Tuesday 31 May 2011

We're not quite ALL in this together...

Do you remember David Cameron  announcing savage budget cuts and austerity measures saying that   "We're all in this together"  - Well, I hate to break it to you, but it seems that he might not have been, all  things considered, taking everything into account, telling the truth   

While most of us face a pay freeze (or even cut) whilst inflation reduces the  value of the wage we do earn... it seems the pain isn't being fully shared  - or even noticed  - by Britain's top bosses.

Executives of FTSE 100 Companies have trousered a 32% pay rise in the last year...

.... leaving them with a salary mid point of £3.5 million

Which according to one survey  - isn't  even performanced related.

This level of money sloshing about at the top is something to bear in mind the next time someone tells you that we have to cut back on services because 'the country is bankrupt' , or that you have to submit to a pay freeze because of 'the state of public finances', or even that " We're all in this together"

Saturday 28 May 2011

Balanced police workforce

Today's Herald newspaper reports on the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents conference. They have stressed the importance of a balanced workforce and not taking experienced police officers off the beat to undertake the roles of police (civilian) staffs.

Their survey comes as senior policing figures fear that forces’ ruling boards of councillors will be tempted to cut numbers for civilian staff instead of officers.  Chief Superintendent David O’Connor, Asps president, said:

“A balanced workforce is all about the right people with the right skills in the right jobs. It would denude the frontline if we start taking highly confident and experienced police officers and putting them in to office jobs.”

This is welcome support for UNISON Scotland's long standing position from senior police officers who understand the operational realities. The 1000 police officer target is simply a cosmetic political fix that makes no sense.

Friday 27 May 2011

Sharon Shoesmith court appeal ruling- UNISON reaction

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said: “This ruling will give a much-needed boost to social workers up and down the country who protect daily thousands of vulnerable children and adults. It should serve as a lesson that whipping up a campaign of vilification and hatred will never save a single child’s life. http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2308

Calling pensions champions. Sign up now

Scottish Pensions Bulletin May 2011 (pdf) is now out. Pensions Champions and contacts - sign up now - and register for training courses

UNISON Scotland welcomes warning to Treasury over public service pensions

UNISON Scotland today welcomed concerns from MPs who warned that the Treasury has not carried out a proper assessment of the impact of changes to public service pensions.

Thursday 26 May 2011

IT schemes and shared services

A salutary warning for Scotland on the risk of large scale IT projects from south of the border.

The NHS's National Programme for IT is an £11.4bn project which has delivered some good things, but which according to the National Audit Office (NAO) - will not deliver on its central aim of making a detailed local care record available to local hospitals where a patient may well be treated, or making a Summary National Care Record available across England, for use when someone needs urgent treatment away from home.

The BBC's Mark D'Arcy gives an entertaining account of the Public Accounts Committee grilling of the NHS in England's chief executive Sir David Nicholson and the private contractors Sheri Thureen of CSC, and Patrick O'Connell the president of BT Health.

Why is this important for Scotland? There are large scale shared IT services planned in the Clyde Valley project and elsewhere. We are also expecting the McClelland review of public sector IT infrastructure soon.

As we have said before about public service reform - bigger is not always better and that holds for IT as well.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Billions wasted on Trident could stop cuts, warns UNISON chief

Commenting on the Defence Secretary Liam Fox’s announcement that the cost of a new fleet of Trident nuclear missile submarines could more than double to £25bn by the time they are built, Dave Prentis, UNISON’s General Secretary, said:

“The Defence Secretary’s decision to plough money into Trident will leave a sour taste in the mouth of the millions hit hardest by the Government cuts.

“This huge sum could be used to save the economy and stop the loss of thousands of jobs and hospital wards, children’s centres and other vital services. The £25bn does not even include the price of warheads, running costs and the bill for leasing Trident missiles from the US.

“Just a week ago Nick Clegg claimed the Lib Dem’s had put a stop to all this. This is clearly another sign that the Government’s claims cannot be believed.

“We know that there is an alternative to the Government’s cuts agenda - cracking down on the tax avoiders and tax havens, raising a Robin Hood Tax on the banks and making taxation fairer, would also save billions, at the same time as safeguarding our recovery.”


Tuesday 17 May 2011

BBC - The Street

The BBC programme The Street should be compulsory viewing for those who think the private sector can take over public services or that it can be left to 'communities' to sort out themselves - the so called Big Society.

The street was in Preston, but it could be pretty much any street in any town or city except for one thing. The residents of this street agreed to take part in a unique experiment. They agreed to live without all the services their council tax pays for - all, that is, except for schools for their children and the emergency services - and to let the BBC film how they got along or, more often, how they did not.

UNISON Scotland did its own version of this last year with what we called 'A Day in the Life'. We also costed the private alternatives. It would bankrupt most people. The simple conclusion - Public Works.

Severance payments

An article in today's Scotsman indicates that a total of 6,400 staff have taken redundancy or severance deals at a cost of £100m over the past three years. This analysis includes Scottish local government, police and health boards.

Monday 16 May 2011

PFI schemes - waste of money

UNISON this week called for an end to Private Finance Initiative schemes as it published a report showing that the ConDem Government and the Scottish Government are both continuing the “chronic waste of public money” on PFI, despite strongly criticising it in opposition.

The Scottish government has announced new PFI schemes with a capital value of £2.5 billion, which will enter into procurement in the next two years.

Job cuts and inequality

In an analysis piece in today's Scotsman, UNISON's Dave Watson makes the link between job cuts and inequality.

The Scotsman's main article uses the latest TUC report on unemployment to highlight unemployment blackspots in Scotland where 40 people are chasing every job. Areas like West Dunbartonshire and North Ayrshire now make up two-fifths of Britain's worst unemployment blackspots. This is a dramatic deterioration in Scotland since 2005.

Dave's analysis highlights a deeper problem within council areas and argues that we have to target particular areas to address long term inequality. We know that more equal societies do better on every measure, so this is an issue for everyone in Scotland.

Saturday 14 May 2011

Rally for cuts flops

Only 350 people turned up to the rally for cuts in London today. This is in contrast to the half a million people who joined the TUC march for the alternative to deep, early spending cuts.  

It exposes the organisations that supported the rally like the so called Taxpayers Alliance for what they really are. Representative of no one other than their offshore big business backers.

The TUC said: "The fact that only a few hundred people rallied for more Sure Start centre closures and punitive cuts on disabled people, shows how little support there is for the government's economic plans."

Friday 13 May 2011

Austerity measures don't work

Austerity measures “don’t work” and prevent countries from creating jobs needed to generate economic growth, said Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. He is also an economic advisor to the Scottish Government.

“Austerity is an experiment that has been tried before with the same results,” Stiglitz said today in a speech in Copenhagen. Cutting budgets in low-growth cycles leads to higher unemployment and hampers recovery. Europe’s leaders are gripped by “deficit fetishism,” Stiglitz said. Austerity “doesn’t work, it does not led to more efficient, faster growing economies.”

We could not have put it clearer. There is a better way.

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Planned Cuts and Job Losses

UNISON Scotland's latest survey of budget cuts and job losses shows planned cuts of at least £962m and job losses of nearly 18,000. These are not projections of the sort that policy think tanks and others have churned out, but actual plans approved by public bodies across Scotland for this financial year, with some spill over to the following year.

The biggest cuts are in local government, with £535m taken out of budgets and consequential job losses totalling 11,936. In health, £278m of cuts with consequential job losses of 4461.

The balance comes from police, housing and universities. The plans in these sectors have not been finalised. In addition, voluntary sector providers of public services have been badly hit with over 500 job losses so far.

These figures only cover the services UNISON organises in so the total public sector job loss next year will be greater. These numbers come on top of some 13,000 job losses last year.

In total, this survey shows that UNISON Scotland's original projections of 50-60,000 public sector job losses over the CSR cycle looks about right. And we also know from the Treasury model that for every public sector job loss there is at least one job loss in the private sector.

Job losses on this scale will continue to blight the Scottish economy. There is an alternative, Public Works.