Wednesday, 30 June 2010

UNISON warns budget cuts put over 130,000 Scottish jobs at risk in public and private sectors

Date: Wed 30 June 2010

UNISON has warned that Scotland can expect to lose more than 130,000 jobs by 2015 as a result of the Con-Dem budget. Leaked Treasury figures suggest at least 50,000 jobs in the public sector and 60,000 in the private sector are at risk in Scotland from planned public spending cuts.

Dave Watson, UNISON Scottish Organiser, said:
"This confirms the argument we have been making - along with a growing number of economic commentators in Scotland - that the private sector will be badly affected both through the loss of government contracts and from the knock-on impact of lower public spending.

"We already knew that tens of thousands of public sector jobs were under threat in Scotland as direct result of the Con-Dem budget. We had estimated about 40,000. It is now clear that the Treasury expects well over half a million public sector jobs cut across the UK - this would mean more than 50,000 in Scotland.

"And the losses in the private sector will be even worse - more than 60,000 private sector jobs would go in Scotland, on these Treasury figures."

A confidential Treasury estimate leaked to the Guardian* shows that the government expects job losses of 500,000-600,000 jobs in the public sector, and 600,000-700,000 in the private sector across the UK by 2015, as a result of the public spending cuts announced in last week's budget.
Dave Watson said:
"In fact, our estimate of 0.75 private sector jobs going for every 1 public sector job loss now appears to be an underestimate. The Treasury model clearly assumes at least 1 for 1, something that was previously described as 'scaremongering'.

"Perhaps not surprisingly the Chancellor decided not to reveal these facts in this budget. Obviously 'openness and transparency' doesn't run to telling the real truth about the misery spending cuts will have on workers in the public and private sector. "

* Link to Guardian article


Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Glasgow UNISON warns employers over 'desperate' action to break solid strikes

Solid trade union action over the weekend successfully shut down the high profile Glasgow Boys exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery despite 'desperate' attempts by the city's leisure agency to break the strike, the local UNISON branch has stated.

The branch has warned that unions will report the employer for breach of regulations in such cases.

Brian Smith, Secretary of Glasgow UNISON said: "The high profile Glasgow Boys exhibition at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery was shut down by our rock solid strike, and remained closed all weekend.

"However, we believe that Culture and Sport Glasgow may have been engaged in a desperate attempt to undermine the perfectly lawful and highly effective industrial action by all unions. Activists have reported that a small number of agency workers were encouraged by management to cross official picket lines and work at the Kelvingrove Museum.

"This is unacceptable behaviour, and we will report the employer for breach of regulations in such cases."

Brian Smith said: "UNISON believes that Culture and Sport Glasgow - now 'rebranded' as Glasgow Life - would be better spending more effort trying to resolve the dispute with its own workforce than trying to persuade others to intervene in such an unacceptable manner."

Further targeted strike action is planned by the unions in the coming week.


Notes for editors:

1. It is unlawful for an employment business to help an employer try to break a strike by supplying blackleg labour (Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003). An offender may be prosecuted by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS) — part of the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). In addition, any person who suffers loss as a result of an infringement may sue the offender for compensation.

2. UNISON, Unite, GMB and BECTU members who work for Culture and Sport Glasgow (Glasgow Life) are engaged in industrial action to oppose a 10% pay cut for 150 workers and a pay freeze for all other staff; and to protect existing conditions, including public holiday arrangements and overtime rates.

3. Further targeted actions will take place over the next week at the People's Palace and the Gallery of Modern Art (Sat 3 and Sun 4 July) and at Scotstoun Stadium where the UK Super 8 athletics championships are being held (Wed 7 July). Another all out one day strike is also planned if no progress is made with the Culture Sport management.

BBC blueprint for attack on public sector pensions

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Commenting on BBC pension cuts and public sector pensions, Dave Watson, UNISON Scottish Organiser, said:

"Clearly public sector pensions are now under full attack. We've had all the scaremongering and mythmaking about gold plated pensions for public sector workers. The truth is the average pension in local government is just £4,000 a year, and that's not gold plated.

"In fact public sector pensions are sustainable and affordable - we have already gone through massive changes to ensure that. There is no reason why public sector workers should pay for the bailout of the bankers. Public sector workers and their unions will defend decent pensions, by industrial action if necessary."

See BBC News website

BBC to cut staff pension benefits
15:44 GMT, Tuesday, 29 June 2010
"BBC business editor Robert Peston says the plans could be a blueprint for future public-sector pension plans."

Lobby West Dunbartonshire Council against cuts - Wed 30 June

Campaign Against The Cuts in Services
Lobby West Dunbartonshire Council  - Wed 30 June
Gather from 5pm onwards at Council Offices
Garshake Road, Dumbarton. Bring your banners.

The Trades Unions at West Dunbartonshire Council have been conducting a campaign against cuts in jobs and services over the past period, joining up with community activists with street stalls and public meetings to get the message across. We will be presenting our petition to elected members at the next council meeting.
The budget announced by the Con Dem Government will be a disaster for workers and their families. It is a budget for the rich by the rich making the working class pay for the greed and excess of the banking system. We want our councillors to demand extra resources to maintain jobs and services.

Protests are taking place all over the country. We are not alone and this is a fight we must win.

Join the lobby next Wednesday.

From Tommy Morrison, UNISON West Dunbartonshire branch


Monday, 28 June 2010

UNISON and TUC report shows extent of regressive budget

28 June 2010

Research commissioned by UNISON, the UK’s leading public sector trade union, and the TUC shows how hard the new government’s emergency budget will hit low income families.

By taking into account what services households lose, along with changes in taxes and benefits, the report finds that the impact of the emergency budget will be deeply regressive. All households stand to take a hit, but the poorest will suffer the biggest blow.

Assuming the planned cuts fall evenly across non-ring fenced departments, the average annual cut in public spending on the poorest tenth of households is £1,344, equivalent to 20.5% of their household income. In contrast, the average annual cut in public spending on the richest tenth of households is £1,135, equivalent to just 1.6% of their household income.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:
“It doesn’t matter how much the Tory and Lib Dems try to spin the emergency budget, we are not all in this together. The truth is that the poorest, the least able to lose money from their household budgets, will be hardest hit by the coalition’s cuts. Meanwhile, the wealthy, and the Bankers who got us into this mess, get away lightly.

“The government is running the risk of a lost decade of decline, by pressing ahead with plans that will hit the spending power of hardworking families. Throwing hundreds of thousands of public sector workers on the dole queues will cripple local economies, closing down local shops and businesses. And if vital public services are cut to the bone, people will be left without the support they need to pick up the pieces.”

Read the full report here:
Don’t forget the spending cuts: The real impact of Budget 2010 - PDF


Thursday, 24 June 2010

You cannot hide from the responsibility for the disaster privatisation will bring

Edinburgh UNISON Branch Officers told councillors on 24 June that they 'cannot hide from the responsibility for the disaster privatisation will bring', as they outlined UNISON's concerns about plans to move to the next stage of the process to outsource up to 3,500 jobs.

UNISON condemned the risk posed to local services and jobs created by the plans to privatise key sections of the council. The scale of the threat is significant - catering, cleaning, security, property, refuse, cleansing, finance, benefits and many other services are at risk.

We believe the private sector will increase service costs including service charges to you, while offering a poorer quality service - not to mention the real risks to jobs, pay and conditions.

In addition, three out of five of the companies known to be shortlisted for the facilities contract, and the parent company of one shortlisted for the environment contract, were fined by the Office of Fair Trading in 2009 for ‘illegal bid-rigging’ . They were fined a total of around £40million (see This goes alongside concerns about health and safety breaches by some.

While 1.5 million is being spent on trying to privatise services, only one tenth of that is being offered to delivering an 'in-house' option.

At this morning's rally, UNISON's Kevin Duguid told members, "The councillors are burying their heads in the sand hoping that when it all goes wrong, they can blame the officials. We are going to be telling them that you cannot hide from the responsibility for the disaster privatisation will bring".

"These services will run to over £100 million for 7-12 year contracts. That would put the trams shamble into the shade", warned Kevin.

"The public is not getting to know about this shambles, about the companies that will bid for our services and about the costs - but if the Council won't tell them, UNISON will make sure they know".

We have excellent services in Edinburgh and we need another Tram fiasco like a hole in the head. So join our campaign, distribute the petition, display a poster and come to our meetings to help us develop an alternative vision for local jobs and services.
The Labour Group has put forward an amendment which would have made for a meaningful in-house bid and demanded real figures from the council rather than the current guesses on possible savings.

See 10 REASONS WHY WE MUST KEEP EDINBURGH PUBLIC UNISON damning analysis of the Council's plans for more details.


BBC Interview: UNISON branch says Glasgow city council should defend public services

Brian Smith, Secretary
Glasgow City UNISON Branch
UNISON's Glasgow city branch secretary hit out today at Glasgow city council in a BBC interview.

Brian Smith urged councillors to defend public services and warned of the impact on services, families and the local economy of the council "implementing Tory cuts".

He said: "The workforce in Glagow would want to ask the council leader Gordon Matheson 'what are you going to do to protect services? Stand up to the government. Don't cut services.'"

Listen to the interview on BBC Radio Scotland's 'Scotland Live' programme here

Brian's interview starts at about 17 minutes and 40 secs into the programme.

The BBC report on the council warning it needs to make a further £40m worth of savings is here


A new living wage in Scotland

Date: 24 June 2010

Low paid workers who conducted action research into pay levels are presenting their evidence at an event in the Scottish Parliament today.

MSPS Christina McKelvie and Andy Kerr are hosting the UNISON-Oxfam Fair Pay event in the Garden Lobby. Ninety guests are attending to hear evidence from the research, which was conducted by low paid workers employed in Scotland's public services.

Members of the Fair Pay campaign have been heartened by the announcement by Alex Neill MSP that employees of the Scottish Government will enjoy the protection of a Living Wage of £7.00. While we greatly welcome this announcement it immediately raises questions about the scope of such a measure and the protection afforded to people not directly employed by the government.

Those attending will have an opportunity to digest the detail of the proposed Living Wage and identify how that principle can be extended to protect a wider group of vulnerable public sector workers.


Glasgow culture and leisure staff target strike action on Kelvingrove

Date: 24 June 2010

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum will be the focus of strike action this weekend in the ongoing pay and conditions dispute at Culture and Sport Glasgow.

UNISON, Unite, GMB and BECTU members are targeting the premier Glasgow visitor attraction with a two day strike on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 June.

The popular Glasgow Boys exhibition is currently at Kelvingrove and will be affected by the weekend action.

Brian Smith, Glasgow UNISON branch secretary, said: “This dispute is because Culture and Sport Glasgow is attacking our members’ pay and conditions.

“People from Glasgow, across Scotland and around the world enjoy the culture and leisure facilities in the city.

“We believe they deserve quality services and our ongoing action is to defend these services.”

Trade union membership has risen in Culture and Sport Glasgow since the start of the dispute.

More than 150 workers face a pay cut of up to 10%, due to changes in sports facilities opening hours. Members are also opposing a pay freeze for all other staff and are fighting to protect existing conditions, including public holiday arrangements and overtime rates.

Brian added: “Culture and Sport Glasgow should be focusing on resolving these issues and not wasting thousands of pounds on new signage, paper and uniforms to rebrand as Glasgow Life.”


Notes for Editors:

1. Strikers will be picketing at Kelvingrove from 7am on Saturday and Sunday. UNISON members will be available there for interview.

2. Further targeted action will take place in coming weeks at the People’s Palace, the Gallery of Modern Art and at Scotstoun Stadium, where the UK Super 8 Athletics Championships are being held.

3. Another all out one day strike is also planned if no progress is made with the Culture and Sport management.


Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Scottish TUC: Unwise and unfair budget will meet with growing protest

June 22nd 2010

From Scottish TUC

"Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary Grahame Smith pledged the STUC to coordinate a Scotland-wide campaign against measures announced in the emergency budget which will hit the poor hardest and offers little hope for young people or the future”.

“This budget is unwise and unfair. It will hit the poor hardest, offers little hope for young people and is likely to fail in its central purpose of reducing the deficit. Neither softer language nor the fig-leaf of Lib-Dem support can hide the fact that this is a largely ideological budget hiding behind the fallacy there is only one path to deficit reduction.

Today’s localised protests against the emergency budget will make way for a coordinated campaign in Scotland of opposition to these proposed cuts, running up to the Comprehensive Spending Review later this year. STUC intends to mobilize a campaign across Scotland to show that there is a better way to deal with the deficit based on growth through protecting jobs and services and justice through fair taxation and living wages."

STUC site


The cuts are coming - Brian Taylor's blog BBC Scotland

The cuts are coming

Brian Taylor
15:38 UK time, Tuesday, 22 June 2010

"Certainty. That VAT rise, the cuts in benefits, the restoration of the pension earnings link, the increase in capital gains, the reduction in corporation tax.

Imponderable. The precise details of public spending - including, even, the overall total for the Scottish block because that is dependent upon Whitehall negotiations which are about to get under way.

But even within that imponderable we can be certain of one thing. Scottish public spending is about to fall and fall sharply."

Read more at Brian Taylor's blog Blether with Brian


Government declares war on public services - UNISON response to budget

Date:Tue 22 June 2010

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, today accused the Government of declaring war on public services and public service workers with the most draconian budget in decades.
He said:

“This budget signals that the battle for Britain’s public services has begun with the Government declaring war. Public sector workers will be shocked and angry that they are the innocent victims of job cuts and pay freezes.

“Freezing public sector pay when inflation is running at 5.1% and VAT is going up, will mean a real cut in living standards for millions of ordinary workers and their families - already struggling to pay rising bills.

“Nurses, social workers, midwives, paramedics, police community support officers, housing and environmental officers who provide vital public services, are amongst those who will be hit hardest by the two year pay freeze. And for local government workers this comes on top of this year’s freeze.

“A 25% cut in departmental public spending will decimate our public services. The budget will do nothing to restore confidence or kick-start the recovery, but will push local economies into the ground, raising the spectre of breadline Britain.

“They haven’t even bothered to consider any other option but slash and burn. What of the bankers who caused the recession and the super-rich who evade tax? They must be breathing a sigh of relief that they got away so lightly. The bank tax levy is a poor substitute for a serious ‘Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions. It is a missed opportunity to raise £30bn which would have made a significant dent in the country’s deficit.

“Throwing tens of thousands of public sector workers on the dole will cost the country billions in lost tax revenue as well as piling billions onto the benefits bill.

“The Chancellor dreams of a private sector recovery but how can that be on the back of brutal cuts to public services workers. Local businesses, shops, hairdressers, restaurants will go to the wall as spending dries up. No amount of fiscal stimulus will do any good if they have no customers

“Vital services that the poor, the sick and the vulnerable rely on, are in the firing line. There is no compassion in this coalition.

“Freezing council tax is a useless gesture saving people pennies but cutting tens of millions from council budgets, trhreatening jobs, losing services and undermining the local economy.

“Raising VAT affects the poor the most as they spend a higher proportion of their meagre incomes on goods and services.

“Meanwhile major utility companies spend money sponsoring sporting events whilst attacking pay and conditions – that cannot be fair.”

Adding 500,000 public service workers to the dole between now and 2015 – which the CIPD says would be the likely effect of Osborne’s spending plans – will cost around £10 billion in lost tax and increased benefit payments. This would almost entirely cancel out the reduction in the pay bill, as well as dealing a massive blow to local economies and communities.


UNISON’s Save Our Services alternative budget:

£4.7bn could be raised every year by introducing a 50% tax rate on incomes over £100,000

£10bn could be raised every year by reforming tax havens and residence rules to reduce tax avoidance by corporations and ‘non-domiciled’ residents

£14.9bn could be raised every year by using minimum tax rates to stop reliefs being used disproportionately subsidise incomes over £100,000

£30bn could be raised every year by introducing a Major Financial Transactions Tax on UK financial institutions – the Robin Hood Tax

At least £1.5bn could be raised this year by bringing back the windfall tax on bankers’ bonuses.

£4bn could be saved this year by cancelling Trident, the project could cost as much as £100bn.

£500m could be saved every year by eradicating healthcare acquired infections from the NHS – the extra cleaners would cost half this.

£495m could be saved every year by adopting measures to improve the health and well-being of NHS staff, thereby reducing sickness absence

£1bn could be saved every year by halving the local government agency bill, as has been achieved by high performing councils

£5bn could be raised every year with an Empty Property Tax on vacant dwellings. This only exaggerates housing shortages and harms neighbourhoods.

£2.8bn could be saved every year by ending the central government use of private consultants who bring little discernable benefit

£3bn could be saved in user fees and interest charges every year if PFI schemes were replaced with conventional public procurement

Total – 77.895bn.

from UNISON UK news release


Edinburgh: Rally & march against budget cuts 6pm The Mound Tue 22 June 2010

Edinburgh Rally & March against the Budget Cuts
Tuesday 22 June 2010
6:00pm  The Mound
(Info from Scottish TUC)

· Rally at 6.00pm at the Mound (Princes Street) with a broad platform of major trade union speakers and community campaign representatives.
· March from the Mound to Charlotte Square
· Rally at Charlotte Square, with further speakers.


Dumfries: UNISON, UNITE & EIS Demo Against Public Service Cuts 4.30pm

Tue 22 June

UNISON, UNITE & EIS Demo Against Public Service Cuts

Location : Council Offices, English Street, Dumfries
Time: 4.30pm, Tuesday 22nd June

(from STUC)

Dundee: Rally against budget cuts 1pm Albert Square AND 5pm City Square Tue 22 June 2010

TWO Rallies in Dundee 1pm and 5pm

Lunchtime: Dundee - For the Right to Work, Against Cut in Jobs and Services!

Date: Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Time: 13:00 - 14:00
Street: Albert Square
Town/City: Dundee, United Kingdom

View Google map
Join Facebook group

The first of two rallies on the 22nd of June, held at lunchtime in advance of the budget to maximise media coverage.

Unions, service users and allied campaigning groups will come together in Dundee's Albert Square to celebrate the Public Services we currently have and argue for alternatives to the vicious cuts that will be proposed in the budget that afternoon, and in the Comprehensive Spending Review to follow.
Supported by Dundee Trades Council, local Branches of Unison, Unite, the GMB, FBU, UCU and PCS, along with the Right to Work Campaign, Youth Fight for Jobs, Peoples' Charter Campaign, Dundee Pensioners' Forum and CPB.

Demonstrating strong opposition to these cuts now sends the right message at a crucial time - that the people of Dundee know we deserve the best, and will not accept job losses to pay for the greed of bankers and bosses who gambled away our future.

TV cameras will be there - it is important that you are there too!

Teatime: Dundee's Response to The Emergency Budget

Date: Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Time: 17:00 - 18:00
Location: City Square, Dundee

Join Facebook group

Unions, service users and allied campaigning groups will come together in Dundee's Albert Square to respond to the coalition Government's emergency budget, widely believed to detail cuts across the board for public services.

Supported by Dundee Trades Council, local Branches of Unison, Unite, the GMB, FBU, UCU and PCS, along with the Right to Work Campaign, Youth Fight for Jobs, Peoples' Charter Campaign, Dundee Pensioners' Forum and CPB.

It is vital that we stand up for jobs in Dundee, in the public sector and in the private sector, by standing together in City Square at 5pm on the 22nd of June.


Glasgow: Budget cuts rally George Square 12.15pm Tuesday 22 June 2010

Budget Day Protest against Tory/ Libdem Cuts!
Rally George Square, 12.15pm Tuesday 22nd June 2010

From UNISON Glasgow City branch

Budget Statement June 22nd

The newly elected Tory/ Lib dem coalition is wasting no time in announcing attacks on public sector spending and its our jobs and the vital services that we provide that are due for the axe!

This financial crisis is not of our making and is the biggest con trick for years – use public money to bail out the banks then bankers and politicians announce that the public sector must pay with cuts in jobs and services.

We reject the government and media campaign that places the blame for the crisis at the door of public sector workers/ public sector services.

We reject the idea ‘private good/ public bad’.

We need a united campaign of service providers and service users to fight cuts described as “worse than during Thatcher’s time”.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Action against cuts takes to the streets - UK press statement

Date Mon 21 June 2010
UNISON News | The public service union | Action against cuts takes to the streets:

Dave Prentis speaking in Friday‚Äôs conference debateFrom Surrey to Glasgow and points between and beyond, UNISON branches are taking up Friday’s Link to another page on this websitecall at UNISON conference to take action tomorrow in protest at the Tory-Lib Dem coalition’s budget of cuts."

"We need to get our members onto the streets: anything to get the public behind our cause, to let them know they are dealing with people, not statistics," general secretary Dave Prentis said at the conference.

And in a special letter to branches and activists after the conference decision, he wrote: "Today, our conference unanimously agreed a comprehensive plan of action to fight the government's attack on our public services.

"On 22 June, the extent of those attacks will become clearer as George Osborne unveils his emergency budget.

"We need to respond as a matter of urgency and branches are urged to organise some form of local protest on the day."

A key target of tomorrow’s action, said Mr Prentis, will be "winning support in our communities [as] a vital first step. Please make sure your branch plays its part."

Link to another
 page on this websiteFull text of Emergency Composite 2, agreed unanimously at conference.

Link to 
another page on this websiteWe’ve only just begun to fight - stepping up the Link to another
 page on this websiteMillion Voices for Public Services campaign.

Link to another
 page on this websiteCuts – there is an alternative

Link to another
 page on this websiteDebunking the Tory pension myths

Link to another
 page on this websiteUNISON's alternative budget: £78bn savings without cuts


UNISON consults members over "unacceptable" council pay offer

Date: Mon 21 June 2010

UNISON has today (Monday 21 June) started to ballot all members that work for Scotland's councils on acceptance or rejection of the pay offer made by the employers.

The offer made is a 3 year deal of 1% in the first year, 0% in the second and 0.5% in the third. UNISON and the other main unions are recommending that the offer be rejected as it is effectively a three year pay cut.

Dougie Black, UNISON's lead negotiator said:
"A three year deal is simply not acceptable. This is effectively a three year pay cut, as prices continue to rise. Our claim was for a single year deal in line with the Scottish Government’s pay strategy for other public bodies.

"At a time when chief officials in local authorities are getting 2.5% and teachers 2.4%, the attempt to tie many of the lowest paid public sector workers, who deliver essential front line services into a 3 year deal worth 1.5% cannot be justified."

Stephanie Herd, chair of UNISON's Scottish Local Government Committee said:
"I would urge the employers to return to the table and renegotiate this offer. It is not acceptable to continue to slash budgets and expect the lowest paid to fill the gap or bear the brunt.

"Nor is it acceptable for these members to have to face a three year pay cut to satisfy political expediency due to Scottish Parliament elections taking place in 2011 and Local Government elections in 2012."

UNISON's consultative ballot will run from today 21 June 2010 and close at midday on 29 July 2010.


Notes for editors:
1. Three unions make up the trade union side of the Scottish Joint Council: UNISON, Unite, GMB
2. Both Unite and GMB will conduct their own consultative arrangements over a similar timescale.
3. UNISON represents around 100,000 Scottish Council staff


Public sector pensions' review should be comprehensive and independent, says UNISON

Mon 21 June 2010

UNISON has called on the Government to make sure that its public sector pensions review body is truly independent and takes evidence from unions and pension fund trustees.

General Secretary, Dave Prentis, has further urged the Government to stop issuing misleading figures and mis-informed statements about public sector pensions and wait for the results of the review. He said:
“Only three years ago, public sector pensions went through massive changes to make them sustainable and affordable. Since then, there has been constant sniping and carping by the Tories and LibDems about unreformed, gold-plated pensions, quoting grossly misleading figures to create a climate for cuts.

“We are happy to participate in any review and to give evidence to that review, but the Government has a responsibility to make sure that it is independent and not a rubber-stamp for its ideological attacks on public services.

“Bringing in John Hutton as chair doesn’t fool anyone. I am disappointed that a former Labour minister would allow himself to be used as a tool to attack low paid public sector workers.

“The average pension in local government is just £4,000 a year, dropping to £2,600 for women. People pay into these schemes all their working lives – if they didn’t, they would have to rely on state benefits, funded by the taxpayer.

“The review to the NHS scheme in 2008 gives complete protection to the public purse. The employers’ contribution is capped at 14% and, if the cost rises, it is health workers who will pick up the bill”.


Sunday, 20 June 2010

Go back to your branches and organise for the fightback

Conference 2010
UNISON National Delegate Conference Bournemouth 2010 in review

You get Conferences that inspire. Conferences that divide with destructive quasi-political infighting. And you get 2010.

A quiet and serious resolve characterised the contributions and responses as almost 3,000 delegates set out a range of strategies to prepare for the biggest attacks we have ever seen on our services, our pensions, our pay, our health and safety and our hard won rights and equalities.

It was time to get down to work and organising is the key.

More on UNISON Scotland website:
Click here for the rest of this Conference 2010 review.
See Conference 2010 page for reports on all the main issues


Saturday, 19 June 2010

Kilmarnock - 300 turn out in sun to defy SDL bigots

Chris Bartter writes:
"Here are a couple of photos of the rally today in Kilmarnock. Over 300 people marched in the sun to defy the 30 or so SDL bigots that turned up. Rally addressed by Cathy Jamieson MP, Arthur West of Kilmarnock & Loudoun TUC and East Ayrshire UNISON. And others. Full story below"

Over 300 marchers from the TU movement and the local community, today showed the imported bigots of the so-called SDL that Kilmarnock was a no-go area for their hate. As Kilmarnock and Loudon United, they marched through the centre of the town in brilliant sunshine to cheers and applause from shoppers and local residents. The 30 or so bigots, were meanwhile corralled by a heavy police presence away from the city centre.

After the march the rally in Howard Park heard from Cathy Jamieson MP, who told marchers how proud she was of the turn out and the responses from local people.

Arthur West, of Kilmarnock and Loudon TUC and Secretary of East Ayrshire UNISON branch, and a key march organiser said:
"It is heartening to see a turn out like this from right across the local community. Kilmarnock has shown the SDL that this is no place for them to peddle their hate."

Other speakers from the local community, the council and Unite against Fascism congratulated the crowd.

More pics as they come in at


Friday, 18 June 2010

We are ready to fight - Dave Prentis speech to UNISON National delegates conference

Scottish council worker elected as UNISON's UK president

A Glasgow City Council admin worker has been elected as president of UNISON, the UK's largest public sector union today.

Angela Lynes, 41, a mother-of-two from Ayrshire, will hold the position for the coming year.

The new president has chaired the union's Industrial Action Committee for the last nine years and is also on the staffing and international committees.

Angela said:

"As president I am keen to work on issues that are affecting members across the UK.

"I chose to work in local government as soon as I left school, as I believe in the importance public services play in society.

"The public sector is needed now more than ever, to help the economy, communities and families rise up out of the recession.

"We must do all we can to protect these vital services in the face of huge public spending cuts."

Angela has been working as an admin officer since leaving school and is the union's second youngest president.

She was elected to the NEC in 2001 and, at 32, was also UNISON's youngest NEC member.

The president was born in Glasgow, but now lives with her husband John and two children, Jack, 13, and Rachel, 12 in Ayrshire.


Unions call in Health & Safety Executive in Glasgow pay strike

Unions today questioned health and safety arrangements at a major UK swimming event being targeted by strike action.

Members of UNISON, Unite and GMB are on strike for three days, from today to Sunday 20 June, at Tollcross Centre in Glasgow where the UK Swimming Masters event is being held.

Glasgow branch secretary Brian Smith said today that the unions have contacted the Health & Safety Executive.

He said: “Our strike is rock solid. The only Culture and Sport staff on site are managers. We think they are getting help to run the event from volunteers from the Scottish Swimming organisation.

“However, we have serious concerns that these managers, and the volunteers, have not had the necessary health and safety training specific to this building.”

Today’s targeted action follows a series of successful one day strikes.

Brian added: “The people of Glasgow want properly funded public services, and fair pay for public service workers.

“We are fighting to protect the wages of over 150 workers at Culture and Sport Glasgow who are facing a pay cut of up to 10% due to the changes in sports facilities opening hours.

“We want Culture and Sport Glasgow to offer an acceptable 2010/11 pay rise to all its workers. CSG is the only organisation within the 'Glasgow City Council Family' that has adopted a pay freeze for the current year.”

The unions are also seeking to protect existing conditions including public holiday arrangements and overtime rates.

Brian Smith said:

“Our campaign for fair pay and conditions is attracting increasing support. Trade union membership has actually risen in Culture Sport Glasgow since the dispute began. More and more workers are joining the action despite the propaganda being put out by Culture Sport Glasgow.”

Further targeted actions will take place over the next few weeks at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the People's Palace, the Gallery of Modern Art and at Scotstoun Stadium where the UK Super 8 athletics championships are being held. Another all out one day strike is also planned if no progress is made with the Culture Sport management.


Thursday, 17 June 2010

Lost tax and increased state benefits from public sector job losses would cost more than £15 billion

UNISON, the UK’s leading public sector trade union, today warned that Tory plans to cut 725,000 public sector jobs*, would cost the UK economy £6.6 billion in lost tax revenue and add an extra £8.8 billion** to the state benefits bill – hitting any chance of economic recovery and making the deficit worse.

The union is calling for a no-cut alternative - Save Our Services budget - to protect jobs, vital services, and safeguard economic recovery. The union’s alternative budget sets out savings of nearly £78 billion ahead of the Government’s own, on Tuesday (22 June).

Together with cutting real waste and making tax fairer, the union is backing the campaign for a Robin Hood Tax on banks which would raise an estimated £30bn a year.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:

“Whatever the Tories would have you believe - there are real alternatives to their slash and burn cuts. Adding public sector workers to the growing number of people out of work will cost the country dear - £6.6bn in lost tax revenue as well as piling £8.8bn onto the benefits bill.

“As well as plummeting tax receipts and spiralling benefits, the spending power of public service workers will dry up, hitting local shops and businesses hard. This will damage the chance of recovery, spark a return to recession, and push the country towards a decade-long depression.

“The Robin Hood tax would raise an estimated £30bn a year and would go a long way towards digging this country out of recession. It is only right that the people responsible for causing the economic crisis should pay to get it out.”

More than 2,000 delegates and visitors to UNISON’s national conference in Bournemouth today voted to add the union’s support for a Robin Hood Tax – donning the familiar campaign green masks, led by Billy Bragg.

UNISON’s Save Our Services alternative budget:

£4.7bn could be raised every year by introducing a 50% tax rate on incomes over £100,000

£10bn could be raised every year by reforming tax havens and residence rules to reduce tax avoidance by corporations and ‘non-domiciled’ residents

£14.9bn could be raised every year by using minimum tax rates to stop reliefs being used disproportionately subsidise incomes over £100,000

£30bn could be raised every year by introducing a Major Financial Transactions Tax on UK financial institutions – the Robin Hood Tax

At least £1.5bn could be raised this year by bringing back the windfall tax on bankers’ bonuses.

£4bn could be saved this year by cancelling Trident, the project could cost as much as £100bn.

£500m could be saved every year by eradicating healthcare acquired infections from the NHS – the extra cleaners would cost half this.

£495m could be saved every year by adopting measures to improve the health and well-being of NHS staff, thereby reducing sickness absence

£1bn could be saved every year by halving the local government agency bill, as has been achieved by high performing councils

£5bn could be raised every year with an Empty Property Tax on vacant dwellings. This only exaggerates housing shortages and harms neighbourhoods.

£2.8bn could be saved every year by ending the central government use of private consultants who bring little discernable benefit

£3bn could be saved in user fees and interest charges every year if PFI schemes were replaced with conventional public procurement

Total – 77.895bn.

Notes to editors:

*The CIPD predicted last week that 725,000 public sector jobs could go over the next five years.

** Based on research by tax expert Richard Murphy.


UNISON urges social work leaders to speak out on service cuts

UNISON will today (Thursday) urge social work service leaders to speak out about the impact of spending cuts on the most vulnerable.

Stephen Smellie, chair of the union’s Social Work Issues Group, is warning that major cuts in social care spending are being widely portrayed as inevitable, yet the consequences would be drastic.

He is on a panel looking at the future of personal and social care at a Holyrood Conference in Edinburgh on Personal and Social Care Provision.

Stephen will say:

“Many voices, from the Association of Directors of Social Work, to CoSLA, from the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition UK Government to media appointed commentators, are telling us jobs need to be cut, services need to be reduced and families need to do more for their sick, disabled, young and elderly relatives.

“We believe those who wish to lead the sector must be vociferous in explaining the very real consequences of budget cuts.

“They should be standing up for quality services and warning what could happen if deep cuts are made.”

UNISON members in social care already see care packages being reduced and they hear managers saying personalisation of services will save money.

In the private sector members struggle on wage rates barely above the minimum wage, with no guaranteed hours of work, while many voluntary sector managers are telling members that terms and conditions will be cut so they can compete for contracts.

Stephen will warn:

“Accepting the inevitability of cuts means telling families their 79-year-old frail mother will not get a tuck down service and will have a different home carer each morning.

“Lone parent families will lose out on access to professional advice and support as family centres and nurseries are no longer available.

“Social work users will see less of their under-pressure, over-worked professional social worker. That worker will have to spend more time assessing not the user’s needs but their bank balance, so the council can charge as much as possible for any support it provides.

“Social work leaders need to raise their voices beyond saying, ‘the options are to cut this or cut that’. They need to argue and fight for the services that so many vulnerable people rely on.”


Notes for Editors:

1. Stephen Smellie is speaking at the Holyrood Personal and Social Care Conference in Edinburgh on Thursday 17 June. Details and agenda are at: 

2. Stephen's full statement is at:

3. UNISON has an alternative budget for a fairer society at:

4. Details of UNISON Scotland’s campaigns and publications supporting the social work services workforce are at:


The Guardian's Seumas Milne: For the Lib-Cons, this is an excuse to shrink the state

From The Guardian website 16 June 2010

by Seumas Milne

The lemmings are heading for the cliff, and there seems to be no stopping them now. Cuts mania has got Britain's coalition in its grip, and next week's emergency budget promises to be a field day for the deficit hawks. For weeks we have been softened up with the drumbeat of debt, orchestrated by a media – including the BBC – which endlessly repeats as fact the catechism that the deficit is a mortal threat and cuts the only way out.

Whatever the evidence or the arguments, the answer is always the same. So now we're primed for higher taxes, weighted towards the poorest through increased VAT; a Liberal Democrat-led attack on "gold-plated" public sector pensions, which average £4,000 a year in local government and £6,000 in the health service; and the prospect of a scythe through public services that has already taken chunks out of free school meals and support for the young unemployed.

The problem isn't just that cuts risk tipping us back into recession and will hit the worst-off hardest. It's that by taking demand out of the economy and undermining a fragile recovery in the process they could actually increase the size of the deficit, as has happened in Greece and Ireland...

Read the full article at The Guardian


Tuesday, 15 June 2010

If Nick Clegg comes for our pensions, we'll ballot for industrial action - Prentis

From The Independent:

Union warning over threat to pensions

By Jon Smith, Press Association

The Government found itself on an early collision course with millions of public sector workers tonight when the leader of one of the country's biggest unions warned of industrial action over pensions.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, launched a scathing attack on the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition and pledged a campaign against spending cuts.

He told his union's annual conference in Bournemouth that the Government "won't know what hit them" if it takes on public sector workers and cuts services, pay and pensions.

The Government came under attack from several unions today after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg criticised the "gold-plated" public sector pensions system as "unfair" on private sector workers.

Mr Prentis said to loud applause from 2,000 delegates: "If Nick Clegg comes for our pensions, then we will ballot for industrial action."

Full report on The Independent's website


BBC interview: Dave Prentis attacks government pensions scaremongering

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis today rejected government attacks on public sector pensions in an interview on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme.

He hit out at claims the pensions are 'gold-plated', given the average pension in local government for women is just £50 a week.

The full interview is available on the BBC iPlayer at  at 1 hour 45 minutes into the broadcast.

UNISON UK press release

Government double speak and myths about public sector pensions

UNISON, the UK’s largest public sector union today hit back at the Government’s attack on public sector pensions, accusing them of scaremongering, peddling myths and of breathtaking double-speak.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:

“Only a few months ago, Clegg was warning that cutting public spending now would threaten the economic recovery. Now he is saying that public sector workers should pay the price for the banker’s recession, with cuts to their pensions.

“The Government is using breathtaking double-speak to peddle myths about public sector pension schemes - trying to pit public sector workers against those in the private sector - and it just won’t work.

“These pension myths are scaremongering. There are no unreformed, gold-plated pension pots. The average pension in local government is just £4,000 a year dropping to £2,600 for women. Public sector pensions have already gone through massive changes to ensure they are sustainable and affordable.

“It is grossly misleading to pick one moment in time and apply that to the 20-30 years of a pension scheme cycle. You have got to look at why pension costs are rising. Costs are based on stocks and shares and the collapse in the stock market has hit all schemes But pensions are for the long term – a 20 year timeframe is more appropriate to assess the true cost - the Government’s knee-jerk reaction makes no sense. These figures are put out there to create an aura for cuts, but they are not the true picture.

“The review to the NHS scheme in 2008 gives complete protection to the public purse. The employers’ contribution is capped at 14% and, if the cost rises, it is health workers who will pick up the bill.

“The Government should be encouraging people to save for their retirement, not attacking workers who do. If people do not save for their pension, through a decent scheme – they will end up having to rely on taxpayer funded benefits in their retirement.”

UNISON UK press release


Monday, 14 June 2010

The homecare companies that couldn't care less

UNISON, the UK's leading public sector union, today slammed private homecare companies for exploiting staff and leaving elderly people without the care and support they need.

Private care companies routinely employ staff on zero hours contracts, that often means huge swings in paid hours for staff. By refusing to pay for travel time between visits, many home carers are effectively paid below the minimum wage.

They are not offered even basic training, including how to administer medicines, despite having to give them out as a part of their work.
Some companies book back-to-back calls with no travel time at all. This forces carers to shave minutes off already packed care slots, and means elderly people are short-changed, missing out on vital support.

Out of their low wages, many care workers have to pay for their own transport, mobile phones and uniforms – all essential to do the job.

UNISON wants homecare companies to put the care back into caring, by paying for travel time between clients, boosting training and working conditions for carers. This would have the knock on benefit of raising standards of care for elderly people who rely on the service.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:

"It is a scandal that private homecare companies are boosting profits for themselves, but short-changing elderly people and staff. They are cutting corners by scrimping and saving on what they pay their staff. This has a huge knock on effect on elderly people relying on care to live independent lives in their own homes."


More information (including more on the Scottish example of bad practice, below) in full news release: UNISON UK press release

Bad Practice

Choices - Care at Home employs more than 300 home carers in South Lanarkshire. In February, the company ripped up staff employment contracts, replacing them with zero hours contracts for staff. They pay staff just £5.80 per hour, 5p above the minimum wage and 17p mileage rates.

A carer working for the company, who wanted to remain anonymous, said:

"My company schedules visits so I have to walk for up to thirty minutes. They don't schedule enough time, and I can't cut time off my visits, so it means every day I run over. If you're meant to finish about nine pm, it can be nearly ten o'clock by the time you get home. That makes it really difficult if you have to get home to put the children to bed. I can't complain, because I'll lose the work.

"If you get new clients, you don't know what their needs are until you get there. I think we should be fully briefed before we get to visits, so we know what to expect."

Friday, 11 June 2010

UNISON welcomes health board elections pilots

UNISON today welcomed the strong interest shown in two pilot elections to health boards.

The public services union said the pilot elections in NHS Fife and NHS Dumfries & Galloway have been a success for supporters of democratic engagement.

Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser, said:

“UNISON campaigned hard for direct elections. We believe this will create a culture change on health boards of more openness and consultation.

“We are pleased so many people chose to stand in these pilot elections and that many thousands of people have voted, demonstrating a real appetite for involvement.

“UNISON hopes that the pilots will prove to be successful and that voters across Scotland will then be given the chance to elect members to their local NHS boards.”


Thursday, 10 June 2010

UNISON response to CPPR health spending report

UNISON today warned that a report on health expenditure in Scotland makes crude comparisons to criticise so-called productivity in Scotland and confuses health improvement with spending on the NHS.

The public services union also pointed out that the report is produced in association with KPMG and that the report looks like a sales pitch for their services.**

Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said:

“The fact is that improving public health requires a whole range of action and involves spending from other areas including income support, housing, social work, early years etc.

“This kind of ill-informed report does not properly respond to the real health issues affecting Scotland and should not be used to justify slashing NHS spending.

“If you are looking at ‘productivity’ you can’t use crude figures, but need to look at patient outcomes in detail.

“The report’s authors admit that it isn’t possible to make like for like productivity comparisons with England and they have highlighted the major flaws in the earlier Nuffield Trust report.”

John Gallacher, Secretary to UNISON’s Health Committee, added:

“We reject the report’s recommendation for the creation of a health regulator.

“Robust financial performance measures are applied in NHS Scotland, including direct accountability of Chief Executives and Board Chairs to the Minister – via public meetings. NHS Scotland has been successful in contributing to Scottish Government efficiency targets.”


Notes For Editors:

1. UNISON’s response to the earlier, much-criticised Nuffield Trust report ‘Comparing NHS performance in the UK’ is at

2. John Gallacher, Secretary to UNISON’s Health Committee, also commented on the Nuffield report at

The CPPR Report is at
**In it, KPMG states: "KPMG is at the forefront of change in healthcare. We are market leading providers of advice and implementation skills on efficiency and performance improvement. We are well placed to help the NHS and the wider public sector meet the challenges ahead."


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

'Undercover Social Worker' TV programme - UNISON warns cuts to public spending will hit vulnerable

If you watched the Channel 4 Dispatches programme Undercover Social Worker, about Surrey County Council, you may be interested to see UNISON's reaction.

Helga Pile, UNISON’s National Officer for Social Care Workers, warned that public spending cuts will only make the highlighted problems of  under-resourcing, excessive workloads and massive recruitment problems worse.

UNISON's full reaction is here.

For information about social work in Scotland, including our Social Work Manifesto and a negotiating resource on Supervision and Workload Management, see UNISON Scotland's website at:

The Dispatches website is here.


Monday, 7 June 2010

Prentis challenges Cameron's 'chilling attack' on public sector

Mon 7 June 2010

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, responding to David Cameron’s speech today on the economy, said: “This was a chilling attack on the public sector, public sector workers, the poor, to the sick and the vulnerable and a warning that their way of life will change. There was nothing in this speech that told the rich, the banking and financial sector or the city speculators that their privileged way of life will change.

“With breathtaking gall, David Cameron is spinning a myth about a hard-done-by private sector. The Tories and their friends in big business seem to forget the tens of billions of pounds of profit made by the private sector out of public sector contracts.

“And Cameron is trying to fool the public into believing that cutting public spending, quickly and deeply, has nothing to do with political priorities or decisions. I don’t think people will be fooled.

“It is a complete nonsense to claim that you can cut tens of billions of pounds from public spending and still protect ‘front-line’ services. And throwing public sector workers on the dole does not make sense – that will have a drastic impact on local economies. For every £1 a public sector worker earns, nearly 70p is spent in local shops, cafes, hairdressers and businesses.

“Of course we have to manage the deficit, but there are other ways of reducing it and that includes making those who caused the crisis pay a bit more, and by tackling tax avoidance and evasion.

“Cutting deeply and quickly risks plunging the country back into recession – public services are too precious to be turned into a political football.”

UNISON UK Press Release


Thursday, 3 June 2010

UNISON condemns Israeli attack on Gaza Flotilla and UK Government's "muted" response

Thu 3 June 2010

UNISON, the UK’s largest public sector union, today unreservedly condemned the Israeli attack on the Gaza Flotilla and the killing of ten civilians calling the British Government’s response “muted”.

A statement from the union’s ruling body – its National Executive Council – sent very deep condolences to the families of the dead, and a commitment to sending a formal protest to the Israeli embassy in the UK.

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said:

“The Israel attack on this aid flotilla, which was also in international waters, is an outrage. We send our deepest condolences to the families of the ten civilians who were killed in this raid.

“The Government’s muted response to the attack is in stark contrast to those other countries who called for the immediate release of their citizens being held by the Israelis. Volunteers were held prisoner by Israel and pressured into signing statements saying that they had entered into Israel illegally. This is a disgraceful way to treat a convoy bringing much needed aid to the people of Gaza.

“On behalf of the union’s National Executive Council, I will be making a formal protest to the Israeli embassy in London as well as writing to Foreign Secretary, William Hague, about the UK government’s muted response.

“I will be urging our members to support the national demonstration in London on 5 June to show the strength of feeling.”

UNISON is calling for an immediate, unconditional end to the siege of Gaza by Israel and for humanitarian aid, including construction materials for the buildings destroyed 18 months ago, to be allowed in.


UNISON concerned over deep job cuts in NHS Scotland

Date: Thursday 3 June 2010

UNISON, the biggest Scottish health union, has expressed concern over deep job cuts planned by health boards across Scotland.

The boards have submitted their plans to Cabinet Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon who now intends to publish the full cuts. UNISON welcomes the publication of workforce projections and the establishment of a new partnership group with the trade unions to scrutinise the workforce plans.

Tam Waterson, Chair of UNISON Scotland’s Health Committee said:
“We are concerned at the scale of these planned job cuts. The Scottish Government’s commitment to ensure no compulsory redundancies is welcome, as is the involvement of unions in scrutiny of the health board plans. But it is clear that we face deep cuts which will impact on our vital health services.”

1250 job cuts are planned for Greater Glasgow and Clyde this year, 700 in Lothian – with another 1,300 in the pipeline for next year. Tayside plans to 500 full time equivalent jobs. Grampian has announced 600 job cuts, and Highland plans to cut 100.

NHS Scotland requires to save £270 million in the current financial year to balance the books following a tight Scottish budget settlement in February.

Meanwhile the health service faces rising inflation and increased demand.

Further pressure on funding is likely after the new coalition government at Westminster implements its emergency budget in June. The severe cuts expected in the deficit reduction plan will have inevitable knock-on effects in Scotland over the next few years.


Tuesday, 1 June 2010

UNISON and Stow students plan balloon protest over funding threats

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Staff and students from Glasgow’s Stow College will hold a mass protest outside Anniesland College on Wednesday 2 June at 9 a.m.

Representatives from the Scottish Funding Council are chairing a conference in the College on the same day.
Following the protest, 75 balloons will be released in Glasgow city centre, representing the 75 years Stow College has been serving the people of Scotland.

This double event is part of the campaign to fight the Funding Council’s decision to transfer over half of Stow’s courses into the proposed new City of Glasgow College, endangering more than 300 jobs and 4,000 student places.

Staff, students and the wider community which Stow College represents are fighting the Funding Council’s decision to transfer these courses, which could effectively render the College unviable.

The plans, which have been questioned by other Colleges and Universities, include spending £300m on a city centre development. This comes at a time when demand for College places during the recession is not being met due to a lack of funds to pay for additional courses.

UNISON believes that Stow is being victimised after refusing to become involved in the New City College project which has already cost countless millions, 19 jobs and 54 childcare places with the closure of Thistle Nursery at the Nautical College.

A UNISON spokesperson from Stow College said:
“Following our successful lobby at the Scottish Parliament, UNISON members have united with concerned students and plan to take the fight directly to the Funding Council.

“The Funding Council has arranged a conference to discuss their plan for education in the city centre without including the representatives of unions or students who will be directly affected.”

A spokesperson for Stow Students Against the Cuts said:
“As students at Stow College, we are horrified to learn of the proposed cuts that the Scottish Funding Council wants to make. The college is such a valuable resource for so many people, both in Glasgow, and from further afield.

“The opportunities it provides for adult learners and asylum seeking students, in particular, are absolutely vital, especially in this uncertain climate of employment.

“We wish to show our support to Stow College, the staff and lecturers, and the students of the future. We can't let the Scottish Funding Council run such a well respected college into the ground”.

The joint protest organised by the education union, UNISON, and Stow Students Against the Cuts will take place at Anniesland College at 9.00 a.m. and the balloon release will be in Buchanan Street at the Royal Concert Hall steps at 12.30 p.m. on Wednesday the 2nd of June.


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