Tuesday 26 August 2014

Cleaners in public sector are struggling to maintain hygiene, says UNISON

A report out today (Tuesday) by UNISON Scotland, Dishing the Dirt, paints a bleak picture of cleaning staff – who are struggling to keep hospitals, local government and other offices clean. They feel undervalued by their managers, and are asked to clean more, with less staff, and cheaper less effective cleaning materials. The report is based on interviews with cleaners across NHS Scotland, local council offices, colleges and elsewhere in both public and contracted out services.

Those surveyed claimed they are trapped in an endless cycle of work. They are badly paid but their pay is going down in real terms, and they rarely consulted about their views at work. They are an undervalued, isolated sector.

Meat Inspectors Strike

There was a good response this morning from farmers and others at the meat inspectors picket line at the Scotbeef plant in Bridge of Allen. Food safety is important to protect quality meat brands. As well as consumers.

And at other plants across Scotland.


Ali Syed funeral today 1.30 Glasgow Central Mosque

We have heard the sad news that Ali Syed MBE has passed away today after a long illness. Ali Syed will be interred at Glasgow Central Mosque at 1.30pm Tuesday 26 August

Meat hygiene inspectors strike for fair pay

Meat hygiene inspectors, vets and support staff are embarking on two days of strike action from today in a long-running dispute over pay.

Two four-hour walkouts are scheduled to take place, from 6.30am-10.30am on Tuesday, August 26, and again on Wednesday, August 27.

The decision follows a ballot earlier this month, which saw UNISON’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) members overwhelmingly vote for strike action over an imposed pay offer of just 0.75%, while most other public service workers have been offered a 1% increase.

UNISON has previously invited the FSA to resolve the pay dispute through independent conciliation. Even as late as last week, UNISON asked them to reconsider and go to ACAS for arbitration, but they refused.

Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland’s Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, said: “Meat inspectors, official veterinarians and support staff cost each person in the country just 38 pence per year. When you consider that since April 2012, they have prevented over a million instances of diseased animal carcasses from entering the food chain, it’s a small price to pay for safer food.

Monday 25 August 2014

UNISON remembers Ali Syed

We have heard the sad news that Ali Syed MBE has passed away today after a long illness.
Ali Syed
born 18 November 1934
died 25 August 2014
"Ali was a trade union activist for many years holding a range of posts in UNISON health branches and in Glasgow Trades Council. Other branches will remember his many contributions to debates at Scottish Council. His trade union values shone through in all his work, including the many causes he took up - not least the plight of the Palestinian people", Dave Watson, UNISON Scottish Organiser, said in a message to branches.

"Ali was also a stalwart of Socialist Health Association Scotland for many years, serving as Chair and then in retirement as Vice-Chair. He also served on the SHA UK Central Council. This followed an outstanding NHS career in cancer care, latterly at the Beatson Centre in Glasgow. He was Labour to the core and made many contributions at Scottish Labour Party conferences.

"He will be sadly missed by all his comrades and the very many people he helped. Our thoughts are of course with his family.

"We have no further information at this time regarding funeral arrangements, but will circulate when we do."

Staff who keep our food safer deserve a pay rise

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) hasn't had the best of press recently, now they have forced their staff out on strike and refused to resolve the dispute at ACAS.

There has been growing concern over the way the FSA handles food safety across the UK. It's part of the reason why Scotland is in the process of establishing a separate body, although many of the problems are likely to remain here as well.

A recent survey for the Food Standards Agency showed 59% of raw chicken bought at supermarkets contained the potentially deadly bacteria Campylobacter. As an article in the Scotsman put it, "After a decade of trying to get the poultry industry to clean up its act, the Food Standards Agency had promised to name and shame the worst offenders in the first quarter of its year-long survey. However, pressure from the industry has led the FSA to back down".

Thursday 21 August 2014

Vote Yes for Fair Pay - Leaflets and posters now online

Resources for the Scottish local government workers' pay campaign are now online at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/localgovt/pay2014/

The Scottish Employers have imposed a pay award of 1% on our members from 1 April 2014.

Further they have refused to negotiate on UNISON’s claim for this period which was:

• An additional £1 per hour for all staff conditioned by the Scottish Joint Council
• Consolidation of the Living Wage
• Deletion of spinal column points below the level of the Living Wage

Wednesday 20 August 2014

People's Assembly Campaign Handbook online

UNISON Scotland is supporting the People's Assembly and has contributed to a new campaigning guide issued by the People's Assembly Against Austerity Scotland. Find out more and get a copy at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/peoplesassembly/

The People's Assembly is a broad united national campaign against austerity, cuts and privatisation in our workplaces, community and welfare services, based on general agreement with the signatories’ Founding Statement. http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/scotland

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Update on Holiday Pay following 'Lock' case judgement in European Court of Justice

19 August 2014

UNISON Scotland is urging members who think they have been underpaid holiday pay to contact their local branch as soon as possible.

The call follows a decision in May this year by the European Court of Justice which means employees who normally get paid enhancements like overtime, shifts and commission - but not when they are on holiday - might be able to make a claim against their employer.

The judgement is the result of a successful claim by UNISON member Joe Lock, in what is now being called the ‘Lock’ case. The court ruled that paid annual leave is a fundamental social right and Mr Lock’s holiday pay should include any commission which is directly linked work, in this case for British Gas. The result of this decision will have important implications for workers across a wide variety of sectors.  In short, the court has said employers need to assess ‘normal pay’ for their workers when they are calculating holiday pay.

Mike Kirby, UNISON’s Scottish Secretary, said: 
“This significant decision confirms what UNISON has been saying for some time. Holiday pay not only includes a worker’s basic pay, but also other payments like overtime, bonuses and commission which can be reasonably said to form part of their normal pay packet.

“We want to work constructively with employers to scope out the impact of this ruling. Employers will need to look at the terms and conditions of their staff and realise that current business models of under-contracting, running on overtime and the inappropriate use of zero hours contracts are no longer an option.”

Branches are writing to all employers where we have members and asking what they intent to do in relation to unpaid holiday pay in respect of additional payments during working time. On a national level, UNISON is collating responses from employers and will then decide a strategy on how best to pursue them.

It is not yet clear how many members may be affected, however, it is vital that any members who think they may have a claim get in touch with their local branch as soon as possible.

UNISON Members:
What to do if you think you might have a claim

• Contact your local branch as soon as possible. They will be able to keep you up-to-date on your employer’s response and on UNISON’s claim strategy.

• Ensure your contact details are up-to-date. The easiest and quickest means of contact is through email.

• Contact the branch immediately if your employer stops making the payments for commission, other supplements, bonuses or over-time pay; or if your employer starts paying any unpaid commission, other supplements, bonuses or overtime pay during annual leave.

• For more information please contact your local branch officer.

Sunday 17 August 2014

Survey for Personal Assistants launched

The WEA and UNISON Scotland have launched a survey for PAs and a series of workshops on managing conflict in employment relationships. The survey is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3V35ZQ6 or contact l.rankin@weascotland.org.uk for a hard copy. The FREE joint training workshops are for PAs and their employers to help them develop good working relationships. It will look at the causes and effects of conflict; the reasons behind reactions to conflict and help you develop skills to reduce and prevent conflict. http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/socialwork/personalassistants.html

Saturday 9 August 2014

Gaza: 'We march for three things. The children, the children, the children.'

#Gaza Edinburgh’s Princes Street came to a halt again this week when marchers stopped and sat for two minutes silence to remember the dead in Gaza. Even onlookers respected the silence and applauded as the demonstrators set off again for Bute House, the official residence of the First Minister of Scotland.(From the UNISONActive blog)

On the 90 minute march, people carried a card, each with the name of one of the 2,000 Palestinians, almost 400 of them children, killed by Israeli forces. It was a poignant and powerful way of highlighting the human cost.

The demands were straightforward: An immediate end to the killing, Israel to lift the siege and to abide by UN resolutions. An end to arms sales to Israel and boycott, divestment and sanctions to bring pressure on the Israeli government. A free Palestine.