Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Sunday, 28 April 2013

A motivating weekend

UNISON Scotland's branch officer training ends at lunchtime today with participants and tutors alike
Expert tuition from Lilian Macer, UNISON Scottish Convener,
and Stephen Smellie, Depute Convener, on the branch
secretaries course.
speaking of how the courses and the networking with each other motivates and gives new energy to go back to their branches to organise.

The number of new branch officers was encouraging and so were the more known faces who were changing role in their branch. But this is only the start and there is a host of other courses people can attend during the year. See the course planner at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/education/index.html

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Course reminds us what the union stands for

Clare Sweeney from UNISON West Dunbartonshire Branch was thrown in at the deep end as communications officer last month after a branch development day. She had only been a steward since last year.

“I was encouraged by people to stand and I was delighted that the training came up so quickly”, said Clare (pictured). “The training is really interesting and I’ve been able to meet people from other branches.”

“Perhaps the most important thing I’ll take from it is to keep reminding us all what the union is, what it stands for and why we are in a union in the first place.”

Malcolm Burns presents the media training
on the communications course
She praised the keynote speech last night by Assistant General Secretary Roger McKenzie as “re-invigorating”, bringing her “back to the basics as to why we do this.”

It’s scary being branch secretary..

.. but the training is giving me more confidence to go back and organise in my branch, said Shirley Birrell of Scottish Borders Health Branch during a break in UNISON Scotland's branch officer training this weekend.

Shirley (on the right in the photo) became branch secretary just two months ago like Karen Merriman of Orkney Health Branch. Both had been stewards before but the big step to branch secretary was a scary one.

Shirley said she was: “interested in being branch secretary but not confident” until her regional officer encouraged her to go for it.

“The training is really helpful”, said Shirley. “It gives you lots of ideas especially showing you how to create an organising agenda in the branch.

Karen, who had been Young Members Officer previously, agreed: “The training underlines the importance of working together in the branch, making use to the skills of stewards and other officers.

“I wasn’t that confident when I came on the course but I’ll leave more enthused and motivated”, she said.

New branch officers attend training

The future of UNISON Scotland is in safe hands as 100 members attend new branch officer training in Glasgow this weekend. Run by the Scottish Learning and Organising Committee, the training concentrates on organisation and broader trade union education as well as the nuts and bolts needed to do the job.

The weekend kicked off with an inspiring contribution from UNISON Assistant General Secretary Roger McKenzie, before secretaries, treasurers, chairpersons, education officers, welfare officers, communications officers, equality officers and health and safety officers got down to work.

Friday, 26 April 2013

CRER - Scotland's political leaders on the 20th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence's murder

Stephen Lawrence - 20 Years On

INFORMATION FROM THE COALITION FOR RACIAL EQUALITY AND RIGHTS:

"22nd April 2013 is the 20th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s murder. The Stephen Lawrence Trust is planning a series of events to celebrate Stephen’s life and legacy. As our contribution to this commemoration the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights asked Scotland's political leaders for their thoughts on what Stephen's life and legacy means for Scotland.


We are grateful to Alex Salmond, Johann Lamont, Willie Rennie and Patrick Harvie for their thoughts. We are also grateful to Chief Constable, Stephen House, and Criminal Defence Lawyer, Aamer Anwar, for contributing articles as part of our online commemoration this week.

See all of the comments and articles commemorating Stephen's legacy at the CRER Website."

 
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UNISON marks International Workers’ Memorial Day with call for safer workplaces #iwmd13


26 April 2013

UNISON today warned that the appalling toll of death and injuries from the collapsed clothes factory in Bangladesh highlights the vital importance of strong health and safety laws.

Trade unionists across Scotland will be marking International Workers Memorial Day (28 April) at a range of events over the next few days.

But UNISON Scotland’s Scott Donohoe said the 21st IWMD comes at a time when the UK Coalition Government is making unprecedented attacks on health and safety at work.

Scott, Health and Safety Committee chair, added: “This week the House of Lords backed a legislative amendment we have been fighting because it puts safety laws back more than 100 years.

“It will make it much harder for people to gain compensation for personal injury.

“Work-related deaths, ill-health and ‘accidents’ are not acceptable. Yet budgets for enforcement have been slashed, employers need report fewer of the injuries to their workers and unannounced inspections of so-called ‘low-risk’ workplaces have been stopped.”

The Health and Safety Executive’s budget has been cut, as has the money from central to local government, which employs environmental health officers, who deal with health and safety.

ENDS
 

Notes to editors:

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

2. IWMD events in Scotland are listed on the STUC website www.stuc.org.uk/campaigns-and-external-events/international-workers-memorial-day

3. On Monday (22 April) the House of Lords voted to repeal the law which was established in 1898 which made employers automatically liable to pay compensation to injured workers or bereaved families for breaches of health and safety regulations. This is reported on UNISON’s  law firm Thompsons website www.thompsons.law.co.uk/personal-injury/workers-lives-risked-workers-memorial-day.htm

4. The Scottish Parliament debated IWMD and health and safety at work on Thursday April 25. Official Report www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=8090&mode=pdf


(Website for the graphic above is www.unison.org.uk/safety/images/IWMD_Info_graphic_final.jpg )

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Thursday, 25 April 2013

Women’s equality at work no better than when Scottish Parliament opened in 1999


25 April 2013

UNISON today provided damning evidence to MSPs that major obstacles remain to women achieving equality in the workplace and that low paid women deserve action not more words.

Equalities Officer Eileen Dinning told the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee in written evidence that if anything women’s position in employment has worsened since the Parliament opened in 1999.

She welcomed the Committee’s Inquiry into Women and Work and called on members to use their “power and influence to effect change and convert the rhetoric of equality into money for underpaid women.”

Eileen, who is chair of the STUC Women’s Committee, said after the meeting: “As recognised by the Scottish Government and many economists, women’s participation in the labour market contributes significantly to the Scottish economy.

“But we are making the same points today about the obstacles to women’s participation as we were when the Parliament opened. Women across Scotland need MSPs to stop talking and deliver on equality in the workplace.”

UNISON’s evidence listed a six point plan including: ensuring all public authorities meet equal pay obligations, free and comprehensive childcare; addressing health problems women face around shift working and ensuring employers carry out equality impact assessments on proposed changes to terms and conditions to avoid further discrimination against low paid women.

Eileen told MSPs that free and comprehensive childcare is essential in modern Scottish society. Flexible working is not just about meeting caring responsibilities but about a better work and home life for everyone. Free childcare should be provided in the way we provide primary and secondary education.

She added:  “The STUC is increasingly concerned about the growth of zero hours contracts and the casualisation of the workforce. Zero hours contracts are not about flexible working. Flexible working should be negotiated and agreed. Zero hours contracts show a total lack of commitment on the part of the employers.”

And on equal pay, Eileen said: “Equal pay audits should be compulsory. Employment tribunals on equal pay are still costing the public purse millions of pounds. This could be avoided if reporting and auditing is built in from the beginning.”

 
ENDS

 

Notes to editors:

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland - including all of Scotland's local authorities. More than 70% of our members are women; many are low paid or work part time.

2. UNISON’s evidence to the Equal Opportunities Committee is online at www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_EqualOpportunitiesCommittee/Papers_18_April.pdf

 

3. UNISON says that the following steps are required to address the current imbalance that continues to discriminate against women in the workplace and in accessing the labour market:-

·         Establish through comprehensive research the current obstacles to flexible working;

·         Free and comprehensive childcare;

·         Addressing the universal health concerns relating to women and shift working;

·         Take steps to ensure that ALL public authorities meet their obligations under the Equal Pay provisions of the Equality Act 2010;

·         Take steps to ensure that all public authorities have in place robust recording systems in order to fulfil their obligations under the The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 No. 162.

·         Call for employers to equality impact assess proposed changes to terms and conditions and avoid further discriminating against low paid women.

 
Anne Johnstone, in The Herald, says: "It's hard to imagine a more effective way of getting women back to work than free childcare." www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/theres-a-lot-to-do-to-get-women-back-to-work.20903557

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Lobby stops closure of highly regarded Dunoon care home



25 April 2013

UNISON members joined community activists today in a successful lobby to stop the closure of a highly regarded care home.

Argyll and Bute UNISON members and a large number of community activists demonstrated outside council head offices in Lochgilphead.

Struan Lodge in Dunoon is a much loved care home for the elderly run by the council. If it closes, residents will be moved to private care homes.

Marion Power local UNISON Branch Secretary said “The fact that so many people travelled from Dunoon to Lochgilphead to protest outside a council meeting on a weekday morning shows how strongly people feel about the proposed closure.

“UNISON represents staff in Struan Lodge and we were delighted to unite with the community to call on councillors to think again. We are very pleased the decision today was not to proceed with the closure and the removal of current residents.

“It is so wrong that the most vulnerable in our society like the residents of Struan Lodge are being asked to pay the ultimate price of being turfed out of their home due to the austerity brought about by bailing out the banks.”

The top picture shows resident Kenny McLeod, with his 'Don't Evict Me' placard, with all the demonstrators.

 


Today's council decision was reported in the Dunoon Observer
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UNISON members tell Newsnight Scotland about workload pressures on nurses and midwives

25 April 2013 #JoinUNISON

UNISON health workers spoke out on Newsnight Scotland last night about the pressures on overworked staff.

Nurse Cathy Miller and community midwife Catherine Lewis described day to day stresses of the job for staff expected to do more and more in the same hours.

Cathy said that paperwork and bureaucracy has increased to such an extent that members report struggling "between direct patient care and paperwork care".

Catherine explained that growing workloads causes real strains as staff, even after prioritising the care they provide, may have to work through breaks, have no breaks, work beyond their shift, with consequent effects on their personal life - all "to deliver the level of care we want to deliver", because staff have a conscience and want to do the job properly.

The whole interview is on BBC iPlayer, about 2 mins 10 seconds in.

Matt McLaughlin, UNISON Scotland's lead organiser for nursing, said today that our survey published last week (report in the Herald) showed that members "across Scotland and the rest of the UK feel they are regularly short staffed.

"This leads to people not taking breaks, working on extra and people feeling they don't have time to provide the added quality in their care that is in fact an essential part of the job.

"This is why we have called for minimum staffing levels. We see that as a reasonable and safe way to provide care for patients across the UK."








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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Women taking brunt of cuts in public sector - casualisation hitting hard


24 April 2013


UNISON's Equalities Officer Eileen Dinning hit out today at the casualisation of the female workforce in Scotland.





Interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland's Newsdrive, Eileen was commenting on new research in a Fawcett Society report .

This showed (as reported in the Scotsman here) that women have borne the brunt of cuts to public sector jobs.

The study warned that the number of women out of work is hitting a 25 year high. And it says the labour market will be characterised by "persistent and rising levels" of female unemployment, worsening pay and a widening of the gender pay gap.

Eileen, chair of the STUC women's committee, told BBC Radio Scotland that there is a major problem with an increasing number of part-time jobs, and women in zero hours contracts in the private sector, with underemployment having "a huge impact on economic activity".

She said that women's earnings are essential, but the pay gender gap persists and that the results of an STUC employment summit with the Scottish Government last year showed an increasing casualisation of the workforce.

One policy proposal from trade unions is for the Scottish Government to use the Procurement Reform Bill to ensure that public contracts have clauses that protect employment rights and extend payment of the Living Wage, both of which would help women in the jobs market.

The full interview is online here (just after 1hr 21 mins)

Eileen is giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee on Thursday 25 April.


UNISON’s evidence to the Committee says that the following steps are required to address the current imbalance that continues to discriminate against women in the workplace and in accessing the labour market:

·   Establish through comprehensive research the current obstacles to flexible working;
·   Free and comprehensive childcare;
·   Addressing the universal health concerns relating to women and shift working;
·   Take steps to ensure that ALL public authorities meet their obligations under the Equal Pay provisions of the Equality Act 2010;
·   Take steps to ensure that all public authorities have in place robust recording systems in order to fulfil their obligations under the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 No. 162;
·   Call for employers to equality impact assess proposed changes to terms and conditions and avoid further discriminating against low paid women.



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'Back to the Floor' is valuable opportunity for hard working NHS staff to discuss issues - UNISON Scotland

Wed 24 April 2013

Tom Waterson, chair of UNISON Scotland Health Committee, has welcomed the Scottish government 'Back to the Floor' workplace meetings by the Health Sercretary and the minister for Public Health.

Tom Waterson said: “These visits provide a valuable opportunity for hard working NHS staff to discuss issues that concern them with the Cabinet Secretary and we fully support them.”


See Scottish government news release for more information:
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2013/04/back-to-the-floor24042013









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Friday, 19 April 2013

Purpose first - powers later, UNISON tells Scottish Labour

Fri 19 April 2013


UNISON Scotland, one of Labour’s largest affiliated unions, has told the party its first and main task must be to identify the purpose of greater devolution before it can realistically define new powers for the Scottish Parliament which will meet the aspirations of the Scottish people.

Responding to the publication of Scottish Labour's Devolution Commission report today (Friday 19 April), Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary of UNISON said:

“Labour’s devolution commission has attempted to address - in its own terms - one over-riding question : ‘how can we meet the aspirations of the Scottish people for fuller devolution while maintaining the integrity of the UK which we know they value strongly?’

“In doing so the commission has failed to address the central issue of ‘the aspirations of the Scottish people’ before defining what it regards as necessary powers for the Scottish Parliament.
“How does Scottish Labour respond to the vital issues being raised by the STUC, the industrial wing of the labour and trade union movement, representing 600,000 members and their families and communities?

“How does Scottish Labour address the aspirations of the Scottish people for full employment, properly funded public services, housing, health, social care and education provision, to meet social need and provide protection and opportunity, democratically controlled delivery of vital community services, fairer employment practices and trade union rights.

“UNISON believes the political objectives of Scottish Labour need to be fully in tune with these aspirations which have been debated and agreed by the Scottish trade union movement and published in the STUC’s ‘A Just Scotland’ and in our own UNISON publications 'A Fairer Scotland’ and 'A Fairer Scotland and Devolution’.

“As the conclusion of ‘A Fairer Scotland and Devolution’ argues, if we seek greater devolved powers or any other change, we should do so for the purpose of improving the lives of the people who work and live in Scotland. The constitutional mechanics are a means to that end, and not an end in themselves.”

“Scottish Labour’s first and main task must be to identify the purpose of greater devolution before it can realistically define new powers for the Scottish Parliament which will meet the aspirations of the Scottish people.”

ends

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

2. ‘Fairer Scotland and devolution’ is on our website at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/scotlandsfuture/FairerScotlandDevoPaperFeb2013.pdf



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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Food safety: More robust inspection needed

#stuc13 UNISON's Ewing Hope highlighted the recent horse meat scandals caused by cuts to the Food Standards Agency, as Congress backed UNISON’s call for the FSA to be properly resourced to maintain quality in the food chain. Full story at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/22.html 

Debate on the fate of the nation must be on the state of the nation

#stuc13 Trade unionists have to push both sides in the referendum debate on how their plans will deliver a just Scotland, a fairer Scotland and a Scotland whose economic policies will tackle inequalities, poor health and deprivation.
     UNISON’s Hazel Marshall told Congress that we have an opportunity to influence and drive the debate on Scotland’s future in a way that can engage our members and the wider population.
See report at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/21.html
See the full text of her speech here.

Unions can drive the debate on A Just Scotland

#stuc13 “We have an opportunity to influence and drive the debate on Scotland’s future in a way that can engage our members and the wider population”, UNISON Scotland’s Hazel Marshall told the STUC today. The full text of her speech is below.

"And Congress given the way our politicians seem to prefer insult to argument - I’m not sure that anyone other than us is capable of making this debate seem relevant to ordinary people.

And frankly congress – the way to do that isn’t to line up behind YES Scotland OR it’s Better Together mirror image.

It’s to continue the process outlined in the Composite, to analyse and to challenge both campaigns.
To ask questions and demand answers of all the political parties.

We need to move the referendum debate on from talk about what COULD happen because anything could happen.

We need to make parties and campaigns tell us what they intend to do. Congress we need to make sure that the debate on the fate of the nation is a debate on the state of the nation

A debate where the value – or otherwise - of constitutional change, or no change is whether it will drive the SOCIAL change that we need    

We are very well placed to do that – political parties in Scotland, put together only have around fifty thousand members. (And they seem to spend most of their time shouting at each other)

Collectively the unions in Scotland have more than 600 Thousand members! So what does that mean?

Well I would suggest that it would be a foolish politician or campaign that chooses to ignore us.

Which incidentally is what the Better Together campaign have done – At least we’ve had a response to the Just Scotland report from the YES campaign.

Even though it raises more questions than it provided answers for - it is a response

That’s more than the ‘Better Together’ campaign has managed so far.

But Congress can we expect either of these campaigns to develop a vision for a Scotland’s future?

At the launch of YES Scotland there was a video message of support from Jim McColl - one of Scotland’s wealthiest men.

I say Scotland’s wealthiest men - but he is so patriotic and cares so much about Scotland he lives in Tax exile in Monaco.

And Better Together have Ian Taylor - a man in the oil business whose interests are, I’ll say ‘wide ranging’ he’s got a sharp team of lawyers so I won’t be saying anything else.

Are these people interested in a Just Scotland? A Fairer Scotland? A more equal Scotland?
I don’t think they are - but I know that we are.

Over the next 17 months we must continue to shape the debate and insist on coherent, focused answers that will allow voters a genuine choice.

If we want to see real change in the politics of this country then we as a collective representing 600 thousand voting members have the power to influence that change.

Please Support the Composite"

End the forced destitution of asylum seekers and embrace immigration in Scotland

#stuc13 UNISON's John Stevenson slammed the Westminster Government’s rigid and unfair approach to immigration and called for a more humane and economically sensible approach in Scotland, to support a sustained economic recovery. Full story http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/20.html

Education and care must go hand in hand in early years services

#stuc13 Congress welcomed the recent Scottish Government’s response to the consultation on the Children and Young People Bill and the commitment to enshrine in law more effective rights for children and young people in Scotland, based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Full story http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/19.html

Support for career progression for BME Community

#stuc13 Congress backed a range of measures to support the black and minority ethnic community in the workplace, in the face of continuing discrimination even in the 21st Century. This will include positive action programmes, targeted training and a sharing of good practice. Full story http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/17.html

For a more equal society we need a living wage for all workers

#stuc13 As the lowest paid in our society suffer as a result of pay freezes and rising costs, UNISON's Stephen Smellie led the call for the STUC to take forward its campaign for the living wage in Scotland. Full story http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/16.html

Welfare cuts: Heaping homelessness on top of poverty

#stuc13 The Scottish Government must work to prevent evictions over the deeply unfair bedroom tax – evictions that would heap homelessness on top of poverty. That was the call from UNISON’s John Stevenson as he supported a motion condemning the despicable ‘welfare reform’ agenda of the UK coalition government. Full story at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/15.html

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Involve staff in health and social care integration or watch reform fail

#stuc13  17 April 2013
 
UNISON today warned that changes to services for the most vulnerable people must do more to involve staff or watch reform fail.


The public services union also said that Scottish Government plans to integrate health and social care services must maintain democratic accountability.


Speaking at the Scottish Trades Union Congress Annual Congress in Perth, UNISON Scotland Convener Lilian Macer listed four key principles for the STUC General Council to take to the Scottish Government:


Any attempts to open up the NHS to privatisation must be stopped; quality services, not cost-cutting must be a principle of integration; service users and staff must be at the centre of decision making; and democratic control is fundamental.


Lilian warned: "Real change comes when staff and service users work together planning how services should be delivered.


"All evidence shows that top down reorganisation won’t produce real integration. The focus must be on joint outcomes –agreed with local partners and relevant to their local circumstances.


"The proposals must have at their core the desire to improve services, not cut costs."


And she blasted proposals for the new Community Health and Social Care Partnerships, to be run by a single individual – the Jointly Accountable Officer, responsible for a multi million pound budget of public money.


Lilian said: "Technically accountable to both the local authority and the health board the so-called jointly accountable officer will in reality be accountable to no one."


UNISON has urged the Scottish Government to set in place a broad staffing framework, based on best practice, to cover a range of issues when public services are reformed.

These include: 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.


 

Notes to Editors


UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector.

UNISON’s submission to the Scottish Government consultation on the integration of adult health and social care in Scotland is at
www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/IntegrationofAdultHealthandSocialCare_response_Sep2012.pdf

UNISON’s Bargaining Briefing on integration is at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/b032_BargainingBrief_IntegrationofAdultHealth+SocialCare_Mar2013.pdf


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Devastating impact of FE cuts on economy and workforce

#stuc13 The STUC will camapign against Scottish Government further education cuts which will 'have a devastating impact on the Scottish economy and workforce'. Full story http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/13.html

Tackle poverty to help children's education

#stuc13 Congress condemned the inequalities in education, linked to poverty, which blight the life chances of many of Scotland’s children, and prevent them from taking up places in colleges and universities - Susan Kennedy full story at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/12.html

Women and work – STUC demands good quality jobs, not zero hours and less pay

 
#stuc13 17 April 2013
 
UNISON's Equalities Officer Eileen Dinning, highlighted the pressures on women in the workforce in her speech to STUC Congress today.
 
Eileen, in her role as chair of the STUC Women's Committee, said: "Women are struggling under the Coalition Government’s austerity programme.
 
"According to the 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Study zero hours contracts are on the increase. Thousands more workers are now in jobs without any guarantee of regular hours or regular wages. More than half of these are women.

"Tackling child poverty means tackling women’s poverty. The STUC Women’s Committee will continue to argue for secure well paid employment for all.

"Women are present in increasing numbers in our conferences and in the trade union movement. We will speak up for them, and give them hope for the future.”
 
 
Her full speech is below.
 
 
 
 
 
 
CONFERENCE, THANKS FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS YOU ON BEHALF OF THE STUC WOMEN’S COMMITTEE.



I AM NOT SURE HOW MUCH HAS BEEN SAID TODAY ABOUT THATCHER.
BUT THERE WAS A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF DROSS SPOKEN LAST WEEK ABOUT HER.
THE NOTION SHE WAS A ROLE MODEL FOR WOMEN WAS DELUSIONAL.
SUCH A SUGGESTION IS DELUSIONAL.
SHE CREATED NO POSITIVE CHANGE FOR WOMEN.
SHE HAD THE ACCIDENT OF BEING BORN FEMALE – NOTHING MORE.
AS BEA CAMPBELL STATED.... "SHE HAS NOT FEMINISED POLITICS BUT HAS OFFERED FEMININE ENDORSEMENT FOR PATRIARCHAL POWER."
AND THOSE PATRIARCHS ARE CARRYING ON HER WORK WITH OBSCENE ENTHUSIASM.
IF SHE DID ANYTHING POSITIVE IT’S TO BE A CONSTANT REMINDER OF HOW IMPORTANT THE TU MOVEMENT IS TO WOMEN.

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%.
MAJORITY ARE LOW PAID.
MANY ARE STRUGGLING UNDER THIS GOVERNENT’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.
AND IF THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT WANT TO HELP MITIGATE THE WORST ASPECTS OF THE BEDROOM TAX, THEN MAKE THE CHANGES TO LEGISLATION THAT WILL PREVENT UNNECESSARY EVICTIONS THAT WILL DISPROPORTIONATELY IMPACT ON WOMEN, CHILDREN AND THE DISABLED.

WITH THAT BEING THE BACKGROUND THE WOMEN’S COMMITTEE WORK PLAN FOR 2013 NEEDED TO REFLECT THESE CHALLENGES.
THE THEMES WITHIN WHICH THE COMMITTEE IS WORKING ARE:
  1. ECONOMY AND EMPLOYMENT

  2. INCREASING WOMEN’S REPRESENTATION AND PARTICIPATION

  3. EDUCATION AND LIFELONG LEARNING

  4. SOCIAL JUSTICE

  5. HEALTH

  6. COMBATING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN

  7. INTERNATIONAL ISSUES.


OUR PRIORITIES FOCUS ON:
    • ECONOMY AND EMPLOYMENT

    • INCREASING WOMEN’S REPRESENTATION AND PARTICIPATION


THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT THE OTHER ISSUES ARE ANY LESS IMPORTANT BUT 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.

SOME OF THE PRIORITIES TO BE PROGRESSED TOGETHER FOLLOWING THE SUMMIT ARE:

  • STATE FUNDED CHILDCARE PROVISION, INCLUDING INVESTING IN THE WORKFORCE IN THE SECTOR;

  • CHALLENGING THE INCREASED CASUALISATION OF THE LABOUR MARKET;

  • EXPERIENCE AND CHALLENGES FOR WOMEN OVER 50 IN THE LABOUR MARKET;

  • AND PROMOTING EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN IN ALL SECTORS.

ACCORDING TO 2011 WORKPLACE EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS STUDY, ZERO HOURS CONTRACT ARE ON THE RISE AND THIS FOLLOWS A SURGE IN THE NUMBER OF PUBLIC SECTOR SERVICES CONTRACTED OUT TO PRIVATE PROVIDERS.
FIGURES BY THE ONS FOUND THAT THE NUMBER OF WORKER IN JOBS WITHOUT ANY GUARANTEE OF REGULAR HOURS OR PAY REACHED 200,000 IN THE FINAL QUATER OF 2012 – 40,000 MORE THAN THE SAME QUARTER IN 2011.
A BREAKDOWN SHOWS 52% ARE WOMEN AND 48% ARE MEN.
THAT IS WHY IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT ENSURES THAT THE PROCUREMENT REFORM BILL SHOULD BE USED TO PROMOTE :-
  • LABOUR RIGHTS AND WORKFORCE PROTECTIONS

  • A POSITIVE EMPLOYMENT AGENDA

  • THE SCOTTISH LIVING WAGE - BOTH FOR DIRECTLY EMPLOYED STAFF AND FOR

EMPLOYEES WORKING FOR CONTRACTORS

IN RESPECT OF INCREASING WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN PUBLIC LIFE, WE ARE PUTTING THE 50/50 CAMPAIGN BACK ON THE AGENDA THROUGH BUILDING LINKS WITH PARLIAMENTARIANS, WOMEN’S ORGANISATIONS, AND SCOTTISH CIVIC SOCIETY, IN PARTICULAR CAMPAIGNING FOR INCLUSION OF COMMITMENTS ON WOMEN’S REPRESENTATION DURING THE DEBATE ON CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE.
OUR OTHER PRIORITIES – WHICH ARE INEXTRICABLY LINKED TO WOMEN’S EMPLOYMENT AND PUBLIC LIFE – WE ARE PURSUING THE GOAL OF FREE SCHOOL MEALS; WORKING TO ENSURE THAT WOMEN IN RURAL AREAS FEEL SUPPORTED AND CONTINUING TO GIVE PRIORITY TO THE CAMPAIGN OF COMBATTING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.

LAST MONTH WE ATTENDED THE SCOTTISH WOMEN’S CONVENTION’S INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY EVENT IN THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT.

THE THEME WAS WOMEN OF INFLUENCE.

WE LISTENED TO WOMEN POLITICIANS FROM MOST POLITICAL PARTIES HIGHLIGHTING THE VERY ISSUES WE SPEAK ABOUT EVERY YEAR.

  • CHILDCARE,

  • LIVING WAGE,

  • FLEXIBLE WORKING,

  • EQUAL PAY.


 
WE MADE THE POINT THAT YOU CANNOT INFLUENCE IF YOU DON’T HAVE FINANCIAL CLOUT.

WE TOLD THEM – YOU WANT EQUAL PAY ?

TELL PUBLIC AUTHORITIES TO STOP FIGHTING CLAIMS AND TRYING TO DEFEND THE INDEFENSIBLE.

 
WE ALSO TOLD THEM – IF YOU DON’T DEAL WITH WOMEN’S POVERTY – YOU WON’T DEAL WITH CHILD POVERTY.

CONGRESS, WE ARE WITNESSING AN INCREASINGLY FEMALE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT.

WE NEED TO RESPOND TO THAT AND GIVE WOMEN HOPE AND RAISE THEIR EXPECTATIONS.

THAT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WHOLE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT.

TWO YEARS AGO THE STUC WOMEN’S COMMITTEE MEMBERS, PAST AND PRESENT, EMBARKED ON A PROJECT TO CELEBRATE AND HIGHLIGHT THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF WOMEN IN THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT.

THAT ACTIVITY AND THE CONTRIBUTION MADE BY THESE WOMEN HAS LED TO CHANGES IN THE WAY SCOTLAND IS GOVERNED.


IT WAS NEVER INTENDED TO BE A GLOSSY PUBLICATION THAT WOULD GATHER DUST.

RATHER, IT WILL BE A CAMPAIGNING AND EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE THAT WILL HOPEFULLY INSPIRE OTHER WOMEN TO RECORD THEIR OWN CONTRIBUTION.

I WANT TO THANK THE WOMEN WHO GAVE UP SO MUCH OF THEIR TIME TO MAKE THIS BOOK A REALITY.

SO I HOPE YOU’LL MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A COPY OF OUR BOOK ‘INSPIRING WOMEN’ BEFORE CONFERENCE FINISHES TOMORROW.

 
FINALLY, AS CHAIR OF THE WOMEN’S COMMITTEE, I WANT TO THANK ANN HENDERSON, OUR SECRETARY, AND THE STAFF AT THE STUC, WHO GO MORE THAN THE EXTRA MILE FOR US, AS WELL THE REST OF THE COMMITTEE FOR THEIR SUPPORT AND ADVICE.


 
CONFERENCE, I HOPE THE REMAINDER OF YOUR SESSIONS ARE SUCCESSFUL AND I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU ALL THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.

THANK YOU.

 
 
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Integration must be about care not costs

#stuc13 Lilian Macer tells STUC that Scottish Government moves to integrate health and social care when providing services for older people, should be about improving services not about cutting costs. Full story at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/11.html

Bring national bargaining back to further education

UNISON joined forces with the EIS to win STUC backing for the re-establishment of national bargaining in FE in Scotland at the earliest opportunity with the full involvement of trade unions in the further education sector. Full story http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/10.html

Careers: Reform is a cut and 'modernisation' is selling young short

#stuc13 Sarah Collins and Pat Rowland condemn Skills Development Scotland 'reform' as a cut and warned that the modernisation programme was letting young people down. Full story http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/9.html

Staff shouldn't have to pay to work

#stuc13 A robust checking system for people working with vulnerable groups, through the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (PVG) scheme is essential, but employees, many of whom are low paid worker in the care and education services, should not be made to pay for these themselves- Marie Garrity. See full story at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/8.html

Police: Rushed changes disguise cuts as reform

#stuc13 Congress backed a UNISON motion condemning plans to sack some 3,000 non-uniformed staff in the move to a single police force and fire service, to meet a political target on police officer numbers, rather than to reflect the balance of staffing needs for modern effective policing - George McIrvine. Full story at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/7.html

Procurement: Public money should be spent for Public Good

#stuc13 That was the message from Jane Aithchison as Congress welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to new legislation on public procurement and called on them to work with the STUC to shift the focus from cost to quality and sustainability in public sector contracts. Full story at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/6.html

Public ownership needs to rise up political agenda to end fuel poverty

#stuc13 UNISON Scotland’s Willie Docherty told congress that more than one in three households in Scotland are estimated to be in fuel poverty as a result of poor energy efficiency in their homes, low incomes and the high cost of fuel - full story at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/5.html

The real legacy of the 80's and 90's is the UK Government of today

Statement by STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith to STUC Congress
#stuc13 Given what has happened over the past week it is understandable that people want to look back - particularly those who suffered at the hands of the Conservative Government's of '80s and '90s:

- the workers who lost their jobs;

- the communities devastated;

- those like us in the trade union movement who had our values of unity, solidarity and community denigrated and dismissed by those without compassion, who value greed and self, who promote division and discord, who hold the poor in contempt and worship the free market.
Apparently - 'There is no such thing as society!'

Reflection on the past is no bad thing if it helps determine how past mistakes can be avoided and progress can be made. http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/stucstatement.html

E-Briefing for MSPs on today's Public Procurement Reform debate

17 April 2013
 
MSPs have been asked by the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee for their views on
"the efficacy of current public procurement processes and on the scope and potential for improvements to be made to these processes", to inform future work on the proposed Procurement Reform Bill.

UNISON Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to use the Bill to support innovative action against tax dodging and the use of tax havens, banning companies involved in tax dodging from public contracts.

We urge members to highlight the following ways in which procurement processes could be improved, to ensure that public spending on procurement is used to deliver important social, economic and environmental benefits, including improved protection for workers.

The Bill should be used to promote:

  • labour rights and workforce protections, such as the PPP Protocol and Section 52 Guidance (both of which must now be urgently reviewed and extended), and compliance with the Equality Act

  • a tax justice approach, where, using appropriate legal advice, the best options are found to bar companies using tax havens and/or other forms of tax dodging from being eligible for public contracts

  • a positive employment agenda – with companies which do not comply with a range of other certain basic standards not permitted to tender for public contracts (for example the blacklisting of trade unionists in the construction industry should lead to exclusions)

  • the Scottish Living Wage, both for directly employed staff and for employees working for contractors

  • sustainable procurement across the public sector, ensuring that public procurement policies contribute properly to Scotland meeting its climate change targets and support a ‘Just Transition’ to a low carbon economy


Collective Concerns voiced by civil society

Given the far-reaching implications of this Bill, UNISON Scotland is pleased to join with large civil society coalitions in Scotland – Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, Scottish Fair Trade Forum and Enough Food for Everyone IF – to highlight our joint concerns about the direction the proposed Bill is taking and to call for social, environmental and ethical objectives issues to be at the heart of this important piece of legislation. 
 
UNISON's response to the Scottish Government Procurement Reform Bill consultation.
 
UNISON's tax justice proposals for the Procurement Reform Bill.
 
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Action must back words in fighting cuts

#stuc13 In one of the major debates of the Congress, delegates slammed the failed economic policies of the UK Government; their failure to stimulate the economy and to tackle tax evasion and avoidance; their attacks on welfare provision, jobs, pay and pensions; and their failure to develop a credible growth strategy. http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013/4.html

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Lives depend on robust safety laws

#stuc13 Only one in 170 fatalities and major injuries at work resulted in prosecution in 2010/11 and only one in 65 results in any enforcement action – down by 30%", UNISON's Hazel Marshall told the STUC backing a UCATT motion to strengthen health and safety enforcement.

Attacks on union reps an issue for the whole trade union movement

#stuc13 'Stewards and reps are the lifeblood of the union' UNISON's John Stevenson told Congress as it applauded the work of lay activists and shop stewards as key to vibrant and successful trade unions with benefits to the employer as well as staff, but recognised that on a day to day basis management are taking a harder line.

Unions only hope for workers as government tears up employment rights

#stuc13 The one place of hope for working people is trade unions, banding together as we’ve done for generations to fight for the Better Way. That was the message from UNISON Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby as he slammed government attacks on basic employment rights at the STUC today.

Public services face death by a thousand cuts #stuc13

16 April 2013

UNISON's Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby writes in today's Morning Star..

"It's a sad fact that as the STUC gathers in Perth today Scotland's public services are under sustained and severe assault.

Not that this has played a great part in public debate in the last year. Scotland's politicians and media far prefer to obsess and catcall over the independence referendum.

But while they have the luxury of speculating on Scotland's future, we have to focus on the increasingly grim reality of Scotland's present.

Not the least of our tasks in the year ahead is to remind our governors that while the fate of the nation is important, it is the state of the nation that should be their principal concern.

The difficulties facing public services here are certainly different in form from those being endured by our colleagues in England.

Rather than the axe, they resemble more closely the proverbial death by a thousand cuts.

Budgets decline, services are cut back, staff are let go and those who remain struggle on with fewer people trying to cope with often increased demand using fewer resources...."

Read the rest of the article here


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Monday, 15 April 2013

Check UNISON Scotland website for #stuc13 reports 16-18 Apr

15 April 2013
 
 
STUC 2013
 
We will be reporting all the UNISON speakers on the main issues every day at the 116th STUC Congress in Perth from 16-18 April. Reports on UNISON Scotland website. www.unison-scotland.org.uk/stuc2013
 
Reports will also appear in Scotland inUNISON's May issue.
 
For an overview of the whole Congress go to the STUC website

This year's STUC Annual Congress in Perth will highlight the 'There is a better way' campaign which promotes a clear and distinct economic alternative to current policies of the coalition government.

Congress will attract over 330 trade union delegates representing almost 630,000 members. There will be 38 trade unions attending, 20 trades union councils as well as a number of international guests and speakers from the world of politics.

UNISON's delegation is 33 strong and includes NEC members, delegates elected by Scottish branches and staff. Congress will be chaired by President Agnes Tolmie of Unite.


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