Friday, 19 December 2014

Christmas message from Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish secretary

2014 was a significant year and we should be rightly proud of the role UNISON played in the independence referendum. We led the debate for a fairer and just Scotland. Thank you to UNISON members, activists, staff and supporters for the way you conducted yourselves throughout. We showed, once again, the importance of trade unions in shaping the country we live in

Public services remain a key issue. People in Scotland made it clear they want more, not less investment in public services and want to keep public services in public hands. UNISON will continue to keep all political parties to the promises they have made both on where powers lie and how they will use them. And most importantly we will ensure ordinary working people have a strong voice.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

New 2015 Course Programme Launched

Welcome to UNISON Scotland's Education Programme for 2015. Our courses continue to prove very popular, particularly for new UNISON Stewards. We offer training to ensure new Stewards are accredited by law and, more importantly, feel confident in their role. Click here for full details on the website

All our regional courses are held in large cities/towns and, with the exception of specialised courses, they are tutored by specially trained UNISON staff or fully qualified Lay Tutors who are activists themselves.

We also offer Refresher training for more experienced activists and a number of specific courses where people can develop their skills in Representation, Negotiation etc. Our short Employment Law courses are as popular as ever and are delivered by our partners Thompsons Solicitors.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

NHS porter’s workloads and stress go up as their wages go down, claims UNISON report

Wed 17 Dec 2014

NHS Porters are under pressure and their workloads are going up while the value of their wages are going down. The report also concludes that their training is patchy and there are reports of lack of equipment to allow them to do their job properly.

These are the conclusions of a study UNISON has conducted among NHS porters. This report also suggests a growth in zero hour contracts and widespread reports of understaffing.

The report ‘Breaking Point’ was derived from surveys of Porters across the NHS in Scotland. 

Tam Waterson Chair of UNISON Scotland’s Health Committee said, “This study shows that porters like other workers in the NHS are under stress, working harder but seeing the value of their wages go down. It increases pressure on all NHS workers which impacts on the delivery of services for patients. Porters aren’t the glamorous end of the NHS, but they matter and the NHS is a team effort and we need to take their concerns seriously”


Notes to Editor

1. UNISON is the biggest trade union in Scotland, and UNISON is the biggest trade union in NHS Scotland

Saturday, 13 December 2014

New Scotland in UNISON now online

December's Scotland in UNISON is now online: Stories on engaging people in devo plans; Bhopal reports; GAMH campaign; SNP conference lobby and police cuts; OTs under stress; Lanarkshire Health PFI fight; Homelessness costs; FE colleges; Holiday pay and much more in this edition.


Friday, 12 December 2014

Workers in Queensferry and East Kilbride face uncertain Christmas

IBM workers who deliver ScottishPower’s outsourced £20m IT services, face an uncertain Christmas after being told that they face further restructuring. Staff are worried that this may mean further job losses.

IT staff maintain customer services systems and infrastructure which engineers rely on when tackling power cuts.

Staff say more restructuring will further disrupt customer service support, reduce ability to respond to emergencies, delay urgent IT developments and introduce additional overheads and costs.

Malcolm Currie, Prospect negotiations officer, speaking on behalf of members working as specialists and managers in the customer care teams, said: “In the last four years this workforce have been subject to constant change, disruption and job insecurity. The workforce has already been reduced from 360 to 140. It is dismaying to see the skills of our members being taken for granted in this way. Repeated and costly upheaval can’t make good business sense, let alone show any consideration for the people and families affected.”

UNISON represents the IT workers at Queensferry and East Kilbirde. Paul Summers, Regional Organiser for UNISON North West said: “Staff here support the country’s critical national infrastructure. The planned division of the team and re-tendering will make flexible working more difficult and could worsen the security of our energy supply. There is no benefit in this change for customers or the wider public.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

UNISON lambasts council ‘bully-boy’ tactics as councillors threaten closure of mental health charity

UNISON has issued an urgent call to councillors to cease plans to cut a charity’s funding by 40 per cent without any prior consultation.

Councillors are expected to make their decision at a council meeting today (Thursday) based on a report that remains unseen by Glasgow Association for Mental Health.

The charity was notified late Tuesday evening that commissioners want to hold an urgent meeting with the charity today – less than 24 hours before a decision is to be made – based on a fundamentally-flawed report that takes mental health provision in the city back to the 1970s. The city’s most vulnerable now face paying the price with a maximum of 12 weeks of support, regardless of need.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Bhopal: Terrible hardship but incredible courage and kindness

#Bhopal30 This is the day 30 years ago when the Union Carbide industrial disaster claimed 25,000 lives, left 120,000 chronically ill and continues to maim subsequent generations.

The anniversary rally took place along with a march by all the families and supporters to the Bhopal plant walls.

An excellent rally was planned and policed by the Bhopal group and supporters and this was achieved with little or no police or army presence.

It was a very hot day and water was provided at many places along the route. The rally at the wall then burned effigies of Dow and Union Carbide.

Later the screening took place of a new movie about the disaster called 'A Prayer for Rain', featuring Martin Sheen. Many of the survivors and their families attended, some having never set foot in a cinema before.

I was very moved by the fragile condition of many, yet they came and sat through an event that must have brought back horrific memories to them all.

Presented to trade unions and NDOs by the delegation.
During my time here I have witnessed some terrible hardship and deprivation. But also some incredible courage and kindness.

Sam Macartney

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Torchlight march and Bhopal Disaster Museum

#Bhopal30 From Sam Macartney and Scott Donohoe in Bhopal: Tuesday began with a national solidarity meeting with families and NGOs who support the campaign.Then a visit to the workplace of the women who have taken the fight to the courts and the Indian government. They have their own trade union now but they still haven't received justice for the disaster. Next we visited the new Bhopal People's Disaster Museum. This is a tribute to those that lost their lives and those who are still suffering. It was very harrowing but very moving.

We then joined with families, activists and campaigners on a torchlight rally to the old factory walls. This was incredible. Real torches steeped in paraffin were carried through the city for about two miles. See videos by Sanjay Verma here.

The torches were kept alight during the march by men refilling these wood and metal torches with fuel. In the darkness this was a fantastic sight but I can't see this catching on in Scotland due to health and safety concerns (that's a real shame).

Finally, the hunger fast starts at midnight tonight for 30 hours signifying one hour for every year that has passed since the disaster caused by Union Carbide.

Bill Kidd MSP has lodged the following motion in the Scottish Parliament.

Fasting in solidarity with Bhopal families

UNISON's Sam Macartney will be joining friends and families of the Bhopal disaster on a 30 hour hunger fast from midnight on Tuesday until 6.00am on Thursday. "It is the least I can do after what we have seen", reported Sam. Clearly moved by what he had seen, Scott Donohoe commented: "The levels of poverty in Bhopal are truly shocking."

UNISON Scotland's Sam Macartney and Scott Donohoe are part of a trade union delegation to Bhopal to mark the 30th annivesary of the Union Carbide disaster that killed 25,000, left 120,000 chronically ill and continues to maim subsequent generations.

Yesterday they took part in a demonstration after being shown around the Bhopal Sambhavna medical aid clinic and the great facilities they have and the excellent work they are doing to support the victims of their families.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Support the Bhopal Medical Appeal

Update from Sam Macartney in Bhopal: Yes I was on a demo in India, and I and all the trade union delegates to Bhopal were honoured and and very pleased to walk with familyies and friends of the Bhopal campaign. We had joined the demo after being shown around the Bhopal Sambhavna medical aid clinic and the great facilities they have and the excellent work they are doing to support the victims of their families.

The facility also includes a clinic for children who have been poisoned by Union Carbide. The clinic (Chingari) rehab clinic supports over 200 children who have suffered due to the poison from the chemical spill from the Bhopal plant. They offer help and support with support and funding from the Bhopal medical aid campaign it is so very important that this aid continues for all concerned. You can donate to the Bhopal Medical Appeal by clicking here

Further reports will follow.
Sam Macartney, International officer, UNISON Scotland
The Chairs of UNISON Scotland’s International Committee, Sam Macartney and Health & Safety Committee, Scott Donohoe are taking part in a delegation to Bhopal, India, to mark the anniversary on 3rd December 2014 to mark the 30th anniversary of the industrial disaster that has killed 25,000, left 120,000 chronically ill and continues to maim subsequent generations. See the website for more details

Candlelight vigil held for Bhopal's second generation victims

From Sam Macartney and Scott Donohoe in Bhopal leading up to the 3 December anniversary of the disaster: 

Many events have been organised over the next three days to remember the victims of this disaster. Proceedings started on Sunday with the Mela of alternatives, an event looking at the way forward to aid the victims in the campaign. This was followed by a seminar on the medical aid issues which are ongoing. (See a backgrounf briefing on Bhopal here)

A press conference was held and organised by AmnestyIinternational chaired by their Secretary General and finally on the Sunday evening a candle light vigil was held by the second generation of victims impacted by this disaster. Their families will not forget and neither should we.

Further updates will follow as events unfold.
Sam Macartney
UNISON Scotland international committee

Friday, 28 November 2014

Cuts dont work

UNISON Scotland's analysis of the impact of austerity economics on Scotland's public services is highlighted in a column in today's Scotsman.

Dave Watson argues that, "Our public debt continues to rise, productivity is low, wages are dropping, inequality is increasing and youth unemployment is high.The idea that our present economic woes are a crisis stemming from out-of-control public finances is the neo-liberal myth of our times."

He also draws attention to UNISON Scotland's series of reports on the impact of cuts on particular groups of workers, "Unison has been systematically surveying groups of our members and the evidence is broadly the same – corners are being cut and plates are kept spinning in the hope that the whole façade doesn’t come crashing down."

Finally he sets out a better way, "We can invest so we can create demand and quality jobs, building an economic system that delivers a decent standard of life for all. We could reform our tax system to make it more progressive and crack down on tax dodgers. We need to agree that tax and public services are a good thing and value for money. We need to end the regressive council tax freeze and allow local democracy to flourish, invest in houses to rent and give Scotland a pay rise."

The full column can be read here.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

UNISON statement on Smith Commission

“While there are certainly positive elements in these proposals, the package as a whole falls short of our aspirations contained in our submission to the Commission, with particular regard to job creation,
employment regulation, equalities and minimum wage. These are areas required if inequalities in society are to be addressed. We will continue to press for this”, said Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Secretary.
     “The reference to a durable constitutional settlement is to be welcomed, and this as Lord Smith made clear, is an agreement between political parties and has yet to be tested against the opinions and aspirations of the Scottish people. The Commission lists additional areas for consideration, and received a remarkable number of submissions, and that civic engagement must be developed as the proposals now make their way through the Westminster process.”

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

UNISON Scotland statement on First Minister’s programme for Government

Wed 26 Nov 2014

Mike Kirby, Scottish secretary of UNISON, said ‘UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union and we welcome the First Minister’s programme for government. There was much in Nicola Sturgeon’s statement to commend.

We welcome her commitment to protect public services and to increase NHS funding; her commitment to the living wage and to mitigate the problems of welfare reform; and her commitment to put gender equality and women’s rights at the heart of her government; and to increase childcare.

Review of local government financeUNISON also welcomed the commission to review local government finance but we are disappointed that the council tax freeze will remain in place until 2016. This freeze hits the most vulnerable people, those who need public services the most.

We need a fundamental reform of how we pay for local services. Local government is experiencing the worst of the cuts. It has lost the bulk of the jobs and it is the only sector to get a real cash cut. We can no longer pretend to get better services for less money. We favour a progressive property tax where we all pay our fair share.

UNISON condemns chief constable statement that it is ‘inevitable that more police staff face further jobs cuts next year'

Wed 26 Nov 2014

UNISON, the trade union for police civilian staff, has condemned the statement by the Chief Constable of Police Scotland that more police staff will be made redundant.

George McIrvine, secretary of UNISON police staff Scotland branch said:
"This shows UNISON is right. Civilian police staff are facing big job losses and are the victims of the Scottish Governments policy to maintain police officers while cutting £1.1bn from the police budget.  Both the chief constable and Scottish Justice Secretary are hiding behind the political statement to ‘maintain 17,234 police officers’ to pretend they are meeting the public’s priorities. This means the £1.1bn police cuts will decimate civilian police staff jobs."

George continued:
"We have built a modern balanced Scottish police force of hard working, high skilled civilians who are value for money and work side by side with our police officers to fight crime. Finger print officers, crime scene investigators, anti-fraud officers, intelligence analysis, forensics, legal clerical, custody officers, community safety officers, call centre staff and many more. These people have local knowledge and high technical skills and have reduced crime to its lowest level ever.  The police service will not survive this outdated political pledge, it is death by 1000 officers."

Gerry Crawley UNISON police staff organiser said: 
“The cuts confirmed today will take policing back to the 1970s, which will mean 1970s levels of crime. Civilian police staff are paying the price of the £1.1bn Scottish Government cuts. Frankly it’s the worst gutter politics. Ministers and senior police protecting their own jobs over hard working civilian police staff who actually fight crime on our streets. Just so they can say to the public we are ‘maintaining 1000 extra police officers’. UNISON will not stand by and see our modern police force decimated like this. The public need to recognise that a £1.1bn cut means losing every civilian post in the police force. Which will mean a rise in crime.  It's politicians and top police putting their own job security over public safety.”


Notes to Editor

1. Sir Stephen House gave evidence to MSPs yesterday 25 November 2014, along with the new justice secretary, Michael Matheson. Scotland's top police officer has said force support staff face further job cuts next year. Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said he was confident of making a target to save £1.1bn by 2026.But he warned the path ahead was "not smooth" and said every area, apart from police officer numbers, would be considered in the drive for savings. See:

2. UNISON is the biggest trade union in Scotland, and we are the biggest trade union representing police staff

3. Police staff stay in the job longer, specialise and advance in particular areas of work and are better value for public money. A police officer filling in the jobs left by redundant police staff costs the public more and takes an officer off of the street and putting them behind a desk. What’s the sense in that?

Monday, 24 November 2014

Enter the UNISON Scotland Communications Awards

Share your best practice, your innovative ideas and most of all your enthusiasm and enter the UNISON Scotland 2014/15 Communications Awards. Help build a stronger union and get some well-deserved recognition for all your hard work.

Closing date is Wednesday 14 January 2015 and an entry form, poster and all the details are on the website at

Thanks again to the UNISON family of sponsors:
UiA Insurance
Thompsons Solicitors Scotland
Liverpool Victoria
Lighthouse Financial Advice
TC Branding

UNISON on The Vale of Leven Hospital Inquiry report

Commenting on the long-awaited independent inquiry into patient deaths at the Vale of Leven Hospital which was published today (Monday) UNISON regional organiser, Matt McLaughlin, said:

“The outbreak of C difficile at Vale of Leven in 2007/08 was tragic and, even this long after the deaths, our thoughts must be with the people who lost relatives and friends because of the failures set out in Lord MacLean’s report.

“Public service workers don’t go to work and expect to find themselves at the centre of such heartbreaking and difficult circumstances. Our members want to help people get better and we are pleased this report recognises the reasons for this tragedy were systemic, rather than person-centred.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Glasgow Association of Mental Health Demonstration

Around 500 people attended the demo on Wednesday 12 November 2014, where UNISON members, service users and members of the public took the message to Glasgow City Councillors that cuts to Glasgow Association of Mental Health (GAMH) services will cost lives. Our demo made the morning radio, press and STV television and we are on the front page of Third Force News where the headline is ‘Cuts Will Cost Lives’!

A small delegation met with Cllr Malcolm Cunning before the demo and he assured representatives from UNISON, GAMH and service users that no political decision has yet been made on the proposed 40% cut to GAMH budgets. The support shown by people from across Glasgow at the demonstration yesterday will have given Cllr Cunning and his colleagues much food for thought and we expect to have further discussions in due course before any firm decisions are taken.

So on this front alone, our campaign has already had an impact as we expected the 40% cuts to have been confirmed by now. We continue to collect petitions and have collected over 2500 signatures to stop GAMH cuts. Please keep up the good work and keep those signatures coming as the political pressure key to preventing the scale of the cuts proposed from happening. The campaign strategy committee will be meeting on Tuesday 18th November to discuss our next steps and we will issue more information then.

Finally, a big thanks is due to everyone who attended and helped out on the day – there are genuinely too many to thank individually. A special thank you is required for our speakers on the day, Julie Ballantyne, Cathy Miller and Brian Smith from UNISON. We also need to thank the UNSION NHS CVS Branch for their financial support with the flags and t-shirts and the UNISON Glasgow City Branch for their support and the use of their PA system. A final special thanks has to go to the GAMH service users who made their own placards and banners – this really added colour to the day.

GAMH Cuts Will Cost Lives!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Important Holiday Pay Claims Update - 3 months ruling

On 4 November 2014 the Employment Appeal Tribunal decided three test cases on holiday pay claims.

The judge confirmed that regular additional payments such as overtime should be included in the calculation of holiday pay. The ruling only applies to holiday pay guaranteed under the Working Time Directive which covers the first 20 days of annual leave each year.

This means that going forward employers will have to work out what an employee has actually earned and reflect this in pay when the employee takes annual leave.

The judgement also contained a surprise ruling that significantly restricts the ability to claim back pay for previous underpaid annual leave.

Any claim for unpaid wages has to be made within three months of the underpayment. Claims can be made for a series of underpayments, but only if there is less than 3 months between underpayments.

The EAT decision may be appealed but for now any underpayments must be linked by gaps of less than three months in order to form a series for back pay claims. Click here for more details, examples and action to take if you think you are affected ...

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Under pressure – UNISON survey shows Scotland’s occupational therapists struggling to maintain service

Tue 11 Nov 2014

A report out today (Tuesday 11 Nov 2014) by UNISON shows that Scotland’s occupational therapists are struggling to maintain the level of service their patients need in light of budget cuts and staffing shortages.

Those surveyed in the report – Under Pressure: Scotland’s occupational therapists speak out – said they had huge concerns about the impact cuts are having on the service. An overwhelming majority (82%) reported increased workloads, 60% reported having to cope with reduced members of staff and almost half (48%) reported funding cuts.

There were recurring themes among the concerns: assessments being overruled because of resource pressures; and failure by management to replace absent colleagues, specifically for maternity leave which, given the virtually all-female composition of the workforce, is more common than in many other groups of staff. When asked if they regularly worked more than their contracted hours 60% of respondents said they did – an extra five hours a week was the average. While the majority (58%) of respondents reported their standard of living had dropped in the last 3-4 years. 

‘Cuts cost lives’ says UNISON – campaigners lobby Glasgow City Council over savage cuts to mental health charity

Tue 11 Nov 2014

Staff, service users, community groups and members of the public will gather in George Square tomorrow (Wednesday 12 November) to lobby Glasgow City Council over its plans to cut a charity’s funding by 40%.

The scale of these savage cuts are likely to force Glasgow Association for Mental Health (GAMH) – which receives nearly all of its funding from the council – to close, risking the lives of hundreds of vulnerable adults across the city.

Chrissy McKeag, a project worker at GAMH, said: 
“We provide essential support - emotional, social and practical - to those who experience mental health difficulties across Glasgow. 
The support we offer transforms people’s lives and helps to prevent them from developing problems that are likely to require costly help and support from statutory services such as health, housing and criminal justice. Savage cuts of this level will leave Glasgow’s most vulnerable with nowhere to turn and end up costing the city much more in the long run.”

Saturday, 8 November 2014

New Scotland in UNISON online

Austerity economics don’t add up, vote yes to keep your union’s voice, 18 October rally report, devolution submission, campaign against NHS PFI, violence against staff doubles, retired member wins claim, Bhopal remembered, celebrate learning and much more in this issue.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

LG Pay Scotland - Members vote to accept

The Scottish Local Government pay ballot closed yesterday and the results were as follows: Members voted 70.8% to accept and 29.2% to reject the revised pay offer. The LG committee meets tomorrow 5 November. A further update will be circulated thereafter.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Holiday Pay Claims Important Update

Since our earlier briefings on holiday pay claims, a number of employers have attempted to limit their liability for back pay by including additional money for holiday pay in workers’ pay.

This triggers the time limit for claims with the effect that many claims may go out of time. Where this has been done by a large employer like a local authority, you will already have received advice from UNISON.

If your pay now includes an element of additional pay, the time for bringing a claim will have started from the date on which you were last underpaid holiday pay. If there are more than three months since the last time holiday pay did not include additional sums, then you will be unable to pursue a claim.

Your branch will be sending out a more detailed briefing very soon, but you should contact them now if you think you are running out of time because your employer has made additional payments for past underpaid holidays. More details at

Sunday, 2 November 2014

UNISON Labour Link Scotland backs Katy Clark MP for Scottish Labour Deputy Leader

UNISON, Scotland’s largesttrade union, has given its backing to Katy Clark MP in the contest for the nextScottish Labour Deputy leader.

UNISONScotland Labour Link Chair Gordon McKay said:

"KatyClark has a great record of campaigning on the issues that matter to UNISONmembers in Scotland. On public services, employment rights, pensions, inequalityand many other concerns."

"Herviews have remained consistent with Labour’s traditions and values and that isvital if Scottish Labour is to build its support in Scotland. Katy has shownbefore and after becoming an MP that she is on the side of working people."

Responding today to the announcement that UNISON Scotland Labour Link has decided to support her campaign for Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Katy Clark said,


"I warmly welcome this decision and the fact that thousands of trade unionists will be participating in this election which is a real opportunity for the leadership and deputy leadership candidates to engage with the thousands of trade unionists up and down the country who will have a vote on who leads Scottish Labour. Trade union members and Labour Party members have a shared agenda of wanting a Scottish Labour Party which fights to defend and improve public services and living standards. Scottish Labour needs to listen to what trade union members are saying. I hope that this contest will see a genuine debate as to how we can build stronger links between Scottish Labour and the trade union movement and trade union members."

Vote YES to keep your union’s voice

UNISON Scotland is urging all members to defend the union’s campaigning voice by voting ‘yes’ to keep its unique political fund. The ballot runs from 1-30 November.

Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish secretary explains: “Like all trade unions, UNISON is required in law to have a political fund for campaigning generally and specifically to affiliate or donate to any political party.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

UNISON Scotland Labour Link backs Neil Findlay for Scottish Labour Leader

UNISON, Scotland’s largest trade union, has given its backing to Neil Findlay MSP in the contest for the next Scottish Labour leader. This followed a hustings event in Glasgow today (1 November 2014) at the UNISON annual Labour Link Forum.

Members were impressed by the analysis from both Sarah Boyack and Neil Findlay of the challenges facing Scottish Labour and need for a new approach.

UNISON Scotland Labour Link Chair Gordon McKay said:

“Members have been hugely impressed with Neil Findlay since he became an MSP and in particular as Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing. Neil understands that politics as usual isn’t good enough and we believe he offers a fresh approach with a real experience and understanding of the concerns of working people”.

“At today’s meeting Neil Findlay outlined a radical new policy approach that will be welcomed by our members.”


ENDS Note for editors:

Labour Link is UNISON’s affiliated political fund.

For further information please contact:

Dave Watson, UNISON Scottish Organiser, on 07958 122409


Friday, 24 October 2014

Violence against public service staff has nearly doubled - UNISON Scotland

Fri 24 October 2014

Violence against public service workers in Scotland has increased yet again last year and has nearly doubled over the past eight years.

UNISON's Scottish Organiser, Dave Watson, will present the union's annual survey of violent incidents to UNISON Scotland's health and safety conference at Stirling University on Friday 24 October.

37,052 incidents were reported to public service employers last year – up 3,363 and almost double the 20,000 reported when the first survey was first conducted in 2006. He will highlight assaults on council workers, who have suffered four out of five job cuts in Scotland. They are seeing a year on year increase in violent incidents - 15,729 last year an  increase of 850.

He will welcome improvements in data recording, although some public bodies are still failing to collate data properly. If they can’t collate data – they don’t know where to take the necessary action.

Dave Watson said:
“It is entirely unacceptable for staff who serve the public to be assaulted for simply doing their job. These statistics record reported incidents and are therefore only the tip of the iceberg of misery faced by workers across Scotland’s public services”.

"The biggest increase in violent incidents is happening in those services that have suffered staffing cuts. Workers are stretched too thinly, dealing with service users who are coping with cuts in the services they rely on. This is a toxic cocktail that is putting hard pressed workers at greater risk of violent assault."

Scott Donohoe, chair of UNISON Scotland’s Health and Safety Committee, said:
“To seriously tackle violence against staff we need proper monitoring, backed up by effective workplace measures to minimise the risks. We also need better legal protection for workers in the civil and criminal courts.”

There were 330 convictions under the Emergency Workers Act last year. Due to the limited scope of the Act few violent incidents result in criminal action. Sadly, efforts to address this were blocked by the Scottish Government when they opposed Hugh Henry MSP’s Protection of Worker’s Bill. The UK Government has also undermined protection for workers with cuts to the Criminal Injury Compensation scheme.


Note for editors
The UNISON Scotland Survey of Violence at Work 2014 is online here:
There is clear guidance for councils on how to address this issue in Managing Occupational Violence in the Workplace (2010). NHS Scotland has similar PIN policies.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Time up for PFI Pro£iteers in Lanarkshire

UNISON Lanarkshire Health Branch has launched a campaign to bring staff providing 'Soft' Facilities (catering, portering, domestic and security) currently employed by Serco in Wishaw General Hospital and ISS at Hairmyres Hospital back in-house.

The Branch has taken the decision after discovering that NHS Lanarkshire planned to rollover the existing contracts on both sites to the private pro£iteers who are currently operating them. The Health Board has 'bench-marked' the services in both hospitals against the in-house services at Monklands Hospital.

UNISON believes this 'bench-marking' exercise was a farce, who in their right mind would compare services currently provided at a dilapidated Monklands with relatively new facilities at Wishaw and Hairmyres. To be clear this is NOT an attack on the staff who provide a service in Monklands but more a comment on the great work they do in difficult circumstances in an extremely old building not fit for purpose!

UNISON has produced a PFI bulletin which we have directly mailed to all Lanarkshire MSP's and MP's along with a letter asking them to support UNISON's campaign to bring the staff back in-house were they belong.

The Branch has also produced a model letter for members, their families and supporters to send to local MSP's and MP's urging their support and a petition asking the general public to also support this campaign.

Let's be clear PFIs are bleeding Lanarkshire's NHS, its time to put a stop to pro£iteers draining OUR National Health Service.

Support our campaign You can support our campaign in a number of ways you can directly email NHS Lanarkshire Chairperson Neena Mahal and/or Chief Executive Ian Ross

Alternatively you can write to them both at: NHS Lanarkshire Headquarters, Fallside Road, Bothwell G71 8BB

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Public sector living through 'lost decade’ - UNISON Scotland report on austerity economics

Thu 16 October 2014

In a damning report ‘Austerity economics don’t add up’, released today, UNISON say public sector pay, conditions and morale are at a record low, calling it the public sector’s lost decade.
The report shows that:
  • Wage growth is at record low and forecast at 1.25% . Real average earnings aren’t expected to return to their 2009-10 levels until 2018-19.
  • Between 2008-2014, inflation rose by 19% and the minimum cost of living by 27-28% when wages grew by only 9%.
  • 50,000 public service jobs have been lost, the highest proportion from local government, with a further 60,000 forecast to go.
  • 100,000 more children could be pushed into poverty by 2020
Lilian Macer, UNISON Scotland convener said:

"A workforce that cares cures and educates should be celebrated as an achievement, not constantly under attack as a drain on resources.

"The cleaners, classroom assistants, chefs, nursery workers, nurses, planners, social workers, meat inspectors, care workers and the many other members we represent do vital jobs that support and protect us all.

"They are worth and deserve decent pay and conditions.

"We all deserve to live in a society that puts people first, where the economy is run for everyone, not just the well off”

Dave Watson, UNISON head of bargaining and campaigns said:

"We need to start seeing money spent on public sector workers as an investment not a cost.

"A one per cent increase in public sector pay would generate up to £820 million in increased income tax, National Insurance contributions and expenditure tax receipts, as well as reduced benefit and tax credit expenditure.

"It would also inject £460 to £880 million of extra value into the economy and create jobs."


Notes for editors

  1. UNISON is the biggest trade union in Scotland. Our members are taking part in the STUC's 'A Just Scotland March and Rally for Decent work, dignified lives' in Glasgow on Saturday 18 October.

  2. UNISON Scotland report 'Austerity economics don’t add up' can be read here:

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

UNISON Scotland suspends strike planned for 21 October after improved offer from employers

Tuesday 14 October 2014

UNISON Scotland has suspended strike action planned for 21 October and will consult its members on an improved offer put forward by the Scottish employers (CoSLA).

The new offer concentrates on three areas of our dispute: the future participation in the agreed bargaining machinery; consolidation of the living wage; and the deletion of spinal column point below the level of the living wage. 

UNISON believes these proposals represent a significant change and is consulting our members in a full consultative ballot which will open on Monday 20 October 2014 and close on Monday 3 November 2014. 

Mike Kirby UNISON Scottish secretary said:

“UNISON have made real progress on two of our demands. On low pay we have a commitment to consolidate the living wage as the new starting point for local government pay. We know this is hugely important for our lowest paid workers and will affect at least 24 of the 32 local authorities. 

" On getting the employer back round the table, COSLA have agreed to reinforce their commitment to joint negotiation and to adhere to the collective bargaining process. UNISON will use this commitment to continue to press for fair pay.

" This is real progress and shows what we can achieve when we work together. UNISON remain determined to continue the fight for fair pay.”

Notes for editors

• UNISON members voted for industrial action, up to and including strike action in the ballot which closed on 29th September. UNISON then announced a strike for 21 October 2014. 

• Fair pay. An extra £1 per hour for all workers in Local Government. UNISON members in Local Government had 1% below inflation pay rise imposed on them. Members have seen their pay eroded by 14% since 2007 

• An end to low pay. The consolidation of the Living Wage and deletion of spinal column points below the level of the Living Wage. Some council’s make up the living wage through a low pay bonus.

• To get back round the table. UNISON members have had decisions on pay imposed on them in 2013 and 2014. Employers refused to negotiate going against agreed protocols between UNISON and COSLA. Employers should get back round the table and talk about the big issues facing local government including future pay offers

• COSLA is committed to the consolidation of the living wage as the new starting point for payment of the local government workforce. We know that this is hugely important for our lowest paid workers and will affect at least 24 of the 32 local authorities

• COSLA is committed to reinforcing their commitment to joint negotiation and to adhere to the collective bargaining. We have agreed a form of words with COSLA which says ‘our principle aim is to reach mutual agreement based on our shared values on a national scheme of pay and conditions’. 

• Local government workers have seen a 14% reduction in their pay since 2007, 40,000 jobs have been lost and they are the only sector which has actually seen a cash cut to services – all in all meaning our members live with the stress which comes with having to do more work for less money. 

• UNISON is the largest trade union in Scotland and the largest in local government where it has 72,000 members.

Talks progress. 21 October strike suspended - new consultative ballot

#councilfairpay Following a meeting of UNISON’s Scottish Local Government Committee today, the committee has taken the decision to suspend strike action planned for 21 October and consult our members on new proposals put forward by the Scottish Employers (CoSLA).

The proposals concentrate on three areas of our dispute: the future participation in the agreed bargaining machinery; consolidation of the living wage; and the deletion of spinal column point below the level of the living wage.

The view of the Scottish Local Government Committee is that these proposals represent a significant change to the current award. In line with our agreed procedures UNISON is consulting members on the revised pay offer from the employers and a full consultative ballot will now take place.

The ballot will open on Monday 20 October 2014 and close on Monday 3 November 2014.

Full statement on UNISON Scotland website

Monday, 13 October 2014

Working harder but getting poorer is conclusion of new report comparing wages and prices

Mon 13 October 2014

A new report from public services union UNISON - 'The Price of Everything and the Value of Wages' - paints a stark picture of the decline and fall in living standards for workers across public services.

Years of zero or below inflation pay rises have meant that the value of wages has failed to keep pace with rising prices. 'The Cost of Everything and the Value of Wages' tracks how prices have risen faster than wages and the way that inflation as it is experienced by the poorly paid is often significantly higher than headline figures would suggest.

The report details how the cost of food, fuel, childcare and rent amongst other essentials has increased faster than wages.

Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns with UNISON Scotland said:
“It’s no coincidence that we are bringing this report out at the start of Challenge Poverty week and the day of the Poverty Alliance Conference. Wage freezes are reducing people to poverty one fifth of the children in poverty in Scotland are in households where at least one adult is working.

"It’s no use politicians in Edinburgh and London trumpeting record employment figures if those in work aren’t getting enough to live on.

"Scotland needs a pay rise that’s the message we’ll be sending out loudly all this week and most especially on Saturday’s STUC demonstration for Decent Work and Dignified Lives.”


Notes to editors:

The full UNISON Scotland report 'The Price of Everything and the Value of Wages' can be found here

STUC Demonstration 18 October For A Just Scotland: Decent Work and Dignified Lives - Saturday 18 October 2014 in Glasgow. STUC links for more information

Price of Everything and the Value of Wages

Working Harder but getting poorer is conclusion of new report comparing wages and prices.

A new report from public Services Union UNISON Scotland- The Price of Everything and the Value of Wages - paints a stark picture of the decline and fall in living standards for workers across public services.

Years of zero or below inflation pay rises have meant that the value of wages has failed to keep pace with rising prices. The Cost of Everything and the Value of Wages tracks how prices have risen faster than wages and the way that inflation as it is experienced by the poorly paid is often significantly higher than headline figures would suggest.

The report details how the cost of food, fuel, childcare and rent amongst other essentials has increased faster than wages.

Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns with UNISON Scotland said;

"It’s no coincidence that we are bringing this report out at the start of Challenge Poverty week and the day of the Poverty Alliance Conference. Wage freezes are reducing people to poverty one fifth of the children in poverty in Scotland are in households where at least one adult is working. It’s no use politicians in Edinburgh and London trumpeting record employment figures if those in work aren’t getting enough to live on. Scotland needs a pay rise that’s the message we’ll be sending out loudly all this week and most especially on Saturday’s demonstration".

Scottish council strike - Prentis calls on members to make a stand

 #councilfairpay Message from Dave Prentis, General Secretary: UNISON members in local government in Scotland have voted to take strike action due to the employers ignoring the agreed bargaining machinery, the imposition of a pay award and their failure to negotiate on UNISON’s pay claim. The first strike day will be Tuesday 21 October.

I am writing to ask you to take part in the strike and send a strong message to the employers that you will not accept the employer’s behaviour and that you want fair pay. UNISON’s aim is to get an improved offer for you.

Taking strike action might seem like a big step, especially if it is your first time. However, I would urge you to take part, alongside thousands of your fellow UNISON members. If you face hardship from taking strike action, you can seek help from UNISON.

The actions of the employers in ignoring the agreed bargaining machinery and imposing a pay award in April this year is unacceptable and threatens the future of collective bargaining in Scotland on pay. The 1% award imposed on 1 April this year does not keep pace with price increases and is in effect a pay cut. We have been forced to take action as a last resort after all attempts to negotiate have so far failed. We want to get the employers back to the negotiating table with us, but at the moment they are not prepared to do that.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Support for Bhopal - UNISON delegation marks 30th anniversary of disaster

The Chairs of UNISON Scotland’s International Committee, Sam Macartney and Health & Safety Committee, Scott Donohoe are taking part in a delegation to Bhopal, India, to mark the anniversary on 3rd December 2014 to mark the 30th anniversary of the industrial disaster that has killed 25,000, left 120,000 chronically ill and continues to maim subsequent generations. See details at

Sam said: "The UNISON delegation supports the Bhopal Medical Appeal as part of UNISON's ongoing commitment to international issues around the world.

"The Bhopal campaign continues its major support for victims workers and communities in India seeking justice from Union Carbide, now Dow chemicals , to take responsibility for its actions in causing this major disaster in 1984. UNISON fully supports the communities and workers in this endeavour.

"The UNISON delegation will seek to gain the knowledge and personal experiences from workers and communities who lived through this harrowing time and support them to gain justice and retribution. Lessons must be learned and UNISON can help to raise the profile of this campaign and help to get the message out that health and safety and workers rights cannot be denied."

How you can help

Sam and Scott are urging Scottish branches to undertake the following steps in order to help mark the anniversary, advance the campaign and keep the fight alive for decent health and safety here:

Large scale investment is needed to reverse Scotland’s housing crisis, warns UNISON

Wednesday 8 October 2014

A survey of Scotland’s housing staff has exposed the reality of frontline staff trying to cope with the huge scale of Scotland’s housing crisis.

Our report – Open the door: housing staff on the homes we have and the homes we need – looks at the real experiences of members involved in all aspects of providing housing services: housing officers, housing assistants and lettings officers.

The majority of those surveyed (68 per cent) said funding for their service had gone down, negatively impacting on the quality of service they can provide. Three quarters of respondents said changes in welfare and benefit legislation has contributed to the problem. At its bluntest, welfare changes have made life more difficult for tenants and this in turn has created problems for housing staff.

Some of the comments included:
  • “I work with homeless people. The pressure is increasing relentlessly. Demand is increasing as resources dwindle.”
  • “[Benefit changes] have impacted massively and it will only get worse. Rent arrears have risen and you cannot take what people don’t have.”
  • “Due to bedroom tax and direct payments of housing benefit to tenants we are seeing an increase in rent arrears and homeless rising due to more evictions.”
  • “How is it possible for them to provide for the future of their housing with less staff and more homelessness. It’s not possible.”
More than half of respondents (55 per cent) said they regularly work over their contracted hours while 58 per cent said staff numbers are in decline, meaning they don’t have as much time to spend with clients. Like other workers in public services, housing staff have been experiencing years of zero or minimal pay. Almost 70 per cent of workers said their standard of living had dropped in the previous three or four years, with many struggling to make ends meet.

Mark Ferguson, chair of UNISON’s Housing Issues Group, said: “This survey shows the shocking truth of Scotland’s housing crisis. It goes beyond the raw statistics and shows the reality facing frontline staff who are struggling to maintain a quality of service against a background of declining resources and increased financial pressure, while their workload increases.

“We have a crisis with the availability, the cost and the quality of our housing and we urgently need a large scale investment to reverse Scotland’s housing crisis. Any plan for social justice – and Scotland has had no shortage of talk of social justice in recent months – must have housing at its core.”


Notes to editors

1. The full UNISON Scotland survey – Open the door: housing staff on the homes we have and the homes we need – can be accessed on our website at

2. Scotland has approximately 1.46 million owner-occupied homes, 368,000 privately rented homes, 277,000 homes rented from housing associations and 318,000 homes rented from local authorities. There are currently 23,000 long-term private sector empty homes across Scotland.

The most recent Scottish Government Housing Statistics record that there are 179,954 households with outstanding applications for social housing; of these some 29,500 are households on transfer lists meaning 150,000 households are waiting to enter social housing.
3. Further information can be found in our UNISON reports: