Thursday, 20 December 2012


Below we re-produce the text of a letter received by UNISON's Scottish Health Committee regarding PVG payments. We are please that the new Scottish Health Minister, Alex Neil has listened to the concerns that UNISON and others organisations have had around the financial impact of passing on PVG payments to already hard pressed NHS staff and came to a sensible conclusion.

Mr Tom Waterson and
Mr Willie Duffy
Chair and Secretary of
Uhison Scotland Health Committee
Unison House
14 West Campbell Street
G2 6RX

Your ref: SHC/JG/WD/WK
Our ref: 2012/0036638

December 2012

The Scottish
Thank you for your letter of 5 November about payment of the fee for membership of the
new Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme.

I am aware that the issue of whether staff or employers will be responsible for payment of
this fee has been a particularly difficult one for STAC to resolve and that my predecessor,
Nicola Sturgeon, was approached for a view on the matter at the end of 2011. She
acknowledged that registration belongs to the individual and is transferrable and can
therefore be seen as analogous to a professional registration fee, for which a staff member
· would be liable themselves. However, she was also conscious of the need to protect the
lower paid and asked STAC to progress discussions on the basis that only those earning
over £21 ,000 would pay their own registration fee.

This led to further discussions but, unfortunately, no agreement has been reached. There is
no doubt that PVG registration is a transferrable benefit which can be used to facilitate
· employment with a different NHS employer, a local councilor a private service provider.

However, I acknowledge that the situation has moved on since 2011 and have listened
carefully to the points being made around this issue. I am particularly conscious of the
significant ongoing pressures hard working NHSScotland staff face on their take home pay
and have therefore written today to the Joint Chairs of STAC asking the Committee to
· discuss an approach which would see employers cover PVG registration fees for all staff.

I hope this is helpful in clarifying the position.

Alex Neil

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Audit Scotland report ‘Health Inequalities in Scotland’ - UNISON comment

UNISON today welcomed Audit Scotland’s focus on health inequalities and the need for more preventative services but warned that action must include addressing wider issues such as in-work poverty.

Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, said: “We are pleased that Audit Scotland has identified the importance of more preventative services and healthcare focused in areas of high deprivation.

“But, of course, rising living costs and falling incomes are having a huge impact on families just now, with large numbers of people in work struggling financially. They need a living wage. Poverty is a major factor in the deep-seated health inequalities in Scotland.

“However much we want Community Planning Partnerships to ensure health boards, councils and others work together on this, that can only go so far in making a difference if we don’t also address some of the root causes by building a more equal society. At present, the policies of ‘austerity’ are doing the opposite.”

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


John Swinney (SNP Finance Secretary) told the Scottish Parliament last week that the UK Government had confirmed its intention to increase public sector worker pension contributions in the coming year, as part of a move to increase contributions by an average of 3.2% per cent of pensionable pay by 2014-15.
The Scottish Government could choose not to impose the increases however it did impose them in 2012/13 and it is planning to do so again in 2013/14 and 2014/15. The additional contributions do not go towards pensions, they are simply a tax on public sector workers.
Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland Organiser said: “We agree that these pension changes are being driven by Westminster, but Scottish Government ministers could do something different on this if they wanted to – and they have decided not to.”
A special meeting of UNISON Scotland’s Health Committee will take place within the next two weeks to discuss further industrial action.
Updating the Scottish Council on the NHS pensions dispute in Scotland, Tom Waterson told delegates that it is now clear that it is the Scottish Government that is choosing to impose the pensions tax on health workers in Scotland.  Tom described the Scottish Government pensions tax as ‘The Swinney Tax’.


UNISON’s Scottish Council has voted unanimously to step-up its campaign to defend pay, jobs, services and pensions by organising co-ordinated strike action at its meeting held on Saturday 1st December.

The motion approved by the Council stated:
‘This meeting notes that the political parties in the Scottish Parliament and local councils are making the overall level of cuts in public spending asked of them by the UK Government.’
‘Much of the UK Government’s policy programme is a direct or indirect attack on jobs, wages, pensions and services which UNISON can never agree to. The UK Government’s wider austerity measures, attacks on welfare benefits and overall management of the economy represent further attacks on working people and the most vulnerable in our society.’

‘The trade union movement must now step-up its campaign to defend jobs, wages, pensions and services by organising co-ordinated strike action across all sectors of the economy.’

‘This meeting therefore agrees that UNISON Scotland immediately take the necessary steps to promote with all STUC affiliated trade unions and other professional organisations the need for a co-ordinated industrial action strategy beginning with a one-day strike across Scotland, and to co-ordinate the strike with any action by trade unions at a UK level as appropriate.

Behind the Mask of the Taxpayers Alliance

NIPSA has published a pam-phlet looking “Behind the Mask” of the Taxpayers Alliance. NIPSA is the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance. The Taxpayers Alliance claims to speak up for ordinary taxpayers who are worried that their money is being wasted. Even a brief look at their campaigns shows that what they really want is to cut back public spending and reduce taxes.

This is the organisation that loves to campaign against pub-lic sector “non jobs” and more recently facility time for union activists. They are currently campaigning to get rid of National Insurance, which no doubt suits their wealthy backers but may be a bit more tricky for the rest of us.

This pamphlet looks at who funds the alliance and how they get their message into the me-dia. Backers include: Tony Gallacher owner of Gallacher UK who has given £3million to the Conservatives since 2001; Christopher Kelly owner of Kel-truck : Sir Anthony Bamford, of JCB who has also donated £1million to the Conservatives. and Stuart Wheeler who having previously donated £5million to the Conservatives has now en-dorsed UKIP. Hardly ordinary taxpayers.

The pamphlet also gives an overview of recent research into the funding and transparency of a range of UK think tanks. The Taxpayers Alliance, Adam Smith Institute and ResPublica are given an E rating while IPPR Compass and the new Eco-nomics foundations gaining an A rating. A being the most open.

No public cash for tax cheats

Tax dodging companies should not be allowed to bid for public contracts. That's one of the proposals UNISON Scotland has made for new procurement legislation. The Scottish Government's forth-coming Procurement Reform Bill is an opportunity to tackle tax dodging in innovative ways. It can also be used to extend the Living Wage to contractors, to strengthen labour rights and to contribute to climate change targets.
UNISON has pointed to examples in a number of European cities to show that it is possible to act against companies that use tax havens and other forms of tax dodging.

Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said: “It is entirely wrong that companies seeking to avoid paying their fair share of tax should be awarded public contracts.
“Public bodies in Scotland spend nearly £11 billion annually through procurement. This Bill offers ways to use that spending to deliver local social, economic and environmental benefits.
“We think this is an important opportunity to do what some European cities such as Helsinki and Paris are already doing, in acting against companies using tax havens.
“The Scottish Government should adopt a tax justice approach, finding ways, with appropriate legal advice, to bar companies involved in tax dodging from being eligible to bid.”

Recently public outrage has focused on companies like Google, Amazon and Starbucks paying miniscule amounts of tax. Many companies investing in PPP/PFI projects are registered in tax havens.
UNISON believes that community benefit clauses could be used to argue that the community will benefit from companies paying proper levels of taxes.

UNISONs response to the consultation said the Bill should promote workforce protections such as the two tier workforce provisions and compliance with the Equality Act and Freedom of Information rights must follow the public pound.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Match our vision for a Fairer Scotland – UNISON issues referendum challenge

Scotland’s largest union in public services today issued a challenge to campaigners in the independence referendum.

UNISON Scotland said both sides must answer questions about how their scheme will match the aspirations and vision of UNISON members.  

Tomorrow (Saturday) sees the formal launch in Glasgow of “For a Fairer Scotland” – a document which outlines the union’s priorities in the forthcoming debate on the constitution.

Alongside this, the union has framed questions that members will be encouraged to put to all those campaigning around the referendum in the coming months.

“For A Fairer Scotland” does not advocate support for either the “Yes” campaign or “Better Together”.  Instead it challenges those campaigns and others to show how their plans can match UNISON’s vision.

For a Fairer Scotland states:

“UNISON’s approach to constitutional questions is one that is driven by the interests of our members, by the sort of Scotland we want to, and deserve to, live in.  This means that for us precise constitutional arrangements are the end, not the starting point of the debate. We must first define the sort of Scotland we wish to see and then try and examine the likelihood of differing constitutional arrangements on offer to deliver on that vision.”

UNISON Scottish Secretary  Mike Kirby said:  “We are not interested in an argument about national identity.  It’s not where the power lies, but in whose interest that power is exercised that really matters. Today we have outlined our principles for a better, fairer Scotland. It is the task of others to show how their proposals match up to those principles.”

Lilian Macer, Scottish Convener, said: “What we are looking for is a willingness to tackle inequalities, poor health and deprivation. Doing that is social change. Unless it is explained how this is to be achieved, arguments for or against constitutional change mean very little.”

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


More than 70% of healthcare assistants have been the victim of aggression and violence at work, a new survey from UNISON has revealed.

The survey of nearly 1200 healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners revealed that 13% of those who had been the victim of violence at work had been threatened with a weapon, while nearly a fifth had been the victim of an assault that required medical assistance or first aid.

The survey paints a shocking picture of the reality of work for healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners in today’s NHS, with more than 40% of respondents saying that they had considered leaving their profession either fairly or very seriously over the last year.

The results shine a harsh light on the problems facing the NHS as a result of government cuts, with more than 85% saying they felt staffing levels had become insufficient over the last year. Only 11% believed that staffing levels were adequate in their clinical area.

Commenting on the survey, Christina McAnea, UNISON head of health said:

“This survey illustrates the sometimes grim reality for healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners, whose already challenging job is made harder by inadequate staffing and the threat of aggression and violence.

“HCAs and APs provide a fundamental care to some of the most vulnerable patients, yet what we are seeing is that they do not feel valued by their employers, and even less so by the government, whose cuts agenda is placing them, and professionals across the health service, under enormous pressure.

“When four in ten HCAs are considering leaving the profession, something is very wrong. This survey is demonstrating the real impact of government cuts – demoralised staff who are trying to deliver the best possible care they can in ever more difficult circumstances.

“It is time for the government to think again about the damage that its demand for £20bn in so called ‘efficiency savings’ is having on the NHS.  Cuts aren’t working, and if these vital professionals are depleted even more, the impact on patient care will be enormous.”

Healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners play a vital role in healthcare delivery, yet only 2.1% said they felt the government respected their role, a stark contrast to the almost 80% who said that patients valued their work.

More than 80% of those who responded said they believed that HCAs should be regulated in the same way as other healthcare professionals such as nurses, to protect patients, ensure high standards and maintain skills.

The survey coincides with UNISON’s annual Healthcare Assistant Seminar in Glasgow, which will look at the current debates and hot issues affecting Healthcare Assistants in today’s healthcare environment, including regulation, role design and best practice.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

UNISON Wins a Pay out for low paid Women Workers

UNISON has won an equal pay deal for thousands of council staff in Edinburgh. The union today agreed a settlement with the City of Edinburgh Council after a long-running battle to secure equal pay claims by up to three thousand workers.
John Stevenson, President of Edinburgh UNISON branch said:
“We welcome the settlement of these long standing equal pay claims - and we are delighted that many of our members will soon start receiving their compensation. Equal pay for work of equal value is an important principle – but we aim to ensure it happens in practice too.”
The majority of equal pay claims brought by UNISON in Edinburgh were on behalf of women administrative and school-based staff, who argued that their work was of equal value to male manual workers in receipt of bonus payments. The Court of Session agreed with that case and the council has withdrawn an appeal to the Supreme Court as part of the settlement with UNISON.
The deal covers the period from up to five years before the date of claim.
A council spokesperson described the settlement as “an excellent outcome for these employees” and said it reflected a commitment to partnership working from all sides.
Council Leader Andrew Burns said the ruling coalition group was “absolutely delighted” that the equal pay claims had been resolved before the end of the year.

It just goes to show the power of the Trades Union  when we all stand up and say we're not goin away !


MHA Auchlochan

MHA Auchlochan is part of MHA, a UK-wide housing and care organisation for older people founded by the Methodist Church in 1943. Nowadays, MHA is a charity providing care, accommodation and support services for 16,000 older people throughout Britain.

The Auchlochan site is located just outside Lesmahagow and is set in extensive and attractive grounds.

UNISON has a recognition agreement with MHA nationally and we want to make sure our members voices in Lanarkshire are heard.

We had a very interesting and informative visit to MHA Auchlochan last week meeting old members and talking to potential new members and we want to be able to visit the site on a regular basis and have asked the local management if they will facilitate this.
We've aleady started receiving new member applications as a result of the visit and I hope we can build up a strong and vibrant membership there.

Monday, 22 October 2012

'If there's money to bail out the bankers, there's money for public services'

"If there is money available to bail out the bankers, there is money available for the NHS and our schools and to get young people back to work."

That was at the heart of the message that UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis gave the huge crowd gathered in Hyde Park for a rally after the London leg of the 20 October March for a Future that Works.

Stressing that the march was not an end in itself - "Today we march - tomorrow we march on" - he told the crowd: "We march for decent pay that people can live on."

Mr Prentis went on: "We march to defend the NHS. We march to defend our community services. We march for a future that works."

And to a huge cheer, he told the government: "Hands off our public services, they are not yours to destroy".

To the crowd, he said: "We're told there's no alternative - but there is. The government could have the guts to go back to the banks and say: 'You got us into this mess - you get us out of it'.

"We're not here today for the millionaires - we're here for the millions."

Mr Prentis had started off by saying that "David Cameron and Nick Clegg are forming a boy band called No Direction" to great laughter, but on a more serious note, he had pointed out that "inequality is at levels not seen since Victorian times".

And he was cheered as he paid tribute to UNISON members marching in Glasgow and Belfast, as well as London, and welcomed South African and French trade unionists marching with the union.

Incoming TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady told the crowd: "Thank you for marching today in your tens of thousands. Thank you for standing up against the tax dodgers, the greedy bankers and this government.

"At the Conservative conference, Cameron said he wanted to spread privilege. We know what he is spreading - and it doesn’t smell good!"

And she added that, when she becomes TUC general secretary next year: "I will fight as hard for our people as that lot fight for theirs. Stay strong: united we stand."

Current TUC general secretary Brendan Barber laid it on the line when he said at the conclusion of the rally: "Britain faces a choice - a future of despair or one of hope and recovery.

"Our choice is clear: we want a future that works. Cuts, privatisation and attacks on employment rights are the road to nowhere.

"Tens of thousands are still walking along Piccadilly and coming into the park. Tens of thousands have marched in Glasgow and Belfast - all with a united message to this government: 'Austerity isn't working'."

To huge cheers, Ed Miliband said that Labour would "tax the bankers' bonuses" and "end the privatisation in the NHS".

The Labour leader added: "One nation is a country where we give hope to our young people ... A country with a future that works."

There were no cheers, though, when he said there would still be "hard choices" under a future Labour government.

In Glasgow, people gathered to hear UNISON Scotland secretary Mike Kirby speaking at the rally.

"Ordinary people are being asked to pay too high a price," he declared. "Key public services are under attack and politicians need to be told that 'enough is enough'.

"Trade union members, their families and friends know that the drastic spending cuts and attacks on benefits are hurting them and are hurting the most vulnerable people in society."

And in Belfast too, UNISON members were at the heart of the march and rally organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

UNISON welcomes appointment of new NMC Chief Executive

UNISON, the UK’s largest union, today welcomed the appointment of Jackie Smith as the new chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), saying that it will help usher in a much needed period of stability. The union has already developed a good working relationship with Ms Smith during her period as acting chief executive.

Gail Adams, UNISON Head of Nursing, said:

“The NMC has a vital role to play in providing a quality regulatory framework for nurses and midwives and Jackie Smith’s appointment will deliver much needed stability after a very difficult period. Nurses and patients need to have confidence that the NMC is working effectively and I believe that the changes that Jackie has already introduced are a good start.

“However, the proposed 58% fee increase must be tackled head on. This rise is simply unfair on nurses and midwives who are in the middle of a two-year pay freeze and struggling to make ends meet.

“The NMC currently faces a number of challenges and we look forward to working with Ms Smith to help put the organisation on a more stable and effective footing, for the benefit of registrants and patients.”

Cameron blames everyone but his own party !

Commenting on David Cameron’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference , Dave Prentis General Secretary of UNISON, said:

“David Cameron’s speech was full of typical Tory knockabout rhetoric – but sadly not as amusing as his nemesis Boris Johnson. He blamed everyone but himself and the failed Tory no-hope austerity agenda that is dragging this country down.

“His speech may get applause in the Birmingham Tory bubble but back in the real world he had no vision, no hope for the millions of people struggling to find jobs where there are none. His claims of job creation by the private sector are over-inflated by jobs transferred out of public services.

“And his claims that new businesses are springing up across the country simply ignore the shattered dreams and hopes of those forced to shut up shop or make staff redundant. With so many jobs under threat people have no confidence to go out and spend.”

Monday, 8 October 2012

UNISON Scotland response to NMC Fees Increase

UNISON Scotland has told the NMC that it does not support an increase in fees and that there proposals, should they be imposed , will have a disprportianate affect on part time workers and newly qualified nurses and midwifes.

You can read the full response here

Scottish Draft Budget 2013-14 Analysis

The Scottish Government has published its draft budget for 2013-14. This has to be seen in the context of their three year spending plans set out last year (see Briefing 13) and the UK Government’s public spending cuts.
The Scottish budget is facing an overall real terms cut between 2009-11 and 2016-17 of around 18%, or £5½ billion. We are less than half way through these cuts. In addition, the UK Office of Budget Responsibility reported in July that further cuts were likely because growth projections have not materialised and UK Government borrowing is also higher than projected. It is therefore likely that further UK cuts will be announced in the November statement by the UK Chancellor. The UK Government’s strategy may not be working, but that doesn’t mean they are likely to change course.
Capital spending is being cut more than revenue and the Scottish Government is proposing to alleviate this by switching £250m from revenue to capital next year. This is aimed at supporting the construction sector, but of course it will be a further cut in the resources available to run services. Payments to PPP contracts due to top £1bn by 2013/14.

Pay Policy
The Scottish Government has also published its pay policy. For UNISON, this primarily covers members working in NDPBs. However, it is influential in other areas as budget allocations assume a similar approach. The key features of the 2013-14 policy are: a one per cent cap on the cost of the increase in basic pay for staff earning under £80,000
maintaining a pay freeze (zero percent basic award) for staff earning £80,000 and above specific measures for supporting the lower paid. £250 for staff below £21,000 and the Scottish Living Wage suspension of non-consolidated performance related pay discretion for individual employers to reach their own decisions about pay progression. additional flexibilities in exchange for no compulsory redundancies The headline pay elements of this policy are the same as the UK government with the addition of the Scottish Living Wage. It is a further cut in real wages with a consequential impact on the economy. The bulk of cuts so far have been funded by public service workers

Local Government As set out in last year’s spending plans, local government takes the largest budget cut over the spending plan period. In addition the regressive Council Tax freeze and small business bonus will continue with no increase in the funding for this measure. Local government is also facing additional cost pressures due to greater demands in the recession and demographic change.

Health Health has some protection from spending cuts as the budget is standstill in ‘real terms’. However, this does not exempt NHS Scotland from cuts. ‘Real terms’ means the Treasury definition of inflation at 2.5%. Actual inflation is higher, and health inflation higher still. In addition, like local government, demographic pressures add further costs. They are also required to find so called efficiency savings of 3%.

Education FE colleges get an additional £17m as a partial response to the impact previous excessive cuts are having on the sector. There is a small increase in funding for Skills Development Scotland, again putting back past cuts. £16.25 million has been added for a national employer recruitment initiative that aims to create 10,000 opportunities for SME to recruit young people; and the establishment of an Energy Skills Academy .There is £80m in the capital allocation for new schools.

This budget now includes the ring fenced cash for police officer numbers. This policy is likely to see the loss of 3000 police staff posts as any attempt at a balanced staffing structure is abandoned. There is additional capital to address concerns over the accommodation of female offenders in prisons.

Utilities Far from being a burden on public finances, Scottish Water will be making a net contribution to next year’s revenue budget. The benefits of a public water service are obvious to everyone other than the Tories and Liberal Democrats! Over £7m has been allocated to the Warm Homes Fund to help alleviate fuel poverty, although this is well short of what is required. Energy receives additional capital of £45 million in 2013-14 and £42 million in 2014-15 for renewables projects through drawdown of the Fossil Fuel Levy surplus.

There is nearly £40m additional spending on housing including 4000 social homes and energy efficiency measures. This addresses urgent housing need and helps the economy, although again only reverses past cuts.

Next Steps
Parliamentary committees will take evidence on the budget over the next two months and the Budget Bill will be published in January. Individual health board allocations are set out in the budget (p31) and council funding allocations will be announced next month. All public service organisations will now be working out their budgets for next year and branches should be engaged in that process. Remember that government budget allocations are only part of the picture. Most organisations have some other revenue streams, but also unavoidable commitments.

Be there in Glasgow October 20

UNISON branches and communities across Scotland are gearing up for a massive STUC demonstration in Glasgow on 20 October to demand ‘a future that works’ as opposed to disastrous cuts and austerity policies.
Sister events are also being held in London and Belfast and UNISON leaders from all services are urging stewards to pull out the stops and build for the day. The event will start in George Square and march to Glasgow Green.
Branches across the country have been planning and making transport arrangements, often in partnership with other unions, communities and users of public services, to ensure a turnout that cannot be ignored.
The need to build that broad coalition was underlined by UNISON Scotland Convener Lilian Macer: “Our members know that attacks on services, pay, jobs and pensions, whether from Westminster, Holyrood or individual public authorities, can and should be resisted by communities and trade unionists working and campaigning together.
“Our members will be out on October 20, as will people from the communities we serve”, she said.
Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Secretary, explained why the event is so important: “The Coalition Government may be in crisis but they are still refusing to change course from their dangerous and damaging programme of cuts and austerity. That damage is being directly translated into the Scottish Government’s budget decisions, affecting every service our members provide.
“On the morning of Saturday 20 October, trade unionists and community activists from across Scotland will gather for the march through Glasgow to play our part in telling governments that enough is enough.”
Tom Waterson, Health Chair, pointed to staff cuts, pay cuts and pensions threats in the NHS making it “easy to see why we will be backing the 20 October demo.”
Local Government Chair Stephanie Herd and UNISON Scotland Depute Convener Stephen Smellie tell of the huge attacks on local councils and the need to make the fight against the pay freeze part of the October 20 agenda.
Karen Dawson, Vice Chair of FE, tells of the effects of a 30% funding cut in colleges in an article that also covers cuts in HE, Police and the Community and Voluntary Sector, underlining why we all need to be there on 20 October.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

October 20th March in Glasgow

The STUC is organising a mass demonstration on 20th October in Glasgow. The event will coincide with a similar event in London under the banner ‘A future that works’.
The Coalition Government may be in crisis but they are still refusing to change course from their dangerous and damaging programme of cuts and austerity.

On the morning of Saturday 20th October, trade unionists and community activists from across Scotland will gather for a march through Glasgow to play our part in telling the Government that enough is enough.
In the coming weeks you can come to this site to download publicity materials, find out about transport, or volunteer to help on the day.

Sign-up to receive latest updatesat

Condem Government look to slash Employment Rights

UNISON, the UK’s largest union, today warned that the ‘Beecroft lite’ proposals to slash employment rights will only fuel insecurity, making the UK’s unemployment levels higher and the recession worse.

These plans will cut unfair dismissal awards, deter people from taking claims against rogue employers, and put pressure on people to sign settlement agreements, under which people sign away their right to taking an unfair dismissal case at a later date. Coupled with new fees for Employment Tribunals due next year they represent a ‘lite’ proposal of those originally proposed by venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft in his report to Government.

Dave Prentis, UNISON general secretary, said:

“These ‘Beecroft lite’ proposals are still a blatant attack on workers’ rights. The UK already has some of the weakest labour laws in Europe. Weighing the scales heavily in favour of bosses - who can hire and fire at will - will only fuel insecurity, lengthening the dole queues and making the UK’s damaging recession worse.

“UNISON will also be campaigning hard against plans to amend the TUPE rules that protect workers’ rights when they are transferred from one employer to another. We suspect that in the name of simplification the Coalition really want to make it easier transfer public services to the private sector, and spark a race to the bottom on pay, terms and conditions.”

UNISON Scotland Nursing Conference 30th September 2012

This one day conference will be held in the Trades Hall in Glasgow 10am to 4.30pm and  is open to our members across the whole nursing family, including: nurses, midwives, health visitors and healthcare assistants.
Together we will consider the key issues currently affecting members and offer an opportunity to debate the future of nursing in Scotland.
Conference speakers:
Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing Keynote Speaker
Ros Moore, Chief Nurse for Scotland ‘Maintaining and delivering safe nursing care on a reduced budget’
Gail Adams, Head of Nursing for UNISON ‘Protecting standards and you’
Glyn Jenkins, UNISON Head of Pensions Pensions debate
Gordon McKay, Chair of the Nursing Sector and NEC Member

Contact the Branch by phone or e-mail if you would like to go.


Wednesday 19th September sees us visiting the Hamilton Campus of UWS to encourage Student Nurses & Midwives to become part of the UNISON Family - Theres a great offer for them to join !

For only £10 a year they will get un-rivalled advice and representation when they need it as well as a bag of goodies including a a stethoscope & dictionary to get them started .

We'll be at the Freshers Fair from 10am  and giving presentations at and 9.30 in the lecture theatres.


Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Government challenges Treasury on pension reform

The Scottish Government has had an angry exchange of correspondence with the Treasury over their plans for a UK Public Sector Pension Reform Bill. While pension regulation is a devolved matter, primary legislation is reserved, so this legislation could cover all public service pension schemes in Scotland
Treasury minister, Danny Alexander MP has written to Cabinet Secretary, John Swinney MSP outlining the Bill provisions. These include, as expected, the equalisation of Normal Pension Ages with the State Pension Age and transitional arrangements for those within 10 years of retirement. It is also implied that all schemes will be career average rather than final salary, although this is not clearly stated.
His letter also indicates that each scheme must have a cost cap and changes to schemes will require prior consent of the Treasury. While this has always been the case for the NHS scheme, because the Treasury underwrites the cost, it has not been the case for the Local Government Pension Scheme in Scotland. The letter implies that the LGPS will come under Treasury control in future, despite the fact that funding is a matter for local authorities, not the Treasury.
As with previous exchanges, the Treasury letters are vague on key points and the Scottish Government has sought additional clarification. The Cabinet Secretary has described the Treasury’s actions as "unwarranted interference in reform discussions in Scotland". It is hard to disagree with that analysis. However, we will need to see the further clarification and the draft Bill to be certain what exactly the UK Government is proposing and the implications for the NHS and local government schemes.
NHS Scottish negotiations are continuing with detailed consideration of the cost of different options. Clarity is also required from the Scottish Government on the key issue of year 2 and 3 contribution increases and further meetings are planned. However, the Treasury’s intervention, as set out above, clearly has an impact on the scope for negotiation.

Monday, 23 July 2012

UNISON response to Taxpayers' Alliance pensions nonsense

"Financially illiterate drivel aimed at advancing a political agenda to make pensioners poorer" says public services union
UNISON, Scotland largest union in Scotland’s public services, is today calling on the so-called Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA), to get its facts straight after the shady right-wing, low-tax pressure group attacked local government pensions. Again.
Payments into the Local Government Pension Scheme in Scotland last year were £299.944 million MORE than being paid out to pensioners. This inconvenient fact is ignored by the self styled think tank - who likewise seem not to have noticed a connection between the cuts in council workforce that that they have been urging and decline in local government workers paying in to the pension schemes
The tax dodgers' alliance report points out the LGPS like is maturing with an increasing number of pensioners. What they fail to mention is that this is the case with almost all pension funds in the UK.
Similarly unmentioned are;
· That the pension funds enjoy an enormous income from investment – and so aren’t entirely reliant on contributions from members and employers
· That a recent (2011) actuarial valuation of the Local Government Pension Scheme Scotland was very positive
· The LGPS Scotland is currently taking in almost £300 million per year more than it is paying out.
· Even in the event that the scheme was felt to be under pressure - a cost sharing agreement is in place.
· Just 5p in every £1 paid in council tax goes towards pensions. Councils get only 25% of their revenue from council tax, 75% comes from other sources, including business rates and local government grants.
· The numbers in the tax Dodgers Alliance report would only begin to make sense if everyone in local government decided to retire on the same day - a social, political and actuarial absurdity.
Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Secretary, said:
"This right-wing pressure group never lets facts get in the way of attacking public services and the people that deliver them. This is financially illiterate drivel. The TPA are simply out of touch with reality.
Pensions for local government are an affordable way of people saving for their retirement - and the results of that are modest enough the average pensions for council workers in Scotland is just £4,000 a year, dropping to just £2,800 for women.
We need to bring private sector pensions up to a decent level, not pull public sector pensions down - two thirds of employees do not get a single penny in contributions from their employers towards their pensions. The government's plans for auto-enrolment will not go far enough to keep people off means tested benefits.”

On-Call Offer from NHS Employers Scotland: Frequently Asked Questions

Does this offer only apply to On-Call? Does it include Standby?
This offer applies to both types of emergency cover. A member of staff is On Call when, as part of an established arrangement with his/her employer, he/she is available outside his/her normal working hours – either at the workplace, at home or elsewhere – to work as and when required.
If implemented, will this replace the Agenda for Change On Call arrangements in the Terms and Conditions Handbook?
Yes. Paragraphs 2.31 - 2.49 will be deleted and a section will be inserted to reflect the new arrangements.
What are the main features of the new arrangements?
From 1 October 2012 availability payment of £16.50 per session.
From 1 April 2013 availability payment of £17 per session.
From 1 April 2014 availability payment of £18 per session.
Payment for work done, including travel, will be at time and a half, except on public holidays which will be paid at double time.
What is the “Chisholm Agreement”?
In March 2003, a decision was taken by Malcolm Chisholm, who was at that time was the Scottish Minister for Health, to ensure that no Scottish employee would suffer a loss of existing earnings as a result of the implementation of Agenda for Change terms and conditions. This was initially applied to the results of the matching process but was also applied to the implementation of changes to Unsocial Hours Payments, which took effect in 2008. The Staff Side has successfully argued that since the new proposed On Call arrangements form the final part of the implementation of the Agenda for Change terms and conditions then the “Chisholm Agreement” should also apply.
What does ‘mark time’ protection mean?
Your total earnings including On Call will be calculated over a reference period (3 to 12 months?). If your earnings under your old payment regime locally is more than that provided under these new arrangements, then your prior total earnings will be protected. That level or previous level of earnings will continue to be paid on a ‘mark time’ basis (i.e. no increments or cost of living increase payments) until your old earnings are overtaken by the level of earnings achieved under the new arrangements; or until you change jobs or leave the NHS.
The offer gives an implementation date of October. What if Payroll systems haven’t time to implement the new arrangement or calculate protection by then?
The phrase “with no retrospection” means that implementation will not take place before 1 October 2012. If Board Payroll systems don’t manage to process the new arrangements until sometime later staff will receive any outstanding arrears.
How will UNISON consult the members in Scotland?
The Electoral Reform Society is conducting an all members’ ballot on these proposals. The ballot opens on 27 July and closes on 17 August 2012. All the NHS Trade Unions will consider the outcome of their consultations and meet the Scottish Employers on 31 August 2012.
Who will be eligible to vote in the consultative ballot?
All UNISON members in Scotland, whether or not you currently work On Call.
How much scope is there for improving the offer if the consultative ballot results in a 'NO' vote?
It is the collective view of all of the staff side organisations on the negotiating sub group that this is the best we can achieve by negotiation: we have moved the management position significantly since their initial offer. If the offer is rejected, members then have recourse to seek a ballot on industrial action.
UNISON’s Scottish Health Committee is recommending ACCEPTANCE of the proposals.
Only my basic salary plus stand-by allowance is pensionable. Earnings from Calls are not pensionable. I have been on the On Call rota for several years. Are these earnings not “regular and a continued feature of the job”?
The Scottish Pensions Agency does not accept that On Call earnings and overtime fit that definition.
I am in receipt of protection of earnings (due to organisational change). The proposed new arrangements state that protection will be on a ‘mark time basis’, but my current organisational change protection provides an uplift each year (when we eventually get a pay rise). Will this new agreement, if accepted, affect my protection or will it continue as it currently stands?
If accepted, the new proposals will have no effect on the current organisational change protection which applies to your pay.
Does AFC para 27.17 provide scope for local agreement on compensatory rest?
Para 27.17 is not there to enable local agreements to be reached which breach or improve upon the WTRegs - it is simply saying that if daily rest periods are regularly breached then there must be local agreement. The reason that the Scottish HDL2003/3 is referenced in the offer is because the WTRegs Framework contained within the HDL gives more detailed information about Compensatory Rest than Section 27.
My query is regarding the ‘sleeping in’ payments, where staff will be paid ‘at appropriate rate for work done in line with On Call’. How will the hours worked be calculated? Will it be only the hours/minutes worked or will it be payment for each undisturbed period (as with the ‘Calls’ arrangements) or will it be a flat rate for the total hours worked/sleeping in?
The section of the offer which is headed “Sleeping in” does not refer to the stand by arrangements which Radiographers work when they are in the hospital overnight – it refers to staff who work in situations where they are obliged to sleep in their place of work e.g. care homes, residential establishments for children and adolescents who are in care.
When levels of protection are calculated could an average be worked out for the department rather than per individual, so all staff are paid the same?
No. Levels of pay protection are calculated on an individual basis.
How do I find out more?

Contact The Branch by e-mail or phone   - ask for a local meeting for a few of you if you like !


On Call Negotiations - Final Management Offer

Following negotiations with NHS Scotland employers UNISON and the other trade unions have agreed that the offer put on the table by our employers is the best that can be achieved through negotiation.
As a consequence of this being a we are writing to all members to consult them on the terms of the employers’ proposals.

Key points
  • From 1 October 2012 availability payment of £16.50 per session.
  • From 1 April 2013 availability payment of £17 per session.
  • From 1 April 2014 availability payment of £18 per session.
  • Payment for work done, including travel, will be at time and a half, except on public holidays which will be paid at double time.


  • Any member who requires protection, this will be on a mark time basis and will be offset by annual pay and incremental uplifts.

Key Dates

  • Ballot opens 27 July 2012
  • Ballot closes 17 August 2012
  • Ballot result reported to On Call Staff Side meeting 24 August 2012
  • Meeting with Employers 31 August 2012
  • Branches will be holding members’ meetings


Friday, 29 June 2012

Have your say on the NMC fee's increase

Have your say on the NMC proposals at:

UNISON will be responding to this consultation nationally however it is important that you also tell them what you think.

NMC fee's increase

After the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) decision to raise its yearly registration fee from £76 to £120, UNISON is calling on all members to sign an e-petition in order to get the issue debated in the UK parliament.

Over 45,000 people have already signed the petition and when a petition reaches 100,000 signatures it has to be debated in the House of Commons. The NMC is trying to justify the 58% increase in fees by claiming that it is due to a rise in the number of fitness to practice cases and the costs associated with them.

UNISON says that serious questions need to be asked about the financial management of the troubled regulatory body, which has been in special measures since 2008, and has had 6 chief executives and 3 chairs in that time.

Registration with the NMC is, in effect, a licence to practise and is compulsory for any nurse or midwife wishing to practise in the UK. Unlike other health workers such as admin & clerical or ancillary staff who are also struggling to make ends meet, nurses and midwives must pay professional registration fees every year or they cannot work.
Gail Adams, UNISON Head of Nursing said: “Hard pressed nurses and midwives will rightly be very angry about plans to make them pay more to allow them to work.”
“Not only have nurses and midwives had their pay frozen for 2 years, with 2 more years of pay austerity on the horizon, they are also having to pay more for their pensions.”
“The UK government should start applying serious scrutiny to the NMC and it must also step in and persuade the council that now is not the time to raise its fees.”
“Health workers should not have to pay the price for the NMC’s own failures and for the UK government’s failure to police this body properly.”

UNISON is calling on the NMC to undertake an urgent review of its financial systems and has made it clear that it does not support the NMC fees increase.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

UNISON and GMB to form powerful new Alliance

UNISON and the GMB, two of the UK’s largest unions, announced today that they will form a powerful new alliance to campaign against the Tory-led coalition’s damaging austerity agenda. 

Building on their existing joint work through the TUC and the Labour Party, this new partnership will give a strong new voice to the two million workers represented by the unions. Together, they will use their mutual influence to rally support for an economic plan that will safeguard jobs and vital public services. 

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said: 

“This is an historic day for both of our unions, and for the two million workers we represent. UNISON and the GMB have always had a strong common agenda, and today we are taking a step closer together. 

“Communities the length and breadth of the country are being ripped apart by Tory cuts, while the rich enjoy tax breaks, massive pay rises and bonuses. In the face of this continued attack on working people, it makes absolute sense for us to join forces, and speak with one voice against this mindless austerity agenda which is only dragging the country down. 

“We will campaign for the issues that really matter to our shared membership and, when the time is right we will take action together. Independently we are strong, together we will be a force to be reckoned with.” 

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said:

“Trade unions are the only constant beacons of opposition to austerity. The destruction of services and jobs under the current Government cannot be allowed to continue without serious challenge.

“The latest announcement threatening to throw onto the streets tens of thousands of young people by ending their housing support whilst multi-millionaire backers of Cameron hide behind tax dodges is the final straw in the argument that we are all in this together. 

“The two million members of GMB and UNISON and their families are a powerful industrial and political force who refuse to accept a future of unemployment, despair and the destruction of ambition for their children.” 

Time for Disability Leave to be Rolled out Across Employers

Unison says the time is right  !  

to implement disability leave policies and will develop guidance for branches to negotiate such policies and to challenge bad practice with the Equality Act 2010.

In this time of recession, it has never been more important to for disability leave policies to be negotiated and implemented by employers to ensure disabled members are not discriminated against as a result of disability related sickness absence.
Bill Dunn, Disabled Members' Officer, Highland Healthcare, long time delegate and first time speaker, said that union colleagues at the Disabled Members Conference six years ago were surprised to hear that an NHS employer showed little consideration towards staff members with disabilities.
Following that meeting, he took the UNISON model policy to his employer who stated it was not law and he wasn't aware of any NHS employer in Scotland that had a disability leave policy in operation.
Bill has persisted and fought for reasonable adjustments as time off for disability related medical appointments.
Not all managers have accepted this, and time is expected to be taken as time back, time in lieu or sick leave.
"Obviously recorded sick leave then leads to disabled members being put on Promoting Atendance procedures and then the dreaded capability policy - neither of which aid the health and wellbeing of the member with a disability."

Elder Abuse is Debated at UNISON National Conference

Scottish vulnerable persons legislation could be a model for the UK, Conference was told as it voted unanimously to back a strategy to tackle elder abuse.
Moving an amendment to the Retired Members Committee motion, Strathclyde Police and Fire’s Brian Molloy called for a campaign to get Westminster legislation similar to Scotland’s Adult Support and Protection Act.
Conference heard a host of horrifying statistics about the level of elder abuse, especially in residential care. The fact that UNISON backed this motion unanimously showed it was a “union that cares”, said the mover.
UNISON will now highlight the problem, work to eradicate abuse and encourage MPs to pass legislation to protect older people.
Brian Molloy told Conference that the Scottish model was one way of achieving this: “I am very passionate about Adult Support and Protection issues and the protection of the vulnerable of our society. All the citizens of the UK have a duty to protect the most vulnerable people living in our society.
“The Scottish Act places a statutory obligation on the police, the NHS and the local Authority Social Work to record incidents, refer incidents and share information into incidents relating to vulnerable adults in a coordinated way.
“The support and protection of adults at risk is paramount, however, probably one of the greatest benefits to come out of the act is the awareness it has raised across all the statutory agencies, support agencies and voluntary groups, and the greater public at large.
“This awareness gives all involved in the support and protection of
adults at risk a renewed confidence. Confidence to know exactly what to do, who to contact and when to do it.”
Edinburgh’s Marlyn Tweedie also warned about the institutional elder abuse that comes from cuts in services and privatisation.

UNISON Conference urges Support For Demos 20th October

UNISON will continue to put forward an alternative economic strategy focused on building a successful economy in order to support a better society.
This economic strategy based on reality, not the coalition myths - a strategy that will create demand in the economy, will create employment through investment in skills and infrastructure, and that sees investment in public services as a boost to the economy.
"We have already agreed it wasn't the nurses, janitors, social workers or any other public sector worker who broke the bank" said Jane Carolan, NEC.
"And it wasn't just the bankers, financiers and speculators on their own, but a rampant free market casino capitalism unregulated and unfettered by either national or international law"
Jane slammed the Tory austerity agenda, an agenda not borne out of economic necessity but of free market ideology that seeks to diminish the state, an agenda that makes no economic sense whatsoever.
"Public services slashed, unemployment rising, for a million young people the future is bleak. There is no economic growth. Our economy is in recession. Income is falling for the nation and for the individuals while basic prices rise. But the millionaires cheered their tax cut from Cameron."
"As a union, we have to speak out for our members to defend their jobs and standards of living. But as a union that believes in social justice we also need to speak out for the unemployed, those losing benefits, those reduced to poverty, as the poorest lose most when public services are cut."
"Why don't we invest in public services to ensure that basic needs like health and education are met? Build new social housing. Not just creating jobs but tackling inequality."
"Mind you, there are cuts we support - cancel Trident, cut military spending on unnecessary wars, cut out PFI, cut privatisation, cut the use of parasites called consultants. Those cuts will save over £100billion per year to be put to good use."
Lillian Macer, Scottish Regional Delegate, said that the coalition austerity measure have indeed, as we told them, proven to be avoidable, unfair and regressive.
"UNISON Scotland through the STUC will continue to pursue the There is a Better Way Campaign with passion, vigour and new ideas for a better society.
“We will continue to expose the coalition for what they are - idealogues pursing an agenda to benefit theirselves and their superwealthy funders.
Support the Alternative on October 20th!
UNISON's alternative budget

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Nurses and midwives should not be held to ransom on fee increase says UNISON – Unions condemns 60% hike in registration fees

“Scottish Chief Nursing Officer must intervene” says nursing Union .  

UNISON Scotland, is condemning plans that will see the yearly registration fee that must be paid by every nurse and midwife increase by over 60%. This move comes at the same time as pension contribution increases mean that every nurse or midwife attempting to save for their future has just had their take home pay reduced.  

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has announced that it will begin consulting on raising the annual fee that nurses and midwifes have to pay to work from £76 to £120 per year. The last fee increase came in 2007, when nurses were asked to pay more to allow the NMC to build up its reserves.

The union said that serious questions need to be asked about financial management at the troubled regulatory body, which has been in special measures since 2008, and has had six chief executives and three chairs in that time.

Bridget Hunter, UNISON Scotland head of nursing said:

“Hard pressed nurses and midwives will rightly be very angry about plans to make them pay more to work. Many of these vital health workers and their families are already struggling to make ends meet. Not only have they had their pay frozen for two years, cutbacks in the Health Service mean that many newly qualified nurses are finding it difficult to get jobs and may question the value of  trying to stay in the profession .

“The government cannot stand by and let the pressure keep piling onto nurses and midwives. Not only should it start applying serious scrutiny to the NMC, it must also step in and persuade the council that now is not the time to raise its fees. Health workers should not have to pay the price for the NMC’s own failures and for the government’s failure to police this body properly.
 We hope that Scotland’s Chief Nursing Officer, Ros Moore will add her voice to those opposing this desperately unfair hike in fees.  ”

UNISON is seeking an urgent meeting with the NMC and with ministers, and is calling on the NMC to undertake an urgent review of its financial systems. The union made it clear that it will not support the fee rise.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


Tomorrow we will be visiting Hairmyres Hospital , to talk , meet, and greet old members and new - we'll be just outside the restaurant from about 10am till 2pm .

Theres freebies to give away , the chance to get the latest news on the Pensions situation and pick up a copy of the new Hairmyres Howl the UNISON Newsheet for the Hospital.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Monklands Mouth

Come along to the UNISON stall in Monklands tomorrow and pick up copies of our branch newssheet for Monklands - official known as 'The Monklands Mouth'.

See you at the restaurant!!


Did you know that the UK Con-Dem Government are thinking of reducing maternity leave to 18 weeks?  We believe that six months matters for Mums to recover from birth and prepare to return to work.

Current law allows most women to return to work after two weeks, but the presumption is that women will take 52 weeks’ leave unless they tell employers they want to come back sooner.  Under potential Government plans, the presumption will be 18 weeks of leave after which you will have to negotiate with your employer. 

We’re campaigning for at minimum standard of 26 weeks (six months) of maternity leave for all women and want to know if six months matters/ed to you.

Whether you’re about to have a baby, are in the middle of maternity leave or you’re back at work, we would like to hear your stories.

What do you remember as the best bit of maternity leave?
When were you ready to organise childcare or negotiate working patterns? When did you start getting any sleep?
And most critically, would you have been ready to return to work after 18 weeks? 

If you believe that six months maternity leave matters for mums and babies, please help us:

1         Tell us your stories on Working Families FACEBOOK page here

Upload your pictures of your baby between 4 and 6 months and tell us      
            why six months mattered to you.

2         Take the NetMums survey this week here:

3         And spread the word by emailing this message to six more friends and ask them to tell us why six months mattered/s to them

Thanks for all your help and please do follow our campaign by ‘liking’ our facebook page.

Working Families webiste can be found here

Crisis Normal! Response from UNISON's survey

In March, UNISON at a UK level asked nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants and other staff to chart their experiences including the pressures of a typical working day.

The responses revealed some shocking insights:

“Crisis has become the norm.”
“My workload meant that I was unable to deliver the standard of care that I would like. And I considered it unsafe.”
“It is so unfair to the patients that have to wait for long periods to have a wash or get changed or even to get attention because we are too busy dealing with so many things at the same time.”

When asked, ‘Did you feel you had an adequate amount of time to spend with each patient?’ more than 75% said ‘No’ (76.8%). More than 70% said they did not have enough time to spend with patients to deliver dignified, safe, compassionate care. Almost 90% supported legislation to set minimum nurse to patient ratios, as a means to improving patient care.

In support of the survey findings, delegates at UNISON’s health care conference in Brighton last week voted to launch a campaign for nursing staffing levels to be legally enforceable and increased to a minimum and safe level to protect patients and health workers.

Christina McAnea, UNISON Head of Health, said: “UNISON’s survey shows staff are under severe pressure to cope with the sheer number of patients and their complex and varied medical needs. 90% of those surveyed want legislation to set minimum nurse to patient ratios. While there is no ‘one-size fits all’ solution to setting safe staffing levels, it is clear that without them patient care is being compromised and patients’ lives are at risk.”
“Self-policing is just not working especially in this climate of budget cuts. It is time to confront the evidence which clearly demonstrates that mandatory staffing levels are directly associated with a reduction in patient deaths.”