Thursday 30 September 2010

Support across Europe for ETUC Day of Action: Morning Star

Austerity-mongers rattled by huge protest in Brussels / Britain / Home - Morning Star
Thu 30 Sep 2010

The halls of EU power in Brussels trembled to the footsteps of more than 100,000 workers on Wednesday as they converged from across Europe to reject crippling austerity cuts.
Trade unions and activists representing 24 countries brought the city to a standstill as they snaked their way through the streets with a thunderous march that ended in a rally at the Esplanade du Cinquantenaire park.
As Spanish workers staged a general strike and Greek rail staff walked out over privatisation, the common call in a multitude of languages was for co-ordinated action against the biggest attack on Europe's working class since the 1930s.

See full story and more in the Morning Star


Wednesday 29 September 2010

UNISON SCOTLAND NURSING CONFERENCE TUESDAY 2 NOVEMBER 2010 10-4.30pm - Trades Hall, 85 Glassford Street, Glasgow

Our public services are increasingly under attack and proposed job cuts in the NHS in Scotland could have a major impact on services and quality of patient care.

This one day conference is open to our members across the whole nursing family, including nurses, midwives, health visitors and healthcare assistants.

Together we will consider the key issues currently affecting members and offer an opportunity to discuss and debate the future for nursing in Scotland. £20.00 per delegate payable by your Branch. Contact Fiona Martin on 0141 342 2820 or f.martin


Nicola Sturgeon Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing

Keynote Speaker Ros Moore Chief Nurse for Scotland: 'My Ambitions for Nursing in Scotland'

Roger Thompson NMC Director of Standards and Registrations Increasing Public Protection: moving beyond the register

Gail Adams Head of Nursing for UNISON Launch of ‘Speaking Up and Speaking Out’ and ‘Raising and Escalating Concerns’

Mick McKeown, Principal Lecturer at University of Central Lancashire with Dave Mercer, Senior Lecturer at Liverpool University: Why nurses should not be in BNP Debate: Do we need as many registered nurses? Debate/discussion on skills mix and use of competences for Healthcare Support Workers.

Chair: Bridget Hunter, UNISON Lead Officer for Nursing in Scotland

‘Fat cat’ bankers should tighten their belts – not the public

‘Fat cat’ bankers should be forced to tighten their belts, not the public - that’s the message from UNISON Scotland.

To mark the European Trade Union Confederation’s (ETUC) day of action on Wednesday, September 29, members and activists will gather in the city centre to pull on the belt of a ‘real’ fat cat and send a clear message that the public should not be left to pay the price for the bankers’ mistakes.

The stunt will coincide with the launch of UNISON Scotland’s Tell A Pal initiative, which urges members to spread the word that there is a real alternative to the cuts and privatisation agenda.

On the day, UNISON members will be handing out copies of the Tell A Pal leaflet which feature four key messages covering cuts in services, fair taxation and economic impact.

It will also urge as many members as possible to show their support for public services by attending the STUC demonstration in Edinburgh on October 23.

Scottish organiser Dave Watson said: “The bankers caused this problem and now they’re at it again with their big bonuses, while the public are left to pay the price by losing the services they rely on.

“It’s our communities who will suffer the most from these cuts, yet it’s the public who are being told they should tighten their belts not the bankers. We want to spread the word that there’s a real alternative to the cuts and we don’t have to lose the services that we all rely on. “It’s time the fat cat bankers were made to tighten their belts, not the public.”


Notes to editors You are invited to send a reporter/photographer and/or crew for a photo opportunity outside Marks and Spencer in Argyle Street at 12.30pm on Wednesday, September 29.

Public sector workers will be pulling on the belt of a person dressed up as a ‘fat cat’. Scottish Organiser Dave Watson will be available for interview on the day. For more information on the alternatives to the cuts visit

Monday 27 September 2010

Head of Scotland’s biggest public sector trade union set to stand down

After almost 40 years of service to the trade union movement, Matt Smith will be standing down as head of Scotland’s biggest public sector trade union later this year.

Matt, 58, has led UNISON Scotland as Scottish Secretary since it was created in 1993 and is the only one to have held the post.

Over the years, Matt has worked to promote policies which advance the interests of members, particularly in relation to low pay and equal pay. He has also played a pivotal part in championing the role of trade unions and ensuring their relevance as a major stakeholder in civic society.

In 2004, Matt was awarded an OBE in recognition of his contribution to trade unionism.

Matt was also a key voice in the campaign to establish the Scottish Parliament, serving on the McIntosh Commission on Local Government and a Scottish Parliament, as well as a member of the Calman Commission on Scottish Devolution.

Matt said: “It has been a great privilege to lead UNISON in Scotland. This has provided many opportunities to serve and to work with colleagues committed to advancing our public services and those who work within them. I am particularly proud to have contributed to the creation of our Scottish Parliament which is now so essential to the life of our nation.

“We face exceptionally challenging times ahead and I know that UNISON is committed to supporting and promoting our public services. I am very proud to have been a part of UNISON for almost two decades and I believe that now is the time to hand over and to let others continue with this work.”

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Matt has played an integral role in shaping and developing our organisation at UK level and, in particular, within Scotland. His passion and determination for protecting public services has seen him lead UNISON through many challenges over the years and he is highly respected by everyone in his field. Over the past four decades Matt has made an exceptional contribution not only to public service but to the trade union movement as a whole. He will be missed by all of his friends at UNISON and we wish him every success in his future endeavours.”

A former President of the STUC, Matt was recently appointed by the Scottish Parliament as a Commissioner with the Scottish Human Rights Commission. He also serves on the Scottish Standards Commission, is a member of the Employment Appeals Tribunal and is a serving JP in Ayrshire and JPAC member. Matt is also an executive member and Honorary Fellow of the Scottish Council for Development and industry.

Over the years, Matt has served in a wide range of public and voluntary organisations. He is a former member of the Church of Scotland Church and Nation Committee and former vice chair of the Broadcasting Council for Scotland. He also served as an elected councillor and Dean of Guild in the former Stevenston Town Council and was a parliamentary candidate in 1979.

Matt Smith will be standing down as Scottish Secretary in December 2010. His replacement will be announced later this year.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Tell a Pal There is a Better Way

There is an alternative to cuts. Click here for a postcard and links to 'Tell a Pal' what the alernatives are. Spread the word and build for the demo on 23 October. Public service cuts are driven by ideology not economics. There is nothing inevitable about public service cuts - they do not make economic sense.

Monday 20 September 2010

SCCS calls on Ministers to strengthen climate change legislation

Date: 20 September 2010

Climate campaigners today called on Ministers to use their powers to strengthen Scotland's world leading climate legislation.

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) welcomed a consultation on draft guidance to public bodies on their new climate change duties, which come into force in January.

The duties say that public bodies must consider climate change in all they do and act in the ways best calculated to help deliver the tough targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Public bodies must also adapt to future changes in the climate in a sustainable way. But the reporting regime is only voluntary, meaning it may have gaps and so may not provide sufficient information to help monitor what action is being taken across Scotland by the public sector.

SCCS said that Ministers should use their statutory powers under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 to set up an effective mandatory annual reporting system. This would underpin the success of the new duties and should include proper scrutiny of the reports.

Tom Ballantine, Chair of SCCS, said: "Early action on cutting emissions is vital to preventing runaway climate change. If we don't get the reporting system right from the start, we could lose valuable time and Scotland would be at risk of a dangerous early delay in meeting its world leading targets.

"This would damage confidence at a time when the public sector and the Scottish Government should be leading by example and driving forward the policies to deliver the targets."

Dave Watson, UNISON Scottish Organiser, said: "We have ample evidence from other reporting regimes that not only do voluntary measures not deliver the information you need, but the organisations themselves would also welcome a reporting template which they can incorporate into their existing annual reporting mechanisms. The guidance should provide this."

SCCS will be submitting a response to the consultation that also argues for more emphasis in the guidance on involving the workforce and the general public in what their local councils, health boards and other public bodies are doing to protect the planet.

Dave added: "We won't achieve these targets without bringing on board everyone in Scotland and the public sector has a crucial role. The guidance must make that clear and encourage a bottom up approach, not a top down one.

"The most important thing that is needed is a step change where all public bodies incorporate climate change into their business planning so that it is routinely taken into account in decision-making.

"If that is happening, it will be straightforward to report on what the organisation is doing to comply with the duty. With mandatory annual reporting and proper monitoring we will be able to effectively assess the overall picture to see if we are on course to meet the targets."


Notes to editors

The Public Bodies Climate Change Duties Consultation can be viewed online on the consultation web pages of the Scottish Government website at

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland is a diverse and growing alliance with over 60 Scottish members representing more than two million supporters, ranging from environment and international development groups to faith organisations, trade unions, student societies and many more.


Monday 13 September 2010

'We will defend all that we hold dear'

13 Sep 2010

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, stands with public service workers
Moving the motion on public services at TUC Congress today, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis spoke of the injustice of the Coalition's cuts.

Describing, Bob Diamond, the new boss of Barclays, who is paid £11m a year, Mr Prentis said: "We're told he's worth every penny, says he wakes up every morning with a smile on his face", whilst, he said, "public service workers across the land wake up every morning, not with a smile on their face, but worried whether they still have a job because of the failure of bankers like Mr Diamond."

And the cuts were unjust he said, as the coalition takes "a chainsaw to our public services", whilst "banks are posting record profits."

And they were unjust he said, as "bankers are back to their bonuses, hoping that no one will notice the income of the top 1% of our society is now greater than the total pay bill for our NHS, our schools and our local government put together."

He spoke of the alternative to the cuts that the coalition government refuses to pursue.

"The coalition says they can't ask their friends in big business to pay tax. That would discourage enterprise. They can't regulate the financial system or there'll be fewer jobs in the city.

"But with breathtaking hypocrisy, they take away the benefits of the poor and disabled. They undermine the job security of low paid workers. They let our communities feel the pain."

Outlining further alternatives he said: "If there's money to bail out bankers and their bonuses, if there's money for war, for Trident, there's money available to protect our public services.

"And if money is tight, never mind a pay freeze for our members. How about a pay freeze for the bankers? We’ve seen enough of what they've done. We've had enough of their greed, their arrogance. It's them, not our members, who should be doing more for less."

Read more of this story on UNISON UK website


Sunday 12 September 2010

UNISON attacks Scottish CBI hypocrisy over public service cuts

12 September 2010

UNISON Scotland today responded to a call from the Chair of CBI Scotland to end the ‘war of words’ over public services. At the CBI Scotland annual dinner Linda Urquhart declared it was time to “call a halt to ‘them and us’ attitudes which have prevailed for decades”.

UNISON Scotland Convenor Mike Kirby said:
“A halt to them and us attitudes from big business would indeed be welcome. However, it is hard to take such calls seriously when the rest of Linda Urquhart’s speech was an unrestrained attack on public service delivery.”

“The current financial crisis was caused by private corporate folly and the deregulated financial system that the CBI supported. It is public service workers and the communities they serve that are paying the price of the policy agenda promoted by big business. To impose this failed policy on public services would be further economic vandalism.”

The CBI leaders speech also called for further privatisation of public services. Evidence submitted by UNISON Scotland to Parliament last week shows that this approach has cost the taxpayer millions of pounds in extra costs and undermined the integrated delivery of services.

Mike Kirby said:
“In a week that has seen the spectacular collapse of a leading outsourcing company (Connaught), it is a strange time to call for the imposition of further chaos on hard pressed councils. Public services should be democratically accountable to local communities, not to the Boards of big business who are driven solely by the need to make profits.”


Note to Editors:
UNISON Scotland’s briefing to parliament on these issues can be found online at briefings/index.html


Thursday 9 September 2010

UNISON urges MSPs to champion a better way forward for Scotland

9 September 2010

UNISON Scotland is warning political leaders to ignore the recommendations in the Independent Budget Review (IBR) and instead to champion a better way forward for Scotland.

Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said the financial projections vastly understates the scale of cuts in local services and said the public should not be left to pay the price for bailing out Britain’s banks.

He said: “The financial projections, whilst disastrous for public services and the economy, actually understate the scale of cuts in local services.

“The IBR fails to question the necessity for these cuts, adding to the myth that cuts in public spending are both essential and inevitable. Cutting public spending now will simply prolong and deepen the recession – it is an ideological, not economic, response to calls for cuts in public spending and will devastate the nation’s public services.”

UNISON’s analysis of planned local cuts shows that councils and health boards are planning much greater cuts than the IBR would indicate. This is because real inflation is likely to far exceed the notional Treasury allowance for inflation. Public bodies also face increased demands on services due to the recession and demographic change, plus reductions in income in addition to the Council Tax freeze.

Dave added: “The public should not be left to pay for the failure of private corporate folly through cuts in services.

“There is a credible economic alternative to the cuts and privatisation agenda and political leaders will be judged on how far they distance themselves from this report. Instead, our MSPs should be championing a better way forward for Scotland.”


Notes to Editors:
1.    A parliamentary debate on the Independent Budget Review is being held today (Thursday, September 9).
2.    UNISON Scotland’s briefing to MSPs can be found online at


UNISON Scotland Briefing for MSPs on Independent Budget Review

9 September 2010

Ahead of a debate on the Independent Budget Review in the Scottish Parliament this morning, UNISON Scotland has published a Briefing for MSPs on our website

 "The IBR report does not address the disastrous consequences of spending cuts for Scotland. Whilst some of the factual analysis is helpful, the solutions are largely a rather tired rehash of right wing economic orthodoxy. There is an alternative, and UNISON is calling on MSPs to champion a better way forward for Scotland."

Briefing: Key Points
  • The financial projections, whilst disastrous for public services and the economy, actually understate the scale of cuts in local services.
  • There is a credible economic alternative to cuts in public spending.
  • The privatisation of Scottish Water would contribute nothing to the capital budget; result in higher bills to the charge payer and transfer control of Scotland’s greatest asset abroad.
  • Outsourcing will cost more and break up integrated service delivery.
  • Shared services will make, at best, only a long term contribution to cost savings.
  • It is unfair to ask public service workers to pay for the failure of private corporate folly through pay cuts and reduced pensions.
  • Universal provision is more efficient and contributes to a better performing more equal society.
  • Cuts at this level and at this time in the economic cycle, will damage the economy and result in huge job cuts in the private as well as the public sector.
  • There is a better way! At UNISON Public Works and the STUC Better Way websites.

See full briefing here: Briefing for MSPs


Wednesday 8 September 2010

PCS and UNISON forge alliance to fight cuts

Wed 8 Sep 2010

Two of the UK’s biggest public sector unions, UNISON and PCS, representing
1.7 million workers, have pledged to forge a powerful alliance to fight back
against the coalition government's cuts to jobs and services.

The unions are joining forces to campaign, co-ordinate and, where possible,
take action in unity and support of each other.

The government’s assault on the public sector threatens the livelihoods of
750,000 public sector workers. Job losses are already leading to drastic
cuts to services that people rely on especially the poor, the old and

The unions will campaign together to build support for a realistic
alternative to the cuts agenda. One that would protect and create jobs to
secure the economic recovery, tax the banks, big business and the
super-rich. They will also campaign for the non-renewal of Trident, to put
an end to wasteful spending on consultancy and agency staff, against
expensive privatisation, and to build a fairer society.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:  "This is no paper policy, this
alliance has teeth.  Working together we can build an effective fighting
machine to combat the cuts and protect vital jobs and services.  And, when
the circumstances are right, we will take action together.

"Across the country UNISON will work with the PCS to promote an alternative
economic vision to the Con Dems’ monosyllabic cuts agenda.  We want to build
a fairer future for all, not just a haven for the super-rich."

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "The millionaires in David
Cameron's cabinet insist that we are 'all in this together'. But low-paid
public sector workers and other vulnerable members of our society do not
share this view when they can see the government's plans seek to punish them
for the mistakes of bankers and financial speculators.

"Our alliance with UNISON is a crucial first step towards building the kind
of united opposition that will be needed to oppose the government's spending
cuts that will tear communities apart and destroy the public services we all
rely on. PCS is committed to an alternative programme of economic growth,
collecting the £120 billion in taxes avoided, uncollected and evaded each
year, creating jobs, curbing the use of civil service consultants and
reducing waste.”

The unions are setting up a national liaison group to promote joint activity
and co-ordinate a national campaign together. The group will work with the
TUC and co-ordinate public sector alliances across central and local

To forge the partnership further PCS and UNISON are organising a There is an
alternative event with the aim of bringing together trade unionists,
politicians, academics, voluntary and community groups.

Across regions the unions will twin officers and organisers, developing
regional campaign teams, regional events and roadshows building on links
with voluntary groups.

At local level the unions will develop support links between members and
activists including joint workplace and public meetings and joint local

Original release on UNISON UK site:


Saturday 4 September 2010

We've got the argument. We've got the alternatives. We've got the vision - get out there and organise for it

There is an alternative to savage cuts in public services is the message from a strategy meeting of unions and community groups hosted by UNISON Scotland.  The 270 delegates united behind a call from Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, to build "Our vision of a good society. A society based on fairness, solidarity, and democracy. A society in which public services are there to enable everyone to participate.

"This vision, and these values, have always been fundamental to our ethos as a union. Because it's what our members try to turn into reality every day when they go to work.

"So let's not be fooled by the scaremongering about the debt", said Dave. "And let's not fall for the lie that that this society can't afford decent public services. The money is there in our economy, if we want to raise it and put it to good use. But this government doesn't want you to realise that.

"Not because half of the cabinet are millionaires who don't want to pay their share…although half of the cabinet are millionaires who don't want to pay their share.

"It's because of an ideology. An ideology that hates public services. An ideology that loves privatisation. An ideology that sees public service employment - millions of people caring and helping and educating - not as an achievement to be celebrated - but as a problem to be tackled."

Underlining the point, the STUC's Stephen Boyd exploded the myths about the crisis, blow by blow. The STUC's new 'There is a Better Way' campaign ( is a crucial resource for showing not only that the cuts are ideologically rather than financial driven - but also how they will hinder a recovery and possibly throw us into a further recession.

But this meeting was not just a talking shop. It was there as the first step in a series of events as participants moved into workshops to develop practical plans to take the campaign forward.

Nobody underestimated the task. As Dave Prentis told UNISON's National Conference in June, "the next four years will test us all. Test our resolve. Test our nerve. But we will pass the test. The world has changed - new worries, new fears. And our members look to us to lead. This is no time to hang our heads. It is time to stand tall."

He returned to that theme in Glasgow "We've got the argument. We've got the alternatives. We've got the vision. What we need to do is get out there and organise for it".

Friday 3 September 2010

Prentis warns Scotland’s political leaders against slashing public services based on ‘ice cream van economics’

Date: 3 Sept 10

UPDATE: Dave Prentis speaking at
'There is an alternative' conference Saturday 4 September
UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis will tomorrow (Saturday) warn Scottish politicians to ignore the ‘ice cream van economics’ of the recent Independent Budget Review report.

He will tell a major conference in Glasgow that the country’s political leaders will be judged on how far they distance themselves from the July report and fight to protect the services that people rely on.

He said today that the report by the so-called three wise men painted a vision of a future “where services are privatised or charged for, if they are there at all” and where 35-60,000 jobs are cut.

Dave added: “I don’t want to be too harsh on these three not very wise men. They were asked to deliver a package of cuts. That’s what they have done.

“A proper review of the budget would have started by looking at the services we need, then working out how you raise the money to pay for them.

“You don’t look at a Government’s finances and say ‘we’ve got this much, what can we get for it?’

“That’s what kids do at an ice cream van. We should be able to expect better from experts looking at a country’s finances.”

UNISON Scotland’s ‘There is an alternative’ conference tomorrow will see more than 200 union and community activists from around the country share experiences about threats to local services and discuss how to develop the union’s Public Works campaign.

Keynote speaker Stephen Boyd, STUC assistant secretary, will deliver an economic analysis that demonstrates that there is an alternative to the cuts and privatisation agenda.

Dave added: “I have a message for the Scottish Government. The Independent Budget Review is just a tartan version of the Tory plan for the rest of the UK. It’s a plan that the Scottish people rejected, overwhelmingly, at the ballot box only a few months ago.

“We’ll be able to judge the truth of how well Alex Salmond, or the other party leaders, stand up for Scotland by how much distance they put between themselves and this plan to devastate the country’s public services.”


Details of the conference are on UNISON Scotland’s website at