in services that are delivered locally, so the chancellor should devolve resources for housing, infrastructure and jobs, not cut local budgets for central projects.”

    UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said the Chancellor was "out of ideas and should be out of a job."

    Dave Prentis said:
    “The Chancellor is clearly bankrupt of ideas. His bleak austerity agenda and fiscal inertia is leading to stagnation, robbing the country of the Government’s prized AAA rating and tipping it towards a triple dip recession.

    “Attacking public services is the Chancellor’s default setting. Osborne talks about supporting people with aspirations but does exactly the opposite.

    “On top of the three-year public service pay freeze workers will now have their pay pegged to 1% until 2015/16 – what does that say about giving people aspirations?

    “Osborne can’t dig the country out the hole he has made – more cuts are not the answer to revitalising the economy.”

    "Cutting Whitehall budgets further will simply lead to the loss of more services that the millions of people rely on with little gain for the country as a whole. Reversing the tax cut for millionaires would have been a much fairer way to raise revenue.

    “It’s Bleak House for the majority but the minority get to party on.”


    Notes to editors:
    1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland.

    2. Full UNISON UK budget response release is online at


    Tuesday, 19 March 2013

    UNISON today backs Patient Opinion website for rating NHS care

    19 March 2013

    UNISON today endorsed Patient Opinion, a website for rating NHS care.

    See the BBC Scotland news report by health correspondent Eleanor Bradford. "A website which allows patients to rate the care they have received on the NHS is being formally supported by the Scottish government.

    "Patient Opinion works in the same way as travel review websites, but contributors review the care at hospitals, surgeries and clinics.

    "It hopes that by allowing patients to post opinions, services can be opened up to scrutiny and standards driven up.

    "Funding has now been awarded for health boards to engage with the service...." (more on BBC site)

    More information in the Scottish Government news release, which includes this comment from Tom Waterson, Chair of UNISON Scotland’s Health Committee.

    He said: “Unison welcomes the Health Secretary’s move to encourage “real-time” dialogue between health boards, staff and patients.

    "Patient stories can make a difference in many ways, both to the quality of care and the morale of hard working NHS staff in their desire to deliver world class care.

    “They can be powerful motivational reminders to frontline staff of how they are making a difference to someone’s life and play an important role in educating the healthcare professionals of the future.”

    Full details in the SG release, including that:

    From today, the service will be available for the following health boards to respond to feedback from patients: NHS Highland, NHS Shetland, NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Scottish Ambulance Service, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, and National Education Scotland.

    The remaining health boards will be asked to adopt the service by the end of the year.



    STUC Pre-Budget Statement

    19 March 2013

    Speaking in advance of tomorrow’s Budget Statement and as the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) published its latest Labour Market Report, Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary said:

    “A full five years after the first recession hit the Scottish economy, employment, output and exports remain significantly below pre-recession levels and forecasts suggest that any recovery this year and next will be extremely weak.

    “The economic strategy adopted by the Coalition Government has condemned the UK economy to a prolonged period of economic stagnation and mass unemployment. With youth unemployment stubbornly high and long-term unemployment and economic inactivity rising, it is clear that the mistakes of recessions past have already been repeated.

    “It is therefore essential that in his Budget announcement tomorrow, the Chancellor introduces measures to boost jobs and growth. The STUC’s latest labour market report shows that the median wage in Scotland has fallen in real terms by £27 a week or £1410 a year. Therefore measures which boost disposable income such as a VAT cut together with a programme of deficit funded capital investment is the minimum required to get the economy moving.

    “Our labour market report also highlights the UK’s appallingly low level of investment in active labour market measures. If unemployed people are not to suffer the erosion of skills and confidence associated with prolonged periods of unemployment then investment in credible, work based programmes must be enhanced.

    “Tomorrow also sees publication of the next set of labour market data in Scotland. It is perhaps inevitable that politicians of all stripes will cherry pick employment statistics to tell whatever story they wish and our report draws attention to recent examples of such behaviour.

    "If ever an issue demands mature, evidence based debate it is surely the current state of the labour market. Scotland politicians must really start raising their game”.


    Full STUC news release and report at



    19 March 2013

    Commenting on inflation figures out today Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, the UK’s largest union, said:

    “The unprecedented, unrelenting squeeze on family budgets is yet another example of the Tory-led coalition’s ongoing failure to turn recession into recovery.

    “A public sector pay freeze turned squeeze has hit families and high streets hard. The spiraling cost of energy means people face the misery of choosing between heating and eating.

    "And as families suffer, its boom time for millionaires in Tory Britain who are in line for tax cuts in tomorrow’s budget.

    “The government has to take radical action to turn our economy around. Tinkering at the edges will not work. The Chancellor could take an important step in the right direction by ending the pay squeeze and stopping the jobs carnage in the public sector.


    Notes to editors:

    A recent survey by UNISON's Welfare Fund, There for you, found that more than half of applicants for a fuel grant (56.6%) had sacrificed food to keep warm, while 69% had cut back on clothing and 80% on leisure. The survey also revealed that 77.7% avoid putting the heating on, while 54.6% only heated the room they were in.

    In the last year there was a massive 388% increase in demand for applications to the union‚s fund for fuel grant assistance.

    The union's full plan to help the government turn recession into recovery is available on the UNISON UK website here:


    Monday, 18 March 2013

    UNISON warns Chancellor: Stop digging - start growing

    18 March 2013

    “The country will plunge into a decade of despair if the Chancellor keeps digging the economy deeper into a hole, instead of pursuing growth”, is the stark warning from UNISON, the UK’s largest union today (18 March).

    Publishing it’s alternative to the Coalition’s failing austerity agenda*, the union is presenting hard facts showing that there is a viable economic alternative that would set the country on the road to recovery.

    Continued reductions in public spending via the Coalition’s programme of cuts, has led the UK’s economy through a double-dip recession and into stagnation.

    Austerity should be ditched in favour of a pro-growth strategy involving job creation and a package of early investment in infrastructure, homes and the services our economy needs, says the union.

    Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, went on to say:

    “George Osborne is bankrupt of ideas and he is dragging the country the same way. He needs to look beyond Westminster and come up with a Budget that helps the many, not just the privileged few.

    “Throwing the public a scrap by suggesting that they will delay the rise in fuel tax, will not get the economy or family budgets on the road to recovery.

    “This whole Government needs a reality check on the millions of people who are suffering in the UK because of its policies. It is time to face up to what most people have known all along – Osborne’s austerity agenda is making matters worse.

    “While the 2008 financial crisis created the economic world in which we find ourselves, it is the Coalition’s decision to cut spending too hard and fast that has failed to get the economy moving again. That basic mistake by the Chancellor has helped lose the UK its AAA rating and committed the country to two more years of extra cuts in public spending beyond the 2015 election.”

    * Growing our way out of trouble: UNISON’s alternative budget for jobs and public services.

    Key Points

    · UNISON is calling for a moratorium on the damaging job cuts in public services.

    · Cutting public service jobs are a false economy – the redundancy costs and knock-on effects on employment, growth and tax revenue and consumer confidence only make the situation worse.

    · An instant boost to the spending power of millions of UK taxpayers could be achieved by reversing Government’s public service pay policy.

    · The tax and benefit changes that reduce the incomes of those on low to middle incomes should also be scrapped.

    · A large and determined programme aimed at building affordable housing would help overcome the 1930’s-style depression we are currently experiencing by creating tens of thousands of jobs and stimulating economic activity whilst providing homes the country desperately needs.

    · The Government should immediately introduce a “Funding for Infrastructure” plan, administered at arms-length from political control by Ministers, perhaps via a state investment bank or, like the Asset Purchase Facility, a fund administered under the auspices of the Bank of England.

    · For the first two children in every family, reverse the 3 year freeze on Child Benefit imposed by the Chancellor’s 2010 Budget and help 12 million children by scrapping the millionaires’ tax cut and restoring the 50p higher rate of income tax to raise the necessary £1.27bn from April 2013 generating around £200m for the Exchequer through indirect taxation.

    · Introduce an empty property tax.

    · Close tax loopholes that allow wealthy individuals and corporations to use tax havens and cheat the system whilst the rest of us bear the tax burden.


    See this news release on UNISON'S UK website


    Morning Star - Thousands march to axe the #BedroomTax

    18 March 2013

    Morning Star report

    Thousands of activists protested in 52 towns across Britain on Saturday demanding the government axe a new "bedroom tax" that will reduce benefits for people with a spare room.

    Under the new round of welfare cuts those deemed to have one spare bedroom in their council or housing association home will lose £728 a year.

    The coalition cash-grab is expected to affect 660,000 people when it comes into effect next month, although exemptions were announced last week for approved foster carers and parents with "adult children" serving with the armed forces....

    Full report on Morning Star website... including reports of STUC lobby at Scottish Liberal Democrats conference in Dundee, and vote there against the bedroom tax.



    18 March 2013

    New analysis from UNISON reveals that instead of cutting taxes for millionaires in the budget, the government could end the child benefit freeze, giving up to 618,800 families in Scotland increased child benefit in line with inflation.

    The decision would make a difference of up to £200 a year to 303,765 families in the Scotland with two children, and more than £100 a year for the 315,035 families with one child, helping to ease growing levels of child poverty.

    New figures from the TUC last week showed that more than half a million children in the UK will slip into poverty by the 2015.

    The u-turn would also have a huge knock on effect by stimulating local economies. Unlike millionaires, low paid families spend most of their money in local shops and businesses and they have precious little left over to save.

    UNISON is calling on the government to make the right choice in the budget next week (20 March), with targeted help for hard-pressed families.

    Scottish Regional Secretary Mike Kirby, said: "The true blue Tory-led coalition is a government of the rich for the rich. It is a disgrace that child poverty is growing in the UK because of benefit and welfare cuts, whilst millionaires are being handed tax cuts.

    "Low paid families cannot afford to save. Restoring child benefit levels  would lead to more spending in local shops and businesses, giving our beleaguered high streets the boost they need."

    The government's decision to cut the 50p rate of tax would hand the 13,000 millionaires in the UK an average of £97,884.62 next year, at a cost to the Treasury of £1,272.5 million.

    If this tax had been collected, it could have funded an increase to child benefit - in line with CPI inflation - for the first two children in every family, effectively helping 12,049,360 children and nearly 8 million families.

    .A family with one child will get £114.50 a year less than they would have received if child benefit had been raised in line with CPI.

    A family with two children will get £190.09 a year less, and a family with three children is £265.66 a year worse off.


    Friday, 15 March 2013

    #sldconf STUC - Lib Dems claim to be fairer than Tories, so end Bedroom Tax

    15 March 2013

    Saturday 16 March 11.30am – 1.00pm West Park Conference Centre, Dundee
    Amidst protests across the UK, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) will lobby Scottish Liberal Democrats for a change of policy on the Bedroom Tax.
    STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith said:
    “I have today written an open letter to Scottish Liberal Democrats calling for action to reverse the Bedroom Tax. 
    The concessions announced this week go nowhere near far enough to mitigate this impending crisis. 
    The Liberal Democrats consistently claim to have a much greater of social justice and fairness than the Conservatives. It is time for them to show it.”

    Open Letter to Scottish Liberal Democrats

    We are four days away from the fourth Coalition Government budget and by common consent the Liberal Democrats face a crisis, a drop in popular support matched only by the equal woes of the Conservative Party.

    In Scotland for generations, the Liberal Democrats have held a particular place in the political landscape, electing a relatively large number of MPs to Westminster and sharing in Government for more than half of the years of existence of the Scottish Parliament, the creation of which your party played a proud role in.  To the extent that a progressive consensus has existed in Scotland, the Liberal Democrats have been seen by electors as one, amongst a number of parties representing that tradition.

    That position is now at enormous risk.

    As the economic policies of the Chancellor unwind with no growth and the general failure of austerity economics, changes in welfare policy are hitting some of the most vulnerable in Scottish society. 

    The proposed cap on benefits is a cruel measure which will punish the less well-off whilst further reducing demand in the economy where it is needed most.  

    Meanwhile disabled people around the country are desperately worried about the impact of various reforms on their way of life and TUC figures published earlier this week show that despite changes to tax thresholds an increasing number of children are expected to fall below the Minimum Income Standard.

    STUC is lobbying your conference on Saturday 16th March to highlight the enormous injustice of the Bedroom Tax.  This measure - affecting those in and out of work and disproportionately impacting the lives of disabled people – is understood by most Scots to be wrong.  The Oxfam Humankind index shows that no factor is more important in people’s welfare and happiness than their home and environment.  We believe and trust that the Scottish people will not stand by while this injustice is delivered on their fellow citizens and that the very least that they will expect is that the Scottish Liberal Democrats will join them.

    It is not too late to insist that the Bedroom Tax and other welfare reforms are reversed.

    #TUCWomen13 STUC Women's Cttee: Women's employment crucial

    15 March 2013
    Addressing the Annual TUC Women’s Conference in London today, Eileen Dinning, UNISON and Chair of the STUC Women’s Committee, said:
    “The Scottish TUC represents over 300,000 trade union women in Scotland.
    "Increasingly, women are the majority in many of our affiliates, in some cases 60-70%. The majority are low paid. Many are struggling under this Government’s austerity programme, or let’s call it what it really is – a direct attack on the poor, a protection racket for the rich and outright contempt for working people.
    "We need to be clear that women’s employment is crucial and that women’s representation can play a big part in making that a reality. Last year, and working with the Scottish Government, we participated in a successful Women’s Employment Summit. This flagged up the priorities that we all should share. We want to see real investment in state-funded childcare provision, including investing in the workforce in the sector; a Government that will challenge the increased casualisation of the labour market; and we will work with the TUC in highlighting the experiences and challenges for women over 50 in the labour market.
    "We are witnessing an increasingly female dominated trade union movement. We need to respond to that and give women hope.”
    Note to Editors:
    1. TUC Women’s Conference brings together 240 delegates from all over the UK, from every sector. This is the final day of the Conference.
    2. Today’s focus is on women over 50 in the labour market.
    3. Eileen Dinning is Chair of the STUC Women’s Committee, and UNISON Scotland’s Equality Officer.
    4. For more information contact Ann Henderson, Assistant Secretary, and Secretary to the STUC Women’s Committee, on 0141 337 8100.

    UNISON recommends members reject 1% local government pay offer

    15 March 2013

    UNISON Scotland is to recommend that its local government members reject a final pay offer from councils.

    Branch delegates meeting in Glasgow today (15 March) agreed to recommend  rejection of the 1% offer from COSLA.

    A full postal ballot will start later this month.

    Stephanie Herd, Chair of the union's Local Government Committee, said: "Delegates today reflected the mood of workers throughout Scotland.

    "An offer of 1% simply isn't enough after suffering years of real terms pay cuts. We will now move into the ballot."

    Note to Editors
    Details of the offer are in our 1 March news release on our website at
    And on our local government pages on the website at

    #sldconf UNISON warns Lib Dems - Don't take health and safety back to dark ages

    15 March 2013

    The Coalition Government should abandon measures that would drive a coach and horses through health and safety legislation.

    That was the message today when UNISON lobbied senior Liberal Democrat politicians at the party's Scottish conference.

    In a victory for common sense, the House of Lords threw out out a damaging clause in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill earlier this month. The Bill is now going back to the House of Commons for further consideration.

    UNISON is calling on Ministers to protect workers against careless employers and agree not to reintroduce Clause 62 (formerly Clause 61).

    Patrick McGuire, of the union's law firm Thompsons, told senior party members, including Deputy Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael, that it would be absolutely wrong to continue with such an unfair attack on people who are injured at work – one not specified in the Coalition Agreement.

    He added that doing so would "take us back to the dark ages in terms of health and safety."

    The clause would have amended Section 47 of the Health and Safety of Work Act 1974, potentially removing the ability of an employee to enforce a civil claim for workplace injury on the grounds of a breach of workplace regulations, making it virtually impossible for people to win compensation for injury at work.

    This highly contentious and far-reaching amendment to the Health and Safety at Work Act was only introduced after the Committee stage in the Commons, so has not been subject to the scrutiny normally associated with such changes.

    Patrick said that UNISON’s objections include:
    Savage impact upon workers’ safety
      Entire health and safety regulatory framework effectively rendered redundant

      Utter disconnect from declared legislative intent

      Complete disregard for views of Government’s own expert, Prof Lofstedt

      Illegal - will cost the taxpayer huge sums in legal challenge and Francovich Damages

      Creates 2 tier health and safety regime making private workplaces less safe and delivering no financial benefit to public employers

    Workplace regulations are currently enforced because of the threat and pursuit of civil injury claims. If this risk is reduced, irresponsible employers will ignore vital laws, increasing workplace injuries.

    For further information, see our briefing at:


    Thursday, 14 March 2013

    #JoinUNISON - Branches in Scotland taking Essential Cover message out and about

    14 March 2013

    UNISON is Essential Cover at work - Essential Cover if you work in public services, Essential Cover wherever you work.

    And branches have been out and about this week ensuring that potential members hear about the benefits of being a member of Scotland's largest trade union. #Join UNISON

    In Edinburgh, activists at the city council were busy telling interested workers at the head office at Waverley Court why joining is such good value and essential cover in tough times.

    There's been lots of recruitment activity today at Glasgow's Southern General, soon to be the biggest hospital site in Europe.

    A team of staff and stewards went round the whole site updating notice boards with Essential Cover if you work in public services materials. They recruited not only new members but also a new steward. Congratulations - and welcome to the new staff.

    Pictures with some of the people involved to follow, but here's one of the recruitment bag taking a rest between departments..

    Here's the stall run by the East Ayrshire branch, at the London Road office in Kilmarnock.

    And at the start of the week the penguin recruiters were out helping in snowy Carluke.

    Here they are back to normal tiny size on the stall at Monklands hospital, Airdrie...

    At Yorkhill Sick Kids Hospital, in Glasgow, Unison Stewart Ruairidh Macrae was part of the team using the new recruitment leaflets.

    Send us your recruitment news and photos and put them on Twitter and Facebook. #JoinUNISON Try to include in posts and tweets.