Monday 31 March 2014

SCCS: IPCC global report on climate change is serious wake up call

Campaigners say a new UN report on the impacts of climate change underlines the urgent need and moral responsibility for Scotland to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets.
Today scientists from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlined a stark assessment of the impact global warming will have on the planet and on humans, especially those already living in poverty.
Stop Climate Chaos Scotland Chair Tom Ballantine said: “This report should be a wake up call for all of us. We need to take urgent action to tackle climate change now.
“Scotland must play its part. That can make for a better world where we protect millions from misery and chaos, and a better Scotland, where we have warmer homes, healthier transport options, and cleaner air.”
You can hear Tom's interview on BBC Radio Scotland's GMS here (at 1hr 8min 30s) and read the full SCCS press release.
The UN report, incl summaries, is here.

Saturday 29 March 2014

UNISON Scotland supports #EarthHour 2014 #BeBrilliant

UNISON Scotland has once again dimmed the lights on its website for WWF's Earth Hour  on Saturday 29 March 2014 at 8.30pm. See it here.
Earth Hour 2014 asks us all to #BeBrilliant for the planet. Taking part can be as simple as 'just' switching off the lights for an hour but in doing so you're part of the world's biggest celebration to highlight the need for action on climate change.

And of course everyone can take part - both at home and often at work. Many public bodies in Scotland are already involved and if your employer isn't you could ask them to sign up.

For lots more information from WWF about why we're all doing this, about taking part, and to sign up, click here.

This toolkit was developed for UNISON branches and has a range of good ideas for Earth Hour activities.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

SCCS: @theCCCuk report shows @ScotGov must do more for low carbon economy

Climate campaigners say a new report shows the Scottish Government must do more if Scotland is to reduce carbon emissions and reap the benefits of becoming a low carbon economy.

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland was responding to a new assessment of Scotland's progress towards meeting its legally-binding greenhouse gas emission targets.

The report, published today by the UK Committee on Climate Change (UK CCC), says Scotland is making some headway, but that the Scottish Government needs to do more to achieve future emissions reductions.

Tom Ballantine, Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said:

"Taking action on climate change will create a better Scotland, where we have warmer homes, healthier transport options, and cleaner air.

"And that will make for a fairer world, where we play our part in avoiding catastrophic climate change that would cause chaos and misery for millions of people around the globe. That would also mean a safer Scotland, where we are at less risk from flooding and extreme weather.

"Scottish Ministers can make changes right now to ensure that emissions from all sectors reduce year on year.”
Full details on the SCCS website here. The report is here.
BBC News report, with SCCS comment is here.

Monday 24 March 2014

Presenteeism costs public sector £millions

SICK employees who still go to work cost the Scottish public sector tens of millions of pounds more than those who stay at home, an expert has warned in today's Herald newspaper.
Fred Best believes "presenteeism is the new absenteeism" because biting austerity cuts means more and more people turn up for jobs even when they are unfit to do so. He warns those who do not stay home are now costing employers one-and- a-half times as much as those who do.
The article also quotes from a UNISON survey on this issue. It found one in four said they had worked while sick over the last month and that 60% had done so over the last year. Some 27% of those who did so cited fears of repercussions from their manager, but most said they had gone in sick because they did not want to let down colleagues.
UNISON's Dave Watson and Fred Best are both speakers at a MacKay Hannah conference 'Tackling Absenteeism In The Public Sector In Scotland: Prevention and Health Promotion' on Thursday in Edinburgh. Dave will focus on the myth of the public sector sickie culture and the dangers of presenteeism, particularly in the health and care sector. 

Friday 21 March 2014

UNISON Scotland ballot for potential strike action as industrial relations break down with Police Scotland

Friday 21 March 2014

UNISON Scotland are writing to police staff today (21 March 2014) to tell them that trust between Police Scotland and the all staff trade unions have broken down. And that they will be urging members to vote for industrial action when they ballot them later this month.

UNISON Scotland have 3 issues of concern:

The ongoing closures of 4 contact command and control centres which take 999 calls from the public. The first of these proposed closures is Dumfries Force Control and Service Centre which is scheduled to happen by the end of May 2014 with the loss of 34 jobs.

From the 1 April 2014 Police staff are having their redundancy terms reduced

And over 1,700 police staff across the country are having their annual leave restricted due to the Commonwealth Games this summer.

UNISON have been trying to discuss these important issues with Police Scotland for over a year.

George McIrvine, secretary of UNISON police staff scotland branch said:
“Our members across Scotland are telling us loud and clear that enough is enough. Staff are stressed, over worked and under pressure. We will ballot them to gauge their strength of feeling on potential strike action. The employer have given us no choice. They are not providing the unions with answers to reasonable questions which we have consistently raised for many months now.”

Gerry Crawley, UNISON regional officer said
‘Police staff are a hard working, loyal, and experienced. They take pride in keeping communities safe. But this whole episode has made them worried, frightened and angry. The uncertainty of what’s next is demoralising. The Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland need to realise that UNISON members are not prepared to take the brunt of these brutal cuts any longer

‘Scottish Police Authority and the Police Scotland are simply not listening to us. Over 300 jobs are at risk in contact command and control centres. Over 1700 staff are having their lead restricted this has left unions no choice but to consult our members on potential strike action”


Notes to Editors:
The closure of contact command and control centres which take 999 calls from the public are on going. The proposed closure of Dumfries Force Control and Service Centre is scheduled to happen by the end of May with the loss of 34 jobs. Staff are being told their will be no compulsory redundancies, however the only redeployment options being offered to staff are limited to the central belt over 100 miles away. The future closures of the Stirling, Glenrothes and Aberdeen Centres are being addressed in a manner that causes undue worry and stress for UNISON members with the loss of job security and relocation

As well as these restructures and more in the pipeline that will affect many UNISON members, the Voluntary Redundancy/Early Retirement policy due to come into force on 1 April 2014 contains a new Supernumerary Policy which limits UNISON members to a maximum period of 4 weeks (not the 12 weeks that the policy claims) before losing the entitlement to £10,000 for Voluntary Redundancy or losing the entitlement to 4 Compensatory Added Years for Early Retirement. The Unions argued for a guaranteed job offer but the employer refused this. This new policy will leave our members in a virtual compulsory redundancy situation. This is unacceptable

Finally, over 1,700 Police Staff across the country are having their annual leave restricted due to the Commonwealth Games this summer. UNISON and the other Unions submitted a financial claim for compensation for those colleagues who will have their leave restricted. This claim was submitted last year. The employer has still to address this issue formally with the Trade Unions. The Commonwealth Games are only four months away and our members deserve clarity and an answer to our claim.

UNISON calls on Scottish Government to invest extra £63 million from Osborne’s budget in home care services

Friday 21 March 2014

Scotland’s Finance Minister, John Swinney MSP, confirmed that Chancellor George Osborne added £63m to the Scottish budget this week.

UNISON Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to pay the living wage to all home care staff in Scotland. Two out of three home care staff work in the private or voluntary sector and they are not guaranteed the living wage. The £63 million will more than cover even the highest estimates for this policy.

Mike Kirby, UNISON’s Scottish secretary said:
‘While we share The Scottish Government’s anger at the austerity and further cuts in public spending. We also think the Scottish Government must use any extra funds to invest in Scotland’s home care service.

"It is the chance to show that the Scottish Government really do have a different set of priorities. And what higher priority is there than caring for our most vulnerable and elderly people."

Mike Kirby said:
"Our Home care service is in crisis with home care visits often restricted to 15 minutes and staff are stressed, and they are often paid below the minimum wage never mind the living wage.

"If all care staff were guaranteed the living wage it will make a big difference. It will improve staff morale and staff retention, it would allow staff to spend more time with their clients and a big step towards ending low pay”


Notes to editors:Much of this was as a consequence of the Chancellor’s announcements to provide funds for devolved services in England. The Scottish Government receives the consequential through the Barnet Formula to spend on their own priorities.
John Swinneys response to the chancellor’s budget

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Renfrewshire Council signs up to Ethical Care Charter on World Social Work Day

Renfrewshire Council became Scotland's first local authority to commit to supporting UNISON's Ethical Care Charter today - world social work day.

You can download the charter online here

Monday 17 March 2014

Renfrewshire Council leader makes commitment to UNISON Ethical Care Charter

Monday 17 March 2014

Renfrewshire Council are leading the way in the commissioning of homecare services with the Leader of the Council committing to supporting the UNISON Ethical Care Charter on World Social Work Day (tomorrow, Tuesday 18 March 2014) .

The Charter sets minimum standards to protect the dignity and quality of life for people who need homecare. It commits councils to buying homecare only from providers who give workers enough time, training and a living wage, so they can provide better quality care for thousands of service users who rely on it.

Mark Ferguson, Branch Secretary of Renfrewshire UNISON and Chair of UNISON’s Scottish Local Government Committee, said:
“UNISON members working in Renfrewshire Council are proud that their council is leading by example, committing to our Charter that tackles the problems with homecare contracts head on.  Making this commitment to decent employment conditions for care workers is all about improving the quality of life for the people they care for. A living wage, more secure employment and time to care will help make it possible for dedicated care workers to stay in the job and focus on giving the best possible care."

Renfrewshire Council Leader Councillor Mark Macmillan said:
"I am delighted to be able to support UNISON's Ethical Homecare Charter. Home carers do a vital job helping older and vulnerable residents live with dignity and independence in their own home. We believe clients benefit from a higher quality of care when properly rewarded home carers take pride in the work they do. Renfrewshire Council pays its own home care workers the living wage and we successfully negotiated with employers in the private sector to pay their 300 staff the living wage too.”

Dave Watson UNISON Scotland Head of Bargaining and Campaigns said:
‘UNISON Scotland congratulates Renfrewshire Council and the hard work of UNISON members. It is a real example how unions work in partnership with councils to make sure we really deliver for those we care for. It’s also a positive response to the issues raised by care staff in our recent ‘Scotland – It’s Time to care’ report”.

Ethical Care Councils pledge to commission care only from providers who:
• Give workers the freedom to provide appropriate care and be given the time to talk to their clients.
• Allocate clients the same homecare worker(s) wherever possible.
• Do not use zero hour contracts.
• Pay the Living Wage (£7.65 per hour)
• Pay homecare workers for their travel time, their travel costs and other necessary expenses such as mobile phone use.
• Schedule visits so that homecare workers are not forced to rush their time with clients or leave their clients early to get to the next one on time.


Notes to Editors:
1. Cllr. Macmillan will indicate his support for the Ethical Care Charter at 10am on Tuesday 18 March - World Social Work Day - at UNISON Office, Sir James Clark Building, Business Centre, Seedhill, PAISLEY PA1 1TJ

2. The Charter was developed following UNISON's UK 'Time to Care' report in 2012 can be read; socialwork/Final%20Ethical%20Care%20Charter%20PDF.pdf

3. The concerns of care staff in Scotland are set out in, ‘Scotland – It’s Time to Care’

College workers vote overwhelmingly to return to national bargaining, says UNISON

Monday 17 March 2014

UNISON, the union representing further education workers in Scotland, said its members have voted in favour of a return to national bargaining.

Union members were consulted on plans to move away from local negotiations and instead to have Scotland-wide bargaining on pay and conditions. More than 90 per cent voted in favour of the plans.

Chris Greenshields, Chair of UNISON Scotland’s Further Education Committee, said: 
“There is a huge disparity in pay and conditions across Scotland’s colleges and this is not in the best interests of staff, students or the further education sector.

“Our members have voted overwhelmingly for change and national bargaining brings us the opportunity to rectify some of the inequalities which exist in the sector.”

Shirley Sephton, a trainer within the further education sector, said: 
“We have lost countless numbers of experienced staff within further education over the last few years.

“We need to be able to attract and retain high quality staff to Scotland’s colleges and they must be paid appropriately and enjoy fair conditions of employment. Despite the Scottish Government’s support for public sector workers to be paid the living wage, many colleges ignored this. National bargaining provides us with an opportunity to address this.” 

Emma Phillips, Regional Organiser for UNISON Scotland, said: 
“For a long time, our members working in the further education sector have quite rightly felt like the poor relations. Many of our members are doing the same or similar jobs but being paid very differently.

“The rot first set in during the nineties when national bargaining was abolished and each individual college started to negotiate their own pay and conditions. Now each of our colleges have different pay scales, grading structures and terms and conditions. A return to national bargaining will set us on the right path to changing this.”


Friday 14 March 2014

Tony Benn - tribute from Mike Kirby, UNISON Scotland

14 March 2014

UNISON Scottish Secretary, Mike Kirby said:

"We have lost a true friend.

"Tony Benn was always a stalwart defender of public services and the rights of the workers of who provide them.

"An abiding memory for many of us will be his speech at the STUC’s ’People First’ March in October 2011.  After marching through Glasgow in the worst rain imaginable,  Benn gave a marvellous spirit-lifting address. It was a short speech but it contained all of the elements that made him such a great campaigner - the historical grasp, the wit, the commitment to democracy and the unshakeable belief that working together we can change the world we live in.

"This is a sad day - but over the course of a long life was Tony Benn was and will remain an inspiring figure."

Thursday 13 March 2014

NHS Pay recommendations implemented in full in Scotland

NHS staff in Scotland are to benefit from a pay rise in 2014/15, thanks to changes agreed by the Scottish Government.
From 1 April 2014, NHS staff in Scotland will receive a one per cent pay uplift, while staff earning under £21,000 will also receive an additional sum to increase their pay by £300 in total.
The changes will be implemented after the Scottish Government accepted recommendations from the NHS Pay Review Body and Doctors’ and Dentists’ Pay Review Body (DDRB).
Health Secretary Alex Neil said:
“I was clear when Jeremy Hunt first suggested reneging on the one per cent pay offer for NHS staff in England that we would block that move here and that we would fully implement the modest increase in Scotland.
“Today, I can confirm we’ll deliver on that approach in Scotland’s NHS, ensuring our hardworking and dedicated staff rightly receive the wage increases they were promised.
“This means that all NHS staff groups in Scotland covered by the remits of these bodies will receive a one per cent pay increase, and we will supplement the pay of those currently earning under £21,000 to ensure they receive a total increase of £300.
“I have also taken steps to ensure that no NHS Scotland worker can be paid below the Scottish Living Wage.
“Our commitment to this pay increase, and to the living wage, for NHS workers underlines our commitment to frontline staff delivering services for the people of Scotland.
“The new rates of pay will be payable from 1 April 2014.”
Tom Waterson, Chairman of Unison's Scottish health committee, said:
“We are delighted the Scottish Government has decided to implement the recommendations of the pay review body in full.
“We would urge the UK Government to also commit to paying health service staff the recommendations in full. We went into these negotiations in good faith and we expect the clear recommendations of the pay review body to be delivered. It is good news for NHS staff that the Scottish Government have committed to doing that.”

Notes To Editors

Agenda for Change Pay Band 5 is the most common for nurses in Scotland.

For example, a Band 5 nurse who began work on 1 October 2011, would currently be on £22,903.
In England, they will get no increase in pay on 1 April 2014. They will stay on £22,903 until 1 October 2014 when they will get incremental progression to £23,825.
In Scotland, this staff member will get a one per cent increase in pay on 1 April 2014. Their salary will therefore rise to £23,132. On 1 October 2014 they will get incremental progression to £24,063.
This means in March 2015, this nurse would be £238 better off in Scotland.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Minimum Wage should be Living Wage - UNISON

Wed 12 March 2014

Commenting on today’s Government’s announcement confirming new minimum wage rates, Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON said:

"Of course the rise will be welcomed, but at £6.50 an hour the new minimum wage will still be more than £1 less than the Living Wage needed to keep people out of poverty.

"Across the country people are struggling to make ends meet.  The sooner we move to a Living Wage the better.  The real winners today will again be pay day loan sharks who prey on working people, unable to bridge the financial gap between what they earn and what their families need to survive.

"Once again we see young people being picked out for poorer treatment.  We need to give them hope. When you are earning so little 2% means a very small increase indeed.

"Even the Chancellor has stated support for a £7 an hour minimum wage rate.  The Government should have had the courage to step up and meet that target."


The Living Wage is currently £8.80 in London and £7.65 outside

UNISON UK news release

Can we get the fossils out of finance? - March 26, Edinburgh

Join a panel of speakers - including UNISON Edinburgh Branch President John Stevenson - as they look at the arguments behind fossils divestment and decarbonising finance. 

How we can keep investing in fossil fuels when they put our future in jeopardy? As the risk of a carbon bubble becomes clearer, the movement to divest from fossil fuels is becoming stronger. The panel will explore the practical actions we can take forward, including calling on pension funds to use our money for positive investments.

The event is taking place on Wednesday, March 26, at 7.30pm, in the Methodist Church Hall, Nicolson Square, EH8 9BX. Speakers at the event include:
  • Rob Edwards, the environment editor of the Herald
  • Undine Schmidt, University of Edinburgh People & Planet
  • Peter McColl, Rector, University of Edinburgh
  • John Stevenson, City of Edinburgh UNISON
For more information, contact:
0131 243 2700

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Procurement is key to making decent pay the norm, says UNISON

Tuesday 11 March 2014

UNISON Scotland is calling on MSPs to support an amendment to the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill which would make paying a living wage an essential condition of bidding for a public sector contract.

The Bill – which is being considered tomorrow (Wednesday) at stage 2 by the Infrastructure and Capital Investments Committee – will change how public contracts are handed out to businesses. Scotland spends approximately £10 billion a year on procurement and UNISON wants those employed in public contracts to be paid the living wage, currently £7.45 an hour.

While the Scottish Living Wage is working well across the public sector, many public services are outsourced to the private and voluntary sectors, including vital areas such as social care.

Cheryl McCormick, a support worker in Glasgow and vice chair of UNISON’s Scottish Community Service Group, said:

“There is an army of low-paid workers who care for the most vulnerable people in our society who earn less than the living wage, many less than the minimum wage when travelling time and sleepovers are taken into account; who are on zero hours contracts, and don’t have time to care properly.

“The people delivering these services are really struggling. A living wage would mean the difference between having to scrape by from month to month and worrying whether or not they can pay their bills, to being able to relax a little and maybe even have a little left at the end of the month.
“If decent pay is going to be the norm in Scotland, then procurement is the key to driving up employment standards.”

Currently, one in five Scots are paid below the living wage. UNISON’s Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, Dave Watson, gave oral evidence to the Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee yesterday (Monday) to express the union’s concerns over the impact of zero hours contracts on workers. He told the committee that the growth in casual employment is contributing to the growth of in-work poverty, damaging public services and the economy.

Dave added: “At a time when workers have experienced the longest  real wage squeeze since 1970, with inflation going up faster than pay for 43 months, this is the way to make a major step forward by boosting the income of many thousands more low paid families in Scotland.

“Companies are cutting corners in order to win contracts. Unless we opt for principled procurement these issues are not going to go away. We need MSPs to support the amendment to this Bill and make paying a living wage a stipulation for all public contracts, by including this in performance clauses.”


Notes to editors
  1. For more information see our Scottish Living Wage Procurement briefing at 
  1. Our briefing on the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill at the stage 1 debate is available here:
  1. UNISON Scotland’s Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, Dave Watson, gave oral evidence to the Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee yesterday (Monday) to express the union’s concerns over the impact of zero hours contracts on workers. He told the committee of the growing use of these contracts in the care sector and how zero-hours contracts is not only bad for workers, but bad for the services they deliver and bad for economy. For more information please see his blog at
  1. The Scottish Living Wage is currently £7.45 an hour and will rise to £7.65 next month.
  1. The Scottish Living Wage was one of ten asks for the Bill from a coalition of civil society organisations, including the STUC, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and SCVO. The asks include action on blacklisting and tax dodging, a sustainable development focus and measures on ethical/fair trade, employment standards and positive social outcomes.
  1. The Scottish Living Wage is good for workers as they benefit from higher pay, improved health and motivation; good for employers as it reduces turnover, improves productivity and attracts better staff; and good for the economy as it results in lower benefit costs and less stress on the NHS.
  1. 6 in 10 children who live in poverty have at least one parent working. 550,000 adults (mostly women) in Scotland earn less than the living wage.