Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Public Works blog

Public Works is our new blog bringing news and analysis on the delivery of public services in Scotland.

Public Works is an informal blog, press releases and other formal materials will continue to be posted here on the UNISON Scotland blog and on our website. Contributions should not be taken as formal statements of UNISON Scotland policy as it will cover areas where there is no settled UNISON policy or go into more detail. We want to avoid a dull corporate blog and instead promote ideas and discussion and disseminate news that might not be covered in the mainstream media.

We welcome contributions and comment.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Huge support for Stirling strike against 4.5% pay cut

UNISON Stirling Branch is reporting huge support for its strike today against a 4.5% pay cut. "With council pay already falling 13% behind, means a whopping 17.5% hit on Stirling Council workers", said branch treasurer Andy Douglas reporting from the picket line earlier.

BBC Scotland: Stirling Council staff strike over pay

Stirling Council buildingThe council has proposed a 0.5% pay cut and an extra hour of work each week
26 August 2013 Last updated at 09:50
 Staff at Stirling Council are staging a one-day strike in a row over pay and conditions.
The council has proposed a 0.5% pay cut across all pay grades and an additional hour of work per week.
Unison described it as a 1.5% pay cut after council staff across Scotland narrowly accepted a below-inflation 1% pay rise.
The council's chief executive Bob Jack said the union's decision to hold a strike was "regrettable".
However, Unison Stirling branch secretary James Douglas claimed the proposals were "by far the worst faced by any council in Scotland".

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Morning Star: Stirling staff walk out after 'savage' attack on pay

Sunday 25 August 2013

Workers at Stirling Council are taking strike action tomorrow to protect pay and conditions from "savage cuts" by their employer.
Local government union Unison has called the one-day strike to bring council bosses back to the negotiating table - but warned of further action if necessary.
Other unions at Stirling Council including Unite, Ucatt and GMB have also voted for strike action.
Unison's Stirling branch secretary James Douglas told the Morning Star: "We hope that tomorrow's strike will send a clear message to Stirling Council and its management team that enough is enough."
He described the council's offer as "insulting," pointing out that the combination of a 1.5 per cent pay cut and the requirement to work an extra 7.5 days a year amounts to a 4.5 per cent pay cut for the majority.
This comes on top of a three-year pay freeze which has meant a real-terms pay cut of about 13 per cent, he added.

Read the Morning Star online

Thursday, 22 August 2013

UNISON strike over ‘savage cuts’ by Stirling Council

Thursday 22 August 2013

Local government workers in Stirling will begin strike action on Monday (26 August) against ‘savage cuts’ being imposed by their employer.

UNISON Stirling Council branch believes that the package of cuts proposed by the council will damage the vital services which local people rely on - and further reduce wages which have already been devalued by 13% over the last three years as a result of a pay freeze.

Members of UNISON and other unions have voted to take industrial action beginning with a one day strike on Monday 26 August.

Branch secretary James Douglas said:
“We have been left with no option but to proceed with a strike due to the savage cuts proposed by our employer.

“The council’s offer is insulting - the combination of a 1.5% pay cut and the requirement to work an extra 7.5 days a year, actually amounts to a 4.5% pay cut for the majority. This comes on top of a three year pay freeze which has meant a real terms pay cut of about 13%. And the proposal to move to a 37 hour week also means a reduction in hourly rate of pay for all including the lowest paid.

“These proposals are by far the worst faced by any council in Scotland. But it was not local government workers or the people who rely on our services who caused the economic crisis - and we should not be forced to pay for it. We certainly do not appear to be ‘all in this together’.”

James Douglas said:
“We regret any disruption or inconvenience this strike may cause, but we feel we have no alternative than to take industrial action to protect our pay and conditions of service with Stirling Council. Unions did not walk away from the negotiating table – the employer did.

“We hope that a one day strike will send a clear message to both Stirling Council and its management team that enough is enough. We believe that this will force the council to think again. The changes to terms and conditions affect all of us, therefore we need to stand together and be prepared to fight for our rights.”

UNISON Stirling branch has also called on the Chief Executive and the leader of Stirling Council to withdraw letters of dismissal which have been issued, following a large number of complaints from members.

James Douglas said:
“Staff have said that they feel intimidated and bullied into signing new contracts, as they believe that the letter implies that they will lose their jobs if they don’t sign. We have referred the issue of letters of dismissal to our legal team for their view of the letter and any action that can be taken. I have asked that the letter be withdrawn and that a new letter giving the full legal position be sent out to all staff.”

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Why we should worry about food safety

THIS summer our newspapers have been full of stories about healthy bread, sausages and the risk of sugary drinks, to name but a few. While healthy eating is important, UNISON Scotland's Dave Watson takes a closer look at what’s happening earlier in the food chain in this article in the Scotsman.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Unions prepare for industrial action at Stirling Council

Thursday 15 August 2013
For Immediate release
Unions prepare for industrial action at Stirling Council

UNISON Stirling Council Branch, along with the other trade unions at the local authority, are preparing for industrial action following a rejection of the Council's final proposals for "draconian" cuts in pay and conditions.

UNISON Branch secretary James Douglas said: "The Council met with us today but we are unclear why as they made it clear within a few minutes that they were not prepared to change anything." 

David O'Connor Regional Organiser for UNISON said:
"What the employer is effectively proposing is a 4.5% pay cut for the majority of employees.
"The Chief Executive's offer for staff to work the equivalent of an extra seven days to reduce the pay cut to 1.5% does not detract from the fact the proposed cuts are nothing less than draconian."

UNISON's Branch Chair Lesley Russell said:
"We are disappointed that there has been no further progress and it  would appear that the Council have no interest in resolving this matter and have paid lip service to the whole collective bargaining process."

James Douglas added:
"The negotiating team were called to a meeting earlier this week to set out our concerns. However it is clear that all of these have been ignored therefore UNISON has been left with no option but to formally notify the Council of its intent to take industrial action."

Note for Editor
Scottish local government workers have faced a pay freeze for the past three years, equivalent in real terms to a 13% pay cut .

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Unemployment figures - UNISON reaction

Wed 14 August 2013

“Today’s small drop in unemployment rates masks the damaging growth of under-employment plaguing the country and stifling economic recovery”, warned Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON today.

Mr Prentis went on to say: “A toxic combination of a part-time, minimum wage, zero-hours working is spreading across the country, as decently paid, full-time opportunities become increasingly rare.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland is seeking keen 'green' bloggers

Would you like to try using a different form of transport for six weeks and share your experience with others?

Stop Climate Chaos is looking for a small group of volunteers from around Scotland to take part in its Travelling Tales project, starting September 2013.

This will involve using a low carbon form of transport for 6 weeks and sharing your stories and experiences of this on our new blogging website.

Call to end 'draconian' ban on cig breaks for hospital staff

The Evening Times reported yesterday on UNISON complaints over the way NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is implementing new anti-smoking policy.

UNISON Scotland Regional Organiser Matt McLaughlin, lead organiser for nursing, warned health officials against taking a heavy handed approach.

Caroline Wilson's report says:

"HEALTH chiefs in Glasgow have been urged to abandon a "draconian and heavy-handed" policy which bans staff smoking on tea breaks.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Going to @PrideGlasgow? Come and see us on the UNISON Scotland stall


UNISON Scotland is proud to be at Pride Glasgow tomorrow, Saturday 10 August.

Come and see us on the stall and find out how we stand up for you at work.

We are also longstanding supporters of Glasgay! so see you there too. It's the 20th Anniversary 9 Oct - 9 Nov.

Find out more at

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Have your say on the Scottish same-sex marriage bill

A message from the Equality Network: We are emailing trade unions and similar organisations in Scotland to urge you please to have your say on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill which is now in the Scottish Parliament. Please let the Parliament know your views on the bill – details on how to do that are below. The deadline is 23rd August.

UNISON welcomes protective footwear court ruling

UNISON has welcomed a court judgment with wide implications for workers at a time of government attacks on health and safety.

Regional Organiser Mandy McDowall said employers must act following the decision that Cordia was at fault for not providing protective footwear to a home care worker.

She is quoted in reports in today's Herald and Evening Times newspapers on the Court of Session ruling.

Silent epidemic of discrimination against working mothers

UNISON is calling for “a cultural shift” to end discrimination against pregnant women and mothers returning to work.  The union, which has 1m women in membership, called it a disgrace that a new survey (see BBC report) has found that more than one in four mothers feel discriminated against.

This survey shows the slow rate of progress since 2005 when the Equal Opportunities Inquiry into Pregnancy Discrimination found that each year 45% of working women
experienced pregnancy discrimination.

Karen Jennings, Assistant General Secretary of UNISON, said:

“It is a disgrace that in 2013 women should still be missing out on promotion or treated as second class workers.

“This research shows that the Equality Act is failing working mothers as thousands of women continue to suffer in silence while bosses discriminate in the shadows.

“Many women feel pressured into returning to work before they are ready, to try and protect their position in the workplace.  This is a growing problem with employers targeting women returners for redundancy selection, despite the legislation.

“Unless there is a wholesale cultural shift across workplaces this silent epidemic is only going to get worse.  The introduction of tribunal fees is making it more difficult for women to challenge discrimination by employers, coupled with rampant cuts to employment rights.”

“UNISON is continuing its case for a Judicial Review into fees for employment tribunals and has also vowed to cover the cost for its members.”


See this news release on the UK website

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

See The Happy Lands at the Festival of Politics

Saturday 24 August 2013, 17.00 - 19.30: News from the Festival of Politics: "The Happy Lands is a unique film focussing on Fife’s mining communities around the time of the great strike in 1926.

"It maps the events that many say laid the foundation of Scotland’s identification with socialism and internationalism and asks the questions that many Scots feel aren’t being asked within the current Yes/No campaign.

"Join us for a screening of this groundbreaking film, followed by a discussion and debate that will explore notions of identity and community. Does legacy inform our identity and shape our communities, and how important are identity and community as we head towards the referendum?"

Monday, 5 August 2013

UNISON members' Blackpool trip - union support in good times as well as bad


Members from UNISON Scotland's branch at the State Hospital, Carstairs, have just enjoyed a day trip to Blackpool.

Lots of members' children took part in the fun day out which they said was roller coaster fantastic.

A branch spokesperson said: "The weather was unbelievably good, with bright sunshine all day.

"Our branch gave each child a £20 gift to help with the cost and I think all the children had a great time.

"But the main thing about our day out is the fact that our union is not just about the bad times, dealing with problems at work, grievances and so on.

"It's about being united as a group of people who just want what is right, fair and equal for one another.

"This is a great union, not just in the bad times, but in the fun times too."

The branch gave a vote of thanks to Tom, who made all the arrangements.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

UNISON Scotland – why we’re answering the call for our NHS

The Tories are attacking our NHS too ...

David Cameron and George Osborne might not run NHS Scotland, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t attacking it. We must fight to save it.

Devolution means they can’t run down and privatise our NHS directly, the way they are doing in England. But what they can do is starve it of resources. They are cutting back on the money provided to the Scottish Government and this puts the health budget under pressure.

Scots councils urged to ditch ‘care on the cheap’ 15 minute home visits

UNISON Scotland today hit out at Scottish councils over commissioning 15 minute home care visits to elderly and vulnerable people.

A Freedom of Information request shows that 28 Scottish councils commission such short visits.

UNISON wants the UK and Scottish governments to ban 15 minute care slots and is urging councils to sign up to the union’s Ethical  Home Care Charter.

Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said: “Austerity cuts are piling pressure onto an overstretched system but it is entirely wrong that in a supposedly civilised society councils are commissioning 15 minute home care appointments.

“Any member of the public can understand that 15 minutes is not enough to provide even the most basic care, let alone to very frail clients. People with dementia also find the rush of such short visits particularly distressing.