Monday, 30 January 2012

November 30th Strike - Hardship Fund Application

You've probably all had your payslips now with a deduction for the days Strike Action on the 30th November.
The Branch has some limited funds  with which to try and help out members who have or will suffer genuine hardship as a result of taking strike action .

If you are struggling to cope with the loss of a days pay please contact the Branch by the 10th February to get a form  and make an application  to the Branch Hardship Fund .

We are unable to say how much money you may or may not get at this stage it will , in likliehood , depend on how many applications are successful.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

NHS Lanarkshire Parking Consultation

The Branch is currently formulating it's response to the Consultation Document on proposed changes to how the Board manage it's car parking at it's various properties.

Nothing has been agreed between Unions and the Board ,indeed the Unions have a number of concerns which they will be raising including a lack of fairness and transparency  in how scoring is done for the issuing of permits ,the use of a Private Company to enforce "fines" and the lack of adequate numbers of parking spaces at some properties .

Keep an eye on the blog for further updates.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Monklands Roadshow Tommorrow 26th January

Come along and see us tomorrow at the Choices Restaurant in Monklands Hospital , we'll be there from 9am to 2pm to answer your queries , sign up new members and to tell you  what UNISON has to offer.

We're also looking for new Stewards and Health & Safety Reps so come down and have a chat and we'll tell how you can help UNISON grow and develop it's influence within the Health Service.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Don't blame the economy – it's the 1% who are making retirement 'unaffordable'

Behind the rhetoric of crisis, the demise of the pension era is as much a product of economic ideology as circumstance. The real pensions scandal isn't the public sector (mean average pension £7,800, median £5,600) but the private. It's not just the shrinking coverage and payouts (just 35% of private-sector employees now participate in an employer-sponsored scheme compared with 80% in the public sector, while according to the National Association of Pension Funds the average lump sum a newcomer will accrue in a company defined-contribution pension is around £20,000, paying out a princely £1,400 year).

What really grates is the hypocrisy of employers who, having reneged on their contractual obligations, then – like footballers trying to get opponents sent off – attempt to divert attention from their own behaviour by complaining that the public sector isn't playing the game by refusing to follow them in the race to the bottom.

Pensions are complicated. Tax and regulatory changes often have unintended consequences, and are complicit in today's ugly mess. What is uncomplicated, however, is that the chief enemy of private sector pensions is not public sector workers, but private sector directors and top executives, who not only are pleasantly cushioned from the retirement hardship they are visiting on their employees, but also – at least indirectly – profit from it. 

As the TUC's Pensionwatch and a report from the High Pay Commission (HPC) make clear, the disparities between the top and the 99% are huge, both quantitatively and qualitatively, and growing. While companies cite a "perfect storm" of economic turmoil and increasingly longevity as justification for closing their gold-standard final-salary or defined-benefit (DB) schemes for the lower orders – Shell's scheme, whose closure was announced three weeks ago, was the last in the FTSE 100 – the officers still travel first class.

Most large companies still have DB schemes for at least some directors, whose average pension pot last year was £3.6m. Eloquently, the largest was owned by Shell's former chief executive, Jeroen van der Veer, whose £21.6m will yield a handsome £1.2m a year.  In the same vein, the 1% accrue their benefits at least twice as fast as the rest of us, and with a normal retirement age of 60 are exempted from the obligation of ordinary mortals to work longer for the general good. The latest wheeze is to compensate directors for tax changes that penalise contributions above a certain level by handing out payments in lieu averaging £138,000 last year – a pay rise by another name, notes HPC chair Deborah Hargreaves, in exactly the same way as slashing contributions is a pay cut in disguise.

While huge pension payouts are particularly outrageous when they reward failure, says Mark Goyder, director of the thinktank Tomorrow's Company, pay and pensions make a powerful statement about a company's values. "Surely, as with pay, companies should be obliged to explain the rationale for what they do." Behind the short-term crisis rhetoric, the demise of the pension era is as much a product of economic ideology as circumstance.

In the wake of career and employment (with redundancy now a first rather than a last resort for cost-cutters), the abandonment of pensions completes the transfer of employment risk to the individual and the sacrifice of corporate welfare on the altar of shareholder value. Significantly, Shell's closure of its surplus-making scheme was made "to reflect market trends". That's not quite as blunt as Jeff Immelt's "the pension has been a drag [on earnings] for a decade" as he closed GE's US scheme in 2010, but still a reflection of the desire to boost profits – and, indirectly, executives' own pay – rather than economic necessity.

Companies were keen enough to exploit the benefits of their pension funds in good times, using them to fund redundancies and as late as 2004 – when dividend payments outstripped pension contributions by four times – happily taking pension holidays that amounted to at least £20bn overall. 

In her feisty book Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers, Ellen Schultz notes that pensions do indeed constitute a burden on US firms – but they are largely those, overt or hidden, of the top 1%, which are swelling as those of the 99% at the bottom shrink. Not so much beleaguered captains struggling to keep the boat afloat, chief executives are "silent pirates who looted the ships and left them to sink, along with the retirees, as they sailed away safely in their lifeboats", she says. It couldn't happen here? It already has: same self-manufactured crisis scenario, same unholy alliance of self-interested top executives and global financial facilitators (including fund managers subject to the same perverse incentives), resulting in the same destruction wreaked on long-term savers and the economy as a whole. Pensions are the financial crisis in microcosm, with exactly the same winners and losers.

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Monklands Hospital Roadshows

Come along and see us at the Choices Restaurant on the Lower ground Floor of Monklands Hospital - we'll be there every Thursday between 9am  and 2pm until the end of  February .

Whether you want to join , have a blether ,pick up some info or nab one of our famous Branch Pens we'll be delighted to see you  .

We'll be organising more Roadshows all over Lanarkshire shortly so check back for details.

UNISON Wins Fight Against Privatisation

Just over 2 years ago Edinburgh Council Started a drive to privatise huge swathes of their services , with over 4000 posts being transferred to the Private Sector ,contracts worth  over a billion pounds !

UNISON campaigned , negotiated and lobbied from the City Chambers , to the Scottish Parliament and  worked with local residents groups to finally bring an end to the Privatisation Plans after the majority of Councillors accepted that in house ,not for profit provision of  services was best.

A truly magnificent result and a testament to what our union can do when we all pull together , work with the communities we serve and believe we can win !


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

UNISON members need a reason to vote Labour

Responding to the Labour party’s suggestions that public service workers should accept more pay freezes and pay cuts, UNISON’s General Secretary Dave Prentis said:

“Our members needed hope and a reason to vote Labour. They have been snatched away. In the past year Labour has struggled to get its message across to show that there is an alternative to the Coalition’s savage cuts in our public services and the attack on the living standards of millions of ordinary working people.

“We were told by Ed Miliband to be patient, to prepare for the the long haul and that their economic plans needed to be cautious. And we hoped that, as the economy worsened, Labour’s voice would get louder, more forceful and that Ed Miliband would step up and speak out against the tearing apart of communities and families as they face insecurity and uncertainty.

“But at a time when our members needed him most, he panicked and fell into the trap, ditching overnight a policy that challenged the Coalition. He has decided to embrace a Tory pay policy that hits millions of public service workers, particularly low paid women - care workers, hospital cleaners and dinner ladies, who have already had two years of pay freezes and job losses.

“Ed Miliband’s naivety is breathtaking and his ill-thought-through comments will have unintended consequences. At a time when hard working families are struggling to make ends meet, the very party which they look to to stand by them, has chosen instead to play cheap politics with their lives.”

Branch Annual General Meeting

ALL members are encouraged to attend the BRANCH AGM being held on

Saturday 25th February
at 10 am in the
Moorings Hotel in Motherwell.

Friday, 13 January 2012


UNISON's Head of Health, Christine McAnea said “This week our health service activists met and voted to finalise negotiations with the employers on the outstanding issues in the Heads of Agreement.”

But if negotiations should break down at any point, or if our members vote to reject the offer, our live ballot means we can still take strike action".

“This decision is an important stepping stone to a final agreement. Talks will now enter a final stage, due to conclude in the next few weeks.”

“We will then consult our health service members in a ballot. Pensions are such an important issue to our members and their families, it is only right that they get the final say on their future.”


UNISON’s elected representatives have voted to give the union’s negotiators the
green light to continue negotiations on changes to public sector pensions.

At a pensions summit in London this week, the feedback from every UNISON region was that the majority of branches and members backed continuing negotiations. The summit discussed
the details of the proposals for the Local Government and NHS pension schemes and agreed to the frameworks negotiators have developed with UK Government ministers since November 30.

At the summit, General Secretary Dave Prentis made it clear that UNISON took action for industrial reasons, because negotiations broke down. But the strength of the action brought UK Government ministers back to the table to negotiate properly. He said: “We will carry on negotiating over pensions - because that's what we do as a trade union and because it's what our members want. But at the same time - we are still in dispute and our industrial action ballot is still valid for further action if needed.”

These frameworks cover the schemes in England and Wales although, particularly in the NHS, they have implications for the Scottish pension schemes.

UNISON’s approach to the next stage in Scotland was set out by UNISON Scottish Convener Lillian Macer who said: “As the Scottish Government has the responsibility to address these issues in Scotland we call upon Scottish Government Ministers to explore a distinct Scottish solution for the public service workforce."
There is a separate NHS pension scheme in Scotland but it has closely followed the England and Wales scheme because the UK Treasury funds it and therefore has a veto over the scheme regulations.

The NHS Scotland Staff Side Trade Unions have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Health to formally request specific NHS meetings to explore, in the words of the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, “practicable and workable alternatives to the proposed increases”.

This initiative is aimed at exploring the prospects of a Scottish solution. As in local government, the separate Scottish NHS ballot remains live.

The offer known as ‘The Heads of Agreement’ is at: