Friday, 25 September 2015

Staff morale at rock bottom in Scotland’s colleges, says UNISON

A UNISON report from a survey of staff in Scottish colleges, shows real problems caused by funding cuts, the college mergers programme and unaccountable college senior managers - and real concern amongst staff that education services for students are declining. The report Learning the Hard Way is published today (25 September 2015)

Its findings include: over 6 in 10 staff (64%) think college services have declined; 7 in 10 (69%) blame the Scottish Government’s merger policy; the vast majority of staff (77%) are extremely doubtful that services will improve within the next year; most staff (72%) are dissatisfied with opportunities for their own advancement; 9 in 10 (90%) staff believe Scottish colleges are underfunded.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Room for Refugees Scotland and UK-wide Online Refugee Hosting Scheme

@PositiveActionH From Positive Action in Housing  Make a donation here  Yes we have room. Over 1,750 households across Scotland and the UK have registered with Positive Action in Housing to host refugees - and growing.

From the Outer Hebrides, to Shetland, to Edinburgh's Morningside to Glasgow's Easterhouse to Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, Devon, Manchester and every part of London. If you are an individual wishing to host, please sign up to host refugees:

Scottish public bodies must mitigate austerity, says UNISON

Date: Wednesday 23 September 2015

UNISON Scotland is launching a campaign today (23 September 2015) calling on the Scottish Government, local authorities and public bodies to do all they can to mitigate UK government austerity.

The public services trade union is calling for a range of financial and industrial policies to create investment in Scottish infrastructure, green energy production and jobs.

With interest rates at an all time low, it is cheaper to buy out or refinance PPP / PFI contracts saving up to £12bn; pension funds could be a source of badly needed investment for infrastructure, we need a political consensus on reform of local taxation; and councils should collaborate in using bonds as a means of financing borrowing rather than routinely using the Public Works Loan Board.

Dave Watson, head of UNISON Scotland bargaining and campaigns, said ‘We are expecting a further £2bn of cuts to local public services across Scotland. We could save £2bn by refinancing PFI / PPP projects. Every sensible measure that government and public authorities take will reduce damage to vital public services and protects jobs. And some councils are already using pension funds to invest in affordable housing, but we need to do this on a national scale.'

Dave Watson continued: 
‘Scottish local government has already seen over 40,000 job losses and many more jobs have been lost in the NHS, police, community and voluntary sector. Of course UNISON is joining with the STUC and others to campaign against austerity, however we are ready to work with Scottish Government and public authorities to do all we can to mitigate against the worst effects of these cuts’

The report is launched today



Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Free tickets to @TakeOneAction Film Festival for UNISON members

The excellent Take One Action Film Festival starts today. And there are free tickets for 50 UNISON members.

As part of its continued support for Take One Action, the UK's premier global justice film festival, UNISON is this year offering free tickets to selected screenings - but HURRY: this offer is limited to the first 50 members. Bookings must be made by Friday 18 September.
Take One Action celebrates the people and the movies that are changing the world - go see the change you want to be!

Food Chains
A portrait of courage and determination, documenting the migrant farm labourers fight for a fair wage in South Florida.
Glasgow - GFT - Sat 19 Sept - 15:15
Edinburgh Filmhouse - Tues 22 Sept - 18:00Life Is Sacred
Insightful look at Colombian politics and the youth movements that emerged in the post-2010 presidential elections.
Edinburgh Filmhouse - Tues 22 Sept - 18:00
Glasgow CCA - Mon 21 Sept - 19:30
Stories of Our Lives
Moving fiction portraits of real-life experiences of LGBT individuals in Kenya, brought to the screen by an intrepid artists' collective.
Glasgow screening only - CCA - Sun 20 Sept - 18:00
Full Festival programme available via
email by 12:00noon on Friday 18 September stating
  • your name
  • your membership number
  • the title and date of the screening you wish to attend
  • whether you require 1 or 2 tickets
Terms & Conditions
Offer available to UNISON members only - not transferable.
Tickets are limited to 2 per member, per screening.
Tickets must be booked by email ( by 12noon Fri 18 Sept.
Tickets will be available for collection from the venue's box office 30min before the start of a screening and must be collected minimum 15min before the screening starts. Any tickets not collected within this time frame may be reallocated.
Please note there are NO ADVERTS for any of the screenings and events will start at the advertised time.

Colleagues, friends and family can join UNISON by visiting or calling 0800 0 857 857.

Enjoy the movie!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

New Scottish website to support refugees

#scotlandwelcomesrefugees A new website by Scottish Refugee Council on behalf of Scottish Government has been launched You can donate or offer time, skills and housing to support refugees coming to Scotland.

Corbyn has strong mandate to opppose cuts says UNISON Scotland convener

#TUC15 Speaking at the TUC congress in Brighton, Lilian Macer, Convener of UNISON Scotland, said: "We are delighted that Labour Party has elected a leader who is strongly opposed to austerity. UK Government cuts are hitting people and their public services hard in Scotland, just as they are right across the UK.

"UNISON members can see the damage that austerity is doing first hand. With job losses, pay freezes and cuts to services. Jeremy Corbyn has been given a strong mandate to oppose the UK government cuts and set out a real positive alternative."

Thursday, 10 September 2015

End the cuts and rethink Scottish policing, says UNISON

Date: Thursday 10 September 2015

UNISON Scotland police staff will call for the suspension 'all cuts and reforms while we re-think Scottish policing' at a public meeting in Dundee tonight (Thursday, 10 Sept 2015, 7pm). 

Shadow justice spokesperson Graeme Pearson MSP is travelling the country speaking to rank and file officers, civilian staff, community groups, victim support staff and others as part of Scottish Labour's wde-ranging Review of Policing which is being held over the next four weeks.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, George McIrvine, branch secretary of UNISON police branch said: ‘Scottish Government is cutting Police Scotland too deep and too fast. They are cutting £1.1 billion from police budgets by 2026 while protecting police officers numbers. It’s police civilian staff like control room operators, crime analysts, and criminal justice staff who are losing their jobs. 

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Fine words and ideals no substitute for investment: UNISON inquiry into Scotland’s libraries

Tuesday 8 September 2015
UNISON, the trade union for Scotland’s library staff, has published a report 'Read It and Weep', which outlines the experience of those working in Scotland’s libraries. It raises the concerns and difficulties of staff who are simultaneously being expected to expand services while being in the front line of cuts. 

The report is based on qualitative research from UNISON members working across Scotland’s libraries. The frustration on the part of staff is clear. They are well aware that the services they provide are not as good as they could be and they highlight the impacts that cuts are making. Library services have been undergoing massive change in recent years yet staff numbers have been going down, buildings are closing and opening hours reduced 

Gray Allan, UNISON Falkirk council branch spokesperson (and a librarian), said “There is no shortage of people willing to say libraries are a good thing. But what our libraries need isn’t just fine words and ideals but proper financing and investment. The Scottish Government has endorsed a national strategy for public libraries that talks of libraries being part of a shared civic ambition.
"There isn’t much point in giving every child in Scotland a library card if their local library is being closed or its hours have reduced so much it isn’t accessible. 

" Staff are keen to see their service move forward but that isn’t happening.”


UNISON Contact • Danny Phillips, communications officer 0141 342 2877 / 077944 664 110
NotesUNISON Scotland is the public services trade union. We represent library staff across Scotland. UNISON is the biggest trade union in Scotland.
The full report can be read here:

Refugees welcome photos online

UNISON Scotland local government committee refugee welcome photos are now online. They can be downloaded through and clicking onto our Picasa site.

Kate Ramsden, UNISON member, shows her support
The power of these pictures is that these are the local government workers who will plan, organise, manage and deliver the services that refugees so badly need. The clear message is 'refugees are welcome and we stand ready to do our best'.

UNISON members are encouraged to use these photos for communications and campaigns work

UNISON members showing solidarity with refugees

UNISON Scotland Local Government Committee

UNISON Scotland local government members #refugeeswelcome

Monday, 7 September 2015

Supporters at Scotland v Germany game Mon 7 Sep say Refugees Welcome

PDF leaflet to download and print
Football supporters at tonghts Scotland v Germany game at Hampden Park, Glasgow, are urged to tweet Refugees Welcome images...
Scotland supporters will display a “Refugees Welcome” banner before tonight’s UEFA EURO Qualifying match against Germany at Hampden, in a proud imitation of the actions of football supporters across Germany.
The display will give Germany and Scotland fans the opportunity to express their support and solidarity for those affected by the refugee crisis.
Organised by ourselves and with the support of Unison Scotland, Unite and United Glasgow F.C., the display will begin at 6.30 pm at Queens Park Pavilion in Lesser Hampden and we are looking for all Scotland fans to get involved and show their support by carrying the banner in honour of the thousands of migrants fleeing conflicts in Syria, Eritrea, Sudan and others every day.
We will also be handing out leaflets which we implore you to take a picture with and retweet, share and post on all social media channels to show the UK Government that Scotland fully supports helping those in dire need of our help.
Make sure to use the hashtags #refugeeswelcome and #reclaimthegame and we will make sure the message is spread as far and as clear as possible.
Keep an eye on our social media channels for all updates and further information.

Text of leaflet:


We’ve all seen the pictures in the last two weeks of men, women and children drowning in the Mediterranean. The world is currently experiencing the biggest number of refugees since World War 2 and it’s time for Scotland to show our support. Scotland has a long history of immigration, from the Vikings and the Irish to Pakistanis and Poles. When you live in Scotland and love this country, you’re one of Jock Tamson’s bairns!

Scottish people, and the Tartan Army, have always stood up for what is right and we’re asking you to show your support for refugees from Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, etc.

Please take a picture with this leaflet and tweet/Facebook/Instagram with the hashtags  
#refugeeswelcome #reclaimthegame

Friday, 4 September 2015

Refugees welcome here say UNISON delegates

UNISON delegates from local government branches across Scotland took time out from their conference in Glasgow today to say "Refugees welcome here".

UNISON Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby welcomed the leadership shown by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and opposition leader Kezia Dugdale as they united in the Scottish Parliament to pledge humanitarian support.

Mike had issued a stark warning back in April about the crisis and UK government inaction. “This lack of action gives succour to traffickers seeking to exploit people in desperate situations in pursuit of profit. We cannot allow these people to exploit our Government’s inaction.”

“We must go even further than this and raise awareness of the combination of factors that cause people to turn to traffickers in the first place.”

How you can help
This Positive Action in Housing briefing gives branches an indication of some immediate actions you can take in political campaigning and in supporting emergency assistance.

Refugee Crisis in Europe - What you can do

In April 2015 we said: Migrant rescue cut 'indefensible in its inhumanity'.
“We must also seek to change the approach of the UK to immigration, creating a better more humane system that recognises our responsibilities in the world,” said Mike, adding that the UK is not doing enough to provide refuge to people who are displaced by conflict.

“In Syria, alone, close to four million refugees have fled since the beginning of the civil war in 2011. This is the largest refugee population currently under the care of the UN’s refugee agency, but to date the UK has only provided resettlement places for 143 Syrian refugees.

“This lack of action gives succour to traffickers seeking to exploit people in desperate situations in pursuit of profit. We cannot allow these people to exploit our Government’s inaction.”

“We must go even further than this and raise awareness of the combination of factors that cause people to turn to traffickers in the first place.”

This Positive Action in Housing briefing gives branches an indication of some immediate actions you can take in political campaigning and in supporting emergency assistance.

Mike J Kirby
Scottish Secretary

Thursday, 3 September 2015

UNISON Statement on HMICS Independent Assurance Review Police Scotland - Call Handling Interim Report

Thu 3 September 2015

UNISON welcomes the findings of the HMICS Independent Assurance Review Police Scotland - Call Handling Interim Report. 

UNISON has fully engaged in this review and has encouraged police staff to participate as fully as they can. The review found that staff at all levels in the division are ‘strongly committed in often challenging circumstances to providing a good service to the public’. It states that they are ‘committed to doing a good job and demonstrating considerable flexibility in their working practices whilst endeavouring to meet call demand’.

UNISON welcome the strong recommendation that Police Scotland should 'consolidate and stabilise their staffing, systems, procedures and processes prior' to the final reforms of control centres taking place. This makes common sense and we hope Police Scotland, The Scottish Police Authority and The Cabinet Secretary for Justice will adopt. 

We also welcome the recommendation that should it be necessary to retain specific staff beyond 31 March 2016 any voluntary redundancy / early retirement offers should be honoured. 

UNISON repeatedly voiced our concerns about the speed of reform of police control rooms and service centres. Staff who work in this environment fear that the specific deadlines / timescales of the reforms being pushed through would be detrimental to the service they can provide to the public. At very least these reforms cannot continue without taking on the valid concerns of the staff

The proposed efficiency savings of £1.1 billion by 2026 are unachievable, the creation of Police Scotland and how it is structured will not provide 'best value' and the outdated manifesto pledge of maintaining 1000 extra police officers must be reviewed as it is damaging Scottish policing. 

George McIrvine, UNISON police branch secretary said, ‘after 3 years of continued savage cuts to Scottish policing, we have a real worry for the police force over the next 11 years if these cuts continue. We urge the Scottish Government to look at their political targets to artificially maintain 1000 extra police officers and they continue to force through £1.1bn of cuts to policing.

George McIrvine also said ‘we welcome the recommendation that service centres in Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness should be maintained and staffed appropriately, while the final part of the reform to Police Control Rooms and Service Centres are consolidated. We doubt that its possible to close so many of Scotland control centres in the timescales set out without detriment to the service police scotland provide. We call on the Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish Government to adopt all measures in this interim review which go some way to safeguard and preserve the role of Police Staff within Police Scotland’


• UNISON represents police staff. We are the biggest trade union in Scotland
• Full copy of the HMICS Independent Assurance Review Police Scotland - Call Handling Interim Report can be read here

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

UNISON welcomes end of employment tribunal fees in Scotland

Wed 2 Sep 2015

UNISON has welcomed the Scottish Government announcement that it intends to abolish fees for employment tribunals in Scotland.

This announcement comes the week after UNISON vowed to go to the UK Supreme Court in its ongoing fight to appeal against the UK government's decision to introduce employment tribunal fees across the UK – after the Court of Appeal rejected UNISON’s case.

Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Secretary said: "The announcement to end tribunal fees in Scotland is hugely welcome. There is clear evidence that people at work are being priced out of justice, with women, disabled people  and the low-paid being disproportionately punished. This decision will ensure that people at work in Scotland will get a fair opportunity to have their case heard. This announcement goes a long way towards building more sensible industrial relations in Scotland and we welcome it."

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary said: "We urge the UK government to look at what is happening in Scotland to see that there is a better way. Workers across the UK who have been treated badly at work are being denied access to justice day after day, simply because they don't have the money to take a case. Now it seems that workers in Scotland are at least going to get a better deal. Our fight for fairness at work and access to justice for every person at work in the UK will continue until these unfair and punitive fees are scrapped right across the land."

Notes to editors

Employment tribunal fees were introduced on 29 July 2013 by the UK government. UNISON has been fighting to have the fees abolished across UK.

Fees start at around £160 to issue a Type A claim (eg unlawful deduction of wages, breach of contract) and £250 for a Type B claim (eg unfair dismissal, discrimination claims), with a further hearing fee of £230 for Type A claims and £950 for Type B claims.

The Scottish government announced In 'A Stronger Scotland: The Government's Programme for Scotland 2015-16', that it intends to abolish employment tribunal fees once it gets the new powers it is promised. On page 3 of the document (p6 of the pdf file), the government states"...we will abolish fees for employment tribunals – ensuring that employees have a fair opportunity to have their case heard."


29 July 2013:
 Introduction of employment tribunal fees for workers wishing to lodge a claim against an employer. Workers must also pay a further fee when the case is heard. Appeals at the employment appeal tribunal also attract a lodging (£400) and hearing fee.

29 July 2013: UNISON seeks permission in the High Court to bring Judicial Review proceedings.

October/November 2013:
 UNISON’s first claim is heard in the High Court.

December 2013:
 Following the introduction of fees, Ministry of Justice statistics for July-September 2013 show a 56 per cent drop in ET claims compared to the same period in the previous year

February 2014: 
UNISON’s challenge is unsuccessful. The High Court states that the claim brought by UNISON was premature and that new proceedings should be lodged if and when further evidence was available.

March 14:
 Ministry of Justice figures for October 2013-December 2013 show a 79 per cent drop in claims compared to the same period in the previous year

May 14: 
UNISON is granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

June 2014
: Ministry of Justice figures for January to March 2014 show a 81 per cent drop in claims compared to the same period in the previous year 9

September 2014:
 Ministry of Justice figures for April to June 2014 show an 81 per cent drop in claims compared to the same period in the previous year (

September 2014
: Court of Appeal claim is stayed to allow a second High Court challenge.

October 2014: 
UNISON brings its second judicial review challenge against the Lord Chancellor over ET fees.

December 14: 
UNISON’s second challenge is unsuccessful despite 'the striking and very dramatic reduction in claims'.

April 2015: T
he Court of Appeal hears UNISON’s appeals in relation to both High Court claims.

26 August 2015:
 UNSION is unsuccessful at the Court of Appeal and an application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court has been made.

Climate, Justice and Jobs – Sat 28 Nov Scotland’s Climate March

UNISON Scotland is showing our colours by supporting the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland Climate March on Saturday 28 November.

On that weekend around the world, millions will be marching to put pressure on world leaders for an ambitious deal at the UN climate negotiations in Paris in December.

Scotland’s Climate March is in Edinburgh, with other marches taking place in Wales on 28 November and in London on Sunday 29 November.

SCCS member organisations are calling for Scotland to show its colours in Paris and beyond, with strong action on climate change.

The Edinburgh march theme is “show your colours for climate, justice and jobs.”  SCCS will announce further details soon. Watch this space.

There will be a mass demonstration in Paris at the end of the talks on Saturday 12 December.

UNISON Scotland is also a strong supporter of the STUC annual St Andrew’s Day Anti-Racism March and Rally, which takes place this year in Glasgow on Sat 28 November. Branches are encouraged to be represented at both events.

UNISON was one of a large group of organisations supporting a WWF Scotland initiative this week that saw Scotland’s party leaders sign up to a cross-party climate change agreement.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Industrial relations in Scotland and the Trade Union Bill

In today's Scotsman, UNISON's Dave Watson contrasts the industrial relations culture in Scotland with the latest Tory attack on trade unions in the Trade Union Bill.

He gives a short history of how this different culture has developed since devolution, particularly in the public sector - the main target of the Bill. He also makes the case for the type of workplace democracy the Tories want to undermine, he said:

"Good workplace democracy keeps inequality in check ensuring better pay equality between top and bottom and a better balance between shareholders and wage earners. It increases investment in training, skills development and research and development. And if trade unions reps and managers carry out joint health and safety checks it improves compliance, reduces accidents and improves the sustainability of an industry – with less need for government intervention.

Academic research backs this up. It shows the value of a constructive approach to industrial relations and in particular the role of union representatives. When focusing on NHS workplaces in particular, recent research showed that labour turnover was almost three times higher and the employment tribunal rate 14 times higher in NHS workplaces without union representatives compared with workplaces where representatives were present. Managers in NHS workplaces with union representatives present were more likely to report higher productivity, greater quality of services and "better" financial performance."

Importantly, this approach has had cross party support. Even Scottish Conservatives have a more constructive approach. He concluded:

"Successive Scottish Governments have been developing a positive industrial relations and fair work culture. This UK government wants to take us back a generation."