Saturday, 30 October 2010

UNISON call commits Labour to defending public services

Saturday 30 October 2010

UNISON today called on Labour to focus on protecting public services and to build a nationwide campaign to defend vital services.

The union – which represents more than 160,000 members providing public services across Scotland – received huge support for its contemporary motion which was debated at the Scottish Labour Party Conference in Oban today.

The motion called on Labour to build a robust campaign in defence of public services and to urge public bodies, particularly local authorities, to publish full details of the impact the cuts will have on local services and local economies. It also highlights the importance of public investment and expenditure in sustaining employment and demand, as well as providing essential help and support to those struggling with redundancies, reduced incomes, repossessions and rising joblessness.

Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser, said:

 “Labour has today committed to defending public services and to fighting the coalition’s cuts agenda. The scale of the threat to jobs and services cannot be understated and public services must be seen as part of the solution to our economic difficulties, not part of the problem”

Gordon McKay, Chair of UNISON Labour Link Scotland, said:

“Today Labour has shown that it is on the side of the people. The party is now committed to resisting the austerity agenda dreamt up by the Con Dems after their friends in the city had wrecked the economy. Alternative budgets and economic impact assessments will play a crucial role in publicising the damage that is being done to services.”


For more information on UNISON’s alternatives to the cuts go to


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

UNISON's Better Way - some of the first 20,000 reasons to Mobilise

UNISON Scotland members and supporters formed a main part of the STUC's 20,000-strong There is a Better Way march and rally in Edinburgh on Saturday 23 October 2010.  Here are some of the reasons why they were demonstrating against the ConDem cuts and for a Better Way to fund our vital public services. And here are reasons for members to get involved in UNISON Scotland campaigns - Public Works: and the Mobilise 2010 campaigning event on 19-21 November in Glasgow.

(See UNISON Scotland site for more info)


Sunday, 24 October 2010

UNISON on the Edinburgh demo - NHS Glasgow Clyde CVS branch

Here's the UNISON NHS Glasgow Clyde and CVS branch video of yesterday's 20,000 strong march in Edinburgh, as featured on UNISON Scotland YouTube channel


Sunday Mail: 20,000 Scots take to streets of Edinburgh to protest against spending cuts

THOUSANDS of Scots marched in protest at Government spending cuts yesterday as Treasury axeman Danny Alexander battled to justify them.

More than 20,000 joined a rally in Edinburgh to oppose the spending review announced by the Con Dem coalition on Wednesday.

Union leaders warned of strike action over the slashing of public services, which will see Scotland lose around £3billion over the next four years.

Up to 50,000 of the 500,000 public service jobs under threat will be lost in Scotland and the same number could go in the private sector.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress organised the rally and general secretary Grahame Smith said: "If members decide that the best way is to take industrial action then they will do that. I'm not saying that as a threat, but as a fact.

"We want to work constructively with employers but if they are not willing to do that then members will take action to protect their rights."

Full story at Sunday Mail website

More UNISON pics and story to follow here on this blog and on UNISON Scotland website.  


Saturday, 23 October 2010

STV: 20,000 take part in Edinburgh cuts protest

23 October 2010 12:39 GMT

20,000 take part in Edinburgh cuts protest 
More than 20,000 people took to the streets of Edinburgh in a demonstration against cuts to public services.

The march and rally took in unions, political groups and concerned members of the public in a show of unity against the UK Government's spending review.

Organised by the Scottish Trades Union Congress, it aimed to highlight fears about the impact of Chancellor George Osborne's savings package.

Huge cuts amounting to about £81billion across the UK were unveiled on Wednesday - and Scotland is expected to lose about £3 billion over the next four years.

The colourful procession gathered outside City of Edinburgh Council headquarters and stretched at its peak along the entire route to Princes Street Gardens, exceeding organisers' expectations.

Full story at STV website

More UNISON pics and story to follow here on this blog and on UNISON Scotland website.  

BBC Scotland: Unions protest in Edinburgh over public sector cuts

Edinburgh cuts rally, pic by Des Loughney 
A rally in Edinburgh to protest at public sector cuts was attended by more than 20,000 demonstrators.

Union group the STUC arranged the event to demonstrate against measures in the UK government's Spending Review.

STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said: "We launched this campaign to dispel the myth that there is no economic alternative to these cuts.

"There is an alternative. Get people back to work, get the economy growing again, and the public finances will largely take care of themselves.

"We also launched this campaign to expose the lie that it is those with the broadest shoulders that will bear the brunt of the cuts."

Union leaders said they had been "overwhelmed" by the response to the protest rally attended by people from across Scotland.

See full story at BBC Scotland News

More UNISON pics and story to follow here on this blog and on UNISON Scotland website. 


Friday, 22 October 2010

STUC predicts major turnout for There is a Better Way march and rally in Edinburgh

Thousands of trade unionists, community activists and members of general public will join the STUC-led 'There is a Better Way' march on Saturday 23 October.

STUC General Secretary, Grahame Smith said:
“Given that we called this event as a launch rather than an end point for our campaign, we are both surprised and delighted by the response we are receiving - not just from our members but from wider Scottish society.

“The intensity of the response will only increase when the implications of the Comprehensive Spending Review sink in over the next two days.

“You only have to look at the list of organisations attending and sending supportive messages to understand the depth of anger and growing level of support for the campaign.”

On 23rd STUC will announce a range of future protest activities as well as committing to joint campaigning work with Scotland’s key civic and community organisations.

March details:
The march musters 11.00am at East Market Street Edinburgh at the south side of Waverly Station.
The march will set off at 11.30am. It will travel a route along Princes Street. At approximately 12.30am the march will assemble at the Ross Bandstand in Princes Gardens. The rally will begin at some stage between 12.30 and 1pm depending on the size of the march.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

"We are all in this together" – pull the other one...

Tory Chancellor George Osborne keeps saying "we are all in this together" as if we are all sharing the pain of the deficit reduction. Less than a day after his ruinous Comprehensive Spending Review the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) have shown this to be a lie.

The full IFS briefing materials can be found here. But the real story can be shown quite simply by looking at the graph above.

The key test is how the cuts affect people as a proportion of their income – the graph shows a number of things but the thing to look at it the white line. This shows the cuts per income decile as a proportion of income (the axis for this line is on the right). This shows that those on lower incomes suffer more that those on higher incomes.

Clearly we are not "all in this together."

What we have is a millionaire Tory Chancellor, in a Cabinet of millionaires, looking after the interests of millionaires.
(Thank East Mids colleagues!)


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Tens of thousands of Scottish jobs could go – UNISON response to Comprehensive Spending Review

George Osborne has condemned the country to decades of hardship and the people to unnecessary wholesale unemployment, with his “ideologically driven, no hope, no ideas, cuts CSR” warned UNISON.

Following the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review, Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said: “For CSR read Cuts Strangle Recovery. The Tories’ ideologically driven, no hope, no ideas, cuts agenda is poisoning the country’s chances of recovery, infecting the public sector and costing jobs in the private sector. The much-trailed cuts come as no great surprise, but the scale is a devastating blow to communities who depend on essential public services.

“This Saturday will see thousands of people take to the streets of Edinburgh to demonstrate against the cuts and send a clear message that there is a better way.”

The union says that some 60,000 public sector and 65,000 private sector jobs could go in Scotland because of these cuts. They could cost the Treasury around £500m in lost tax revenue and £640m in increased benefit payments - adding to the annual deficit and almost entirely cancelling out the saving to the public sector pay-bill.

In Scotland, the Barnett consequentials are every bit as serious as expected. In practice the impact will be greater because councils and health boards have additional costs over and above these allocations.

Councils and health boards have to live in the real world where inflation is more than double the nominal Treasury assumption.

STUC: today's deep and immediate cuts will have "devastating impact across Scotland"

20 Oct 2010

Demo Sat 23 Oct
Responding to the Spending Review announced by the Chancellor today, Grahame Smith, (Scottish Trades Union Congress) STUC General Secretary said:

“The deep and immediate cuts announced today by George Osborne will have a devastating impact on workers, communities and businesses across Scotland. It is disappointing if hardly surprising that he took the opportunity to repeat every myth and distortion on the origins and extent of the current economic crisis peddled by this administration.

“The cuts are not unavoidable and the coalitions programme is not fair and progressive. It is simply provocative to continually assert that ‘we are all in this together’. It is shocking that benefit recipients, the most vulnerable members of our society, are being forced to shoulder the steepest cuts, apparently in order to allow the Chancellor to seek to score a cheap political point.

“The spending plans announced today do nothing to address rising unemployment or to provide effective assistance to the unemployed. The Government argues that jobs growth in the private sector will more than compensate for the half a million jobs it predicts will be lost from the public sector over this spending review period. And yet, only this morning, the Bank of England has stated that ‘private sector remains very cautious about expanding the labour force’.

“At the There is a Better Way march and rally on Saturday in Edinburgh, the workers and communities of Scotland will send a very clear message to the Chancellor and his coalition colleagues that they will not accept these brazenly ideological cuts without a fight. The Government will do well to listen.”


Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Thousands rally against cuts at Westminster

Thousands rally against cuts at Westminster
Thousands of public sector workers have packed Central Hall to capacity with standing-room only as they protest against the coalition government's plans for huge cuts in public spending. Messages from the rally are giving us updates on events.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Investing in quality public services - the best alternative to austerity cuts‏

Investing in quality public services - the best alternative to austerity cuts‏ - including an excellent paper by David Hall of the University of Greenwich on ‘why we need public spending’.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Campaign Skills Festival 19-21 Nov - Sign Up Now

From devolution to the poll tax, UNISON members have generations of experience to draw on as we build the campaign to defend vital public services - the fight of our lives. MOBILISE 2010 is a campaign skills festival. A celebration of years of trade union activity and a platform on which to build and organise for the challenge ahead. With access to up to five modules or workshops over the weekend and some longer course, the event will equip you for the coming campaign. For information or to register contact: Gillian Bannatyne 0141 342 2829 Venue - STUC, 333 Woodlands Road, Glasgow 19-21 November 2010

Thursday, 7 October 2010

UNISON response to Hutton report on pensions

Dave Prentis
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, has responded to the Hutton report on pensions published today. He said:
“Our key priority is to make sure that our members’ pension schemes, that they pay into all their working lives, remain sustainable and affordable and that there is no damaging race to the bottom. We will seek to maintain, using all means possible, the agreements reached two years ago to make our public service schemes sustainable and also protect existing members of the scheme.

“This is an interim report, and UNISON will continue making the case for public sector pensions throughout the course of the review.

“It is only right that the report recognises that public sector pensions are not gold-plated. We are pleased that Hutton recommends keeping a defined benefit scheme, but we are adamant that the final salary scheme should be retained.

“There is a real danger that taking a career average to calculate pensions will see the low paid getting less in their retirement – especially as the government has switched from using the RPI to using the CPI to calculate pensions.

“Public sector workers already pay a sizeable amount into their pension schemes year in, year out. Many of our members would struggle to pay more. Council workers, including home carers, librarians, social workers and dinner ladies, pay in 6.4% of their wages, while NHS workers pay an average of 6.6%.

“Plans to make public sector staff work until they drop will hit the low paid hard. For many public sector staff, working longer is not an option. Many nurses, home carers, paramedics and refuse collectors are already forced into early retirement because of the physical nature of their jobs, and the damage it does to their health.

“It is time the government turned their attention to the private sector, where two thirds of employers don’t provide a single penny towards their employees’ pensions, forcing taxpayers into picking up a massive long-term benefits bill.”

UNISON UK News Release:


STUC welcomes Hutton acceptance that public pensions are not ‘gold plated’

7 October 2010

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has welcomed the acknowledgement from Lord Hutton that public sector pensions are not ‘gold plated’ following the publication of his report into public sector pensions.

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary said:
“While welcoming Lord Hutton’s acceptance that defined contribution or money purchase schemes are not the way forward for public sector workers we are concerned that the proposal of higher contributions from public sector workers may reduce the number of members who choose to enter pensions schemes.

“This is self defeating as future Governments will have to meet the cost of supporting public service workers who retire without pensions.  Our fear is that those increased contributions will hit the most vulnerable workers, the low paid and part-time workers who are predominantly women.

“The coalition Government when considering Lord Hutton’s recommendations should remember that public sector pensions schemes have already undergone substantial change with retirement ages in many being raised to 65 in line with the private sector.

“The Government should also review the current method of evaluating pension schemes to provide a more accurate and realistic projection of scheme liabilities.

“The myth that public sector pensions are ‘gold plated’ derives from the race to devalue private sector pensions driven by the greed of large corporations and their share holders, It is deceitful for organisations such as the Institute of Directors to justify transferring the risk for pensions savings to public sector workers to legitimise the tactics of private sector employers”

STUC News Release:


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Anger on pay but members decide to defend services first

Members in local government are angry about pay and worried that the imposed pay cut will hit the low paid the hardest. However, their priority at this time is to protect and defend vital public services as councils up and down the country slash budgets, jobs and services.

This was the message from a consultation with members across Scotland on the councils' imposition of a 0.65% pay offer this year with a two years' pay freeze, as delegates met to consider the next steps and agreed a plan of action to defend vital jobs and services and to press for decent pay which values public service workers.

Branches had consulted members and they were clear that, despite the anger, their main aim was for a campaign that will....

· urge all our members in local government to join with other unions and service groups to support the STUC "There is a better way" Demonstration on 23rd October in Glasgow.

· lobby political leaders with the message that there is an alternative to cutting jobs and services

· link with branches to co-ordinate a campaign of opposition to the cuts, and to get out the message that public service cuts will damage the economy and local communities and that there is a better way

· keep pressing the employers for a decent pay rise for council workers through the conciliation (ACAS) service if possible

· work with the other public service unions for a decent pay rise next year and the year after.

"Pay is inextricably linked with cuts and job losses as local authorities axe vital services," said Dougie Black, lead negotiator.

"Whilst the loss of these services impacts dramatically on members' jobs it also has a huge impact on local communities. UNISON as the largest public sector trade union in Scotland recognises this and is actively encouraging and strengthening links with local community groups and voluntary organizations."

The Scottish Employers (CoSLA) have imposed a non negotiated pay settlement of 0.65% for 2010/11, 0% in 2011/12 and 0% in 2012/13 for all council and related staff. This represents a pay cut in real terms for all our members and hits the lowest paid hardest.

The Trade Unions have consistently sought to resolve this dispute through discussion and negotiation and laterly were seeking the involvement of ACAS to arbitrate however the employers have refused to cooperate and are simply ignoring the established Scottish Bargaining Machinery.

Despite previous statements from the employers about how they value their workforce the reality is that they are treating their employees with contempt.

Click here for the full Local government briefing


Monday, 4 October 2010

STUC slams Chancellor’s Tory Conference speech

October 4th 2010
Commenting after George Osborne had delivered his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, Grahame Smith, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary said:

“It is hugely unfortunate that the Chancellor has used this occasion to shamelessly repeat every distortion used to justify Coalition policy. The implications for growth and employment across Scotland and the UK are dire.

“The Chancellor tries to further embed the conventional wisdom that there is a consensus in favour of massive and rapid cuts. He invokes the ‘bond markets’ as supporters of austerity but fails to cite evidence in this regard because none exists. He chooses to ignore that the OECD’s ‘support’ for his austerity programme has been weak and inconsistent. He appears unaware that the rating agencies are wholly discredited.

“He wilfully ignores those other authoritative voices who continue to challenge Coalition policy: Nobel Economic laureates such as Stiglitz and Krugman, dozens of prominent UK and international economists, the Chief Economic Commentator at the FT and a wide range of civic organisations.

“The Chancellor deliberately sets out to confuse by claiming that anything other than strict adherence to the emergency Budget programme will provoke ‘market turmoil’. Once again, the implication is that austerity will be rewarded by the markets when evidence from the Eurozone suggests that the opposite is true. The fact is that interest rates on index-linked gilts have been 1 per cent or less for more than a year and spreads over German bunds have been 1 percentage point, or less, throughout the crisis. The market view of the UK’s credit worthiness is clearly not contingent on the cuts programme laid out in the emergency Budget.

“A mature reassessment of the fiscal position at the Spending Review is essential. It is highly likely that a new programme, one that makes consolidation contingent on growth, would be rewarded by the markets.

“The Chancellor’s brazen ignorance of the daily challenges facing those in poverty is shocking. Benefit recipients will be justifiably appalled that the Chancellor thinks the current system amounts to an ‘open ended cheque book’.

“This speech has done nothing to dispel the notion that the Chancellor’s approach is ideological not pragmatic. He describes unions as a vested interest but goes on to cite employer lobbying bodies as if they are an independent voice of reason. The British people will see through this.”

Press release on STUC website:

See also STUC's There is a Better Way site for more on ConDem cuts and the need for properly funded public services.


Saturday, 2 October 2010

Reports from STUC black workers conference

UNISON's Nahid Aslam is sending up to the minute reports from this weekend's STUC Black Workers' Confrerence in Glasgow at