Friday, 28 January 2011

‘Listen to the Scottish Government - come and talk to us’ UNISON tells Aberdeen City Council

Friday 28 January 2011

Aberdeen City UNISON has welcomed the Scottish Government’s intervention over Aberdeen City Council’s proposal to make more than 900 people compulsorily redundant. UNISON says its door is always open to the Council if it has new proposals to avoid compulsory job losses in the city.

John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, said today that it is "important" that Aberdeen City Council should "fully consider" the Scottish Government’s approach to avoid compulsory redundancies. Mr Swinney said he was working on a framework agreement that provides an assurance of no compulsory redundancies based on the delivery of flexibility in the workforce.

Karen Davidson, branch secretary for Aberdeen City UNISON said: "We have always been willing to talk about other ways to achieve budget efficiencies rather than sacking people. Over the last three years UNISON has co-operated with Aberdeen City Council to achieve reductions in staff numbers and cut spending.

"We have been very disappointed at the Council’s recent refusal to discuss realistic alternatives to compulsory redundancies - I hope that the Council will now listen to the Scottish Government and enter into meaningful talks with us.

"Obviously any proposals have to be acceptable to our members, who’ll be fully consulted on any new ideas that the Council comes up with to save money but also save jobs.

"UNISON wants to protect public services in Aberdeen and we need a financially stable Council – we do not think that sacking over 900 people will achieve either of these things so we’re willing to talk to our employer about alternatives."

Mike Kirby, Regional Secretary of UNISON said: "John Swinney said today that the Scottish Government’s priority is to maintain headcount as far as possible in the public sector. Throwing more than 900 hard working, dedicated council staff out of their jobs in Aberdeen flies in the face of that.

"UNISON and other unions have been working hard with the Cabinet Secretary and COSLA to reach agreement on avoiding compulsory redundancies and we’ve made good progress.

"Aberdeen City Council is very isolated at the moment in their approach to this issue but UNISON is still willing to engage positively with them. I hope that the Council will knock on our door soon with some reasonable new alternatives to compulsory job cuts."


Note for editors: 

What John Swinney said in Parliament
Friday 28 January 2011

In response to a question from Lewis Macdonald, MSP for Aberdeen Central, in the Scottish Parliament today, Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "I am working on the creation of a framework that will provide an assurance on the avoidance of compulsory redundancies based on the delivery of flexibility in the workforce to enable us to manage the financial constraints we face. The priority and aspiration for the agreement I am working to secure is to ensure that we can maintain headcount as far as possible in the public sector... On Mr Macdonald’s specific point about Aberdeen City Council I have of course discussed with the council the issues that have been raised publicly over the last few days. It is a matter for the Council to consider, but it is important that it fully considers the approach the Government has taken."


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Cuts will hit the vulnerable - South Lanarkshire UNISON

Wednesday 26 January 2011 

The impact of the government's policies will be felt hardest by older people, disabled people, children at school who have additional support needs and poor families. This is the conclusion from an analysis of South Lanarkshire Council's budget cuts package.

Of the £27.7m of cuts that the council need to make following cuts in the budget as a result of the Tory-led government's public sector cuts, 20.6% of the proposals are directly targeted at these vulnerable groups.

The analysis of the proposals has been carried out by the UNISON in South Lanarkshire.

The union's South Lanarkshire branch secretary, Stephen Smellie, said:

"Of the proposals being considered by the council, £5.7m of them are either cuts in services, increased or new charges which directly impact on older people, disabled people, children with Additional Support Needs or poor families. If these are selected by the councillors this would represent 26.3% of the total cuts package.

"This is despite the council trying to protect the most vulnerable by firstly making savings in other areas.

"The government claim that we are all in this together is shown to be a lie. Whilst the poorest and most vulnerable in South Lanarkshire are paying for the crisis they had nothing to do with causing, the bankers are still to get their bonuses and MPs debate whether to give themselves a pay rise.

"Even at this late stage we are urging the council to look again at these proposals and try to protect the most vulnerable.

However it is government policy which needs to change."

The UNISON analysis has been sent to all South Lanarkshire councillors and council directors.

Click here for South Lanarkshire cuts will hit the vulnerable - a budget analysis by UNISON - January 2011' (pdf)


Aberdeen: Employer has treated staff 'with contempt'

Commenting on Aberdeen City Council's announcement of 900 compulsory redundancies, UNISON Branch Secretary Karen Davidson has said: "We have already started the process for potential industrial action. There have been no negotiations. It was a political decision to demand this 5 per cent pay cut. It was either we accepted it or rejected it and our members have rejected it."

"The workforce are deeply disappointed and disillusioned by the council's decision. The employer has treated them with contempt and it looks as if we are bound for confrontation with the council."

Speaking on the BBC's Newsnight Scotland, UNISON Regional Organiser Sarah Duncan said, "We will challenge them (the council) at every opportunity on the extent and number of redundancies".

She added, "Staff  are unsettled and  unhappy and extremely demoralised". She stressed that this was not a blueprint for other councils which may be 'better managed' than Aberdeen and pointed out that Aberdeen had already been through previous rounds of voluntary redundancies

Commenting on the council's previous attempt to break workers' contracts of employment by abolishing increments, she said "No other council has been foolish enough to propose that. No other council has been foolish enough to ask staff to take a pay cut to pay for job cuts".

UNISON Scotland's 'Public Works' campaign challenges some of the myths put forward by David Watt of the Institute of Directors Scotland on the programme. For example...

Public service job cuts affect the whole economy
For every one job cut in the public sector at least one is lost in the private sector. (Treasury report Guardian 29 June) Cuts don’t just damage essential services, they damage the whole economy.

About 70p of each £1 a public service worker earns is spent in their own community. Pay cuts and job losses will damage local businesses and local jobs. Not just services lost but at least 900 less people in Aberdeen paying taxes and buying in the local shops.

Cuts don’t just mean job losses.
They will mean cuts in the quality of our children’s education and the standards of our health service. Cuts attack the fabric of society.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Anger at unnecessary 900 compulsory redundancies in Aberdeen

900 compulsory redundancies in Aberdeen: Anger from UNISON who says job losses unnecessary. See Newsnight Scotland tonight - full report tomorrow 25 Jan 2011

Monday, 24 January 2011

“Support your child’s support assistant” says Aberdeen city UNISON

Aberdeen City UNISON has launched a campaign to defend threatened Pupil Support Assistants ahead of a crucial council budget meeting on 10th of February. The branch are urging parents and citizens to write to their councillors defending the education service. The campaign also has an online petition.
Details of the campaign can be downloaded here (pdf)

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Sunday Herald: '£40m black hole will mean compulsory civilian lay-offs and fewer beat bobbies’

Why losing staff jobs will put handcuffs on police

"The Scottish Government’s plan to recruit 1000 police officers is merely a cosmetic political exercise. Police boards face a real terms cut of at least 6% and, as the government have instructed that police officer numbers have to be maintained, the cuts will fall almost entirely on police (civilian) staff. Police Boards have reported that they will have to backfill civilian posts with police officers. This means more police officers will be taken off the street to perform tasks they are unsuited or unqualified to do – at a huge additional cost to the taxpayer."

Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser, UNISON

More by Dave - plus feature article on police service cuts - at Sunday Herald site:


Friday, 21 January 2011

UNISON condemns savage cuts being imposed on Glasgow’s colleges

Friday 21 January 2011

UNISON says the savage cuts being imposed across Glasgow’s colleges will have a devastating impact on employers, families and entire communities.

Last month the Scottish Funding Council announced that colleges across the country must reduce their budgets by more than 10 per cent this year alone. College bosses have already indicated that this will lead to a loss of courses, a loss of staff and, in turn, a loss of educational opportunities for students.

UNISON’s City of Glasgow branch says it will continue to oppose cuts and says it will not rule out industrial action if forced job cuts are imposed.

Jim Snell, of UNISON’s City of Glasgow branch, said:

“Cutting funding for higher and further education will not help to rebuild the economy. These cuts will not only affect students, it will affect employers, families and entire communities.

“We want to work with colleges to protect our services and ensure there is no need for forced job cuts, however, if compulsory redundancies are imposed we will not rule out industrial action.

“UNISON will continue to oppose cuts, as every cut affects the services we can provide to our students. Scotland’s students didn’t cause this crisis, so why should they be left to pay the price for the bankers’ mistakes?”


Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Where are the new jobs? says UNISON

Ahead of the monthly unemployment figures out tomorrow, new analysis by UNISON, the UK’s largest public services union, has revealed a shocking collapse in the number of new jobs available compared to three years ago. The analysis exposes a fundamental flaw in the Tory-led coalition’s economic strategy.

For every 100 vacancies available in November 2007, there were just 68 in November 2010. Some regions are hit harder still; in the East Midlands, there were just 49 vacancies in November 2010 for every 100 available in 2007. In Scotland there were just 39 vacant jobs in November 2010, again for every 100 available in November 2007.

click here for full story on UNISON UK news

Monday, 10 January 2011

Thousands of workers in Scotland too low paid to afford rent

Thousands of workers in Scotland are being forced onto housing benefit by a toxic cocktail of low pay and high rents, warns UNISON, the UK’s largest union today (10 January). On average 22% of those claiming housing benefit are in work, rising to more than 32.6% in East Lothian.

The union is warning that the benefits bill is likely to soar as more people in the region lose their jobs because of Government cuts. UNISON is calling for fair pay - fair rents, to switch the burden away from taxpayers and onto employers and landlords.

The union urging the Government to take urgent action and start building much needed affordable homes.

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, the UK’s largest union, said: “The Tories like to paint a picture of work-shy scroungers, living it up in massive mansions at the taxpayers’ expense, when the reality is very different. Their own statistics show that thousands of workers in Scotland are so low paid, they are forced onto housing benefit to keep a roof over their heads. These families will be amongst those hardest hit by the government’s changes to housing benefit.

“It is time to shift the onus onto bosses and make it clear that they cannot get away with paying poverty wages by expecting taxpayers to pick up the benefits bill. And the Government cannot turn their backs on the housing crisis that is sweeping through the country. Families are crying out for decent accommodation and instead of targeting housing benefits, the Government should be tackling the underlying problem by building affordable homes. This would stimulate the local economy, keep people in work and stop landlords from over-charging because of shortages in the rental market.

“Without urgent action the situation is set to get worse. When you add in those losing their jobs over the coming months because of Government cuts, the problem is set to add a huge burden on the taxpayer that workers can ill afford.”