Friday 19 December 2014

Christmas message from Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish secretary

2014 was a significant year and we should be rightly proud of the role UNISON played in the independence referendum. We led the debate for a fairer and just Scotland. Thank you to UNISON members, activists, staff and supporters for the way you conducted yourselves throughout. We showed, once again, the importance of trade unions in shaping the country we live in

Public services remain a key issue. People in Scotland made it clear they want more, not less investment in public services and want to keep public services in public hands. UNISON will continue to keep all political parties to the promises they have made both on where powers lie and how they will use them. And most importantly we will ensure ordinary working people have a strong voice.

Thursday 18 December 2014

New 2015 Course Programme Launched

Welcome to UNISON Scotland's Education Programme for 2015. Our courses continue to prove very popular, particularly for new UNISON Stewards. We offer training to ensure new Stewards are accredited by law and, more importantly, feel confident in their role. Click here for full details on the website

All our regional courses are held in large cities/towns and, with the exception of specialised courses, they are tutored by specially trained UNISON staff or fully qualified Lay Tutors who are activists themselves.

We also offer Refresher training for more experienced activists and a number of specific courses where people can develop their skills in Representation, Negotiation etc. Our short Employment Law courses are as popular as ever and are delivered by our partners Thompsons Solicitors.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

NHS porter’s workloads and stress go up as their wages go down, claims UNISON report

Wed 17 Dec 2014

NHS Porters are under pressure and their workloads are going up while the value of their wages are going down. The report also concludes that their training is patchy and there are reports of lack of equipment to allow them to do their job properly.

These are the conclusions of a study UNISON has conducted among NHS porters. This report also suggests a growth in zero hour contracts and widespread reports of understaffing.

The report ‘Breaking Point’ was derived from surveys of Porters across the NHS in Scotland. 

Tam Waterson Chair of UNISON Scotland’s Health Committee said, “This study shows that porters like other workers in the NHS are under stress, working harder but seeing the value of their wages go down. It increases pressure on all NHS workers which impacts on the delivery of services for patients. Porters aren’t the glamorous end of the NHS, but they matter and the NHS is a team effort and we need to take their concerns seriously”


Notes to Editor

1. UNISON is the biggest trade union in Scotland, and UNISON is the biggest trade union in NHS Scotland

Saturday 13 December 2014

New Scotland in UNISON now online

December's Scotland in UNISON is now online: Stories on engaging people in devo plans; Bhopal reports; GAMH campaign; SNP conference lobby and police cuts; OTs under stress; Lanarkshire Health PFI fight; Homelessness costs; FE colleges; Holiday pay and much more in this edition.


Friday 12 December 2014

Workers in Queensferry and East Kilbride face uncertain Christmas

IBM workers who deliver ScottishPower’s outsourced £20m IT services, face an uncertain Christmas after being told that they face further restructuring. Staff are worried that this may mean further job losses.

IT staff maintain customer services systems and infrastructure which engineers rely on when tackling power cuts.

Staff say more restructuring will further disrupt customer service support, reduce ability to respond to emergencies, delay urgent IT developments and introduce additional overheads and costs.

Malcolm Currie, Prospect negotiations officer, speaking on behalf of members working as specialists and managers in the customer care teams, said: “In the last four years this workforce have been subject to constant change, disruption and job insecurity. The workforce has already been reduced from 360 to 140. It is dismaying to see the skills of our members being taken for granted in this way. Repeated and costly upheaval can’t make good business sense, let alone show any consideration for the people and families affected.”

UNISON represents the IT workers at Queensferry and East Kilbirde. Paul Summers, Regional Organiser for UNISON North West said: “Staff here support the country’s critical national infrastructure. The planned division of the team and re-tendering will make flexible working more difficult and could worsen the security of our energy supply. There is no benefit in this change for customers or the wider public.

Thursday 11 December 2014

UNISON lambasts council ‘bully-boy’ tactics as councillors threaten closure of mental health charity

UNISON has issued an urgent call to councillors to cease plans to cut a charity’s funding by 40 per cent without any prior consultation.

Councillors are expected to make their decision at a council meeting today (Thursday) based on a report that remains unseen by Glasgow Association for Mental Health.

The charity was notified late Tuesday evening that commissioners want to hold an urgent meeting with the charity today – less than 24 hours before a decision is to be made – based on a fundamentally-flawed report that takes mental health provision in the city back to the 1970s. The city’s most vulnerable now face paying the price with a maximum of 12 weeks of support, regardless of need.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Bhopal: Terrible hardship but incredible courage and kindness

#Bhopal30 This is the day 30 years ago when the Union Carbide industrial disaster claimed 25,000 lives, left 120,000 chronically ill and continues to maim subsequent generations.

The anniversary rally took place along with a march by all the families and supporters to the Bhopal plant walls.

An excellent rally was planned and policed by the Bhopal group and supporters and this was achieved with little or no police or army presence.

It was a very hot day and water was provided at many places along the route. The rally at the wall then burned effigies of Dow and Union Carbide.

Later the screening took place of a new movie about the disaster called 'A Prayer for Rain', featuring Martin Sheen. Many of the survivors and their families attended, some having never set foot in a cinema before.

I was very moved by the fragile condition of many, yet they came and sat through an event that must have brought back horrific memories to them all.

Presented to trade unions and NDOs by the delegation.
During my time here I have witnessed some terrible hardship and deprivation. But also some incredible courage and kindness.

Sam Macartney

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Torchlight march and Bhopal Disaster Museum

#Bhopal30 From Sam Macartney and Scott Donohoe in Bhopal: Tuesday began with a national solidarity meeting with families and NGOs who support the campaign.Then a visit to the workplace of the women who have taken the fight to the courts and the Indian government. They have their own trade union now but they still haven't received justice for the disaster. Next we visited the new Bhopal People's Disaster Museum. This is a tribute to those that lost their lives and those who are still suffering. It was very harrowing but very moving.

We then joined with families, activists and campaigners on a torchlight rally to the old factory walls. This was incredible. Real torches steeped in paraffin were carried through the city for about two miles. See videos by Sanjay Verma here.

The torches were kept alight during the march by men refilling these wood and metal torches with fuel. In the darkness this was a fantastic sight but I can't see this catching on in Scotland due to health and safety concerns (that's a real shame).

Finally, the hunger fast starts at midnight tonight for 30 hours signifying one hour for every year that has passed since the disaster caused by Union Carbide.

Bill Kidd MSP has lodged the following motion in the Scottish Parliament.

Fasting in solidarity with Bhopal families

UNISON's Sam Macartney will be joining friends and families of the Bhopal disaster on a 30 hour hunger fast from midnight on Tuesday until 6.00am on Thursday. "It is the least I can do after what we have seen", reported Sam. Clearly moved by what he had seen, Scott Donohoe commented: "The levels of poverty in Bhopal are truly shocking."

UNISON Scotland's Sam Macartney and Scott Donohoe are part of a trade union delegation to Bhopal to mark the 30th annivesary of the Union Carbide disaster that killed 25,000, left 120,000 chronically ill and continues to maim subsequent generations.

Yesterday they took part in a demonstration after being shown around the Bhopal Sambhavna medical aid clinic and the great facilities they have and the excellent work they are doing to support the victims of their families.

Monday 1 December 2014

Support the Bhopal Medical Appeal

Update from Sam Macartney in Bhopal: Yes I was on a demo in India, and I and all the trade union delegates to Bhopal were honoured and and very pleased to walk with familyies and friends of the Bhopal campaign. We had joined the demo after being shown around the Bhopal Sambhavna medical aid clinic and the great facilities they have and the excellent work they are doing to support the victims of their families.

The facility also includes a clinic for children who have been poisoned by Union Carbide. The clinic (Chingari) rehab clinic supports over 200 children who have suffered due to the poison from the chemical spill from the Bhopal plant. They offer help and support with support and funding from the Bhopal medical aid campaign it is so very important that this aid continues for all concerned. You can donate to the Bhopal Medical Appeal by clicking here

Further reports will follow.
Sam Macartney, International officer, UNISON Scotland
The Chairs of UNISON Scotland’s International Committee, Sam Macartney and Health & Safety Committee, Scott Donohoe are taking part in a delegation to Bhopal, India, to mark the anniversary on 3rd December 2014 to mark the 30th anniversary of the industrial disaster that has killed 25,000, left 120,000 chronically ill and continues to maim subsequent generations. See the website for more details

Candlelight vigil held for Bhopal's second generation victims

From Sam Macartney and Scott Donohoe in Bhopal leading up to the 3 December anniversary of the disaster: 

Many events have been organised over the next three days to remember the victims of this disaster. Proceedings started on Sunday with the Mela of alternatives, an event looking at the way forward to aid the victims in the campaign. This was followed by a seminar on the medical aid issues which are ongoing. (See a backgrounf briefing on Bhopal here)

A press conference was held and organised by AmnestyIinternational chaired by their Secretary General and finally on the Sunday evening a candle light vigil was held by the second generation of victims impacted by this disaster. Their families will not forget and neither should we.

Further updates will follow as events unfold.
Sam Macartney
UNISON Scotland international committee