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Communications Index | Press releases | Scotland inUNISON | Campaigns

Press Release Archive 2000

27 December 2000

UNISON and Archdiocese sign recognition agreement

Scotland's largest public service union, UNISON, has signed a recognition agreement with the Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow's Social Care sector, the union announced yesterday. The union will be the only one recognised to represent staff working for the Archdiocese's social care projects.

John Lyons, UNISON Regional Officer said

"We are pleased that this agreement confirms UNISON's position as the union for staff working in the voluntary sector in Scotland. We want to now encourage staff working for these projects to join us and take full advantage of the protection and services UNISON offers. The Archdiocese of Glasgow is to be congratulated in recognising the needs of their workforce and agreeing they should have proper trade union representation."

The Archdiocese of Glasgow runs care projects in the fields of Drug Rehabilitation, Learning Disability, Respite Care, Residential Care, Young Homeless and Mental Health throughout the West of Scotland, employing around 650 staff.

ENDS

Index

26 December 2000

Housing Bill - 'back to the bad old days'

Scotland's largest public service union, UNISON, today (26 December) attacked the Scottish Executive's Housing Bill as a flawed attempt to deal with Scotland's serious housing problems.

Mike Kirby UNISON's Scottish Convenor said

"The problem is that the Bill is based on the Executive's policy of Mass Stock Transfer although it doesn't , deal specifically with that item. This means that it is the 'ghost at the feast' continually contradicting some of the Bill's otherwise laudable proposals.

"On homelessness for example, the strategic responsibility for homelessness is to be with local councils, but those that have given away all their houses will have to set up complex contracts with housing associations and others to deliver their aims.

"Far from providing 'new solutions to old problems' as the minister says, in parts of Scotland Whole Stock Transfer will deliver us back to the bad old days before council housing. Reducing the choice of tenure, increasing social exclusion and increasing the cost of housing and therefore rents."

UNISON who are the main union for Scotland's housing workers, and who have members in all the public housing sectors, are to continue their campaign of opposition to Whole Stock Transfer as proposed in a number of Scottish Councils.

Mike Kirby says the 'flagship' stock transfer scheme in Glasgow is struggling.

"Despite the concentrated propaganda effort being thrown at tenants by the Glasgow Housing Association it is still the case that most Glasgow tenants want to stay with the council. That is the reason why the tenants ballot has been put off yet again. The GHA will now spend even more public money on one-sided propaganda - money that could be being used to refurbish Scotland's houses."

ENDS

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For Information and Use Tuesday 19 December 2000
All we want for Xmas is to be brought in-house

The South Glasgow Hospitals Branch of UNISON, the public service union, will be joined by Santa Claus tomorrow (20 December) to deliver over 1,000 cards calling for ALL support service staff in the NHS Trust returned to direct NHS employment. Currently those at the Victoria Infirmary are employed by private contractor Sodexho.

Santa will be delivering these cards to a meeting of the Trust Board which is meeting at the Management Offices, Southern General Hospital on Wednesday 20 December 2000 (The Management Offices are on the left as you enter the Hospital site from Govan Road). Santa will be there from 09.45am.

UNISON Branch Secretary, Robert Rae said:
"UNISON does not believe that patient care will be best served by retaining the services of Sodexho. In only two weeks we have gathered over 1,000 supporters. UNISON is calling on the South Glasgow Hospitals NHS Trust to end the contract at the first available opportunity - 6th January 2001, returning staff from the hands of private profiteers into the NHS family where they belong! Sodexho's only interest is profits, NOT patients or staff!"

Support services at the Victoria were privatised 5 years ago by the former Victoria Infirmary NHS Trust.
ENDS

[Note to Editors and Picture Desks: There will be a photograph opportunity available from 09.45am on
the day. )

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Robert Rae (Branch Secretary) Branch office: 0141-201-1298 Mobile: 07946 597834

Index | Health Service Pages

18 December 2000

UNISON condemns derisory nurses' pay increase

Scotland's largest health service union, UNISON, today condemned the government's 3.7% increase for nurses, midwives and health visitors.

"This pay increase will not resolve low pay amongst the nursing profession,” said Bridget Hunter, UNISONScotland's Lead Officer for Nurses.

"The average wage for a skilled worker in Scotland is £21,000. Even after this increase a qualified nurse, educated to degree level and working in a Coronary Care Unit will earn £100 a week less than the average wage of a skilled worker. There are already 16,000 nurses registered with the UKCC living here in Scotland who don't work in the public, private or voluntary sector. These are individual nurses who have been lost to the profession. They will not be enticed back with this rise.”

ENDS

Index | Health Service Pages

13 December 2000

Santa to deliver to strike-hit school

In a gesture of good will to all, UNISON, the public service union involved in a bitter industrial dispute over council workers' pay, has arranged for Santa Claus to visit the students of strike-hit Douglas Academy, in ,Milngavie, to give out presents.

The union has recognised that the students, whose education has been disrupted by the six-week long strike of school support staff, deserve some pleasureable news for a change.

"The young people of Douglas Academy have been indirectly affected by the local government pay dispute." said Jim Burnett, UNISON's East Dunbartonshire Branch Secretary "Whilst the intransigence of CoSLA has prolonged this dispute, this is a genuine attempt to start to re-establish good relationships between the union and the school students."

Santa and some of his elves will be outside Douglas Academy school gates between 08.30 and 09.15 on Wednesday 13 December.

Santa will also be bringing support from his own workers at the North Pole for the industrial action, and for a decent pay rise for the low paid. He will be available for interview and photographs.

ENDS
[ Note to Editors and Picture Desks: Santa will be UNISON steward Joe Connelly, and his elves will be other UNISON activists. The event is a genuine attempt to foster goodwill between staff and the students, as both have been under pressure due to the dispute.

  • UNISONScotland is Scotland's largest local government trade union with around 800,000 members, approximately two thirds of whom are women. They have been in dispute with CoSLA for nearly 4 months over the annual pay offer. They currently have around 1300 members out on indefinite strike action across Scotland.

    For Further Information Please Contact:
  • Jim Burnett, (UNISON East Dunbartonshire Branch Secretary) 07779 327 398(m)
  • Robert McComb(UNISON East Dunbartonshire Publicity Officer)07951 229 035m)
  • Chris Bartter (UNISON Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index | Pay Campaign pages

7 December 2000

Local government pay dispute window of opportunity

UNISON's National Disputes Committeemeeting in London earlier today decided to defer a decision to escalate its programme of industrial action in local government in Scotland to allow talks on the current dispute to proceed.

After an approach by the employers to UNISON directly, the union has agreed to take advantage of this window of opportunity and will not escalate the dispute at the present time.

In making their decision, the Committee recognised the employers' position both with regard to inflatioon-proofing the current offer and a guarantee of inflation-plus pay awards in future years. The employers have also said that negotiations could be weighted towards the lower paid - an objective which UNISON has been fighting for for many years.

UNISON's National Disputes Committee expressed strong support for the current industrial action and the continuing fight by members in Scotland to reach a successful conclusion to the dispute.

The committee will meet again in early January to review the situation and will look positively at the call for escalation should talks break down.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary, called upon CoSLA to re-open negotiations immediately.

"The ball is now clearly with the Employers' Side. We have decided not to further escalate the dispute at this time. This gives the opportunity for negotiations to begin. I have written today to Pat Watters, the Employers' Side leading negotiator, calling for urgent talks. We are long past time for a settlement".

ENDS

Further Information
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary 0141 332 0006
Joe Di Paola, Scottish Organiser Local Govt 0131 226 2662
Chris Bartter, Communications Officer 0141 332 0006

Index

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4 December 2000

All we want for Xmas is to be brought in-house

The South Glasgow Hospitals Branch of UNISON - the public service union will be demonstrating Monday 4 Decenber from 12 noon outside the Victoria Infirmary, Grange Road end.

The demonstration is part of UNISON's campaign to have ALL support service staff returned to direct NHS employment. Currently those at the Victoria Infirmary are employed by private contractor Sodexho.

At the demonstration UNISON Branch Secretary, Robert Rae said:

"UNISON does not believe that patient care will be best served by retaining the services of Sodexho. UNISON is calling on the South Glasgow Hospitals NHS Trust to end the contract at the first available opportunity - 6th January 2001, returning staff from the hands of private profiteers into the NHS family where they belong! Sodexho's only interest is profits, NOT patients or staff!"

Support services at the Victoria were privatised 5 years ago by the former Victoria Infirmary NHS Trust.

UNISON members at the lunch time demonstration, will be distributing leaflets and postcards for staff, patients and the public to sign and post to the Trust Chief Executive, Robert Calderwood.

[Note to Editors and Picture Desks: There will be a photograph opportunity available from 12.15 on the day.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Robert Rae (Branch Secretary) Branch office: 0141-201-1298

Index

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Date: 4 December 2000

University staff rally to demand justice from employers

Around 30,000 University staff across Scotland will be taking part in action tomorrow that launches a campaign against low pay and overwork in Higher Education. Four rallies in the main cities at lunchtime on Tuesday 5 December will signal a revolt against the university vice-chancellors' refusal to implement the recommendations of the Bett Committee of Inquiry on pay and conditions for staff.

The rallies have been organised by unions incuding teaching unions the AUT and EIS, support staff unions UNISON, MSF and TGWU, and the National Union of Students
Carol Judge, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for further and Higher Education said:

"Staff and students are incensed by the employers refusal to modernise conditions, pay realistic wages and attempts to destroy national bargaining. Pay is low across the sector both for support staff and lecturers; and workloads have increased by 90% of an increase of staff numbers by 25%.

"An independent inquiry (the Bett Inquiry) recognised this; the Government recognised it and has allocated an extra £100 million for Scotland over the next 3 years. The only people who have ignored the recommendations have been the employers who want to continue the exploitation. It is now time for justice”.

David Bleiman,, Assistant General Secretary of the AUT(S) said

"Unions- across Scotland and across the UK- are united in tomorrow's day of action. For the first time in many years, there are now real increases in university funding. But it is scandalous that the employers refuse to reverse a decade of decline in staff pay and working conditions. They are trying to impose 3% on all staff groups. They have imposed on their staff for far too long. Tomorrow will show that university workers are fed up with their impositions. It is time for them to sit down with the unions and negotiate. "

The rallies - listed below - are the first steps in a campaign of action short of strike action (overtime bans, working to rule, withholding exam results etc). This is the first time that action has been co-ordinated across all the unions in the sector.
ENDS.

UNIVERSITY RALLIES - 5 December

Aberdeen
The Debater Marischal College Aberdeen 1.15 pm David Bleiman, AUT Asst Gen Secretary
STUC Vice President Tommy Campbell,
TGWU Gill Thackray, UNISON

Dundee
University of Dundee Bonar Hall DUNDEE 1.00 pm Fiona Farmer, MSF Regional Officer
Namasiku Liandu, AUT(S) Officer
NUS Speaker

Edinburgh
Godfrey Thomson Hall, Holyrood Campus University of Edinburgh - 12 noon
Liz Elkind - EIS/ULA President STUC President
Mandy Telford - NUS Scottish President
UNISON
Tom McDonnell (Aut (S) President
Howard Wollman EIS - Chair

Glasgow
Glasgow Film Theatre - Rose Street Glasgow - 1.00pm Tommy Sheridan MSP
Bill Stewart AUT (Scotland) President
Carol Judge UNISON Scottish Organiser
Nick McKerrell (EIS/ULA)
Chair Joanne Robertson - Strathclyde SRC President

Index

2 December 2000

Bickerstaffe backs local government strikers

UNISON General Secretary, Rodney Bickerstaffe, gave his support to UNISON members in dispute with local government employers in a speech to UNISON's Scottish Council today (Sat 2 December). In Glasgow on a final visit before he retires at the end of the year, he also backed the union's higher education members who are to take part in a day of action on Tuesday 5 December in a dispute with university employers

" It is very worrying," He said, "that Scottish councils think so little of their staff, and the services they provide, that they have failed to negotiate a fair resolution to this damaging dispute. This, and the attempt by our higher education members to get the adoption of the principles already proposed by the independent Bett committee of inquiry, shows that employers need to seriously revise their attitudes to partnership. Simply ignoring the worrie and frustrations of their staff will not work."

UNISON's local government members are currently five months into a pay dispute with Scottish councils. They have already had three days of all out strike and around 1300 members are on indefinite strike in 27 out of the 32 Scottish Councils.Higher education staff are due to take part in a day of action on campuses throughout the UK, arguing for increased pay, new negotiating arrangements, and the elimination of student hardship and debt.

Mr Bickerstaffe, went on the launch the unions "Positively Public" campaign in Scotland, with a manifesto for public services in the UK. "This campaign will run up to the General Election and beyond," He said "We are looking for the Chancellor to use fair taxes to address the problems of Britain's public services. It is time to be up front, and recognise that if you want high quality public services you have to pay for them."

ENDS

Index

FOR Information and use 1 December 2000

Campaign for increased public funds to be part of UNISON's General Election strategy

Bickerstaffe still 'Positively Public'

UNISON General Secretary, Rodney Bickerstaffe, visited Glasgow to say farewell to UNISON members in Scotland.

On Saturday 2 December 2000, The General Secretary of Scotland's (and the UK's) largest union addressed the union's Scottish Council, in the Moir Hall in Granville Street, Glasgow in a final visit before he retires at the end of the year. His position as UNISON's General Secretary will be taken over by Dave Prentis in the New Year.

He gave his support to UNISON's local government and higher education workers, who are both engaged in action in pay disputes. He also argued for Chancellor Gordon Brown to spend taxpayers money on directly provided public services, not waste it on expensive PFI and privatisation schemes. This will form one of the main planks of the union's multi-million pound 'Positively Public' campaign which will run up to the next General Election.

ENDS

Index

27 November 2000

Labour's day of shame, claim UNISON, as over 300 staff are privatised at PFI hospital

Over 300 NHS staff are today being privatised as a result of the new Private Finance Initiative hospital being built at Wishaw. According to the Health Service union UNISON this Labour Administration will privatise more National Health Service workers' jobs in Scotland over the next 7 months than the Tories privatised in their last 7 years.

"This is a day of shame for the Labour Party in Scotland", said Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser of Health for UNISON. "Over 300 domestic, portering and catering staff are today being privatised by the Government in order to make profit for bankers. Many of these staff have worked for the National Health Service for 10, 15 and 20 years. The priority of private contractors is to make profit out of ill health and patient care is a secondary consider- ation. These staff did not choose to work in this environment."

"Not only will the staff lose ou,t but patients will lose out. When one includes the closure of Stonehouse Hospital nearly 130 acute beds will be cut in Lanarkshire as a result of this PFI project. Nursing numbers have been reduced and the skill mix changed."

"If one includes the NHS staff who will be privatised in Edinburgh in a few months time more NHS workers will be privatised in the next 7 months here in Scotland than were privatised in the last 7 years of the Tory government when they were in power. This is Labour's Day of Shame".

ENDS

Further Information

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary matt.smith@unison.co.uk
Chris BartterCampbell Street, Communications Officer c.bartter@unison.co.uk Tel 0141-332 0006.

Index

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23 November 2000

Turning the tide on hospital infection rates - Invest in professional cleaning services, says UNISON

At any one time approximately one in ten patients in hospital have a hospital acquired infection and an unquantified number of patients in the community have an infection related to their recent hospital admission. A recent House of Commons report estimated that the problem causes up to 5000 deaths every year and costs the NHS an estimated #1 billion. However, infection control experts believe that 15-30% of these incidents are preventable if high levels of cleanliness are adopted.

Against this background, managers and infection control professionals are increasingly recognising the key role of hospital cleaning staff in the battle to stop soaring levels of hospital acquired infection and combating the new breed of "super bugs" such as Methincillian Resistant Staphloccus Areus (MRSA), Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus (VRE), Staphylococcus Aureus (VISA).

"UNISON maintains that for too long Britain's 100,000 hospital cleaners have been undervalued. Since the introduction of contracting out of cleaning services in 1984 cleaning standards in our hospitals have been systematically forced down in the drive towards greater cost cutting. Without the dedication, skills, commitment and professionalism of our hospital cleaners in attempting to provide a hygienic environment the work of doctors and nurses would become increasingly futile.

The influential World Health Organisation now recognises the key role of cleaners in the world-wide crusade to combat hospital acquired infection. Nurses working in the wards must be able to get on with the job of caring for patients without having to revert to the practice of the past of nursing being inundated with non-nursing duties. The Government and hospital managers need to urgently re-evaluate and recognise the crucial role of hospital cleaners as front-line troops in the war against cross infection. We must end the years of neglect and invest in training and development through NVQs for the newly emerging professional breed of hospital cleaners with access to a comparable pay and conditions package.

100,000 hospital cleaning staff are keen and willing to take on the challenge. The House of Commons report exposes just how critical this issue is to the future of our NHS. There are two decades of neglect to make up - we have no time to lose". says Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for Health.

ENDS

Further Information

Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser (Health) 0141-332-0006 (W) or 07693-533362 (pager).
Chris Bartter, Communications Officer, 0141 332 0006

Index

17 NOVEMBER 2000


UNISON RESPONDS TO COSLA'S IMPOSITION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT PAY AWARD

LOCAL GOVERNMENT STRIKE ACTION TO BE ESCALATED NEXT WEEK

UNISON has responded with concern to the announcement by COSLA that it is to impose a pay award on local government staff. Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, said,

"COSLA's decision is very unhelpful and runs the risk of prolonging rather than shortening this dispute.

"However, we have made clear from the beginning that we would enter into negotiations with COSLA at any time. And we have already indicated to ACAS our willingness for them to act as conciliators. This dispute will only be resolved through negotiation. UNISON still has an outstanding pay claim for 2000/2001 which has yet to be concluded.

"We cannot accept this unilateral action by COSLA as the end of the matter and our plans to escalate strike action next week remain unchanged.”

ENDS

Index

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Date: 16 November 2000

Strike escalation adds to councils' problems

As around 70,000 UNISON members struck for the third day of action in four months, Scotland's largest local government union announced that - as there had been no movement from CoSLA - they would be starting a further series of selective industrial action from Thursday November 23. This would mean bringing out on indefinite strike a new wave of key workers, adding to the day-to-day problems of running Scotland's Councils.

In addition services were closed or severely disrupted across Scotland as UNISON members stayed away. Council Offices, housing and social work services, libraries and museums, public health and cleansing services were affected. Schools in some areas were either shut or had limited classes, and strikers attended rallies in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Falkirk and Glasgow. Emergency Services and 'Life and limb' cover was maintained, except where councils had deliberately provoked the union by bringing in private firms to break the strike of the selective strikers. Dougie Black, Chair of UNISON's Trade Union side, said

" It is almost unbelievable that Scotland's Councils seem more intent in deliberately provoking their staff to escalate their action than in pressurising their own side to resolve their problems. We know that the selective strikes are causing major problems for councils, and yet they allow their negotiators to prolong the agony."

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government said
"The success of today's action shows that UNISON members are as committed as ever to the fight for a fair pay deal in 2000. They have also shown that they will not allow their colleagues on indefinite strike action to be victimised and picked off. Unfortunately, instead of pressurising CoSLA to deal with the problems of low pay, Scottish Councils' appear to think that attacking their own staff will resolve their problems. It will not resolve anything.
"As we have had no movement from CoSLA, and only threats from councils, we have to respond by adding further groups to the indefinite strike action."

The groups, who are listed overleaf, add a further 700+ staff on indefinite strike, doubling the 600+ who started their strike on 1 November. It will also affect an additional seven councils, bringing the total number affected to 26 (from a total of 32).

ENDS

Note to Editors: The lists of NEW groups of staff called out on indefinite action is listed overleaf. They are listed by council, and are in addition to those announced on 1 November 2000, who also remain on strike.
P2 New Selective Strike Action - UNISON pay dispute

Aberdeen City Council: Collections Team - Revenues Section/Finance Department
Angus Council: Non Domestic Rates & Incomes/Supervisors (Recovery)/Machine Room
Argyll & Bute Council: Janitorial Employees
City of Edinburgh Council: Telecommunications Exchange
Clackmannanshire Council: Community Access Points
Dundee City Council: Support Services/Finance Revenues/Information Technology/
Lawside Academy
East Dunbartonshire Council: IT Helpdesk
East Renfrewshire Council: School Janitors/Hallkeepers/Call Centre/Barrhead Sports Centre/
Neilston Leisure Centre/ Eastwood Recreation Centre
Falkirk Council: Neighbourhood Officers/Central Allocations Officers
Fife Council: Finance - Council Tax Recovery/Council Service Officers & Assistants
Highland Council: Corran Ferry/Inverness Service Point/Cash Collection - Service Point (Church Street)/Cash Staff - Headquarters
Inverclyde Council: Housing Benefits/Committee Clerks
Midlothian Council: Revenues/Housing
Moray Council: Environmental (Cleansing)
North Ayrshire Council: Finance Section/Creditors
Perth & Kinross Council: IT
Renfrewshire Council: Housing Neighbourhood offices-clerical staff/Committee Clerks Members' Services
South Ayrshire Council: Council Officers/Civic Officers
South Lanarkshire Council: Housing/Tech Resources (Debtors Section)
West Lothian Council: Members Services/IT Services/Creditors/Admin & Legal Staff/Revenues

Index

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Embargo: FOR INFORMATION AND USE Date: 15 November 2000

Third Day of Action as UNISON backs indefinite strikers

Around 70,000 UNISON local government members will strike tomorrow (Thursday) as their employers refuse to negotiate further on an offer of 3% for this year. Despite increased provocation by some reckless councils emergency cover and life and limb services are still being exempted from the action.

But serious disruption will take place in council services like schools (in some areas), housing, leisure services, public health, social work, and other public services (even ferries in some areas). The action is designed to back up the indefinite strike action being taken by key workers who are members of UNISON - the largest local government union - in 19 of Scotland's 32 authorities to increase pressure on local councils to improve the pay offer.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for local government, said

"The increasing recklessness of councils who are trying to use strong arm tactics, is only serving to reinforce support for tomorrow. We need to demonstrate to councils and to the striking members themselves that we are ready to fully support them should that become necessary. Unfortunately in order to do that we will affect public services. We are sorry about that, but think that the Scottish people understand that we need properly paid public sector workers to deliver quality public services."

There will be Rallies throughout the country as follows.
Aberdeen: The Factory (Student Union), Gallowgate Aberdeen 13.00hrs
Edinburgh: Odeon Cinema, Clerk Street, Edinburgh 12 noon
Falkirk: Bandstand, Falkirk High Street 13.00 hrs
Glasgow: Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow 13.15 hrs

ENDS

Index

10 November 2000

Council draws back on suspensions

The City of Edinburgh Council has drawn back from forcing more local government staff out on strike to join the 76 UNISON members already out in the city since 1 November.

Five staff in the Council's City Development Department were about to be instructed to cover the work of exisiting strikers who normally deal with planning applications. If they refused and were to be sent home without pay. Now the Council has postponed a decision until Monday 13 November.

"We would have had no alternative but to bring these members out on strike", said John Stevenson, UNISON Edinburgh Branch spokesperson. "Now we are urging the Council to make a clear decision and not leave our members worrying over the weekend".

"This gives the lies to the Council's claim that the strike is having no effect. Clearly it is biting hard if it is forcing the Council into considering such desperate action.

"All it would succeed in doing is creating more disruption. If members are to be pressurised in this way in one area, it is bound to affect the volunteers we send in to cover emergencies in other areas", he added.

John Mulgrew, UNISON Edinburgh service conditions co-ordinator warned,

"The Council will get nowhere with these macho tactics, particularly evident in this Department for some time. It would only further escalate the disruption. We call on the Council again to use its influence on CoSLA to get down to serious talks to resolve this dispute. Our pay rise was due last April and the Councils have draggd their feet since, creating enormous ill-feeling amongst staff, and unnecessary disruption.

ENDS

Further information:

John Stevenson 07880 563 178, 0131 220 5655
John Mulgrew 0131 220 5655

Index

 

 

Not For Release before 12.30 pm Friday 10 November Date: 9 November 2000

Taking their Hats off to those on strike

In the midst of a bitter dispute over the pay of local council workers, strikers can still find time to help a deserving cause.

At Renfrewshire Council a council-sponsored "Wear-a-hat-to-work Day" is to be supported with gusto by the local UNISON Branch. Council workers will be wearing hats like UNISON sponsored baseball caps with "Fair Pay not Low Pay" or bowler hats covered with "Fair pay not favours" stickers. They will, of course be donating the appropriate amount to the two local hospices that are to be the beneficiaries of the charitable action.

Willie Duffy, UNISON's Regional Officer said,

"UNISON members wouldn't want to see a good cause suffering. UNISON has therefore come up with this method of supporting the activity whilst making it clear to our employers they need to tell their CoSLA colleagues that they need to settle this dispute with UNISON. "

Also wearing the hats, although unable to wear them to work, will be representatives of the striking UNISON members.

There will be a photocall of the UNISON members with their hats outside the UNISON Branch Office at Renfrewshire Council HQ South, Cotton Street, Paisley PA1 1WW, at 12. 30pm on Friday 10 November 2000. Present will be representatives of the striking staff and Branch Officers. You are invited to send a photographer and a reporter. Please check with UNISON Branch Office 0141-842 5559 for any late arrangements.
ENDS

[ Note: UNISONScotland is Scotland's largest local government trade union with around 800,000 members, approximately two thirds of whom are women. They have been in dispute with CoSLA for nearly 4 months over the annual pay offer. They currently have over 600 members performing key jobs, out on indefinite strike action ands this will be backed up by a third one day strike on November 16]

Index

 

Date: 1 November 2000

Selective strikes start in local council pay dispute

Over 600 key local government staff across nineteen Scottish local councils begin indefinite strike as the first wave of the action today (Wednesday 1 November), as the pay dispute between UNISON and Scottish Councils goes into its fourth month. The action by members of UNISON, the main local government union is designed to disrupt the work of councils and persuade them to put pressure on the leadership of CoSLA to improve the 3% offer for 2000 that was rejected by council staff.

The action, by staff such as IT staff, cash collection and other finance staff, security staff, court staff, mailroom staff, committee administration staff, drivers and refuse collection staff and others, is aimed primarily at the day-to-day running and financing of councils, whilst sparing many front-line public services. However there will still be some service disruption, particularly of high profile services, or as a knock-on from the disruptive action.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government said

"Whilst we are attempting to target this action on the people who are responsible for the problem, the nature of our members work in serving the public means that we are bound to have an effect on services. We can only apologise to the public for this and ask them to continue their support for a fair rise for Scotland's local council workers."

This new move in the dispute comes after UNISON members rejected the new offer from CoSLA by 68% to 32%.
Joe Di Paola says that this shows

"Staff know that the new offer involved no new money, did nothing for the lower paid and locked them into a two-year deal. That's why they are angry about the way they are being treated. We call upon Scottish Councils to get their CoSLA representatives back round the negotiating table. Scottish local government staff deserve a fair pay rise."
ENDS

NOTE for Editors A list of the councils affected in the first wave of selective action is attached. A wide range of staff has been called out on indefinite action - different groups being targeted in each authority.

Aberdeen City
Conveyancing; IT Helpdesk (Finance and IT Dept), Rent Collection
Aberdeenshire
Consumer Protection
Argyll & Bute
Information Technology
City of Edinburgh
Admin staff - Planning Applics;
Cash Collection staff - Finance Dept;
Plan stores/front Counter - Property mgt;
Corporate Secretarial servs - City Devpt;
Security Staff - Chesser House;
Building Support - City Chambers;
Admin staff - District Court;
Licensing Sect - Legal Services;
Building Support Staff - Council HQ
City of Glasgow
Court Section; Court Assessors/Solicitors;
Committee Clerks
Clackmannanshire
Forthbank Disposal Site
Dundee City
Leisure and Parks - Purchasing;
Leisure and Parks - Booking Off.
East Dunbartonshire
Caretakers/Council Officers - HQ;
Telephonists/Receptionists - HQ;
Mailroom staff; Houseparents - Eyre Hall;
Support staff - Douglas Academy;
Council Tax staff
East Lothian
Information Technology;
Refuse Collection
East Renfrewshire
Committee Services;
Admin - Environment Dept;
Members Services
Fife
Finance - non domestic rates;
IT Operations - call-centre back-up;
Call Mgt Centre and Enterprise Project;
IT mid-range systems support;
Finance - Cash and Banking;
Finance - Fraud Officers
Inverclyde
Council Tax section
Midlothian
Refuse Collection - Drivers;
Support staff - Members Services
North Lanarkshire
Finance Dept - Non Domestic Rates/debtors
Renfrewshire
Mail and Commissionaire staff HQ
South Ayrshire
Housing; Debt Recovery - Admin & Legal;
Leisure Attendants
South Lanarkshire
Car Park Attendants;
Treasury Mgt - finance;
Social Work - finance
West Dunbartonshire
Mailroom/Commissionaires;
Revenue section - Finance;
Committee Admin;
Rent Collection/Rent Arrears - Housing Dept;
Printing Dept;
Reception - Social Wk; Advice line - Soc Wk; Social Wk Housing Advice; IT - systems integration; IT - Desktop support; IT - Operations; Licensing Committee Admin.
Western Isles
IT support

Index

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UNISON's Scottish Affiliated Political Fund (APF) Committee backs Henry McLeish and Cathy Jamieson for Leader and Depute leader of the Scottish Labour Party

UNISON, Scotland's largest union and the largest affiliate to the Scottish Labour party, today (Monday) agreed to nominate Henry McLeish MSP and Cathy Jamieson MSP as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

The decision to nominate was made by the union's Scottish Affiliated Political Fund (APF) Committee and will now be put to the union's members who pay the Affiliated Political Fund (APF) in a full postal ballot.

Karie Murphy, Chair of UNISON's Scottish APF Committee said,

"We believe that Henry and Cathy would make an excellent team to lead Labour in the Scottish Parliament. Their election would signify in the strongest possible way the inclusive nature of the Party.”

ENDS

1. For further information please contact George McGregor 0976 754420 (m) or Karie Murphy on 0467 776 265

2. UNISON has two political funds. An affiliated political fund - affiliated to the Labour Party. And a general political fund - not affiliated to any political party. Unison members can choose to join either fund, neither or both.

Index

23 October 2000

UNISON action to escalate as 68% reject pay offer

UNISON members today rejected a revised pay offer from the local government employers and will now step up their action, UNISON announced today (23 October).

The new offer meant an increase of half a per cent on the previous one, with a further 3.1% promised for next year. UNISON suspended its industrial action to consult its members and today announced that its Scottish Local Government members had resoundingly rejected the offer. In the consultation exercise 23,423 (68% of those voting) voted to reject the offer and 11,212 (32%) voted to accept.
Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, said

"UNISON members are angry and frustrated. The new offer shows no evidence of new money being used, does nothing for the lower paid, and goes no way to compensate for previous below-inflation pay awards. The idea of being locked into a two year deal was also rejected as a hostage to fortune. We would hope that Scottish Councils will take note of the huge majority of their staff who have voted for rejection of this offer and will, even at this late stage, look at using some of the money they have for next year to give their staff a fair pay deal this year."

A meeting of UNISON's Scottish Local Government Branches today (Monday) agreed to resume the campaign of industrial action suspended to allow the consultation. Joe Di Paola said

"Our members have no alternative now, but to reinstate the action by calling out on indefinite strike small groups of key members, moving the disruption into the heart of Scottish Councils. This action will also be supplemented by a further one-day strike of all local government members."

The selective action will involve indefinite strikes by key groups of council staff like financial workers who collect debts for councils, legal and administrative workers, mail room and security staff, committee clerks, telephonists and computer staff, people whose absence will have a major impact on council running.

ENDS

Index

 

 

 11th October 2000

Deep sorrow at loss of Donald Dewar

Donald DewarMatt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said:

"UNISON Scotland today joins so many in expressing our deep sorrow at the untimely loss of our friend Donald Dewar.

"We worked closely together in the creation of our Scottish Parliament and without him the task would have been immensely more difficult. He converted the vision into reality. More than anyone else he made it happen.

"Scotland shared his joy last July when the Parliament was officially opened.

"On a personal note I had the privilege of knowing him as a friend and colleague over the years and I will miss him greatly. I am proud to have known him and have many happy memories of his company.

"He was human, decent, approachable and funny. But more than anything else he was passionately committed to a fairer, better Scotland.”

For further information contact George McGregor on 0141 332 0006 or Matt Smith on 07771 548997.

Index

 

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29 SEPTEMBER 2000

Implement the Sutherland Report in full UNISON urges MSPs

Scotland's largest public sector trade union, UNISON, has today urged MSPs to implement in full the Sutherland Report. Speaking in Glasgow, the Scottish Organiser for Health, Jim Devine, stated "UNISON agrees with the Government that the current system of financing long-term care is unfair and needs reforming. Today, the Scottish Parliament has a unique opportunity to make bold and imaginative proposals which can address the strong sense of injustice, fear and uncertainty which too many people in need of long-term care currently experience. Our submission to the Health Minister, Susan Deacon, reflect the principles which underpin UNISON's commitment to public funded services and are based on our members' direct experiences as the effect of current policies on patients, service users and carers.

"UNISON's policies are framed round one over-riding priority to ensure that high quality care, support and other services are available to everyone when they need it at whatever time in their lives. This requires publicly funded services which entitle people to the appropriate provision, wherever they live and whatever their social and economic circumstances. UNISON is also committed to the principle that all publicly funded community based services must be democratically accountable.

Patients and service users should have more say in the planning of services and the choice over what is provided. Government policy and long term care must also nurture the skills and commitment of those providing formal and informal care, as well as ensuring the dignity of both those providing and the receiving care and support.

We are also concerned about the effects of apparent perpetual organisational change on public services over the past twenty years. Any proposals for reform should minimise costs and disruption to the NHS, local government, service providers, users and patients. We want to see a fusion for all that is best on both sides of the health and social care divide, facilitating local partnerships and building on best practice. UNISON is also committed to both local government and the NHS continuing to be actively involved in the long term care of the elderly.

"The Government nationally has rejected the main recommendations of the Sutherland Commission, namely nursing and personal social care should be free (funded from general taxation) for older people in long term care. UNISON argue strongly that all such care should be free. By continuing to charge for personal social care, the Government is

(i) continually forcing older people and their families to fund their own social care, whereas healthcare is accepted as the responsibility of the community. This is means tested and although there are some financial improvements, problems of selling houses to pay for care will persist.

(ii) it perpetrates a division, which is very difficult to make in practice between nursing care and other personal social care ensuring continued debates over what each category of care consists of.

(iii) relying on the private sector to deliver personal insurance cover to fund long term care costs, despite its record on personal pensions for example.

This afternoon, the Scottish Parliament can right these wrongs and implement in full the recommendations from the Sutherland Commission. Our generation owe a debt to the people who campaigned for, created and paid for the welfare state all of their working lives. That welfare state should now be available to them free, at their time of need.
ENDS

Further Information

Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

 

28 September 2000

Hospital closures - do they lead to more elderly deaths?
Click here for full UNISON Response to GGHB consulatation

UNISON, the largest Glasgow healthcare union with around 15,000 members in all the elderly care sector, today called on Greater Glasgow Health Board, either to release information on the death rate of elderly patients released into community care from long stay hospitals, or to commission a study into the problem.

In their response to the GGHB's consultation on elderly services, UNISON also condemns the proposed closures of both Blawarthill and Cowglen Hospitals, as 'purely a financial decision' and part of the 'virtual demolition of NHS Continuing Care in Glasgow.'

Joe Lynch, UNISON Regional Officer, said
" Anecdotal evidence from members, patient groups and community groups suggests that both the death rate and the levels of readmissions to acute hospitals is unacceptably high amongst these patients. We have consistently asked GGHB to give us such data, but as we have never been given it, we assume it doesn't exist. Therefore we are calling on the GGHB to investigate these claims before subjecting more patients to this process."

UNISON's submission, which has been sent to all Glasgow MSP's as well as the GGHB, highlights the fact that local authority homes will not care for the most dependent elderly people. UNISON condemns the decision to fund places for the elderly in the private nursing and residential sector at the expense of NHS beds.

Joe Lynch said
"Whilst we support care being given in the community where that is best, unless this area has considerably increased investment, both financial and in increased numbers of directly-employed front-line staff, then the public will continue to have no confidence in it."
ENDS

[Note for Editors: Copies of the full UNISON response are available from Joe Lynch or Chris Bartter (numbers below) or on this website]

For Further Information Please Contact:
Joe Lynch (Regional Officer) 0141-332 0006(wk) 0141- 563 3505(h)
Matt McLaughlin (Regional Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 07924 225 202(m)

Carolyn Leckie(Secretary - Glasgow North Branch) 07799 642929(m)
Gordon Scobbie (Steward - Cowglen Hospital) 0141-211 9218(w)
Fiona Spence (Steward - Blawarthill Hospital) 0141 - 944 9811(h)
Christine Sinclair (Steward - Blawarthill Hospital) - 0771 232 0272(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

21 September 2000

UNISON welcomes budget boost for public services

"McConnell's statement puts pressure on COSLA to improve local governmentpay offer" says Matt Smith

Responding to Jack McConnell's spending statement to Parliament today (Wednesday) Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said,

"There is much to welcome in Jack McConnell's Budget statement. The additional resources to local government, health and education are long overdue. UNISON has been campaigning for 20 years for significant real increases in spending on Scotland's public services and we are pleased these are now to be delivered.

"We particularly welcome the announcement that pay awards will form part of the settlement for local government. This is the first statement of this kind by any Minister in the UK for seven years.

"The Finance Minister's statement means the pressure is now mounting on COSLA to increase their derisory 2.5% pay offer for this year. We asked the Scottish Executive to act and they have acted. The spotlight is now firmly on COSLA to make an improved offer and settle this pay dispute before it escalates further.

"While welcoming the increased investment in capital projects we have concerns about the use of Public Private Partnerships which we do not accept represents value for money for Scotland's taxpayers.

"We require now to meet the Minister to discuss the detail to determine what this means for our members and the services they provide."

ENDS


George McGregor
Scottish Research Officer
UNISON House
14 West Campbell Street
Glasgow G2 6RX

0141 332 0006 (phone)
0141 331 1203 (fax)

Index

 

14 September 2000

‘Poverty main reason why student nurses leave profession' says UNISON

Nursing and Midwifery drop-out rates have reached a 5-year high in Scotland according to the latest figures available from the National Board and the health service union, UNISON, is claiming poverty is the main reason.

Speaking at a Student Nurse Conference today, Jim Devine, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Health, said "The latest figures for 1999/2000 show Student Nurse discontinuation in Scotland rose by 11.2% to 627 students. In Midwifery alone, almost a quarter of students (24.6%) dropped out. This is a 5-year high that the Government cannot ignore. We believe that the main reason is poverty. Over the past 12 months, UNISON has been campaigning for the Government to introduce a salary for students that would allow a decent level of income and ensure employment protection. South of the border, recruitment problems amongst student teachers were resolved by this strategy."

Nikki Griffith, UNISON student nurse rep said, "I am not in the least bit surprised that the numbers leaving the profession have increased in such a dramatic way. In my own group, nearly 50% of the nurses have left since we started training. It is hardly surprising when you see that an under-26 year old receives £390 per month and if you are over-26, you then receive £439 per month. Nursing students are unlike their colleagues completing other degrees, they are not given long holidays because they have to work in the wards during the summer breaks."

UNISON will be writing to the Scottish Health Minister, Susan Deacon asking to discuss this matter with a view to arresting the decline in student nurse numbers here in Scotland.

ENDS

Index

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12 September 2000

Lack of council movement leads to strike escalation

Despite announcements of slackening of future financial settlements, by Jack McConnell yesterday, Scottish Council employers refused to negotiate any movement on their 'first and final' pay offer at local government pay talks tonight (12 September). Scottish Councils merely reiterated the repackaging of their 2.5% offer at a meeting with the unions today.

Following the negotiations a meeting of all UNISON's local government branches agreed to carry on with a planned one day strike on 20 September. They will also organise a major demonstration in Edinburgh to coincide with the Finance Minister's statement on future local government settlements in the Scottish Parliament.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, said
"We are gravely disappointed that, despite some flexibility introduced by Jack McConnell negotiation still appears to be beyond Scottish Councils. Our members have no alternative now, but to continue with the day's strike action on the 20 September, and to proceed to ballot small groups of key members to take indefinite action, moving the disruption away from the public and into the heart of Scottish Councils."

The selective action is planned to start once groups of staff in most Scottish Councils are ready. UNISON is not revealing exactly where these staff are based at this time but it will include groups like financial workers who collect debts for councils, mail room staff, committee clerks, telephonists and computer staff, People whose absence will have a major impact on council running.
ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:

Joe Di Paola (UNISON Scottish Org Local Govt) 0131-226 2662(w)
Jane Carolan (Chair - Trade Union Side) 07803 952 269 (m)
Chris Bartter (UNISON Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index | Pay Campaign pages

Mon 11 Sep 2000

Local government spending pledge a step forward. Press Conference 12/09

UNISON, Scotland's local government union today welcomed as 'a step forward' the announcement that Finance Minister Jack McConnell would be taking account of pay rises in future cash settlements to local authorities..

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government said
"It is good to hear that an element of pay and price rises will be built into future cash settlements. We are glad to see that the Scottish Executive is listening to what both we and CoSLA have been saying. However it does not resolve the crucial issue of a fair pay settlement this year.

'We are hopeful that CoSLA will now be serious about stopping future disruption to public services by negotiating a proper settlement tomorrow."

There is a meeting of the unions' and employers' negotiating body tomorrow, and UNISON has a full meeting of all its local council branches immediately following this.

There will then be a PRESS CONFERENCE held to give UNISON's perspective on t he current dispute over the pay of local council workers in Scotland. This will be held at approx 4.00pm in the Grosvenor Hotel, Grosvenor Street, Edinburgh.

This will deal with the outcome of the negotiations and give the plans for the day of action on Wednesday 20 September. Present will be Joe Di Paola, Scottish Organiser Local Government, Jane Carolan, Leader Trade Union negotiators, and Dougie Black, Vice-Chair of UNISON"s Local Government Forum.

ENDS


For Further Information Please Contact:

Joe Di Paola (UNISON Scottish Org Local Govt) 0131-226 2662(w)
Jane Carolan (Chair - Trade Union Side)
Chris Bartter (UNISON Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index

5 September 2000

Student nurses demand salaries

UNISON SURVEY REVEALS SHOCKING FACTS ABOUT STUDENT NURSE HARDSHIP

Two thirds of students want a return to salaried status, according to an exclusive UNISON survey. The national survey of over 1,000 students found 67% wanted a substantially increased salary, including sickness and maternity leave. In contrast, only 38% said that they favoured a substantial increase in the bursary. The survey also found an astonishing 95% of students have taken on extra work to supplement their income and 60% had considered dropping out of their course because of financial problems.

"This survey shows that student nurses are sick of living in poverty and are missing out on sickness and maternity leave", said Jim Devine, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Health. "Perhaps most shocking of all the survey findings is that 95% of students are having to take on other jobs to make ends meet.

"The successful introduction of salaries for trainee teachers could be followed in the nursing profession. According to the Government's own figures, there was a 48% rise in applications from would-be teachers after the three year training period which numbers had plummeted. Under the new scheme, trainee teachers will receive a £6000 a year salary, plus a £4000 ‘golden hello' for those entering understaffed subject areas – an idea which could also benefit nursing. Here in Scotland we have seen on average 35% of nurses who commence their training leave before completion. The vast majority of these individuals are leaving because of poverty.

Nikki Griffith, UNISON student nurse rep said "The bursary amounts to £2.60 per hour when we are in placement. If we were salaried, we would be paid between £9000-£10,000 per year. I also would have the protection of employment legislation, including sick pay, maternity provisions and employment rights. In my own group, nearly 50% of the nurses have left since we started training and it is hardly surprising when you see that an under-26 year old receives £390 per month and if you are over-26, you then receive £439 per month. Nursing students are unlike their colleagues completing other degrees, they are not given long holidays because they have to work in the wards during the summer breaks."

UNISON will be writing to the Scottish Health Minister, Susan Deacon asking to discuss this matter with a view to ending poverty amongst student nurses here in Scotland.

ENDS

Index

5 September 2000

Needlestick injury figures on the up

The number of health care workers exposed to viruses such as Hepatitis B, C and HIV as a result of needlestick injuries, should be strictly monitored by the Government, according to UNISON, the UK's largest union. The call for compulsory monitoring comes in the wake of a 73% increase in the number of reports last year.

The increased reporting is a direct result of the union's campaign urging all those infected through needlestick injuries to make sure they report them and get tested for bloodborne diseases, Hep B, C and HIV/ This is borne out by a significant increase in reporting by nurses – a main group targeted by the union.

Jim Devine, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Health said:

"Less then half of all hospitals take part in a voluntary scheme to record exposures and there are thousands of GP surgeries and dental practices which go completely uncounted. UNISON is determined to raise awareness of the dangers of infection by bloodborne viruses and the misery they case – compulsory monitoring is crucial to achieving this aim.

"UNISON wants a ban on the use of old-fashioned unsafe needles and the introduction nationwide of ‘safer needles' such as retractable needles or those with protective shields. The difference in cost is pennies and the difference to health workers' lives and peace of mind is immeasurable."

A Scottish nurse spoke of her distress when she had to be tested for Hepatitis B following a needlestick injury:

"I went through hell waiting for the results of my tests to come through after I was injured by a needle. One small slip could have led to a lifetime of misery and ill-health. I was lucky that time but I'd rather not have to rely on luck in the future."

ENDS

Index

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Date: 4 September 2000

"WHAT NEW OFFER?”

UNISON, Scotland's biggest trade union representing around 80,000 members working for Scotland's 32 local authorities, dismissed CoSLA's informal offer of a phased increase in pay as "nothing new”.

CoSLA's suggestion of a 2% increase from 1st April 2000 and a further 1% from October 2000, still represents an increase of 2.5% in the current financial year. A previous offer of 2.5% has already been rejected by UNISON members.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's senior local government organiser said:

"This is not an improved offer. It represents 2.5% on this year's pay bill and that has already been rejected by our members as being entirely inadequate in meeting our claim. As always we are willing to talk, but any talks must be on the basis of an improved offer.”

"Meanwhile we continue with our campaign and further details will be announced on Wednesday.”

ENDS

Index

 


For Release: 00.01 Mon 4 Sept 2000

COMPETITION WILL PRIVATISE SCOTLAND'S WATER

UNISONScotland today launched their response to the Scottish Executive Consultation Paper: "Managing Change in the Water Industry". UNISON - the largest trade union in the water industry, challenge the Scottish Executive's commitment to Water remaining a public service. UNISON claims that the introduction of PFI is privatising the industry drip by drip and the promotion of competition will complete the privatisation of Scotland's water and sewerage services. In its report UNISON calls upon the Scottish Executive to:

  • Reject the policy objective of competition, recognising the damage that this regime did in England and Wales.
  • Introduce a strict licensing regime to protect the integrity of water supplies and the sewerage system.
  • Legislate to ensure the full cost of introducing competition falls on those companies who wish to compete not on the Scottish taxpayer.
  • Provide protection for disadvantaged and low income consumers.
  • Strengthen statutory powers for drinking water inspection
  • Devolve the powers of the Director General of Fair Trading to the Scottish Executive
  • Cancel the debt of Scotland's Water Authorities as happened to water companies in England and Wales at privatisation.

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for water said:

"These proposals put Scotland's water and sewerage systems at risk and will result in the gradual privatisation of the industry. New entrants will inevitably seek to "cherry pick" the most profitable customers, leaving poorer domestic customers and the taxpayer to pick up the bill for "last resort" supply."

ENDS

Water Industry Links Page

Note to Editors: UNISON's response is available on UNISON's website

For Further Information Please Contact:

Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser (Utilities)
d.watson@unison.co.uk
Wk:: 0141-332-0006
Mob: 0973-672513

Chris Bartter, Communications Officer
c.bartter@unison.co.uk

Wk: 0141-332-0006
Mob: 0771-5583729

Index

Date: 1 September 2000

Strikes to escalate as CoSLA refuses increase

Branches representing around 80,000 UNISON members working for Scotland's 32 local authorities at a meeting today(Friday) rejected a rephased pay offer from the Scottish employers.

The meeting heard that the Scottish employers had refused to increase the offer, merely suggesting a restructuring of the award to give 2% backdated to April (the settlement date) with a further 1%from October 2000. This represents 2.5% on the paybill - a figure that UNISON has already rejected.

This prompted a clear rejection from all the branches represented.

UNISON also agreed that their campaign of industrial action would be escalated. UNISON members will strike again for one day later this month. In addition selective strikes by key groups of staff will be undertaken. This was agreed at the meeting of UNISON's local government branches in Scotland today. The precise date for the further action will be announced later.

Last week's action caused chaos to local services across Scotland, disrupting refuse collection, ferries, housing offices, schools, planning, cash collection, leisure centres and many others. Emergency Services were maintained, for the most part by agreement between UNISON and the council, or by decision of the union themselves. UNISON says that emergency cover will continue to be maintained.

Jane Carolan, Leader of UNISON's negotiators said
"Unfortunately the employers did not take notice of our clear warnings that they shouldn't bring us back to talks simply to offer the same amount. 2.5% has been rejected by our members before and is again. We have therefore been forced to escalate our action.

"We are still prepared to talk to the employers at any time, but reiterate that they must have an improved offer.

"UNISON is not prepared to sit back and let Scotland's local government workers receive the lowest rise in the UK public sector. We want to shield the public as much as we can, but we want to bring this matter to a head as soon as possible."

ENDS


Index

29 August 2000

Councils hit as UNISON strike bites

Around 70,000 UNISON members working for Scotland's 32 local authorities are on strike across Scotland, the union announced today. UNISON, Scotland's largest local government union, decided to strike after rejecting a Council employers' offer of a 2.5% pay increase. The action caused chaos to local services across Scotland, disrupting refuse collection housing offices, schools, planning, leisure centres and many others. Even cleaners at the Scottish Parliament walked out, (the contract is operated by Edinburgh City Council).

Matt Smith,UNISON's Scottish Secretary, welcomed the success of the strike and called on Scotland's councils to settle the dispute.

"We have received literally thousands of applications to join UNISON since the result of the ballot was announced." He said "So we were confident of the success of our action. The effect of this one day on Scotland's services is a warning, that our members who provide those services are angry and frustrated Nobody knows better than our members that Scotland's Council's are under pressure. But they also know that 3.5million public sector workers across the UK have agreed increases averaging between 3.0% and 4.0%, including their colleagues in England and Wales. Scotland's councils should move their workers off the foot of the public pay league."

After the one day strike UNISON is planning a two and a three day strike. The dates planned for the next action will be announced shortly, after UNISON has assessed the full effect of this action.

Jane Carolan, Leader of UNISON's negotiators said
" Despite provocation in a number of areas, our members provided emergency cover to protect vulnerable clients and public safety. We ensured that weddings and funerals scheduled for today, went ahead. Our members have shown they care about the services, and they are now calling on Scotland's councils to ensure the people who deliver them are properly paid." UNISON will be discussing with its branches and members likely tactics to extend the action, should this be required.

ENDS

 
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(wk)
Joe Di Paola (UNISON Scottish Org Local Govt) 0141-332 0006(w)
Jane Carolan (Chair - Trade Union Side) 07803 952 269 (m)
Chris Bartter (UNISON Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

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15 August 2000

Council workers vote to strike over pay

UNISON members working for Scotland's 32 local authority workers have voted to take strike action, the union announced today. The union, which is the largest in Scotland's local government, called the ballot after unions rejected a Council employers' offer of a 2.5% pay increase. The final result was as follows:

Those voting YES 15,917 (56%)
Those voting NO 12,330 (44%)

UNISON will now report this to its National Committee that approves Industrial Action with a recommendation for a one day strike as a first step, to be followed by a two and a three day strike. The date targeted for the first day will be August 29, although the union will also be talkng to the other two unions in Local Government (the T&GWU and the GMB - both of whom are also balloting their members) to try and ensure a co-ordinated approach to the action.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government and Trade Union Side Secretary said

"This result is an indication of the poor morale and frustration felt by the workforce. Central Government has not funded staff pay increases for seven years and Local Government staff are fed up carrying the burden of the cuts that local services have suffered. We will be informing the employers of this result and of our intention to take industrial action, and we hope, even at this late date, we could resolve the issue"

This action could cause chaos to local services possibly disrupting such services as refuse collection , food safety protection, schools, planning, leisure facilties and many others. UNISON will also be discussing with its branches and members likely tactics to extend the action, should this be required.
The union will ensure protection is in place for vulnerable people who depend on local services.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Joe Di Paola (UNISON Scottish Org Local Govt) 0141-332 0006(w) 0141-772 5557(h)
Jane Carolan (Chair - Trade Union Side) 07803 952 269 (m)
Chris Bartter (UNISON Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

 

17 July 2000

Industrial Action Ballot starts today

UNISON, Scotland's largest local government union starts balloting its 80,000 local government members today on whether they wish to take strike action. The ballot has been instigated after pay negotiations broke down early last month, after the unions rejected a pay offer of 2.5%, half a per cent less than the offer accepted by local government workers in England and Wales earlier this year.

Douglas Black, Chair of UNISONScotland's Local Government Group, said
" This offer is derisory and goes no way towards meeting our claim of 5% or £500. Local government workers in Scotland are already paid £16 to £17 less per week than their colleagues in England and Wales. To propose increasing this unfair differential is unjustifiable."

Despite the knowledge of the impending action, there has been no movement by the Scottish local authorities. This comes at a time when local government staff have had to put up with major upheaval, after local government reorganisation they have had to cope with the government's Best Value proposals and the challenges set by the outcome of the McIntosh Review.

"Employers and the government demand high levels of morale and commitment from the workforce to deliver their reforms." Said Mr Black. "Staff can't deliver this from a backdrop of low pay and unfair treatment."

The other unions (T&GWU and GMB) involved in the sector are also proceeding with ballot arrangements, thought to be on a similar timescale. The UNISON ballot starts today (Mon 17 July) and closes on Monday 14 August. The union is operating a Hotline for any member who doesn't receive a ballot paper. 0800 5 97 97 50.
ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Dougie Black (Chair - Local Government Group) 07968 478195 (m)
Bill McAllister (Regional Officer) 0131-226 2662(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer-UNISON) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

 

13 July 2000

STOCK TRANSFER REPORT A MISSED OPPORTUNITY A RESPONSE FROM UNISON SCOTLAND

UNISON, Scotland's Public Service union, criticised the report of the Social Inclusion, Voluntary Sector Housing Committee into Housing Stock as "A missed opportunity."

Mike Kirby, UNISON's Scottish Convenor said
"We welcome recommendations calling on the Executive to compare the costs of public and private sector investment and to clarify the value for money of these transfer schemes. It is, however, a shame that they missed an opportunity by accepting the principle of Housing Stock Transfer before the cost questions have been answered. We know from studies done in Glasgow and Dumfries that proposals there are far from value for money for tenant or taxpayer.

It is also curious that whilst the report calls for councils to be the main strategic planning bodies it accepts the removal of housing from their control, threatening the strategic management of a range of essential services like housing, home helps and social work services"

UNISON does welcome many of the subsidiary recommendations however, Mike Kirby continues, "It is pleasing that points raised by tenants and unions have been reflected in some recommendations. The failure of the Glasgow process to properly deal with union and tenant involvement in discussions, the continued operation of DLO's and the maintenance of apprenticeships, and the points we have made on the limitations of TUPE protection are all dealt with and we urge the Scottish Executive to address these in real discussions with unions rather than the token meetings that have taken place until now."

The union's campaign against the principle of whole stock transfer shows no sign of going away. However, Mike Kirby says,
"This method of investing in public housing removes democratic accountability; increases costs and threatens rent levels and housing and construction jobs. All the positive recommendations in the report could be adopted by local councils with public housing controlled democratically, with the housing debt burden lifted as the Executive already propose to do after transfer."

ENDS
For Further Information Please Contact:
Mike Kirby (Convenor) 01426 292 751 (pager)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

12 JULY 2000 ~ 1030 HRS

UNISON survey highlights violence increase in health service

The health service union UNISON today(Wednesday) revealed figures that showed an average 217% increase in violent attacks on NHS Staff over the past 4 years.

Speaking at the Nursing Times Live Exhibition in Glasgow, UNISONScotland's Lead Officer for Nursing, Bridget Hunter said

"This level of violent attacks on NHS staff is totally unacceptable. While we recognise that as a result of certain illnesses, aggressive violence can occur, we are not prepared to tolerate this disrespect of NHS staff by members of the public.

"For example, in the South Glasgow Trust, more than half of all recorded incidents were physical assaults. The figures also take account of the fact that if the behaviour was attributable to the medical condition of the patient, these incidents went unreported and therefore unrecorded."

Over half the Trusts in Scotland responded to UNISON's survey and the average increase in violent incidents range from a decrease of 35% in Dumfries & Galloway to a massive increase of around 1000% at the Grampian University Hospitals Trust. The average overall increase is 217%

Bridget Hunter went on to say

"It is not part of the job description of NHS staff to be assaulted at work. We are seeking

(i) standardised procedures in the recording of violent incidents;

(ii) a training budget to be allocated from each Trust; and

(iii) formalised counselling and support for victims of violent attacks.

"It is totally unacceptable and intolerable that staff should be subjected to this violent and abusive behaviour at their workplace. UNISON are therefore calling for a Staff Charter, similar to the Patients' Charter, advising all NHS users that violence against staff will not be tolerated."

ENDS

Note to the Editor: Breakdown of Trust by Trust info

Increase in Violent Incidents in Last Four Years - by Trust
 TRUST  1996/7  1997/8  1998/9  1999/2000  %INCR
 ARG AND CLYDE ACUTE HOSPS NHS TRUST
AYR AND ARRAN ACUTE HOSPS NHS TRUST
         
 AYR AND ARRAN PRIM CARE NHS TRUST  318  546  506  996  213
BORDERS GENERAL HOSP NHS TRUST
BORDERS PRIMARY CARE NHS TRUST
         
 D&G ACUTE & MAT HOSPS NHS TRUST  30  86  91  88  193
 D&G PRIMARY CARE NHS TRUST  193  112  159  128  -34
FIFE ACUTE HOSPS NHS TRUST
FIFE PRIMARY CARE NHS TRUST
FORTH VALL ACUTE HOSPS NHS TRUST
FORTH VALL PRIM CARE NHS TRUST
GRAMPIAN PRIMARY CARE NHS TRUST
         
GRAMPIAN UNIV HOSPS NHS TRUST  66  143  372  720  991
GREAT GLASGOW PRIM CARE NHS TRUST  751  1368  1950  1224  63
 HIGHLAND ACUTE HOSPITALS NHS TRUST  11  34  111  99  800
 HIGHLAND PRIMARY CARE NHS TRUTS  447  928  778  869  94
 LANARKS ACUTE HOSPS NHS TRUST  48  72  87  174  263
 LANARKSHIRE HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST  88  78  98  178  102
 LOMOND& ARG PRIMARY CARE NHS TRUST          
 LOTHIAN PRIMARY CARE NHS TRUST  1095  1120  966  1423  30
 LOTHIAN UNIV HOSPS NHS TRUST  279  214  245  284  2
 NORTH GLAS UNIV HOSPS NHS TRUST          
 RENFR& INVERCLYDE PRIM CARE TRUST  402  374  336  341  -15
 SOUTH GLASGOW HOSPITALS NHS TRUST  645  684  748  787  22
TAYSIDE PRIMARY CARE NHS TRUST
TAYSIDE UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST
WEST LOTHIAN NHS TRUST
YORKHILL NHS TRUST
 32  54  134  319  
* Dumfries & Galloway PC Trust based on projected annual figure
Since 1996 average increase in violence 217%

 

Further Information

UNISON House, Matt Smith, Chris Bartter
14, West Campbell Street, Scottish Secretary Communications Officer
Glasgow G2 6RX. matt.smith@unison.co.uk Tel 0141-332 0006 Mob 07771 548997
c.bartter@unison.co.uk Tel 0141-332 0006. Mob 0771 558 3729

Index

 

For Release: For Information and use Date: Monday 26 June 2000

Alliance targets Scottish Executive on Fuel Poverty

Twenty -two separate recommendations targeting what the Scottish Executive can do to tackle Fuel Poverty in Scotland are to be launched in the Scottish Parliament in Committee Room 4, Scottish Parliament Visitors Centre.

Entitled Keeping Scotland Warm, these are the product of a series of seminars run by fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland and the Centre for Scottish Public Policy with the support of UNISONScotland and Transco. The document includes some far-reaching and radical ways that the Executive can work to end the current fuel poverty crisis. They include appointing a Healthy Homes Co-ordinator, and registering all private landlords.

The launch will be held on Thursday 29 June 2000, at 16.00 hrs, at a meeting of the UNISON Group of Labour MSP's. Also present will be Margaret Curran MSP - Chair of the Scottish Parliament's Housing, Social Inclusion and Voluntary Sector Committee.

Launching the document will be Ann Loughrey, Director of Energy Action Scotland, Dave Watson Senior Regional Officer, and Robin Marshall, Director of Transco Scotland will also be present

You are invited to send a representative/photographer. Anyone without a Scottish Parliament Media Pass will need to be listed to get access to the Committee Room. Please contact Chris Bartter, below.

The document contains recommendations discussed and agreed in conjunction with 35 different organisations. It will be sent to all MSP's, Scottish Westminster MP's, Local authorities, Housing Associations and other organisations.
It will be simultaneously available on UNISONScotland's Website at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/ksw

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact :
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer-UNISON) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

Date: 23 June 2000

UNISON condemns RCN over charging patients proposal

The health service union, UNISON, has today condemned the RCN over their proposals to charge NHS patients for hospital care. UNISON described the ideas to charge `hotel costs' as bureaucratic, impractical, disruptive of patient/staff relationships and a fundamental attack on the principals of the NHS.

Speaking in Glasgow, the Scottish Organiser for Health, Jim Devine said,

"While we welcome a debate on the future of the NHS, the RCN's proposal to charge patients for NHS care must be exposed for the absurdity that it is.

"It would disrupt the patient/staff relationship. Are the RCN seriously suggesting that we charge a woman in labour hotel charges.

"Do we really want our nurses to be tax collectors from the dying?

"This idea, if implemented, would add significantly to bureaucracy because money would have to be collected, accounted for and, no doubt, pursued if bills were not paid.

"The proposals are impractical - when do you start charging patients? Are they charged prior to admission and therefore may refuse to come in for treatment? Are they charged during admission or are they charged on discharge? Each timescale is fraught with problems and again will further disrupt the staff/patient relationship.

"Are the nursing members of the RCN so well-paid that they will pay hotel charges when an inpatient in an NHS hospital?"

"Hotel charges are a fundamental attack on the principals of the NHS and should be resisted vehemently. UNISON is very disappointed that the RCN is advocating this proposal. We understand that they are holding a breakfast meeting tomorrow morning with the Tories in Dundee.

"I am sure that the RCN will at least receive a welcome there for this idea."

ENDS

Index

 

Date: 21 June 2000

Strike ballot called as local government pay talks collapse

Talks to agree a pay increase for 250,000 Scottish local government workers ended in deadlock today (Wednesday 21 June 2000) and UNISON, Scotland's largest local government union moved towards an industrial action ballot. Unions -including UNISON, GMB and the T&GWU - representing staff in Scotland's 32 local authorities rejected an employers offer of 2.5%. The employers refused to increase the offer.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government and Trade Union Side Secretary said
"This miserly offer was emphatically rejected in the extensive consultations that we carried out amongst the UNISON membership across Scotland. It doesn't go any way towards dealing with low pay in local government and doesn't even match the offer made by English councils."

Unless there is a breakthrough in the talks, UNISON will begin the process leading to a ballot of its 90,000 members in Scotland's local councils on industrial action. This would cause major disruption to local services like environmental health and cleansing services, social work and other care services, educational, leisure and cultural provision and many others.

Jane Carolan, Chair of the Scottish trade union negotiators, said
"Whilst we agree that employers have had no funding for pay increases for seven years now - our members feel that they shouldn't be penalised. We want Scottish local government to be properly funded, and in particular those who provide the services should be properly paid."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Joe Di Paola (UNISON Scottish Org Local Govt) 0141-332 0006(w)
Jane Carolan (Chair - Trade Union Side) 07803 952 269(m)
Chris Bartter (UNISON Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

 

March for Equality and Diversity - Saturday 24 June 2000

You are invited to join a March for Equality and Diversity in Edinburgh on Saturday 24 June 2000. This is being organised by the STUC and Scrap the Section - the Scottish campaign to repeal section 28.

It is being timed to coincide with the repeal of section 28 by the Scottish Parliament and is aimed at promoting the principles of equality and diversity in Scotland today.

Assemble at 12.30pm on Saturday 24 June 2000 in East Market Street (beside Waverley Station). Depart at 1.00pm. March along Princes Street and up The Mound past the Scottish Parliament.

The march will be an opportunity to reject the attempt by Brian Souter's Keep the Clause campaign to use chequebook democracy and impose a narrow view of traditional family values.

It provides an opportunity for the real mainstream majority to be heard who want to build a modern Scotland on the foundations of respect for diversity. It is also hoped there will be contingents on the march from Refugees Welcome Here and Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre.

The march is supported by the following trade unions: AUT, EIS, GMB, MSF, TGWU and UNISON. And invited to take part are children's and parents organisations, youth and student groups, church groups, COSLA, women's organisations, equalities groups, arts organisations and many more.

Bring yourself, your friends and your family and support equality and
diversity.

Index

 

For Release: Wed 17 May, 2000

Treat Local Government as partners, not a problem Executive told

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary, today (17 May) issued a strong call for Scotland's local authorities to be given greater cash raising powers including control over the business rate, and to retain control over public services including council housing.

Speaking at a conference on Local Government Finance held by the Scottish Local Government Information Unit in Glasgow today, Matt encouraged the Scottish Parliament's Local Government Committee to set up its own Review of local authority finance, despite of the rejection of this by the Scottish Executive. Speaking after Jack McConnell MSP Scottish Minister of Finance, Matt pointed out that the McIntosh Commission who recommended an independent finance review insisted that all its recommendations should be taken together. He criticized the Executive for rejecting that recommendation and not moving far enough on the issue of finance.

"For too long local government has been the scapegoat for all that is wrong with our public services." He said, "That needs to change. Our new Scottish Parliament should be about enhancing accountability and democracy; about creating partnerships; and about restoring a public service ethos and improved provision."

Matt also attacked the Executive plans for removing housing stock from councils

"I applaud the case for massive investment." He said. "But I do not accept the need to remove housing from democratic control. The proposals will cost more through the imposition of VAT on housing improvements; will cause major ramifications for jobs and staff especially for DLO's and there are no long term guarantees on rent levels or any detail on security of tenure. But above all we are concerned about local authority provision being removed."

Matt went on to predict that even if the transfer proposals went ahead the housing function would return to local government in a few years time. He further questioned the role of the so-called "Champions for Change", businessmen appointed by the Executive to advise local government on its future running.
" some of the shine has been knocked off their suits of armour." He said.
ENDS
[Note to editors: Copies of Matt's Speech are available from Chris Bartter (below)]

For Further Information Please Contact:

Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w) 07771 548997(m)

Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

 

 

'Abolish Prescription Charges by Drug Company Levies' says UNISON

The health service union, UNISON, has today called on the Scottish Executive to abolish prescription charges by placing a levy on drug companies.

Speaking at a May day Rally in West Lothian, the Scottish Organiser for Health, Jim Devine, said "Last year prescriptions dispensed by general pharmacists and dispensing doctors cost the Scottish Health Service £637.07 million. The figure in 1990 was £292.82 million - a rise of over 100% in less than ten years.

"During the same period, charges paid by patients rose from £21.56 million to £38.71 million last year. Recognising that 87% of prescription items are dispensed free of charge, is it not now time to abolish prescription charges.

"Prescription charges deter people from seeking treatment and encourage self-diagnosis, therefore leading to potentially more long term problems. These charges particularly hit hardest, low paid workers.

"This policy also contradicts the principles of a socialist National Health Service which is to provide healthcare free at the time of need. While nearly £40 million was raised last year in Scotland by this method of taxation, one would have to question the administration costs of this exercise.

""Medically there are no arguments for retaining prescription charges and if the issue is ne of cost, should we not use some of the windfall, of over £22 billion, that the Chancellor has received for the five new generation mobile phone licences or should we not impose a levy on drug companies to compensate for the financial shortfall.

"Placing a levy of 6p in the £ on last year's drug bill would cover the cost of abolishing prescription charges.

"The abolition of prescription charges by the Scottish Executive would be seen as a welcome and radical move by traditional voters."

Further Information
Jim Devine 0141 332 0006, 07693 533362 (pager)

Index

 

 

Date:03/05/00

More time needed for people's view on Hospital closures - UNISON

UNISON, the biggest health union in Glasgow is launching a campaign today to extend the period of public consultation on the Health Board's (GGHB) Review of Acute Services from June to December 2000. 10,000 leaflets are being distributed asking people to write to the Health Board's Chief Executive, Christopher Spry, demanding such a delay

Currently the plan which could mean a Health Revolution for Acute Health Services in Glasgow is out for public consultation to June 2000. The plan could see the closure of the Victoria Infirmary, Yorkhill, Queen Mother's Maternity Hospital, Western Infirmary, Stobhill Hospital.

John Gallacher, Regional Officer of UNISON said:

"The shape of Acute Services in Glasgow has developed over the last half of the 20th century. It is unacceptable that the future of services for the 21st century should be discussed and agreed in three months.

"GGHB's decision-making processes have to become more open and receptive. They must allow at least another 6 months for service users, health service workers, local authorities and others in Glasgow to absorb these complex proposals and make their views known. We will be calling on organisations and individuals in the city to back our demand for more time."

The final decision taken by GGHB will have a fundamental long-term impact on the provision of acute and maternity services in the city for decades to come.

UNISON has established a special Working Group which is looking at the implication of the GGHB's proposals and will be commenting on them in the future.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:

John Gallacher, Regional Officer, UNISON 0141-332-0006 (w) 0141-571 7345 (h)

Robert Rae, UNISON BranchSecretary 0141-2011298(union office)

Chris Bartter (Communications Officer-UNISON) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

 

 

10 April 2000 For immediate release

UNISON reponds to proposed Glasgow Housing transfer

UNISON, Scotland's largest union, today (Monday) restated its opposition to the transfer of Glasgow's housing stock but said it was prepared to take up Wendy Alexander's offer on talks about the potential implications for staff.

Responding to the announcement by the Scottish Executive and Glasgow City Council, Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary, said,

"UNISON is fully in agreement that there is a desperate need for massive investment in Glasgow's public housing stock. It is an obscenity that so many people in Glasgow live in houses which are damp and in a state of disrepair.

"We are opposed, however, to the transfer and remain of the view that housing should be in the ownership of local authorities which should be adequately funded by the Scottish Executive.

"We are of course concerned about the implications for staff and will take up Wendy Alexander's offer of future talks.

"We welcome the Minister's commitment to the principles of no compulsory redundancies, no deterioration in terms and conditions and to guaranteed collective bargaining. UNISON will be seeking further clarification as to how these principles could be put into practice."

Ends

For further information please contact:

Matt Smith UNISON Scottish Secretary 0141 332 0006 (w) 0777 1548997 (m)
George McGregor UNISON Research Officer 0141 332 0006 (w) 0976 754420 (m)

Index

 

Date: 07/04/00

UNISON widens campaign against council housing sell-off

Following yesterdays furore over the agreement of Glasgow Council's plan to transfer all its council houses to a private company, UNISON, Scotland's largest union, is set to broaden its opposition and to campaign against the Scottish Executive proposals across Scotland.

The union's Scottish Council is meeting in Glasgow on Saturday 8 April , and in an emergency debate delegates are expected to endorse a call to local authorities to cease large-scale stock transfers which , the union says threaten `the very nature of local democracy', campaign for a `No' vote in the tenants ballot, and to protest to MP's MSP's and local councillors.

Mike Kirby, UNISON's Scottish Convenor , said
"The fiasco that went on in Glasgow yesterday highlights the lack of consultation and democratic choice associated with these proposals. Despite an appeal from the General Secretary of the STUC and the new choice created by the announcement of the Deputy Prime Minister, Glasgow City Council, at the behest of the Scottish Executive has railroaded these proposals through."

Union objections to the transfer proposals centre on the removing of housing from democratic control, the likely increase in rents and reduction in security for tenants and the threat to jobs, conditions and training opportunities of council housing and building services.

In all, seven Scottish local authorities are planning to hand away all their council housing, and the UNISON move serves to broaden the field of fire on the Scottish Executive over their New Housing Partnerships.

UNISON has been active in opposing the transfer proposals for some time, and the union is convening a major UK Housing Conference in Birmingham on Monday 10 April, which will discuss proposals across the UK, including the Prescott plans, for arms-length housing companies owned by councils. Following the agreement by UNISON's Scottish Council, the issue will be raised with other trade unions and the STUC.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government said.

"We have been working closely with other trade unions and the STUC on this issue. We plan to continue this close working with other affected trade unions and it will no doubt be a major topic at the STUC conference in two weeks time."

ENDS

[Note for Editors: UNISON's Scottish Council meets in the Moir Hall, Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow on Sat 8 April from 10.30 am. If you wish to send a representative please contact Chris Bartter, numbers below.]

For Further Information Please Contact:
Mike Kirby, (Scottish Convenor) 0141-332 0006(o) 01426 292751(p)
Joe Di Paola (UNISON Scottish Org Local Govt) 0141-332 0006(w) 0141-772 5557(h)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer-UNISON) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index


Date: 06/04/00

Unions attack lack of consultation as Glasgow discusses council house sell-off

Delegates representing UNISON - Scotland's largest union; the STUC; and other local government trade unions today attacked the latest twist in the Glasgow Housing sell-off saga.

The proposals put forward by the City Council leadership and Wendy Alexander MSP, Minister for the Communities, were being discussed by the City Council's Labour Group, despite the intervention of Bill Speirs, STUC General Secretary, who made clear the trade union objections to the lack of consultation, and asked for the group to defer their decision. This was particularly in the light of yesterdays statement by John Prescott MP (Deputy Prime Minister) who announced alternative arrangements available to councils in England and Wales.

"We were simply marched in and given a statement pre-arranged between the Labour Group Executive and the Scottish Executive," said John Wright, ViceChair of the Glasgow Joint Trade Union Committee. "At the same time managers in Glasgow's Housing Department were telling staff that this was a fait accompli."

The row over the sell-off of all Glasgow's housing stock looks set to intensify, with UNISON's Scottish Council meeting discussing the issue on Saturday. The subject is also set to be raised at the STUC Congress in two weeks time.

It is likely that the unions will continue their campaign against the transfer calling on tenants to vote `no' to the proposals.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government said

"It is now clear that the Scottish Executive intends to push ahead with this damaging policy despite the fact that this is far from Best Value for housing tenants There has been little or no input into these proposals from tenants and the workforce, and many issues about tenants rights remain unclear."

In addition to opposition to the sell-off from unions, a vocal tenants group is campaigning against the transfer.

Disagreements between Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Executive have also delayed the process.

ENDS
For Further Information Please Contact:

Joe Di Paola (UNISON Scottish Org Local Govt) 0141-332 0006(w) 0141-772 5557(h)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer-UNISON) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)
John Wright (Vice Chair Glasgow JTUC) 0141-287 4595(o) 0141-882 1549(h)

Index


28 March 2000 THURSDAY 30 MAY 2000 1200 HRS

UNISON to sue Trusts and needlestick manufacturers over NHS injuries

The health service union UNISON, has today announced that they will sue NHS Trusts and Needlestick Manufacturers if NHS staff receive injuries from needlesticks.

Speaking in Dumfries, the Scottish Organiser for Health, Jim Devine, said

"Every year there are over 4000 needlestick injuries recorded by NHS workers here in Scotland. We know that two nurses have died and five other NHS staff have contracted HIV as a result of needlestick injuries.

"This epidemic must be stopped. Needles are disposable but people are not.

"NHS Trusts know that alternative technology is available that would reduce needlestick injuries by 90%. Private Manufacturers are promoting needlesticks in the Scottish Health Service that they know cause injury to NHS staff, putting their lives at risk.

"Therefore, from today, UNISON will sue the Trusts and the Manufacturers involved when the next NHS worker receives a needlestick injury."

ENDS

Jim Devine is available for interview at the Hospitality Suite, Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary, Bankend Road, Dumfries at 12 noon on 30 March 2000.

Further Information

Jim Devine 0141 332 0006 (w) 07693 533362 (p)

Index

21 March 2000

UNISON Scotland response to the Budget

"GORDON BROWN IS THE `LISTENING' CHANCELLOR"

"We welcome public services being put before pre-election tax bribes"

UNISON, Scotland's largest union, today (Tuesday) welcomed the increased investment for public services announced in the Budget.

Matt Smith, UNISON Scottish Secretary, said,

"It's clear that Britain's finances are booming and we welcome the Chancellor's decision to invest the extra resources in public services rather than indulge in crude pre-election tax cuts.

"On today's evidence Gordon Brown has shown himself to be the `listening' Chancellor. UNISON asked Gordon Brown to deliver at least a 3% real increase in health expenditure year on year and he appears to have done just that. It is essential this money reaches hard working NHS staff rather than get swallowed up in the NHS drugs budget.

"We expect Scotland to get its fair share of resources as a result of the Barnett formula and for this money to be invested in Scotland's public services. We still have concerns, however, about the overall level of support to local government services in Scotland and we hope that Jack McConnell will show himself as the `listening' Finance Minister and deliver those desperately needed extra resources to local authorities.

"The extra cash for public services will only be good news for public service workers if it is translated into real increases in pay. Public service pay is already lagging behind pay in the private sector and this problem needs to be urgently addressed."

Ends

For further information please contact:

Matt Smith UNISON Scottish Secretary 01294 601 652
George McGregor UNISON Scottish Research Officer 0976 75 4420

Index

Date:14/03/00

Private services must 'open the books'

Click here for the full response

UNISON, Scotland's public service union, today called for freedom of information laws to apply to the private sector as well as public authorities. In a submission to the Scottish Executive's consultation paper An Open Scotland, the union demands that private companies and voluntary and charitable providing public services should be obliged to answer the public's questions in exactly the same way as a public authority.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary, said
"We agree with the widest possible openness in Scotland's services, and are pleased with the general thrust of the White Paper, but it doesn't go far enough. We want to see organisations like Local Enterprise Companies, Housing Associations, GP Surgeries and others added to the lists of public bodies who are covered, plus we want the legislation to state unequivocally that whoever provides a public service - public, private or voluntary - should be subject to the same provisions. Whoever is taking public money to provide public services must open their books to ensure we are getting best value. We don't want services to be privatised to avoid difficult questions on costs or awkward legislation."

UNISON, represents people working for a large number of public servic es who will be covered by the legislation. They are also concerned that there is little reference in the Executive's paper to the resources required.

"It will clearly require effective systems of document management and archiving to be introduced." says Matt Smith "Twenty years of restrictions and cuts in public services in Scotland have done nothing for the maintenance of public records in authorities. Records management is routinely neglected and even such rights of access as at present exist are difficult if not impossible to enforce. Proper resources must be allocated to authorities to enable this to be done, if the shared vision of An Open Scotland is to be realised."

Other proposals from UNISON call for the scrapping of so-called `class-based exemptions' (where any information from a particular function is automatically secret). and for a wide training programme to be set up - not just for officials but also for those who might want to ask for the information, such as journalists and even members of the public.

ENDS

Note for Editors: Copies of the UNISON Response are available from Chris Bartter (below)

For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w) 07771 548997(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

 

 

7 March 2000 12 midday Thursday 9th March, 2000

"END LOW PAY EXPLOITATION
OF STUDENT NURSES", SAY UNISO
N

The Health Service Union UNISON are holding a press conference at 12 midday on Thursday 9th of March at 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow, where eight student nurses will be available for interview.

Amongst them will be:-

Nicola Griffiths - A mum with two children
Dawn Reid - A mum with one child
Angela Percival - Single mum with two children
Sandra Clark - Single
Jason Bramley - Single

Jim Devine said: "Last week the Scottish Executive released figures which showed that nearly one in four of nurses who start their training leave before completion. These students are unlike any other at University as they have to squeeze 4,600 hours of learning into three years. Half of that will be on practice placement. UNISON believes that the main reason for this drop-out rate is poverty, and that is why we are today launching a campaign to return students to negotiated salaries, which would mean at present they would be earning around £9,000 to £10,000 per year.

ENDS

JIM DEVINE SENIOR OFFICER FOR HEALTH

0141 332 0006 (work) 07693 533362 (Pager)

Index

Wednesday 8 March 2000

Scottish Scrap Section 28 Group Launches Campaign

Mound photocall and Comedy Club fundraiser

(supported by UNISON, STUC, NASUWT, EIS etc)

The launch of a broad based Scottish wide campaign to repeal Section 28 of the Local Government Act takes place on Wednesday 8 March 2000 with a morning photocall on the Mound and a fundraising comedy event in the evening.

The campaign launch is timed to co-incide with the start of Stage 1 consideration of the Ethical Standards in Public Life Bill in Parliament.

The Scrap the Section campaign includes a diverse range of individuals and groups, affiliated to all political parties and none, and has been set up with the aim of securing the repeal of Section 28 and ending discriminatory legislation against gay people.

Photocall

The launch is being held in the shadow of the Scottish Parliament and will be attended by MSPs from across the political spectrum.

You are invited to a photocall on Wednesday 8 March 2000 at 9am at the foot of the Mound between the Royal Scottish Academy and National Gallery of Scotland. In attendance will be:

Robert Brown MSP Malcolm Chisholm MSP
Rhoda Grant MSP Robin Harper MSP
Nora Radcliffe MSP Mike Russell MSP
Richard Simpson MSP Mike Watson MSP
Kate McLean MSP

They will be joined by members of both the East and West of Scotland Groups to Repeal Section 28 carrying "Scrap the Section" posters.

(Please note that if the weather is very poor the photocall and press briefing will instead take place at 9.00am in the Parliamentary Head Quarters, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, in Room 1.27.)

Comedy Club Fundraiser

On Wednesday there will also be a Scrap the Section fundraiser in The Stand Comedy Club, York Place, Edinburgh at 8pm which will include a number of Scotland's leading stand-up comics.

George McGregor, from the Scrap the Section campaign, said,

"We may not have Souter's millions but we are convinced we will secure repeal of Section 28 because we have right on our side.

"Scrap the Section stands for ending discrimination and building a Scotland on the principles of equality and respect. We are delighted that so many MSPs from all parties are supporting our campaign."

Tim Hopkins, from the Equality Network, said,

"People all over Scotland, gay and straight, are outraged at the Keep the Clause campaign's attacks on the principles of equal opportunities.

"A million pounds buys a lot of advertising space, but no amount of advertising will undermine the belief of the majority in Scotland in human rights and equal and fair laws for all. Scrap the Section is a voice for that majority."

Peter Hunter, organiser of the Comedy Club fundraiser said,

"Tonight is a fundraiser, but it's also a celebration. The arrival of the Bill marks the beginning of the end for section 28 and that means farewell to state sponsored discrimination. So we'll be raising funds, toasting the Parliament and laughing all the way to the bank!"

ENDS

For further information please contact:

George McGregor 0141 332 0006(w) 0131 557 3096(h) 0976 754420(m)
Tim Hopkins 0131 553 1459 (h) 07747 108 967 (m)

Index

Date: Mon 28 Feb 2000

Dave Prentis elected General Secretary of Scotland's biggest union

Dave PrentisDave Prentis, UNISON's current Deputy General Secretary, has been elected General Secretary of Scotland's largest union. He takes over from existing General Secretary, Rodney Bickerstaffe who retires at the end of this year.

Voting was as follows

Dave Prentis 125,584
Roger Bannister 71,021
Malkiat Bilku 27,785

Dave Prentis said

"I am delighted that UNISON members have given me this huge vote of confidence. I stood on a simple but sound platform of `pride in our services proud of our union'. It struck a chord."

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary welcomed the news.

"The convincing size of this vote, makes it clear that Dave is the popular choice," he said. "This is good news for Scottish Branches who nominated him in large numbers. Key issues for the membership in Scotland - campaigns against PFI, defending members against best value, support for local democracy, public sector housing, and the regulation of public utilities - have all received strong support from Dave.

"It is also important for Scotland that UNISON remains a strong independent campaigning union, so we can take our message to all the parties and people of Scotland, and deliver for our members"

Dave Prentis has had long term contact with Scotland, and has been instrumental in UNISON's campaigns for a Yes; Yes vote in the referendum and for the union's Serving Scotland, public services campaign.

UNISON has nearly 150,000 members, working for Scotland's local councils, healthcare services, higher and further education, water authorities, energy companies and in the voluntary and related sector.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:

Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w) 07771 548997(m)

Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

See more news from theUNISON Focus team

Index

 

Saturday 12 Feb 2000

Largest Scots union to back section 28 repeal

UNISON, Scotland's largest trade union, will today overwhelmingly back the vote for repeal of Section 28 in the Scottish Parliament yesterday. Susan Deacon MSP, the Scottish Health Minister will be present at UNISON's Scottish Council where Scottish branches are expected to approve a motion confirming the union's long-held position of opposition to Section 28. UNISON represents health care workers, social workers and other staff who daily see the results of discrimination.

Mike Kirby, UNISON's Scottish Convenor , said
"UNISON is pleased at both the result of yesterdays vote in the Scottish Parliament, and the mature debate that took place, in contrast to the hysteria being whipped up by irresponsible media reports and tycoons who want to buy political support. Our members have to pick up the pieces when young people's lives have been wrecked by homophobic bullying"

UNISON has consistently opposed the effects of Section 28 (or 2A in Scotland) because it serves to legitimise intolerance, prejudice, discrinimnation and homophobia, and inhibits discussion of issues of sexual orientation in schools and in terms of services provision.

The union is particularly pleased that Susan Deacon has agreed to speak, as she was in the forefront in standing up to the Precious Life organisation that had targeted and threatened Health Service staff, who make up a third of UNISON's Scottish Membership.

UNISON has always been in the front line of trade unions campaigning for equality, and has had established groups representing members facing discrimination, since its formation in 1993.

ENDS
[Note for Editors: UNISON's Scottish Council will meet in Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall (Strathclyde Suite) on Saturday 12/02/00. The meeting will take place from 10.30 am till around lunchtime. If you are wishing to attend please contact Chris Bartter - below]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT :
Mike Kirby (Scottish Convenor) 01426 292 751 (Page)
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w) 07771 548997(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)
George McGregor(Research Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0976 754420(m)

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Date: 9/02/00 Embargo: For Immediate release

Council finances need independent review

Responding to Jack McConnell's announcement of an investigation into the number of Quangos in Scotland and in the wake of yesterday's Accounts Commission findings of a large shortfall in council tax payment, UNISON, Scotland's local services union, today called for an independent review into Local Government Finance, to re-invigorate local democracy.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary, said

"We welcome the Finance Minister's commitment to investigate the unaccountable Quango state, but we must also ensure that local democracy can be properly resourced, so that we can deliver quality services and allow people to have a say in their running. The difficulties of local tax collection, the high levels of council tax because of the gearing effect, and increasing centralisation, all demand proper investigation so that taxpayers are not unfairly hit. I am calling on the Scottish Executive to accept MacIntosh's recommendations and review the funding of our local democracy. "

The government appointed MacIntosh Commission into Local Government last year recommended such a review, but the Scottish Executive rejected its recommendation. Mr Smith was a member of that Commission..

"Whilst non-payment is a serious problem and should be condemned" Mr Smith said. "The major factor in increasing levels of council tax is the fact that councils raise such a small proportion of their own revenue. This means that any reductions in cash, whether from central government or from non-payment, have to be met by whopping increases in council tax."

This is the so-called 'gearing' effect. Councils now only collect around 14% of their own cash. This means that - unless government puts in money - shortfalls have to be financed by increasing the payments from that small percentage; ie council tax payers.

UNISON has been campaigning for an independent review since the MacIntosh Report, and continues to argue its case, along with other supporters such as CoSLA, with the Scottish Parliament's Local Government Committee.

ENDS

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w) 07771 548997(m)
Joe Di Paola (Senior Regional Officer - Local Government) 0131-226 2662(w) 0141- 772 5557(h)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)
George McGregor(Research Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0976 754420(m)

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Embargo: Not For Release before 00.01 am Saturday 5 February 2000

UNISON increases the Minimum Wage pressure on Brown

Dave Prentis, Deputy General Secretary of UNISON, is to turn up the heat under Gordon Brown today. Speaking at a meeting of the union's Scottish Political Forum in Edinburgh today he will announce a series of measures to put pressure on the Chancellor, who is resisting an increase in the minimum wage.

Mr Prentis is incensed that the £3.60 figure, already attacked by the union as too low, is not to be raised annually.

"It is a breach of faith with the low-paid, a snub to the Low Pay Commission, and appalling treatment of all those who believed in the promises about eradicating low pay." He said. "Even the Low Pay Commission itself said that the appropriate rate should be £3.70 per hour from this year - is 10p an hour too much to ask? In reality what is needed is a proper rate to deal with low pay, for all those in work, whatever their age."

UNISON's Scottish Political Forum, will have before it an emergency motion to the Scottish Labour Party Executive, calling on the Chancellor to increase the minimum wage to ú5 per hour for all workers and to introduce an annual uprating. It is expected that the forum will pass this unanimously and also agree to write to all Scottish MPs, MSPs and Constituency Labour Parties, urging them to put direct pressure on Gordon Brown to agree an uprating.

"It is totally misleading to suggest that annual rises are only applicable to benefits." Mr Prentis continued "The minimum wage is what some people have to live on, just like pensions and wages. These are increased annually and the minimum wage should also be. It has already sunk from 39% of average earnings to 36%. We shouldn't allow it to become worthless."

ENDS

[Note for Editors: UNISON's Political Forum is the Scottish body that pursues UNISON's policies within the Scottish Labour Party. Dave Prentis should be contacted via the Press Office (below)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w) 07771 548997(m) John Lambie (Assistant Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w) 01698 815171(h) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)
George McGregor(Research Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0976 754420(m) Press Office - UNISON 0171-388 6609

Index

26 January 2000

First recognition ballot won in Scotland

Residential care workers at Enable Homes (Cumbernauld) have voted by an overwhelming 98% to be represented by UNISON in what is thought to be Scotland's first recognition ballot under the new Fairness at Work legislation.

Management initially told UNISON that there was "no interest" in union membership among approximately 80 staff at three homes but, on a 75% turnout, the ballot saw only one vote against recognition.

UNISON Scotland's voluntary sector officer welcomed the "overwhelming victory" as showing that "even when staff are dedicated to the service they provide, they want a professional union to represent them.

"We will now be going back to the Enable Homes managment and negotiating a full recognition agreement with UNISON."

The result is not only significant as the first successful recognition ballot in Scotland, but also because it has taken place in the voluntary sector.

"As the main union in the sector," said John Lyons, "UNISON knows just how difficult it is to organise in the voluntary sector.

"This is a tremendous boost for workers in the field, many of whom have been put off joining a union."

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26 Jan 2000

Water Charges include PFI Tax

UNISON Scotland the public services union today responded to the increased charges imposed on Scotland's water users.

UNISON accepts that the bulk of the increase is both necessary and desirable to maintain services and improve Scotland's water and sewerage infrastructure. Raising it to the standards set in European regulations.

However, there are additional reasons for the increase:
Most of the replacement facilities are being built under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). £672m of water and sewerage capital expenditure is being funded under PFI in Scotland and independent experts have calculated that this will cost the Scottish taxpayer £13.4m extra compared with conventional borrowing.

Revenue support from the Scottish Executive is being cut from £226.3m this year to £219.3m next year a cash cut of £7m.

Regarding the impact of the Competition Act it has to be remembered that English water companies had a massive amount of debt written off at privatisation. No equivalent debt write off happened in Scotland. They are now to be subsidised further by the Scottish taxpayer to enable them to `cherry-pick' the most profitable business using the publicly financed infrastructure.

Speaking at a meeting of UNISON Scotland's Water Committee, Dave Watson, Senior Regional Officer (Utilities) said:

"We entirely accept that Scotland's water and sewerage systems have to be brought up to European standards. However, the Scottish taxpayer is having to pay much more than is necessary to fund the discredited PFI system."

For further details contact:
Dave Watson 0141 332 0006 (office) 0973 672513 (mobile)

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Date: 17 Jan 2000

Nurses Pay - forward step but not solution - UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's largest union today described the Pay Review Body recommendations for nurses as a step in the right direction, but claimed it would not resolve Scotland's recruitment and retention problem.

Dave Prentis, UNISON's Deputy General Secretary said;

"UNISON is pleased that the PRB has recognised the need to stop experienced nurses leaving the service by giving them an additional pay boost. But this spoonful of sugar will not help the medecine go down for the lowest paid nurses. UNISON argued for a substantial increase for these staff."

Jim Devine, Senior Regional Officer (Health) in Scotland said, "While this is a step in the right direction it will not resolve the present recruitment and retention problems. The average age of a Scottish nurse is 47 years, and we are having problems recruiting and retaining younger people."

ENDS
[Note: the PRB award is as follows
1. Increase of 3.4% for Nurses, Midwives, Health Visitors and other Health Service Professional

2. 3.4% increase on on-call and stand-by allowances

3. Grade C and E Nurses on the maximum of pay scale for 1 year get an additional increase, giving a total increase of 7% and 7.8% respectively.

4. Senior 2 PAMS on the maximum of pay scale for 1 year get an additional increment, giving a total increase of 8.4%

5. No change to discretionary points

6. PRB reminds the service to continue to apply the proper grading criteria

7. Parties should continue all efforts to reach agreement when the use of Grade E Midwives is appropriate

There is no staging of the agreement and neither is there additional funding.]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Jim Devine (Senior Regional Officer-Health) 0141 332 0006(w) 07693 533362(p)
Chris Bartter(Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)
Anne Mitchell 0171-383 0717(w) or Mary Maguire 0171-388 6609(w) (For Dave Prentis information)

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Date: 12 January 2000

UNISON General Secretary election starts

The election to determine who is to replace Rodney Bickerstaffe as leader of Scotland's biggest union, is now underway. Unity Security Ballotting, which is conducting the elections, began to send out ballot papers to almost 150,000 UNISON members in Scotland today (12 January).

The official 'start of ballot' is not until 21 January but USB has started distribution so that every one of UNISON's members receives a ballot paper before that date.

Matt Smith UNISON's Scottish Secretary said;
"This is a vital vote for an important job. Getting the right person to lead UNISON in the UK is in the hands of UNISON members. I call on everyone of them to take the opportunity to have their say." The thre candidates standing in the election are:

Roger Bannister (Knowsley Branch Secretary)
Malkiat Bilku (London Regional Branch)
Dave Prentis (Deputy General Secretary)

The result will be announced at the end of February.

The election was triggered by the decision of Rodney Bickerstaffe not to seek re-election to the post of General Secretary, and to stand down on 31 December 2000.

UNISON represents almost 150,000 workers in Scottish local government, the NHS in Scotland, Scotland's universities and colleges, police authorities, water authorities, the gas and electricity industries, and Scotland's voluntary and related sector.

ENDS

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w) 01294 601652(h) 07771 548 997(m)

Chris Bartter(Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

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Monday 10 Jan 2000

PFI contracts still threaten staff and services

UNISON's Deputy General Secretary, Dave Prentis will today (Monday) issue a hard -hitting warning to the government over the controversial Private Finance Initiative Speaking to a Conference on Financing Scotland's Parliament in Edinburgh at which Jack McConnell MSP will also be speaking, Mr Prentis will call for PFI contracts to be made public, particularly where there are cuts in services. He said

"We have the absurd case of Glasgow City Council signing away £192m of public money to refurbish the city's schools - yet refusing to publish the details of the scheme. And this is despite the reports of six swimming pools and a number of gymnasia being earmarked for closure, and reduced space for classrooms and staff. It is a disgrace that a government that insists on Best Value does not force the council to open these books."

In addition Mr Prentis will claim that some public authorities in Scotland are ignoring the government's own guidelines and insisting that staff must be transferred to private firms as part of any PFI deal.

"Despite new accountancy rules, and guidelines that clearly state that staff are not required to be transferred," Mr Prentis said, "our officers are getting reports from all over Scotland that suggest local authorities in particular, are still operating as if these changes have not happened. The Scottish Executive should ensure that public authorities are up to speed."

UNISON is publishing a Branch bulletin to coincide with the Conference, run jointly with the Centre for Scottish Public Policy, which reports soaring PFI costs (now 2 billion plus in Scottish Executive projects alone), and lists some of the wilder projects being prepared for PFI (including Kilmarnock Prison, Strathclyde Police's Training Centre, Air/Sea Rescue and military satellites!).

ENDS

[Note for Editors - Dave Prentis will be speaking at around 12.30 pm, Jack McConnell will speak at 10.00am. The Conference is being held at Edinburgh University Conference Centre, 15, South College Street Edinburgh.
Any press places at the conference, please contact CSPP direct (numbers below). Contact with Dave Prentis via UNISON Press Office (below)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w) 07771 548997(m)
Dave Watson (Senior Regional Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0973 672513(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)
Pat Herd (Centre for Scottish Public Policy) 0131-477 8219(t) 0131-477 8220(f)
Press Office - UNISON 0171-388 6609

Index

Date: 6 January 2000

UNISON attacks report of 'Minimum Wage Freeze'

UNISON, the largest Scottish union, today said that any attempt by the government to freeze the minimum wage at its current low level would provoke a strengthened campaign for a realistic minimum wage, from all parts of Scottish society.

Dave Prentis, UNISON's Deputy General Secretary, said

"Freezing the minimum wage would be a disgraceful way to start the millennium. It would waste all the effort of setting up statutory rates and damage the government's own aim of a crusade against child poverty"

The union has already discussed the reports with the STUC and with representatives of Scottish churches, and will continue to build broad support across Scottish society against such attacks on the low paid.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary, said, "The minimum wage is already set too low. To fail to uprate it as these leaks are suggesting, will simply drive the low-paid back into poverty. We will be calling on the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament, to send a clear message to the government that Scotland will not accept an attempt to lower the minimum wage still further."

Mr Smith, who is also President of the STUC, was speaking after a meeting with the Church of Scotland's Church and Nation Committee, and the Scottish Churches Industrial Mission, who will be issuing their own reactions to the leaks.

UNISON has consistently campaigned against the level of the minimum wage, whilst welcoming the principle. Their current demand is for a minimum wage of £5.00-an-hour. The current level is £3.60 with £3.00 as a youth rate This last will rise to £3.20-an-hour because of a previous decision of Government.

ENDS

[Note for Editors;- Contact with Dave Prentis via UNISON Press Office (below)] FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006 (w) 07771 548997(m)
Chris Bartter(Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m) UNISON Press Office 0171-388 6609(w)

Index

Tuesday 4 Jan 2000

Experts gather to Keep Scotland Warm

A campaign to bring the issue of Fuel Poverty in front of the Scottish Parliament is to be launched with a set of seminars early in the new year. Energy charity Energy Action Scotland(EAS), and public service union UNISON have joined together with Transco and the Centre for Scottish Public Policy(CSPP) to promote the project, which starts at the beginning of next month.

Ann Loughrey, Director of EAS, said

"30% of Scotland's households live in fuel poverty, and only about a quarter of Scotland's homes are adequately heated and insulated. This is why we want to bring experts and interested parties together to draw up series of recommendations for the Scottish Parliament. The project will involve seminars on Housing, Health, Social Policy, the Environment and Energy Efficiency, and will come up with a blueprint to Keep Scotland Warm."

"UNISON has considerable involvement in most of the areas under discussion - housing, health, the energy industry etc." said Dave Watson, UNISON's Senior Regional Officer for Energy.

"We have long been campaigning for realistic investment to deal with the scandal of Fuel Poverty, and want these seminars to deliver a clear message to Scottish Politicians. Providing the necessary capital investment is expensive (EAS estimates the figure at £2 Billion), but that is the same as two-years cost to the NHS of treating cold-related illnesses."

Whilst energy regualtion remains a power reserved to Westminster, the overall responsibilities of the Scottish Parliament in the various related areas surrounding fuel poverty, have convinced the charity and the union that the Parliament should use its powers to deal with a specific Scottish Agenda on fuel poverty. Ann Loughrey said

"The problems in Scotland are different, and require Scottish solutions. That is what the Parliament was set up to do, and they have sufficient responsibility to do it.

ENDS

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Dave Watson (UNISON SRO - Energy) 0973 672513(m)
Chris Bartter (UNISON - Communcations Officer 0771 558 3729(m)
Elizabeth Gore (PR/Information Officer EAS) 0141-226 3064(o)

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Mon 3 January 2000

Finance clash between UNISON and Government

Dave Prentis, UNISON's Deputy General Secretary, is coming to Edinburgh to take on Jack McConnell MSP - Scotland's Finance Minister - over PFI.

The Centre for Scottish Public Policy(CSPP) and UNISON have organised a major conference on the financing of the Scottish Parliament's programme. Jack McConnell will be the keynote speaker at the conference that takes place at Edinburgh University Conference Centre on 10 January.

Dave Prentis will be speaking on 'the view from the inside' and will attack the effect that the Private Finance Initiative - a key government strategy for funding public services - will have on the workforce delivering the service.

Mr Prentis will point to what UNISON sees as the double standards of the Scottish Executive.

"We cannot accept them talking about the need for partnerships on the one hand, when on the other they are splitting up the teams that deliver services." He said " In addition, the financial cost of PFI and similar schemes makes them poor value for money. To take one example we have pointed out in our comments on the Spending Plans for Scotland document how the roads programme could have been so much more if the Skye Bridge PFI scheme not wasted resources."

Anne Middleton (UNISON's Deputy Scottish Secretary) has no qualms about the possible clash.
"The Scottish Executive is quite clear where UNISON stands on PFI," she says, "And UNISON is confident enough with the strength of our arguments to relish being able to put them direct to the Executive's chief financier."

Other speakers at the conference will be Allyson Pollock, Professor at University College, London - a noted critic of PFI, Alf Young (Deputy Editor of The Herald), Andrew Wilson MSP - the SNP's Finance spokesperson and speakers from the financial sector - Andrew McLaughlin (Ernst and Young) and Anita Hunt and Mark Prentice(Lloyds TSB).

The conference will also look at some other key financial issues including the "Barnett Formula" and alternative methods of funding of both central and local government.

ENDS

[Note for Editors - Any press places at the conference, please contact CSPP direct (numbers below). Contact with Dave Prentis via Mary Maguire (below)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Anne Middleton (Deputy Scottish Secretary) 07771 548 973(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)
Pat Herd (Centre for Scottish Public Policy) 0131-477 8219(t) 0131-477 8220(f)
Mary Maguire (UK Press Office - UNISON) 01523 139547(p)

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See also