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Communications Index | Press releases | Scotland inUNISON | Campaigns

Press Release Archive 2001

Fri 28 Dec 2001

UNISON calls for Glasgow housing funding details to be disclosed

UNISONScotland, Scotland's public service union, today called for the Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) to reveal the detail of its funding plans to take over the city's council housing stock. UNISON claims that there is still a huge shortfall in funding and that the details should be public before the much-postponed tenants ballot on stock transfer takes place.

Mike Kirby, UNISON's Scottish Convenor said,

"No details of the funding package that supposedly backs up the GHA's business case have been revealed - either to Glasgow City Councillors or to tenants. We think that this is because there are huge gaps, and some prospective funders are refusing to commit. In any case it is completely unfair to ask tenants to vote on an incomplete and secret plan."

The union is also calling on the STUC to arrange a major conference in the city in the early new year to look at alternatives to Housing Stock Transfer. Mike Kirby again

"It is time the alternatives to Whole Stock Transfer are more widely debated. Now that councils elsewhere in Scotland have decided not to go down the HST road, it is time we looked at these alternatives more thoroughly. If the Government doesn't want to look at these, we want an authoritative body like to STUC to do so."

UNISON, is Scotland's major Housing union, with members in council and housing association housing. It has consistently campaigned against whole-stock transfer in Glasgow and elsewhere in Scotland.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Mike Kirby, (Scottish Convenor) 07803 952 261(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index| Local Government Service Group News

Thur 27 Dec

Nursery staff warn of increased campaign

Scottish nursery nurses are to step up their campaign for a fair pay structure, following the refusal of CoSLA to negotiate on the claim, UNISONScotland, Scotland's public service union, warned today. Scotland's Local Government employers have refused to even discuss a claim to review nursery nurses' Scottish grades and conditions, last looked at in 1988.

Carol Ball, Chair of UNISON's Nursery Nurse Working party said,

"Despite the fact that there are currently supposed to be Scottish-wide terms and conditions; that the Scottish Executive have recently created a national framework for Nursery Nurses; and that we are looking for a Scottish solution; Scotland's employers seem happy to try to wash their hands of us."

Nursery Nurses who work in Scotland's day nurseries, nursery schools and classes, community nurseries and special schools, are seeking a four-level career structure, moving from nursery nurse grade up to head of establishment. They say that a review is needed both to reflect the increases in the duties of nursery staff since 1988, and to deal with the increasing anomalies across Scotland. At this stage nursery nurses are not revealing their next steps, but it will involve increasing pressure on both Scottish local authorities and the Scottish Executive. Carol Ball says

"We do not accept CoSLA's view that nothing can be done for nursery nurses. We intend to continue our campaign and make it clear to local authorities that we are not going to go away. Our nursery nurse members play a key role in the education of our young children, and we will be increasing the public pressure on our employers and their paymasters."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Carol Ball (Chair - Nursery Nurses Working Gp)
Joe Di Paola (UNISON Scottish Org Local Govt) 07990 505698(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

Date: 17 December 2001

UNISON disappointed by £1.50 per day increase for Scotland's nurses

UNISON, Scotland's healthcare union, said they were disappointed by the 3.6% pay rise for nursing staff announced by the Pay Review Body today(17 December). At a meeting of the union's Healthcare Committee today, Jim Devine, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Health said:

"This increase will not resolve the recruitment and retention difficulties the NHS in Scotland is currently experiencing. One in every four nurses registered with the UKCC(the professional registering body for nursing) are currently not practising in any healthcare sector - they have chosen the work outside healthcare. This pay rise will not serve to bring them back.

"For an average nurse, this pay rise is worth £1.50 per day. This is very different to the pay increase that MSP's are due to vote themselves this week. If 6% is the going rate for our politicians, it should be the going rate for all public services workers."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Jim Devine (UNISON Scottish Org Health) 0131-226 2662(w) 07719 369 874(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index | Health News

13 Dec 2001

Partnership Learning Fund gives staff IT start

UNISON, Scotland's largest union, has used money awarded by the Scottish Executive set up one of the first Basic IT Skills Training Courses for workers who have had no experience of computers. The course, run in artnership with Glasgow City Council, will be attended by 32 City ouncil staff and is funded by the Scottish Union Learning Fund (SULF).

It will take place in the Glasgow City Council Learning Centre today ecember 13th 2001), which has been completely refurbished following rants from the Scottish University For Industry (SUFI).

Stan Morris, UNISON''s development officer for the project said

"This is the first of a number of projects the union plans to organise in partnership with employers. The Scottish Union Learning Fund grant will enable over 100 workers throughout Scotland to start basic skills training on computers. This has been a tremendous partnership development, involving the Workers Educational Association(WEA), and the Scottish Executive, as well as UNISON and various councils.

The project will last until March 31 2002 and involve 32 City Council staff. UNISON will be running similar projects in 3 other authorities throughout Scotland. UNISON received an award of £48k to set up the IT Skills training, and also received an award of £36k to train lifelong learning advisors.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Stan Morris (Development Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0141-959 7165(h)

Index

Date: 12 December 2001

Private beds won't tackle NHS waiting lists

UNISON, Scotland's healthcare union, today welcomed the announcement on the NHS in Scotland by Malcolm Chisolm MSP. The union sees the establishment of the National Waiting Times Co-ordination Unit as putting the use of the NHS beds at the centre of the campaign to cut waiting times

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

"We are pleased that the Minister has accepted UNISON arguments that better co-ordination can mean better use of NHS beds. We agree with the Minister that private sector capacity in Scotland is limited and cannot make a significant difference to waiting lists. It would also prove to be an expensive option and merely lead to NHS consultants doing the operations in private hospitals rather than NHS ones.

"What has been suggested is clearly in line with UNISON's argument that we have one NHS in Scotland and not the range of competing authorities that the Tories left us. We will be writing to Mr Chisolm suggesting a UNISON name for the Unit"

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Jim Devine(Scottish Organiser-Health) 0771 936 9874(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0141-959 7165(h)

Index | Health News

 

5 Dec 2001 Date:

Public services central to success of Scottish Government

UNISON, Scotland's public service union, today published a draft manifesto as part of its campaign for public services.

Entitled ...for world class public services., the draft was launched at the union's celebration of Scotland's public services on Scotland's Public Services Day at The Hub, Castlehill, Edinburgh on Wednesday 5 December 2001.

Matt Smith, UNISON''s Scottish Secretary said:

"This draft manifesto is an initial statement of our aims. The basic principles that any government will require to adopt if they are to deliver the renewed services that the Scottish people deserve. We know that the people of Scotland value their public services, and we know that they want them delivered by the public sector. We will be circulating this draft manifesto widely, hoping both to pick up support for its principles and to get other organisations' views on our aims."

At the celebration in the Hub, UNISON were joined by Andy Kerr, Minister for Finance and Public Service and a number of Scotland's MSP's and their researchers.

They saw UNISON's new cinema advert (see it at www.unison.org.uk) which reminds the Government that 83% of the UK population doesn't want public services run by the private sector (the figure in Scotland is higher at 91%). They were also given the union's draft Scottish manifesto, which argues for delivery of public services by, fully trained, in -house staff rather than by the private sector.

Also present were representatives of the various services in which UNISON organises. Local Government, Health Service, Higher and Further Education, Water, the Energy Industry and the Community and Voluntary Sector.

The Positively Public Campaign is a UK-wide Campaign and will continue to run up to and beyond the next Scottish Parliamentary Elections.

ENDS

Note to Editors: A copy of ...for world class public services is available from Chris Bartter at The Hub or Aileen Ward at the UNISON office (0141-332 0006)

For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w) 07771 548997(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0141-959 7165(h)
Please direct calls on the 5 Dec to The Hub on 0131-473 2042

Index

3 Dec 2001

UNISON ballots SEPA staff on attempt to cut wages

UNISON, Scotland's public service union, is running a consultative ballot for its members working for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the union announced today (Monday 3) .

The ballot has been called because of an attempt by the agency to end staff protection agreements leading to a future threat to individuals pay. The SEPA management have offered a three year pay deal to their staff, but tied to this are the strings of removing the existing protections for staff pay agreed at the establishment of SEPA, and tying some payscales to membership of professional institutes.

UNISON thinks that this will discriminate against existing experienced staff. Marion Adamson, UNISON's Regional Officer said,

"SEPA management are using the annual pay discussions to introduce a deal that rips up existing agreements, and gives the agency the future right to cut wages of individuals as they choose. It is particularly unfair to long serving members of staff who have given a lot of service to the Agency and its predecssors."

The ballot comes on top of a decision by SEPA to withhold staff's performance pay elements. UNISON thinks this was a crude attempt to coerce staff into accepting a deal, and has already submitted Employment Tribunal claims under the Wages Act, for repayment of this entitlement.

Marion Adamson says "This is the latest step in an attempt by SEPA management who have launched a concerted attack on their staff's pay and conditions. We are urging our members to reject the Agency three year deal. Hopefully a strong united vote will send a signal to the management that staff are far from happy at this."

Members will be receiving their ballot papers today (Monday) and the result is due next Monday (10 Dec).

ENDS

Note for Editors: SEPA is a government agency, set up in 1997, whose role is to protect the environment. UNISON is the recognised union organising SEPA's 800 staff

For Further Information Please Contact: Marion Adamson (UNISON Regional Organiser) 0131-226 2662(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index

3 Dec 2001

UNISON takes 'positively public' argument direct to government

UNISON, Scotland's public service union, is to take its campaign for public services direct to the heart of the Scottish Parliament later this week. The union is running a celebration of Scotland's public services on Scotland's Public Services Day at The Hub, Castlehill, Edinburgh on Wednesday 5 December 2001. From 12.30 until 2.00pm.

All Scotland's MSP's have been invited to come to The Hub to see UNISON's new Cinema Advert which reminds the Government that 83% of the UK population doesn't want public services run by the private sector (the figure in Scotland is higher at 91%).

They will also be given the union's reasons backing their Positively Public campaign for delivery of public services by, fully trained, in -house staff rather than by the private sector. Speaking at the event will be Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary, and Andy Kerr MSP, Minister for Finance and Public Services has accepted an invitation to be present.

Also present will be representatives of the various services in which UNISON organises. Local Government, Health Service, Higher and Further Education, Water, the Energy Industry and the Community and Voluntary Sector.

Matt Smith said: "We want to engage the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament in the discussion about producing world-class public services in Scotland. We also want to point out that these are not going to be possible if there is continued adherence to the myth that the private sector can deliver effective public services."

The Positively Public Campaign is a UK-wide Campaign and on the 4 December activities will be taking place across the UK including a lobby of the Westminster Parliament. On the 5 there will also be activities taking place in UNISON branches across Scotland.

ENDS

Note for Editors/Picture Editors: You are invited to send a representative to the above event. Contributions from Matt Smith and Andy Kerr MSP, will be at around 1.00 pm. The event will finish at 2.00pm

For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141 332 0006
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141 332 0006

Index

 

Friday 30 November 2001

UNISON Annual Nursing Conference advises nurses to raise concerns about staffing levels

UNISON which represents more than 35,000 Scottish nurses, will today be advising nurses that they must raise concerns about low staffing levels formally if they do not want to compromise patient care or their professional accountability.

UNISON, the largest health service union for midwives and health visitors, is hosting its Annual Scottish Nursing conference on Friday 30 November in the Walton Suite at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow at 10.30am.

Official figures show that the workload for nurses has more than doubled over a fifteen-year period. This UNISON conference offers nurses practical advice from UNISON's National Professional Officer, Karen Jennings with the use of their ‘Be Safe' alert forms which were devised by UNISON in liaison with the nurses professional body, UKCC. Maureen Williams from UKCC, and Lynn MacMillan Scottish Director of ‘Public Interest at Work, Scotland will also be speaking. MSP Janis Hughes who is a former UNISON Nurse will be officially opening the Conference.

Bridget Hunter, UNISON Scotland's Lead Officer for Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors says: -

"For years UNISON, on behalf of its nurses, have raised concerns about inadequate staffing levels, short term contracts, and the abuse of bank/agency nurses which undoubtedly has a direct and negative impact on the care delivered to patients. We now say it is time for the Government to stop dithering and deliver the goods to deal with the situation before its too late.

"Earlier this month the Minister for Health and Community Care convened a Nursing Summit which admitted that we have a shortage of nursing staff and if we are to avert a catastrophe in years to come, we need to recruit and retain nurses now. She promised £1.5m to assist with the process but we need that level of funding to be delivered to almost every trust in the Scotland to make a difference."

 

Ends

For further information contact
Bridget Hunter, Lead Officer for Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors: 0141-332-0006

Index | Health News

29 November 2001

UNISON condemns Lothian nursing cuts

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON have today condemned the cuts announced by Lothian University Hospitals NHS Trust (LUHNT) and accused Lothian Health Board of "stuffing the mouths of Private Contractors with gold instead of stuffing our wards with doctors, nurses and domestics."

Reacting to the cuts announced by LUHNT, Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser of Health said: "At a time of record resources being invested in the National Health Services, one has to ask why are Lothian University Hospitals NHS Trust announcing a cuts package of doctors, nurses and other NHS staff? The only reason that this is happening is because Lothian NHS are renting a hospital from the private sector, which has been built by the private sector, which will be owned by the private sector, will be administered by the private sector, a private sector, who by law ensure that their first priority is to make profit for their shareholders. Provision for patient care therefore becomes a poor second. The Scottish Health Service is literally stuffing the mouth of the private sector with gold when we should be stuffing our wards with doctors, nurses and domestics."

Tom Waterson, of UNISON said: "Our members affected are telling us that there is no question that these cuts will compromise patient care. We have serious concerns that the posts have been removed without proper consultation with the Trade Unions."

UNISON understands that the following jobs are affected: Diabetes Nurse Specialists, ID Councillors, Nurse Grades B - F, Education Co-ordinators, Child Health Lecturer, Nurse Practitioners, G Grade Clinical Managers, Clinical Support Workers, Infant Feeding Strategist, Tissue Viability Nurse, Practice Development Nurses & Sick Children's A&E Nurses.

A number of other Nursing & Midwifery posts are also subject to review, but at this stage these proposals are subject to confidentiality. A whole range of other posts are also being axed by the Trust, mainly Admin & Clerical, Therapists and a small number of managerial staff.

For Further Information Contact :
Tom Waterson, Staff Side Chair, LUHNT: 0131-536-3595 (work)

or Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser: 0141-332-0006

Note to Editor
There will be a meeting of affected staff tomorrow (Friday) at 2.30pm in the Large Surgical Lecture Theatre at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Jim Devine will be in attendance and you are cordially invited.

Index | Health News

29 November 2001

Environment watchdog staff claim wages 'unlawfully withheld'

Around 40 staff in the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have submitted claims to Employment Tribunal claiming the Agency has unlawfully deducted wages from then since April this year. The payments are part of a performance related payment and range from £20 - £70 per month per person.

Marion Adamson, UNISON's Regional Officer said,

"SEPA management originally agreed to pay these increases. - due in April - in August. Then with no warning and no authority they stopped the August payroll and refused to pay out. They have admitted that they have no statutory right to stop these payments, and UNISON is taking the agency to an ET with a claim for unauthorised deduction under the Wages Act."

The dispute comes in the middle of discussions on the Agency staffs pay claim and a potential long term pay deal. UNISON thinks this is a crude attempt to coerce staff into accepting a deal.

Marion Adamson says

"Right through these discussions there has been an 'anti-staff' attitude emerging, and proposals have been produced by the management that would impose wage cuts in the future. UNISON thinks it is no accident that in the middle of this discussion, payments to which the staff are entitled have been unlawfully withheld from their pay. This kind of unfair pressure is unacceptable, and virtually all our members are currently completing ET forms."

ENDS

Note for Editors: SEPA is a government agency, set up in 1997, whose role is to protect the environment. UNISON is the recognised union organising SEPA's 800 staff

For Further Information Please Contact:

Marion Adamson (UNISON Regional Organiser) 0131-226 2662(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0141-959 7165(h)

Index

Date: 21 November 2001

UNISON campaign steps up a gear with 'Positively Public' cinema ad

UNISON, the UK's largest union, today (21 November) announced further events in a £1m public services campaign which will put further pressure on the Government to deliver on promises made to the union and the electorate.

The union screens a cinema advert which will go into cinemas from the end of the week, and plans are being made for its distribution in Scotland The advert warns the Prime Minister to 'Remember the 83%'. It refers to the 83% of the UK population who don't want public services to be run by the private sector in a poll commissioned by UNISON. (The figure in Scotland is 91%)

In Scotland it will be on show at the Public Services Day event run by UNISON for the Scottish Parliament on December 5 2001. This will take place at the Hub, Castlehill, Royal Mile, Edinburgh between 12.30 and 2.00pm. All Scotland's MSP's are being invited to a day that will explore what is needed if Scotland's public services are to be modernised

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said

"UNISON is discussing with Scottish Ministers the need to work together to reform public services, and has constantly pressed them to do so on the basis of a properly trained and resourced, in-house public services team."

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said:

"Our campaign reminds the Government that it has to deliver to the electorate on promises made. We want reform of the public services. Reform that is not based on a two-tier workforce nor on wage and pension cuts for the low paid which is what happens when private contractors move in. Reform based on the real needs of our public services, not on an ideological preference for the private sector. Reform based on a clear-eyed assessment of what really works to deliver high quality, value for money services.

"And our campaign reminds the Government that the public does not support the increasing use of the private sector to run our public services. They want quality public services and they don't want private companies making profits out of our sick, our children and our elderly".

There will also be a national day of action celebrating public services on 4 December. There will be a central rally and lobby of Parliament and a series of regional events taking place. UNISON is also collecting thousands of postcards supporting its Positively Public campaign which will be delivered to the Prime Minister before the end of the year.

ENDS

*Copies of the ad storyboard/VHS/BETA copies available from the London Press office, numbers below. It is also viewable on the UNISON website www.unison.org.uk

For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)
Anne Mitchell (Press Officer - UNISON UK) 0207 383 0717(w) 07623 159 382 (p)

Index

17 November 2001

UNISON calls for real modernisation and partnership to make services Positively Public

UNISON is calling on Scotland's First Minister elect to abandon ‘outdated' privatisation and PFI schemes and to look at imaginative ways to modernise public services by giving them the public investment they need.

UNISON will make the call at an Edinburgh Trade Union Council Rally for Public Services in the Assembly Rooms George Street Edinburgh at 2pm on Saturday 17 November.

John Stevenson, the union's Edinburgh Branch Secretary and chair of its Scottish Campaigns Committee said,

"We want modern public services. Grown-up public services. Public services that are so modern, there might be enough homes and foster parents to go round to protect and help children in trouble.

"Public services that are so modern that when you build a new hospital you get more beds, not less.

"Public services that are so modern that they do not go back to the private, profit driven services that collapsed and had to be brought into public control by our forebears.”

Mr Stevenson slammed PFI as "bleeding funds from other services to pay for private profit.” "You pay for it, I pay for it - and because it is tied up in 30 year contracts, our children pay for it and their children pay for it”, he warned.

UNISON was offering a partnership to the government. "We should rightly praise the achievements of our Scottish Parliament and give credit where it is due”, said Mr Stevenson.

"But part of any partnership must be mutual respect. And that means listening to your friends and being big enough to recognise that the people who actually deliver the services have valid points to make. "Only then will be be able to deliver services that are accountable, efficient, delivered by a valued and properly paid team and truly Positively Public”.

ENDS

Further Information
John Stevenson: 0131 220 5655 (w)

Index

13 November 2001

Danger of two-tier Freedom of Information regime

UNISON, Scotland's public service union, today warned that the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Bill may mean that people, who rely on the private sector to provide their schools, hospitals and other services, cannot use the legislation to get information on them. The union also said that the law was unlikely to be effective unless resources were provided for the staff who will require to provide the information.

Chris Bartter (UNISON's Communications Officer) was giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Justice 1 Committee today (13 November). He said

"In order to avoid the creation of a two-tier FoI regime, the Bill must state clearly that its purpose is to cover all public service providers, and should include methods to ensure that everyone who provides public services has to account for them."

The union, claims that many private sector and charitable service providers such as contractors maintaining Scotland's trunk roads and residential care charities, will only be covered by the law if ministers so decide.

Chris said

"Whilst we welcome the main thrust of this legislation, the fact remains that only public authorities are currently subject to its provisions. There are a whole raft of bodies who may or may not be covered, dependent on ministerial decision."

The union points out that the list of authorities covered excludes some key players.

"Social organisations as Housing Associations, Local Enterprise Companies, Social Inclusion Partnerships and the voluntary sector deliver peoples services using public money." Chris said "They must be subject to the same obligations to give the public information as Local Authority Housing Departments, Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Tourist Board and Health Trusts."

UNISON is also concerned that the Executive seems to be set to make no resources available to authorities to deliver the service. Chris went on;

"The policy memorandum to the Bill estimates that the delivery of FoI will cost between £2.5m - £4.8m pa, yet rather patronisingly suggest that this can all be provided from existing resources. This could mean that authorities are in no position to deliver the requested information as they haven't had the resources to set up the required systems"

ENDS

{Note to the Editor: UNISON's written evidence to the Justice Committee is available from Chris Bartter (below) or here on the UNISON-Scotland website.

Further Information: Chris Bartter 0141 332 0006

Index

Saturday, 10th November

"Health Visitors Cuts Undermine Healthy Scotland Strategy" Warns UNISON

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON has today warned that cuts in the number of home visits by Health Visitors "undermines the Scottish Executive's Healthy Scotland Strategy"

Speaking at a Health Visitors Delegate Conference in Dunblane, the UNISON Scottish Organiser for Health, Jim Devine said:

"In 1990 Health Visitors in Scotland seen 512,500 patients at home and that year over 1.9m home visits were made to these patients.

"The latest figures show that the number of patients visited had fallen by nearly a third to 347,700 and the number of home visits to just over 1.2m.

"When one breaks down last years visits on a Health Board by Health Board basis discrepancies become very marked. There are twice as many visits by a Health Visitor in Dumfries and Grampian compared to Greater Glasgow Health Board. Bottom of the numbers of visits league is Highland Health Board.

"Health Visitors are at the forefront of the Scottish Executive's Healthy Scotland Strategy. They are the only health service staff who visit well people. Health Visitors encourage mothers to breast-feed, advise on diet, monitor potential child abuse and are a crucial support to the wellbeing of the family.

"The reduction in the number of Health Visitors, and the visits that they make, undermine the Scottish Executive's Healthy Scotland Strategy.

"Working in partnership with UNISON, the Scottish Executive should establish minimum standards in relation to Health Visitor numbers and visits throughout Scotland."

Ends

For further information contact Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser: 0141-332-0006

Index | Health News

7 November 2001

"End Blame Culture in NHS" says UNISON

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON today called for an end to the blame culture that prevails in the National Health Service and reminded MSPs that they have a major role to play in this strategy.

On the eve of the first major conference between Senior Managers and MSPs, Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser (Health) said:

"Over the past few days the media, MSPs and health trade unions have been focusing on the bullying survey in Grampian and the staffing issues at the Beatson Oncology Unit in Glasgow. The first response appears to be an attempt to blame someone. Some MSPs blame the Scottish Executive, others blame the management and some blame the staff.

"We need to get away from the blame culture in the National Health Service.

"What is needed is an informed debate between patients/clients, the Scottish Executive, hospital management and the trade unions. That debate should include resources, workload, staffing and ability to deliver care.

"That is why we welcome the participation of MSPs at our conference tomorrow, where for the first time MSPs, Senior NHS Managers and Senior NHS Civil Servants will debate the relationship between the Parliament and the Scottish Health Service.

Ends

For further information contact Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser: 0141-332-0006

Index | Health News

6 November 2001

PRESS STATEMENT FROM

AEEU

GMB

PROSPECT

TGWU

UNISON

British Energy Generation - Pay 2001
Industrial Action looms

The five Trades Unions recognised by British Energy Generation who run Britain's nuclear power stations, AEEU, GMB, PROSPECT (formerly EMA), TGWU and UNISON announced today that their members had voted overwhelmingly for both action short of a strike and for strike action in a dispute over pay. This was due from 1 July 2001.

In a high turnout by all of the Trades Union members the message sent to British Energy is to meet the demands for a one year pay deal with no strings attached and at the going rate in the industry rather than the offer on the table that is for 2 years, pay linked to performance and guaranteed rises in pensionable pay below the going rate.

The Trades Unions say that the Company have constantly failed to listen to the messages staff have been giving the Board and the ballot result indicates that.

Industrial action will commence in the next three weeks unless a realistic deal can be struck. It is inevitable that when action commences all of British Energy's plant in the UK will be shut down. This will affect 25% of the UK's electricity production.* The Trades Unions will ensure that all safety procedures are adhered to and that there will be absolutely no risk to the public or employees.

D Rooney, AEEU

B Strutton, GMB

A C Aldous, PROSPECT

A English, TGWU

M Jeram, UNISON

*Note for Scottish Editors

The percentage of electricity in Scotland produced by nuclear power is 50% rather than the 25% in the UK as a whole. This means the likely effect on Scotland will be that much quicker and more widespread.

For further information please contact:
Dave Watson 07973 672513(m)

Index | Electricity

30 October 2001

Resolve NHS pay or face recruitment crisis, warns UNISON

Scotland's largest health care union, UNISON, today warned the Scottish Executive that unless the issue of low pay amongst health workers was resolved, the Scottish Health Service faces a recruitment crises.

Speaking at a meeting of NHS staff in Aberdeen, the Scottish Organiser of Health for UNISON, Jim Devine, said:

"Low pay is endemic in the National Health Service and it is having an impact on recruitment and retention of staff. The average age of a nurse in Scotland is 48 and a starting salary of a degree qualified nurse is around £15,000 a year. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that we are having difficulty recruiting and retaining nurses.

Ancillary staff start at £4.23 per hour or £165.12 per week and admin and clerical staff, with all their skills and expertise, start on a derisory salary of £9,670 a year.

National Health Service vacancies in some disciplines are at an all-time high and areas like Grampian, Glasgow and Lothian are experiencing major difficulties recruiting and retaining staff. Some hospitals in Scotland are experiencing an annual turnover in staff of over 100%.

Unless, by working in partnership with the NHS Trade Unions, the Scottish Executive does not resolve the low pay epidemic that prevails in the National Health Service, then we face a recruitment crisis which will have a direct impact on our ability to delivery quality care to the people of Scotland."

JIM DEVINE will be available for interview at 10.00 in the Aberdeen Office, Grampian Resource Centre, 7 Alford Place, Aberdeen AB1 2YD

Aberdeen: 01224 620624 / Mobile: 07719-369-874 / Pager: 07693 533362

Index | Health News

.

Saturday 27 October, 2001

"Private Sector in National Health Service Immoral and Impractical" say UNISON

On the eve of the opening of the latest major hospital built under the PFI project, at Wishaw General Hospital, Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON have today condemned the private sector involvement in the National Health Service as impractical and immoral.

"On Monday, the latest hospital build by the private sector will be opened at Wishaw", said Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser of Health.

"It will no doubt reflect the same problems that presently prevail at Hairmyres.

"Hairmyres was the first hospital in Scotland built under the PFI initiative. UNISON is presently in dispute at that hospital on issues like nursing establishment, reduction in beds and even on the design of the hospital.

"Four years prior to the process starting, over 500 porters, domestics and catering staff were employed by this Trust. These jobs were privatised and there are now 309 of these staff employed by the private sector.

"Astonishingly, these staff are employed by two different companies and work under four different sets of terms and conditions. The majority of the staff are employed by ISS and they receive the following terms and conditions:

.

Pay Rate is £4.18 an hour for new starts and does not change whether you work for the company for 5, 10, 15 or 20 years.

No Overtime payments.

No Shift enhancements

No night shift allowance

No additional payments for working Saturday and Sunday

No bonus scheme

Annual leave as per the Working Time Directive

Annual leave entitlement does not accrue with continuous service.

Sick pay is accrued at the rate of one day per month - provided there has been no absence.

No pension

"It is impractical to provide a joined up, co-ordinated support service if the staff are employed by different companies and are on different terms and conditions. One has also to say that this is an immoral way to treat workers, mainly women workers. These are individuals who may have worked for the health service for 5, 10, or 15 years and they were sold in the market place to the lowest bidder.

"In the new Scotland, the message should be very clear. The private sector's involvement in the NHS is both immoral and impractical and the Scottish Executive should review their policies as a matter of urgency."

For further information contact:
Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser: 0141-332-0006, 07719-369-874

Index | Health News

26 October 2001

UNISON NORTH GLASGOW HOSPITALS BRANCH
Medical Secretaries' Strike Suspended- Improved Deal Won!

North Glasgow Hospitals Branch will suspend industrial action from tomorrow as a result of an improved offer by North Glasgow Trust management.

Medical secretaries have been taking industrial action since the beginning of August. All out indefinite action started on 22nd. October.

Following lengthy negotiations, culminating in a 7½ hour meeting on Wednesday, an improved offer was put to medical secretaries at a meeting in Glasgow Royal Infirmary this morning. The offer represented a significant shift in the Trust's position and means;

•Access to the Grade 4 scale for all Medical Secretaries.

•Additional incremental credit for a large number that will assist them on to the grade 4 salary scale.

•Reopening of access to Proficiency allowances for all.

•A total of 13 months arrears of pay, including overtime payments at the enhanced rate. (back pay from 1st October 2000).

This will mean average arrears of pay of £1200 excluding overtime payments. The Trust have reinstated all annual leave that was deducted as a result of the action.

Some detail and processes will be worked through in the next 2 weeks. It is hoped that the agreement will be delivered in full so that any further disruption can be avoided.

Carolyn Leckie, Branch Secretary said, "Our members are delighted that their action has been successful. I am glad the Trust and the Branch have been able to reach agreement.

Standing up and fighting works. Throughout this dispute we have had the support of other Trade Unionists and the general public. Public service workers don't take strike action lightly. I hope this will help to improve the confidence of other workers in improving their conditions."

Frances Lyall, UNISON Steward and medical secretary said, "This is recognition at last of the justness of our claim. NHS workers, including porters, cleaners etc are undervalued. We have secured improved recognition for the job we do. But like the majority of employees in the NHS, we remain underpaid. There is still a lot to be done. I hope that this is the start of the end of low pay in the NHS.

For further information, contact:
Carolyn Leckie; 07799642929
Frances Lyall; 07711578397

Index | Health News | Medical Secretaries pages

24 October, 2001

"Time to participate fully in the NHS family” UNISON call to BMA

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON tonight called on the BMA to fully participate in "the NHS family”.

Speaking at the annual dinner of the BMA's Medical Services Committee, the UNISON Scottish Organiser of Health, Jim Devine said, "The BMA, the Royal College Of Nursing and UNISON represent 94% of all organised staff working in the Scottish Health Service. For far too long we have negotiated at separate tables, no doubt to the detriment of all our members.

"Playing one group of NHS staff off against another is no longer an option in a devolved Scotland. Over the next few years we are going to see radical change in the provision of healthcare in which members of the BMA, Royal College of Nursing and UNISON will be at the forefront.

"Throughout Europe the model for public sector trade unions include Nurses, Domestics, Porters and Doctors. It is naive to assume that any negotiations that take place in the NHS does not have an impact on the broader family and that is why we are tonight calling on the BMA to fully participate in the HR Agenda.

"The previous practices of all the major NHS trade unions are no longer sustainable in a new devolved Sctland. On 11 5eptember 2001, George Bush learned that isolationism is not a strategy that can be followed in today's world. Major NHS Health Service unions in Scotland must learn the same lesson;”

ENDS.

Extract from Speech at George Hotel, George Street, Edinburgh

For further information contact: Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser: 0141-332-0006

Index | Health News

24 October 2001

Scottish Water could privatise Scotland's water - UNISON

UNISON, the largest Scottish Water Industry union today criticised the legislation setting up the new Scottish Water Authority as allowing the new company to 'change the structure of Scotland's water service with little or no democratic control'. The union also criticised the legislation for failing to take sufficient account of staff concerns. At a presentation to the Scottish Parliament's Transport and Environment Committee, Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for the utilities said

"The powers being given to Scottish Water are too widely drawn. The whole structure of the industry could be changed with no democratic approval. It could turn itself into an enabling authority, or greatly expand PFI with no directions from Scottish Ministers. Ironically approval for cheaper public sector borrowing is far more restricted."

There are also major gaps in the legislation dealing with staff protection during the transfer, according to UNISON. Dave Watson says

"There is nothing in the Bill that guarantees protection for staff pensions, and it is unclear who will be responsible for bargaining on pay and conditions. We want a proper staff transfer order, incorporating both TUPE protection and statutory protection for pension rights, so that the pensions robbery that occurred in the Trunk Roads Maintenance fiasco has no chance of happening again."

The Water Industry Commissioner(WIC)'s position also attracts UNISON criticism. The union feels that some powers being given to the WIC could be exploited by private water firms to 'cherry pick' profitable services, leaving Scottish Water with the costly domestic supply.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - Utilities) 0141-332 0006(w) 07973 672 513(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index | Water Page

23 October 2001

Scottish police support staff get 6.5%pay deal

Around 6,000 Scottish police support staff are to get a two-year pay deal that will take the lowest paid out of the poverty pay trap and deliver fair pay, UNISONScotland, Scotland's public service union, announced today. The pay deal involves a 3.5% rise for this year (backdated to 1 September 2001, and a 3% rise for 2002.

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

"This is a two-year, above-inflation deal that brings the lowest paid police support staff above the £5.00 per hour minimum for the first time. UNISON is very pleased that we have agreed this important step towards eradicating low pay in the police service."

The deal provides that the bottom two pay points will be abolished, moving anyone on those points up to the third point on the scale. Coupled with the rise, this means the lowest paid will now move onto over £10,000 a year.

Police support staff, carry out vital support functions in Scotland's police forces including, scenes-of-crime officers; telephonists; fingerprint officers; station assistants and radio control officers.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:

.

Joe Di Paola (UNISON Scottish Org Local Govt) 0131-226 2662(w)

Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index | Police Pay

22 October 2001

UNISON survey shows needlestick injuries increased by short term savings

The results of a new survey carried out by UNISON into the use of safe needles in the NHS, shows that many trusts put short term costs, before the long-term protection of staff health. The survey also revealed that UNISON is the driving force behind promoting safer needles in the NHS, with 56% saying that the union initiated the move towards their use.

Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser (Health) said: "It was encouraging to see that 68% of those questioned said that their employers were trailing, evaluating and in a few cases using safer needles. If some employers are using them, what is stopping others? Sadly the answer seems to be that many employers focus on the short term cost implications, rather than looking at the long term health of their staff. However any cost savings can be very short lived when the costs of testing staff, lost work time, personal injury claims and other medical costs are added up.

"Needlestick injuries are very distressing and unfortunately still far too common in the NHS - over 100,000 estimated in the UK each year. At their worst these injuries transmit fatal viruses including Hepatitis B and C, which result in liver diseases, as well as HIV, which in turn leads to AIDS. Injured health workers and their families, go through hell waiting for the results of tests to come through and for the really unlucky ones, they face a lifetime of misery and ill-health.

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

Over half the comments received by UNISON in the survey concerned costs, the following are typical:

convince them to spend more to reduce incidents (acute and Community Trust, Southern)

Safer needles are too expensive (Community Trust, South East)

The cost is the main cause for not introducing them (Acute Trust, North West)

The survey was sent out to all UNISON Health branches initiating 108 responses.

Key Findings include:

  • 94% of employers aware of "safer needles".
  • Almost two thirds are involved in trialing /evaluating or using safer needles.
  • 56% reported that UNISON raised the issue with employers, with 35% saying that it was initiated jointly.
  • 76% of those evaluating/trialing had set up committee to monitor progress and in 79% of theses cases UNISON was involved.
  • 30% have increased/improved training.
  • 26% reported awareness raising campaigns
  • New sharp bins were introduced in 13% of those surveyed.

ENDS.

Editors Notes

What is a Safer Needle Device?

Safer needle devices have safety features (engineering controls) built into the product which prevent needlestick injuries. The term "safer needle device" is broad and includes many different types of devices, from those that have a protective shield over the needle to those that do not use needles at all. The common feature of effective safer needle devices is that they reduce the risk of needlestick injuries for healthcare workers over the conventional, inherently dangerous older needles. There are also other devices which prevent injury from other sharps, such as safety lancets and safety surgical blades.

What are the characteristics of a Safer Needle?

The US Federal Drugs Agency has suggested that needles with safety features designed to protect healthcare workers should:

  • Provide a barrier between the hands and needle after use;
  • Allow or require the worker's hands to remain behind the needle at all times;
  • Be an integral part of the device and not an accessory;
  • Be in effect before disassembly and remain in effect after disposal to protect downstream workers;
  • Be simple and self-evident to operate and require little or no training to use effectively.

For further information contact Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser: 0141-332-0006

Index | Health News

22 OCTOBER, 2001

UNISON call for a debate on the relationship between MSPs and NHS staff

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON is today calling for a debate on the relationship between MSPs, the Scottish Parliament and National Health Service staff.

Announcing today a major conference on the subject of Senior Managers and the Scottish Parliament which will be held in Edinburgh on 8th November 2001, Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser (Health) said: "UNISON were at the forefront of the campaign to establish a Scottish Parliament. Many of our activists and Officers can be proud of the part that they played in the long struggle to establish that august body. While it was a long wait it has been worth it.

"UNISON knew that increased accountability and scrutiny would be a feature of the new Scotland, but we are concerned that some trends are developing that could fracture the spirit of good will that exists amongst many NHS staff for the Parliament.

"More questions are asked on health than on any other issue in the Scottish Parliament. For each of these questions asked time has to be taken out by medical, nursing and administrative staff to research the issue and provide a proper response to the matter that has been raised. We know of one case where five questions were asked by an MSP that took three days to research only for those questions to be ‘binned' by the individual involved because the public debate had moved on.

"MSPs, by their actions and statements, directly impact on the morale of NHS staff. At a recent hearing of the Audit Committee, the Chairman, confronted by NHS managers, opened the proceedings by saying ‘which one of you is to blame for the financial mess'.

"While UNISON would not interfere with the democratic process, nearly three years into its existence there needs to be a debate on the relationship between the Parliament MSPs and NHS staff. Issues that none of us, who were supporters of a Scottish Parliament, could have anticipated or thought through, are now becoming areas of concern for many NHS staff.

"We believe that this is an appropriate time to initiate that debate and that is why we are holding this Conference on 8 November 2001, in Edinburgh. We have invited Senior Managers, NHS staff from throughout Scotland and prominent MSPs, including the Health Spokespersons of all the major opposition parties. We have also invited Dennis Canavan, Tommy Sheridan and Robin Harper to what we hope will be a worthwhile Conference."

Ends

For further information contact Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser: 0141-332-0006

Index | Health News

Public services only positive when publicly provided
UNISONScotland response to Prime Ministers speech

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary of UNISON, Scotland's public service union today responded to the Prime Minister's speech, saying that the union would continue its campaign He said "Scots have a strong view that public services should be delivered by public authorities and not by the private sector. Whilst we note, and support the Prime Minister's aim to reform public services, we will be continuing our Positively Public campaign and promoting our policy to Scotland's decision-makers, trying to ensure that Scottish reforms reflect the views expressed by the Scottish people. "

ENDS

Further Information
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary Tel 0141-332 0006 matt.smith@unison.co.uk
Chris Bartter Communications Officer 0771 558 3729 c.bartter@unison.co.uk

Index

TUESDAY 16 OCTOBER, 2001

"INCREASED WORKLOAD AND STRESS CAUSED BY REALITY GAP IN NURSES PAY" - SAYS UNISON

The gap between government claims and what nurses believe is actually happening is thrown into sharp focus today, in a new report by UNISON, as part of its evidence to the pay Review Body for Nursing Staff, Midwives and Health Visitors. "Progress Depends on Pay," The independent research organisation, TURA, compiled the report from a survey of 3,500 UNISON nursing and midwifery members. The research shows that :

84% say their workload has increased. 6 in 10 say this increase was caused by recruitment problems, while nearly one in three say it has been caused by pressure to meet government targets.

Nearly 8 in 10 say they are not well paid for the job they do.

22% of all nurses surveyed have a second job.

Over half (52%) say they have seriously considered leaving the NHS because they feel undervalued (84%) and because of pay (59%).

Over 1 in 4 (27%), compared to only 16% last year, say their trusts are recruiting from overseas in order to alleviate shortages.

Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser (Health) said:

"Pay is crucial for government plans to modernise the NHS. You can't run a world class health service on the cheap. And you can't deliver expert patient care when staff are under stress and demoralised.

"This survey shows that there is a reality gap between government claims and what nurses believe is actually happening. The reality is that nurses pay is not attracting recruits in sufficient numbers, leading to decreased staffing levels and frequent staff shortages. The NHS is heavily dependent on temporary and agency staff to keep it going. Increasingly many trusts are looking overseas for nurses, but these short term, quick fix solutions do not solve the underlying problem.

"Urgent action is needed to boost recruitment, which is why UNISON are calling for a significant overall increase for all staff."

UNISON's recommendations are :

A significant overall increase

The removal of the "under age 18" and the bottom two points of Grade A. This would mean a Grade A nurses would start at current salary point £10,015, plus whatever the Review Body recommends as the percentage increase

The consolidation of the remaining discretionary points for grades F to I.

Increase the levels of stand by and on-call payments plus all the other leads and allowances.

UNISON intend to use this evidence at the Nursing Summit that has been organised by the Health Minister, Susan Deacon, on 19 November 2001.

Ends

For further information contact Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser: 0141-332-0006

Index | Health News

11 October 2001

Health strike threat averted as telephonists get regrading

Around 23 telephonists working for Argyll and Clyde Acute NHS Trust in three Scottish Hospitals have withdrawn their threat of strike action following a grading agreement that will leave them some of the best paid telephonists in the Scottish Health Service. Willie Duffy, UNISON's regional officer said

"UNISON is pleased to see that sense has prevailed, and that telephonists across Argyll & Clyde are finally being treated equally. It is a pity it required a threat of Industrial Action to resolve it, but it goes to show that solidarity and collective action can bring a result"

The staff, who work in the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, the Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria and the Lorne and the Isles Hospital in Oban, are currently paid as ancillary workers. As a result of the regrading they will be paid as adminstrative and clerical workers (grade 3) - an increase of between 76p and £1.88 per hour. They will also have their working hours reduced by 2 hours per week. The pay rise will be backdated to 1 April.

The amalgamation of trusts in 1999 meant that different hospitals in the same trust paid different rates for the same job. After trying to resolve this UNISON lodged a grievance a year ago. The telephonists successful action ballot of last week has now forced this agreement, that means all telephonists working for the Trust will be paid on the same grade and get the same conditions.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:

Willie Duffy, (Regional Oficer) 0141-332 0006(w)
Chris Bartter (UNISON Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index

.

28 September 2001

UNISON TO CHALLENGE NURSING SLAVERY

The public service union, UNISON, is set to help hundreds of nurses back to work by challenging the conditions under which nurses are re-employed after a career break. Large numbers of trained nurses returning to nursing are commonly required to pay for their own re-training and then forced to work without pay for a number of weeks. UNISON Scotland states that this amounts to slavery and they will challenge this practice at the Employment Tribunal.

The Scottish Parliament recently debated the need to value nursing and the importance of improved working conditions in the NHS. It was highlighted in the debate that poor employment conditions for nurses have led to hospitals being unable to recruit and retain the staff they need. A key goal in UNISON's campaign is the removal of the financial obstacle that prevents experienced nurses from returning to the NHS after career breaks.

Bridget Hunter, UNISON Scotland's Lead Officer For Nursing, said at a meeting of nurses today:

"Scotland needs to tackle the outdated conditions in which nurses are forced to work if we are to truly attract nurses back to the service. Career breaks are common across the Scottish labour market and nurses are no different from other workers in taking time out from their career for family or personal reasons. We have over 10,000 trained nurses currently out of the service and yet in the last year nurse vacancies have risen by 48%. We will never be successful at enticing them back if we expect them to pay for refresher courses and work without pay for a number of weeks before being allowed to return. This amounts to slavery and is daft, but the law makes it legal and UNISON intends to eradicate this practice with immediate legal action".

.

ENDS

Index | Health News

Friday, 28 September 2001

"GET POLITICALLY INVOLVED" UNISON TELLS SCOTLAND'S 64,000 NURSES

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON has today advised Scotland's 64,000 nurses to get politically involved and have proposed that National Health Service staff training should include a placement at the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking at a Political Leadership Workshop for Nurses at South Glasgow Hospitals, Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser (Health) said "Nurses are the largest group of staff employed by the Scottish Parliament and their pay accounts for £1 in every £7 spent by that august body. More questions are asked on matters directly relating to nursing in the Scottish Parliament than on any other issue. However, the only professional group not represented in the Scottish Parliament is nurses.

"Why? UNISON believes that far too few nursing staff are involved in politics. We congratulate South Glasgow Trust for organising a conference on this topic, which we believe is the first of its kind not just in Scotland but in Britain. For far too long, nurses have stood back and allowed other people to make decisions that directly affect them. But this has got to change.

"Regardless of which union a nurse may belong to, a common political training programme should be promoted. Student nurse training should include a three month placement in the Scottish Parliament. Nurse managers should be seconded to the NHS Civil Service for a year and NHS civil servants should be seconded to the service for a similar period of time. Attendance at the Scottish Health Committee and the Scottish Parliament for at least 28 days should be mandatory before anyone can be promoted to a charge nurse or ward sister post.

"The decisions taken in the Scottish Parliament impact on every aspect of a nurses job. It is time that nurses involved themselves in the decision making process."

For further information
contact Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser: 0141-332-0006 or 07719-369-87

Note to Editors:

This is an extract from a speech that Jim Devine is making at the Political Leadership Workshop at the Walton Suite, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow at 10am, on Friday 28th September 2001.

Index | Health News

27 September 2001

POLICE PAY DIFFERENTIALS HIGHLIGHT NURSING RECRUITMENT & RETENTION PROBLEMS

Scotland's largest Nursing Union, UNISON, today called on the Scottish Executive to treat Scotland's 64,000 nurses in the same manner that they are treating Scotland's teachers and police.

Speaking at a meeting of nurses in Glasgow today, Bridget Hunter, UNISON Lead Officer for nurses in Scotland, said:

"We congratulate the Scottish Executive for rewarding Scotland's teachers with their well-deserved pay rise. We have no doubt that this strategy of investing in our children's future will bear fruit. The last Conservative government had similar recruitment and retention problems with the police as we have today with nurses and their solution was to adequately reward police.

Today, a 19 year old starting with the police force after a 31 week probationary period receives a salary of £19,842. This is £85 per week more than a newly qualified graduate nurse. One would have to be a third year junior sister with an average of 8 years experience before they would earn this level of pay. Nurses have to pay the same price for their basic needs as teachers and police in Scotland. If Scottish society values the contribution of nurses then this must be reflected in similar rewards to those given to their colleagues in the police and teaching professions. Only then will we start to tackle the problems of recruitment and retention."

ENDS.

Index | Health News

Date: 27 September 2001

Jury Still Out on Water Industry Bill

UNISON, the largest trade union in the Scottish water industry, today greeted the publication of the Water Industry Bill with considerable reservations. The Executive have so far failed to explain how Scottish Water will address the key challenges facing the industry:

  • Massive job cuts that are endangering safety and customer service.
  • Constant reorganisation with little evidence of consumer gain
  • Creeping privatisation of Scotland's water.

UNISON's Scottish Organiser (Utilities) Dave Watson said:

"Scottish Water may be established as a public body. However, there is real concern that it will be a public façade for a largely privatised industry. We will want to see real safeguards in the Bill to stop the gradual privatisation of Scotland's water"

The trade unions will study closely the staffing provisions of the bill - something that has been sadly missing from the draft proposals. They will also press for a sound financial structure for the new body, including debt write off. Creating a level playing field with the English water companies, which benefited from similar arrangements at privatisation.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:

Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser (Utilities) 0141 332 0006(w) 07973 672513(m)

Index | Water Page

18 September 2001

Union hits out at Trust 'threats'

UNISON Scotland, Scotland's healthcare union hit back at the North Glasgow Hospitals Trust who have sent an open letter to their medical secretaries yesterday, threatening various forms of action if they continue their campaign of Industrial Action.

In a strongly worded letter to Alan Boyter - the Trust Director of Human Resources - Anne Middleton, UNISON's Assistant Scottish Secretary accuses the Trust of 'Dealing out threats and intimidating a large group of female low-paid staff'. Anne also says

"It would have been more constructive had you or the Trust Board put your efforts into meeting with the local Branch Officers to resolve the dispute instead of issuing threats and ultimatums to your staff."

UNISON also point out that during the dispute the union has always informed the Trust of their strategy and participated in providing an Emergency Cover agreement. Anne also goes on to give the union's full support should any member be disciplined.

"Should the Trust decide to suspend any members who participate in this dispute." Anne says "Or take any other action against our members then UNISON will have no other option but to protect and support our members further."

The Medical Secretaries are in a third wave of strike action in a campaign to win a regrading. UNISON is clear that the issuing of threats by the Trust is likely to backfire on them, serving to galvanise an already determined group of staff.

ENDS

Further Information
Anne Middleton (Assistant Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w)
Joe Lynch (Regional Officer--UNISON) 0141-332 0006(w)
Carolyn Leckie (Nth Glasgow Br Sec) 0141-211 4984(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer-UNISON) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index | Health News | Medical Secretaries News

Sat 15 September

Work together to deliver public services - challenge from UNISON

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary, today challenged the First Minister to work with trade unions and other stakeholders in public services, to work together to deliver better Scottish public services.

Speaking at a conference in Edinburgh also addressed by Henry McLeish MSP, Matt called for the pressures to use the private sector to be reversed, and instead for joint working to take place to deliver improvements in public services. He said,

" We in UNISON know that our public services are desperately under strength. We agree with the Scottish government that they should deliver social justice, that teamwork is vital in their delivery and that they should improve people's lives. We want to build on those agreements and work together to deliver the improvements that are needed. We call on the Scottish Government to sit down with us and seriously work together to deliver our joint aims."

UNISON, most of whose 150,000 Scottish members deliver the public services referred to, is clear however that the use of Private Public Partnerships(PPP's) and PFI schemes work against the aims that the government want to achieve.

"Using projects where the aim is financial profit will not deliver social justice, " said Matt Smith. " Having public service providers working for different contractors breaks up teamworking, and as we are seeing in projects all across the UK, the service provided by the private sector is not what is needed to improve people's lives.

UNISON is currently running a major campaign called Positively Public to stress the need for public services to be delivered by publicly accountable authorities. This said Matt is why the Scottish Parliament was set up.

"Our Parliament was created so that Scotland could continue to defend and advance its public services." He said, "We all agree that it and they should be accountable, accessible and best value. The private sector can't deliver that.Our Parliament will be judged on its delivery of public services."

ENDS

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

Index | Positively Public Campaign

For Operational Use Date Fri 14 Sept 2001

Housing transfer challenge from unions

UNISON the UK's largest union, will be holding a Press Conference before its UK-wide housing semkinar, in Glasgow. This will explain UNISON's role and detail next steps in the Scottish trade union campaign against the proposals for Housing Stock Transfer being proposed for Glasgow City Council and other councils.

Present will be Malcolm Wing National Secretary of UNISON's Local Government Group and Bill Speirs, General Secretary, STUC. Mr Speirs will outline the next steps in the unions' Scottish campaign against whole stock transfer and Mr Wing will concentrate on the various moves to take housing out of Local Government across the UK.

The Press Conference will be held on Wednesday 19 September at 10.00 in the Glasgow City Centre Posthouse Hotel, Bothwell Street, Glasgow.

ENDS

You are invited to be represented
Please contact those below for further information.

For Further Information Please Contact:
Bill Speirs(General Secretary STUC) 0141-337 8100(w)
Colin Meech (Policy Officer UNISON )
Chris Bartter(Communications Officer UNISON)0141-332 0006(w)

Index

13 Sept 2001

Listen to SQA staff - UNISON

UNISON, one of the unions representing the staff in the Scottish Qualifications Authority reacted to the Minister of Education's statement coolly.

Matt McLaughlin, Regional Officer for UNISON members in the SQA said
"The idea of some kind of advisory committee is not a bad idea, but we notice there appears to be no place on this body for staff representatives. As they are the closest to the workings of the agency and see the first sign of what is going wrong we think it would be both fair and effective to include representatives of the staff on this body."

SQA staff have already put forward their concerns regarding the way the agency is run to the Education Committee of the Scottish Parliament earlier this year.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt McLaughlin (Regional Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index

11 September 2001
UNISON launches Violence at Work Guidelines and calls for extension of 'Guardian Angel' Protection Project

At the launch of their Violence at Work Guidelines, Scotland's largest union UNISON have called on the Scottish Executive to extend the "Guardian Angel" protection scheme to public sector workers who visit clients/patients at home.

Speaking at UNISON's Scottish Health and Safety Conference, Jim Devine said, "Every day District Nurses, Health Visitors, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists and Care Assistants visit clients/patients in their home.

"While the vast majority of these visits pass without incident, statistics show that verbal and physical abuse of public sector workers is on the increase. The staff potentially most at risk are those who work in the community on their own. Unitary Health Boards, Local Authorities and Voluntary Sector employers should be working together with UNISON to produce a common policy for staff in this situation.

"The overall aim of any policy would be obviously to prevent injury and damage to staff and that is why UNISON are attracted to the "Guardian Angel" protection project which is being piloted at St John's Hospital in West Lothian. While the name of this scheme is somewhat unfortunate, the process has many potential benefits for staff.

"In West Lothian over 300 NHS staff are protected by the scheme. In practice, when they visit a patient/client at home, they place through a paging system the name and address of that patient/client and the duration of their visit. If that Nurse, Occupational Therapist or Health Visitor does not contact the switchboard after their visit an alarm system begins to operate. Included in this alert system is the ability to listen to 45 seconds of conversation between the Nurse and the patient/client. This information would obviously be vital if a District Nurse or Health Visitor was being confronted by a patient who, for example, had produced a knife.

"This pilot has been operational for many months now and our members are claiming it to be a great success. It adds to their security when visiting clients/patients in their homes, when in some cases no previous information on the individual's background is known.

"We believe that this could be a useful tool in the campaign to reduce potentially violent incidents against Health Service workers in Scotland and are calling on the Scottish Executive to extend this project to other parts of the public sector."

For further information contact Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser: 0141-332-0006

Peter Mackie, H&S Advisor, St John's: 01506-419-666 Ext 3652

Note to Editors :

The enclosed booklet will be launched at the Health and Safety Conference at 11am on 11 September 2001, Lecture Theatre, Stirling Royal Infirmary. The speakers will include Hugh Robertson, UNISON National Health and Safety Officer, Gaynor Parry, Health and Safety Executive and Jim Devine, UNISON Scottish Organiser. You are invited to attend the formal launch.

Index | Health News

3rd September 2001

Response to Hospital Acquired Infection report
UNISON calls for the end of Public/Private Partnerships in the NHS

Scotland's largest healthcare union UNISON, today called on the Scottish Government to end Public Private Partnerships(PPPs) in the NHS, in light of Dr Andrew Walker's damning report on hospital acquired infection, which shows that 457 Scots die from this each year at a cost of £160m to the NHS.

Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for Health, said, "This damning report from Dr Walker is no surprise to UNISON. In the mid-80's the then Health Minister, Michael Forsyth introduced the first PPP to the NHS by putting cleaning services out to tender. In 1985 there was one domestic employed in the NHS for every 60 patients treated. The latest available figures show that there is only one domestic employed in the NHS for every 306 patients treated.

"This five-fold reduction in the number of domestics working the in the National Health Service directly collates with the increase in hospital acquired infections.

"Dr Walker's report confirms that not only is PPP costing lives but it is a much more expensive way to provide care."

UNISON are calling on the Scottish Government to implement a Scottish-wide strategy that would include:

  1. The end of all PPP arrangements in the NHS
  2. The removal of private cleaning companies from the NHS
  3. The re-establishment of one domestic being allocated to each ward throughout the Scottish Health Service
  4. The introduction of a £5.00 per hour minimum wage for this grade of staff.

"This report confirms that the NHS is a family." Jim said, "It is made up not just of doctors and nurses but of support staff whose contribution to care is crucial. They provide a safe environment where patients can be treated. We need a modern, safe NHS, where all staff are well trained, properly paid and part of the NHS team."

ENDS

Index | Health News

20/08/01

UNISON response to First Minister's speech
PFI not way to improve public services.

UNISON, Scotland's public service union, today said whilst they supported the improvement of public services and many other commitments from the First Minister, in his speech today, the continued adherence to PFI in public services wouldn't work.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said "We agree with the First Minister that public services should improve people's lives, deliver social justice, that we should build for the long term and that teamwork is important in delivering services.

"However the problem with PFI and PPP funding is that it works against all these fundamentals. It doesn't improve the service as the disastrous privatisation of Trunk Roads maintenance has shown us. It is a short term solution, with the expensive funding packages ring-fenced, so they have to be paid before other services. It breaks up the public service team, something that the NHS in Glasgow has just realised was a mistake - taking staff working in three trusts back in house.

"Most importantly, however, its main priority is financial profit not social justice. And, as we are finding in Glasgow Schools - it doesn't work."

UNISON has been running a major campaign against PFI since before the election, and has recently ensured that the issue will be discussed at the UK Labour Party Conference later this year. Matt Smith says the campaign will continue.

"We have raised this regularly with government ministers both in Scotland and at Westminster." He said. "We all want the best for the public services of Scotland. We are clear that we can't get that through PFI, and so are the people of Scotland 91% of whom recently voted against private sector involvement in public services, ain a poll that UNISON commissioned."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index

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Date:10 August 2001

Bring roads contracts back into the public sector - UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's largest public service union, today called on the Scottish Executive to end the contracts for maintaining Scotland's trunk roads following revelations that default notices had been issued against both successful companies, less than six months into the contracts.

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

"Whilst it gives us no pleasure to say 'we told you so' it seems all our predictions regarding the lack of service provided by the private sector are coming true. These contracts were awarded by a flawed process, the companies aim to make their profit by cutting workers pension schemes, compromising health and safety of workers and the travelling public alike, and now - less than six months into the contract - the Executive is having to pull them up for not delivering. Scotland's road network is under enough pressure and a contractor who cannot deliver will only make matters worse."

UNISON, is currently running a major campaign against the increasing use of private firms in public services, and this announcement comes follows news of; bed shortages at the new PFI hospital in Durham; problems with flooding, space restrictions and contract catering in the PFI hospital at Hairmyres in East Kilbride; and recent 're-nationalisation' of a private heart hospital in London.

"In nearly all the areas where the private sector tries to deliver public services they fail." Said Joe Di Paola "But it is unusual for such poor service to come to the surface so soon. With cases pending against the tendering process in Europe, and an inquiry by the Transport and the Environment Committee to follow that, it is time that the Scottish Executive admitted that a mistake was made and ended these contracts. The Scottish public are currently spending £350m over 5 years on contractors who can't deliver the service, even after they attack workers conditions."

UNISON is writing to the Minister for Transport, Sarah Boyack, asking for details of all the default notices and for her to return these contracts to the public sector due to the defaults of the private contractors.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:

Joe Di Paola (UNISON Scottish Org Local Govt.) 0131-226 2662(w)

Index

27 July 2001

UNISON CALL FOR SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE GUIDANCE FOLLOWING POLICE RAID ON PSYCHIATRIC UNIT

Scotland's largest healthcare union UNISON has today called on the Scottish Executive to issue, as a matter of urgency, guidelines to health care workers on how to deal with patients or clients who are dealing in drugs or abusing drugs in a health care setting.

Speaking today at a meeting of health officers in Glasgow, the Scottish Organiser for Health, Jim Devine said, "Drugs worth £1400 were seized by police in a raid at Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Greenock on Sunday evening. Included in the haul was ecstasy and heroin. This is a further example of why the Scottish Executive needs to enter into discussions with the trade unions to produce guidelines for staff confronted with this problem. Day and daily, health care workers, either in a hospital or community setting, are confronted with patients or clients who are either dealing in drugs or using drugs.

"The Nurses Professional Code of Conduct is very clear that patient confidentiality is paramount and that no breaches can be made without serious consequence for the practitioner. At the same time, senior police officers within Strathclyde have advised UNISON that professional confidentiality is no defence when faced with individuals who are abusing drugs.

"The police advice to UNISON was that nurses should report as a matter of urgency any breaches of the various Misuse of Drug Acts. This contradictory advice is placing nurses in a no-win situation. They either run the risk of falling foul of their professional body or falling foul of the police.

"This is a Scottish wide problem and needs a Scottish wide solution. Today UNISON are writing to the First Minister, Henry McLeish to propose the setting up of a Working Party which would include the trade unions, police and representatives from the Scottish Government, to issue guidelines to the Scottish Health Service clarifying the present unacceptable situation."

ENDS

For further information contact Jim Devine on Pager: 07693-533-362

Index

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24 July 2001
"OPEN THE BOOKS ON PFI HOSPITAL" SAYS UNISON
Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON, today(24/07) called on Lanarkshire Acute NHS Trust to 'Open the books' on the impact of PFI on patient care services in Lanarkshire.

"The Scottish Executive supports Open Government and this ethos should be reflected throughout Scotland in public sector areas" said Jim Devine, UNISON's Scottish Organiser (Health).

"Recent press reports have highlighted the problems of the new PFI hospital at Hairmyres. This is the flagship hospital in Scotland for the Labour Government's Public/Private Partnership programme and the people of Scotland should know the full cost. Lanarkshire Acute Trust must now 'open the books' and detail to the public the impact on care services of this project.

"How many acute beds are available today to the people of Lanarkshire and how many were available 4 years ago when the contract was agreed?

"How much are Scottish tax payers paying to the builders of this hospital on a monthly basis, are there any penalty clauses included in the contract, and have they been implemented?

"The people of Scotland also need to know how many nurses, doctors, porters and domestics were employed 4 years ago by Lanarkshire Acute and how many are employed today. UNISON finds it inconceivable that the Scottish Government supports a funding mechanism to build new hospitals that includes; privatisation of support staff; a reduction in beds; fewer nurses and a diluted skill-mix, in order to allow bankers to make profit out of illness."

UNISON's General Secretary, Dave Prentis has also called on Tony Blair to "face the facts and abandon his privatisation mission." Speaking in advance of tomorrow's(24) Labour NEC meeting he referred to the similar crisis in a PFI-run hospital in Durham, and called for all the facts to be debated at the party's conference.

"UNISON has a simple challenge." He said. "Put public services on the agenda, listen to the evidence and let's have a full and frank debate about the best way to deliver quality public services."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Jim Devine (Scottish Organiser -
Health) 07693-533362(p)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w )

Index |

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11 July 2001

UNISON call for drug use guidelines for nurses

UNISON Scotland, Scotland's healthcare union today will call on the Scottish Executive to get Health Trusts to issue guidelines to nursing and other healthcare staff on how to handle the nursing of illegal drug users. In a seminar at the NTLive! Exhibition in Glasgow Bridget Hunter, lead nursing officer for UNISONScotland will call for the debate on this difficult subject to be addressed seriously.

"After the arrest and conviction of the Cambridge Two, and recent raids on psychiatric wards in Scotland," Bridget said "It is clear that people who care for drug users are at risk of prosecution, and no-one appears to be discussing the issue. We want the Scottish Executive to grasp this nettle, start the discussions with all sides and get Trusts to issue protocols that will protect nursing staff caught in the dilemma between the law and the best interests of the patient"

UNISON thinks that its members are more and more faced with this dilemma, from the health visitor visiting premises where drugs may be being used, to mental health wards where patients could be using drugs as a result of their illness. But it is a topic that authority is not discussing. Guidelines also need to take account of the best interests of the patient, and the seminar will also hear from May McCreadie, a nurse specialist in education and training who will raise some of these issues

"Despite the pressing need and the potential clash between the law and .the professional regulations governing nursing, even our professional body has ducked the issue." Bridget Hunter said. "The police are clear that they will prosecute nurses who fail to report illegal drug use. We need clear guidelines from our employers on how we should respond when faced with these issues in our jobs."

ENDS

Note for Editors. The seminar will start at 11.45 am at the NT Live! Exhibition at the SECC, Glasgow, on both the 11 and 12 July. Bridget will be available for interview after the seminar.

For Further Information Please Contact:
Bridget Hunter (Lead Officer for Nursing) 0141-332 0006(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

3 July 2001

UNISON RECOMMENDS ACCEPTANCE OF MEDICAL SECRETARY PAY OFFER

Scotland's largest health care union, UNISON today recommended acceptance of the Scottish Executive's pay offer to Medical Secretaries.

"This is a very good offer for Medical Secretaries" said Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser (Health). "It recognises their value, not just in financial terms but also the skills that they bring to the National Health Service.

More than 8 in 10 Medical Secretaries in Scotland are at the top of their present grade and in cash terms this offer will mean over the next three years the following increases:

 

Present Salary

New Grade Salary

Cash Increase

% Increase

National Pay Increase

1 April 2001

£12,815.00

£13,819.00

£1,004.00

7.84 +

3.7

1 April 2002

£12,815.00

£14,371.00

£1,566.00

12.15 +

Unknown

1 April 2003

£12,815.00

£14,948.00

£2,133.00

16.65 +

Unknown

1 April 2004

£12,815.00

£15,546.00

£2,731.00

21.32 +

Unknown

We believe that this is the best offer that can be achieved by negotiations, it will standardise the grade throughout Scotland and properly reward these staff for the skills that they have and that is why we are recommending acceptance of the offer."

UNISON will now consult with Medical Secretaries throughout Scotland and will announce the result in a few weeks.

Index |

28 June 2001

UNISON welcomes more Glasgow staff back into NHS

UNISON Scotland, Scotland's healthcare union today welcomed the decision of Greater Glasgow Primary Care Trust to end three private sector contracts and to bring the staff back 'in-house' at the beginning of October.

The Trust Board today agreed a paper submitted jointly by UNISON and the Trust management proposing these staff, who deliver domestic and portering services at Gartnavel Royal Hospital and portering services at Leverndale Hospital, should be brought back into the 'NHS family'.

Joe Lynch, UNISON Regional Officer for Glasgow Primary Care Trust Branch said: "This is one of the positive benefits of proper partnership working. UNISON has been campaigning very publicly to promote the need for public services to be delivered by properly trained in-house staff. We have been working with the Trust management the last year to convince them of the benefits of having all staff working for the in-house team that delivers our health care. We are delighted the Trust Board has now taken the decision to confirm that.

"Coming on top of the decision in principle by South Glasgow Hospitals Trust to bring their private contracts back in-house, it shows that managers are increasingly convinced of the potential to improve services contained in bringing staff back in-house."

Ian Reid, Director of Human Resources for the Primary Care Trust said. "The Trust believes that managing and delivering these services in-house will bring real benefits for everyone: improvements in terms and conditions fro staff; in the quality of service delivered for patients; and in value for money for the Trust. Partnership working has been key in this achievement."

The three contracts agreed at today's meeting cover nearly 130 staff, who transfer to NHS pay and conditions when the contracts finish at the end of September.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Joe Lynch (Regional Officer--UNISON) 0141-332 0006(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer-UNISON) 0141-332 0006(w)
Alison McInnes (Media contact - Primary Care Trust) 0141-211 3891

Index |

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27 June 2001

Trade unions increasing their relevance over last three years - UNISON

UNISON Scotland, Scotland's largest union today welcomed the increasing influence that Trade Unions were having in the workplace. Despite recent research by the Joseph Rowntree Trust claiming that trade unions in the 1990's were struggling to maintain their positive impact on work, the position has dramatically changed in the last three years. Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary of UNISON said

"The recent increase in union membership of 60,000, the increasing involvement of trade unions in workplace training, and increases in the levels of compensation won by trade unions, are all leading to the increasing relevance and impact of unions in the workplace. The Rowntree report concentrates on the private sector pre 1998, our experience of public services is far more positive. Even in the private sector, however, if unions are so ineffective, why are employers still so keen to try and keep them out?"

The 60,000 increase is the third successive annual membership increase according to a TUC report based on government figures, and it also shows that Scotland is one of the most unionised parts of the UK with 35% density; only Wales - 40% and NE England - 39% are higher. UNISON alone won nearly half a million pounds in personal injury settlements for members in Scotland in the first three months of 2001. At a UK level TUC figures show that 95% of trade union supported cases are settled or won at tribunals, whereas overall a third of cases fail.

Matt Smith, also thinks the Joseph Rowntree figures are dated.
"You have to remember that these figures are at least three years old, " He said. "And mark the end of the period of the Tory attacks on Trade Unions. The Employment Relations Act - which returned recognition rights to trade unions -was enacted in 1998, and using the provisions of that act, we have gone on to reverse the apparent decline claimed by this research."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index

21 June 2001

Children's Panels face disruption as staff run out of patience

UNISON members in Scotland's Children's Reporter Administration who administer and support the Children's Hearing System are on the verge of industrial action. They have today applied for an industrial action ballot.

UNISON, Scotland's largest public service union, say that the staff have lost patience with the refusal of the Scottish Executive to allow the SCRA Management to negotiate their pay claim. The claim was submitted in January 2001 and was due for settlement by 1 April 2001. No negotiations have taken place.

Iain Montgomery - Secretary of UNISON's SCRA Branch said, "Staff haven't had a pay increase for 15 months and there are currently no management plans to discuss our claim of 6 months ago. This is driving staff to reluctantly consider industrial action which would have a major impact on vulnerable children and families throughout Scotland."

"Over the past five years the workload of SCRA has increased by 100% and a major restructuring of the service has taken place. It is clear that the SCRA has had to meet an increasing workload with fewer staff."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Iain Montgomery (Branch Secretary) 07855 315 252(m)
Glyn Hawker (Scottish Organiser) 07702 071 402(m)

Index

21 June 2001

Water industry report fails to address key issues - UNISON

UNISON, the largest Scottish Water Industry union today criticised the report of the Scottish Parliament's Transport and Environment Committee on Water. The report, issued today, broadly supports the Scottish Executive's proposals for increased competition and reorganisation of the Water Industry. UNISON says that these will; allow competitors including multinational private water companies, to 'cherry-pick' profitable customers; risk environmental and drinking water safety by supporting a jobcut of around a third of workers, and by giving suppliers access to the public water network; and supports the expensive and inefficient use of PFI to provide water services.

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Utilities, said
"This report is largely a loyal defence of the Executive. It fails to address the key issues of gradual privatisation, the risk to drinking water and environmental safety and the need for more public investment rather than wasteful PFI schemes. It is disappointing to see the committee miss this opportunity."

UNISON does however find some positive parts of the report, agreeing with the committee that competitors should share the full cost of access to public network. The union also agrees with the need for strong environmental controls and the support for a public sector industry.
On PFI, UNISON is surprised the Committee has failed to adopt its own advice. Dave Watson said:

"We are pleased the committee supported our case for greater transparency in PFI projects, and the publication of the Full Business Case on each occasion. All the more surprising then, is their endorsement of PFIs in water without studying any such documents in detail and therefore without the required evidence."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - Utilities) 0141-332 0006(w) 07973 672 513(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

 

20 June 2001

Nursing 'Summit' welcomed - but needs to address problems

UNISONScotland reaction

UNISON, Scotland's largest healthcare union, today responded to the Scottish Health Minister's announcement of a summit of nursing leaders to 'brainstorm' new ideas on recruitment and retention.

Bridget Hunter, UNISONScotland lead officer for nursing said
"As the union representing the majority of nursing students, and nurses employed in Scotland's NHS, UNISON welcomes this initiative and looks forward to taking part.

"However, it would be naïve not to recognise the reality of nursing in Scotland today. Workload has increased 100% in 15 years, the average age of an NHS nurse in Scotland is 48, and one in three nursing students are leaving the profession before finishing training - directly as a result of poverty.

"UNISON has a number of ideas to reverse these trends and we look forward to an early opportunity to raise them in this forum."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Bridget Hunter (Lead officer-Nursing) 0141-332 0006
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006

Index

Saturday, 16 June 2001

MEDICAL SECRETARIES TO DEBATE SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE'S FORMAL OFFER

Medical Secretaries from all over Scotland will today meet at: UNISON House, 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow at 11am today.

Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for Health said "we have attempted to resolve, through negotiation, a potentially damaging industrial dispute in the National Health Service but we are concerned that the Scottish Executive's formal offer will not be acceptable to our Medical Secretary members."

ENDS

JIM DEVINE can be contacted on:Pager: 07693 533362

Index

Competition threatens Scotland's public water service

UNISON, the largest union in Scotland's Water Service, today launched a series of criticisms of the Scottish Executive's Water Services Bill. In a comprehensive response to the Bill, UNISON is warning that competition will not benefit consumers and threatens water quality and social and environmental aims. The union also repeats its criticism of the increasing privatisation of the water service by using PFI.

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Utilities said,

"UNISON's 'Positively Public' Campaign aims to ensure public services remain accountable, effective and safe. The Water Services Bill threatens all these aims. PFI means less and less water services are being delivered by public authorities; the cuts will mean the loss of thousands of experienced staff with all the safety fears that brings, and competition - unless tightly regulated - will mean higher costs for small business and domestic customers."

UNISON also criticises the suggested reorganisation of Water into one authority, and attacks the lack of consideration for the staff of the industry. Dave said

"The reorganisation is both distracting and contradictory - the Scottish Executive itself stated 'It is difficult to argue that ant more radical restructuring options would clearly serve the public interest better than the existing structure.' - and it is the third time we have had a consultation paper with only a passing refence to staff. We need an organisation that reaps the benefits of scale without losing the effective delivery of services at local level."

ENDS

NOTE to Editors The Full Response to the Executive's Bill is available from Chris Bartter or Dave Watson - contacts below, or on the UNISONScotland website www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/waterbill.html

For Further Information Please Contact:
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - Utilities) 0141-332 0006(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index

 

11 June 2001

UNISON launches campaign to boost public services
78% reject use of private companies to deliver public services

UNISON, Scotland's largest union, will launch their 'Positively Public' campaign today (Monday 11 June).

The union has commissioned a poll from MORI that shows that 78% of the public agree in principle that public services should be run by the government or local authorities, rather than by private companies.

In a hard-hitting speech to the union's Affiliated Political Forum, in launching the campaign, Dave Prentis, UNISON's General Secretary said,

"This election proves that the public put high quality public services at the top of the agenda. We share the government's objective of world class services and look forward to working with them to deliver the required investment. If Labour thinks it has been given a mandate to go ahead with further privatisation of public services, then it had better think again. Only 27% agreed that a Labour victory gives the government such backing. Hardly a ringing endorsement for the private sector.

"The situation in Scotland is different and particularly interesting. We want to ensure that we are working with the Scottish Government to renew our public services. The next elections are due in two years time and we know that Scotland has a particular commitment to public services."

The campaign will continue to pursue the union's message in favour of high quality public services, accessible to all who need them, and responsive to those who use them.

ENDS

NOTE to Editors: MORI interviewed a representative sample of 2,088 British adults aged 18+ face to face on 5 June. Data are weighted to the population profile. Results are available form Anne Mitchell - contact below.

For Further Information Please Contact:
Dave Prentis (General Secretary) via Anne Mitchell (Press Officer) 0207 383 0717(o)
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index

For release 4 June 2001

All public service providers must be required to open their books

UNISON, Scotland's public service union, today called for the proposed Scottish Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill to cover ALL bodies providing public services, not just public authorities. In the union's response to the Draft Bill published by Justice Minister Jim Wallace, they claim that many private sector and charitable service providers such as contractors maintaining Scotland's Trunk Roads and Residential Care charities, will only be covered by the law if Ministers decide.

Chris Bartter (Unison's Communications Officer) said

"Whilst we welcome the main thrust of this legislation, the fact remains that it only directly lists public authorities as subject to its provisions. There are a whole raft of bodies who may or may not be covered, dependent on Ministerial decision."

The union points out that the list of authorities covered, don't include some key players.

"Social organisations as Housing Associations, Local Enterprise Companies, Area Tourist Boards and the voluntary sector deliver peoples services using public money." Chris said "They must be subject to the same obligations to give the public information as Local Authority Housing Departments, Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Tourist Board and Health Trusts."

UNISON is also concerned that the Executive seems to be set to make no resources available to authorities to deliver the service. Chris Bartter went on;

"The consultation paper estimates that the delivery of FoI will cost between £2.5m - £4.8m pa. Jim Wallace has seemed to suggest that no new money will be made available. This could mean that authorities are in no position to deliver the requested information as they haven't had the resources to set up the required systems"

The union is suggesting the Bill should state clearly its intent to cover all public service providers, and should include other methods of ensuring that all people who deliver our services have to account for them.

ENDS

{Note to the Editor: UNISON's response to the Consultation on Draft Legislation is available from Chris Bartter (below) or on this website.

For Further Information Please Contact: Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index

9 May 2001


Freedom of Information - Glasgow meeting to discuss Bill

A group of organisations led by the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland and the Scottish Civic Forum have arranged a meeting in Glasgow to allow organisations and individuals to discuss the draft Freedom of Information Bill. Carol Ewart, (Co-Convenor - Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland) said:

"Whilst the draft Bill is a clear improvement on the UK Act, it is still vital that people make their views known to the Scottish Executive before the 25 May."

To be held in the UNISON office, 14, West Campbell Street, Glasgow at 9.30am on Thursday 10 May, the meeting will feature representatives of consumers, workers and environmental groups who will each put forward ways in which the draft Bill can be strengthened. Speakers will include:

Carol Ewart - Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland
Sarah O'Neill - Scottish Consumer Council

Kirstie Shirra - Friends of the Earth Scotland and

Chris Bartter - UNISON, the public service union.

Steve Harvey - Scottish Accessible Information Forum

The meeting is open to members of the public and anyone wishing to attend should contact Neil McLeod at the SCC, 100 Queen Street, Glasgow G1 3DN, Tel 0141-227 6469. Fax 0141-221 0731. E-mail nmcleod@scotconsumer.org.uk

Any journalists wishing to report the meeting are welcome. Please contact Chris Bartter or Carol Ewart (numbers below)

ENDS

Index

5 May 2001

UNISON DISCUSS EXECUTIVE'S OFFER OF SCOTTISH TALKS ON MEDICAL SECRETARIES DISPUTE

Medical Secretaries from all over Scotland will meet today in Glasgow to discuss an offer from the Scottish Government, which could resolve the present grading dispute.

Speaking prior to the meeting, Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser of Health said, "This response from the Scottish Government is a significant development. For the first time they have conceded that this dispute is Scottish wide. Secondly, they accept that there is an urgency to resolve this matter.

Medical secretaries throughout Scotland are very angry about their present grading and this anger is reflected in the ballot from North Glasgow Trust where over 90% of the staff voted for immediate strike action.

UNISON will be consulting Branch members over the next 7 days on the offer from the Scottish Government."

ENDS

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION please contact

Jim Devine on: 07693-533362 (Pager)

NOTE TO PRESS:

You are invited to attend the opening part of the Conference, which will be held at UNISON House, 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow and starts at 10.30am. Obviously when the meeting is underway you will be asked to leave and we will give a report back on the deliberations.

Index | Health Service Pages

4 May 2001

EXTENSION OF NURSE PRESCRIBING IS 'PERFECT REMEDY' SAYS UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's largest healthcare union, today welcomed the government's announcement that nurse prescribing will be extended.
Nurses will be able to prescribe treatments for a broader range of conditions, including: minor ailments, minor injuries, health promotion and palliative care. In addition, there will be supplementary prescribing for chronic conditions such as asthma.

.Bridget Hunter, UNISON's Lead Officer for Nursing in Scotland said:

."UNISON was instrumental in campaigning for nurses' legal right to prescribe. The extension of those duties just reinforces what we have long been saying, that nurses are perfectly placed to provide high standards of professional practice in this area and can help ensure patients receive care without unnecessary delays.

"UNISON submitted evidence to the Scottish Government's consultation on this matter and supports the government's approach. However, we do want to see the establishment of the relevant education courses for nurses in place as soon as possible."

ENDS

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION please contact

Bridget Hunter on: 0141-332-0006

Index | Health Service Pages

24 April 2001

Freedom of Information - Inverness meeting to discuss Bill

A group of organisations led by the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland and the Scottish Civic Forum have arranged meetings to allow organisations and individuals to discuss the draft Freedom of Information Bill.

David Goldberg, (Co-Convenor - Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland) said:

"Whilst the draft Bill is a clear improvement on the UK Act, it is still vital that people make their views known to the Scottish Executive before the 25 May."

To be held in the Highland Hospice, Bishop's Road, Inverness at 1.30 pm on Wednesday 2 May, the meeting will feature representatives of consumers, workers and environmental groups who will each put forward ways in which the draft Bill can be strengthened.

Speakers will include:
David Goldberg - Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland
Sarah O'Neill - Scottish Consumer Council
Kirstie Shirra - Friends of the Earth Scotland and
Chris Bartter - UNISON, the public service union.

The meeting is open to members of the public and anyone wishing to attend should contact Neil McLeod at the SCC, 100 Queen Street, Glasgow G1 3DN, Tel 0141-227 6469. Fax 0141-221 0731. E-mail nmcleod@scotconsumer.org.uk

Any journalists wishing to report the meeting are welcome. Please contact Chris Bartter (0141 332 0006) or David Goldberg.

Index

23 APRIL 2001 FOR OPERATIONAL USE

Cleanliness in Glasgow Acute Hospitals, Launch of UNISON Survey Results

Click here for Survey Sample

There will be a press conference held next Tuesday, 24 April 2001, to launch the results of a UNISON survey of NHS professionals on their view of the cleanliness of acute hospitals in Glasgow cleaned by private contractors.

The results make interesting reading and the union will be calling for an appropriate response from the NHS Trusts concerned.

PRESS CONFERENCE DATE:
TUESDAY 24 APRIL 2001
TIME: 10.30 AM
VENUE: UNISON HOUSE, 14 WEST CAMPBELL STREET, GLASGOW G2 6RX

Present will be:
Simon Macfarlane, UNISON Regional Officer and Secretary to the UNISON Scotland Ancillary Sector Committee
Tom Waterson, Chair, UNISON Scotland Ancillary Sector Committee
Kathy McLean, Ward Manager, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and UNISON member on new Shadow Nursing and Midwifery Council
Morag Houston, Domestic, Stobhill Hospital
You are invited to be present.

For further information please contact
Simon Macfarlane (UNISON Regional Officer) 0141 332 0006
Chris Bartter (UNISON Communications Officer) 0141 332 0006

Index

17 April 2001

Medical Secretaries -

Vote of 'No confidence' in Lanarkshire trust management

Angry medical secretaries at Lanarkshire Acute Trust have unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in management and have agreed to start a consultative ballot on industrial action. This follows a similar decision amongst medical secretaries in the North Glasgow Trust.

Speaking after the meeting Jim Devine, UNISON Scottish Organiser for Health said,

"Today I met with angry medical secretaries throughout Lanarkshire. They are angry because their grading dispute has dragged on from last June and they are angry that despite agreeing a procedure with management for handling this dispute, this procedure was ignored when the outcome did not suit the said managers."

"These staff are the forgotten army of the health service. They provide a crucial service, without which the NHS would collapse. If they worked in the private sector with the same responsibilities their salaries would be increased by at least 50%. It was heartening to learn that nearly every consultant in Lanarkshire Acute Trust had either written to the Health Minister, Susan Deacon or to the Chief Executive, Joe Owens supporting the case for upgrading.

"This is becoming a national issue as medical secretaries throughout Scotland are demanding meetings with their branch officials relating to their present unsatisfactory gradings. Trusts and health boards are having difficulty in recruiting and retaining this group of staff. That is why UNISON believe that this Scottish problem deserves a Scottish solution."

ENDS

Index

MONDAY 9 APRIL

UNISON CALLS FOR MORE PUBLIC SPENDING

UNISON, Scotland's largest union, called for Gordon Brown's balance of payments surplus to be spent financing public services, today (10 April). At the STUC Congress in Aberdeen, Mike Kirby, UNISON's Scottish Convenor said:

‘Even in its own terms PFI is not best value. In Scotland seven billion pounds is buying two billion pounds worth of assets. There is another way. For the second year running government departments have succeeded in spending none of the extra cash allocated to them. This money should be used. We should now get the public back into public services.'

Moving a successful compositive motion that brought together eight major unions to reaffirm the STUC's opposition to PFI. Mike also attacked the effect of private control on the workforce.

‘TUPE provides a veil of protection for some workers even though it didn't protect pensions in the Trunk Roads Contracts. But it creates a two-tier workforce with those recruited to the new employers on lesser conditions than those transferred, so that the PFI profit can be achieved.'

UNISON, is currently running a major campaign called ‘Positively Public' to raise the profile of Public Services in the run up to the General Election.

ENDS

Index

MONDAY 9 APRIL

‘LIVING WAGE' CALL FROM UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's largest union, today called on Governments, both in London and Edinburgh to commit themselves to eradicate low pay in the fight against poverty. Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary, moved a successful motion at this year's STUC Congress in Aberdeen demanding significantly more than the current minimum wage. He said:

‘We want to see

. an end to age differential

· regular automatic uprating of the minimum wage

· a fair wages regulation in public contracting

Above all else we want to eradicate low pay.'

The STUC unanimously supported the motion.

UNISON itself is holding a major rally in the run up to the general election in its campaign to get a Living Wage.

The event, to take place in Manchester on April 28 features a top-line rock concert featuring Catatonia, Toploader and other bands, a march and rally earlier in the day and a series of other events in the previous week.

Matt Smith said:

‘We have won the arguments - we now need to convert that victory into real money for those in poverty. Whether in negotiation with Government, in evidence to the Low Pay Commission, in campaigning and at the bargaining table, the eradication of low pay must underpin our work.'

ENDS.

Index

UNISON members vote 'Yes' to pay deal

Members of UNISON, Scotland's local government union, have voted by almost 5 to 1 to accept the 14.2% four-year offer from Scottish Councils, it was announced today. A meeting of representatives from the union's 32 council branches heard that council staff, who have been in dispute with CoSLA since August 2000, voted by 31,438 to 6,353 to accept the deal.

The offer increases the current two-year 6.1% offer to 6.5% by bringing forward next year's (2002) settlement date, extends it for a further two years, and inflation-proofs all four years' awards. It also adds a flat-rate payment of £500 for next year, which will bring the minimum wage in Scottish local government to over £5.00 per hour.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, said "This is a good settlement. UNISON members have by their own action, delivered considerable improvements to the original 2.5% one year offer. It is particularly important that we have got a deal that 'ring-fences' part of the long-term funding of local authorities for proper pay increases. This offer does that by inflation-proofing pay."

Dougie Black, Chair of the UNISON negotiators said "We have followed the wishes of the UNISON membership throughout this dispute, and we will now follow their wishes to accept this offer. They have delivered an important step forward in dealing with low pay. UNISON's first target of a £5.00 minimum wage will be achieved in March 2002"

ENDS

[Note for Editors: The full details of the CoSLA offer are on the UNISONScotland website www.unison-scotland.org.uk/localgovt/lgpay.html.

UNISONScotland Local Government Ballot result

Question -"Do you accept the Employers' revised and final offer?"
Ballot Papers returned 37,834 46%
Yes vote 31,438 83%
No vote 6,353 17%
Full postal ballot carried out by Electoral Reform Ballot Services Ltd.

Index

28 February 2001

Single Water Authority - 'rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic' - UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's public service union, today dismissed the announcement of a reorganisation in the Water industry as a distraction from the many serious issues facing Scotland's water.

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for utilities, said

"Reorganising Scotland's Water Industry again, is like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. As UNISON has said before - this is a distraction from the major issues that should be being dealt with.

" UNISON, who are the major union in Scotland's water authorities believe that crucial issues of safety, competition cuts and creeping privatisation are what the government should be addressing.

"We have already seen the dangers that so-called 'efficiency' cuts and privatisation have lead to in the rail and energy industries,"Dave Watson said.

"UNISON will be running a major campaign to warn of the threats to safety and to jobs in Scotland's water industry. " UNISON is also arguing for comprehensive regulations to be enforced, placing safety before the promotion of competition.

"Safety, not competition, should be the priority." said Dave Watson,

"These are political decisions and our government should ensure that our unique industry is safeguarded and that the full costs are borne by any new entrants"
ENDS

Index

24 FEBRUARY 2001

END PUBLIC SECTOR RAGE SAY UNISON

Scotland's largest union, UNISON have today called on the Scottish people to show public sector workers respect and end the plague of Public Sector Rage incidents.

Speaking in Livingston, Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser (Health), said "This week our Health & Safety Committee reported that verbal and physical abuse is becoming a major concern in every sector of public life. Whether our members work in health, local government or education, reports indicated that physical and verbal abuse of staff is on the increase.

Only this week we have seen one man charged with assaulting a nurse, a traffic warden being attacked with a knife and one of our local government members being threatened with death by a disgruntled client. A recent survey showed a 22% increase in violent attacks against health service workers over a 12 month period and the Education Minister, Jack McConnell, issued a report showing similar problems in the Education Sector.

Under the previous Government, public sector workers were portrayed as second-class citizens and were treated with contempt and one gets the feeling that this message continues to percolate the thinking of some people. Behaviour that would not be acceptable in any other arena appears acceptable when confronted with a public sector worker.

At one time, there was a social contract between the public sector workers and the general public. There was a recognition that public sector workers made a valued contribution to society and were in the main respected by their communities. This no longer appears to be the case. UNISON believes that there should be a new initiative from the Scottish Government, in partnership with ourselves, to remind the people of Scotland about the values of public services and the staff who work in them."

ENDS

Further information from Jim Devine on: 07693-533362 (Pager)

Index

.

2 February 2001

Four-year inflation-busting pay offer to be put to UNISON members.

UNISON, Scotland's largest local government union today agreed put a new offer from Scottish Councils to a ballot of their 80,000 Scottish Local Government members. The offer guarantees inflation-plus pay awards giving an average 14.1% increase to Scottish Council staff for the years 2000 -2004.

The pay rises would range from 16.37% at the bottom of the scales to 11.29% at the top. The pay offer increases the current two-year offer from 6.1% to 6.5% by bringing the settlement date for next year (2002) forward to March. .In addition there is a commitment to reopen discussions at any point, should inflation get within 1/4% of the annual settlement. The settlement in 2002 will be a flat rate £500 which will deliver a minimum wage in Scottish Local government which will break the £5.00 an hour barrier for the first time - the lowest paid council worker will earn £5.03 per hour..

The indefinite industrial action that affected around 1300 local government staff across Scotland will remain suspended whilst the ballot is carried out

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, said
"This new offer is a major step forward and we want to ask our members whether they are prepared to accept it. The members' wishes have driven us throughout this dispute. It is the members' action in the one-day and selective strikes that has pushed the employers to this new position. This offer is the first inflation-plus pay offer that I am aware of. It improves on the 6.1% offer for the existing two years, guarantees members pay will be above inflation for two further years, and takes a major step towards dealing with the problem of low pay. It is now time for them to tell us what they think of this new offer."

The union, who represent two-thirds of Scottish local government workers, was claiming 5% or £500 for 2000's pay rise, plus a minimum wage of £5 per hour. They rejected both CoSLA's original 2.5% offer and the new 6.1% two-year deal, and have been in dispute with CoSLA for over 5 months.
ENDS

[ Note: UNISONScotland is Scotland's largest local government trade union with around 800,000 members, approximately two thirds of whom are women. The details of the pay offer are outlined below as a table of examples.

Pay Offer 1 April 2000 - 31 March 2004

 Dates of implementation   1.4.00  1.10.00  1.2.01  1.3.02  1.4.03  Total %
 Increases offered  2%  1%  3%  £500  4%  14.1%
 Pay points            
 £8,652 (scp 3)  8,826   8,913  9,180  9,680  10,067   16.37%
 £11,115(scp10) 11,337    11,451  11,796  12,296 12,788   15.05%
 £14,028(scp20)   14,310 14,454   14,889  15,389  16,005   14.09%
 £21,636(scp34)  22,068  22,290  22,959  23,459  24,397  12.76%
 £55,329(scp73) 56,436   57,000  58,710 59,210  61,578    11.29%

.

Index

 

29 January 2001

UNISON ISSUE FOUR POINT ACTION PLAN TO REDUCE NHS STAFF VIOLENCE

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON, has today issue a four point plan of action to reduce violence against health service workers including the potential banning of patients who are persistent abusers of staff.

"Today's report showing violence against NHS staff has increased by over 20% in just over a year is very disappointing", said Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser (Health) for UNISON. "These results are similar to the report we issued last year (Appendix 1) which showed a 200% increase in verbal and physical attacks on NHS staff here in Scotland over a four year period.

"Because of the nature of the job and the illnesses that prevail, UNISON do not believe that we can totally eliminate physical and verbal abuse of NHS staff but we can take action to substantially reduce the occurrences by:

1. The Scottish Health Minister, Susan Deacon, and NHS trade union jointly issuing a staff charter, reminding the public that it is not part of an NHS worker's job to be physically or verbally abused at work;

2. The standardisation throughout Scotland of the definition, recording and follow up of violent and potentially violent incidents for all NHS staff;

3. An agreed training course on the management of violent or potentially violent incidents for all NHS staff ;

4. The introduction of a ‘yellow and red card' warning system to members of the public who constantly abuse NHS staff. These warnings could lead to the banning of individuals from NHS premises if they persistently physically or verbally abuse staff."

UNISON wish to put out a very strong message that it is not part of an NHS worker's job to be physically or verbally abused while on duty and the public can help in our campaign by showing respect to staff.

Index

.

12 January 2001

Water cuts will be at the expense of safety

UNISON, Scotland's public service, today slammed the proposals from the Water Industry Commissioner to instigate massive cuts in Scotland's water industry over the next 5 years.

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for utilities, said
"These cuts will mean an increase in the risk to water and sewerage safety, a cut in the quality of service and a massive job loss of up to a third of the workforce. As we havw seen in other utilities, including rail and gas, the loss of experienced staff can undermine safety and reliability."

UNISON, who are the major union in Scotland's water authorities believe that the regulator has based his proposals on false comparisons. They estimate that up to 2,000 jobs (from a total of 6,000) could be lost from the water authorities.
"Comparisons with the private English companies are not comparing like with like," Dave Watson said. "They have had 25 years of investment, had their debts written off before they were privatised, and have non-regulated business opportunities. None of these advantages is open to the Scottish Water Authorities.

These cuts have also to be seen in the context of the gradual privatisation of Scotland's water through PFI, other orivate 'partnerships' and the introduction of competition.

"The bill for these will have to be picked up by the domestic and small business consumer" said Dave Watson, "These are political decisions and UNISON will be launching a major campaign to warn of the very real threat to Scotland's water."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser- Utilities) 0141-332 0006(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index

11 January 2001

Careers:- welcome back to the public sector

UNISON, Scotland's public service union that represents careers staff, today gave a cautious welcome to Wendy Alexander's announcement of the new national all age careers guidance service, as a 'return to the public sector ethos after years of fragmentation and semi-privatisation'. However the union also warned that they would be seeking early negotiations to ensure that staff jobs and conditions were properly protected during the transfer.

Anne Middelton, UNISON's Deputy Scottish Secretary, said
"We believe that the ending of private company status and the return of the Careers Service to the public sector is a positive step forward. We are also clearly in favour of the extension of the service to all ages. The years of fragmentation and semi-privatisation that the Careers Service had to go through under the last government has been cleared away."

"However we will need to look closely at the detail and will be commenting in more depth once we have discussed it with our members affected. And, as the lead trade union for careers staff, we will also want to get into early discussion with the Scottish Executive to ensure that our members jobs and conditions are protected "
ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Anne Middleton (Depute Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w)

Index

City Of Glasgow - Joint Trade Union Committee C/0 UNISON 0ffice, 18 Albion Street, Glasgow G1 1 LH. 0141-552 7069

8 January 2001

Trade unions urge - New year resolution for Glasgow's public sector housing

Glasgow's Joint Trade Union Committee today urged Jackie Baillie MSP, the Minister for Social Justice to make a New Year's resolution to reconsider the Scottish Executive's plans for housing stock transfer. They point to the fact that all of the objectives of the transfer can be met within the public sector, including community empowerment, security for tenants and new investment. They want to continue the dialogue they have already started with the Minister

John Wright, Joint Union spokesperson said:

"Glasgow's housing problems have already been demonstrated to be capable of solution within the public sector. Every other answer will be more expensive at the end of the day as economic analysis has shown. We want the Minister to think again and take on board alternatives that have been included in the English legislation."

In particular the unions point to the commitment to introduce a Major Repairs Allowance, giving English authorities a sum of £540 per property per year, and the commitment to explore the alternative of local authority housing companies. Jim Anderson of UNISON backed up his comments.

"Glasgow's tenants have endured years of underinvestment by successive governments. If the aim is to provide a decent home and social cohesion, can the minister explain why this is only possible by stock transfer? Is her mind closed to other alternatives?"

The joint unions restated their commitment to opposing the transfer and are looking forward to a more meaningful dialogue with the minister in future.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:

Jim Anderson 07974 414 715 (m)

Index


5 January 2001

Action suspended pending further talks

UNISON, Scotland's largest local government union today agreed to suspend for two weeks from 15 January 2001 the selective action that it has been taking throughout Scotland in its dispute with Scottish Councils. This will mean that around 1300 members of the union, who are taking selective action across Scotland will return to work to allow negotiations to resume. The union suspended further escalation of the action before Christmas, following the possibility of new talks.

The parameters for the negotiations will include issues such as weighting towards the lower paid, a minimum wage and a potential increase in the offer

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, said
"Whilst we haven't yet got all that we wanted, these new guarantees are significant enough for us to explore, with the employers, the possibility of a settlement. The member's wishes have driven us throughout this dispute, and their action in the one-day and selective strikes have pushed the employers to add to the offer. We would congratulate our striking members and to ask them to return to work to allow negotiations to resume. Once we have clearer indications from CoSLA we will put the full offer to all our members."

The union, who represent two-thirds of Scottish local government workers deferred escalation. of their action before Christmas in order to explore new talks offered by CoSLA.
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 over 5 months over the annual pay offer. ]

Index

3 Jan 2001

UNISON calls for full Scottish freedom of information

Scotland's largest public service union, UNISON, today (2 Jan) called on the Scottish Executive to strengthen its proposals on Freedom of Information rather than weaken them like the English legislation. The Executive's draft bill on Freedom of Information is expected in the New Year. The union has been campaigning for the legislation to be backed up by increased resources to allow public sector bodies to be able to provide full information storage and retrieval. They are also demanding private sector bodies are treated the same as the public sector.

John Stevenson Chair of UNISONScotland's Communications Committee said

"The experience of the failure of Freedom of Information legislation in England, should make us very wary of what happens here. The consultation document was very positive, but unless it is strengthened and backed up by resources the difficulty will be in delivering the practice. Years of funding cuts have impacted badly on archiving, and information storage and retrieval. They tend to have been very low priority when the money is handed out."

UNISON also wants to ensure that private firms providing public services have to disclose the same information. Currently much information is not available and firms quote 'commercial confidentiality' when questioned on this.

"This leads to the absurd situation of the public not being told how many staff are employed by Kilmarnock Prison, for example." Chris Bartter, UNISONScotland's Communications Officer said "Private firms providing public services must be subject to the same legal constraints as their public sector counterparts."

UNISON represents thousands of public service workers who will be directly affected by the provisions of Freedom of Information laws.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
John Stevenson (Chair of Communications) 0788 056 3178(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index | Consultation response

2 January 2001

Competition plans 'will privatise Scotland's water'

Scotland's largest water industry union, UNISON, today (2 Jan) hit out at the Scottish Executive's plans to introduce competition into Scotland's public water industry.

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Utilities said

"The Executive states that their objective is to retain water as a public service, but their consultation paper promises nothing but a public shell wrapped round private functions. The vast increase in PFI projects and the opening up of facilities for private English water firms mean that the actual functions of Scotland's water boards are increasingly being carried out by private firms. The introduction of unbridled competition in the water industry will add to this pressure and eventually the public shell will burst.

"UNISON recognises that EU competition rules must be adhered to, but suggests that if the Executive really wants to safeguard Scotland's public water supply, then it should adopt a policy of limiting competition, as the French Government has done with its Energy Industry, not encouraging it, as the consultation document says.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - Utilities) 07973 672 513(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

 
See also