Tuesday 23 December 2008

Glasgow Community Service Supervisors to strike from 6 January 2009

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Community Service Supervisors within Glasgow City Council’s Social Work Department are set to strike from Tuesday 6 January 2009.

UNISON members employed as Community Service Supervisors voted overwhelmingly in favour of continuous strike action following the refusal of Glasgow City Council to pay them the right rate for the job.

UNISON members have been telling the Council for some time now that their pay is incorrect. Members had been told by the Council that the new pay and grading system would resolve their issues, but it has not.

Brian Smith, UNISON Glasgow City Branch said “Members are angry that despite promises the employers continue to fail to recognise the job they do and pay them a fair rate for the job. Members don’t want to take action and cause problems but they have been left with no other option”.

Community Service Supervisors in Glasgow oversee Community Service Offenders working in the Community. This strike will mean that this alternative to Prison Service in Glasgow will stop as of 6 January 2009.

Friday 19 December 2008

UNISON member wins case against lawyer

Date: 19 December 2008

Thousands of council and NHS workers in Scotland who signed up with an English lawyer to fight their equal pay claims are in line for windfall payments after a home help took him to court and won.

The Court of Session ruled yesterday that Newcastle-based Stefan Cross’s contract with Edinburgh council worker Jacqueline Quinn is unlawful and unenforceable in Scotland, and banned him for pursuing her for his bill of £500.

But the real winners could be low-paid health and local authority workers all over Scotland who can now reclaim the 10% plus VAT that Mr Cross routinely deducted from their equal pay settlements – some of which were in excess of £10,000.

UNISON’s Scottish secretary Matt Smith said: "Having your own contract with your clients declared unlawful by the Courts must be the ultimate humiliation for a lawyer.

"The unions have always warned against the false allure of commercial solicitors who claim that they can deliver compensation more effectively or quickly than a trade union.

"We urge all our members to claim back the thousands of pounds Mr Cross has unlawfully deducted from their settlements.

"We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mrs Quinn for exposing the flaws in these contracts.”

Home help Jacqueline Quinn, from Edinburgh, said:"I thought Mr Cross would get me a quick settlement of my equal pay claim, but I didn't realise there was a horrific penalty clause in his contract.

"When I got fed up waiting for him to do something and went back to the union lawyers, he started demanding £500 and that made me really angry – especially since he had done nothing.

"I am delighted to have won my case and will be even more pleased if it means colleagues can keep all of their hard-earned equal pay settlements."

Syd Smith of Thompsons Solicitors, who fought the case on the union’s behalf, explained: "The Court of Session ruled against Mr Cross because his contract gives him a financial interest in the outcome of the case, but the Scottish Courts have held that, for the protection of clients, such contracts are unlawful and therefore unenforceable.

"Nor can solicitors in Scotland charge blanket fees regardless of the work involved as Mr Cross tried to do in Mrs Quinn's case.

"Mr Cross chose not to defend Mrs Quinn's action."

See: Home help takes equal pay lawyer to court
Also: UNISON UK News

Glasgow NHS ‘twists the knife’ over car parking charges - UNISON

Date: Friday 19 December 2008

NHS union UNISON today accused Glasgow’s health chiefs, and NHSGGC of ‘twisting the knife’ after they announced that car parking on Board NHS sites would be limited to 4 hours, with fines of up to £40 for drivers who go over the 4 hour period.

This will impact primarily on staff, who are the main group who need to park vehicles for longer periods of time.

UNISON Branch Secretary Cathy Miller said, “UNISON appreciates that we can’t go back to the free-for-all parking systems that applied historically on some sites, but this latest dictate from Dalian House shows just how out of touch with staff these people really are.”

The proposal, announced yesterday, comes into force on 1 January and is supposed to comply with previous Scottish Government decisions that car parking charges should be abolished in the NHS.

UNISON Regional Organiser Matt McLaughlin said, “Glasgow and Clyde’s track record on this issue is not very impressive. Consistently they have taken an over-aggressive approach and punished the workforce and genuine users of car parking facilities on NHS sites, because there is a limited problem on a limited number of sites.

“It’s clear that they simply do not care or comprehend that staff - many of whom are specialists - live some distance from their place of work. They need to travel to work, but will now be fined if they can’t find a designated parking space. It’s no wonder that morale across this board is at an all time low.”

Monday 15 December 2008

UNISON welcomes Committee backing for Health Board Elections

Date: 15 Dec 2008

UNISONScotland today welcomed the report of the Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport committee, which gives conditional backing to the Government Bill introducing directly elected members to Scottish Health Boards.

The union, which is the largest in the Health Service, backed a previous private members bill on the topic.

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser said: "Although the committee's support is conditional, their backing for the pilot projects proposed in the bill, is positive. Since it was created in 1948, the NHS has not been directly accountable to or engaged with the public. It has been a top-down organisation, a 'we-know-best' organisation that thinks that all the issues are far too complicated for mere mortals to understand and that democracy is therefore not appropriate. We have to change that culture, and that is why we need direct elections."

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Government should accept public view and extend FoI to private contractors - UNISON

Date: Wed 10 December 2008

UNISONScotland today, welcomed new research that shows the Scottish public backs extending Freedom of Information to cover private companies building schools and hospitals under PPP/PFI contracts, and other non-public bodies delivering public services.

Research for the Scottish Information Commissioner published today, shows 75%-79% support for making private companies subject to FOI legislation. UNISON is pleased that there is also very strong public support for including other organisations such as private prisons, housing associations and trusts providing local authority health and leisure services.

UNISON's Scottish Communications Officer, Chris Bartter said: "The public rightly thinks that all bodies delivering public services should be subject to the same accountability as the public sector.

"Such high levels of support will hopefully make the Scottish Government think again about its disappointing approach in the discussion paper, where, for example, Ministers have argued that hospital cleaning services may not be a public function!

"UNISON believes that changes to the legislation should be based on the principle that any organisation which provides a public service should be accountable to the public.

"It is unacceptable that information that is open to people where a service - such as social housing - is provided by a public authority, could be hidden from them where private or other non-public bodies deliver it.

"In the case of PPP/PFI contracts, the scandalous waste of public funds on these could have been greatly reduced if full information about the projects had been open to scrutiny, letting the public see the credit card levels of charges being run up for the next generation to pay."

Friday 5 December 2008

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland welcomes Scottish Climate Change Bill

For immediate release 05/12/08

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland – the leading coalition of environment, faith and development organisations – welcomes the Climate Change Bill introduced to the Scottish Parliament and calls on all MSPs to ensure it becomes a genuinely world leading piece of legislation.
Stop Climate Chaos includes UNISON Scotland amongst its main supporters.

Mike Robinson, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said,

‘The Scottish Government had more than 21,000 people respond to its consultation process, and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland welcomes this strong Scottish Climate Change Bill with enthusiasm. This Bill could be the most significant for a generation and is warmly welcomed by the members of more than 30 of Scotland’s most respected organisations campaigning on climate change.

‘But, as Lord Turner’s report for the UK Climate Committee showed on Monday, there is no reason to back down, and every reason to be even more ambitious in investing for a green economy.

‘We call upon MSPs from all parties to back strong measures already in the bill, and to work constructively to improve it further so it becomes genuinely world leading legislation.

‘Poor people around the world are already feeling the real impacts of climate change – changing weather patterns undermine their ways of life while increased disasters threaten their lives. Our natural environment is already showing changes and heralding the devastating problems ahead if we don't cut greenhouse gas emissions. Scotland has had huge benefit from fossil-fuel based energy; we can and should be leading efforts to shift to a more efficient and sustainable low-carbon economy.’


For more press information please contact:

Claire Aston, Christian Aid on 0131 240 1523; 07961 303481 or caston@christian-aid.org or Mandy Carter, WWF Scotland on 01350 728200; 07771 818677 or mcarter@wwfscotland.org.uk

For more information about Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, please contact:

Ruth Dawkins, SCCS on 0131 311 6512, 07790 386 329 or ruth@stopclimatechaosscotland.org

Notes to editors

1. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) is a diverse, growing coalition of organisations campaigning on climate change. The SCCS Coalition has 40 Scottish members, representing more than 1.5 million supporters, ranging from environment and development groups to faith organisations, trade unions, student societies, care providers and many more. For full details visit www.stopclimatechaosscotland.org

2. SCCS will be holding a Climate Change Rally in April 2009. All coalition members and their supporters are being encouraged to spring into action for a strong Scottish Climate Change Bill. We will be gathering to lobby MSPs outside the Scottish Parliament, from 11am – 2pm, on Wednesday 22nd April 2009. For further details of the rally contact SCCS Co-ordinator Ruth Dawkins (contact details above)

3. SCCS is calling for the Scottish Climate Change Bill to:

* Set a target to cut all greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050
* Establish statutory annual targets to reduce emissions by at least 3% year on year
* Include all emissions from international aviation and shipping in the targets.