Friday 24 May 2013

The Herald: College staff threaten to strike over pay dispute

24 May 2013

Andrew Denholm, of The Herald, reports today...

"STAFF at one of Scotland's largest colleges are threatening to strike in a long-running dispute over pay.
Public-sector union Unison wants talks at the City of Glasgow College saying an unpopular pay settlement is being forced on staff.

Last week, Education Secretary Michael Russell praised the college for its successful merger and principal Paul Little wrote to staff thanking them for their "superb team effort".
However, Martin Clark, Unison steward at the college, said about 300 support staff had rejected a pay offer of a flat rate rise of just £250 for those earning less than £21,000 and nothing for those on more.

"If the college merger is such a success, why are our members not being offered a proper pay award?" asked Mr Clark. "We want to get back round the table and talk with them, or we will have no option but to move towards a ballot for industrial action.""

Full story at The Herald

See UNISON's news release

STV: Strike threat over Stirling Council plans to cut pay and raise hours

24 May 2013

See last night's STV report by Bernard Ponsonby on Stirling Council's plans to cut pay and increase hours.

This is the joint statement put out by the unions UNISON, UNITE, GMB and UCATT last week.


Thursday 23 May 2013

Police Custody and Security Officers are fully authorised to take fingerprints and DNA samples - UNISON

Thu 23 May 2013

The union that represents police staff said today that any problems in Tayside around fingerprint and DNA samples are a local issue.

George McIrvine, UNISON Police Staff Scotland branch secretary, said:
“There appears to be a local problem in Tayside around authorisation and training. While this needs to be resolved urgently, there is no issue about properly qualified and certified Police Custody and Security Officers  taking these samples.

“That is a normal part of their job, carried out across Scotland on a daily basis and that will continue to be the case.”

Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, said:
“Our members do a first class job working as PCSOs. The legal situation giving them the powers to take physical data is clear and is not affected by a local issue in Tayside.

“However, the Bill establishing the new single police service could have been improved, as we argued at the time. We suggested that the Chief Constable should have broader powers to authorise suitably qualified and trained police civilian staff to undertake a wider range of duties.

“Some people may currently be wishing that that advice had been taken.”


Note to editors:
1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland, including police civilian staff.


Food safety requires independent regulator says meat inspectors union

Thu 23 May 2013

UNISON warned today that the new Scottish version of the Food Standards Agency must have the powers and resources to safeguard the public and stand up to the food industry.

The union representing Scottish meat inspectors stressed that lessons must be learned from the recent horsemeat scandal to protect consumers from contaminated meat and unscrupulous business practices.

Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, called on the Scottish Government to take the opportunity in establishing the new body to ensure its independence and end the dominance of the food industry in lobbying for lighter regulation.

He criticised some of the policies and changes that had brought this about, including the transfer in 2006 of responsibility for ensuring only clean livestock are slaughtered,  from the state controlled Meat Hygiene Service to the slaughterhouse Food Business Operators.

This and current proposed changes such as introducing visual inspections instead of cutting animals open to check for sickness or diseases are dangerous steps that Scotland can correct.

Dave said: “We want to ensure that robust independent regulation is established and enforced across Scotland.

“Any failures in slaughterhouses force the rest of the food industry to work with unsafe meat products that could potentially result in tragic circumstances.

“The horsemeat scandal showed conclusively that strong regulation of the industry is necessary as, left to their own devices, rogue elements have readily put commercial gain above public safety.”

UNISON’s submission to the Scottish Government consultation on the new food body also warned the Scottish Government against moving environmental health, public health and preventative health services into the new body.

And the union called for proper resourcing for the new body and for local authority environmental health departments which have been hit hard by cuts.

Dave said: “Adequate staffing levels are essential to ensure that key recommendations from previous FSA and Pennington reports, such as the Clean Livestock Policy are delivered. No-one wants to see repeats of the Wishaw E Coli outbreak.

“We believe the general public want strong regulation, putting safety above commercial interests. This is also good for the industry.

“Scottish Meat is a highly regarded brand across the world. The way to keep it that way is to have high quality standards of inspection.”


Notes to editors:

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland, including meat inspectors working for the Food Standards Agency and environmental health officers in local authorities.

2. Our consultation response “Healthier Scotland: A Consultation on Creating a new Food Body” is online at

3. Our Briefing ‘Cuts in Food safety and Environmental Health’ is online at

City college praised for successful merger faces possible strike ballot - UNISON

Thu 23 May 2013

UNISON today called for talks at the City of Glasgow College after managers threatened to impose a pay settlement that has been rejected by support staff.

Only last week Scottish Education Secretary Mike Russell praised the college over its supposedly successful merger, with colleges around Scotland lined up for similar mergers.

And College Principal Paul Little wrote to all members of staff thanking them for their “superb team effort” in making the pathfinder merger a success.

But around 300 - mainly women - support staff have rejected a pay offer from last August that would give nothing at all to those earning above £21,000.

Those on under £21,000 would receive just a £250 flat rate rise per spinal column point on the pay scale.

Martin Clark, UNISON steward at City of Glasgow College, said: “If the college merger is such a success, why are our members not being offered a proper pay award? Instead the college is talking about imposing this.

“We want to get back round the table and talk with them, or we will have no option but to move towards a ballot for industrial action.”

Scott Donohoe, assistant branch secretary at Glasgow City UNISON, added: “We think there should be more money on the table. Staff have worked really hard. The Principal said he is working to bring all staff along together in an inclusive and people-centred way.

“If so, and if the merger is such a success, his workforce should be celebrating, not balloting. This can be sorted out by giving our members a fair pay rise.”


Notes for editors

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working to deliver vital public services.

2. The City of Glasgow College was created in September 2010 through the merger of Central College, Glasgow Metropolitan College and Glasgow College of Nautical Studies.

3. UNISON members rejected the pay offer in a consultative ballot this month. If the College imposes the offer, UNISON will be moving to a ballot for industrial action.


Public services paying the price of austerity job cuts

Date: Thu 23 May 2013

UNISON Scotland response to Audit Scotland report on ‘early leavers’

UNISON Scotland has called for an end to the ongoing massive public service job cuts which cost hundreds of millions of pounds and devastate local economies.

In response to a report by Audit Scotland on the price of early retirement and severance the union argues that its alternative to austerity would boost the economy and protect vital public services.

Mike Kirby, UNISON’s Scottish Secretary, said:
“While the Audit Scotland report makes some positive noises about the way public bodies manage workforce change, the reality is that our precious public services are paying the price of austerity economics.

“Audit Scotland reveal that the cost of removing 14,000 jobs from the public sector in just two years was £561 million. And that’s the tip of an iceberg.

“We know that over 50,000 jobs have gone from the public sector in Scotland since greedy bankers caused the crash in 2008.

“Why should jobs and services go when the need still exists?”

UNISON has consistently argued for an alternative to austerity economics. Growing our way out of trouble: UNISON's alternative budget for jobs and public services published in March says:

• on average every redundancy creates £29,400 in additional costs to the public sector as well as undermining morale and productivity
• most of the cost of employing a public service worker is recouped by the state through increased tax revenues and reduced benefit payments
• economic research shows that for every pound spent on local public services, 64 pence is re-spent in local economies, supporting jobs and businesses

Lilian Macer, Convener of UNISON Scotland added:

“Every job lost costs the local economy dear – and piles stress on vital public services as a decreasing workforce faces mounting pressure to meet increasing need.

“Every new piece of evidence supports our call for an alternative to austerity. We need to grow our way out of trouble – and not carry on cutting jobs and vital public services at massive cost to our communities and the public purse.”


Notes for editors
1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working to deliver vital public services.

2. UNISON Scotland’s e-Briefing - Public Sector Workforce in Scotlandpublished in Dec 2012 gives details on the cuts to public sector jobs since the crash in 2008

3. Growing our way out of trouble: UNISON’s alternative budget for jobs and public services was published in March 2013 – see news release here:
and the full alternative budget document here:


Wednesday 22 May 2013

New union project offers personal assistants training and employment rights advice

22 May 2013
The public services union UNISON has launched a new project offering networking, advice and support to personal assistants (PAs) who work for disabled and elderly clients.

PAs are being invited to a series of meetings in June around  Glasgow to find out more.

Lynne Rankin, organiser for the project, said that PAs working in the homes of disabled and elderly people can feel very isolated and may not be aware of their employment rights.

She said: “We are hoping to contact personal assistants in and around Glasgow.

“We want to offer support with training and development opportunities and to make sure they know about their rights to join a trade union and be represented at work.

“They will benefit too just from networking and meeting others doing the same work. PAs can come to one of the meetings we have organised around the city, or can contact me for further information.”

Employers’ organisations such as Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living (GCIL) Carers Projects, the Scottish Government and Self Directed Support Scotland (SDSS) have responded positively to the project, agreeing there should be a support organisation for PAs.

Glasgow City Council is also supportive of the initiative and welcomes working with UNISON to provide this. 

Lynne added: “We are also keen to hear directly from PAs what matters most to them and what they would like support on.”

More than eleven meetings have already been arranged at venues including the Pearce Institute, Penilee and Castlemilk Community Centres and the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living.



For information please contact:

Lynne Rankin, organiser for the PAs project, 0141 342 2881 or 07903 853022


Notes to editors:

  1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland.
  2. The PAs project is a new move for UNISON and is working in liaison with a similar project in Yorkshire and Humberside, sharing good practice.
  3. PAs work mainly for disabled people, supporting them to live independently, paid for by direct payments from social care budgets. Many may formerly have been employed by councils or are now employed through an agency.
  4. Training and development opportunities may include discounts on Open University courses.  UNISON is also working with the Scottish Government and the Workers Educational Association (WEA) to look at developing local learning opportunities for PAs.   

5.       Meetings details are:

Monday 10th, 17th & 24th June 10-11am Pearce Cafe, Pearce Institute. Govan

Monday 10th & 17th June 2-3pm GCIL 117-127 Brook Street, Glasgow

Thursday 13th, 20th & 27th June 1.30-3.30pm Penilee Community Centre, Glasgow

Friday 14th, 21st & 28th June 11am-12 noon Castlemilk Community Centre, Glasgow

Further dates and locations will be added to the website at:



Friday 17 May 2013

Members on low incomes may qualify for help with school uniform costs #JoinUNISON

17 May 2013

If you're struggling with the rising cost of living, and worried about how you'll be able to cope with back-to-school costs, UNISON might be able to help.

The union's welfare charity, There for You, has set up a limited fund to help with school uniform costs with a one-off payment of up to £120, and is now accepting applications from members on low incomes.

To apply, and to find out if you may be eligible, download the application form from the UNISON UK website, or alternatively contact your UNISON branch.

You will need to submit completed application forms by 5 July 2013.


Stirling Council set to move away from collective bargaining – unions prepare for strike ballot

17 May 2013
Statement from the joint trade unions at Stirling Council – UNISON, Unite, GMB and UCATT

Council set to walk away from negotiations, collective bargaining:

It is with regret that we inform you that Stirling Council management indicated today that they intend to move away from the collective bargaining process. The trade unions therefore are left with no alternative but to prepare to ballot their members for industrial action. Stirling Council proposes savage cuts to both pay and terms and conditions, coming on the back of 3 years of a pay freeze.




Notes to editors:

1    The attack on pay, holidays and terms and conditions comes at a time when council employees have suffered a real terms pay cut because of the pay freeze.

2    UNISON’s recent report  ‘Wages, inflation and inequality’ shows the “triple whammy” of pay freezes, inflation and tax and benefit changes affecting ordinary families




Bumpy roads across Scotland tell the real story of maintenance spending cut by a fifth

17 May 2013
UNISON Scotland response to Accounts Commission report on audit update on roads maintenance:

UNISON said today that the key point to emerge from the report is the scale of the cut in expenditure on roads maintenance – down by 21 per cent.*
Dave Watson, UNISON’s head of Bargaining and Campaigns, said that the public will be scathing about the report concluding that road conditions have remained largely the same in the last two years. Indeed, it concedes that the proportion of acceptable roads is lower than in 2005.

The public services union, which represents staff involved in planning, road maintenance and land services, also warned that some councils are planning for up to 50 years use on road surfaces designed originally to last 15 years.
Dave said: “The fact is, if you cut spending by one fifth, the only way you can maintain the illusion of maintaining standards is by patch and mend.

“Potholes are being patched rather than surfaces being replaced. Any cyclist, let alone motorist can feel the difference.”

He highlighted the following points in the report:

·         council payments to compensate drivers for pothole damage have risen, from around £340,000 in 2007/08 to £1.2 million in 2011/12

·         Forty-five per cent of local roads users in Scotland consider roads condition to be poor, very poor or terrible, the worst rate in the UK.

·         Scotland is perceived to have more potholes per mile than any other region in the UK, and more worn or faded roads markings.

·         Drivers in Scotland are more likely to report pothole damage, with 44 per cent saying their cars had been damaged at some point over the last two years. 

Dave added: “Any new formats for roads asset management plans, or calls for more or different data on the roads - or indeed if any proposals emerge for structural change – is just tinkering around the edges. It is the scale of the cutbacks which is the issue and people can see and feel the bumpy roads on a daily basis.”

Chris Stephens, UNISON’s Land and Environmental Services convenor, said: “Road surfaces are designed to last 15 years. However, in many councils this is being stretched to 50 years.
“If local roads were funded to the level of trunk roads we would of course see significant improvement.”




“The percentage of local roads in acceptable condition has increased marginally from 66.1 to 66.7 per cent over the last two years, despite a reduction in roads maintenance spending from £492 million in 2009/10 to around £400 million in 2010/11 (a 21 per cent reduction in real terms).”

Notes to editors:

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland, including staff at all 32 local authorities.

The Accounts Commission report is online at


Wednesday 15 May 2013

Pay freezes are driving down living standards, while the rich get richer

15 May 2013
Public services union UNISON today released a report showing how pay freezes are contributing to sharply declining living standards for workers in vital services.

UNISON contrasted the increasing wealth of the richest with the “triple whammy” of frozen pay, inflation and tax and benefit changes affecting ordinary families.

Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, said the impact is “bad for families, bad for services and bad for the economy.”

He added: “Any serious economic recovery will involve boosting demand, partly by providing fair pay settlements for workers in public services.”

Stephanie Herd, chair of the union’s Local Government Committee, said: “Council workers across Scotland have in effect had their pay cut through the pay freeze. This report confirms just how much of a hit they are taking. It shows why the current local government pay offer is not enough and has been rejected by our members.

“We need an end to the pay freeze and fair pay for workers, who we know will spend their money locally, boosting the economy in the process.”

She added that only the implementation of Living Wage policies across much of the public sector in Scotland has offered any respite to workers hit by the assault on their living standards.

On pay, median gross weekly pay in Scotland in 2007 was £360.20. This had risen to £396.10 by 2012. If it had increased in line with inflation, it would be £423.22 by 2012. A worker earning median pay (exactly halfway along the income distribution – half earning more, half earning less), is therefore 6.4% or £27.12 a week and £1410.24 a year worse off.

Inflation as it is experienced by lower paid workers is higher than indexed levels and hurts more. Inescapable essential expenditure items like food, fuel and transport have all risen far higher than the CPI in recent years.

Meanwhile the combined impact of tax and benefit changes will mean a 1% drop in income for the bottom 30% of households and 2% for households with one earner and two children.

In sharp contrast the wealthiest, as measured by the Sunday Times Rich List, recorded rises in wealth of 18%, 4.7% and 8.7%, very comfortably above inflation for each of the last three years. Their collective wealth is nearly £450 billion, more than three times the UK deficit.

Dave Watson UNISON Head of Bargaining and Campaigns said: “These figures confirm what our members know from their pockets and purses - wages aren’t going as far they used to.

“While our members struggle to provide services with ever fewer resources and then to pay their bills when they get home, those at the very top are getting richer and richer.”


Notes to editors:

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

2. Full figures are in the new ‘ Briefing on Wages, Inflation and Inequality’, online at


Sunday 12 May 2013

See The Happy Lands this week

@thehappylands The Happy Lands film is showing in Edinburgh on Wed 15 and Aberdeen on Thurs 16 May. Details for the Cameo Edinburgh are here and for the Belmont Aberdeen are here. See also the Happy Lands facebook page here.
    The people of Fife capture the true drama of the 1926 General Strike - the struggles, the hardship, and ultimately the triumph - in this epic feature film. A definitive moment in national history, the film tells the real personal stories of their forebears: the struggles, the hardship, and ultimately the triumph of the indomitable human spirit.
@thehappylands See more at

Friday 10 May 2013

Jobs at UNISON Scotland

2 Local Organisers, Glasgow Office 35 hours per week (Ref: R7/109 & R7/118). Starting Salary: £25,180 per annum. For more details see:  Deadline for applications 30 May 2013
The above vacancies are on the UNISON web site ( )

Thursday 9 May 2013

Personal injury settlement figures show the value of #JoinUNISON

9 May 2013

UNISON members in Scotland have received a total of more than £700,000 in personal injuries settlements in January to March this year.

The figure shows the value of UNISON membership and details from three cases give examples of how the legal benefits scheme has been invaluable for these individual members:

£35,000 for member hit by reversing car

A UNISON member has been compensated to the tune of £35,000 after being involved in a road traffic accident in Troon. The member was crossing the road when she was knocked to the ground by a car reversing at speed.

The member sustained a Colles fracture to her wrist and as a result of her injury was forced to take early retirement from work. As a UNISON member she was able to take advantage of our legal benefits scheme and through the help of specialist trade union lawyers Thompsons was able to make a claim against the driver.

Liability was admitted and a settlement was agreed to take into account future wage loss and the impact of our member having to draw her pension early.

This was a good result for our member and highlights the range of services which are covered by UNISON's legal benefits scheme. 

UNISON member secures £8,500 for amputated finger

A UNISON member has been helped to compensation totalling £8,500 after an accident at work left him with part of his finger amputated.

The member who was employed by Edinburgh City Council as a school technician at Boroughmuir High School was operating a circular saw to cut wood in preparation for a school project when the saw became jammed. In attempting to clear the wood from the mechanism his finger came into contact with the blade resulting in the tip of his left index finger being cut off.

Again, as a member of UNISON he was entitled to free legal help from Thompsons Solicitors through our legal services benefits and a claim was initiated against Edinburgh City Council. Although the council denied liability in the first instance, the claim was successful leaving our member with damages of £8,500 to compensate him for his injury. 

Member compensated after needle injury at work

A UNISON member injured by a discarded needle in a Glasgow hospital has been awarded compensation.
The employee of Greater Glasgow Health Board worked as a domestic at the Victoria Infirmary when the accident occurred. His thumb was pricked by a needle which had been incorrectly disposed of while he was clearing clinical waste from the intensive care unit.
The member was subsequently tested for any contamination from the needle but fortunately tests proved clear.
As a UNISON member he was entitled to legal support from Thompsons who intimated a claim against the Health Board on the grounds of vicarious liability given it was unknown who discarded the needle. 
The claim was successful and the member was awarded damages totalling £1,250.



Wednesday 8 May 2013

Free childcare good for families and for public finances - STUC Women's Committee

 8 May 2013

STUC Women’s Committee on Scottish Parliament Childcare Debate

Speaking prior to this afternoons debate on Childcare in the Scottish Parliament, Eileen Dinning (UNISON), the Chair of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) Women’s Committee, said

“Free childcare would boost the economy and support families to lift them out of poverty, as evidenced by the report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) ‘Making the Case for Universal Childcare’. 
"Making childcare free at the point of use would be good for families and for public finances as universal childcare would bring a net return to the government of £20,050 over four years for every woman who returned to work after one year of maternity leave.”



S4M-06475 Hugh Henry: Childcare—That the Parliament agrees that good quality, affordable childcare is essential to support hard-working families; welcomes the proposed extension of fully-funded early years provision to 600 hours and believes that it is essential that this has a clear educational underpinning; notes the financial and logistical challenges of extending childcare across Scotland and believes that all parties should work to reach a consensus on delivery, availability, affordability and financing of a comprehensive childcare strategy, and believes that a Scottish childcare commission with all-party support should be established to investigate and make recommendations on the expansion of affordable quality childcare across Scotland.

The Presiding Officer has selected the following amendment

S4M-06475.1 Aileen Campbell: Childcare—As an amendment to motion S4M-06475 in the name of Hugh Henry (Childcare), leave out from third “and believes” to end and insert “; also notes the work of the Early Years Taskforce, which brings together practitioners, professionals and politicians from different parties to inform the strategic development of early years policy, including early learning and childcare; further notes the Scottish Government’s commitment to legislate via the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill to introduce flexibility into childcare provision and the help that this will provide in matching childcare to the circumstances of individual families, and further welcomes the forthcoming work by the Council of Economic Advisers to look at the best models of delivery and funding for Scotland and the associated economic and social impact of moving to the levels of support for childcare that is commonplace in other European countries

See STUC website


Queen's speech - UNISON reaction

Wed 8 May 2013


UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said:

“There is little comfort in this programme for the young, the unemployed, the working poor, the sick, the vulnerable or the millions who have seen their living standards fall drastically since this coalition government came to power.

“It’s a typical Tory tactic to distract attention from the real problems we face by fostering a ‘blame immigrants’ culture, instead of tackling the huge divide between the rich and the poor.

“This government should face facts and accept that its policies are not working for the majority of people. What we need is a programme that will boost growth and create jobs not one that boosts insecurity and fear and creates division.”

More UNISON UK news here:


Tuesday 7 May 2013

UNISON Scotland at the Glasgow May Day march and rally #mayday13

7 May 2013

Several UNISON Scotland branches took part in the very successful march and rally on Sunday organised by Glasgow Trades Council.

Pictures below . . including of the UNISON Kinneil Band.

(Sadly the UNISON Scotland banner now needs new poles after a particularly strong gust of wind.)