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 The Court of Session agreed with that case and the council has withdrawn an appeal to the Supreme Court as part of the settlement with UNISON.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 http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/UNISONresponsetoNMCfeeincrease.pdf

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.