Friday 26 June 2009

Who cares for the carers?

UNISON Scotland's Simon Macfarlane, Robert Rae and Janet Stewart at Glasgow City Chambers on Wednesday 24 June 2009, handing in the care workers' petition calling for Minimum Wage to be paid for "sleepovers".

See press release from Wed 24 June


UNISON welcomes government acceptance of union concerns on community nursing

UNISON, the union for nursing staff in the community, today welcomed the government’s decision not to proceed with the project started in 2006 to develop a new post of ‘Community Health Nurse’ which would absorb the jobs of District Nurse, Health Visitor, Public Health Nurse, Family Health Nurse and School Nurse

After prolonged and sustained opposition by UNISON to the threatened generic community nurse over the last three years, Cabinet Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon MSP has now agreed that it is not the way forward.

In a letter to the unions today, Ms Sturgeon confirmed, that she wishes to retain and reinforce the contribution made by existing community-based nurses in the future.

The changes to the community based roles were heralded in the Review of Nursing in the Community at the end of 2006 by the then Chief Nurse for Scotland and have been being trialled in development projects in NHS Borders, Tayside, Lothian and Highland health Board Areas until 2008. From April 2008 the changes began to be implemented, but were then reduced back to pilot projects in the original four areas.

UNISON members and members of other unions were consistently concerned that the dilution of specific skills into a generic ‘Community Health Nurse’ endangered the quality of care given to Scottish people in their own homes and jeopardised the high standard of care offered by health visitors and school nurses in health promotion and child protection.

Bridget Hunter, UNISONScotland’s Lead Officer for Nursing, said:

‘This is a major triumph for our members in community nursing. After almost three years of resistance our concerns have been eventually accepted as valid. Generic community nursing was from day one, deeply unpopular with staff who genuinely believed that it diluted specialist jobs and reduced the service the community was likely to receive. It was seen as aiming low to avoid disappointment, rather than aiming high in our endeavour to achieve excellence, and enhance skills.’

UNISON will now continue discussions with the government and the NHS to modernise community nursing services within a team setting.


Note for Editors:
A briefing from UNISON on the detailed concerns of nursing staffs on the ‘Community Health Nurse’ proposals can be found on the UNISONScotland website at


Thursday 25 June 2009

Scottish social care workers come together to issue ten-point plan to rescue social work

Pic: Hilton Dawson (Chief Executive, BASW); Ruth Stark (Scottish Professional Officer, BASW); Stephen Smellie (UNISON Scotland. Pic by Alan WylieThu 25 June 2009

The two organisations representing social care staff in Scotland today published a joint manifesto in Glasgow containing ten demands that need to be addressed to resolve key problems affecting social work in Scotland.

Social care staff trade union, UNISON and social work professional body - the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) have issued the manifesto - entitled Helping People Change their Lives - after a series of surveys indicating that severe staffing shortages continue in the sector.

At the launch in Glasgow, Stephen Smellie, chair of UNISONScotland’s Social Work Issues Group (SWIG), said:

"As UNISON’s survey of staffing revealed last week, the problems of social work stem from an increase in demand across the whole range of services; and increase that is not matched by any corresponding increase in resources.

"This is leading to increasing stress and burnout in dedicated and enthusiastic staff. If this is not addressed we could be seeing more tragic stories like Brandon Muir and Baby P."

The union survey was yesterday backed up by official government staffing statistics, which also revealed overall vacancy levels running at around 7% in Scotland. This is similar to UNISON’s findings, but the union also points to councils that have much higher numbers of vacancies. In Scottish Borders, almost a quarter (24.06%) of social work posts are vacant. This is followed by Inverclyde (20.8%), West Dunbartonshire (19.6%), Falkirk (15%), Highland (13.1%) and West Lothian (12%).

Hilton Dawson, Chief Executive of BASW, also backed the demands in the manifesto:

"No government or local authority which seriously purports to serve people well can do so without the aid of well qualified, skilled and experienced social workers." He said, "It is now time that politicians of all parties and policy makers across all agencies recognise the value of our work.

"It is now time for Social Workers to stand up for Social Work and campaign for nothing less than the fundamental transformation of the standing and status of our profession."

Both organisations will now be raising the ten points with employers and politicians, demanding that they each be addressed so that staff can maintain and surpass the high standards they set themselves.

(Pic: Hilton Dawson (Chief Executive, BASW); Ruth Stark (Scottish Professional Officer, BASW); Stephen Smellie (UNISON Scotland. Photo by Alan Wylie)


Notes for editors:
1) the manifesto is available from the UNISONScotland website

2) The ten points it wants addressed are:
- Introduction of effective workload management
- Reduction in meaningless bureaucracy
- Guideline for appropriate staffing levels
- Access to good quality support and supervision
- Ensuring employers are accountable to staff and service users
- Providing an effective reporting mechanism for problems
- A clear career path allowing experienced practitioners to remain in practice
- A universal service as ‘accessible as the NHS’ with welcoming buildings
- Social work professionals being able to practice their skills in the community
- An end to cuts and threats to budgets.


The Herald: MPs back target to reduce emissions by 42%

Robbie Dinwoodie, Chief Scottish Political Correspondent
Date: 25 June 2009

Scotland yesterday made itself a world leader in the battle against global warming, as MSPs gave unanimous backing to a bill enshrining a 42% cut in carbon emissions by the year 2020.

It means that abroadScotland will be lauded as the most forward-looking nation in the world in the run-up to the Copenhagen environmental summit later this year. But behind the rhetoric at Holyrood it was accepted that there were many caveats to the commitment.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said the climate change legislation was a good thing, and a victory for campaign groups. "Without this overwhelming pressure from outside parliament, we would not have made the progress that we've made, as we've seen this bill develop in the last few months," he said.

But He conceded that a degree of "posturing" had taken place across political parties and added: He added: "My message on where we go from here is primarily to the campaigners, to the activists, because its their work that will continue to be vital if we're going to make the commitments we've made a reality."...

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Scotland leads the world in fight against climate change, says SCCS


Wednesday 24th June 2009


Scotland today laid down a challenge to the rest of the world, including the UK Government, by passing the most ambitious climate change targets in the industrialised world.

The Scottish Parliament unanimously agreed to cut the country’s emissions by 42% by 2020, and at least 80% by 2050, setting the benchmark for the rest of the world at this year’s UN Climate Change summit at Copenhagen.

The outcome represents a huge victory for the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition, a diverse coalition of 70 organisations campaigning on climate change and representing around 40% of Scotland’s population.

Mike Robinson, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said:

“This is a truly momentous day. The Scottish Parliament has voted for legislation that will be held up as an example to the world ahead of climate talks in Copenhagen in December.

“At a vital time ahead of the UN’s talks to put in place an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol in Copenhagen, world governments have been set an example by Scotland which we would urge them to follow if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.”

“In particular, this presents a challenge to the UK Government. By supporting this bill, Labour MSPs at Holyrood have been much more ambitious than their government colleagues at Westminster. If the Labour Party believe it is the right thing for Scotland, it must surely be the right thing for the UK as a whole.

“Uniquely, Scotland’s targets are guided by science as opposed to political expediency. They are based on what we have to do, rather than what we feel we can do. This is a positive and rational response to a global challenge, and we are calling on governments across the world to follow suit.”

Leading elements of the bill include:

At least a 42% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (based on 1990 levels)

At least an 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (based on 1990 levels)

Emissions from international aviation & shipping to be included from the start

Strong duty across the public sector to play a full part in tackling Scotland’s greenhouse gas emission.

Commitment to report annually on consumption-based emissions – note 1


1 – Consumption-based emissions are those that arise from a country’s consumption patterns, as opposed to the actual amount of greenhouse gas arising in the particular country. This means reporting will therefore include emissions relating to imported goods & services.

Notes to editors:

- Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) is a diverse, growing coalition of organisations campaigning on climate change. The SCCS Coalition has 60 Scottish members, representing more than 2 million supporters (40% of the Scottish population), ranging from environment and development groups to faith organisations, trade unions, student societies, care providers and many more. For full details visit

- In December world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to agree a new UN international climate deal that will come into force when the first phase of the Kyoto treaty expires in 2012

No bed of roses: UNISON care workers demand minimum wage for sleepovers

Wed 24 June 2009

Voluntary sector care workers in Glasgow will demand an end to illegal poverty pay for sleepovers in a petition to be handed to the City Council tomorrow (Thursday 25 June).

UNISON Scotland, the union which represents the care workers, accuses voluntary sector employers of breaking the spirit of minimum wage legislation by using an averaging approach to undercut workers' pay. UNISON wants Glasgow City Council, which contracts the care services, to hold employers to their requirement in law to pay the National Minimum Wage for every hour worked on a sleepover.

Simon Macfarlane, UNISON Scotland Regional Organiser for the voluntary sector, said:
"Sleepovers are no bed of roses. When staff are required to sleep over to care for clients, they are working. They can't leave the premises; they are on instant call, and they are often disturbed many times during the night to support vulnerable clients. They often have to deal with volatile situations. Yet employers continue to pay less than the minimum wage."

The petition of over 400 signatures has been gathered mainly from UNISON care workers in the city's voluntary sector. It will be handed to Glasgow City Council tomorrow (Thursday 25 June).

The petition calls directly on voluntary sector employers to pay the National Minimum Wage rate for sleepovers. It also calls on Glasgow City Council to insist, as part of its anti-poverty strategy, that all organisations it contracts with to provide care services should pay the legal rate for sleepovers, and fund this accordingly.

Simon Macfarlane added:
"Our members provide care and support with commitment, professionalism and dedication to some of the most vulnerable in the city, yet they are rewarded with poverty pay. It's time for the employers and the City Council to care for the carers."



Tuesday 23 June 2009

Scots climate bill on verge of leading the world, says SCCS



For immediate use: Tuesday 23 June 2009

SCOTLAND'S CLIMATE BILL ON THE VERGE OF LEADING THE WORLD - SAY CAMPAIGNERS Coalition group hails Government amendment and urges MSPs to fix remaining loopholes.

Scotland's climate change legislation is once again on the verge of being 'world leading' said campaigners today (Tuesday 23 June). The Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) coalition made the call in response to a Scottish Government amendment tabled last night, after the main deadline, which calls for a reduction of 42% in Scotland's climate emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels. [1] Until last night the Government was only supporting a 34% reduction from the start.

The Government amendment is to amend a Labour one, which proposed a 40% reduction target. Both the Liberal Democrats and Greens had tabled amendments which called for even more.

The campaigners urged politicians from all parties to support the Government amendment, due to be voted on by MSPs for the final time tomorrow (24 June), and fix some last remaining elements of the bill, including ensuring the vast majority of pollution cuts take place here in Scotland and rejecting amendments that would dramatically weaken the climate change duty on public bodies already agreed.

During tomorrow, over 100 campaigners from across Scotland will directly lobby their MSP calling for the strongest possible Scottish Climate Change Bill. [2]

Mike Robinson, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said:

"We warmly welcome this late amendment from the Government and we offer it our unequivocal support. With this decision our politicians can begin to restore the public's faith in democracy - exactly what is needed if the world is to overcome climate change. By amending the target this bill finally begins to addresses the urgency with which we need to deal with this issue, listens to what the science is telling us, and takes account of the growing public consensus that a target of 42% is required."

"Almost all the parties have rallied round the need for a higher interim target. We urge politicians of all parties to support this amendment tomorrow and other amendments to fix some last remaining elements of the bill, including ensuring the vast majority of pollution cuts take place here in Scotland and rejecting plans that would dramatically weaken the climate change duty on public bodies already agreed."



[1] New amendments to Bills lodged on 22 June 2009 Climate Change (Scotland) Bill - Stage 3

Stewart Stevenson

94A As an amendment to amendment 94, line 4, leave out <40%> and insert <42%>

See full amendment:


What: Scotland's first CLIMATE MASS LOBBY
Where: Scottish Parliament
When: Wednesday June 24. Meet 12 noon at SCCS registration tent on the grass outside the Scottish Parliament; mass lobby 1230-2.30pm in Committee Room 1
Why: For a world-leading climate law

On Wednesday, MSPs have the chance to make history by voting for a stronger Climate Change Bill. During the day of the vote, over 100 campaigners from across Scotland will directly lobby their MSPs.

[3] Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) is a diverse, growing coalition of organisations campaigning on climate change. The SCCS Coalition has 60 Scottish members, representing more than 2 million supporters, ranging from environment and development groups to faith organisations, trade unions, student societies, care providers and many more. For full details visit

[4] In December world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to agree a new international climate deal that will come into force when the first phase of the Kyoto treaty expires in 2012.

[5] SCCS will be helping organise a Climate Change march in Glasgow on 5th December.

The Herald: SNP bows to green lobby and amends carbon emissions cut

SNP bows to green lobby and amends carbon emissions cut
Robbie Dinwoodie, Chief Scottish Political Correspondent
Date: 23 June 2009

The Scottish Government last night bowed to pressure from political opponents and the Green lobby and increased their target to cut carbon emissions by 42% by 2020.
But ministers made clear that the new target, which will be enshrined in tomorrow's Climate Change Bill, will have conditions set on it regarding EU and UK measures which could impinge on Scotland's ability to lead the way in terms of climate change.
Ministers last night introduced a manuscript amendment, to raise the ante on a Labour amendment specifying 40% as a target.
The effect will be that a 34% cut with the option to boost that to 42% under certain conditions will be reversed - to a 42% target on the face of the bill subject to expert advice that external factors make that possible.
Labour had backed the 34% target in committee but then in recent days had switched to calling for a 40% figure, with the backing of the Greens, LibDems and climate change campaigners.
This made a defeat for the government a real prospect…

BBC: Climate change targets 'tougher'

Climate change targets 'tougher'
Page last updated at 07:50 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 08:50 UK

Stronger targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions have been included in legislation to be debated by MSPs on Wednesday.
The climate change bill had committed to a 34% emissions cut but ministers said a new target of 42% would be set.
But it will only be set at 42% if European governments agree to reduce emissions by 30% at climate talks in Copenhagen in December.
Labour said it welcomed what it called "an astonishing u-turn" by the SNP...

Monday 22 June 2009

UNISON calls for action following public sector agency pay report

Date: Mon 22 June 2009

UNISON Scotland has strongly welcomed proposals by the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee to tackle unfairness, delay and low pay in the wage bargaining system for public sector agency staff.

UNISON - the largest public sector union - is calling on Cabinet Secretary John Swinney to engage directly with unions and employers to implement the recommendations of the Finance Committee's Report on Public Sector Pay.

Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser for UNISON, said:
"We welcome the recommendations from this report, and strongly urge the Scottish Government to act on them as soon as possible. The committee has clearly listened to the evidence led by UNISON and others about the delays, bureaucracy and complexities that bedevil the current system for paying public sector agency staff."

The Report on Public Sector Pay by the Scottish Parliament's Finance Committee published today includes recommmendations to: ensure that low pay is addressed properly; review pay systems and the costs of addressing discrimination; and review controversial senior staff bonuses.

The Finance Committee states that the process used to determine pay for workers in public sector agencies has "further room for improvement". The report is critical of delays in wage awards, and stresses the need for formal bargaining machinery, relevant benchmarks, and local flexibility.

Dave Watson said:
"It is clearly also unfair that the senior agency staff - like those running the Government's new Scottish Futures Trust - can attract huge salaries and substantial bonuses, even topping the chief executives of our largest councils, while lower-paid staff experience substantial delays to get less than the rate of inflation, with little or no opportunity for negotiation or flexibility."


Notes for Editors:

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest public sector trade union representing 165,000 members across public services. UNISON members work to deliver vital services not just in Scotland’s NHS and local government, but in a significant number of Non Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) such as Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA); Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA); Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care (SCRC); Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (LLTNPA); and Careers Scotland/Skills Development Scotland.

2. The UNISON Scotland submission on Public Sector Pay to the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee in December 2008 can be found on our website

3. The Report on Public Sector Pay by the Scottish Parliament's Finance Committee can be found at


Wednesday 17 June 2009

Schools PPP will cost taxpayers dear, UNISON warns

Date: Wed 17 June 2009

UNISON Scotland today rejected Scottish Government claims that its schools building announcement represents better value for money than previous PFI/PPP projects.

Instead, the union warned that taxpayers will once again be charged massively over the odds for the Scottish Futures Trust continuing with PPP through the so-called Non Profit Distributing (NPD) model.

Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser, said:
“The initial plan for the Scottish Futures Trust was to replace PFI/PPP. Early proposals proved to be merely window-dressing changes, or PFI-lite. Now we are told that the NPD model is to be used for schools building and the SFT chairman Sir Angus Grossart has not ruled out full-blown PFI/PPP.

“Yet research by Edinburgh University this week confirmed UNISON’s argument that NPD maintains most of the flaws of PFI/PPP, and it highlighted rates of return to investors similar to PFI schemes. The Scottish Government is continuing with a policy the SNP criticised for mortgaging future generations to the hilt.”

In today’s Herald newspaper* Mark Hellowell, of Edinburgh University’s Centre for International Public Health Policy, said that NPD was “a relatively minor variation... despite political rhetoric which suggests there has been more substantive change.”

Dave Watson added:
“It is clear to the general public that PFI/PPP has been an immensely costly way to build new schools and hospitals. Supporters have said people understand that if they include replacement carpets every five years and other maintenance costs in their mortgage, then it would cost more.

“But even the most financially illiterate home-buyer recognises that they will be ripped off if they charge those costs to their mortgage. PFI costs are high because it costs more to borrow privately than conventional borrowing.

“At a time of financial crisis, when the UK Government has been forced into bailing out PFI/PPP schemes, the Scottish Government should be using far less costly conventional funding for schools, as it is doing with the new South Glasgow hospitals complex.”



Note for editors:

1. UNISON opposes PFI/PPP for reasons including service quality, costs, accountability and inflexibility.

The union has argued to the Scottish Government and to the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee's inquiry into the funding of capital investment projects that five simple steps would provide an immediate alternative to PPP/PFI.

They include: a review of existing contracts, with 'buyouts' where that benefits the taxpayer; Scottish government grants for new capital projects, irrespective of the method of procurement; health boards should be given Prudential Borrowing powers; staff should be excluded from transfer and the PPP staffing protocol should be strengthened.

The Calman Commission’s recommendation that the Scottish Government should have borrowing powers for capital investment would also allow the SNP’s original plan for the SFT to proceed, without using PFI/PPP.

2. Further UNISON Scotland PFI information is at

3. UNISON’s report ‘Putting the Public Back into PFI’ was published on 15 June.


Social Work vacancies hit danger point, warns UNISON

Date: Wed 17 June 2009

UNISON, the UK's largest public sector union, today accused council bosses of "covering up" the true extent of social work vacancies across the country and the risk that poses.

A Freedom of Information request to all local authorities in the UK has shown vacancy rates topping danger levels of 39% with a UK average of 12%. Councils have consistently claimed that social work vacancies are falling, but the statistics show that the true picture is much bleaker.

In Scotland, six councils exceed the UK average. In Scottish Borders, almost a quarter (24.06%) of social work posts are vacant. This is followed by Inverclyde (20.8%), West Dunbartonshire (19.6%), Falkirk (15%), Highland (13.1%) and West Lothian (12%).

Speaking at the union's National Delegate Conference in Brighton, where the survey findings were announced, Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said:
"Social workers are battling against the odds to protect our young children and vulnerable adults. How can they deliver a safe and effective service when vacancy rates are hitting in excess of 20% in so many parts of the country? Councils should not bury their heads in the sand and try and cover up the problem. This situation is no good for social workers and it’s no good for their clients who desperately need help."

UNISON is demanding urgent action to attract new staff into social work and to stem the stream of workers leaving the profession by making working conditions more bearable. This means that councils must ensure that they not only fill vacancies but reassess the number of staff needed to cover the high volume of work. Without such measures the union is warning that there is a very real possibility of another tragedy like baby P.

Most councils turn to agency staff in an effort to plug the gap but this just brings with it other problems. One of the prime reasons people choose agency working is for the flexibility it affords. That same flexibility can be a real headache for managers who need to be able to plan and allocate case work, ensure continuity for clients and build trust in the relationship

It takes time for new agency workers to pick up complex work and when they leave even more time is needed to pass that work on to their colleagues. In addition social work teams complain that money is tight which leads to agency workers being forced to leave at short notice.

Dave Prentis added:
"We are in the middle of a serious recruitment and retention crisis. Social workers are under pressure from all sides. We need action now to attract more people into the job and stem the flow of workers leaving. Councils need urgent action plans and to work with central government and unions to plug the gaps, before we have another tragedy like baby P."


Notes for Editors:

1. UNISON Scotland and the British Association of Social Workers will be launching a Social Work Manifesto for members in Scotland next week.

2. UNISON’s UK action plan includes:

* A planned programme of investment so that more social workers can be employed, with better pay and working conditions, better support systems and the right tools for the job.

* A Revival of Qualify-on-the- Job Schemes which fund social work assistants, care managers and other workers to gain their social work qualification while in the council’s employment

* National Standards on Acceptable Caseloads enforced through the inspection process and regularly audited by the council or Trust leadership, with sanctions against employers who breach the Code of Practice for Social Care Employers.

* A Cull of Red Tape: a root and branch zero-based review of all bureaucracy and consideration of measures used to cut red tape in schools. Overhaul of performance indicators which skew priorities.

* Better Support and More Reflective Practice: consistent, high quality supervision that is both supportive and challenging, focuses on the needs of the worker, not the organisation’s performance indicators and builds in time for reflection and mentoring.

* Measures to Rebuild Morale, Confidence and Status of Social Workers: redress the devastating drop in morale through a sustained campaign to promote positive public awareness about what social work achieves.


Wednesday 10 June 2009

UNISON demands Scottish Government action for pay equality in councils

10 June 2009

UNISON, Scotland's largest local government union, has called on SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney to face up to the challenge of pay discrimination. The union’s move follows the publication of the latest Scottish Parliament investigation into equal pay, in which MSPs on the Parliament's Local Government Committee expressed dismay at the slow and costly progress towards pay equality and made a clear call for action by the Scottish Government.

Peter Hunter, UNISON Scotland Regional Organiser, said:
"The Scottish Government has sat on the sidelines throughout this process but the time has come for them to step up to the plate. This is the third parliamentary report calling for Government action on equal pay and the challenge can no longer be ignored."

Equal pay is widely recognised as the greatest destabilising force to hit local government finance in recent years. Despite compensation payments running to several hundred million pounds, low paid public service workers are still pursuing tens of thousands of equality claims.

Peter Hunter said:
"There was no financial provision for equal pay in the last SNP budget but the evidence of the last ten years shows that delay and denial only escalate equal pay costs. In England councils have access to special Treasury rules on capital expenditure to ease the equal pay burden. In Scotland we have had no meaningful government help – in fact employers are hounded for cuts and efficiencies at a time when record levels of compensation are being paid to workers."

UNISON Scotland welcomed the Committee’s recognition that single status is still work in progress in every local authority.

"Anyone who says otherwise is out of touch and misleading the public," said Peter Hunter. "UNISON rejected over 80% of the new pay systems on equality grounds and we will continue to litigate until we get genuine pay equality for our members."

Peter Hunter added:
"What people need to remember is that every million pounds of equal pay expenditure is a million pounds of hardship and suffering endured by low paid women who deliver vital public services. We have classroom assistants who teach disabled children 30 hours per week with no supervising teacher for £10,000 per annum. And that’s before tax and national insurance. Voters expect the Scottish Parliament to protect them from such rank injustice. It seems the Local Government Committee agrees. It’s time for the Scottish Government to take action now."



Local Government Committee report on Equal pay

The Local Government & Communities committee of the Scottish Parliament made the following recommendations:
• The Scottish Government should facilitate urgent talks
• Employers should pay-up where workers have a strong equal pay claim
• Independent pay audits should be conducted annually to drive discrimination out of the system
• Councils need more money and the Government need to come up with a package including capitalisation
Press Release:
Committee Report

UNISON's submission to Local Government Committee

In submissions to the Committee UNISON Scotland called on MSPs to:

• Press the Finance Secretary to reconsider the funding required to close the pay gap. The Committee has called on the Government to clarify their position.

• Press the Finance Secretary to establish capitalisation as a finance option and set out criteria against which applications can be made. The Committee has echoed that call.

• Press the Chancellor and the Finance Secretary to permit local authorities to offset equal pay costs, in whole or in part, against their share of any efficiency target. We are extremely disappointed that councils appear to be expected to increase seconding on equal pay while slashing services at the same time.

• Set a timetable for local government to implement single status in a way that eliminates discrimination and brings the repeated rounds of equal pay compensation to an end. The committee has called on the Government to facilitate talks designed to deliver pay equality.

• Invite Audit Scotland to review its Audit Methodology in a way that gives equality auditing the weight that is required by the Best Value regime. UNISON are delighted that the Committee has called for a new equality audit system to embedded into Audit Scotland’s revised Best Value scheme.

You can find the full UNISON Scotland Submission to the Scottish Parliament Local Government and Communities Committee in March 2009 at

UNISON Scotland news releases:
Stay in touch with UNISON Scotland's latest news releases on our website
and frequent updates on our blog


Tuesday 9 June 2009

SCCS welcomes energy efficiency measures in Climate Change Bill


For immediate release: Tuesday 9 June 2009


Scottish campaigners representing over 1.5 million people across Scotland have welcomed amendments to deliver greater energy efficiency which have been approved by the Scottish Parliament committee scrutinising the Climate Change Bill today [1].

Amongst the amendments approved, were several put forward by Sarah Boyack MSP which will allow householders to receive discounts of up to £250 on their Council Tax bill if they install insulation or small-scale renewables. This measure was approved by MSPs on the committee by five votes in favour to three against. [2]

Speaking after the vote, Mike Robinson, chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said:

“Achieving greater energy efficiency in Scotland is the first step on the road to a safe climate future. If we are to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland by 80% by 2050 greater energy efficiency is a vital part of achieving this.

“Whilst we welcome these and other measures included in the Bill, the low target of cutting greenhouse gases by only 34% by 2020 – only 2% higher than current trends - is still a real concern. The scientific community is telling us that cuts of at least 42% are needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. With the potential for further amendments to be made to strengthen the Bill it is not too late for our MSPs to take the action that is needed.”

Chas Booth from the Association for the Conservation of Energy, a member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, added,

“Energy efficiency is the cheapest, quickest and easiest way to cut carbon emissions, and also has the benefit of cutting people’s fuel bills too. Sarah Boyack’s amendment is an excellent example of using incentives to encourage energy saving behaviour, and we’re delighted the committee has backed her proposals today.”

Other energy efficiency amendments approved by MSPs today include a requirement for the Scottish Government to set tough energy efficiency standards for its own offices; a requirement to remove planning red tape from small-scale renewable installations and powers to local authorities to tackle energy wasted in tenements.


Notes to editors:

[1] A full list of amendments debated at the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee is available on the Scottish Parliament website:

[2] On amendments 259, 261 and 263 in the name of Sarah Boyack MSP, there voted:


Patrick Harvie (Green)

Cathy Peattie (Labour)

Charlie Gordon (Labour)

Des McNulty (Labour)

Alison McInnes (Liberal Democrat)


Rob Gibson (SNP)

Shirley-Anne Somerville (SNP)

Alex Johnstone (Conservative)

[3] 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


Last Chance to Lobby for stronger Climate Change Bill - 24 June

Lobby 24 June Leaflet (pdf) Stop Climate Chaos Scotland wants to thank everyone who has lobbied their MSPs calling for a strong Climate Change Bill. We have had great feedback from MSPs who have had thousands of e-mails and visits.

The Parliament is likely to make the final changes to the draft law on 24 and 25 June and so we have a last chance to push to get the best climate change legislation in the world. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland is organising a mass lobby of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 24th June from 12 – 2.30pm.

We aim to bring people from across Scotland to the parliament to speak directly to their MSPs in support of early, tough action on climate change.

Please sign up now to join us at this crucial event. We will provide you with a fact-sheet before the event and updates on the day with last minute news. And, if you need it, some help with travel costs is available on request. We hope to see you on 24th June.

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland

Monday 8 June 2009

Action4Equality Scotland issues apology to UNISON member

Monday 8 June 2009

Action4Equality Scotland, closely connected with no-win, no-fee solicitor Stefan Cross, has been forced into publishing a full apology to UNISON member Mrs Jacqueline Quinn.

Two separate articles which criticised Mrs Quinn for taking her equal pay claim away from NWNF solicitor Mr Cross provoked anger and the call for an apology.

Mrs Quinn had been persuaded to use the solicitor by promises of a quick result, but after months of waiting she decided to take advantage of free legal help available from the union. She was attacked on a website which also wrongly claimed that she was liable to pay a £500 bill.

In December 2008 the Court of Session ruled that Newcastle-based Mr Cross's contingency fee contract with Jacqueline Quinn was void and unenforceable in Scotland. The Court went on to ban Mr Cross from pursuing a bill for £500 from Mrs Quinn, a home care worker for Edinburgh Council.

UNISON Scottish Secretary Matt Smith, said:
"UNISON was pleased to help Jacqueline Quinn take a stand against Mr Cross and expose the flaws in his contract. She was not in breach of contract and it is only right that Action4Equality should apologise for the offence they have caused.

"The case has also highlighted the potential for thousands of other council and NHS workers in Scotland who have signed up to Contingency Fee Agreements to reclaim money deducted from their compensation."

The apology states:
"We now accept that Mrs Quinn was fully within her rights to challenge the Contingency Fee Agreement with Stefan Cross and acknowledge that on 16th December 2008 the Court granted an Order which declared that 'the pretended contract for the provision of legal services entered into between the Defenders and the Pursuer for the provision of legal services... is void and of no force or effect...' and that in the same Order the Court prohibited Stefan Cross from raising an action for payment against Mrs Quinn 'for sums due under (the) pretended contract' ".


Tuesday 2 June 2009

SCCS Welcomes Important Climate Change Bill Amendments

2 June 2009 For Immediate Release

The Scottish Parliament Transport Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee resumed today (Tuesday) to continue its discussions on Stage 2 of the Scottish Climate Change Bill.

Reacting to the Committee’s decision to approve Labour MSP Cathy Peattie’s amendment on climate change duty for public bodies:
Mike Robinson, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said:

"SCCS is very pleased that the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green members voted in favour of Cathy Peattie’s amendments. The duty will mean that all public bodies in Scotland will have to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We believe this is an extremely important step in ensuring the public sector leads by example. With a strong 2020 target, this Bill can show real vision, but all the parties need to play a role."

On the amendment tabled by the SNP’s Shirley-Anne Sommerville on consumption reporting which was also approved:
Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland said:

"This is a very important measure. We don’t make steel in Scotland any more but we certainly still use it in products ranging from cars and washing machines to steel beams for buildings. All the emissions from making that steel for us are now counted as some other country's problem. Including annual reporting on consumption means we will be able to see what emissions we are causing around the world by buying goods and services from overseas.

"This will help us to cut our climate footprint at home and abroad, as well as persuading politicians to make our own industries greener rather than exporting both emissions and jobs overseas."


Notes to editors:
[1] Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) is a diverse, growing coalition of organisations campaigning on climate change. The SCCS Coalition has 60 Scottish members, representing more than 2 million supporters, ranging from environment and development groups to faith organisations, trade unions, student societies, care providers and many more. For full details visit
[2] In December world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to agree a new international climate deal that will come into force when the first phase of the Kyoto treaty expires in 2012.
[3] SCCS will be helping organise a Climate Change march in Glasgow on 5th December.