Monday 31 December 2012

Challenges ahead for 2013 – a New Year message from Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary of public services union UNISON

Monday 31 December 2012 (Hogmanay)

2012 has been a tough year for our vital public services and our members who work hard to provide them. And 2013 looks as though it will be just as challenging.

The austerity measures imposed by governments at Westminster and Holyrood continue to impact heavily upon our public services - so vital to local communities. UNISON will continue to challenge the need and the basis for these attacks by government on our public services in the year ahead.

Local councils across Scotland will set budgets in February. We will be challenging them too: will they be the agents of cuts or will they be champions of their local communities?

We will continue fighting to protect jobs and services in specific sectors - including our long-running campaign on police staff jobs, and in the further education sector - where fierce cutbacks are being imposed.

We know the whole issue of pay is bound to feature strongly on our campaigning agenda in the coming year, and the TUC and STUC will consider co-ordinated action the defend and improve the position of our members and the important services we deliver.

We have been winning the argument for the Living Wage and will continue to fight to have this extended not just to directly employed public service staff but to those working in the private and third sectors who are contracted to provide public services.

And UNISON Scotland  will work throughout 2013  to ensure all of our issues are better reflected in the debate on the constitution. We are more interested to determine in who’s interest power will be exercised than where it will lie.

Our document A Fairer Scotland outlines some of the principles on which we will challenge the political parties and the platforms ahead of the referendum in 2014. Some key questions we want answer to include:
PUBLIC SERVICES - What will you do to keep services public and maintain standards?
RIGHTS AT WORK - What sort of rights should people have at work - and what will you do to improve them?
JOBS & THE ECONOMY - What will you do to create full employment?
EQUALITY - What will you do to make Scotland a more equal place?

These are just some of the challenges we will take on in the coming year. If you work in the public services, come and join us so we can face them together and win a Fairer Scotland.

Happy New Year

Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary, UNISON
31 December 2012

Friday 28 December 2012

New film tells important story of Skye Bridge anti-toll protests

28 Dec 2012 

The successful campaign against tolls on the Skye Bridge is the subject of a BBC Alba film to be broadcast on New Year’s Day.

The media co-op film ‘An Drochaid/The Bridge Rising’ highlights once again the extortionate rip-off of the Private Finance Initiative – the Skye Bridge being the first UK PFI project.

Former Dingwall Procurator Fiscal David Hingston, who prosecuted the protesters who refused to pay tolls, is interviewed, saying: “PFI, in my personal opinion, is a fraud upon the public. It’s an abuse of government. The bridge should have been paid for out of public funds.”

Media co-op describes the documentary as an “epic, feel-good story of a modern rebellion” that is also a “bittersweet tale of passion, ego, and financial skulduggery.” They cite figures showing the total £25m of private investment cost taxpayers and road-users more than £74m.

It features almost all the key players including Skye and Kyle Against Tolls (SKAT) protesters, politicians, the bridge engineer, police and PF. However, Bank of America, the bridge owners before the 2004 buy-out by the then Scottish Executive, declined to take part. 

Producer Louise Scott said the film tells of “a successful uprising of a community against a bank, a rebellion against the idea of making private profit from public works.” A cinema length version is to follow.

Mischief making, the fun of days in court (“like going to the Shinty Cup final”) and a march across the bridge with beer barrels of ‘Extortion Ale’, are interspersed with recollections from some of the well known SKAT characters, including Robbie the Pict and former NUPE (UNISON’s predecessor union) official Andy Anderson, along with politicians such as former Scottish Office minister Lord James Douglas Hamilton, former Labour minister Brian Wilson and the former Liberal Democrat MSP John Farquhar Munro.

And it reveals that former Skye police sergeant Dennis Hyndman - who arrested his neighbours when they refused to pay the toll - was a secret supporter of the anti-toll campaign. “If I hadn't been a police officer I would have been down there protesting along with the rest of them."

The film will be shown on BBC Alba at 8.05pm on Tuesday 1 January 2013, repeated on Sunday 6 January at 8.30pm. Short trailer here Read more in reports in The Herald and Third Force News.

UNISON Scotland reports on PFI and PPP projects, including the Skye Bridge, are here.


Monday 24 December 2012

Delivering vital public services through the Christmas period - a message from Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary, UNISON

Mon 24 Dec 2012

At this time of year, when people take time off for holidays and family time and festivities, thousands of UNISON members will be working and on call – caring for people at all stages of life in the NHS; in local councils from social work to the roads department to home care services, libraries and leisure centres; in public utilities like gas, electricity and water; in the police and fire services and many more.

As a union, we are proud of our members and the vital work they do throughout the year to provide decent public services for our communities. People rely on the public services especially at this time of year and come to recognise their importance.

The Christmas break can be a time of stress. Of course we always face the impact of cold and severe weather. And in the current cold political climate, more stress and strain is being caused by economic conditions.

Many thousands of our members have suffered three years of wage freeze. The real wages of public service workers have dived far below the freezing point and many are being frozen out from real pay rises for up to ten years into the future. The pensions tax of 3% which faces many of our members adds an extra burden. All this is as a result of the unfair and unnecessary austerity measures being visited upon us through all levels of government.

Our pledge at this time is to fight for our vital public services and the jobs, pay and pensions of those who deliver them – this Christmas, and all year, every year.

UNISON Scotland wishes everyone who provides our public services and all who benefit from them all the best for a safe and happy festive period - whether on holiday or at work – over Christmas and the New Year.

Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary, UNISON
24 December 2012



Thursday 20 December 2012

UNISON condemns ‘Swinney Tax’ on NHS workers

Thu 20 Dec 2012
UNISON Scotland condemned the “Swinney Tax” on NHS workers today, as the Scottish Government published consultation proposals to increase employee pensions contributions for the second year - with a further increase to come in 2014.

This Swinney tax means employee pension contributions would rise on average by 3.2 % of salary over that 3 year period.

Tom Waterson, chair of UNISON Scotland Health Committee said:
“The SNP government had a clear opportunity to avoid passing on this swingeing financial burden to workers in NHS Scotland. UNISON made constructive proposals to avoid this UK Treasury levy being passed on and keep Danny Alexander’s long fingers out of the pay packets of our members.

“Unfortunately, the Scottish Government has chosen to adopt this measure – it is now the ‘Swinney Tax.’”

The NHS Superannuation Scheme has historically operated in surplus and there is no ‘black hole’ to plug. Monies collected from this pensions levy will not go into the NHS pension pot, and members of the scheme will see no additional benefits to them of these added costs. Instead, the levy will go directly to the Treasury as part of austerity measures to address a financial crisis - one which was not caused by NHS workers, but by casino bankers.

Wille Duffy, lead UNISON official for Health said:
“All our Scottish health branches will meet early in the new year to discuss how we respond to this latest wave of pay cuts for health workers. UNISON Scotland ran industrial action in 2012 in response to the first year of these increased charges and we will discuss our 2013 response in February.”


Notes for editors:

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union and represents around 50,000 members across all sections of the Scottish NHS workforce (except doctors).

2. The UK Treasury announced as part of the 2010 Spending Review to raise £6 billion by 2015 (£0.5 billion in Scotland) from increased contributions across ‘pay as you go’ public sector pensions schemes (NHS, civil service, teachers, etc). This equates to 3.2% average for individuals over period 2012-5.

3. 2011 saw agreement in England & Wales to a ’new’ pensions agreement in the NHS ,including increased contributions. Negotiations have taken place without success in Scotland throughout 2012 with the Scottish Government  to seek to find a Scottish solution. UNISON took industrial action across the UK in November 2011 on this issue and selective action in spring 2012 in NHS Scotland Boards (Greater Glasgow and Clyde; Lothian; Lanarkshire; Ayrshire and Arran).


UNISON NHS staff welcome a small bit of Xmas cheer

Thu 20 Dec 2012

UNISON Scotland welcomed today the decision of the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing to pay the PVG (Protection of Vulnerable Groups) registration fee of £59 for all relevant staff in NHS Scotland.

Following representation by UNISON, Health Secretary Alex Neil has written to the committee which administers terms and conditions for Scottish NHS staff (STAC) to ask them to ‘put in place a system where NHS employers will pay the PVG registration for all staff’ who need it to work with children and vulnerable people.

Tom Waterson, chair of UNISON Scotland’s Health Committee, said:
“This is a wee bit of Christmas cheer to hard working NHS staff, who will be running 24 hour services to the most vulnerable in our society over the Christmas and New Year period.

“We welcome Alex Neil’s decision to listen to UNISON’s arguments on behalf of NHS staff and to agree that the NHS will meet this new £59 registration fee.

“Many staff in the NHS already pay their own personal registration fee - for example nurses who pay £100 per year to the Nursing & Midwifery Council. At a time of increased pension costs to health staff and years of real terms pay cuts, this is a small but welcome Christmas bonus.”


Notes for editors
1. UNISON represents around 50,000 members across all sections of the Scottish NHS workforce (except doctors) and is the biggest union for nurses in Scotland.

2. In February 2011, the Scottish Government introduced a new membership scheme to replace and improve upon the current disclosure arrangements for people who work with vulnerable groups ( NHS Scotland has historically paid disclosure fees for its employees. There was a proposal to pass the new Protection of Vulnerable Groups charge of £59 on to some NHS workers – but that proposal has now been dropped following representation by UNISON, and all relevant staff will now have the PVG fee paid by the NHS employer.

Herald letters: Glasgow City UNISON on Self Directed Support, personalisation and adult social care

The Herald Letters Thu 20 Dec 2012

ONE of the biggest factors contributing to the reduction in support to disabled people in Glasgow is the individual needs assessment and resource allocation system which is used to calculate a person's individual care budget. Members of our trade union whose job it is to undertake these assessments have repeatedly told Unison that the system is primarily geared to ensure a budget which provides only a basic level of support. Self-Directed Support (SDS) and personalisation should of course be about much more and include notions of full social participation, active citizenship and maximising employment and education opportunities.

The fact that Glasgow City Council's current position is to cut 11% from the city's £90m adult social care budget through personalisation, including a 53% cut in the learning disability day service workforce, is perhaps the reason why so many people don't believe council officials when they talk about promoting independence and choice through the current proposals. Genuine SDS and personalisation costs money and should not be seen as a cheap alternative.

Those who oppose the cuts to the council's learning disability services should strongly argue that the individual needs assessment and resource allocation system is radically improved to reflect a genuine personalised approach. Our politicians should also be campaigning for more money overall for the city's vital services rather than just passing on the Coalition Government's cuts.

Secondly, the characterisation by some senior council officials of the current services as "exclusive and institutionalised" is a misrepresentation of what actually happens on the ground. Many individuals are currently supported by the council's day service workforce to access community-based leisure, social and educational opportunities.

Could this be better funded and managed? Of course. However the setting-up of "straw men" who can then be publicly knocked down is not a helpful contribution to the debate on how best to organise social work services in Glasgow.

Brian Smith, Branch secretary, Unison Glasgow City, 84 Bell Street, Glasgow.


Tuesday 18 December 2012

Job cuts threaten services and make workers sick in Western Isles

Tue 18 Dec 2012

UNISON’s Western Isles local government branch has issued a counter-warning over jobs and service cuts following an Audit Scotland alert that staff sickness rates were becoming an area of ‘concern’.

Branch chair Flora Somerville said:
“The Audit Scotland report noted that ‘the Comhairle (Council) is not clear what the underlying cause is for the increase in sickness absence’.”

“I think we can tell them. The cuts we have faced – including the loss of 200 jobs - have had a damaging effect on the wellbeing of the workforce.”

 “The low morale in the workforce, the constant pressure of excessive workloads and the uncertainty around the future of their own jobs is having a significant impact on sickness levels.” 

The job cuts so far represent more than 10% of the Comhairle’s workforce and there are proposals currently on the table which include yet more job losses. 

Flora Somerville warned that further job losses would have an impact on services as well as the health of council workers:
“The reduction in the workforce so far has been achieved without cuts in service delivery - but at a very high cost to employees who are doing the work of colleagues who have left. Any further job cuts are bound to impact on the services we deliver to the most vulnerable in our communities.”

UNISON Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said:
"Councils are being placed in this position as a result of decisions of the Westminster and Scottish Governments. These cuts across the UK are not about austerity measures to meet an economic problem, but about politics - a politics that hates public services and loves to profit from privatisation.

"If the Western Isles Council, or any other council, moves to any form of compulsory redundancies, UNISON will consult on industrial action."


For further information please contact:Flora Somerville, UNISON Western Isles branch chair, on 07767034786
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, UNISON Scotland, 0141 342 2877 or 078765 66978
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, UNISON Scotland, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 876 995

Notes for editors
1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing over 160,000 members working mainly in the public sector in Scotland and represents staff in all of Scotland’s local authorities.

2. The Audit Scotland press release and report on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) December 2012 are available online here:


Government adds to fear in workplace - UNISON

Tue 18 December 2012

The announcement today that the Government is cutting the opportunity for consultation on large scale redundancies from 90 to 45 days, “Is a cruel blow for workers and their families” said Bronwyn McKenna, UNISON Assistant General Secretary. She went on to say:

“Cutting the opportunity for employers and unions to realistically explore alternatives and ways to avoid large scale redundancies is a retrograde step. It will mean the loss of more skilled and experienced workers to the dole. The recession has led to fear in the workplace and the Government is adding to those fears by cutting short the opportunity for meaningful talks to take place.

“Any worker facing redundancy needs time to plan, to mitigate the impact on them and their family finances. Making arrangements to cover mortgages or rent, sort out bills, re-train and apply for new jobs all takes time and this cut will leave families facing financial hardship.

“This process can also be used to cut pay and conditions through disreputable dismissal and re-engagement strategies. Halving the period for consultation gives greater license to rogue employers to attack wages.”


UNISON UK news release:


UNISON calls for immediate withdrawal of redundancy notices at Queen Margaret University

Tuesday 18 December 2012

UNISON Scotland has called for the Education Secretary to intervene over incompetent redundancy notices issued by bosses at Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University. The higher education union wants the redundancy notices withdrawn immediately in this week before the Christmas break.

At least 29 staff have been notified that their jobs are under threat of redundancy – and three have been told they are definitely losing their jobs – despite the fact that the posts are not redundant. The university has also failed to comply with its legal obligations to consult with UNISON and to notify government.

Regional Organiser Emma Philips said:
“There is no need for these compulsory redundancies. The planned changes are part of a reorganisation with enough jobs for all existing staff.

 “The duties of the three people in Finance who were told they have been made compulsorily redundant will have to be covered by agency staff until new staff are recruited to cover their jobs. The security staff begin being interviewed for their present jobs today. 

“We have now written to Mike Russell, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, to tell him we do not believe there is a genuine redundancy situation. The jobs still exist, although there is a change to some of the tasks within the jobs.

“We want Queen Margaret University to withdraw all notices of redundancy and review all their processes in regard to this issue. And we call on Mike Russell as Education Secretary to take swift action to ensure this happens.”

UNISON already has the support of Labour’s higher education spokesman Neil Findlay MSP, who is putting down a motion today in the Scottish Parliament in support of the QMU staff.

Emma Philips said:
“We believe these redundancy notices are incompetent – in the legal as well as the usual sense of the word. But the university management persists in putting people under this kind of pressure in the week before Christmas. It is totally unjust, they are totally wrong - and they should call a halt now.”


For further information please contact:Emma Phillips, UNISON Regional Organiser, on 07538101221
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, UNISON Scotland, 0141 342 2877 or 078765 66978
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, UNISON Scotland, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 876 995

Notes for editors
1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing over 160,000 members working mainly in the public sector in Scotland and represents a range staff delivering important services in further and higher education.

2. Queen Margaret University has failed to comply with its statutory obligations to consult with the trade unions and to notify government. The legislation states that these consultations should take place if 20 people are vulnerable to redundancy.


Inflation rate - UNISON reaction

Tuesday 18 Dec 2012

The latest figures showing that inflation has remained static at 2.7% “is the lull before the storm” warned UNISON Chief Dave Prentis today.

He went on to say:
“Big increases in energy prices are set to hit in the New Year and the cost of feeding a family just keeps on going up.

“More than a million public sector workers have not had a pay rise for three years and the value of their take home pay just keeps on going down. It is a disgrace that this Government is instrumental in plunging so many families into poverty and turning to food banks for relief over Christmas.”



Friday 14 December 2012

Labour will have 'no hope' in 2015 unless it gets bolder, says Unison chief

The Guardian - Friday 14 December 2012 

Dave Prentis says UK's biggest public sector union is prepared to strike on issue of pay and party needs to get onside

Andrew Sparrow, political correspondent,
Friday 14 December 2012 17.17 GMT
The leader of the UK's largest public sector union has accused Labour of "avoiding all the big issues" and said the party will have "no hope" at the general election unless it adopts much stronger anti-austerity policies.
Dave Prentis, the Unison general secretary, said Labour should go into the election promising to abandon public service cuts and to ensure that all public sector workers receive at least the living wage.
In an interview with the Guardian, he also said he expected public sector workers to take more strike action in the future, probably over pay.
Although he was broadly positive about Ed Miliband's leadership, Prentis, whose union represents 1.3m workers, making it the largest in the public sector, criticised the opposition for being too cautious.

• Read the full interview with Dave Prentis


North Lanarkshire council must use £73m cuts decision delay to talk with unions

14 Dec 2012

UNISON’s North Lanarkshire branch today welcomed a delay until the new year on a decision on £73m of cuts that would “destroy the social fabric” of the area, but said the council must use the time for urgent talks with trade unions.

Branch Secretary John Mooney said: "Although we welcome this delay which UNISON has been calling for, it is vital that this time is used by the Council to fully engage the trade unions in meaningful dialogue around these cuts.

"Our stewards across the authority have been frustrated by the lack of information and involvement in the process, especially about the proposed saving suggestions for 2013/14 which, if accepted, would be implemented from April.

"The proposals for cuts to services and jobs need to be looked at. They would destroy the social fabric of North Lanarkshire if accepted. UNISON is urging the Council to use this delay to look again at the proposals and involve the trade unions in discussions.

“We had fantastic community support last week for our rally against the cuts, with people protesting in dreadful winter conditions. Councillors must listen to those whose services and jobs are at risk.”

UNISON Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said: "Councils are being placed in this position as a result of decisions of the Westminster and Scottish Governments.

"The cuts across the UK are not about austerity measures to meet an economic problem, but about politics - a politics that hates public services and loves to profit from privatisation.
"If North Lanarkshire Council, or any other council, moves to any form of compulsory redundancies, UNISON will consult on industrial action."

See reports on the decision to delay on websites at STV and The Herald.
See blog about last week's rally.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Audit Scotland report ‘Health Inequalities in Scotland’ - UNISON comment

Thu 13 Dec 2012

Public services union UNISON today (Thursday 13 Dec) welcomed Audit Scotland’s focus on health inequalities and the need for more preventative services but warned that action must include addressing wider issues such as in-work poverty.

Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, said: “We are pleased that Audit Scotland has identified the importance of more preventative services and healthcare focused in areas of high deprivation.

“But, of course, rising living costs and falling incomes are having a huge impact on families just now, with large numbers of people in work struggling financially. They need a living wage. Poverty is a major factor in the deep-seated health inequalities in Scotland.

“However much we want Community Planning Partnerships to ensure health boards, councils and others work together on this, that can only go so far in making a difference if we don’t also address some of the root causes by building a more equal society. At present, the policies of ‘austerity’ are doing the opposite.”


Notes for editors
1.    UNISON was responding to the publication of the Audit Scotland report “Health Inequalities in Scotland.”

2.    UNISON’s “A Fairer Scotland” report lists addressing health inequalities as a key priority, but says all the evidence shows these are linked to other inequalities. “Creating a healthier Scotland is not simply a matter of a strong NHS, vital though that is.” The report is online at

3.    These issues are also addressed in more detail in our 2008 briefing on the 60th anniversary of the NHS.


Wednesday 12 December 2012

'Anger at university bonuses' - 'cleaners get crumbs'

12 Dec 2012

The Herald and Morning Star newspapers reported today on UNISON criticisms of bonuses paid at Napier University.

The Herald's Andrew Denholm reported on  'Anger at university bonuses':

"UNIONS have attacked plans to give staff at a university a Christmas bonus.
Members of the Unison branch at Edinburgh Napier University described the scheme to give staff a one-off payment of 0.5% of their salary as "unfair and unworthy" to lower-paid staff.

Emma Phillips, the union's regional organiser, said: "When you work it out, this means the many cleaning, catering and portering staff who are part-time would get just £80.""
Full story here

The Morning Star's report by Peter Lazenby said: 'Cleaners get crumbs under uni bonus plan':

University cleaners and porters slammed a Christmas bonus plan today that would give them less than £80 while their £200,000-a-year boss receives £1,000.

Staff at Edinburgh's Napier University, members of public-sector union Unison, branded the Christmas bonus proposed by principal Dame Joan Stringer "unfair and unworthy."

Unison regional organiser Emma Phillips said: "The principal's Christmas message tells all staff they have provided valued work to help achieve success for the university.

"Yet the unusual 'special payment' she proposes is a one-off payment of 0.5 per cent of your annual salary plus £100, pro-rata for part-time staff."

Full report here


STUC on Labour Market Statistics

Wed 12 Dec 2012
Speaking after the release of the latest labour market statistics for Scotland, Grahame Smith, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary said:

'Despite the large fall in unemployment today's statistics provide no cause for complacency. The fall in unemployment is attributable to people leaving the workforce, not entering jobs. This process is particularly severe for women; there are now 50,000 more economically inactive women than this time last year. The STUC believes the labour market will remain weak through 2013 and beyond'.


Unemployment figures - UNISON response

Wed 12 Dec 2012
“The loss of another 24,000 jobs from the public  sector in the last quarter alone spells a bleak Christmas for those families and for families relying on vital NHS and local council services” said Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary today.

The UNISON chief went on to say:

“We know that the Government plans to cut more public sector jobs in the New Year.  The Olympic and Christmas boost has given some welcome short-term relief to the unemployed, but the Government must act now to create sustainable growth and jobs. “


Unemployment in the regions between August and October was:

Region             Total unemployment     Change on quarter    Percentage rate

North East         123,000                minus 11,000          9.5%

North West         298,000                minus 18,000          8.6%

Yorkshire/Humber   243,000                minus 29,000          8.8%

East Midlands      184,000                minus 8,000           8.0%

West Midlands      236,000                minus 1,000           8.7%

East of England    216,000                plus 15,000           6.9%

London             382,000                plus 5,000            9.0%

South East         283,000                no change             6.3%

South West         155,000                plus 2,000            5.7%

Wales              117,000                minus 15,000          7.9%

Scotland           204,000                minus 19,000          7.6%

Northern Ireland   68,000                 minus 3,000           7.8%


Trading standards not just for Christmas - UNISON

Wed 12 Dec 2012

Consumers will fall foul of counterfeit and dangerous goods if Trading Standards services continue to suffer under government cuts, UNISON warned today.

The UK’s largest union, along with the Trading Standards Institute, is campaigning to promote the valuable work of trading standards officers, reminding the public that these vital services are not just for Christmas.

Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for consumers and traders, and as belts are tightened, shoppers may be encouraged to take advantage of goods that seem too good to be true. 

But the union is warning that as public sector cuts bite, the ability of trading standards officers to protect them from fake or dangerous goods is becoming increasingly limited.

Helga Pile, UNISON national officer, said:

“The festive season is a particularly risky time for shoppers, particularly in these austere times, and without the intervention of trading standards officers, consumers can fall foul of unscrupulous traders offering fake or dangerous goods at prices that are too good to be true.

“But trading standards are not just for Christmas; officers work hard all year to keep consumers safe, to protect them from fraud as a result of fake goods, and to ensure traders abide by the law. They also protect legitimate businesses, which suffer through being undercut by the rogue traders.

“Our investigation has shown that public sector cuts are having a very real impact on the ability of the hard-working trading standards officers to provide this vital service.

“Without proper investment, we are concerned that the diminished workforce will struggle to protect the public, putting their finances, their health and the safety of their families, in real danger.”

Ron Gainsford, chief executive at the Trading Standards Institute, said:

“We all want to feel safe in the knowledge that the presents we have bought for our loved ones are the real deal and won’t put them in danger or fall apart as soon as they are opened and that our Christmas food and drink is what we think it is and won’t send us to hospital.

“Trading standards protect and support consumers, businesses and communities in ways that many don’t even realise.  We fear the realisation will hit when it is too late, when endless salami-slicing leaves no salami left and our world-class service will no longer be able to meet expectations.

“UNISON figures show that the level of activity in some key trading standards areas have already fallen by a quarter – it is clear to us that the looming further budget cuts will mean largely the end of trading standards as we know it, the status quo will no longer hold and the country is becoming vulnerable should a major crisis such as the foot and mouth outbreak occur again.

“Trading standards are not just for Christmas, but they are also not just for today – the service needs to be protected and effective new solutions found to make sure that we continue to have a robust system, that can not only function effectively on a day to day basis, but also respond to larger crises.”
As part of The Damage, the union’s far-reaching investigation into public sector cuts, UNISON has uncovered the startling impact of public sector cuts on Trading Standards services.

The investigation revealed that budgeted spending on trading standards services per head of population fell by 11% in two years, with 743 jobs lost, amounting to a massive 15% of the total workforce.

Budget cuts have led to dramatic falls in levels of activity across the board including:
•       a 29% drop in commenced prosecutions

•       a 26% fall in the total number of  scheduled inspections

•       a 24% fall in the total number of visits for enforcement purposes

•       a 25% fall in the total number of age restricted test purchases

UNISON UK press release

Notes for Editors:For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Irja Howie at TSI press office on 08456089430 / 07780675815 or

Charlie Breslin at the UNISON press office on 0207 121 5255 or

Trading Standards Institute (TSI)TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally.  We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer an;postID=1756155433723601067d business communities.

TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses. 
The Trading Standards Institute also hosts the UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) which provides consumer advice with regards to cross border disputes within the EU and also the European Consumer Centre Service (ECCS).  The ECCS  provide consumers with a wide range of services, from providing information about their rights to giving advice and assistance to their cross-border complaints and informing about the available resolution of disputes.  This is to enable consumers to take full advantage of cross border shopping within the EU, without risk to their health, safety or economic interests. 


Tuesday 11 December 2012

Napier principal’s offer is nothing like a fair Christmas bonus - UNISON

Tue 11 Dec 2012

UNISON members at Edinburgh’s Napier  University have criticised a Christmas bonus proposed by the principal on the grounds that it is “unfair and unworthy”.

Cleaners and portering staff would receive less than £80 extra in their Christmas paypackets compared with the bumper gift of over a thousand pounds which Professor Dame Joan Stringer would be awarding herself.

UNISON Regional Organiser Emma Phillips said:
“The principal’s Christmas message tells all staff they have provided valued work to help achieve success for the university. Yet the unusual ‘special payment’ she proposes is a ‘one off payment of 0.5% of your annual salary plus £100 (pro-rated for part time staff)’.

“When you work it out, this means that the many cleaning, catering and portering staff who are part-time would get £79.66 – but the principal herself, on a salary in excess of £200,000 and soon to retire on a fairly decent pension, would pick up more than a thousand pounds.”

Marilyn Philip, UNISON branch chair at Napier University, said:
“Our members find it odd in the current crisis and with proposed cuts in university funding that their management feel they can use public money in this way. Poor pay awards and the rising cost of living have left our staff on lower pay much worse off. Within the last three years this same university found itself to be £6 million in debt virtually overnight and compulsory redundancies were made.

 “We believe that this Christmas offer is unfair and unworthy. A fairer way to use the resources would be to give all staff the same amount instead of a 0.5% one off payment.

 “There might be nothing like a Dame – but this is nothing like a fair Christmas bonus.”


Notes for editors
1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing over 160,000 members working mainly in the public sector in Scotland – including staff in higher and further education.

2. By UNISON’s calculation on the basis of the salary point scales at Napier, the part-time catering and portering staff - on grade 2 - would get £79.66 at bottom of scale, bearing in mind  also many of the catering/cleaning staff are part time and this will be pro-rated. A senior manager - grade 10 - would get £467.51 and the Principal - on over £200,000 salary would get over £1,000.


Monday 10 December 2012

STV: Protest over council's daycare for learning disabled reform plans

10 Dec 2012

From STV news:

Carers and trade unionists have joined forces to challenge Glasgow City Council's planned reform of day services for people with learning disabilities.

Councillors, who are to decide on the proposed closure of three day centres in January, attended an an emotional meeting with the parents of service users on Monday.

The carers spoke of their exhaustion and fears of how they will cope if the facilities are removed for more than 60% of those catered for.

Full story and video:


Glasgow Personalisation Network Campaign meeting 10 Dec 2012

10 Dec 2012

Carers and campaigners called for Glasgow's day care closure plan to be halted today at  the Glasgow Personalisation Network Campaign meeting held at UNISON's branch office in Bell Street.

L-R Ian Hood, Learning Disability Alliance Scotland; Brian Smith, Glasgow UNISON branch secretary; Tommy Gorman, carer; Grace Harrigan, carer. More pictures at UNISON Scotland Picasa gallery Glasgow Personalisation Network meeting 10 Dec 2012

The meeting was chaired by Brian Smith, branch secretary of Glasgow UNISON, and addressed by carers Tommy Gorman (pictured speaking) and Grace Harrigan, and Ian Hood of Learning Disability Alliance Scotland. Numerous press and media were in attendance.

Tommy Gorman told the meeting that his daughter attends the Summerston day care centre, one of the three which would close under the plan.

He said:
"You can have a consultation, and you can have a fair consultation but you can't have a fair consultation done by Glagow city Council.
"If you're a Glasgow MSP and you don't have a view on the day care closures then you need to ask yourself some questions
"The Scottish Parliament was put in place to make a difference. We're calling on them to step in and investigate
"If this isn't a bogus consultation, if it isn't just about budget cuts, then Glasgow City Council should have nothing to fear from it being looked into.
"The closure of three out of the seven centres leaves provision for the most vulnerable at a very low level - not just now but for decades into the future.
"We're pushing for an independent review of the closure of these day care centres."

Grace Harrigan, a carer who belongs to the East Carers group, said:
"We feel the council wants to absolve itself of its responsibility. We believe they intend to hand this (provision) over to private and thrid sector organisations whose staff are on very low pay.
"The reform is being done by money and not by the assessed needs of the learning disabled people.
"Councillor Matt Kerr (Glasgow City Council social care spokesperson) has said personalisation and self directed support does not mean that carers will be doing any more caring - when every carer is shouting from the rooftops that is does mean exactly that.

Ian Hood, Learning Disability Alliance Scotland (LDAS) called for the Care Inspectorate to investigate the Glasgow consultation and closure plan.

He said:
"The consultation which Glasgow City Council is doing is a crime - and not just in a moral sense. There is law about how to go about consultation. Councillors don't have to consult - they can just decide to do things - but if they do they have to do it properly and legally.
"Amongst other things they must give plenty of time. And people with disabilities need to be involved in a substantial way.
"An 8 week consultation with 4 weeks out over Christmas is not acceptable.
"Glasgow City Council set up the consultation from the start off to get the answer they wanted - and to justify the closure of the day centres.
"We should challenge this consultation legally - we are working with families in Dundee who face the same problem.
"But legal challenges take a long time.
"This is a job for the Care Inspectorate.
"18 months ago ago they gave Glasgow City Council a damning report in a number of aspects. What has Glasgow City Council done about it? Nothing.
"We pay billions of pounds - across the whole country - to make sure our most vulnerable citizens are cared for. The Care Inspectorate is there to ensure this happens."

Carers and user made contributions from the floor about the reality of the plans to cut day care in Glasgow.

See also:
Sam McCartney, Glasgow UNISON on council proposals to cut day care services - 13 Nov 2012

Learning Disability Alliance Scotland


Herald: Warning - women facing workplace segregation - UNISON comment

From The Herald Mon 10 Dec 2012

A hard-hitting report from a Holyrood committee found women are subjected to "occupational segregation", clustered in certain jobs such as caring, cleaning and clerical work.

A glass ceiling still separates women from boardroom jobs, while they also receive unequal pay to men, the Equal Opportunities Committee's inquiry into the unequal participation of women in work found. It has now issued a call for experts to come forward with ways to address these issues and other problems.


The trade union Unison has been in the front line of campaigning for workplace equality, and organiser Dave Watson said:

"We welcome this initiative from the Equal Opportunities Committee.

"At a time when the UK Government is seeking to weaken equality measures, it is very welcome that the Scottish Parliament is looking at practical ways to strengthen equality in the workplace.

"Inequality in the workplace has many causes including job segregation, pay, training and access to childcare. The Equal Opportunities Committee is right to recognise that the problem is well understood.

"We now need to move towards action at every level."


Full story by Robbie Dinwoodie - Mon 10 Dec 2012 - at The Herald website:


Thursday 6 December 2012

Rally at North Lanarkshire Council: Videos - & STV report: 'Grim reapers' in protest at £73m cuts

6 Dec 2012

Great speeches today at the rally in Motherwell against £73m worth of cuts being proposed by North Lanarkshire Council.

You can watch speeches here by UNISON's North Lanarkshire Branch Secretary John Mooney, UNISON's Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby, Marie Quigley, Chair of North Lanarkshire UNISON, and John Milligan, Secretary of North Lanarkshire Trades Council.

Three 'grim reapers' were also in attendance and local community campaign groups also supported the demonstration. STV reported today:

'Grim reapers' in protest at £73m cuts by North Lanarkshire Council

More than 100 protesters have gathered in North Lanarkshire to protest at planned council cuts.

Trade union members from Unison and Unite were joined by other supporters outside North Lanarkshire

Council’s headquarters in Motherwell to show their anger at planned cuts of at least £73m.

Some members of Unison dressed as the grim reaper to highlight their cause.

Protesters gathered at lunch time and heard a number of speeches from union officials, including one from Mike Kirby, the Scottish Secretary of Unison.

After the protest, he said: “I think, in such appalling weather, this was an illustration of the determination of trade union members in North Lanarkshire Council, and supporters from the local community who understand what a devastating impact of these cuts could make.

“Hopefully, we can work with you (the council) but if you move towards compulsory redundancy then we will look at balloting for industrial action.

“This determination we have seen today has been reflected at communities across Scotland. As the councils focus on budgets for next year, people are saying we have had enough.”

One of the groups who offered support to the union was the Save Abronhill High School group, who are fighting to save the Cumbernauld school made famous by the movie Gregory’s Girl.

The proposed closure of the school, with pupils joining those at Cumbernauld High ahead of a new school being built, is one cut being considered by councillors in an effort to save more than £1m a year.

Read the full STV report here