Friday, 27 March 2009

Resource lesson needs to be learned from child protection inspections - UNISON

Date: Friday 27 March

The social work inspection system is failing to address the chronic shortage of resources in child protection services, UNISON, the union representing the vast majority of Scotland's social services staff, will tell a Child Protection Conference in Edinburgh today (27 March).

"While it is right that high standards are expected in child protection, they cannot be achieved without the tools to do the job", said John Stevenson, a member of UNISON Scotland's Social Work Issues Group who will be a panel member in one of the conference sessions.

In the wake of the 'Baby P' tragedy and inspection reports in Scotland, the Holyrood conference, The future of child protection in Scotland - the role of social services will discuss the 'systemic' changes needed throughout Scotland's children's services.

"It is right that we look at systems. It is right that we inspect and improve practice to make children safer. But it misses the point totally if we do not address the root problem of too few resources to match too many children at risk", said Mr Stevenson.

"You only have to divide the number of children assessed as being in need with the number of social workers available across Scotland to see where the problem lies. Our members want to work to high standards. They want to be accountable and most of all they want to protect children. But they tell us that too often they are being asked to do this with one hand tied behind their back".

"Inspections rightly point to practice and leadership issues but they never explicitly address resources. To ignore the fact that there are too few people to achieve the standards we all want just covers up the problem", he added.

A UNISON UK-wide survey of social work staff, published in January 2009, identified reduced resources, staff vacancies, increased caseloads, inadequate supervision, remote leadership, lack of focus on the rights of the child, agencies passing the buck to social work and excessive bureaucracy with a lack of admin support as issues making things worse than they were six years ago.


Notes for Editors:

1) the Holyrood Conference takes place in The Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh.

2) The UNISON survey is announced on , and available on


Thursday, 26 March 2009

UNISON welcomes investigation into Glasgow job evaluation

Thursday 26 Mar 2009

UNISON today welcomed the decision of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to investigate classroom assistants' pay in Glasgow.

Around two-thirds of all classroom assistants in Scotland are UNISON members and the union is pursuing several thousand equal pay claims on their behalf across the country.

UNISON has been an active supporter of the Scotland-wide investigation since 2005 and UNISON members have already submitted a wealth of information to the EHRC.

UNISON's Glasgow Branch Convenor, Mike Kirby, said "Classroom assistants are a hidden army of talented and dedicated workers whose value is often overlooked. We trust the investigation will help us to deliver the wages they deserve."

UNISON withdrew from job evaluation in Glasgow due to concerns about the quality of the process. Management wrote the role profiles and they overlooked the complex demands members face. The appeals process has left classroom assistants' concerns unresolved so the union welcomes the chance of access to an independent view.


Sunday, 22 March 2009

UNISON Scotland calls on Euro candidates to make pledge for World Water Day

Date: Friday 20 March 2009
Embargo: 00.01am Sunday 22 March 2009

Sunday 22 March is World Water Day. Across the world campaign groups will be highlighting the importance of clean water and sanitation. UNISON, Scotland’s water trade union is supporting that campaign by asking European Parliament candidates in the June election to sign up to the following pledge:

  • To recognise access to safe and clean water and sanitation services as a human right.
  • To organise the World Water Forum by the United Nations, rather than a private body like the World Water Council.
  • To promote Public-Public Partnerships rather than public-private partnerships.
  • To support the maintenance of Scottish Water as a public sector utility.

As in Scotland, 90% of the world's water utilities are publicly owned. Research undertaken by the University of Greenwich (PSIRU) and the World Development Movement has confirmed that the private sector hardly invests in water services when they take over and that most of the large multinational companies have withdrawn from this field of operation. With the financial crisis, several of these companies, including Veolia and Suez Environment, have announced that they will reduce their investment plans. Rather then investing, they are cost-cutting. It is therefore not realistic to believe that the private sector will assist in bringing in investment to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

UNISON Scotland is therefore arguing that the EU should approve and support this pledge in its preparation for the World Water Forum, and make funds available to stimulate public-public partnerships.

UNISON Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said:

“Across the world communities are rejecting the privatisation of water services. Yet in Scotland, despite the economic crisis, we still have a few supporters of market madness who champion this cause. Public water operators bring us closer to meeting the needs of billions who are without regular drinking water and sanitation services. Private companies cannot be allowed to profit from this most basic need”


Notes to editors:
UNISON Scotland has written to all the European candidates from all of Scotland's main political parties: Labour, SNP, LibDems, Conservative and Greens asking them to sign up to our four World Water Day pledges.

The PSIRU research can be found at:

Pipe Dreams - the failure of private sector investment in water services

Sewerage works - about public investment in sanitation services

UN report

UNISON Scotland/STUC report ‘It’s Scotland’s Water’'s_water.pdf

World Water Day is Sunday 22 March 2009
The European Elections will be on Thursday 4 June 2009

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Striking UNISON community service supervisors lobby Glasgow City Council

Date: Thursday 19 March 2009

UNISON’s Community Service Supervisors in Glasgow are to lobby the City Council tomorrow (Friday 20 March) to seek a resolution to their ten week long strike.

The UNISON members have been on strike since 6 January, following the refusal of Glasgow City Council to pay them the right rate for the job. The union believes that councillors have been sitting on their hands while offenders who should be doing supervised Community Services as an alternative to prison have been sitting at home.

Brian Smith, UNISON’s Glasgow City branch secretary said:

“After ten weeks of strike our members remain solid. The Council should recognise the justice of our members’ claim, and their determination to achieve a fair wage and resist pay cuts. There have been no community service squads in Glasgow this year. The people of Glasgow are entitled to ask why the Council is allowing those sentenced to community service to sit in the house. The Council must make a serious effort to address the issues at the heart of the dispute”.

The lobby will take place on Friday 20 March at 12.30pm, at Glasgow City Chambers.


Note for editors:
The 21 Community Service Supervisors in Glasgow oversee offenders working in the community. The City Council’s refusal to settle the strike has meant that this important alternative to prison in Glasgow has been suspended since the strike began on 6 January 2009.


Thanks for making CVS lobby of Parliament a success

From: Macfarlane, Simon
Sent: 19 March 2009 12:20
Subject: CVS Lobby of Scottish Parliament and presentation to Petitions Committee - 17th March 2009


Thanks to all who took part in our activities on Tuesday at the Scottish Parliament and to all who signed the petition and helped with our campaign. The day was a huge success with us getting our message over to many MSPs, we were given the longest slot in front of the Petitions Committee under the current Convenor and we attracted widespread publicity for the issues around fair funding for the voluntary sector and the attacks on our members jobs and conditions.

I attach a number of links below, a couple of which have video clips of our mock funeral, including a link to watch the whole presentation to the Committee should you so wish.

The Convenor said 10 years in to devolution "the next big project, one of them, has to be what we do about this constant anomaly of the voluntary sector". The Committee has agreed to write to a number of bodies including the Scottish Government and will decide in May how to progress it further. video clip video clip

Finally you can watch the whole presentation to the Committee via this website:

Many thanks again and I look forward to working with you to continue to take forward our campaign.



Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The Herald: Care workers stage mock funeral in protest at wage cuts

Care workers stage mock funeral in protest at wage cuts
The Herald March 18 2009

Care workers in the voluntary sector staged a protest outside the Scottish Parliament against cuts in wages yesterday.

Around 50 demonstrators staged a mock funeral for the "death of the voluntary sector", calling for equality of wages and conditions with council and health board staff.

The protesters from unions Unite and Unison paraded a coffin in a glass carriage, pulled by horses, before handing over a petition to Frank McAveety, petitions committee convener.
advertisementThe unions claim staff are receiving pay cuts as local authorities seek to drive down the cost of contracts for care services to achieve budget savings.

A union survey of staff in the voluntary, or third, sector found almost nine out of 10 said their organisation was under increased financial pressure compared to previous years, and almost three-quarters said they had suffered negative effects on wages and conditions as a result of funding cuts.

Roz Foyer, senior regional organiser with Unite said: "This is clearly unacceptable. We want the Scottish Parliament to deliver a framework for public procurement of voluntary sector services. We also need them to scrap competitive tendering.There is now a massive gulf between the voluntary sector and those delivering the same services in the public sector."

Mr McAveety said: "We will take up the issue directly with the Scottish Government and local authorities."

The group was also met by Labour leader Iain Gray, finance spokesman Andy Kerr and other Labour MSPs.

The SNP said the Scottish Government had made more money available to the voluntary sector and urged the campaigners to lobby Westminster as well.


Tuesday, 17 March 2009

BBC Scotland: 'Mock funeral' is held over cuts - 12:50pm update

Two trade unions have staged a mock funeral at the Scottish Parliament to protest against the loss of voluntary sector jobs and services.
Members of Unite and Unison gathered outside Holyrood dressed in black and accompanied by a horse-drawn hearse.
The groups will later be joined by care charities in urging MSPs on the petitions committee to intervene.

They want the Scottish Government to give support to a "fair funding agreement".

BBC Scotland News: Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Tuesday, 17 March 2009
More on BBC Scotland News website


‘Funeral’ for lost jobs and services in Scotland’s voluntary sector

Date 16 March 2009
Embargo: Not for Release before 00.01am 17 Mar 2009

Members of UNISON who work in Scotland’s voluntary sector will gather outside the Scottish Parliament at 11.00 am today (Tuesday 17th March) to mourn the loss of jobs and services, and to warn that if funding is not improved more will follow. UNISON members will be wearing mourning black and will have a horse drawn hearse and coffin to drive home the message to MSPs. This action will be held jointly with Unite the other leading union in Scotland’s voluntary sector.

UNISON’s lobby comes before a delegation comprising UNISON along with the STUC, Unite, the SCVO, and Community Care Providers Scotland, will appear before the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee in support of Petition PE1231. The 4,000 signature petition calls on the Government to ensure that frontline voluntary sector members receive the same pay and conditions as public sector workers through adequate public funding.

Simon Macfarlane, UNISON Scotland’s Regional Organiser for the Community & Voluntary Sector said: “This lobby is to highlight to politicians what is happening on the ground. Vital projects providing lifeline services are being shut and increasing numbers of jobs are being lost. We are mourning what we have already lost and say to the government now’s the time to act. We need fair funding for the voluntary sector and pay and conditions equity for our members.”

Simon Macfarlane continued: “In the current economic crisis Scotland needs a vibrant voluntary sector but that can’t be funded on the cheap. Members currently work in a climate of fear. Funding is more and more precarious and employers are cutting pay and conditions in response to this. This is not only bad news for our members but for those who the voluntary sector supports. In the care sector staff are stressed through threats to their jobs and demoralised by low pay and poor conditions while looking after some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. Our members deliver first rate services but they really feel at breaking point. Increasing responsibilities are loaded onto frontline carers with no increased resources. If things don’t change, even in this tough economic climate, dedicated staff will vote with their feet and leave.”


Note for Editors:
Petition PE1231 calls on the Parliament and Government to implement the principles of the Fair Funding Statement the petitioning bodies signed up to in November 2007. This calls for voluntary sector workers to receive the same pay and conditions as public sector workers, an improved contracting environment and for contracts to be for a minimum of five years.

For Further Information Please Contact:
Simon Macfarlane (Regional Organiser) 07703 194 132 (m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

G20 demo London Saturday 28 March

Jobs, Justice, Climate - Put People First!

UNISON is supporting the March for Jobs, Justice, Climate on Saturday 28 March in London, and is urging every member who can attend to do so.

Details of times etc:
11am Assemble Victoria Embankment London
12 noon March off to Rally at Hyde Park
2pm Carnival, speakers and entertainment at Hyde Park
4pm expected end of Rally

Check out more details on the G20 demo website:

The aim of the demonstration is to put pressure on the leaders of the G20 group of rich nations meeting in London at the beginning of April, so that in their discussion and decisions they will Put People First!

The Google map below shows the assembly point at Victoria Embankment and where the rally will take place Hyde Park.

View Larger Map


Sunday, 8 March 2009

Economic crisis is no time to cut local services

Sunday 8 March 2009

The SNP's concordat with councils has now become a straitjacket which is causing cuts in local services to those who need them most, UNISON's Scottish Secretary Matt Smith told the Labour Conference in Dundee.

The UNISON motion on local government cuts states that the financial settlement for Scotland's local councils will lead to real cuts in public services this year with even more damaging threats for next year.

Speaking in support of the motion, Matt said:
"Today in the midst of this financial crisis many are looking to local government to make a difference: to be an economic generator; to look after those who are suffering; and to be the voice of local communities. Yet at this time we find that local authorities are themselves facing crisis. At a time when its services are more than ever required, it is starved of funds and opportunities to increase its income because of the council tax freeze and cuts in business rates."

Matt said:
"Of course we welcome the SNP's abandonment of the absurd local income tax, which was never going to be local anyway. But in seeking to pave the way for that policy the Scottish Government set unwelcome and unworkable financial parameters.

"The concordat has become a straitjacket. Every day we see the pressure piling up in local government, with jobs cut, redundancies proposed, hours of work reduced and services threatened. Year on year we experience not only underfunding but backtracking on policies from classroom sizes to town centre regeneration. We experience the uncertainty it provides to those employed in the services. And we see the impact on the most vulnerable."

Matt called on the Scottish Labour Party to restate the value of local government and campaign to improve local services, to recognise and fairly reward local government workers, and to recognise that "a financial crisis is no time to reduce services to those who need them most."


Notes for editors:
UNISON Scotland's resolutions to Scottish Labour Party Conference 2009 can be found at the UNISON Scottish Labour Link pages on our website

Details of the UNISON Scotland campaign Public Works: a programme to beat the recession is also available on the UNISON Scotland website


Friday, 6 March 2009

PFI car parking contractors in line for £170,000 windfall - UNISON

Date: 6 March 2009

The parking contractors that run the car parking at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, are set to make around an extra £170,000 profit because of government actions to tackle the credit crunch, according to Scotland’s healthcare union, UNISON today.

Speaking at the Scottish Labour Party Conference in Dundee this morning, UNISON delegate, Morag Houston said:

“Our Lothian Health Branch has just found out that the private contractors who run the car parking at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary are cashing it in on the back of the government’s decision to reduce VAT by 2.5% this year. Because this has not been included in the contractual details – either with the parking sub-contractors Meteor, or with the main contractor, Consort – they are charging £70,000 to recalibrate their parking machines to take off that 2.5%, and will charge a further £70K to change them back when the VAT reverts to 17.5%! And that is after they have already made an extra £29,000 because they haven’t already changed the machines to reduce the extra 2.5%.”

UNISON, was backing a motion giving support to the private member’s bill proposed by Paul Martin MSP, which, if successful, would make charging for car parking illegal throughout Scotland’s NHS, including in PFI funded facilities.

Tam Waterson, Chair of UNISON’s Lothian Health Branch said:

“It is exactly this kind of contractual inflexibility and profiteering at the expense of our NHS, which UNISON has campaigned against from the first days of PFI. We need to get behind Paul Martin’s bill to deal with the scandal of car parking charges imposed on those who are sick, their families and friends and the staff who care for them, but more than that – we need to continue to fight to get rid of this expensive, inflexible and inefficient way of funding our vital public works – whether it is called, PFI, PPP or SFT.”

The motion was passed.


Note for editors:
You can see video footage of Paul Martin MSP launching his bill in January with the support of UNISON members at

For Further Information Please Contact:
Malcolm Burns (Information Dev Officer) 07876 566 978(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)
Morag Houston (UNISON Delegate – LP Conference)- please contact Chris Bartter
Tom Waterston (UNISON Lothian Health Branch Chair) 07753 627 575(m)


Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Councils key to solving housing crisis - UNISON

Date: 4 March 2009

UNISON – Scotland’s housing union – today urged the Scottish Government to allow councils to bid for housing grant on an equal basis with Registered Social Landlords (RSL) in order to increase the amount of affordable housing in Scotland and create a more stable housing market. The union, which has over 10,000 members in Scotland’s housing services, has released a briefing to all its branches in Scotland calling for extended protection for mortgages, a moratorium on repossessions, and to develop new types of housing associations that don’t rely on subsidies from house sales.

Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser said: “The main problem for Scotland’s housing is a lack of affordable houses for rent. We welcomed the increased funding for new housing released in 2007, but it must be realised that this only led to a start in new council housing (432 homes started in 2007).

“We need to re-balance Scotland’s housing so that there are more and better affordable options, and we don’t rely on home ownership as the only game in town. To do this we need to ensure that there is a level playing field - making funding available for council house building on the same basis as other RSL’s, so they can add to the affordable housing options available to people.”

UNISON is also concerned that the increase in repossessions and defaults on mortgages in the owned sector will need further government action. The union is looking for a short-term moratorium on repossessions like that suggested by Barak Obama, and for the government to extend the Mortgage Rescue Package.

Dave Watson said: “Our members are no different from the population as a whole. They are threatened with job losses, mortgage defaults and repossessions. If predictions are correct they could lead to one family having their home repossessed every seven minutes next year. Both the UK and Scottish Governments need to raise their game to provide further protection urgently.”


For Further Information Please Contact:
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser) 07958 122 409(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)


Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Stop privatising the Royal Mail - sign the petition

UNISON Scotland says: "Stop privatising the Royal Mail."
Click here to sign the petition

STV coverage of social worker role was excellent

Colleagues may have already seen tonights STV news where SWIG colleagues were interviewed following the Brandon Muir murder trial.

You can find the news piece here and follow other links to interviews

A further interview was done by ITN and will be broadcast on tonights 10pm news, we are advised.

The STV coverage was excellent and we are hopeful that ITN will be as balanced in terms of the role of the social worker.

Mandy McDowall
Regional Organiser, UNISON