Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Spanish Civil War Memorial unveiling in Motherwell - Saturday 20th July

On Saturday 20 July at 1pm a memorial to the International Brigaders from Lanarkshire will be unveiled in the Duchess of Hamilton Park in Motherwell. Funds for the memorial have been raised No Pasaran Memorial Committee North Lanarkshire. Contact no.pasarannl@yahoo.co.uk for more details.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Bedroom Tax Conference Saturday 29th June

There have been many comparisons made between the Bedroom Tax and the Poll Tax. Most of these are misplaced. The bedroom tax is much, much, worse than the Poll Tax.  Unlike the Poll Tax it only affects the poor  - and is specifically designed to drive them from their homes.

It is, as the STUC put it, unfair, immoral and frankly absurd policy that will do nothing to improve the housing crisis that exists in this country. There are there are steps that Councils and the Scottish Government can take but frankly we can’t rely on them. So the finale of the Austerity Uncovered tour the STUC are calling a Anti Bedroom Tax Conference in Edinburgh this Saturday. Try and be there.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Spirit of 45'

It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a  time when Britain responded to crippling debts and chronic daily hardship with a decisive move to the left: nationalising industry, building council houses and creating brand new public services from scratch.

The fact that it’s hard to imagine now is exactly why Ken Loach has made ‘The Spirit of ’45’.
The film is at its most emotionally powerful when talking about the foundation of the NHS.
Harry Keen tells of when, as a junior GP, he visited a family on the day the NHS came into being. He had previously left some medicine for a child with a cough. I said, “How’s little Johnny?” And Johnny’s mother said, “Oh he’s fine.”

And I heard a lot of coughing and spluttering at the top of the stairs. I said, “He doesn’t sound terribly good, would you like me to go up and see him?” She said, “No, I’m sorry doctor, we can’t afford it.” And I said “Today, July the fifth, it will cost you nothing.” And I was able to go up, and I’ve never forgotten that moment in my life.

Later we hear about how the NHS is now being privatised in England.

 Extract of an article at:
Spirit of 45
Film 4 at 9pm Tonight

Friday, 7 June 2013

1% Pay Rise Delayed

The 1% pay rise awarded to over 155,000 NHS Scotland staff has been hit by further delays.
The pay rise was due to be paid in April but health workers will now have to wait until June for the extra money in their pay packets.

Although the pay rise will be backdated to April staff may have to wait even longer for back payments.
Willie Duffy, Head of Health for UNISON Scotland said: "Clearly this is unacceptable. We signed off a circular instructing health boards to implement the pay rise, three weeks ago.

"I was assured the pay rise would be in the May pay packet. Our members will be angry about this given that they have had the pay rise in England, the North of Ireland and Wales and we are still waiting."

"I am going to be writing to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Alex Neil, to express my anger at the way the whole process has been handled and the fact we were assured it would be paid in May. I will be asking for an explanation from him as to why it has not been."

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Hundreds of health workers win backdated maternity leave public holidays

Women health workers in Scotland are to receive backdated public holidays they were wrongly denied while on maternity leave.

NHS mums, including nurses, physiotherapists, cleaners, midwives, admin workers and other staff, could receive up to seven days if they were in full time posts. Women who have had more than one period of maternity leave since 2008 would be due backdated holidays for each period.

UNISON, the public services union, took up the case after the NHS employees, were told they could not accrue public holidays on top of their annual leave, while they were off on maternity leave.

Willie Duffy, the UNISON lead on the NHS, said that management conceded an argument first raised and won by the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde UNISON branch.

He said: “As a result of UNISON’s efforts, potentially hundreds of women in the NHS will be getting back some backdated annual leave that they were refused previously.

We knew that we were right to argue this should apply Scotland wide. The employers have agreed we were correct and agreed to implement it from April 2012. However, at first they would not backdate this any further.

“I am pleased that the employers side has now accepted that they made a mistake which they are committed to fixing and will backdate it to April 2008.”

Friday, 10 May 2013

Queen’s Speech

The Queen’s Speech sets out the UK Government’s legislative programme for the coming session. Most Bills do not apply to Scotland to any significant degree. This briefing covers the main points of interest.

Immigration Bill: This bill is designed to make it easier to deport people who do not have the right to stay in the UK, and to prevent immigrants accessing services to which they are not entitled. It covers Scotland and in addition to directly impacting on overseas members it will impact on public service staff who have to make the additional checks. This is more about political positioning post the UKIP electoral success in England last week.

Pension Bill: This will introduce a single-tier state-pension system, replacing the current basic state pension and earnings-related top-up from April 2016. The bill will also bring forward the increase in the retirement age to 67 by eight years, between 2026 and 2028. We have covered these changes in the Scottish Pensions Bulletin and it will involve increases in NI contributions for members and employers.

National Insurance Bill: The cost to small businesses of employing people will be cut through a £2,000 employment allowance. This may also help small voluntary organisations. It also aims to stop the use of offshore companies that are sometimes used by companies to avoid paying their National Insurance contributions.

Consumer Rights Bill: Will update consumer-protection laws (including Scotland) so they cover digital purchases such as downloaded music and e-books. Trading Standards will be granted new powers, such as being able to get a court to order a trader to pay compensation when consumer law is breached.

De-regulation Bill: A further attack on workers rights under the guise of reducing the amount of regulation with which businesses, individuals and public bodies have to comply. Measures include exempting from health-and-safety legislation people who are self-employed and whose work poses no risk of harm to other people, and removing the ability of  employment tribunals to make wider recommendations in successful discrimination cases. A Scottish Bill on de-regulation in devolved areas has recently been introduced in the Scottish Parliament.

Overall there is little in this programme to tackle the big issues facing Scotland or the UK. UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said: “It’s a typical Tory tactic to distract attention from the real problems we face by fostering a ‘blame immigrants’ culture, instead of tackling the huge divide between the rich and the poor. This government should face facts and accept that its policies are not working for the majority of people.”

Friday, 19 April 2013


UNISON, the UK’s largest health union, is challenging the Government over its refusal to implement what is potentially the most effective recommendation in the Francis report – the introduction of minimum staff to patient ratios.  This life-saving initiative would dramatically change life on the wards for patients and staff, providing a safer, more caring environment for all.

The call is backed by a new survey* from the union of more than 1500 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants which showed that 45% of respondents were looking after 8 or more patients on their shift. Research shows that looking after this number increases the risk of patient harm.   The survey, taken on a typical day in the life of the NHS - 5 March, reveals staff under severe strain, reflected in one chilling comment from a nurse: “my ward will end up killing someone. That’s how bad it is and how unsafe”.

In the most damning indictment of the state of the health service under this Coalition Government, almost 20% of respondents described care failings in their organisations as being on a par with the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

Christina McAnea, UNISON Head of Health, said:

“This survey exposes a health service under severe strain, where nurses are struggling to deliver the high levels of care that they set themselves on a daily basis.  On this typical day many staff worked through their break and stayed after their shift – but this still did not give them enough time to complete all their tasks.

“The hidden voice in the survey must surely be that of the patient who is not getting the level of care they are entitled to expect.

“The Government cannot escape its responsibilities to the NHS by pointing the finger at staff or managers.  Trusts are not being given the finance they need to deliver a growing and complex health service that demands highly expensive equipment, high-tech treatment and costly drugs.

“Government cuts are making matters worse by reducing staff, including nurses, at a time when patient demand is growing.  Introducing minimum nurse to patient ratios would provide a safety net of care, restore public confidence and show nursing staff they are respected and valued.”

The survey revealed a number of key concerns about life on the wards in hospitals across the country on 5 March 2013:

·              Almost two thirds of staff said they did not have enough time with each patient.

I felt patients were neglected and always feel like this lately.”
·              Nearly 60% said they did not have enough time to deliver safe, dignified and compassionate patient care.

“Staff on the ward are stressed and getting emotional over the lack of care we are providing and no support is offered.”
·              Time constraints were blamed for patients not receiving the care that respondents felt should have been delivered, including - reassuring patients’ fears, explaining treatments and diagnosis.  Others cited missing out on taking patients to the toilet, giving food or drink, helping patients move and writing up full and accurate records. Saddest of all was not having enough time to spend with dying patients.

·              Over 85% of respondents support set minimum nurse-to-patient ratios.

“Every shift I think my registration is on the line.”
·              More than half (55.7%) worked overtime and three out of 5 skipped breaks.

“I am fed up working every shift without a break, not even time to go to the toilet.”
·              85.4% said that there should be set national minimum nurse to patient ratios.

“We really did struggle.”  “Staff were stressed out due to both a lack of staff and trying to arrange to take over from a member of staff in A&E.”
UNISON is part of the Safe Staffing Alliance, and supports the Francis recommendation for a minimum ratio of staff to patients. There is growing evidence that where these are set and enforced, patient outcomes are better and, more importantly, safer.

UNISON is calling for the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to begin working with other organisations, including patient bodies, to identify a UK model of nurse-to-patient ratios in all healthcare settings.   

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Involve staff in health and social care integration or watch reform fail

UNISON yesterday warned that changes to services for the most vulnerable people must do more to involve staff or watch reform fail.
The public services union also said that Scottish Government plans to integrate health and social care services must maintain democratic accountability.
Speaking at the Scottish Trades Union Congress Annual Congress in Perth, UNISON Scotland Convener Lilian Macer listed four key principles for the STUC General Council to take to the Scottish Government:
Any attempts to open up the NHS to privatisation must be stopped; quality services, not cost-cutting must be a principle of integration; service users and staff must be at the centre of decision making; and democratic control is fundamental.
Lilian warned: "Real change comes when staff and service users work together planning how services should be delivered.
"All evidence shows that top down reorganisation won’t produce real integration. The focus must be on joint outcomes –agreed with local partners and relevant to their local circumstances.
"The proposals must have at their core the desire to improve services, not cut costs."
And she blasted proposals for the new Community Health and Social Care Partnerships, to be run by a single individual – the Jointly Accountable Officer, responsible for a multi million pound budget of public money.
Lilian said: "Technically accountable to both the local authority and the health board the so-called jointly accountable officer will in reality be accountable to no one."
UNISON has urged the Scottish Government to set in place a broad staffing framework, based on best practice, to cover a range of issues when public services are reformed.
These include: staff transfer, pensions, secondment, training and development, equality duties, governance and procurement – covering the protections that should prevent setting up a two tier workforce when services are contracted out.

UNISON’s submission to the Scottish Government consultation on the integration of adult health and social care in Scotland is at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Payday loans crackdown - UNISON responds

Steps to regulate the payday loan industry, including a restriction on advertising time, are welcome, but there is still more to be done, UNISON said today.

UNISON said it was high time regulatory steps were taken to prevent companies taking advantage of desperate people, by giving them loans they cannot hope to repay.

Dave Prentis, UNISON general secretary, said: “This is a welcome step in the right direction, but a restriction on advertising time does not go far enough. These loans are targeted at financially vulnerable, often desperate people, and companies must be restricted – by regulation – from giving loans to those who simply cannot afford to repay them.

“Cuts to trading standards have restricted the ability of officers to crack down on illegal loan sharks – UNISON hopes the same mistakes will not be made with the new Financial Conduct Authority.”

Scottish Ministers told time is right to act against tax dodging companies

UNISON Scotland will today (Thursday) urge the Scottish Government to respond to overwhelming public outrage about tax dodging companies.

The public services union wants Ministers to use their forthcoming Procurement Reform Bill to ban firms involved in tax dodging from winning public contracts.

Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, will tell a Holyrood conference on Sustainable Procurement that the time is right to legislate and that there is considerable cross party support for the principle.

Also, a recent Christian Aid public opinion survey found that 80% are angry about firms not paying their fair share of tax and a third are boycotting companies over it.

Dave said: “There is enormous public anger over companies that don’t pay their fair share of tax. The timing of this Bill is perfect for the Scottish Government to respond.

“We are suggesting that the Bill should send out a very clear message. As Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said, ‘Taxpayers’ money should not be funding tax dodgers.’”

The Edinburgh conference, organised by Holyrood Magazine, is to hear about a range of ways in which procurement can be used as a lever for social, economic and environmental benefits, including to support the Living Wage, to support local economies and sustainable development and to contribute to climate change emissions reduction targets.

Dave Watson is speaking at the event, on promoting best practice, including the Scottish Living Wage.

He said: “At a time of massive public spending cuts it is outrageous that some £120 billion of tax is not being collected. The UK Government should be doing more with stronger anti-tax-avoidance legislation, more tax staff and greater transparency in company accounts.

“The Scottish Government can encourage companies to change their ways through procurement.”

Branch AGM 9th March 2013

Hi all it's that time of year when we all get together for the Annual General Meeting  .
This Saturday 9th March from 10am in the Moorings Hotel ,Hamilton Road Motherwell we will have our AGM with Speakers from STUC Learning and Alfamir Castillo from the Women Sugar Cane Cutters Committee in Columbia , who will give us a fascinating account of their struggle. 

There'll be some freebies to pick up and lots of information about what the Branch have done and what they are doing for you the Membership so please come along and have your say in your Union.

Friday, 1 March 2013

UNISON calls for new devolved powers to create a Fairer Scotland

UNISON today launched a set of policy proposals calling for fresh powers, including pensions and income tax, to be devolved to Scotland.
The union’s ‘Fairer Scotland and devolution’ document opens up a debate which has so far focused on fiscal issues and argues that new devolved powers for the Scottish parliament are essential to create a Fairer Scotland and improve the lives of working people.
UNISON Scotland says a range of fresh powers should be devolved: public sector pensions, health and safety, labour market regulation and broadcasting – as well as stronger fiscal powers, including all of income tax revenue.
The focus for UNISON of decisions about which powers to devolve and which to leave at UK level is social change and the creation of a more equal society.
Lilian Macer, Convener of UNISON Scotland said: “Our union hasn’t made a decision about which option to back in the referendum - but we are intent on putting public services and the people who provide them at the centre of the debate.”
In common with much of the trade union movement, UNISON has not as yet taken a stance on the referendum itself. Instead the union has challenged all parties to the debate to explain how their preferred option will match UNISON’s priorities laid out in the previously published document ‘A Fairer Scotland’.
Today’s publication marks a development of longstanding UNISON principles in relation to devolving power to the lowest practical level, and includes devolution below the Scottish Parliament, with a stronger statutory footing for local authorities.
Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Secretary said: “We have always been strong supporters of devolution - and supporters of strong devolution. As political campaigns and parties are discussing more powers for the Parliament we want to make sure we are part of this debate.
“Our concern isn’t with constitutional mechanics. Our aim is to create a fairer and more equal Scotland. The referendum debate so far has focused on fiscal matters. These fresh new powers which we are calling for should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and used – along with the many existing powers it already has –  to improve the lives of working people.”  

Monklands Hospital Visits

In 2013 we'll be out with an information stall at Monklands Hospital , at the Choices restaraunt, from 9.30 to 3.30 on the 2nd Tuesday of every month .

So come along and see what UNISON has to offer  and make the most of your membership - it's not just about representation at work !

We have deals and links with many partner organisations offering everything from discounted car and house insurance to a free will !

Monday, 25 February 2013

Surge in members At Auchlochan(MHA)

Delighted to say we've doubled our membership in Auchlochan and we plan to be doing more visits over the rest of 2013 , so look out for our adverts and come along and say hello , pick up some freebies and get the most out of your UNISON membership.

If you know a colleague who's not a member please speak to them and ask then to join and together we can have areal influence over your employer.

We're also happy to announce that Stephen Kirk a registered nurse at Auchlochan has stepped up to be a Local Workplace steward , please give him every support and we will do likewise.


 We will be visiting Wishaw the 1st Tuesday of every month in 2013 so come and see us at the  Restaraunt  between 9.30 and 4pm  , we'll also be doing a walkabout so if you see us -look ou for the Purple Polo Shirts say hello .

If you need to speak to us sooner or need our help please get in touch as soon as you can- contact details are this website


UNISON Scotland welcomed the decision of the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing to pay the PVG (Protection of Vulnerable Groups) registration fee of £59 for all relevant staff in NHS Scotland. 
Following representation by UNISON, Health Secretary Alex Neil has written to the committee which administers terms and conditions for Scottish NHS staff (STAC) to ask them to ‘put in place a system where NHS employers will pay the PVG registration for all staff’ who need it to work with children and vulnerable people. 
“We welcome Alex Neil’s decision to listen to UNISON’s arguments on behalf of NHS staff and to agree that the NHS will meet this new £59 registration fee. 
“Many staff in the NHS already pay their own personal registration fee - for example nurses who pay £100 per year to the Nursing & Midwifery Council. At a time of increased pension costs to health staff and years of real terms pay cuts, this is a small but welcome victory” 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Sickness absence response

“The welfare of workers must be paramount and central to any decisions about their fitness to work or to return to work”, said UNISON today, commenting on the Government’s response to the Black/Frost report on sickness absence.

The union hit back at suggestions that sickness absence management in the public sector needed strengthening, saying that they were in-line with sickness levels across the country.

The report will need to be examined in detail said UNISON, but Karen Jennings, UNISON Assistant General Secretary went on to say:

“We welcome the recognition that there is currently little support for both employees or employers on the early stages of sickness absence. 

“However, the proposed advice service to assess workers is problematic. Foremost is how this service is to be procured and on what basis? 

We would be opposed to any target driven service that would put pressure on people to get back to work quickly rather than when they were fit enough to return.

“UNISON refutes suggestions implicit in the response that the public sector needs to be singled out for special measures. There is no evidence that sickness levels are higher amongst public sector workers, when other factors are taken into account. Within the public sector, healthcare workers have to be mindful of vulnerable patients and service users, violence affects thousands every year, working face to face with the public leaves workers themselves vulnerable and many live and work in deprived areas and experience poorer health.”

The union called for time to examine the response in detail but criticised the proposal to do away with the requirement to keep sick pay records calling it a step backward in managing sickness absence. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Bleak 2013 for families warns UNISON

UNISON, the UK’s largest union, is warning that after a hard year, families face a bleak 2013 across the UK as they struggle to cope with the on-going recession.

The union’s welfare fund has seen a massive rise in the number of applications for grants in 2012 that fund basic essentials such as school uniforms and heating bills. Applications for help with heating bills went up by a massive 388%, and calls for help with the cost of school uniforms by more than a quarter. In the past year, the charity has paid out more than £750,000 - a rise of 11% on the previous year.

Union organisers are increasingly reporting that public sector workers are being forced to rely on food banks to feed their families. The Trussell Trust, which runs the UK’s largest network of food banks, estimates that the number of people turning to them for help has risen by 100% in the past year.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:

“It’s not just the unemployed who are struggling; the number of working people in poverty is on the rise in Tory Britain. The Coalition Government is hitting working families and it is hitting them hard.

“Our welfare fund used to pay for wellbeing breaks, but the recession means that holidays are a thing of the past for low paid families. What people need now is help with the basics of life, such as food and fuel.

“Parents say they dread the bill for school uniforms when the new school year begins – in some cases the cost runs to hundreds of pounds and they just can’t afford it.

“It is heartbreaking to read their applications where they spell out the struggles they face and how difficult things have become. The stress of the struggle to make ends meet is making many sick, they’ve lost working tax credits and it has pushed them over the edge. Some can’t even afford the weekly shop and have to rely on their family for help with groceries.

“The government needs to get real about the depth of the crisis. Until consumer spending picks up, our economy won’t grow and until people have money in their pockets and jobs they can rely on, they won’t spend.

“The Government urgently needs a plan for growth and jobs in 2013 – not simply to be ploughing ahead regardless with an economic plan that is not working.”

The union is calling on the government to help families in the New Year by ending the public sector pay freeze which has hit millions of workers for two years, and local government workers for three. A new plan to fuel growth and long term employment is urgently needed to get the UK back on the road to recovery said the union.

UNISON’s school uniforms grant

The number of applications to UNISON’s school uniforms grant scheme jumped by more than a quarter (27%) last year. This year, more than £30,000 was paid out to nearly 450 UNISON members who earn less than £18,000 and are struggling with the cost of their children’s school uniforms.

60% of those who applied said they faced a bill between £100 - £300 for their child’s school uniform.

76% said there was no other help available towards the cost.

71% were worried that their children would be disciplined because they do not have the right uniform.

73% said it was quite or very difficult to meet the cost of their child’s school uniform.

71% say they have to turn to their family as a result of rising living costs.

UNISON’s winter fuel allowance scheme

771 people have applied for help with their heating bills this year, compared to 158 people in 2011 – an increase of 388%.

Food Banks

According to the Trussell Trust, 128,687 people used food banks in 2011/2012, an increase of 100% on the last year.

MPs need to "get real" on pay demands

At a time when millions of workers are getting zero pay rises, the idea that MPs believe they deserve a 32% increase is “living in cloud cuckoo land” said UNISON chief, Dave Prentis today (10 January).

“MPs should get real about pay, this shows they are totally out of touch with working people. How can they think that they deserve a 32% increase when the rest of the country is being told to tighten their belts?

“Across the country public sector workers such as teaching assistants, school dinner ladies, nurses, paramedics and care workers are struggling because they have had their pay frozen for years. It would be good to hear them backing calls for a decent rise for these workers – instead of thinking about themselves.

“And what about those on benefits will get just a 1% increase – a real terms cut in the face of higher inflation?

“No wonder this research is anonymous, it shows real contempt for the plight of families across the country struggling to make ends meet.”

Nominations open for NEC elections

 Elections will be held this year for all seats on the national executive council (NEC).

UNISON's most senior lay body, the NEC consists of members from all regions and service groups. It decides on issues and campaigns between conferences, and works with UNISON staff to support members.

NEC members also represent UNISON and its membership to the wider world.

At least two thirds of the seats are held by women and 13 seats are reserved for low-paid women.

The nomination period for the 2013 NEC election opens on Wednesday 9 January and closes at 5pm on Friday 22 February. The results will be published on 10 June.

The election procedures and forms can be downloaded from the NEC elections page, Link to another page on this sitehere.

Further guidance for members, prospective candidates and nominating bodies is also available Link to another page on this sitehere.

For any other election enquiries, contact the member liaison unit at UNISON centre. Telephone 020 7121 5312, email elections@unison.co.uk.

Pension reform: £144 still well below poverty line

UNISON warned today that many workers will still face poverty in retirement, despite the government’s claims that its proposed overhaul of the state pension system will improve pensions.

Millions of workers will also be clobbered with higher national insurance payments under the plans.

As the government today issues its long-awaited white paper on state pension reform, UNISON said that radical action was needed to halt the decline in pension provision in the UK, which stands to leave many people in financial misery in retirement.

Many employers that sponsor defined benefit pension schemes are facing an increase in national insurance contributions – which from April 2017 could be as high as 3.4%. The union said it feared this would have a knock-on effect that passed cuts onto employees, including the low paid.

Commenting on the paper, Karen Jennings, UNISON assistant general secretary said:
“These changes are being lauded as a good deal for pensioners, but it is worth remembering that £144 is still well below the poverty line, and more will need to be done to prevent workers finding themselves desperately poor in retirement.

“Who will be worse or better off following these changes will depend on salary growth, which remains stagnant for many workers, including millions in the public sector, and inflation, which continues to eat at the income of low earners.

“What is clear is that the real winner is likely to be the Treasury, who will receive a national insurance boost from pension scheme members and employers. This windfall must go back to employers otherwise there is a real risk that many will look to dumb down their current pension offerings even further.

“The government must not hide behind this as a ‘good news story’: It is their duty to guarantee that workers – and in particular the lowest paid – are not left worse off as a result of these proposals either now, or in their retirement.”

While the union welcomed the intention to simplify the confusing existing pensions system, it said it would be looking at the implications of the proposals in the white paper in detail, and would respond to the consultation in full.

The new flat-rate is designed to combine the basic state pension with the second state pension. The union pointed out that this will not affect those who already receive, or will begin receiving their state pension before the next Parliament.