Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Nursery closure attempt at Glasgow College prompts strike action ballot

Date: Tuesday 28 July 2009

UNISON, the education union, is balloting around 80 members in Glasgow College of Nautical Studies for strike action, in response to management proposals to cut 5 jobs by closing the baby room in the college's Thistle Street Nursery. Ballot papers will go out to staff this Wednesday (29 July).

Jim Snell, Assistant Service Conditions Officer for Glasgow City Branch of UNISON said "This is the first stage in managements plan to close the Thistle Street nursery completely by July 2010, closing an important service and losing a total of 20 jobs.

"This is exactly the sort of cut that UNISON is convinced is resulting from the city centre college merger proposals. UNISON's college membership in Glasgow have already expressed their opposition to the proposals and will continue to fight the cuts as they become more damaging."

If the ballot for strike action is successful, the first day of action will be Thursday 20 August, coinciding with a major staff conference planned by the college management. Further days of action will be called if necessary and after consultation with members.

UNISON is continuing to meet with college management to try and persuade them to change their direction and will continue to raise questions on the different options that they have looked at.

Jim Snell said "Management have failed to share any information with UNISON on the background to the decision to close the nursery. We are urging members at the college to deliver a resounding YES vote, and demonstrate the strength of opposition to management's cuts."

The Ballot closes on 13 August.


Thursday, 23 July 2009

Executive pension report - UNISON reaction


UNISON, the UK’s largest public sector union, is welcoming the Lane Clark & Peacock report findings, which expose an apartheid that exists between those at the top and low paid workers.

Glyn Jenkins, UNISON’s Head of Pensions:

“We hear a lot about gold plated public sector pensions, but the real apartheid is between boardroom fat cats and low paid workers."

See full release at:


UNISON accuses Tory leader of letting rhetoric cloud his judgement


UNISON UK General Secretary Dave Prentis:

"David Cameron is wrong if he thinks he can make swingeing cuts without harming front-line services. Public sector workers have gone through efficiency drive after efficiency drive, and Independent studies have shown that you cannot extract any more without damaging services.”

See full release at:


Monday, 20 July 2009

UNISON condemns Quarriers threat to sack 2,000 staff

Date: Monday July 20 2009

Care sector union, UNISON, today condemned Scottish charity, Quarriers', threat to dismiss all their 2,000 staff unless the union agrees to cuts in wages and conditions. Quarriers' - one of Scotlands biggest charitable organisations providing services for vulnerable children, homeless young people and adults with disabilities - threatened on Friday to issue redundancy notices to all its 2000 staff.

This follows the charity's management proposal -tabled in May - to cut staff night shift payments, and payments for public holidays. Most drastically, the charity wants to cut sick pay by a quarter for any worker with less than 5 years service.

Instead of continuing negotiations with UNISON Quarriers' Branch - a meeting was scheduled for Friday 10th July but was cancelled by the employers with no explanation - Quarriers' wrote to UNISON officially notifying them that unless UNISON agrees to their proposal they will make everyone redundant and re-engage them on new terms and conditions.

Stephen Brown, Branch Secretary, of UNISON Quarriers' Branch said, “Like many staff in Quarriers I am on holiday this week and I was horrified by this move by Quarriers. UNISON recognises Quarriers' is feeling the financial pinch and were prepared to meet Quarriers' in order to negotiate properly. I’m therefore disappointed that Quarriers have decided to fall back on gun boat diplomacy by threatening our members with the sack.”

He added, “Our members work very hard for the charity and provide an excellent service to some of the most vulnerable in society. Quarriers' continually say that they value their staff but this threat shows how much they really value us. Quarriers' should withdraw this notice immediately and sit around the table and negotiate with us in a meaningful way.”


Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Surveys point to concerns re social work cover, warns UNISON

Date: Tue 14 July 2009

UNISON, Scotland's social care workers union, today highlighted their concern about increasing pressure and stress on social care workers, highlighted by a survey released by the BBC today (based on a Freedom of Information request showing very high caseloads per social worker in some authorities.)

UNISON's own Freedom of Information survey (released last month) done across all local authorities in the UK showed vacancy rates with a UK average of 12%. In Scotland, six councils exceeded 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%).

Ronnie Stevenson, UNISON Convenor of social work tewards in the largest local authority and a children and families social worker, says:
“What all these surveys are saying is that social workers are battling against the odds to protect our young children and vulnerable adults. The figures themselves are bad, but they only point to the real problem - if there are too few social workers and too many cases, the crucial element of time spent on any one child is squeezed - especially if this is exacerbated by high levels of paper work. This situation is no good for social workers and it’s no good for their clients who desperately need help."

Colin Turbett, UNISON North Ayrshire Branch Chair and a social worker says:
"What we do know is that few employers operate effective workload management systems, with the result that social workers commmonly work excessive overtime just to keep their heads above water. Frontline managers are under constant pressure to ensure reports are done timeously with score sheets comparing performance across and between authorities, and that cases are not 'unallocated'. A comprehensive integrated assessment (such as a report for a Children's Hearing) for a child now takes some 10-12 hours of work."

And UNISON points out that referral rates are rising all the time, without increasing resources.

The union along with the social work professional organisation - BASW - has recently released a manifesto for Scottish Social Work. It demands urgent action to address the issues affecting their social work members 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 Brandon Muir.


Notes for Editors:

1. UNISON Scotland and the BASW's Social Work Manifesto Helping people change their lives calls for a ten point plan:

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 manifesto is on the UNISON Scotland website at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/socialwork


Thursday, 9 July 2009

Extra cash for Forth Valley College highlights job cuts by diktat

Date: Thu 9 July 2009

Over half a million pounds extra cash awarded to Forth valley College today (Thu 9 July) serves to highlight the poor decisions by college management to impose job cuts according to Education union UNISONScotland.

The cash has come from the Scottish Funding Council. It is part of Scottish Government money awarded to help colleges deal with to the needs of individuals and businesses during the economic downturn.

However, the college announced they were to cut 12 full time posts just before the semester ended. Loss of the 12 full time equivalent posts which are under threat, would mean 17 staff losing their jobs.

Helen Craig, UNISON rep in Forth Valley College said “It is ironic that this welcome cash is being awarded to allow the college to assist people in the recession, while the College management is proposing cutting staff in Learning Services especially community support – who deliver precisely this type of service. It is also poor management as it includes Learning Innovation, an area where the College can ill afford to lose any more staff. We call on the management to use this money to provide a better service to individuals hit by recession and reverse these cuts.”


Notes for editors:

1. The total amount awarded to colleges across Scotland this year will be £7.7m. Forth Valley College will receive £562,000 – the third largest amount of any college

2. UNISON has already held one successful demonstration against compulsory redundancies and to defend jobs and education at the Falkirk campus of Forth Valley College last Friday 2.

UNISON Scotland is the main union for support staff working in Scottish further education colleges. Our members working in FE include learning support staff, librarians, IT specialists, technicians, professional staff, administrative and business support staff, cleaners, canteen staff and estate management staff.


Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Glasgow council worker elected senior vice president of UNISON

Angela Lynes

Date: Wed 8 July 2009

Angela Lynes, a 40-year-old administrative officer living in Ayrshire and working for Glasgow City Council, has been elected senior vice-president of UNISON, the UK's largest public sector trade union.

She is the union's second youngest senior vice president, and will hold the position for the coming year.

Angela was elected to the NEC, the union's governing body, in Jan 2001, and has chaired the union's Industrial Action Committee for the last eight years. She is also on the staffing committee and vice chair of the international committee.

Angela is particularly proud of UNISON's strong record of international work.

After leaving school, Angela chose to work in the local government because of her belief in the importance of public services in creating a fairer, more equal society. She has worked as an admin. officer and PA in Glasgow City Council ever since.

Commenting on her goals as senior-vice president, Angela said:
"I will be continuing to work on the issues which affect all of our members whether they live in Scotland, England, Ireland or Wales. I know there are many devolved issues, but we share important common goals and they keep us stronger united.

"I am also keen to promote our young members. At 32 I was UNISON's youngest NEC member and hope my election shows that our young members can progress through our union".

Angela lives with her husband John and two children, Jack, 13, and Rachel, 12 in Ayrshire. She was born in Glasgow.


Friday, 3 July 2009

UNISON in Day of Action at Forth Valley College over job cuts by diktat

Fri 3 July

UNISON members will take to the street in Falkirk today (Fri 3 July) to protest about job cuts which are being imposed at Forth Valley College.

The staff will be seeking to mobilise support from local people and elected representatives to persuade College directors to reconsider the job cuts. Loss of the 12 full time equivalent posts which are under threat, would mean 17 staff losing their jobs.

Pam Robertson, UNISON Clackmannanshire Branch Secretary, said: "These redundancies were sprung on staff at short notice, just as the semester ended. We have asked Forth Valley College management for meaningful talks so that we can avoid compulsory redundancies. Yet the directors seem set to impose these cuts by diktat."

"Management have offered the minimum statutory redundancy payments, regardless of length of service, they have refused to give 90 days notice of the job cuts and they want people out in the minimum time under law, before the next semester starts. We want dialogue, not dictatorship."

Staff from the three Forth Valley College campuses, in Falkirk, Stirling and Alloa, will join the demonstration, which will form part of a UK wide Day of Protest at FE colleges to "Defend Jobs, Defend Education".

Derek Keenan, UNISON rep at Forth Valley's Falkirk campus, said:

"These job cuts affect the campuses in Falkirk, Stirling and Alloa. We have held mass meetings of members in all three, at which members have expressed anger and dismay at the actions of the directors. The timing of this decision, at the end of the semester with staff and students leaving for holidays, has caused a lot of anger. UNISON does not intend to accept compulsory redundancies and we intend to fight this.

"We want the people of the communities which the College serves and our elected representatives to join our campaign to defend jobs and defend education at Forth Valley College."


Notes for editors:

1. The UNISON demonstration against compulsory redundancies and to defend jobs and education will take place outside the Falkirk campus of Forth Valley College, Grangemouth Road, Falkirk FK2 9AD from 12 noon on Friday 3 July.

2. For more on the UK-wide "Defend Jobs, Defend Education" Day of Action in FE Colleges on Friday 3 July, see UNISON UK press Release " No to redundancies" (29 June 2009) http://www.unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=5494 and UNISON UK's College Protests page http://www.unison.org.uk/education/pages_view.asp?did=9015

3. UNISON Scotland is the main union for support staff working in Scottish further education colleges. Our members working in FE include learning support staff, librarians, IT specialists, technicians, professional staff, administrative and business support staff, cleaners, canteen staff and estate management staff.