Tuesday, 11 September 2018

New Video: Stephen Smellie on #GreenUNISON Day 13 Sept

Deputy Convener, Stephen Smellie talks in this short video about the importance of #GreenUNISON Day branch action on #climatechange & green workplaces, saying that we can all pull together to help stop global warming.
Every day there's more news about the urgent need for action at all levels - local, national and international - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with this warning from the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highlighting the reality of the dangers of runaway climate change.
UNISON is working with Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and the Just Transition Partnership to lobby MSPs to strengthen the new Climate Change Bill. You can email your MSPs here or join the lobby on Wed 19 Sept by booking a place here.
Many thanks to branches who have already sent in their completed short audits and survey forms. If you've not yet, please do so and share any activities you have for Green UNISON Day on social media so others can help spread the word.

Stephen tells us in the video about his Green Workplace Pledge. Check the #GreenUNISON hashtag for examples of other pledges. You can make your own and share on Facebook and Twitter, with a selfie or a branch photo.
Green Workplace Pledge forms and other info here www.unison-scotland.org/green-unison-day-thurs-13-sept/  

Reminder: Next meeting of the Green Network, open to all members, is at 12.45pm, earlier than originally advertised, on Saturday 15 Sept in the UNISON Scotland office at 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow G2 6RX, following the International Committee meeting.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Update for Green UNISON Day 13 September

Plans are stepping up for UNISON Scotland's day of workplace action on climate change.

We've just sent branches a guide and ideas for activities to involve members and we look forward to hearing about plans as they develop.

Branches have been asked to complete an audit of their own practices on things like recycling and use of plastic and a survey on what their employers do on things like green travel to work. Also, to elect/appoint a Green Environment Rep.

Members can make Green Workplace Pledges about what they will do on Green UNISON Day on Thursday 13 September. E.g. Cycle to Work or email MSPs to improve the new Climate Bill or do plastic free Friday.

More information will be posted here and on the UNISON Scotland Green Network Facebook page soon. Watch these spaces!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Our Green UNISON Day - Thurs 13 Sept

Some 'green' dates for your diaries this autumn, from UNISON Scotland's Green Network!
We are planning for a day of green workplace action that we hope branches will take part in on Thursday 13 September.
The idea is for branches across Scotland to join in some co-ordinated action for helping cut emissions at work.

A range of possible activities includes green audits, energy efficiency work, campaigning against single use plastics and for fair trade purchases, cycle friendly employer status and more.

A short guide and some ideas for promoting Green UNISON Day on social media will be circulated to branches soon. It’s suggested that these green workplace activities could also take place throughout the week running up to the 13 September, for those branches who would like to do more.

 We hope this will appeal to lots of members. All members are welcome to join our informal Green Network mailing list and come to meetings. Check out our Facebook page for occasional updates/info.

The next Green Network meeting will be from 1.30pm-3.30pm on Saturday 15 September in the UNISON Scotland office at 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow G2 6RX, following the International Committee meeting.

 Then on Wednesday 19 September, please join the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland mass lobby at the Scottish Parliament, calling for a strong new Climate Act.

Info on the SCCS website here. Please also support the E-Action to MSPs.

If you are interested in being on the Green Network email list, please email Fiona Montgomery asking to join. f.montgomery@unison.co.uk


Tuesday, 5 June 2018

World Environment Day - Ideas for action

Today is #WorldEnvironmentDay The theme is to #BeatPlasticPollution and there are lots of ideas online about how to do that, globally and locally.

Check out the United Nations Environment Programme on today's theme - and look closer to home in Scotland through the work of some of the many members of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

UNISON is an active member of SCCS, whose AGM is in Glasgow today. We campaign with them and with the Just Transition Partnership for green workplaces, to have public services leading by example on tackling climate change and for a Just Transition to a low carbon economy.

If you're in or able to get to Aberdeen or Dundee this weekend, there are climate workshops and films organised by SCCS and Take One Action. Aberdeen info for 9 June here and info about Dundee on 10 June here. Details of both and similar events in Glasgow, Inverness and Irvine later in June are here.

Please also take a few minutes to support two important E-Actions on the disappointing new Climate Bill and urging the Scottish Government to Bring on the Food Bill.

SCCS is asking supporters to push for a strong Scottish Climate Change Act.

And the Scottish Food Coalition campaign is asking First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to bring on the consultation on the Good Food Nation Bill. We want a food system based on the principles of social and environmental justice.

Any UNISON Scotland members interested in our Green Network can check out our Facebook page and ask to join the mailing list by emailing f.montgomery@unison.co.uk


Saturday, 28 April 2018

Auschwitz study tour: day 4

Today (Saturday) the delegation visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest death camp created by the NAZI Third Reich.

It was a very emotional experience for the delegates who visited
the various blocks used for housing those held in the camp, including those used for women and children.

We also stood at the selection ramp, visited all 4 crematoria, soviet prisoners graves and other open graves, the Canada area (where the belongings of those arriving were sorted) and the Sauna Building (used for shaving the heads of those arriving, tattooing and disinfecting).

We held a memorial to Jane Haining, the only Scottish woman known to have been killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Jane's niece Deirdre led the family tribute outside Block 9 where Jane was held before her death. Jane wrote a letter two days prior to her death to a friend which read: "Even here on the way to heaven are mountains" referring to her beloved (Dunscore & Budapest).

We also marked International Workers Memorial Day with a candle-lit ceremony at Crematoria 4 led by branch health and safety officer Lorna Glover. Crematoria 4 was blown up by the Sonderkemando with gun powder smuggled in by four women who were subsequently caught and hanged in front of the camp later.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Auschwitz study tour: day 3

The delegation visited Auschwitz 1 (death camp) today (Friday) where we witnessed the recorded atrocities committed by the Nazi Third Reich. It was an emotional experience for those attending. We visited various blocks representing the various nations and categories of people selected for extermination. The group also visited crematoria one and the gas chamber before laying a wreath and individual flowers at the death wall commemorating those exterminated there for resistance, helping prisoners and other selfless acts.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we will mark international workers memorial day and commemorate Jane Haining with her niece Deirdre McDowell.

Auschwitz study tour: day 2

UNISON delegation are taking part in an Auschwitz study tour to raise awareness of the atrocities of the Holocaust and also to honour Jane Haining – the only Scottish woman known to have died in the concentration camp.

The tour – which will be undertaken by UNISON representatives from across Scotland – is part of the union’s ongoing work to educate members, and the wider community to ensure these events are never forgotten.

The delegation had a full day visiting important areas of significance in Krakow.

They started with a visit to one of the synagogues/Jewish cemeteries destroyed by Nazis and restored.

Then onto the ghetto square where the first deportations took place lasting two years followed by the pharmacy.

After visiting Schindlers Factory they walked through the remains of Plaszow Concentration Camp before a candle lit vigil the the monument for all people affected at the hands of fascism.

Today we leave you with some photographs which need no further explanation:

Thursday, 26 April 2018

UNISON Auschwitz study tour

UNISON activists are embarking on a study tour to Auschwitz to raise awareness of the atrocities of the Holocaust and also to honour Jane Haining – the only Scottish woman known to have died in the concentration camp.

The tour – which will be undertaken by UNISON representatives from across Scotland – is part of the union’s ongoing work to educate members, and the wider community to ensure these events are never forgotten.

Mark Ferguson, branch secretary of UNISON Renfrewshire and a member of UNISON’s international committee, said:  "Today we begin learning about the atrocities of the holocaust visiting Schindlers Factory, Ghetto, Synagogue, Pharmacy, the square where many were gathered prior to being taken to the death camps and a candle vigil at Plaizstow Camp Memorial.

"Our guide Magda explained the very varied complicated political situation and governance of both Poland and Krakow. Krakow's architecture and arts were largely unaffected during the Nazis 3rd Reich occupation as the mainly gothic style of the city was admired by them. Other cities like Warsaw were completed destroyed."

The delegation visited market square, St Mary's Basilica, University and Wawel Castle (The Castle on the Hill).

The study group includes Jane Haining’s niece, Dierdre McDowall. During the study tour, a memorial service will be held in Birkenau, where Dierdre and her husband will take part in a wreath laying ceremony. The study tour also includes Lorraine Cameron, Renfrewshire Provost.

Those on the tour recently visited the community of Dunscore (near Dumfries, Scotland) and the newly opened heritage centre which commemorates Jane Haining and the community of Dunscore.

Mark Ferguson, branch secretary of UNISON Renfrewshire and a member of UNISON’s international committee, said: “Observing first-hand the atrocities that took place instils a responsibility on us all to ensure future generations do not repeat these murderous acts.

“We’re honoured to have representatives of Jane Haining’s family joining us and helping us to commemorate her selfless bravery. We must never forget that the Holocaust was a state programme designed to destroy particular groups and we must remember all those affected.

“This educational tour is part of UNISON’s ongoing work to educate activists and the wider community and to raise awareness of the disastrous consequences that can result from dehumanising a particular group and infringing their rights.”

Dierdre McDowell said: “I am full of awe at the prospect of visiting Auschwitz and seeing Block 9 where Jane Haining was held before her death.

“To be able to visit with a group who have connections with her work at Coats of Paisley and, who are helping keep her memory alive is amazing for us, her family.”

Renfrewshire Provost Lorraine Cameron – who is also going on the tour said: “Jane Haining worked in Paisley for over 10 years prior to her humanitarian work in Budapest. We know she was a valued employee and a valued member of the Paisley community, and it’s great to see her being remembered and celebrated.

“I am looking forward to meeting Jane’s niece, and hearing more about her and her work in the mission. It is very important that we remember, and talk about, the atrocities that took place during the Holocaust – and other world conflicts – so we can continue to engage and educate our young people and avoid horrors like this in the future.”

Jane Haining was born in Dunscore in 1897 and, after leaving Dumfries Academy, she worked for ten years at the JP Coats thread factory in Paisley. She went on to become a Church of Scotland missionary at the Scottish Mission School in Budapest during the 1930s and 1940s. When war broke out, despite advice from church officials, she repeatedly refused to return home saying the children needed her in the “days of darkness”. She was arrested by two Gestapo officers in 1944 and later died at the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Local Government Pay – All you need to know.

UNISON (and other unions) submitted our pay claim in January for 2018-19.


The claim was for a flat rate increase of £1500 or 6.5% - whichever was the greater ( based on a 37 hr week and applied after the Scottish Local Government t Living Wage rate has been updated), with a similar percentage increase in allowances.
We are also looking for a commitment to make up for the loss of earnings after years of below inflation rises over the next five years.
(The full details of the claim are here)

It took COSLA over two months to respond.


COSLA responded to the offer on 26th March proposing;
3% for everyone earning up to £36 500
(They propose raising Scottish Government Living Wage from £8.51per hour - £8.77 per hour. That will provide 3% for those getting that rate.)
2% for everyone earning £36 501- 80, 000
£1600 for those on £80k+
They propose increasing allowances by 3% (except First Aid which will be dealt with separately)


We 'noted' this offer. We also noted that while COSLA said this was a final offer they were writing to the Scottish government saying that if the government want to provide one lot of workers (there are four bargaining groups, ourselves, craft workers, teachers and Chief Officers) with a better settlement than anyone else. Then the government better come up with the cash to pay for it, COSLA for their part want to give everyone the same increase. (Something we’ve argued for years.)

So we decided we would write to the Scottish government too... asking them to give COSLA enough cash to give everyone a decent raise at the same rate. (The letter is here)...


The joint unions have another meeting with COSLA on the 4th May. We’ll find out then if the Scottish Government are going to front up any more money to councils – but we’ll keep arguing for our claim.
Stay tuned.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Should having Liberal Democrats running the council mean workers suffer?

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have always been strong supporters of local government. That's why it is very disappointing that they have teamed up with the Tories in East Dunbartonshire to attack the wages, terms and conditions, and work life balance of council staff.

Doubly disappointing when they refused to even discuss the issues until threatened with a legal challenge. The Scottish Liberal Democrats can do much better than this.

Our leaflet and web site explains why this is bad for council staff and the services they deliver.