Thursday, 2 March 2017

Early Years and Childcare

This is Pat Rowland's, UNISON Scotland, speech at Scottish Labour Party Conference on Early Education and childcare.  

"Early Education and childcare has become a political football over the years with publicly provided provision becoming a hostage to fortune at the whim of councils trying to manage SNP and Tory cuts to Local Authorities.

Early years establishments follow education standards.
The mix of private and publicly  funded childcare doesn't work.

The publicly funded provision employs highly qualified professionals in the field whereas private provision has first of all to make a profit at the expense of lower wages, qualified staff with support workers and sometimes much poorer quality.

High quality childcare is imperative to enable women to reach their potential and ensure their independence.
The challenge document speaks about affordable childcare.

Affordability to one is unaffordable to many. Affordability smells of means testing and discrimination. This must be addressed.

I visited Denmark on a research visit into childcare provision a number of years ago, where 95% of children accessed childcare of some form.

The childcare is state funded and all staff must be qualified pedagogues in the childcare field. – there is a choice of provision – nursery schools, day nurseries, family centres and child minders. There was adequate provision for out of school care as part of this.

This innovation was already being implemented in the Labour authority I work in, where I managed what was then called a family centre.

With highly qualified and caring staff. There was a nursery for under threes, early education for 3-5years, childminders attached to the centre, with children placed from the waiting list, who were given support and training, parent & toddler group,out of school care parents groups, youth club.

The provision was initially free and enabled vulnerable women, when ready, to take up employment and gain some self respect and independence.

The service was open to all parents and children regardless of back ground so there was no stigma in using the services.

Over the years these services were severely eroded creating again the inequality of lack of affordability
as the already affected low paid women couldn’t afford to work because of the high costs of private childcare.
We need to get back to addressing inequalities in our society.

We need to work towards a range of free, local authority provided and publicly funded education and childcare that is staffed by highly qualified professionals in their field who are given the remuneration and status that is their due.

This would ensure that all children are equally equipped to reach their potential.


This could be funded by a small increase in council tax and for large companies and multinationals paying the tax which is due.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Courses available in March and new Inverness courses

Please find below a list of training courses where we still have availability. If you have any activists who are interested in attending any of these courses please go to http://www.unison-scotland.org/learning/ for an application form  Please note that all of the courses are subject to numbers.

Employment Law Discrimination – 14 March – Edinburgh closing date extended to 1 March as currently an insufficient number of applicants
This course is open to experienced stewards and Branch Officers. Covers all aspects of potential discrimination as defined by Equality legislation.
• Mental Health at Work – 20-22 March – Inverness (course commences 12.30pm on the first day, finishing early afternoon of the final day)
This course will assist reps on how to deal with members in difficult situations which may involve “mental illness” – a look at what employers can do, common signs and symptoms of poor mental health in the workplace, strategies for intervention and support, causes and strategies for coping with stress. This course is only available to experienced stewards, officers and H&S Reps. (This course will also be run in Glasgow on 10 & 11 May and 4 & 5 October.)

• Developing Representation Skills – 28-29 March – Glasgow
This is an advanced course which requires delegates to have completed Organising Stewards and Further Representation Skills courses first. The course is designed to develop representation skills, structured around one extended case study and looks at three different ways in which the case could evolve. This course can be used to renew ERA accreditation.

Further information regarding these and all the year’s regional courses can be found on the course programme www.unison-scotland.org/learning/.

Can we also advertise the following course which has just been added to this year’s programme in Inverness:-

• Organising Stewards (part 1) – 3-5 April – Inverness (course commences 12.30pm on the first day, finishing mid afternoon of the final day)
• Organising Stewards (part 2) – 8-10 May – Inverness (course commences 12.30pm on the first day, finishing mid afternoon of the final day)
This first course for new stewards will develop skills, knowledge and confidence to enable them to carry out their role and it covers the role of the organising union in public services, the importance of equalities, tackling issues in the workplace, working with members, understanding procedures, handling grievances and disciplinaries and understanding the world UNISON works in, both nationally and internationally. This is an essential course for those who want to become effective as workplace representatives and is compulsory for new accreditation.