Friday, 30 November 2012

Match our vision for a Fairer Scotland – UNISON issues referendum challenge

30 November 2012

Scotland’s largest union in public services today issued a challenge to campaigners in the independence referendum.

UNISON Scotland said both sides must answer questions about how their scheme will match the aspirations and vision of UNISON members.  

Tomorrow (Saturday) sees the formal launch in Glasgow of “For a Fairer Scotland” – a document which outlines the union’s priorities in the forthcoming debate on the constitution.

Alongside this, the union has framed questions that members will be encouraged to put to all those campaigning around the referendum in the coming months.

“For A Fairer Scotland” does not advocate support for either the “Yes” campaign or “Better Together”.  Instead it challenges those campaigns and others to show how their plans can match UNISON’s vision.

For a Fairer Scotland states:

“UNISON’s approach to constitutional questions is one that is driven by the interests of our members, by the sort of Scotland we want to, and deserve to, live in.  This means that for us precise constitutional arrangements are the end, not the starting point of the debate. We must first define the sort of Scotland we wish to see and then try and examine the likelihood of differing constitutional arrangements on offer to deliver on that vision.”

UNISON Scottish Secretary  Mike Kirby said:  “We are not interested in an argument about national identity.  It’s not where the power lies, but in whose interest that power is exercised that really matters. Today we have outlined our principles for a better, fairer Scotland. It is the task of others to show how their proposals match up to those principles.”

Lilian Macer, Scottish Convener, said: “What we are looking for is a willingness to tackle inequalities, poor health and deprivation. Doing that is social change. Unless it is explained how this is to be achieved, arguments for or against constitutional change mean very little.”


Notes to Editors

1.       The “For a Fairer Scotland” document and the accompanying questions are both on the UNISON website at
2.       The document was drawn together following a consultation with members throughout Scotland over the summer.
3.       It is launched at UNISON’s Scottish Council meeting in Glasgow on Sat 1 December.


School children with health needs are at risk and guidance must be updated urgently

30 Nov 2012

UNISON said today that a disturbing new survey showing school children with health needs are being put at risk backs our call to the Scottish Government for urgent action to update guidance and improve training and support for staff.

UNISON and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are jointly calling for action to protect children and young people with health needs in schools. A survey of school support staff and school nurses for UNISON and the RCN reveals a worrying picture.

Despite many examples of good practice, a growing number of children with increasingly complex health needs are being put at risk as staff are being pressurised into caring for them without enough training, supervision and support.

As teachers’ contracts do not include giving or supervising medicines, the responsibility often falls onto school support staff. More than one in four (28%) of support staff say that they do not feel comfortable or competent to give pupils medicines, or to support their health needs. This can include tube feeding, airway suctioning, tracheostomy care and catheterisation. Full details of the UK-wide survey are in the news release below.

UNISON is about to conduct a more detailed survey in Scotland covering the administration of medicines and medical procedures in educational establishments, and has recently raised the issues with Scottish Education Secretary Mike Russell.

Carol Ball, chair of the union’s Education Issues group, said: “We met with Mr Russell and pointed out that the main guidance on this is considerably out of date, going back to 2001. Indeed this was highlighted in last month’s report by the Scottish Children’s Commissioner Tam Baillie on a Freedom of Information survey of Scottish councils about the administration of medicine in schools.

“The Scottish Government must act urgently to protect children and update the guidance, ensuring proper training and support for all staff involved. Otherwise, as UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis warned today, this situation is a tragedy waiting to happen.”


Notes to Editors

1.       UNISON represents a range of staff providing medical and health care support in educational establishments, some of whom will be designated as school nurses, but including many other support staff.
2.       Full details of the survey announced today are in the news release below.

 UNISON UK news release, with survey details, is here


#StrongerTogether in @unisonscot - more recruitment campaigning around Scotland

30 Nov 2012

Pictures from the latest branch campaigning:

Below is a group of UNISON Grampian resource centre staff and new stewards from Grampian Police, Aberdeen Universities, Moray and Aberdeenshire branches.

Domestic staff members at Chalmers Hospital, Banff

Moray branch, with the Adtrailer outside Aberdeen University's new library

The UNISON ad on the Ayr/Prestick Stagecoach
and at a bus stop in Dumbarton

UNISON warns against cuts in North Lanarkshire - why should jobs and services go if the need still exists?

30 Nov 2012

Statement in support of UNISON North Lanarkshire branch rally by
Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Secretary

"North Lanarkshire Council has announced proposals for cutting £73.3 million from their budget - the deepest cut in the history of the Council. It is clear from the areas that they are looking at that their plans could have a major effect on our members, their jobs and importantly the services provided to vulnerable sections of the community.

"The employees identified for potential redundancies are the very employees who the Council thanked for assisting in the delivery of the previous £55 million cuts package. The Council say they are still committed to improving services and ‘motivating’ staff.

"Local authorities continue to see their budgets squeezed, while demand for services is steadily rising. As part of these challenges, finances and welfare reform are two big issues facing all local authorities.

"The cuts we are facing, in Lanarkshire and 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. A politics that sees a workforce engaged in caring and educating not as an achievement to be celebrated but as a problem to be tackled.

"Why should the jobs and services go if the need still exists?

"The Scottish Government allocation has severely constrained local authorities. However the Scottish Government does have a choice - it may be a difficult choice, it may be a very expensive choice, but it is their choice nonetheless, and it could remove the council tax freeze.

"If the council moves to any form of compulsory redundancies, UNISON will consult on industrial action."

Mike Kirby will be speaking at the UNISON North Lanarkshire rally on Thursday 6 December


Please go to for campaign updates


STV- Union warns of council strike action over compulsory redundancies

30 Nov 2012

STV reported last night about the campaign against £73m worth of cuts by North Lanarkshire council, and the rally planned for Thursday, December 6.

The report said:

The Scottish Secretary of Unison has warned his union will consider industrial action at councils across Scotland if any compulsory redundancies are made in planned cuts.

Mike Kirby made the comments as his union and Unite plan to protest on December 6 outside North Lanarkshire Council’s headquarters in Motherwell Civic Centre. Members of the GMB union have also been invited to take part in the action.

Unison has confirmed some of its members will dress up as the grim reaper to highlight their opposition to planned cuts of £73m at the local authority.

Mr Kirby said: “North Lanarkshire Council has announced their proposals for cutting £73.3m from their budget and it is clear from the areas that they are looking at that their plans could have a major effect on our members, their jobs and importantly the services provided to vulnerable sections of the community.

“Local authorities continue to see their budgets squeezed, while demand for services is steadily rising. As part of these challenges, finances and welfare reform are two big issues facing all local authorities.

“The cuts we are facing, in Lanarkshire and 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.

“The Scottish Government does have a choice - it may be a difficult choice, it may be a very expensive choice, but is their choice nonetheless, and it could remove the council tax freeze.

“If the council moves to any form of compulsory redundancies, Unison will consult on industrial action.”

Full report at


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Post-16 Education Bill – UNISON comment

UNISON Scotland today warned of more job losses and college course cuts as a result of Scottish Government college merger plans.

Chris Greenshields, chair of UNISON’s Further Education Committee, said following publication of the Post-16 Education Bill: “Where does the Minister plan to find the £50 million savings as a result of mergers? Is it from more job losses and cuts to key services for our students?

“We have already witnessed this year services for college students stretched to breaking point, with many concerned that they still won’t have student grants and loans in their banks before Christmas, after starting in August.

“This is affecting the chances of many of our students surviving financially. Perhaps Mr Russell is referring to savings to the education budget as a result of students withdrawing and ending up on benefits.

“Many other student support services in our colleges are also being affected by the cuts to college budgets – cuts the Scottish Government has now confirmed.

“Many services are either slower with opening times reduced or are not being delivered at all. These services are key to students choosing the correct course after appropriate guidance and then being able to survive the challenges of college life.

 “Is he going to guarantee that student services won’t be worse off after mergers ? The Minister needs to explain where the savings will be found.”

UNISON is concerned that shared services are once again being held up as the route to savings, despite the lack of evidence.

Shared services have at best a mixed history. Savings predictions rarely materialise and where they do, because of the high implementation costs, they take at least five years to break even. Where money has been saved, it’s usually through job cuts.

Chris Greenshields added:  We are also very disappointed that, despite the Minister stating that he was keen to ensure that unions are fully involved, there is no place for union representation on the new regional boards. Staff representatives are of course welcome, but they perform a very different role from that of a union rep.”



Notes for editors
1. UNISON Scotland’s response to the consultation on college regionalisation is at

2. Information and briefings on shared services are on our website at

3. Our response to the consultation on the merger of Edinburgh Colleges is at


UNISON slams inflation change proposals

29 Nov 2012

UNISON has slammed proposals that have been put forward to change the way that official inflation measures are calculated, describing them as a back-door attack on pay settlements for workers who are already hard-pressed.

The Office of National Statistics has been consulting on revisions to the statistical techniques used to develop the Retail Price Index (RPI), which could result in the widely-used inflation measure being cut by almost a third.

UNISON has lodged a response to the consultation that exposes the proposals as statistical sleight of hand that would consistently under-estimate the change in the cost of living that workers actually face in their day-to-day lives.

UNISON assistant general secretary Karen Jennings commented: "RPI has been widely accepted as the most accurate indicator of the changes workers face in their cost of living for the past 65 years.

"The sudden 'discovery' of these claimed flaws in the calculation of RPI comes at a remarkably convenient time for the government's austerity programme.

"Slashing the value of RPI would be another downward pressure on pay, at a time when employees and their families are already reeling from years of inflation decimating the value of their pay packets, and savage cuts in public services and welfare support, on top of job losses that have left six people competing for every vacancy."

UNISON UK news release is here

To read UNISON's full response to the consultation click here.


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Scottish public service pensions should be managed in Scotland - UNISON

Wed 28 November 2012

UNISON Scotland today warned the governments in Westminster and Holyrood not to play politics with Scottish public service pensions.

Scotland’s main public services union was responding to Finance Secretary John Swinney’s announcement in the Scottish Parliament today (Wednesday 28 Nov) on the Public Service Pensions Bill going through the Westminster Parliament.

Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland Head of Bargaining and Campaigns said:
“Public service pensions are too important to play politics with. Over a million Scots are relying on these pensions – which are hard-earned savings for income in retirement. At present Scottish public service pensions are designed and run in Scotland – and that is the way they should stay.

“It is very clear that the Bill going through the Westminster Parliament is effectively a Treasury power grab over public service pensions in Scotland which is totally unjustified.

“From a Scottish point of view the Public Service Pensions Bill will impact mainly on the design and effectiveness of the Scottish Local Government Pensions Schemes (LGPS). We have argued that MPs should not agree to this legislation unless it is amended to retain the independence of these excellent schemes.“

UNISON has called on the Scottish Government to demand a Legislative Consent Motion (Sewell Motion) to allow the independence of Scottish pension schemes to be retained. We have also called on MPs to amend the Bill at Westminster to achieve the same ends.

Dave Watson added:
“The UK Government's approach also impacts on other Scottish pensions schemes including health. Workers in these schemes are still subject to the UK government’s unfair and punitive pensions tax and Treasury veto. We believe the Scottish government could still do more to minimise that damage here in Scotland and we have tabled detailed proposals with them about this."

Dave Watson concluded:
“If these two governments can manage to come to an agreement over a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014, they can surely come to a working arrangement which will retain the independence of well-designed and well-managed Scottish pension schemes on which over a million people are depending.”



Notes for editors
1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing over 160,000 members working mainly in the public sector in Scotland.

2. The UK Government's Public Service Pensions Bill sets out how new public service schemes are created and prescribes the key elements of all schemes including governance and benefits.

There are very significant implications for Scotland because primary pension legislation is a reserved issue. At present our schemes are covered by the UK Superannuation Act 1972. This is largely enabling legislation that allows the Scottish Parliament to design schemes that meet our requirements. In practice the NHS scheme closely follows England because changes to the scheme require Treasury approval. No such approval is required for the LGPS and that remains unchanged in this Bill.

However, the Bill, for the first time, prescribes key elements of all schemes and that will apply to the LGPS. It is therefore LGPS members who will be most significantly impacted by the Bill.

The main prescriptions include:
·                     A career average, not a final salary scheme. Revaluation percentages as specified by the Treasury.
·                     Retirement age linked to the state pension retirement age.
·                     A cost cap as defined by Treasury.
·                     Rules for governance and fund valuation.

All of these matters are currently decided in Scotland and therefore the Bill significantly undermines the current LGPS agreement. If the Bill goes through unamended the Scottish Parliament will be required to bring the LGPS into line on these points by April 2015. This will require an intensive period of negotiation on these points. None of these issues impacts directly on employee contributions, other than indirectly through the cost capping provisions.

Scottish Government officials have advised ministers that they must implement the UK legislation. However, UNISON has taken legal advice that this legislation requires the approval of the Scottish Parliament through a Legislative Consent Motion (Sewell convention).

We have written to John Swinney MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance urging him to take this course of action. We have argued that Parliament should not agree to this legislation unless it is amended to retain the independence of the Scottish LGPS.

2. Our latest pensions bulletins deal with the Public Service Pensions Bill in more detail.

For further information on UNISON Scotland pension campaigns please visit


Action needed on underemployment - UNISON and STUC responses

Wed 28 Nov 2012

UNISON, the UK’s largest union, is warning that underemployment is masking broader economic problems and holding back the recovery.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) out today show that the number of underemployed people has risen by more than one million between 2008 and 2012.

The union is warning that people stuck in part time work will be more reliant on in-work benefits as well as having less money to spend in local shops and businesses, which is what we need to fuel our economic recovery.

It is calling on the government to take urgent action – investing in infrastructure to create jobs, and to end the public sector pay freeze – helping to avoid a triple dip recession.

Karen Jennings, UNISON assistant general secretary, said:

“The government likes to claim that the employment statistics are proof of our recovery. Underemployment statistics expose this claim as a sham.

“No wonder our economic growth has faltered – more than three million people are underemployed, many of them are stuck in part time work, but want full time hours. Growing underemployment is masking broader economic problems and holding back the recovery.

“We desperately need people to be out spending to fuel a real recovery. The government should intervene – creating jobs by investing in infrastructure and ending the public sector pay freeze to put money in people’s pockets.

“The alternative is to allow our economy to carry on falling into a triple dip recession.”

UNISON UK news release

STUC on Scottish underemployment statistics

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary Grahame Smith, responding to today’s publication of official statistics on underemployment said:

“The STUC welcomes publication of these figures which shine a light on a problem all too often ignored.

“The STUC has consistently stressed that headline unemployment statistics do not tell reveal the full extent of Scotland's labour market problems. With ONS confirming that 9.9% of Scottish workers are underemployed there is now no excuse for debate not to be properly informed.

“The STUC waits with hope, if not expectation, for the chancellors Autumn statement to include serious measures to boost demand in order to start supporting the full time, decently paid, permanent positions people need to make ends meet.”

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Scottish government must choose a better way than council funding cuts - UNISON

Tue 27 Nov 2012

The poorest and most vulnerable in Scotland who depend on vital council services are bearing the brunt of austerity – and it is up to the Scottish government to choose a better way. That is UNISON’s response to John Swinney’s local government budget allocation announced in the Parliament today (Tuesday 27 Nov).

Scotland’s main public services union believes the Scottish government must act to end the Council Tax freeze so local government can continue to provide vital services rather than impose cuts or charges.

Stephanie Herd, chair of UNISON’s Scottish Local Government Committee said:
“Today’s local government budget allocations announcement confirms once more that Scottish councils are bearing the brunt of the austerity measures imposed by the Tory-led coalition in Westminster – and passed on by this Scottish administration.

“It is not enough to say a big boy in Westminster did it and ran away. To govern is to choose – and John Swinney has chosen to freeze Council Tax for years at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable.

“These allocations are often discussed in terms of council winners or losers. But the reality is all of our communities are losing out, across Scotland.

“We need an end to the Council Tax freeze and action to make the tax fairer. We need to enable councils to continue providing vital services rather than impose damaging cuts or punitive charges. And our members, who provide these vital services despite being forced to accept a pay freeze for the last two years, need a pay settlement which will redress some of that burden.”


Notes for editors
1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing over 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland, the majority of whom work in local government.

2. The UNISON Scotland Manifesto for the Scottish Local Government election of May 2012 is available on our website. It includes our proposal for an end to the Council Tax freeze and reform of the Council Tax to create a fairer property tax.


Scottish police staff are ‘brunt of perverse game of control’- UNISON

Tue 27 Nov 2012

Police staff union UNISON has criticised ‘insulting’ comments made by Vic Emery, the chair of the Scottish Police Authority today (Tuesday 27 November) in his dispute with Chief Constable, Stephen House regarding the overall direction and control of police staff in the new single service.

During a session of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, the SPA Chair commented that “police staff will always be employed by the SPA... they are 'just' staff until I and the SPA Board hand them over to the police services of Scotland". 

George McIrvine, Chair of UNISON’s Scottish Police Staff Committee said:
"Yet again we see police staff being the brunt of a perverse game of who controls us in the new service. It is disturbing to think that Mr Emery describes police staff as ‘just plain staff’ until he and the SPA hand over direction and control to the police service, and only then will they be ‘police staff’. 

“It is an insult to us all, as we have always been police staff and we will remain police staff, loyal and committed."

UNISON police staff have also noted the assurance given that there will be resolution “by the end of the year” on issues of governance as well as a voluntary redundancy package that will cover the whole of Scotland. The SPA are due to meet formally on 5 December to ratify – but police staff have not been involved in any consultations or negotiations. 

George McIrvine said:
“Today has left police staff in Scotland with more questions than answers to our future - while those at the top huff and puff their way to the single police service which is due to start in April.

“We have also noted that both Mr Emery and Mr House have taken commercial legal advice around their remit within the Act which transpires was paid for from the public purse. UNISON would challenge if this is best value of taxpayers' money".


Notes for editors
1. UNISON represent represents police staff across Scotland. Police staff deliver a wide range of services including complex and specialised functions that are central to modern day police forces, while allowing uniformed officers to concentrate on their operational policing duties.

2. Police staff are not just ‘staff’ until the Scottish Police Authority hands them over. They have a defined legal status in the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 (s26-30) and transfer under the Act with that status.

3. Up to three thousand police staff across Scotland face losing their jobs as a result of Scottish government commitment to budget savings for the new police service while at the same time maintaining police officer numbers at the current level of 17,234.

4. Documents giving UNISON’s analysis of the police reform process and our ongoing campaign for a balanced, modern police force – rather than cutting thousands of police staff jobs – are available on our website: For more information see UNISON’s police pages


Monday, 26 November 2012

More than 70% of healthcare assistants face violence at work – UNISON survey

26 Nov 12
More than 70% of healthcare assistants have been the victim of aggression and violence at work, a new survey from UNISON has revealed.

The survey of nearly 1200 healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners revealed that 13% of those who had been the victim of violence at work had been threatened with a weapon, while nearly a fifth had been the victim of an assault that required medical assistance or first aid.

The survey paints a shocking picture of the reality of work for healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners in today’s NHS, with more than 40% of respondents saying that they had considered leaving their profession either fairly or very seriously over the last year.

The results shine a harsh light on the problems facing the NHS as a result of government cuts, with more than 85% saying they felt staffing levels had become insufficient over the last year. Only 11% believed that staffing levels were adequate in their clinical area.

Commenting on the survey, Christina McAnea, UNISON head of health said:

“This survey illustrates the sometimes grim reality for healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners, whose already challenging job is made harder by inadequate staffing and the threat of aggression and violence.

“HCAs and APs provide a fundamental care to some of the most vulnerable patients, yet what we are seeing is that they do not feel valued by their employers, and even less so by the government, whose cuts agenda is placing them, and professionals across the health service, under enormous pressure.

“When four in ten HCAs are considering leaving the profession, something is very wrong. This survey is demonstrating the real impact of government cuts – demoralised staff who are trying to deliver the best possible care they can in ever more difficult circumstances.

“It is time for the government to think again about the damage that its demand for £20bn in so called ‘efficiency savings’ is having on the NHS.  Cuts aren’t working, and if these vital professionals are depleted even more, the impact on patient care will be enormous.”

Healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners play a vital role in healthcare delivery, yet only 2.1% said they felt the government respected their role, a stark contrast to the almost 80% who said that patients valued their work.

More than 80% of those who responded said they believed that HCAs should be regulated in the same way as other healthcare professionals such as nurses, to protect patients, ensure high standards and maintain skills.

The survey coincides with UNISON’s annual Healthcare Assistant Seminar in Glasgow, which will look at the current debates and hot issues affecting Healthcare Assistants in today’s healthcare environment, including regulation, role design and best practice.


NB: Full details of UNISON Scotland's most recent survey of violence against public service workers are on our website at: 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

A Just Scotland: STUC interim report on constitutional report published

25 November 2012
A Just Scotland, the STUC's interim report on its constitutional consultation which took place across Scotland in September and October, has been published.

A Just Scotland interim report pdf Nov 2012
A Just Scotland press release

"A Just Scotland lays out challenges for both sides of the debate. In particular it criticises the use of misleading figures in the debate over Scotland’s fiscal position. The report identifies deep problems with the economic and fiscal model imagined by the leading voices in the YES Campaign. However it also calls on the Better Together parties to outline a practical vision of how social and economic justice can achieved within the union and to calls for detailed attention to be paid to proposals for enhanced devolution."
STUC press release 25 Nov 2012

UNISON Scotland consultation report A Fairer Scotland will be considered at UNISON Scottish Council Saturday 1 Dec 2012

More info here:

Friday, 23 November 2012

Energy bill a lost opportunity warns UNISON

23 Nov 2012

UNISON, the union for energy workers, said that the long-awaited Energy Bill out today, is a “lost opportunity” and a bitter disappointment for customers struggling under the burden of increasing energy bills.

The Bill says more about the tensions within the coalition government than addressing the key Energy issues that the UK faces going forward into the future said the union..

Matthew Lay, UNISON national officer for Energy, said:

“The Bill is simply a sticking plaster on an open wound. It is a bitter disappointment because customers cannot keep waiting for solutions to address the huge problems facing the energy industry.

“It is unfair and unrealistic for consumers to shoulder the massive levels of investment required to deliver a low carbon energy supply on their own.  Many families are already struggling under the burden of increasing energy bills and dreading the extra pressure of winter.

“Only radical reform of the way energy is produced and delivered to households will deliver some relief.  Too many people in the UK are worried about keeping warm this winter, let alone in twenty years’ time.”

1 in 4 households in the UK are now in fuel poverty, meaning they need to spend more than 10% of their income on keeping their homes warm. The problem is likely to get worse, with 1 in 3 households projected to be in fuel poverty by 2016. Only a sustained attack on the poor levels of home insulation will actually make inroads into the key issues facing the nation by reducing energy needs and making homes warmer at an affordable price.


Notes to Editors

UNISON is one of the largest trade unions in the energy industry with many thousands of workers employed doing a vast array of jobs. This includes workers in all 6 of the big supply companies and the transmission and distribution operators.

(This is a UNISON UK press release, online also at )


Thursday, 22 November 2012

UNISON Scotland comment on local government pay offer

22 November 2012

UNISON Scotland is set to consult members on a pay offer for local government workers.

Dougie Black, Joint Trade Union Side Secretary, said that today’s offer from COSLA will be discussed initially at a conference in Glasgow next Friday (30 Nov).

He said: “The offer was made to us at a meeting of the joint secretaries which was not a negotiating meeting.

“The employers are offering a 1% pay increase from April 1 2013, a one year settlement. That is no real surprise given government pay policy.

“They have also made an offer to apply what they call a Scottish Local Government Living Wage of £7.50 per hour from April 1 2013.

“We welcome the fact they have made an offer on the Living Wage as this has been part of our claim for the last couple of years. We would need to discuss with the employers their proposals for implementation and the details of how it would apply.”

Stephanie Herd, Chair of the union’s Local Government Committee, said: “We have a local government conference on Friday next week. We will ask delegates how they want to consult members over the next few weeks.

"We would then expect to take the results of that consultation back to the employers in the New Year.”


Notes for editors
Full details of the joint pay claim made earlier this year by UNISON Scotland, the GMB and UNITE unions, are online at


UNISON welcomes call for clarity on Universal Credit delivery

22 Nov 2012

UNISON, the UK’s largest union, has welcomed a Select Committee report calling for clarity on the practicalities of Universal Credit delivery.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee report, ‘Universal Credit implementation: meeting the needs of vulnerable claimants’, calls for a ‘clear statement on service delivery arrangements […] that must be in place before anyone is required to start claiming universal credit.’

The report, published today, specifically cites evidence given to the Committee by UNISON, that integrated and ‘people based’ local delivery in addition to any ‘online’ arrangements should be implemented from the outset.

Commenting on the report, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“Universal Credit represents the biggest welfare shake-up since 1945, and will affect eight million households and 19 million people. UNISON has consistently argued the public’s right to expect a quality service, and that this would be best achieved by putting the skills, experience and knowledge of those already involved in delivering housing benefits to use in introducing this new system.

“This report from the Select Committee, and the call for a clear statement on service delivery arrangements presents an opportunity for the DWP to look again at this issue, and bring an end to the uncertainty of thousands of families. We are willing to work constructively with the Department to put in place the integrated service delivery model that we believe can deliver the quality of service the public deserves.”


Notes to Editors:

In the Report, the Work and Pensions Select Committee says:

We request that, in response to this Report, DWP provides an explanation of its online targets and a clear statement of its proposed service delivery arrangements, setting out how people will be informed about where to go to make a claim, what support they will be able to get there, and what resources DWP is investing in that support. These arrangements need to be in place before anyone is required to start claiming Universal Credit. (paragraph 42)

UNISON UK news release 


Public sector pay premium: nailing the myth - UNISON

Thu 22 Nov 2012
UNISON, the UK’s largest union said that the latest figures from the ONS on the public / private sector pay divide were in danger of being used out of context to peddle a myth that public sector workers are overpaid for the same work as those in the private sector.

Across the public sector, workers such as hospital cleaners, cooks and porters or home care and residential care workers have been contracted out of the public sector, but still work in it.  These lowest paid privatised jobs are counted as private sector workers - skewing the pay figures.

Where public sector workers do get paid more, it is a reflection of the professional training necessary to carry out their jobs such as teachers and social workers or reflect high paid jobs such as army generals, judges and senior civil servants.

UNISON assistant general secretary Karen Jennings said:

“It is time that we nailed the myth of public sector workers enjoying a pay premium once and for all.  The opposite is true as they have been hit hard by the Government’s pay freeze and many are fighting an uphill battle just to make ends meet.

“The great divide that the government would like us all to believe exists is a fallacy; their disastrous economic policies are the reason workers and their families across the UK are struggling.  It is the old trick of divide and conquer to justify yet more swingeing cuts to the public sector and it must be challenged and exposed at every opportunity.”

A new factsheet from the union on this very issue highlights the key points that it said were frequently missing from the analysis of public / private sector pay, including:

The impact of outsourcing:A high proportion of the lowest-paid public sector workers have been outsourced. A catering assistant in an NHS hospital for example, will be counted as a private sector worker

The number of professional staff:
Many public sector roles, including those relating to healthcare delivery, education and the emergency services require workers to have specific professional training. Average pay in the public sector reflects the specialism needed for many of these roles.

The cost of bonuses:Neither the Labour Force Survey (LFS) nor the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data covers the main bonus period in the private sector, which can exaggerate the ‘pay premium’ of the public sector.

UNISON UK press release:


Further Education debate must concentrate on cuts not confusion says college union

Thursday 22 Nov 2012

UNISON, the union representing college support staff, today issued a plea for the Scottish Parliament debate on Further Education ( FE)  to concentrate on “The real issue of cuts to college places and college services”, rather than  a political bunfight  over who said what to whom.

The union pointed out that the teaching grant to colleges - which includes the funding for the vast bulk of the staff is declining by 35%.  This is having an impact on students and colleges across the board 

Cuts are impacting on courses, on availability and the quality of education provided. Courses being cut across Scotland include vocational courses like aeronautical and aircraft engineering, computer animation, digital gaming, green-keeping, and horticulture.

The focus on young and full time students is being maintained at the expense of other potential students. This is impacting particularly on women, mature returners to learning and carers.

There is a particular decline in support services such as career guidance and counselling, which are important in ensuring that students complete and make the most of  courses

Speaking ahead of the debate, Chris Greenshields,  chair of UNISON’s Further Education Committee said

“For our members this is about far more than who said what to whom. We hope Parliament  will concentrate not on what has been said in Holyrood - but in what is happening in our colleges. Across Scotland, key services to students are being cut back or removed  - that’s if they can manage to get a course in the first place.”        

Notes to editors
Previous UNISON Publications on current aspects of Further Education

College regionalisation response

Examples of problems with mergers

FE governance response

Post 16 education response

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Borrowing figures: all pain, no gain - UNISON

Wed 21 Nov 2012

Commenting on the news that public sector net borrowing has increased by £2.7 billion, Dave Prentis, UNISON general secretary, said:

“It is all pain, no gain. Tory cuts are not working; they are making life a misery for millions, sucking the life out of our economy and making the recession worse for the majority. It is madness that we are borrowing to keep people on the dole rather than investing to create jobs. 

“It is time for the government to ditch austerity and give our economy the shot in the arm it so desperately needs. A stimulus package that would protect jobs and end the public sector pay freeze would help to boost much-needed spending.”


UNISON UK press release:


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Scottish government must now create balanced police service - UNISON

Tuesday 20 Nov 2012

UNISON Scotland today called on the Scottish government to look again at police staffing, as a new report by the Accounts Commission reveals that frontline police officers are backfilling the jobs of police staff – up to 3,000 of whom face redundancy.

The Accounts Commission report ‘Best Value in police authorities and police forces in Scotland’ published today, Tuesday 20 November, confirms “police staff posts are being covered by police officers", but warns "there is a risk that this is not an efficient and sustainable use of resources if adopted longer term.”

George McIrvine, chair of UNISON’s Police Committee said:
“We have been warning that up to 3,000 vital police staff jobs are under threat in the new  police service – yet police officers are being taken off the street to cover for the thousand police support staff jobs which have been lost in the last year or so.

“It is not satisfying to say ‘we told you so’ over such a crisis, but we did and we were right. Now we need the Scottish government to take action and commit to a balanced police service rather than an arbitrary target for police officer numbers.”

Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland’s Head of Bargaining and Campaigns said:

"This report confirms not only that police officers are backfilling police staff jobs at greater cost, but expensive police overtime is increasing to plug the gaps. It also supports UNISON's call for strategic workforce planning to avoid this appalling waste of scarce resources.

“The problem is the Scottish Government’s arbitrary target to maintain police officer numbers at 17,234. This combined with their failure to fund a balanced police service means that massive cuts will fall on police support staff - whose skills and qualifications are vital to effective policing across Scotland.

“We need a balanced workforce where the skills of police staffs enable police officers to do the job the public wants them to do, where they want them to do it. That is fighting crime, out on the streets. Using officers as expensive replacements for police staff might meet the Scottish Government’s political target - but not the needs of Scotland’s communities.”


For further information please contact:George McIrvine, chair of UNISON’s Police Committee, on 07842 542677Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, UNISON Scotland, on 07958 122 409
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, UNISON Scotland, 0141 342 2877 or 078765 66978

Notes for editors
1. As the Scottish Government has an arbitrary target to maintain police officer numbers at 17234, the focus of the savings are concentrated on police staffs. This has resulted in over 1000 police staff posts being lost already. As a consequence, police officers are taking on the work of police staffs.

2. Extracts from Accounts Commission report ‘Best Value in police authorities and police forces in Scotland’ published today, Tuesday 20 November – section on Police Staff – key parts in bold

108. Police forces have always employed a large number of police staff in addition to their police officers. The number of police staff in Scotland reached a peak in 2006/07 at 8,171. Underpinning this growth was a desire to make more efficient and effective use of resources across the police workforce. While greater operating efficiency had been a significant strategic driver for this, it is also the case that many police functions can be more effectively delivered by qualified police staff than by police officers. These include core organisational and management functions such as administration, HR, procurement, communications and marketing, information technology and forensics. Roles traditionally performed by uniformed police officers but which do not require a police officer’s power of arrest have also been increasingly ‘civilianised’ over the last decade. This includes custody and detention, forensic sciences, call handling and some crime investigation

109. Since 2008/09, police staff numbers have decreased across all forces. In 2011/12, a total of 5,718 (FTE) police staff were employed by the eight Scottish police forces, a 6.8 per cent decrease in the last year. Over the last three years the number of FTE police staff has decreased by 12 per cent. Reductions in police staff can be directly attributed to forces’ need to reduce operating costs and the range of early retirement/voluntary redundancy options that have been available to avoid compulsory redundancies.

110. The reduction in police staff numbers in 2011/12 has been accompanied by an increase in police staff overtime expenditure across Scotland. Between 2007/08 and 2010/11, the proportion of police staff overtime expenditure, as a proportion of the overall police staff salary budget, fell year-on-year from 3.0 to 1.4 per cent. However, during the last financial year overtime rose slightly to 1.7 per cent of the police staff payroll, with all but Fife Constabulary and Lothian and Borders Police experiencing growing overtime expenditure during 2011/12. Decisions to cut police staff numbers to reduce costs must take into account any indirect additional costs when calculating the likely savings which can be realised.

112. Police staff numbers will continue to be put under pressure as forces face real-term budget cuts while trying to maintain police officer numbers at or above the Scottish Government’s minimum of 17,234. It is important that the Police Service of Scotland undertakes strategic workforce planning to ensure that it makes best use of its people resources in a sustainable way, with functions carried out by people with the right skills, knowledge and experience. There are some indications that police staff posts are being covered by police officers in the short term, but at a time of continued financial pressures there is a risk that this is not an efficient and sustainable use of resources if adopted longer term.

See Accounts Commission report online here:

3. Other documents giving analysis of the police reform process and UNISON’s campaign for a balanced, modern police force – rather than cutting thousands of police staff jobs – are available on our website. For more information see UNISON’s police pages