Friday 28 November 2014

Cuts dont work

UNISON Scotland's analysis of the impact of austerity economics on Scotland's public services is highlighted in a column in today's Scotsman.

Dave Watson argues that, "Our public debt continues to rise, productivity is low, wages are dropping, inequality is increasing and youth unemployment is high.The idea that our present economic woes are a crisis stemming from out-of-control public finances is the neo-liberal myth of our times."

He also draws attention to UNISON Scotland's series of reports on the impact of cuts on particular groups of workers, "Unison has been systematically surveying groups of our members and the evidence is broadly the same – corners are being cut and plates are kept spinning in the hope that the whole façade doesn’t come crashing down."

Finally he sets out a better way, "We can invest so we can create demand and quality jobs, building an economic system that delivers a decent standard of life for all. We could reform our tax system to make it more progressive and crack down on tax dodgers. We need to agree that tax and public services are a good thing and value for money. We need to end the regressive council tax freeze and allow local democracy to flourish, invest in houses to rent and give Scotland a pay rise."

The full column can be read here.

Thursday 27 November 2014

UNISON statement on Smith Commission

“While there are certainly positive elements in these proposals, the package as a whole falls short of our aspirations contained in our submission to the Commission, with particular regard to job creation,
employment regulation, equalities and minimum wage. These are areas required if inequalities in society are to be addressed. We will continue to press for this”, said Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Secretary.
     “The reference to a durable constitutional settlement is to be welcomed, and this as Lord Smith made clear, is an agreement between political parties and has yet to be tested against the opinions and aspirations of the Scottish people. The Commission lists additional areas for consideration, and received a remarkable number of submissions, and that civic engagement must be developed as the proposals now make their way through the Westminster process.”

Wednesday 26 November 2014

UNISON Scotland statement on First Minister’s programme for Government

Wed 26 Nov 2014

Mike Kirby, Scottish secretary of UNISON, said ‘UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union and we welcome the First Minister’s programme for government. There was much in Nicola Sturgeon’s statement to commend.

We welcome her commitment to protect public services and to increase NHS funding; her commitment to the living wage and to mitigate the problems of welfare reform; and her commitment to put gender equality and women’s rights at the heart of her government; and to increase childcare.

Review of local government financeUNISON also welcomed the commission to review local government finance but we are disappointed that the council tax freeze will remain in place until 2016. This freeze hits the most vulnerable people, those who need public services the most.

We need a fundamental reform of how we pay for local services. Local government is experiencing the worst of the cuts. It has lost the bulk of the jobs and it is the only sector to get a real cash cut. We can no longer pretend to get better services for less money. We favour a progressive property tax where we all pay our fair share.

UNISON condemns chief constable statement that it is ‘inevitable that more police staff face further jobs cuts next year'

Wed 26 Nov 2014

UNISON, the trade union for police civilian staff, has condemned the statement by the Chief Constable of Police Scotland that more police staff will be made redundant.

George McIrvine, secretary of UNISON police staff Scotland branch said:
"This shows UNISON is right. Civilian police staff are facing big job losses and are the victims of the Scottish Governments policy to maintain police officers while cutting £1.1bn from the police budget.  Both the chief constable and Scottish Justice Secretary are hiding behind the political statement to ‘maintain 17,234 police officers’ to pretend they are meeting the public’s priorities. This means the £1.1bn police cuts will decimate civilian police staff jobs."

George continued:
"We have built a modern balanced Scottish police force of hard working, high skilled civilians who are value for money and work side by side with our police officers to fight crime. Finger print officers, crime scene investigators, anti-fraud officers, intelligence analysis, forensics, legal clerical, custody officers, community safety officers, call centre staff and many more. These people have local knowledge and high technical skills and have reduced crime to its lowest level ever.  The police service will not survive this outdated political pledge, it is death by 1000 officers."

Gerry Crawley UNISON police staff organiser said: 
“The cuts confirmed today will take policing back to the 1970s, which will mean 1970s levels of crime. Civilian police staff are paying the price of the £1.1bn Scottish Government cuts. Frankly it’s the worst gutter politics. Ministers and senior police protecting their own jobs over hard working civilian police staff who actually fight crime on our streets. Just so they can say to the public we are ‘maintaining 1000 extra police officers’. UNISON will not stand by and see our modern police force decimated like this. The public need to recognise that a £1.1bn cut means losing every civilian post in the police force. Which will mean a rise in crime.  It's politicians and top police putting their own job security over public safety.”


Notes to Editor

1. Sir Stephen House gave evidence to MSPs yesterday 25 November 2014, along with the new justice secretary, Michael Matheson. Scotland's top police officer has said force support staff face further job cuts next year. Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said he was confident of making a target to save £1.1bn by 2026.But he warned the path ahead was "not smooth" and said every area, apart from police officer numbers, would be considered in the drive for savings. See:

2. UNISON is the biggest trade union in Scotland, and we are the biggest trade union representing police staff

3. Police staff stay in the job longer, specialise and advance in particular areas of work and are better value for public money. A police officer filling in the jobs left by redundant police staff costs the public more and takes an officer off of the street and putting them behind a desk. What’s the sense in that?

Monday 24 November 2014

Enter the UNISON Scotland Communications Awards

Share your best practice, your innovative ideas and most of all your enthusiasm and enter the UNISON Scotland 2014/15 Communications Awards. Help build a stronger union and get some well-deserved recognition for all your hard work.

Closing date is Wednesday 14 January 2015 and an entry form, poster and all the details are on the website at

Thanks again to the UNISON family of sponsors:
UiA Insurance
Thompsons Solicitors Scotland
Liverpool Victoria
Lighthouse Financial Advice
TC Branding

UNISON on The Vale of Leven Hospital Inquiry report

Commenting on the long-awaited independent inquiry into patient deaths at the Vale of Leven Hospital which was published today (Monday) UNISON regional organiser, Matt McLaughlin, said:

“The outbreak of C difficile at Vale of Leven in 2007/08 was tragic and, even this long after the deaths, our thoughts must be with the people who lost relatives and friends because of the failures set out in Lord MacLean’s report.

“Public service workers don’t go to work and expect to find themselves at the centre of such heartbreaking and difficult circumstances. Our members want to help people get better and we are pleased this report recognises the reasons for this tragedy were systemic, rather than person-centred.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Glasgow Association of Mental Health Demonstration

Around 500 people attended the demo on Wednesday 12 November 2014, where UNISON members, service users and members of the public took the message to Glasgow City Councillors that cuts to Glasgow Association of Mental Health (GAMH) services will cost lives. Our demo made the morning radio, press and STV television and we are on the front page of Third Force News where the headline is ‘Cuts Will Cost Lives’!

A small delegation met with Cllr Malcolm Cunning before the demo and he assured representatives from UNISON, GAMH and service users that no political decision has yet been made on the proposed 40% cut to GAMH budgets. The support shown by people from across Glasgow at the demonstration yesterday will have given Cllr Cunning and his colleagues much food for thought and we expect to have further discussions in due course before any firm decisions are taken.

So on this front alone, our campaign has already had an impact as we expected the 40% cuts to have been confirmed by now. We continue to collect petitions and have collected over 2500 signatures to stop GAMH cuts. Please keep up the good work and keep those signatures coming as the political pressure key to preventing the scale of the cuts proposed from happening. The campaign strategy committee will be meeting on Tuesday 18th November to discuss our next steps and we will issue more information then.

Finally, a big thanks is due to everyone who attended and helped out on the day – there are genuinely too many to thank individually. A special thank you is required for our speakers on the day, Julie Ballantyne, Cathy Miller and Brian Smith from UNISON. We also need to thank the UNSION NHS CVS Branch for their financial support with the flags and t-shirts and the UNISON Glasgow City Branch for their support and the use of their PA system. A final special thanks has to go to the GAMH service users who made their own placards and banners – this really added colour to the day.

GAMH Cuts Will Cost Lives!

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Important Holiday Pay Claims Update - 3 months ruling

On 4 November 2014 the Employment Appeal Tribunal decided three test cases on holiday pay claims.

The judge confirmed that regular additional payments such as overtime should be included in the calculation of holiday pay. The ruling only applies to holiday pay guaranteed under the Working Time Directive which covers the first 20 days of annual leave each year.

This means that going forward employers will have to work out what an employee has actually earned and reflect this in pay when the employee takes annual leave.

The judgement also contained a surprise ruling that significantly restricts the ability to claim back pay for previous underpaid annual leave.

Any claim for unpaid wages has to be made within three months of the underpayment. Claims can be made for a series of underpayments, but only if there is less than 3 months between underpayments.

The EAT decision may be appealed but for now any underpayments must be linked by gaps of less than three months in order to form a series for back pay claims. Click here for more details, examples and action to take if you think you are affected ...

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Under pressure – UNISON survey shows Scotland’s occupational therapists struggling to maintain service

Tue 11 Nov 2014

A report out today (Tuesday 11 Nov 2014) by UNISON shows that Scotland’s occupational therapists are struggling to maintain the level of service their patients need in light of budget cuts and staffing shortages.

Those surveyed in the report – Under Pressure: Scotland’s occupational therapists speak out – said they had huge concerns about the impact cuts are having on the service. An overwhelming majority (82%) reported increased workloads, 60% reported having to cope with reduced members of staff and almost half (48%) reported funding cuts.

There were recurring themes among the concerns: assessments being overruled because of resource pressures; and failure by management to replace absent colleagues, specifically for maternity leave which, given the virtually all-female composition of the workforce, is more common than in many other groups of staff. When asked if they regularly worked more than their contracted hours 60% of respondents said they did – an extra five hours a week was the average. While the majority (58%) of respondents reported their standard of living had dropped in the last 3-4 years. 

‘Cuts cost lives’ says UNISON – campaigners lobby Glasgow City Council over savage cuts to mental health charity

Tue 11 Nov 2014

Staff, service users, community groups and members of the public will gather in George Square tomorrow (Wednesday 12 November) to lobby Glasgow City Council over its plans to cut a charity’s funding by 40%.

The scale of these savage cuts are likely to force Glasgow Association for Mental Health (GAMH) – which receives nearly all of its funding from the council – to close, risking the lives of hundreds of vulnerable adults across the city.

Chrissy McKeag, a project worker at GAMH, said: 
“We provide essential support - emotional, social and practical - to those who experience mental health difficulties across Glasgow. 
The support we offer transforms people’s lives and helps to prevent them from developing problems that are likely to require costly help and support from statutory services such as health, housing and criminal justice. Savage cuts of this level will leave Glasgow’s most vulnerable with nowhere to turn and end up costing the city much more in the long run.”

Saturday 8 November 2014

New Scotland in UNISON online

Austerity economics don’t add up, vote yes to keep your union’s voice, 18 October rally report, devolution submission, campaign against NHS PFI, violence against staff doubles, retired member wins claim, Bhopal remembered, celebrate learning and much more in this issue.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

LG Pay Scotland - Members vote to accept

The Scottish Local Government pay ballot closed yesterday and the results were as follows: Members voted 70.8% to accept and 29.2% to reject the revised pay offer. The LG committee meets tomorrow 5 November. A further update will be circulated thereafter.

Monday 3 November 2014

Holiday Pay Claims Important Update

Since our earlier briefings on holiday pay claims, a number of employers have attempted to limit their liability for back pay by including additional money for holiday pay in workers’ pay.

This triggers the time limit for claims with the effect that many claims may go out of time. Where this has been done by a large employer like a local authority, you will already have received advice from UNISON.

If your pay now includes an element of additional pay, the time for bringing a claim will have started from the date on which you were last underpaid holiday pay. If there are more than three months since the last time holiday pay did not include additional sums, then you will be unable to pursue a claim.

Your branch will be sending out a more detailed briefing very soon, but you should contact them now if you think you are running out of time because your employer has made additional payments for past underpaid holidays. More details at

Sunday 2 November 2014

UNISON Labour Link Scotland backs Katy Clark MP for Scottish Labour Deputy Leader

UNISON, Scotland’s largesttrade union, has given its backing to Katy Clark MP in the contest for the nextScottish Labour Deputy leader.

UNISONScotland Labour Link Chair Gordon McKay said:

"KatyClark has a great record of campaigning on the issues that matter to UNISONmembers in Scotland. On public services, employment rights, pensions, inequalityand many other concerns."

"Herviews have remained consistent with Labour’s traditions and values and that isvital if Scottish Labour is to build its support in Scotland. Katy has shownbefore and after becoming an MP that she is on the side of working people."

Responding today to the announcement that UNISON Scotland Labour Link has decided to support her campaign for Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Katy Clark said,


"I warmly welcome this decision and the fact that thousands of trade unionists will be participating in this election which is a real opportunity for the leadership and deputy leadership candidates to engage with the thousands of trade unionists up and down the country who will have a vote on who leads Scottish Labour. Trade union members and Labour Party members have a shared agenda of wanting a Scottish Labour Party which fights to defend and improve public services and living standards. Scottish Labour needs to listen to what trade union members are saying. I hope that this contest will see a genuine debate as to how we can build stronger links between Scottish Labour and the trade union movement and trade union members."

Vote YES to keep your union’s voice

UNISON Scotland is urging all members to defend the union’s campaigning voice by voting ‘yes’ to keep its unique political fund. The ballot runs from 1-30 November.

Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish secretary explains: “Like all trade unions, UNISON is required in law to have a political fund for campaigning generally and specifically to affiliate or donate to any political party.

Saturday 1 November 2014

UNISON Scotland Labour Link backs Neil Findlay for Scottish Labour Leader

UNISON, Scotland’s largest trade union, has given its backing to Neil Findlay MSP in the contest for the next Scottish Labour leader. This followed a hustings event in Glasgow today (1 November 2014) at the UNISON annual Labour Link Forum.

Members were impressed by the analysis from both Sarah Boyack and Neil Findlay of the challenges facing Scottish Labour and need for a new approach.

UNISON Scotland Labour Link Chair Gordon McKay said:

“Members have been hugely impressed with Neil Findlay since he became an MSP and in particular as Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing. Neil understands that politics as usual isn’t good enough and we believe he offers a fresh approach with a real experience and understanding of the concerns of working people”.

“At today’s meeting Neil Findlay outlined a radical new policy approach that will be welcomed by our members.”


ENDS Note for editors:

Labour Link is UNISON’s affiliated political fund.

For further information please contact:

Dave Watson, UNISON Scottish Organiser, on 07958 122409