Monday, 30 November 2015

ICT should focus on providing better services not cuts, says UNISON report

Date: Monday 30 November 2015

A UNISON Scotland report Disconnected, published today, 30 November 2015, claims that ICT services should focus on better services. The report highlights that ICT systems are all too often seen as a way of providing cheaper rather than improved public services.

This UNISON report is qualitative research of ICT staff across Scotland working across a range of public services. In local government, NHS, housing associations, universities, the police and elsewhere.

It finds that ICT systems are central to all our public services, ICT departments are feeling the brunt of cuts, and many ICT experts are leaving public sector either through redundancies or to find work elsewhere and they not being replaced.

ICT staff say they are not listened to. That morale is low. When they give warnings of problems coming down the line they are ignored. They see big opportunities to improve public services wasted in favour of short term savings to budgets. They feel ICT is too often seen as a way of delivering cuts rather than improving delivery of public services for us all. There is a lack of awareness of the potential of ICT

In common with other public services ICT staff say they are stressed by too much work and not enough people to deliver it. Staff talk of a ‘circle of decline’

Dave Watson, head of UNISON bargaining and campaigns said, ‘ICT is often thought of in terms of the hardware however its success is reliant on ICT staff and their understanding of public services and how we interact with technology. Public services must meet complex needs and ICT has a central role to play in that, it simply needs harnessed properly.’

Dave continued, ‘Public services ICT workers could make a real contribution to improving our public services, if we invested in them to develop their ideas. However employers tend to adapt private sector solutions with big promises to save budgets instead. In fact we are seeing big cuts in ICT staff and their departments, so it is no wonder we see big ICT projects going over budget or failing altogether.’



Wednesday, 25 November 2015

UNISON Scotland e-briefing on Autumn Statement - Osborne forced to abandon savage tax credit cuts

25 Nov 2015

UNISON Scotland e-briefing on Autum Attement online now...

"The UK highlights include the abandonment of the savage Tax Credit cuts, following the government’s defeat in the House of Lords. Higher tax receipts and lower borrowing costs helped meet this cost. However, from 2018 claimants will switch to the new Universal Credit and we will need to ensure this isn’t used as a means of reinstating the Tax Credit cut. "


"The impact of today’s announcement on Scotland is an average real terms cut in the Scottish budget of 1.3% per year. A detail entirely missing from the Scotland Office press release! In addition, public bodies will have to find the cost of the increase in employers National Insurance contributions that the Chancellor announced last year. Plus increasing demands on services and other costs."

More briefings at UNISON Scotland website

Tax credits u-turn will bring huge relief to working families - UNISON

Wed 25 Nov 2015

Nearly three million working families countrywide have breathed a collective sigh of relief, says UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis.

Commenting on the announcement today (Wednesday) that the Chancellor is to reverse his planned cuts to tax credits, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said:

“Nearly three million working families countrywide have breathed a collective sigh of relief. Since the cuts were announced in the summer, parents have faced increasing anxiety over losing the tax credits they rely upon so heavily.

“We’re pleased that the Chancellor has made good use of the thinking time last month’s Lords vote gave the government.

“But the real credit for today’s decision goes to the many brave parents who talked publicly about their already stretched finances, and the distress and hardship the cuts would cause. Their stories convinced the government this unfair tax credits grab was wrong.

“The government must now do more to encourage employers to pay staff more – at least the real living wage of £8.25 an hour. This would make a difference to the many low-income families still struggling to make ends meet.

“In 2018 new claims for tax credits will stop, and the families receiving them will start to be switched on to Universal Credit. The Chancellor must not use this change as a way to revive his original plans and leave working families worse off in 2020 than today.”

UNISON UK press release:

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Follow Live Jimmy Reid Lecture by Nicola Sturgeon

Follow Live Jimmy Reid Lecture by Rt. Hon. Nicola Sturgeon MSP First Minister of Scotland

Tonight First Minister of Scotland, Rt. Hon. Nicola Sturgeon MSP, will give the Jimmy Reid Lecture at Bute Hall, University of Glasgow, on the Trade Union Bill. The meeting will be chaired by Grahame Smith, General Secretary, STUC

Jimmy Reid was installed as elected Rector of the University in the Bute Hall in 1972 where he made his famous ‘The rat race is for rats. We're not rats. We're human beings’ speech. His archives are maintained by the University and some will be on display prior to the lecture.

The STUC call The Bill vindictive, unfair and unnecessary. It is an attack on the fundamental human right of workers to withdraw their labour, a right enshrined in international Conventions to which the UK is a signatory and which it will now contravene. It is a Bill that tramples over our civil liberties and should be of concern not just to workers but to everyone who values the right to peaceful protest.

The First Minister and guests will be welcomed by Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anton Muscatelli. Following the speech there will be a question and answer session. The Reid Foundation Director, Professor Gregor Gall, will then make a short contribution on the Foundation’s work programme to conclude the event.

You can watch the event live:

Thursday, 19 November 2015

UN climate talks and cancellation of demonstrations in Paris - Support #ScotClimateMarch #COP21

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis today urged the highest possible turnout for marches in Edinburgh, London, Cardiff and Belfast next weekend, in solidarity with climate campaigners in Paris and around the world.

The International Trade Union Confederation  made the same call. Both were responding to the decision by the French authorities, following the terrorist attacks in Paris, to cancel demonstrations there on 29 November and 12 December at the start and end of the important UN climate talks.

Dave Prentis said: “While we show our respect for the Paris tragedy, it is also important that we show that, even without the Paris demonstrations, politicians will not be left of the hook when making the most serious climate change commitments for the next generation.

“By marching on 28 and 29 November, our voices will be stronger than ever in calling for a climate deal that must protect people and the planet.”

Demonstrations in the four UK capitals are going ahead on 28 and 29 November. Scotland’s climate march in Edinburgh is on Saturday 28 November. 

Trade unionists are marching for a Just Transition to a low carbon economy to be part of the final global climate deal.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Scotland welcomes refugees - message from International chair and secretary

As a plane of Syrian refugees is about to land in Glasgow today Sam Macartney, Chair of the International Committee and I wanted to tell you about what members of the International Committee heard from Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action in Housing on Saturday.

Robina advised us of the links her organisation had made with the Kempson family who live on the island of Lesvos in Greece where a huge proportion of the refuges trying to reach mainland Europe arrive first. The Kempson family have found themselves on the fronyt line of helping thjousands of refugees and PAIH are supporting them in challenging the large aid agencies over the inadequacy of their action so far on Lesvos. Robina was able to tell us on Saturday this action is beginning to have some impact on the NGOs. The plight of refugees is stark and we were reminded how many perish in the attempt to reach safety.

PAIH have set up schemes whereby individuals can register to house refugees; volunteer to assist and donate money that is guaranteed to get to the front line.

International newsletter now online

Glenrothes to London - How are our pensions invested? To ensure success for the BDS movement (boycott disinvestment sanctions) against Israel; Sam Macartney urged trade unions and civil rights groups to find out where our pensions are being invested.

UNISON Joint International Seminar, Newcastle Upon Tyne A report by Tony Caleary / Hamid Rasheed

TTIP Commission Recognises ISDS is Fundamentally Flawed!

Bus to Paris, for 12 December demonstration on UN Climate Change Talks

Friday, 13 November 2015

Retired Members' conference reports

MAC Senior, the newssheet for UNISON Scotland retired members, has six lively pages reporting on the 2015 UK Retired Members’ Conference in Brighton last month.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

New Scotland in UNISON now online

Trade union rights are human rights – London lobby report; Equal pay victory for Fife workers; The silent slaughter of jobs and services; FE ballot: Members urged to reject 1% pay offer; New procurement guidance should extend Living Wage; STUC St Andrew’s 28 November; Scotland’s Climate March 28 November; Big increase in assaults on public service workers; Water privatisation ‘ultimate market madness’; Call for halt to police control centre closures; UNISON campaign brings shared service u-turn; Vote in the general secretary election; Trident speech wins praise and UNISON wins personal injury settlements.

WOWPetition to assess full impact of all cuts to support & social care for disabled people

Michelle Maher of WOWPetition explains why you should sign the

Today’s papers are full of the horrific impact of cuts to social care and with the Independent Living Fund just starting to impact, we are sadly sure this will get worse. We urgently need an assessment all cuts to disability support as called for by EHRC and Social Security Advisory Committee which Osborne is blocking, showing no duty of care towards disabled people.

As you know ESA (WRAG) has also been cut by £30 a week, access to work, support employers, council tax, housing benefit, and the roll out of PIP has seen many people losing support. We need you’re help to get behind and back the new fronted by Francesca Martinez.  If you can e mail the petition to members tweet and put on facebook any help would be great.

We are a small group of sick, disabled people and carers who need backing. 

Michelle Maher

Sign the new petition here: 

Petition: Assess full impact of all cuts to support & social care for disabled people

Govt has ignored calls for a full assessment of the impact of Welfare, Social Care & NHS reform on disabled people and their families. The number of households with a disabled family member living in “absolute poverty” increased by 10% between 2013 & 14.

Since WOWpetition collected 104,000 signatures the Government claimed IFS said it was too difficult to do a CIA, IFS subsequently contradicted the claim and said it could be done. EHRC and Social Security Advisory Committee have also called for a CIA of how cuts have affected disabled people and their families. A Cumulative Impact Assessment undertaken by Landman Economics and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research proved disabled people have been hit the hardest by cuts.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Scottish Parliament Trade Union Bill lobby

UNISON Scotland joined with the STUC at today's lobby of the Scottish Parliament. There was a rally outside Parliament with speakers from the main political parties. Activists then watched MSPs debate the Bill in the main chamber debate of the day, passing a strong motion opposing the Bill. Ther is more detail in Dave Watson's blog post.

Thanks to the UNISON Scotland branches who supported the lobby with their MSPs.


UNISON calls on Police Scotland to implement all recommendations in HMICS Call Handling Final Report

Tue 10 November 2015
UNISON has welcomed the HMICS Independent Assurance Review: Police Scotland – Call Handling Final Report published today (10 Nov) and calls on Police Scotland to implement all its recommendations.  

HMICS has taken into account the high level of pressure that UNISON police staff members work under in the Contact, Command and Control (C3) division of Police Scotland. We hope this report shapes the C3 direction with greater accountability and assurances for the public.

UNISON did all it could to assist with this report. We note the report states, ‘UNISON provided us with details of key areas of concern and supporting evidence. These concerns reflect both Scottish Police Federation and Association of Scottish Police Superintendants views’. 
UNISON will work with the new police chief constable to ensure all recommendations are implemented.

Gerry Crawley, UNISON Regional Organiser for police staff said, "UNISON Police staff members have been highlighting problems inherent in the Contact, Command and Control strategic direction. We are pleased that our concerns have been listened to and have been reflected in this report. The report recommendations are vital to ensure our members wellbeing in this high pressure environment that has been under such scrutiny recently. We call on Police Scotland to implement the recommendations"

George McIrvine, Branch Secretary of UNISON Police Staff Scotland branch said,
"I welcome this report not least because it confirms the hard work that UNISON members do. The vast majority of all 999 emergency calls are answered within 10 seconds and handled properly.

"I look forward to working with the new chief constable to ensure these recommendations are implemented in full. It is crucial that he commits to work with key stakeholders, such as UNISON, so we can work together to ensure the public get the high quality service UNISON members are determined to provide."


UNISON represents staff working in Contact, Command and Control Centres

Friday, 6 November 2015

Some free bus places for Paris climate demo for members nominated by their branch

UNISON Scotland has a small number of free bus places for the Paris climate rally on 12 December. Please spread the word to interested members.

The Paris event follows key marches in Scotland on Saturday 28 November - the Climate March in Edinburgh, for Climate, Justice and Jobs, and the STUC's annual St Andrew's Day march against racism, with its theme this year of Refugees Welcome Here.

Members  wanting to secure one of the bus places paid for by UNISON Scotland should ask their branch to nominate them and send details to apply to Fiona Montgomery (with Paris Bus in the subject line) as soon as possible. Seats are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

The international demonstration takes place at the end of the United Nations climate talks where it is hoped that world leaders will agree a strong deal to reduce emissions. Civil society organisations want to show strong public support for action sufficient to prevent dangerous runaway climate change.

Details of the bus itinerary, incl basic accommodation and some meals, are on the Friends of the Earth Scotland website. It leaves Edinburgh at 5.30pm on Thurs 10 Dec, returning, via Glasgow, in the early hours of Monday 14 Dec.

UNISON Scotland's Green Network is meeting on Saturday 14 November at the UNISON office in Glasgow to talk about the Paris talks, building support for Scotland's Climate March on Sat 28 Nov, Green Workplace action and a Just Transition to a low carbon economy. All interested members welcome.

Stephen Smellie, depute convener of UNISON Scotland, and Dave Watson, head of bargaining and campaigns, will be speaking at the event, which is from 2pm - 4pm at 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow G2 6RX.

There was good news on Just Transition today, with the announcement from the International Trade Union Confederation that the UN's International Labour Organisation has formally adopted the trade union criteria for the principle of 'Just Transtion'.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: "The challenge for governments is to settle a deal in Paris that will avoid catastrophic climate change, destroying lives and livelihoods across the planet.

"The plans set out by the ILO will help increase ambition on the ground, with employers and unions negotiating and planning for the future...

"This historic and unanimous agreement between governments, unions and employers on the need to work out industrial transformation without leaving anyone behind is a reason for optimism.

"The same governments that showed ambition at the ILO need to follow this through at the Paris summit."

The ILO guidelines for a Just Transition towards environmentally sound economies and societies for all can be found here.


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Further Education support staff set to reject pay offer and join lecturing staff across Scotland in possible industrial action

Further Education support staff took a step closer today (5 November 2015) to industrial action across all Scottish Colleges (except Orkney and Shetland). UNISON Further Education members are being balloted on a 2015 pay rise, which was due on 1 April 2015.

Chris Greenshields
UNISON Scotland, the main union for the Sector, is recommending rejection of the employers 1% final offer. UNISON, in common with the lecturers’ union EIS/ FELA, is angry at the lengthy delay in the whole pay negotiating progress and the conduct of the employers’ side in this first ever round of Scottish wide negotiations.

The final pay offer of a 1% consolidated pay award, with £300 flat rate for those earning under £21,000 replaces the previous risible offer of 1% unconsolidated pay award – the unconsolidated offer being a first in the Scottish public sector.

The offer falls well short of UNISON’s claim of £1000 for all which is fair, equitable and would have started to address the deep seated and longstanding pay variances across the 26 colleges. The final offer squeezes middle earners (between £21k and 30k) who will receive between £210 and £299 per annum extra.

Commenting, Chris Greenshields, UNISON Chairperson for Further Education said:

Monday, 2 November 2015

Trade Union Bill lobby at Westminster

Despite the weather that disrupted travel into London this morning, UNISON Scotland was well represented at today's lobby of Westminster against the Trade Union Bill.

Trade Union Bill is a ferocious attack on almost every aspect of trade unionism. It shifts the balance of power in workplaces further to the advantage of employers and away from workers, whether they are in a union or not. It is fundamentally an attack on core trade union activity: facility time, check off, and the ability of unions to underpin collective bargaining with a credible right to strike. It subjects unions to unprecedented levels of civil and criminal penalties, red tape, and monitoring by the Certification Officer. It proposes to curtail unions’ abilities to fund political activities and campaigns.

The lobby started with a rally at Central Hall, Westminster. So full that hundreds were left outside.

Moving inside the Palace of Westminster, trade union members appeared to take over the building talking to their MPs.

Discussions with Scottish MPs focused on those aspects of the Bill that undermine the devolution settlement. Under the Bill, Ministers for English departments will be able to direct health boards, councils and NDPBs across Scotland. This would be the most serious breach of the devolution settlement since the Scottish Parliament began.

Here, UNISON Scotland's Dave Watson is with SNP group leader Angus Robertson MP (left). A particular thanks to Chris Stephens MP (right) for his assistance with the lobby.

We thought the Aberdeenshire branch delegation got lost, but they found an MP to lobby!

There was a good turnout of Scottish MPs and trade union members pictured here. All were very supportive of our campaign.

Thanks to all those activists who made the often difficult journey today. And a special thanks to the Scottish MPs who turned up to listen to our concerns.


Scottish Labour Party conference

The Autumn Scottish political party conference season ends with the Scottish Labour Party in Perth.

The format for UNISON is different from other party conferences because through UNISON Labour Link we are an affiliated organisation and therefore have a delegation as well as the usual stall and fringe meetings. We can and do put motions on the agenda and participate in debates. The job of UNISON Labour Link is to take UNISON policy into the Scottish Labour Party.

Our fringe meeting on Friday was on 'Tackling Inequality' with our campaign partners CPAG Scotland, SHA Scotland and the Poverty Alliance. It was an opportunity to showcase the radical report of the Commission on Health Inequalities that UNISON supported.

Another Commission UNISON supported was on social care that makes the case for UNISON's Ethical Care Charter and much else. On Saturday, Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale referenced this report and gave a commitment that under Scottish Labour every care worker will be paid the Scottish Living Wage.

George McIrvine from our Police Scotland branch welcomed support from North-East constituencies for UNISON's campaign on control room closures. Replacing trained civilian staff with police officers makes absolutely no sense.

Another contribution in the health debate came from UNISON's Angela Feeney who also received the Keir Hardie Award for her work in the community campaign From Wishaw to Calais.

Sunday was billed as Member's Sunday when the issues to be debated were decided by a priority ballot. We were pleased that the Trade Union Bill, TTIP, Trident and housing were chosen. UNISON's priorities shared by all parts of the movement. UNISON's motion on the Trade Union Bill was moved by Gordon McKay who described the Bill as a vindictive attack on working people.

Overall, conference agreed a number of policies that closely mirror UNISON positions on policing, health, social care, TTIP, Trident replacement and of course the Trade Union Bill.