Tuesday 23 February 2016

UNISON lobbying Scottish Parliament for fair funding for local services

Scotland’s largest trade union will lobby the Scottish Parliament on budget day (1pm, Wednesday 24 February 2016) to call for a fair funding settlement for local services.

Local government has taken the brunt of cuts in Scotland. Scottish Government funding is down by 0.8%. Yet funding for local government is down by 4.5%. This is a £500m cut from local services this year. 
The cumulative cost of the council tax freeze is £3.15bn out of local services. Of the 50,000 job cuts in Scotland, 40,000 have been in local government. This budget will mean a further 15,000 job cuts for Scottish council workers. 

UNISON believes these cuts are simply unsustainable.

Mark Ferguson chair of UNISON local government committee said, 

‘It is no secret that UNISON members have been taken aback by the level of cuts forced on to Scottish councils. Our local council services simply cannot sustain this level of cuts. We are already seeing cuts to services for disabled people, older people, education, youth services, school support, libraries, road repairs and much more. 

'We need to look at expanding the funds available and agree a fairer funding settlement for local government. Another £500m cuts and 15,000 more jobs cuts will have a drastic effect on both our local services and economy. It's why we are calling on the Scottish parliament to look at this budget again.’

  • UNISON is the public services union. We are the biggest union in local government, and the biggest union in Scotland
  • UNISON is joining other public sector trade unions and the STUC in a lobby of the Scottish Parliament on budget day.
  • The lobby will be at 1pm outside Scottish Parliament, Wednesday, 24 February 2016. UNISON spokespeople will be available for comment
UNISON Contacts
  • Mark Ferguson, chair of local government committee, 07773342570
  • Danny Phillips, communications officer, 07944 664 110

UNISON Scotland's next Green Network meeting is this Saturday, Glasgow

Reminder for all UNISON members interested in climate change!

Come to our next Green Network meeting in Glasgow - this Saturday, 27 February.

Guest speaker Ric Lander, from Friends of the Earth Scotland, will be speaking mainly on pensions disinvestment campaigns, but will be referring also to fracking and other important policy areas.

We will be discussing what is needed now following the UN Paris climate deal, and looking at green workplace action as part of our Combating Austerity campaigning.

The meeting is from 1.30-3.30pm in the UNISON Scotland office. (slightly earlier than previously advertised) Email f.montgomery@unison.co.uk for more information and to sign up for Green Network email updates.

Our Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/greennetworkunisonscotland

Thursday 11 February 2016

UNISON day of action to defend local government services

UNISON Scotland’s largest trade union has been holding a day of action today to campaign against cuts in local services and jobs. UNISON members are holding demonstrations, campaigns and lobbying to call on the UK government and the Scottish Government to use its powers to end austerity.

Local government has taken the brunt of cuts in Scotland. Of the 50,000 job losses in devolved services 40,000 have been in local government and we now expect 15,000 more jobs to go over the next few years.

Mark Ferguson, chair of UNISON local government committee said: "There are another 15,000 job cuts in the pipeline for local government in Scotland. This means more drastic cuts to services for vulnerable people across Scotland.

Dumfries and Galloway UNISON members joined by councillors
against compulsory redundancies
"We are calling on all Councils to give assurances that there will be no compulsory redundancies in Scottish councils. Any council that tries to manage this situation by sacking workers will find themselves facing strike action. We are looking for councillors to stand up for their staff.

"Councils already have contingency plans drawn up to cut hours and close services  across the country. This is despite the fact that the need for these services is greater han ever. The cuts in services will be real cuts. We have reports of services for people with learning disabilities being closed, day centres for older people closing, school support workers being cut leading to poorer education services. These cuts will have a really harmful impact on local communities and especially the most vulnerable.

Three of Edinburgh's Green councillors back the campaign
"It’s also the damage to local economies when so many jobs go. For some communities these job losses will be very difficult to bear. The loss of jobs also means a loss of opportunity for young people seeking a career in local government in the future. We are also concerned about  the stresses on the staff left behind as they try to deliver more services with less resource to go round. The Scottish Government must use all the powers it has and increase funding for local government."

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Trade unions and Falkirk Council fail to agree on new terms and conditions package

Date: Wednesday 10 February 2016
Talks between Falkirk Council and Joint Trade Unions broke down today (9 February) after trade unions could not accept the new package of terms and conditions being proposed by Falkirk Council.

Talks broke down after the Joint Trade Union informed Falkirk Council that following a ballot they felt they could not agree the package put forward.

Falkirk Council informed the Joint Trade Union that they will be writing to all employees tomorrow (10 February 2016) to inform them of the position.

Gray Allan, spokesperson for the Joint Trade Union, said, ‘The trade unions are working hard to get the best agreement for all members. Local government workers are taking the brunt of austerity with job losses, pay freezes and reductions in terms and conditions. This proposal to change member’s terms and conditions aims to make it easier for Falkirk Council to administer more cuts. Council workers are trying to be as helpful as possible but we have to do what can to protect local services, jobs and our member’s terms and conditions’

Gray Allan also said, ‘We will report back to our members, in person, as soon as we can. In the meantime we thought it was important to speak to the Falkirk Herald to keep our members informed. We are disappointed that Falkirk Council could not give us more time to explain personally to our members. In the meantime we encourage union members to seek further clarification from their trade union reps so we can all work towards a collective agreement.’


  • The Joint Trade Union represents all union members collectively.
  • Unions included in Joint Trade Union are UNISON, GMB, UNITE, UCATT, and EIS

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Raza Sadiq, UNISON activist, wins prestigious award for encouraging young people into sport

UNISON Scotland activist Raza Sadiq won the Jaguar Unsung Hero Award at the Lycamobile British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSA) for his work in developing Active Life Clubs which encourage young people to enjoy sports.

Raza Sadiq, with BEDSA judges

The Awards took place on 6 February 2016 in London and were attended by sportstars from across the country.
The British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSA) celebrates sporting excellence within BME communities and inspires the next generation.
Raza was selected by a panel of expert judges including Rugby World Cup winner Maggie Alphonsi MBE, and retired international athletes Derek Redmond and Jason Gardener MBE.
Other winners on the night included olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and retired heavy weight boxer Frank Bruno.
The Active Life Club, which Raza helped to found in 1999, brings young people together to participate in sport, lead healthier lifestyles and develop skills they use later in life. IWhen Raza is not volunteering with Active Life Club he works full-time as a coach for Skills Development Scotland and is a UNISON activist. 
Raza said, “I want to thank everyone in UNISON for thier support. I am delighted and humbled to have won such a prestigious award. I am touched by the support from young people and partner organisations and everyone at UNISON. There was a buzz in Glasgow for this selection as I am in dated with endorsements of support messages.”
Arun Kang, founder of BEDSA said, “Raza truly deserves to be recognised for his decades of volunteer work helping BME communities in Glasgow. The Active Life Club is testament to his belief that sport can change people’s lives and provide life skills for young people that will stand the test of time”. 
To find out more about the British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards please visit: http://bedsa.co.uk/

Saturday 6 February 2016

Cutting libraries will increase poverty and inequality, says UNISON Scotland

Date: Saturday 6 February 2016
On National Libraries Day (6 February 2016), UNISON is warning that more local government cuts will have a drastic impact on libraries across Scotland, decreasing opportunities for all, and increasing poverty and inequality.  
Library services have been undergoing massive change, yet staff numbers have been going down, buildings are closing, opening hours are reducing and services are being cut. 
UNISON recent report, ‘Read it and weep’  raised the concerns of library staff across Scotland  who are simultaneously being expected to expand services while coping with front line cuts.  The report is based on qualitative research from UNISON members working across Scotland’s libraries, highlighting the impact of the cuts.

UNISON also recently highlighted cuts to school libraries, in a submission to the Scottish parliament petitions committee.  UNISON uncovered evidence of a consistent pattern of school library services being a soft target to meet budget cuts. School libraries are vital for young people’s learning and have a central role in equipping our younger people from disadvantaged backgrounds for the digital age; recent research has shown that  children struggle to discriminate between facts, fiction and paid for product placement online. Libraries are especially useful to children with no access to internet at home.

Gray Allan, UNISON Scotland libraries spokesperson said, 

‘Cutting library budgets is another way of entrenching inequalities. Libraries are a way that poorer families get access to the same breadth of reading materials as everyone else. And libraries are so much more than books. They provide information services for people of all backgrounds, they organise kids clubs and hubs for older people, computer terminals for those with no access to the internet can use to find job vacancies. And the support of skilled librarians to help you find the information you need.

'Fully resourced libraries support education, the economy and play an important role in bringing equality.  Despite knowing this we have allowed community and school libraries to be run down to skeleton services across Scotland. They are seen as a soft touch and we need to stand up for libraries and the work they do to tackle poverty and inequality.’


- UNISON is the biggest trade union in Scotland, and represents librarians in the community, schools, further education and higher education and in the NHS

- UNISON has made a submission in support of School Libraries Petition PE 1581 to the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee Dec 2015 : 

- UNISON report 'Read it and Weep' Sept 2015: 

Cuts in school libraries include North and South Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, Glasgow, East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife and Shetland.
  • South Lanarkshire proposals include reducing school library staffing by 15%
  • North Lanarkshire is now proposing to review the school librarian service for a second time with the reduction of 2 FTE School Library Resource Manager posts. The last review saw all schools with pupil roll under 700 reduce librarian numbers to 0.7 FTE librarian. All new staff now are only employed term time. The Council has also removed the need for library staff to have professional library qualifications.
  • East Renfrewshire Council is proposing moving from 1 fully qualified librarian from each of its high schools (7) to the FTE of 3.5. The original plans to use senior pupils to staff the library appear to have been dropped due to public opposition.
  • Glasgow has reduced the school librarian service to 0.5 posts per school.
  • Renfrewshire now has only 7 librarians across 11 schools.
  • East Ayrshire has replaced 3 librarians with 3 library assistants. Means 9 secondary schools are now covered by 5 librarians and 4 library assistants.
  • South Ayrshire has, l replaced a number of librarians with library assistants.
  • In Dumfries and Galloway when the librarian retired from Dumfries Academy responsibility for the library was given to the Head of English. Lockerbie Academy also currently without a librarian and Annan Academy have reduced the hours to 20 per week
  • Fife  - school librarians who have retired have been replaced with library assistants
  • Shetland, where the school library service has always been integrated with the public library service, there have been cuts to school library book budgets of 20-30% over the last four years. While staff numbers have remained the same the working hours of staff have been cut from 8 FTE to 5.93 FTE.

Thursday 4 February 2016

Courses coming up with places available

The courses are open to all members and  activists and are at no cost to the Branch  in addition UNISON staff and Branch Staff are free to apply also but priority will be given to members.

  • Your Skills, Your Future – 1 day Course 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow -  3rd March 9.30am to 4pm 
  • Making the Most of the Internet – 1 day course-  Douglas House, Belford Road, Edinburgh –  10th March 9.30am to 4pm

Wednesday 3 February 2016

UNISON member interested in climate change? Green Network Meeting Sat 27 Feb

Calling all UNISON members interested in climate change!

Come to our next Green Network meeting in Glasgow on Saturday 27 February.

Guest speaker Ric Lander, from Friends of the Earth Scotland, will be speaking mainly on pensions disinvestment campaigns, but will be referring also to fracking and other important policy areas.

We will be discussing what is needed now following the UN Paris climate deal, and looking at green workplace action as part of our Combating Austerity campaigning.

The meeting is from 1.30-3.30pm in the UNISON Scotland office.Email f.montgomery@unison.co.uk for more information and to sign up for Green Network email updates.


Tuesday 2 February 2016

Further cuts to local services not sustainable, says UNISON Scotland

Date: Tuesday 2 February 2016
UNISON Scotland is calling for the Scottish Parliament to use its powers to put more money into local services. By 2020 expenditure on public services will be 12.5% lower in real terms. That is on top of the £2.5bn cuts since 2010.
This next round of cuts will mean at least another 15,000 job cuts for local councils. Of the 50,000 jobs that have been lost in devolved public services, 40,000 have been in councils. 

The need for council services has not disappeared, remaining staff have to take on extra work, and do the best they can to deliver what they can. UNISON has the evidence to show our local services are in crisis and further cuts are simply not sustainable.

Mark Ferguson, chair of the UNISON  local government committee said, "Local government services are vital. They deliver health, education, clean and safe streets, child protection and much more. 

"In short they create a good society and the Scottish government should use every power they have to mitigate the worst effects of UK government austerity. 

"The Scottish Parliament has tax raising powers - they can end the council tax freeze, they can work with councils to refinance PFI schemes or invest pension funds in public works, or do more to follow the recommendations of the Christie Commission and invest in preventative spending as a way of making sustainable savings. 

"The bottom line is they have the powers to protect Scots from the worst of austerity. The need for local services has not gone away, so why should our local services?"
UNISON Contacts 
Dave Watson 07958 122 409
Danny Phillips 07944 664 110