Saturday 26 April 2014

A change in culture to health and safety could save over 20 lives per year

UNISON is marking Workers Memorial Day, which takes place all over the world on 28 April, by calling on UK and Scottish governments to do more to make work place deaths and injuries completely unacceptable.
  UNISON cites the change in attitudes to smoking or drink driving as examples of how we can change attitudes to work placed injury and death
  If we could get that culture change then fewer workers would be put at risk and their families would not suffer the emotional and financial impact that follows.
  Scott Donohoe, chair of UNISON health and safety committee said, “We need a change in culture in how we see health and safety at work. It’s too easy for politicians of all parties to reduce red tape. We need to remind them that red tape includes health and safety regulations which save lives. In 2013, 22 deaths and 1,800 major injuries could have been avoided in Scottish workplaces if, so called, red tape was followed properly.

Thursday 17 April 2014

UNISON welcomes agreement with Police Scotland which addresses key concerns

UNISON Scotland has agreed to cancel the consultative ballot of police staff on whether to take further industrial action up to and including strike action. The trade union say the outcome of discussions with Police Scotland and the agreement made at the Joint Negotiating Consultative Committee today (17 April 2014) have been welcomed by UNISON members, as they address key concerns previously raised by UNISON.

It has been agreed that police staff:

· will receive better supernummery protection and guarantees around job relocation and job security
· will receive 1 year protection of allowances as well as basic pay
· who have their leave restricted because of the Commonwealth Games will receive an additional one day’s annual leave

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Save the Charlie Reid Centre

#stuc14 The STUC congratulated the Save the Charile Reid Centre campaign and will call upon Glasgow City Council to continue its block funding for the centre.

The centre, which provides services to over 500 people who have experienced mental health difficulties, has temporarily been reprieved from closurebut the campaign needs to go on.

STUC slams police control centre cuts

#stuc14 In almost the last throw of the dice on Wednesday afternoon, Congress backed an emergency motion from the Aberdeen Trade Union Council, condemning Police Scotland’s decision to close the Control Centres at Aberdeen, Dumfries, Stirling and Glenrothes, without consultation and with the loss of over 450 jobs. The STUC General Council will formally express its concern to Police Scotland and the Scottish Government.

UNISON warns that women may not be receiving the proper maternity pay

#stuc14 Congress backed moves to better inform women about their maternity rights amidst concerns that many women returning from maternity leave feel discriminated against by employers and colleagues.

The STUC Women’s Committee will also press the NHS to give women information on their employment rights at their first ante natal appointment, and will work with the STUC Unions into Schools team to improve awareness of maternity rights amongst young people.

STUC continues to push for answers on referendum issues

#stuc14 As the independence referendum approaches, the STUC today pledged to continue to push politicians for answers on key issues for the trade union movement.

The STUC will publish a new and accessible 'A Just Scotland' paper after the summer on progress on these key demands.

UNISON and STUC tackling Israeli apartheid

#stuc14 UNISON’s Sam Macartney spoke on the motion on solidarity with the Palestinian People. Sam drew on UNISON’s experience of hosting Palestinian footballer Mahood Sarack Mahood, who comes from the Occupied Territories had been arrested and interned for the ‘crime’ of trying to visit his family without the permission of the Israeli army.

Mandela Day in Glasgow will celebrate Madiba’s unique achievements

#stuc14 The STUC will celebrate Nelson Mandela’s “unsurpassable contribution to the causes of freedom, liberation and anti-racism” by working with ACTSA, Glasgow City Council, and the STUC Black Members’ Committee to celebrate Mandela Day and to enhance the celebrations to reflect Madiba’s unique achievements and inspiration.

Supporting, UNISON’s Paul Gupta told delegates that one of the earliest of many honours and awards which Nelson Mandela received in his long life was from UNISON’s predecessor , NALGO, who gave him Honorary Life Membership of the union.

High standards of elderly care need well paid, well trained staff

#stuc14 Congress once again condemned short-term cost “saving” practices which undermine the care of older people in Scotland and the STUC will press the Scottish Government and the Labour Party to take action to end such practices.

UNISON’s amendment highlighted the need for a well paid, well trained and secure workforce to achieve high standards of care, and pointed to the important role of trade unions in improving staff confidence and the quality of care.

Lack of openness on police and fire VAT leaves taxpayers with £30 million burden

#stuc14 The FBU and UNISON highlighted that the creation of a centralised Police and Fire Service has meant the Scottish taxpayer footing a bill of approximately £30 million pounds through the loss of VAT exemption – a burden that is unnecessary and unfair and impacts dramatically on both community and emergency worker safety.

The STUC will now call on the Scottish Government to take this up with the Westminster Government.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Austerity is 'an attack on human decency' - Call for house build programme

#stuc14 Congress threw its weight behind a wide ranging Composite, spearheaded by UNISON, and pledged to campaign for more social homes, especially for young people, through lobbying politicians and working to ensure young people and tenants know their rights.

The STUC will also press the UK and Scottish Government to reverse cuts in public spending, create jobs, invest in affordable and social housing and regulate the private rented sector.

Scotland should use powers to create fairer council funding now

#stuc14 The Council Tax freeze is benefitting the richest by £1,500 while disabled people can be £3,000 worse off. "That needs fixed and it can be done in Scotland now - we have all the powers we need", UNISON's Stephen Smellie told the STUC congress.

The UNISON Scotland motion called for politicians of all parties to 'stop hiding from difficult decisions and sort out fair tax for local services'.

Bedroom tax: Stop this 'vicious, outrageous attack on the poorest'

#stuc14 Delegates condemned the bedroom tax as a “vicious, outrageous attack on the poorest” and called for it to be scrapped immediately.

Congress demanded that there should be no evictions as a result of the bedroom tax, and that Scottish law be enacted to underpin this position. It also called for a campaign across councils, politicians, the Scottish Government and tenants groups to demand back the £billions stolen by Westminster, and that Labour MPs take motions to parliament demanding a repeal of this “economically unjustified, socially destructive” measure.

UNISON Scotland supports walk from Glasgow to Liverpool to raise money for the Lola Commons Fund for SiMBA in memory of the 96 who died in Hillsborough

Tuesday 15 April 2014

UNISON Scotland is proud to be a supporter of the Lola Commons Fund and we are particularly pleased to be involved in this fundraising event. 

Tomorrow (Wednesday, 16 April 2014) Iain McGovern, Liverpool and Celtic supporter, will walk 232 miles from Celtic Park to Anfield to raise money for The Lola Commons Fund for the charity SiMBA, and to remember the 96 fans who died in the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989. 

Lisa Hague, co-founder of the Lola Commons Fund, will join Iain Mcgovern and boxer Alex Arthur in the first 12 miles of the walk.

UNISON Scotland will be there to wave them off. 

The Chair of UNISON Scotland’s Health Committee, Tom Waterson said:
“We were delighted when Lisa attended UNISON’s health conference to announce Iain’s walk to support Lola Commons Fund for SiMBA. As health workers we know the incredible work that they do. That’s why UNISON Scotland will be there to wave them off on the long walk to Anfield. We wish Lisa, Alex and particularly Iain all the best on their walk”

Deliver affordable and flexible childcare now

#stuc14 The Scottish Government should deliver on its post referendum plans for more affordable childcare now, reform the market to upskill staff and improve their pay; and recognise that accessibility and flexibility are just as important as affordability to working women.

Backing the Community motion, UNISON's Carol Ball laid out the benefits of providing high quality, flexible and affordable childcare to children, families and the economy.

Fund the deficit by tackling tax avoiders not by attacking the welfare state

#stuc14 The STUC will step up its campaign against austerity, as delegates expressed their real anger about the impact of the cuts which has seen the biggest fall in living standards on record.

The STUC will organise a day of action for trade unions and community groups working for social justice; alongside co-ordination and support for unions taking industrial action. There was a passionate call for unions to participate in and affiliate to the People’s Assembly Against Austerity in Scotland and to campaign for tax justice at a time when uncollected tax and tax avoidance amounts to over £120 billion.

Rally against Dundee University job cuts 22 April

#stuc14 The STUC has thrown its weight behind a rally on 22 April against job cuts at Dundee University and is calling on the government to commit to no compulsory redunfancies in higher education.

Backing the motion, UNISON's Davena Rankin offered the full support of UNISON to UCU in fighting the proposed cuts at Dundee University.

Union learning – Making a difference to people’s lives

#stuc14 The First Minister, Alex Salmond, in his speech to Congress, answered delegates’ call and promised three year funding for union learning, to make sure that trade unions can continue to develop and provide workplace learning. Congress had earlier commended the “invaluable contribution” of workplace learning for both workers and the employers and called for improved funding as well as a three year funding cycle.

University review on diversity must be implemented

#stuc14 The STUC slammed the new Code of Governance from university chairs as a missed opportunity making very limited change, failing to address issues on senior managers’ pay, and failing to ensure representation on the governing bodies reflects the diversity of Scotland’s population.

This failure is due to a lack of proper consultation with staff, students and trade unions. Congress also re-iterated its opposition to undergraduate tuition fees, and rejects the rest of the UK tuition fees for students.

Face to face careers guidance critical to attainment

#stuc14 The STUC today warned the Scottish Government that the successful implementation of the Wood Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce depends on adequate resources to properly invest in the future skills of young people, to fully support the Modern Apprenticeship programme, and to engage with Scotland’s employers.

It will also call on the Scottish Government to endorse the STUC Youth Committee’s work to develop an industrial strategy for young people in Scotland, once the final report is available.

You've given us children's law - now give us the resources

#stuc14 The Scottish Government must provide the funding for the new 'named person' placed upon all childcare and child welfare professionals by the Children and Young People’s Act, the STUC was told.

The act will see the formalisation and statutory provision for “the named person”, a concept introduced but not legislated for in the Scottish Government’s framework Getting it Right for Every Child.

Monday 14 April 2014

Taking profit out of energy would benefit us all

#stuc14 Shifting away from a profit driven big business model for energy supply could move us towards a system geared at efficient energy use rather than shareholder value – which would benefit all of us, and the planet, UNISON's Willie Docherty told the STUC.

He was backing a North Lanarkshire TUC motion calling for public ownership of the big six energy companies due to "successive governments' failure to control them."

Austerity 'a political choice, not an economic necessity'

#stuc14 Congress pledged to continue its high profile campaign against welfare cuts and austerity and will press the UK and Scottish governments to take steps to improve employment protections, including the abolition of employment tribunal fees, and an end to poverty pay.

UNISON’s Susan Kennedy condemned austerity as a “a political choice, not an economic necessity” as she supported a call from USDAW, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and Aberdeen TUC for a range of measures to tackle poverty and the cost of living crisis in Scotland.

Follow UNISON Health Conference on Twitter

UNISON is tweeting regular updates from the UK Health Conference @UNISONHConf Also see Dave Watson's blog on care integration after today's panel discussion at #uHealth14. Focus on funding and people

Investment in public services and living wage are key to recovery

#stuc2014 The STUC is calling on UK and Scottish Governments to end austerity and instead invest in public services and pay a Living Wage to ensure a 'better today and more prosperous tomorrow for Scotland’s people'.

And it urged the Scottish Government to 'change its mind' and use its procurement rules to insist that contractors pay the Living Wage.

UNISON's Margaret Cook told delegates: "Over half of the 13 million people in poverty in the UK actually came from working families. Statistics like this should not exist – or be allowed to become even more grave. We must take action."

Call for Scottish Health and Safety Executive

#stuc14 The STUC backed a call from Edinburgh TUC for the devolution of all of the functions of the Health and Safety executive in Scotland to be devolved to Scotland.

"This is a recognition of the fact that the HSE deals with many bodies which are already devolved", said UNISON's Willie Docherty supporting the motion.

"It would also allow for the operations and priorities of the HSE in Scotland be more fully focussed on the particular circumstances and structure of Scottish industry."

Outlaw zero hours contracts for the benefit of citizens and service users as well as workers

#stuc14 “We should be tackling the issue of zero hours contracts not just as workers and trade unionists but also as citizens and service users,” UNISON’s Jane Aitchison told delegates, as Congress condemned their use as exploitative, and one-sided in favour of the employer.

In a composite from the EIS, UCATT, UCU and the CWU, Congress pledged to campaign with affiliates, civic bodies and supportive political parties to outlaw the use of such contracts across the public and private sector, including the Scottish and UK Governments.

Collective bargaining essential for the economy

#stuc14 "Collective bargaining is now essential for our economy", Jane Carolan told the STUC congress in a 'back to basics' speech calling for a new manifesto for negotiating rights.

"These rights must be enforced and enforced together-we should not accept half measures or other attempts to distract us", she said.

She was backing a motion from the General Council backed by Unite, PCS, RMT and the STUC youth conference which called for:-

Implement post referendum industrial plans now!

#STUC14 The STUC has backed a range of measures to promote sustainable economic growth in Scotland and will urge the Scottish Government to implement their plans for industrial strategy, fairer employment and greater equality, now instead of waiting till after the referendum.
    Backing the General Council, GMB and Community motion, UNISON's Brenda Aitchison quoted actor Ricky Tomlinson's speech to UNISON Conference last year: "People talk about booms and busts but it only ever booms among the money men... the working classes never experience boom and bust. they have bust, bust and more bust."

Friday 11 April 2014

UNISON members in South Lanarkshire Council continue their campaign for equal pay

Friday 11 April 2014

UNISON Scotland is writing to 6000 UNISON members who work in South Lanarkshire Council to give them another opportunity to make a new claim for equal pay.

The trade union believes that some staff may not be receiving the same pay as those in other job groups who do work of equal value. If that proves to be the case, UNISON will argue that their pay should be increased now, and any shortfall over the past 5 years should be paid as back pay.
Staff who may be eligible include home carers, caterers, cleaners, nursery nurses and school support assistants.

South Lanarkshire was the first council in Scotland to bring women and men together under a single status pay system, however UNISON’s experts believe that the South Lanarkshire scheme does not comply fully with subsequent advances in equality law.

Commenting on this latest action, Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish secretary, said:
 “UNISON’s wants a long term settlement that is fair to all. We recognise it’s a difficult task to compare very different jobs; that is why legal claims take so many years to decide. However UNISON is committed to negotiating improvements with the council so that our members do not have to wait years for pay equality”

Friday 4 April 2014

Lola Commons Fund at UNISON Scotland health conference

Lisa Hague wife of Celtic star Kris Commons will announce a sponsored walk being undertaken by Ian McGovern at today’s UNISON Scotland Health Conference.

The walk from Celtic Park to Anfield will raise money for The Lola Commons fund for SiMBA and to remember the 96 fans who died in the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989.

The Chair of UNISON Scotland’s Health Committee, Tom Waterston said:

“UNISON is pleased to welcome Lisa to our health conference. The Lola Commons fund is a great example of creating something truly worthwhile from a great personal tragedy.”

Note for editors:
Lisa Hague and Kris Commons established The Lola Commons Fund for SiMBA. Lisa lost Lola Grace in 2008 and has pledged her support to SiMBA as an ambassador to try and reach out to other families.

The conference will be held at the Marriot Hotel, Glasgow starting at 10am.