Wednesday 27 January 2016

New financial powers could save Scottish councils £50m, says UNISON

Wed 27 Jan 2016

Public services union UNISON has today (Wed 27 January 2016) urged the Scottish Government to push ahead with proposed new financial powers for Scottish councils to relax the rules for borrowing, lending and the repayment of loans. 

These proposed changes to Scottish councils' financial powers should now be used for greater flexibility to deal with the funding crisis in Scottish councils. If used effectively it could save Scottish councils upwards of £50million, or save over 1000 jobs. 

UNISON called for these ‘long overdue’ changes in their report Combating Austerity (Sept 2015). The report called for a relaxing of the repayment of loans fund regulations, arguing that councils need greater flexibility to mitigate austerity. 

The Combating Austerity report explores all options and argues that making full use of flexibility in new borrowing or refinancing, and restructuring existing borrowing could potentially free up significant sums of money, at a time of severe austerity cuts. 

Dave Watson, head of UNISON Scotland policy and public affairs said, 
‘These limited changes are very welcome we have been urging the Scottish Government to introduce them for some time. Scottish councils are in real crisis, cutting local services and shedding 1000s of jobs. Giving councils this flexibility could save upwards of £50m and over 1000 jobs. This is not going to solve the problem but is an example of how we need to start thinking to mitigate the worst of austerity and council tax freeze.' 

UNISON is now urging the Scottish Government to go further and include new proposals to enable councils to borrow to either make grants to third parties where these grants fund capital expenditure, or for the authority to incur expenditure directly on third party tangible assets; and a new provision for a local authority to be able to borrow to lend to any of its subsidiary bodies where the loan is to be used to finance capital expenditure of the subsidiary.

Dave Watson said, ‘Further changes beyond what is now being proposed, could make a real difference and mitigate some of the worst of austerity. Councils could use new types of borrowing to support, for example buyouts of expensive Privtae Finance Intitiative (PFI) contracts or, perhaps, to finance new conventional spending, they could offer health boards an alternative to expensive hub Public Private Partnerships (PPP), PFI, or Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) schemes. We think they could be doing this now. However the Scottish Government should make it explicit in the rules for Scottish councils, so we can encourage innovation and more efficient use of public funds. And vitally, use these rules to save our public services and thousands of local jobs.


Notes for editors 

• UNISON is the biggest trade union in Scotland and the biggest union in local government. 
• UNISON report Combating Austerity: signposting the ways Scotland could limit some of the damage from Austerity (PDF). Combating Austerity Press release 23 September 2015 here:
• UNISON summary briefing here:

• The new draft Local Authority (Capital Finance and Accounting) (Scotland) Regulations 2016 and on Loans Fund Accounting are set to come into effect, with any changes following the consultation, from 1 April 2016 and statutory guidance can be read here:
• These regulations cover changes to the statutory arrangements for local authority borrowing, lending and the statutory loans fund. They were the subject of a short consultation at the end of 2015. 
• UNISON Consultation response to The new draft Local Authority (Capital Finance and Accounting) (Scotland) Regulations 2016 Here:

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Courses coming up with places available!

Please find below a list of upcoming training courses where we still have availability. For more details of the courses below see
 . Contact your branch to apply for any of these courses.

Organising for Health & Safety (Residential) – Glasgow – Part 1 on 5-7 February & Part 2 on 11-13 March
Covers the role and rights of the safety rep using legislation, building H&S organisations, developing strategies for H&S and risk assessments

·        Organising Stewards – Edinburgh – Part 1 on 23-24 February & Part 2 on 8-10 March
5 day course which must be completed in full. Develop skill knowledge and confidence to enable you to carry out your steward role. Covers organising union in public services, importance of equalities, tackling issues in workplace, working with members, understanding procedures, handling grievances and disciplinaries and the world UNISON works in

·        Organising for Health & Safety – Edinburgh – Part 1 on 2-4 March & Part 2 on 12-13 April
Covers the role and rights of the safety rep using legislation, building H&S organisations, developing strategies for H&S and risk assessments

·        Organising for the Media (Residential) – Glasgow – 4-6 March
Aims to give participants skills, knowledge and understanding of relevant methods to improve level of branch media contact effectively. Covers various media, press, radio and TV and interview exercises

Friday 22 January 2016

UNISON hails historic pay deal for further education support staff in Scotland

Date: Friday 22 January 2016

UNISON hails historic pay deal for further education support staff in Scotland

UNISON has led negotiations to achieve the first ever national pay rise for over four thousand support staff in Scotland‘s Further Education Colleges. Support staff deliver a range of vital student services and are key to the running of the 25 new colleges in Scotland.

The deal was agreed at the new National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC) in Edinburgh. (Orkney, Shetland and SRUC are not in scope of the new machinery). It is the first agreement since the recent college mergers. UNITE and GMB unions are also party to the national negotiations

UNISON members will receive between 1-2% pay rise. Those on lower salaries will receive a higher percent rise because of the agreement to pay the living wage and £300 flat rate increase 

Key features are consolidation of the real Living Wage rate of £7.85 per hour from 1 April 2015; a flat rate of £300 for all those earning under £30k per year; a standard 35 hour week across the sector; and a minimum 27 days annual leave across the sector; and 2 days extra leave for all. 

Employers and trade unions have also committed to negotiate a new single pay structure and new single set of conditions of service for all staff; as well as attainment of official Living Wage accreditation of all Colleges by the end of 2016.

Chris Greenshields, Chair of UNISON Scotland’s further education sector said:
“UNISON is pleased to have achieved the first ever national settlement for further education support staff in Scotland. UNISON is the union for college support staff and there is something for all our members in this negotiated package. I want to congratulate UNISON members for helping to ensure all low paid workers in Scotland's Colleges are now guaranteed the Living Wage plus £300. We will continue the work hard for more gains in the 2016, in particular an equal flat rate settlement for all workers in the sector which is much fairer than a percentage increase.“

John Gallacher, Scottish organiser and UNISON lead for FE said:
“This sets up the NJNC for a wider programme of negotiations. Scottish Government (post May 2016) must provide investment for a root and branch rationalisation and harmonisation of pay rates and conditions across the sector in an acceptable timescale. The disparities currently are still extreme after many years of college level bargaining”

Shirley Sephton, Vice Chair, said:
“UNISON members voted to accept this offer across Scotland in the knowledge that this was the best deal we could get for 2015 through negotiation. They wish to work with management to help establish National Bargaining and in return will expect all Scottish Boards to honour the national agreement and put the increase into pay as soon as possible.”


Notes for editors

The full support staff deal is for:
  • A consolidated 1% uplift for all employees (or)
  • £300 pro rata for employees earning below £30k (whichever is the greater)
  • The sector will pay the living wage for its directly employed staff.
Commitments from the management: 
  • The Management Side is committed to securing living wage accreditation for all colleges, the management side and the trade unions will work to achieve this by December 2016.
  • Standardisation of the working week to 35 hours, with no detriment to earnings, the Management Side will work to achieve this standardisation by April 2016.
  • To provide on a pro rata basis an additional unconsolidated two days annual leave entitlement for all support staff for 2015/16.
  • To provide a minimum of 27 days leave pro rata, with no impact on the maximum entitlement from April 2015.
  • Address as a priority leave entitlements across the sector by 31 March 2016 
  • Will commit to look at a flat cash settlement from 2016
  • If there is any change to the % increase or flat cash settlement to lecturers, the support staff  will receive this
  • To establish a short life working group, to develop an agreed timetable inclusive of a route map of key priorities and key deliverables, by 31 March 2016. The Management Side believe this offers the best prospect of introducing a workforce modernisation programme inclusive of standardisation and harmonisation across the sector. The management side envisage such a route map addressing:
  • A national job evaluation scheme
  • A national pay and grading scale
  • National Conditions of service
  • National Pay Protection
  • Pay award will be effective from April 2015.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Ask Scotland’s party leaders to turn climate #AmbitionIntoAction

UNISON Scotland is supporting the new Stop Climate Chaos Scotland campaign calling on Scotland's political leaders to turn ambition into action.

2016 is election year in Scotland.  And that means our political parties need to tell voters what they intend to do if they are elected.

After the December 2015 climate agreement in Paris, what matters now, across the world, is what actually happens as a result of politicians’ climate promises.

Ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary election in May 2016, it is important to tell Scotland's political parties how important and urgent climate action is, for all of us now and for future generations.

Please take a few moments to use the quick, easy tool on the SCCS website to email SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, and Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie.

Full details on the SCCS website.


Tuesday 12 January 2016

Sturgeon must act to protect local government services, says UNISON

Date: Tuesday 12 January 2016

UNISON local branches across Scotland are calling on Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, to meet UNISON members to hear about the damage Government policies are having on local government and to discuss the future of local services.

UNISON is the biggest trade union in local government and branch secretaries from across Scotland have written to the First Minister calling on her to intervene. UNISON has real and acute concerns about the state of local government in Scotland, brought on by both UK Government austerity and Scottish Government policy towards local government. 

Douglas Black, UNISON regional organiser for local government in Scotland said: 

"John Swinney’s spending review in December 2015 was met with disbelief by UNISON members. Local Government has borne the brunt of public sector cuts since 2008. Of the 50,000 jobs lost in devolved services, 40,000 have been in local government. And John Swinney’s latest budget means we will see many more cuts in local services and upwards of 10,000 more job losses.

"The situation is serious. Services are being privatised, community based services are stopping, grants to the voluntary sector are being slashed, caring services can provide only minimum client contact time, and we are seeing significant rises in charges for other services such as burials, school meals and leisure pursuits. This cannot continue. The First Minister must meet UNISON members to hear about the real damage being caused and to discuss the future of Scotland’s local services."


Notes:UNISON is the public services union, it is the biggest union in Scotland and the biggest union in local government.