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Communications Index | Press releases | Scotland inUNISON | Campaigns

Press Release Archive 2002

Tue 31 Dec 2002

UNISON to launch Scottish election campaign

As Scotland's political parties gear up for the Scottish Parliament elections in May, UNISON, Scotland's largest union has announced today that it will also be campaigning during the first four months of 2003.

The union, who have consistently opposed the Government's continuing use of the private sector to run public services, will be taking their message to politicians and the voting public using a mixture of advertising and events.

UNISON's Scottish Secretary, Matt Smith said UNISON has agreed that we should run a major campaign to put forward UNISON's policies throughout the election campaign and beyond.

"This campaign, which will cost the union around £80,000, is not just designed for politicians. We will be targeting both the general public and our own members - ensuring that they are part of getting the message across to their political candidates.

"We will be rejecting the false notion that 'reform' automatically means splitting the world into 'consumers' and 'producers' and taking sides. We will be pointing out that our members not only produce and indeed consume our public services, but they also vote!"

UNISON will be publishing its own manifesto, which will promote better public services in Scotland based on the best use of innovation and partnership whilst rejecting the automatic assumption that the private sector can provide the answers.

Matt Smith said "The campaign will call for the renewal of Scotland's public services, renewal on the basis of a proper public service ethos and with properly paid and supported in-house employees. The wasteful, expensive and inflexible PFI and other private sector schemes are not the answer for Scotland's public services.

"Many academics, government agencies and other monitoring bodies have identified the flaws in these projects, and all public opinion surveys show that the people of Scotland reject them. These are the arguments we will be putting to the politicians."

UNISONScotland has around 150,000 members working for Scotland's public services.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary)07771 548 997 (m) Dave Watson (Scottish Org - Policy and Info) 07787 558410 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

Mon 30 December 2002

Cultural provision needs less outsourcing and more national guidelines

UNISON, Scotland's largest union today called on the Scottish Executive to bring in more national standards to give Scotland's local authorities more assistance in helping Scotland's communities to increase the cultural side of their locality.

The union, who organise thousands of members working in the cultural services, also criticised the continuing dependence on PFI and other privatised projects, which, it says, work against community cultural activity.

UNISONScotland is responding to a Scottish Executive consultation on guidelines to be laid down for local authorities, to help them implement the National Cultural Strategy.

Chris Bartter, UNISON's Communications Officer said "We welcome the importance given in the guidelines to the role of culture in our communities, and the recognition of the leadership role of local government in the cultural field. However it is sad that the weakness of Scottish legislation in the cultural arena has not been addressed. Even in areas where there are standards, like public libraries, some authorities don't adhere to them!"

Other weaknesses in the guidelines include the failure of the executive to incorporate key participants in community-based cultural work, including community groups, users and staff. And the union points out that continuing dependence on private money will work against the ideals of community planning.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser (Local Government) said "Continuing this government's reliance on PFI/PPP and other privatised and outsourced projects will work against successful community-based cultural work. These type of projects reduce much-needed flexibility - as we saw recently with the need to renegotiate contracts in Glasgow's Schools PFI - are more expensive, leaving less money for the service and are driven by profit, and not by the best service for the community.

"It is also disappointing that the STUC/Scottish Government Protocol on PPP employment issues is not referred to, as it is something that all public service organisations must follow."

UNISON also suggest continuous monitoring and revision of the guidelines over the years.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m) Joe Di Paola (Scottish Org - Local Govt.) 07990 505 698(m)

Index

Fri 27 Dec 2002

Protocol agreement begins to halt staff transfers

Scotland's councils who are developing controversial PFI schemes to refurbish their schools are beginning to change their policies on staff transferring to the private sector, public service union UNISON claimed last night.

Following the agreement between the STUC and the Scottish Government on a protocol to eliminate the two-tier workforce a number of Scottish councils have altered plans on staff transfers. The clearest indication of change is in South Lanarkshire where the council have decided not to transfer any staff to private contractors. Other councils reported changes to staff transfer arrangements and increasing union involvement in discussions following the protocol.

UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, Joe Di Paola said "We continue to oppose PPP/PFI but we welcome South Lanarkshire Council's decision to reject the transfer of dedicated public servants to private contractors. As contractors can no longer exploit low paid workers through the two-tier workforce, we will be pressing all Councils to follow South Lanarkshire's lead".

UNISON is however angry at other councils who are insisting on cleaners, dinner ladies and janitors being hived off to the private sector when this is no longer required.

Joe Di Paola said "It is unclear whether councils in this position have not realised the different position they are now in, whether they are under pressure from contractors or whether they are simply refusing to reconsider. In any of these cases we will continue to put pressure on to ensure the protocol is implemented, that unions are represented and given the full information and that as few staff are transferred as possible."

The protocol agreed between the Scottish Executive and the STUC must be adopted by councils if they want to get PFI schemes agreed by Scottish Ministers. UNISON is closely monitoring this latest tranche of PFI projects in Scottish schools as its first major test.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Joe Di Paola (Scottish Org - Local Government)07990 505698 (m) Dave Watson (Scottish Org - Policy and Info) 07787 558410 m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

23 December 2002

UNISON calls on First Minister to adopt six- point action plan to reduce NHS staff violence

UNISON, Scotland's largest healthcare union, today welcomed the First Ministers comments on violence against healthcare staff in his visit to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary accident and emergency department. The union also called on the Scottish Executive to take up the union's six-point action plan to reduce the number of assaults on NHS staff and in particular to ensure that staff are offered proper support.

"Survey s are still showing an increase in assaults on NHS staff", said Jim Devine, UNISON Scottish Organiser for Health. A recent survey showed that 40% of nurses had been assaulted on duty by a patient or patient's relative in the past three years. However 60% of those received no support whatsoever"

"Whilst we welcome the zero tolerance plan to be adopted by Lothian University Hospitals NHS Trust, the lack of support and follow up in other areas is quite frankly unacceptable. We welcome the First Minister's involvement but we would urge the Government to adopt our action plan across the country as a concrete step forward in tackling violence in our hospitals."

The Action Plan is as follows

* The Scottish Health Minister and NHS trade unions jointly issue 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.

* The standardisation throughout Scotland of the definition, recording and follow up of violent and potentially violent incidents, including verbal abuse, for all NHS staff.

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

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

* Relatives who physically abuse NHS staff must be automatically charged and prosecuted by the Procurator Fiscal.

* Every NHS worker in Scotland has a duty of care to her/himself and to her/his colleagues, to use the reporting system for every incident, and accept and expect that zero tolerance is not just the preferred but the only option

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Jim Devine (Scottish Org - Health) 0845 355 0845(w) 07876 441 239(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index


23 December 2002

UNISON welcomes further staff back in-house

UNISON, Scotland's Healthcare union, today welcomed a deal that will see around 450 catering and cleaning workers at Paisley's Royal Alexandra Hospital come back in house in April next year, and hotel services contractor Initial given notice that their contract is at an end.

Willie Duffy, UNISON's Regional Officer said, "We welcome the Trust's decision to return staff to the healthcare team. In-house services are regularly now becoming the employment of choice for Health Trust managers who want the best services in their premises. It is clear that those who actually deliver the services are increasingly deciding not to continue down the private sector route."

The deal that UNISON has negotiated means that the staff will return to direct employment by the Argyll & Clyde Acute Services Trust on 1 April 2003 and return to full NHS wages and conditions six months later. It comes on top of decisions by all the Glasgow Health Trusts to take staff back in-house and away from contractors, and also after the staff and UNISON won a pay increase for contractors staff to take them above the £5 per hour mark.

Willie Duffy said "This is the latest victory for public service workers and for fair employment. UNISON has campaigned for many years against hiving off key workers in our services to the private sector. We are pleased that in some areas of management at least, there is increasing agreement with this policy."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Willie Duffy (Regional Officer) 07880 717 725(m) 0845 355 0845 (w) Jim Devine (Scottish Org - Health) 0845 355 0845(w) 07876 441 239(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

19 December 2002

UNISON welcomes Argyll vote to stay in-house

The public service union UNISON today welcomed the decision by Argyll & Bute Council to retain services in-house and not to follow the recommendations of Amey to privatise non-core services.

UNISON had called on the council to reject the proposal and also wrote to Local Government Minister, Peter Peacock, and Public Services Minister, Andy Kerr calling on them to intervene.

John Gallacher, UNISON's Regional Officer, said "We are delighted that common sense has prevailed. That the council has seen the need to retain services under democratic control and to make a clear commitment to the value of its staff. Obviously we have to look closely at the restructuring also decided on, and we will want to talk to the council as soon as possible. But at least we are now proceeding from a commitment to retain in-house services."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: John Gallacher(Regional Officer)0845 355 0845 (w) 07930 939 520(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

18 Dec 2002

Manifesto Proposals to End Fuel Poverty in Scotland

Introducing energy ratings for all properties, increasing links between health and housing initiatives and widening the scope of energy efficiency grant schemes. These are among the priorities that fuel poverty groups want to see in Party manifestos in order to end the problem of cold, damp and expensive to heat homes in Scotland.

The Keeping Scotland Warm campaign, led by fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland together with Unison Scotland and Transco, has produced proposals for the next Scottish Parliament. The campaign believes these to be the priorities for progressing the Parliament's obligations to end fuel poverty in Scotland by 2016, as required by the Housing (Scotland) Act.

Director of Energy Action Scotland, Ann Loughrey said: "Many of the Parties are preparing their manifestos now for next May's Scottish parliamentary elections. While major strides have been made during this term of the Parliament, it is essential that we keep focused on how we are going to achieve the target to have noone living in a cold, damp and expensive to heat home.”

Copies of ‘Keeping Scotland Warm: Manifesto to end Fuel Poverty in Scotland' are available from Energy Action Scotland on tel: 0141 226 3064 or website: www.eas.org.uk

- ends -

For further information contact: Elizabeth Gore, Energy Action Scotland on tel: 0141 226 3064 Chris Bartter, Unison Scotland on tel: 0141 332 0006 Anne Neilson, Transco on tel: 0131 559 6088

 

Editor's Notes:

1. Fuel poverty is the inability to afford adequate warmth. It is caused by a combination of 3 factors: poor house condition, high or fluctuating price of domestic fuel and low disposable household income.

2. Over 730,000 Scottish households are in or at risk of fuel poverty. 1 in 3 homes fall short of energy efficiency standards. (Source: Scottish House Condition Survey 1996.)

3. The Keeping Scotland Warm Campaign is an initiative set up in early 2000 by Energy Action Scotland, Unison Scotland and Transco in order to bring fuel poverty and domestic energy efficiency issues in front of the Scottish Parliament.

4. Energy Action Scotland is the national charity working for warm, dry homes. It aims to eliminate fuel poverty in Scotland by: - raising awareness of fuel poverty, particularly as it affects low income households, and working towards affordable warmth for all; - identifying effective solutions which can transform cold, damp houses into warm, dry homes; - securing public and private investment in domestic energy efficiency initiatives.

5. National gas pipeline operator Transco have been active in the fuel poverty arena for a number of years, particularly through their Affordable Warmth scheme. For the past three years, Transco have worked in partnership with Energy Action Scotland and UNISON Scotland on the Keeping Scotland Warm Campaign.

6. UNISONScotland is Scotland's largest union. It organises staff working for all types of public service providers, including the energy industry, care staff and housing staff who know about the causes of fuel poverty and its pernicious effects. That's why we want to work with Energy Action Scotland and Transco in this campaign to eliminate it.

Elizabeth Gore PR/Information Officer Energy Action Scotland Suite 4a, Ingram House, 227 Ingram Street, Glasgow G1 1DA Tel: 0141 226 3064 Fax: 0141 221 2788 Email: e.gore@eas.org.uk Website: www.eas.org.uk - Working for Warm, Dry Homes -

Index

17 December 2002

Failing firm bids to take over Argyll's services

Troubled privatiser Amey is recommending the privatisation of public services across Argyll & Bute says the public service union UNISON. The company - asked by Argyll & Bute Council to report on the running of council services - may use the opportunity to put itself forward to run the services themselves.

The report will be considered by councillors at a meeting on Thursday(19). UNISON is calling on the council to reject the proposal and has also written to Local Government Minister, Peter Peacock, and Public Services Minister, Andy Kerr calling on them to intervene

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary who has written to the council's Chief Executive and to Scottish Ministers, said "Amey have a track record of trying to take over public services. They are one of the firms who privatised our Trunk Road Maintenance and refused to provide fair pensions for staff. They are part of the consortium involved in the much-criticised Glasgow Schools PFI and have recently been sent packing from Redcar and Cleveland Council after proposing a similar scheme, to the one they are advancing here. We urge the Argyll & Bute Council to stand up for the services they provide and send these arch-privatisers packing."

UNISON is clear that public services are best provided by staff accountable to the public, not by private firms who aim to make profits for their shareholders, although the union says that Amey hasn't even been too good at that recently.

John Gallacher, UNISON's Regional Officer, said "In the recent past there have been a series of reports about financial problems, attempt sell-offs and cutbacks within Amey. The company's share price has plummeted over the last six-months, and some commentators have questioned its long-term viability. We don't think the people of Argyll & Bute want their services entrusted to a company who have difficulty running their own business."

The union is also drawing the council's attention to the recently-signed Protocol on Staffing in PPP's which clearly states that public service organisations entering into Public Private Partnerships don't have to transfer staff to the private company.

John Gallacher said, "The Executive and the STUC have signed this protocol that aims to eliminate the two-tier workforce. It applies to all Public Sector Organisations - including Argyll & Bute Council."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith(Scottish Secretary) 0845 355 0845(w) 07771 548 997(m) John Gallacher(Regional Officer)0845 355 0845 (w) 01546 606167(local hotel-today) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

13 Dec 2002

No Staff Transfer in PFI

Senior education activists from UNISON's 32 Scottish Council Branches met today in Glasgow and reaffirmed the Union's opposition to PFI schemes in Scottish schools.

The UNISON conference discussed the protocol agreed between the Scottish Executive and the STUC which councils must abide by if they want to get PFI schemes agreed by Scottish Ministers.

Delegates heard reports from all over Scotland about schools PFI schemes including one from South Lanarkshire where the Council have decided there will be no staff transferred to the private contractors in line with UNISON policy.

Other councils reported changes to staff transfer arrangements following the protocol. They also expressed their anger at other Councils who are insisting on cleaners, dinner ladies and janitors being hived off to the Private sector when this is no longer required.

UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, Joe Di Paola said "We continue to oppose PPP/PFI but we welcome South Lanarkshire Council's decision to reject the transfer of dedicated public servants to private contractors. As contractors can no longer exploit low paid workers through the two-tier workforce, we will be pressing all Councils to follow South Lanarkshire's lead".

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Joe Di Paola (Scottish Organiser - Local Government)07990 505698 (m) 0845 355 0845 (w) Dave Watson (Scottish Org - Policy and Info) 0845 355 0845(w) 07973 672 513(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

11 Dec 2002

Scotland's overseas nurses to get support network from biggest union

UNISON Scotland's largest union, is to launch an Overseas Nurses Network on Wednesday 11 December from 7.30pm onwards in UNISON House, 14 West Campbell Street Glasgow.

The network which is the brainchild of a UNISON NEC member - Sofi Taylor, herself a nurse from overseas (Malaysia), will provide an opportunity to meet and get to know other nurses from overseas. It will also provide information and support.

The launch will be addressed by Robert Baughan, UNISON's Assistant National Officer, Mukami McCrum, Director, Central Scotland Race Equality Council, Bridget Hunter, Scottish Lead Officer for Nursing, and Andy Carter - Director of Personnel, Glasgow Primary Care Trust.

Sofi Taylor, UNISON NEC said "The idea is to provide confidential support for nurses coming from overseas and working in both the private and voluntary sectors as well as in our NHS. We know that some nurses have experienced very poor treatment from employers when they arrive here, this is an attempt to give them somewhere to get independent advice and support.

"The network will run from the union's Glasgow Resource Centre and will also feature in a page on UNISON's Scottish website. This page will also be launched on Wednesday evening."

http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/nhs/overseas

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Sofi Taylor, UNISON NEC member 0141-243 2119 or Sheila McGeoch, Administrator Glasgow resource Centre 0141-243 2119. Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w)

Index

7 Dec 2002

Scotland's largest union to throw weight behind firefighters

9 December Update: UNISONScotland gives £15,000 to firefighters

UNISON Scotland's largest union, is set to throw its weight behind the Fire Brigades Union in its pay dispute. UNISON's Scottish Council, comprising representatives from all the unions 100 plus Scottish Branches will meet on Saturday 7 December in the Moir Hall, Granville Street, Glasgow.

It will consider a motion pledging support for the firefighters. The motion is supported by the union's powerful Scottish Committee and follows a decision by the unions NEC to back the FBU last Wednesday. The meeting will also be addressed by Roddie Robertson of the FBU.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said "UNISON condemns those in the government who are using this dispute as a way of taking on public sector unions, and sections of the press who seek to demonise firefighters and their representatives. We welcome the FBU's decision to talk to ACAS to try and find a way to resolve the dispute, and call on the goverrnment to find the extra investment to end it."

UNISON is also angry that the Bain report has recommended joint control rooms and training firefighters as paramedics, Matt Smith again

"Ambulances carry fire extinguishers - that does not make them fire engines any more than carrying resuscitation equipment makes a fire engine an ambulance. Ill-informed attempts to blur the roles between emergency service personnel and suggestions of joint emergency control rooms, will not help to improve services. UNISON wants modern and effective public services. In particular services that have sufficient, properly trained staff to provide them. Sir George Bain's report does not deliver this."

The UNISON motion calls for a substantial donation to the FBU, for UNISON branches to visit FBU picket lines as expressions of solidarity and for risk assessments to be carried out in UNISON workplaces on strike days.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0845 355 0845(w) 07771 548997(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0141-959 7165(h)

Index

4 December 2002

To reform public services PFI/PPP must be scrapped - UNISON

Whilst welcoming the Scottish Executive/STUC protocol designed to eliminate the two-tier workforce, UNISON Scotland called for the Scottish Parliament to scrap future PPP/PFI projects. The union also supports the Labour Party's call for an independent review into PFI/PPP schemes.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said "The Scottish Parliament Finance Committee's report being debated today (4/12) reinforces our call for a moratorium on PPP schemes and for an independent review. We welcome the call to protect employment conditions of workers and recognise the step forward that the STUC/Scottish Executive Protocol has subsequently made in this area. But it is clear that PPP schemes are still more expensive than publicly-funded equivalents, that they make profits by cutting levels of service, and they do not deliver the levels of flexibility available through the public sector. They also break up the public service team making it difficult to bring back the ethos of public service that Scotland has consistently voted for in elections."

UNISON also criticises the growing interest in Not for Profit or more accurately Non Profit-Distributing Trusts (NPDT), as conventional PFI is discredited by just about every independent study.

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser (Policy & Information) said "The NPDTs proposed by several local authorities in Scotland are not an alternative to PFI. They are simply a different structure for delivering it Our concern is that NPDTs are simply window-dressing."

The union thinks that whilst NPDTs retain most of the PFI weaknesses. There is little evidence that they will be able to borrow as cheaply as a local authority and lending conditions may impact on the ability of trusts to employ staff, leading to the same profiteering and inflexibility inherent in PFI.

Matt Smith said: "We are glad the Committee agreed with UNISON criticisms in a number of areas. Coming on top of the critical report by Audit Scotland into schools' PFI, and Labour's decision to call for a review by an overwhelming majority - a review backed by 63% of voters in an ICM poll - we think it is time that PPP's stopped until an independent review takes place."

UNISONScotland will be keeping up the pressure on the government in the run up to the Scottish Parliament elections with its campaign supporting public services delivered by publicly accountable staff - not by private companies accountable only to their shareholders.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith, (Scottish Secretary) 0845 355 0845(w) 07771 548997(m) Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - P&I) 0845 355 0845(w) 07973 672513(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-342 2877(w) 0141-959 7165(h)

Index

 

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

 

28 November 2002

AGENDA FOR CHANGE - UNISON REACTION

(See the full summary now online at 29 Nov)

Commenting on the Agenda for Change proposals, Jim Devine , Head of Health for UNISON Scotland's largest health care union, said: "UNISON is very concerned that talk about massive pay rises for health workers is misleading and could raise false expectations.

"It is important to emphasise that Agenda for Change proposals are about modernising what was an extremely outdated and antiquated pay system. It was set up to tackle the inequalities and demarcations rife across the whole of the NHS.

"In common with many public services, modernisation in the health service has been going on over many years without changes being recognised and staff rewarded. For example nurses routinely undertake tasks which were traditionally carried out by doctors, and health care assistants now carry out most of the day to day nursing duties. These proposals affect 1m staff working in the NHS across every occupation. They are extremely complex and cover pay, conditions, unsocial hours, overtime and annual leave among many other factors, so clearly there is a lot for our members to digest.

"UNISON will be embarking on a wide-ranging information and consultation process before any agreement can be reached. These discussions have been going on for nearly four years and the process of informing and formally consulting with our members will also be a lengthy one. We do not expect any agreement to be reached before the Spring."

Ends.

For further information contact Jim Devine on: 0870-7777-006 07876-441-239

Index

27 November 2002

Public services need fairly paid staff to deliver reforms - UNISON warns

UNISON Scotland today welcomed the Chancellor's commitment to maintain spending on public services, allowing borrowing to take the strain of worsening global economic conditions.

However the union warned that better public services will not be achieved unless staff delivering them get the necessary pay and support.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said "UNISON members who provide Scotland's public services will be relieved at the Chancellor's commitments to stick to his spending targets in tough times. However, they also know very well the problems affecting services across Scotland because lack of staff and resources. Much-needed reforms cannot be delivered without the pay, training and back-up that our nurses, health professionals, social workers, nursery nurses and other public service deliverers need."

"Whilst we note the rise in borrowing, we are aware that the surpluses achieved since 1997 still hold us in good stead."

UNISON also welcomed the reassurance that tax relief on pension contributions and lump sums will remain unchanged. The union also welcomed the increase in the landfill levy and called for the funds raised to be ploughed in to local recycling schemes.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 07771 548 997(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w)

Index

11 November 2002

UNISON welcomes step forward in eliminating two-tier workforce

UNISON Scotland welcomed the PPP protocol agreed between the STUC and the Scottish Executive today (Monday).

UNISON, Scotland's largest union has been the most vociferous opponent of Government PFI/PPP schemes and says that its campaigning against PFI will continue.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said "Although this protocol is not retrospective, it is a significant step forward in preventing future two-tier workforces in PFI and PPP schemes. It is especially welcome that it applies across the public sector and that it applies to new workers being employed under these contracts."

This agreement does not mean that unions will stop campaigning against PFI/PPP Matt Smith said; "UNISON is campaigning for proper reform of public services. For quality services that people want, that are accountable, flexible, planned and delivered by a professional staff are next to impossible under PFI. It is still poor value for money, breaks up the public service team and leads to poorer services for the people of Scotland, so UNISON will still be opposing its introduction. Indeed this protocol will allow trade unions to get our arguments in much earlier in the PFI discussions, raising them before authorities take irrevocable decisions."

The unions will also continue to campaign against the two-tier workforces that currently exist and argue for privatised workers to be brought back in -house as has happened with many contract workers in Glasgow's NHS Trusts. UNISON also made it clear that they would be closely monitoring progress.

Matt Smith said "We will be looking for clear adoption of this agreement immediately by all public service providers. We will monitor projects like the huge schools PFI's recently agreed by the Executive, Scottish Water's investment programme and Glasgow's Acute Services reorganisation to ensure that both the letter and the spirit of this agreement are enforced."

Click here for a summary of the protocol

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0845 355 0845(w) 07771 548 997(m) Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser P&I) 0845 355 0845(w) 07787 558 410(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

Friday 8 November 2002

Glasgow Hospitals - UNISON urges return to work

UNISON today urged its members taking part in unofficial action in Glasgow Hospitals to return to work to allow Scottish negotiations that could benefit more than 30,000 staff in Scotland's NHS to come to a conclusion. The union also made clear that official industrial action has always been available to the staff if they pursued it through the procedures of the union.

"UNISON simply does not understand why this action is being taken now instead of waiting for a Scottish-wide offer on low pay to be made next week" said Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser with responsibility for Industrial Action, "It is doubly perplexing given the procedure for the branch to get a ballot for official action has already started. We understand the frustration of members who have been misinformed about Scottish negotiations by management, but we urge them to go back to work where we can protect them and pursue their grievance."

UNISON has been involved in negotiations with the Scottish Executive to try and agree steps to tackle low pay across the whole of the Scottish Health workforce. An offer is understood to be very close.

Jim Devine, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Health, said "UNISON's Health Group in Scotland agreed that their priority is to eradicate the scandal of low pay in the NHSiS. A significant number of these Admin & Clerical workers will benefit from this as will an estimated 30,000 others. We want to get the best deal possible for all our members and we have explained this to the Branch Officers."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Jim Devine(Scottish Organiser Health) 0845 355 0845(w) 07876 441 239(m) Joe Di Paola (Scottish Organiser - Ind Action) 0845 355 0845(w) 07990 505 698(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

25 October 2002

"END NHS POSTCODE PAY LOTTERY" SAYS UNISON

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON has today called on the Scottish Executive to end what they call the "Postcode Pay Lottery" in the National Health Service.

Speaking at a meeting of NHS Shop Stewards UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Health, Jim Devine said, "As we move towards removing the last vestiges of the Tories internal market, there is still a startling anomaly in the NHS relating to the pay of NHS staff.

"Today Nurses, Porters, Domestics and Admin and Clerical staff are still being employed on Trust contracts. This invariably means that they earn inferior terms and conditions, or at least different, terms and conditions to their colleagues on national agreements.

"Ancillary Staff in Lothian earn different rates of pay from their colleagues throughout Scotland. Over 80% of staff employed in Ayrshire are still on local terms and conditions. This anomalous situation leaves Trusts open to claims for equal pay and it is absurd that 5½ years after the election of a Labour Government that Scotland's nurses, domestics, porters and doctors are still being employed, not by the Scottish Health Service but, by individual Trusts. As a consequence, in order to resolve pay differentials, UNISON has to target on an individual Trust basis, therefore, exacerbating the problem.

"As we move towards the establishment of a new pay system for Scotland's 132,000 health service workers, there is an urgent need to end the present "NHS postcode pay lottery" and standardise the terms and conditions of NHS staff throughout Scotland.

"UNISON will be raising this matter at a special meeting of the Scottish Partnership Forum, at which unions and managers from throughout the Scottish Health Service will be in attendance."

Ends

Further information from Jim Devine on: 07876-441-239 0870-7777-006

Index

24 October 2002

UNISON urges NHS to stop needlestick injuries with new safer needles

UNISON, Scotland's largest care health union, has today renewed its call for new, safer needles to become the norm throughout the whole of the health service, following a £58,000 award to a member who suffered a needlestick injury. The increasing number of accidents involving needles and sharps (over 20,0000 estimated in Scotland each year) is a major concern for UNISON, which represents over 64,000 health workers.

In 1997 UNISON member Mr Herbert Busby suffered a needlestick injury during the course of his work as a Senior Operating Departmental Assistant. He was assisting a consultant anaesthetist with a particularly nervous patient when a tray flipped over, showering Mr Busby with needles. One needle stuck in his arm, and when he tried to shake it off it stuck into his shoe and penetrated his toe. The needle was contaminated and this resulted in severe shock and trauma. To add to Mr Busby's fears he knew that he was not immune to Hepatitis B.

At their worst needlestick injuries transmit fatal viruses including Hepatitis B and C, which result in liver diseases, as well as HIV, which in turn leads to AIDS. UNISON is campaigning for new safer needles to be adopted nation-wide to prevent the risk of disease.

The vast majority of needlestick injuries are preventable and UNISON has been campaigning for a number of years to persuade the Government to introduce ‘safe needle' legislation similar to that being introduced across the United States.

Jim Devine Scottish Officer of Health said;

"How many more accidents like Mr Busby's have to happen before hospitals start using new safer systems such as retractable needles, self blunting devices or those with protective shields. No worker should be needlessly exposed to potentially fatal blood borne diseases through accidental needlestick injuries."

"Mr Busby has not been able to go back to the job he loved because he has developed a life-long needle phobia. It is impossible to put a cost on the misery and suffering caused by infection through needlestick injuries or on the agony of health workers and their families, waiting to know if an injury will lead to disease. The extra cost for many of these lifesaving devices is only pennies and may in the long term save the NHS money. Injuries can lead not only to compensation claims, but to long term costs for tests and treatment, as well as the loss of valuable trained staff from the workforce through illness."

Mr Busby has recently returned to work as a patient co-ordinator and said of his ordeal:

"I went through a dreadful time after the incident which affected not only me but the whole family. It was awful and made me terrified of infected needles and now if I come into close proximity to them, I break out into a cold sweat.

"I had to have three lots of tests for hepatitis and it was nine months before I knew I was in the clear. All in all I went through three years of hell.

"UNISON were absolutely brilliant and supported me throughout this ordeal and I would like to see all hospitals using safer needles. I hate to think of other health workers needlessly going through the same trauma I suffered."

As part of its campaign for safer needles, UNISON is calling on MPs and MSPs to attend a special briefing organised by the Safer Needles Network on Monday 28 October at Portcullis House. A special presentation will show how best to protect healthcare workers from the risks of acquiring potentially fatal blood borne infections through their work.

Ends

Further information from Jim Devine on 07876 441 239

Index

23 October 2002

"Scottish Executive missing vital components in Hospital Acquired Infections Action Plan" says UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's largest healthcare union, today welcomed the Scottish Executive's Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI) action plan but has warned that they (the Scottish Executive) have missed vital components in their strategy.

"When I worked in the National Health Service, a domestic was allocated to my ward and worked from 7.30am to 2pm. At 4pm another domestic would come on duty and work until 8pm. These individuals would be totally accountable to me, as they were employed by the National Health Service", said Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for Health, UNISON.

"Today the same domestics will cover 2, 4 or 6 wards because, since 1985 when Compulsory Competitive Tendering was introduced to the National Health Service by the Tories, the number of domestics employed by the National Health Service has fallen from 25,270 to 10,200.

"Over a 15 year period 15,000 less NHS employed domestics work in the Scottish Health Service. During the same period, Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI) has increased substantially. It is also worth pointing out that, as a result of privatisation and PPP hospitals, no Ward Sister or Charge Nurse in Scotland can manage a domestic in the way that I could because domestics are not employed by the National Health Service but employed by private contractors.

"Therefore the Scottish Executive should have included in their action plan, firstly, minimum staffing levels for domestics in each ward and department and, secondly, the removal of private contractors from the NHS."

Ends

Further information from Jim Devine on: 0870-7777-006, 07876-441-239

Index

17 October 2002

UNISON welcomes Executive Nurse Recruitment Initiative but warns that low pay must be resolved

UNISON, Scotland's largest healthcare union, today welcomed the Scottish Executive's Nurse Recruitment Initiative but warned that the issue of low pay in the profession must be resolved.

"While we welcome this initiative by the Scottish Executive, the issue of low pay amongst Scotland's 55,000 nurses needs to be resolved", said Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for Health, UNISON.

"The average age of a Scottish Nurse is 48 and in some Scottish Trusts nurses aged under 30 only account for around 5% of the total workforce. A 19-year-old, with 31 weeks training, starting in Strathclyde Police will earn £4,000 per year more than a newly qualified nurse.

"There is no point in recruiting nurses through the front door of a hospital if they are pouring out the back door because of low pay."

Ends

Further information from Jim Devine on: 0870-7777-006, 07876-441-239

Index

15 October 2002

Another major victory for UNISON against low pay in the Health Service

UNISON Scotland's largest health care union have today claimed a major victory in their Low Pay Campaign to ensure a minimum of £5 per hour for Scottish Health Care workers across NHS Argyll & Clyde.

Following consultation with the membership UNISON have now advised the employers of acceptance of the offer but are, however, committed to balloting our members for £5.18 per hour in line with our claim.

Willie Duffy, Regional Officer, said:-

"This pay deal benefits approximately 600, mainly low paid women, who will benefit by between 38p and 54p per hour on their basic pay. However, the UNISON Branches are committed to achieving £5.18 per hour within this financial year and our Campaign continues."

 Footnote : This covers Hospitals in Campbeltown, Lochgilphead, Oban, Alexandria, Islay, Dumbarton, Paisley and Greenock.

FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:-

WILLIE DUFFY, REGIONAL OFFICER 0845 355 0845 (w) 07880-717-725(m)

15th October, 2002

Major victory for UNISON against low pay in the Health Service

UNISON Scotland's largest health care union have today claimed a major victory in their Low Pay Campaign to ensure a minimum of £5 per hour for Scottish Health Care workers, following acceptance by members at a meeting in the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley.

Speaking after the meeting, Willie Duffy, Regional Officer, said:- "it is sad that it took the threat of industrial action to force a private company to pay health services workers £5 per hour. These workers, mainly women, were earning a few weeks ago £4.18 per hour from Initial Hospital Services, this company was exploiting these staff and should be removed from the NHS."

Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for Health said:-

"I congratulate the Branch and the Regional Officer involved for this success but it is a wake up call for the rest of the Scottish Health Service, the epidemic of low pay that prevails must be brought to an end!"

FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:-

WILLIE DUFFY, REGIONAL OFFICER 0845 355 0845 (w) 07880-717-725(m)

JIM DEVINE, SCOTTISH ORGANISER FOR HEALTH 0845 355 0845 (w) 07876-441-239(m)

Index

15 October 2002

Ayrshire & Arran: Talks fail to deliver for low paid health staff so UNISON moves to ballot

UNISON Regional Officer, Simon Macfarlane and local Branch representatives met with members of management of both the Ayrshire & Arran Acute Hospitals Trust and the Ayrshire & Arran Primary Care Health Trust late in the afternoon on Tuesday 8th October. This was the second such meeting to discuss UNISON's claim on behalf of low paid NHS Hotel Services staff. UNISON had previously made it clear that at this meeting they expected to receive a positive response to their claim or they would move forward to ballot their members on industrial action.

The 13 point response from the Trust conceded some important matters and committed to further discussions on others, however it utterly failed to address the core elements of UNISON's claim:

  • It did not return all UNISON Hotel Services Staff to national terms and conditions, e.g. x1.5 time on a Saturday and x2 time on a Sunday.
  • Even for the small number of staff it offered an improvement in the hourly rate for, their enhancements would still be paid at their current rates. This means overtime and weekend working would be calculated on the poverty pay rates
  • For the vast majority of staff it offered nothing in terms of an improvement in their hourly rate

Simon Macfarlane said after the meeting, "what we need is an improvement in the hourly rate for all staff, enhancements to be calculated on that new hourly rate and enhancements to be paid at the national Whitely rates! This offer delivered none of these things."

Since the meeting on the 8th the local UNISON Branches have requested permission from the national Union to conduct an industrial action ballot and the Union is currently going through the process of preparing for a ballot.

Simon Macfarlane further said, "It is very disappointing the Trusts didn't come to us with a realistic offer. Unless they take the opportunity to come back to us with a significantly improved offer it seems we will inevitably be heading for industrial action. This is not where we wanted to be but our members are absolutely resolute in the justice of their claim.

"If strike action and all that entails is what it takes to get £5.23 per hour that is what our members will do. We know from our campaigning that the people of Ayrshire are behind us and when it comes to the inevitable disruption and delay to NHS treatment in Ayrshire, they will know to blame the Trust poverty pay masters."

ENDS

Information to Editors: UNISON has rigorous industrial action procedures that have to be gone through before any industrial action ballot is commenced and thereafter any action is sanctioned. This is to protect members and the Union. This process is well underway and further announcements will be made when the next stage has been reached.

For Further Information Contact: Simon Macfarlane (0870) 7777 006 - Work (07931) 365 263 - Mobile

Index

MONDAY, 14TH OCTOBER 2002

UNISON launches six point action plan to reduce NHS staff violence

UNISON, Scotland's largest healthcare union, today issued a six point action plan to reduce the number of assaults on NHS staff and have called on Scottish society to target specific hot spots like the Old Firm games which are creating, in some Accident and Emergency units, a "war zone".

"Survey after survey are still showing an increase in assaults on NHS staff", said Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for Health for UNISON. A recent survey involving 1455 nurses showed:

In the past three years have you been assaulted while on duty, either by a patient or a patient's relative?

Yes No Not Stated

40% 59% 1%

581 863 11

If yes, were you offered one or more of the following:

* Training in aggression management 146 (25%)

* Counselling 65 (11%)

* Support in pressing charges 24 ( 4%)

* Other 52 ( 9%)

* None 340 (59%)

* Total Respondents 1,455

"The lack of support and follow up is quite frankly unacceptable.

"UNISON also believes that as a society we need to deal with specific hot spots like the Old Firm games. One of our nurses described working in an Accident and Emergency unit last Sunday night "like being in the middle of a war zone". This is unacceptable and that is why we are issuing, in European Health and Safety Week, this six point action plan to reduce violence against NHS staff."

  • The Scottish Health Minister and NHS trade unions jointly issue 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.
  • The standardisation throughout Scotland of the definition, recording and follow up of violent and potentially violent incidents, including verbal abuse, for all NHS staff.
  • An agreed training course on the management of violent or potentially violent incidents for all NHS staff.
  • 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.
  • Relatives who physically abuse NHS staff must be automatically charged and prosecuted by the Procurator Fiscal.
  • Every NHS worker in Scotland has a duty of care to her/himself and to her/his colleagues, to use the reporting system for every incident, and accept and expect that zero tolerance is not just the preferred but the only option

Ends

Further information from Jim Devine on: 0870-7777-006 07876-441-239

Index

10 October 2002

Hearts - Show Racism the Red Card Launch

Launch of Hearts 'Show Racism the Red Card' poster 2002/3 and the Scottish anti-racist schools competition : Gorgie Suite, Gorgie Stand, Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh, Thursday 10 October.

Photo-call with Craig Levein the Hearts manager and two players on the pitch at 1.40pm. Two Hearts players, Alan Maybury and Kevin McKenna will attend the event at 2pm and answer questions from the school students present.

John Stevenson, Chair of UNISON Scotland's Campaigns Committee said, "I am proud that UNISON is a major sponsor of Show Racism the Red Card. Racism is an evil that must not be allowed to flourish. This is an ideal opportunity to celebrate all that's best in Scotland - its commitment to equality, its diversity and the host of cultures that enrich it. There is no better way to challenge the narrow racism that poisons those ideals. It is especially important that children are made aware of the damage and terror caused by racist behaviour.”

Ged Greeby from Show Racism the Red Card said, "We are printing 15,000 Hearts posters for free distribution and the club have again been excellent in giving us the Gorgie Suite for our event. Around 100 guests, including 60 school students from Midothian Council will attend the event. Thanks to the EIS we will be running a Scottish schools competition this year and our aim is to get our anti-racist message into more schools than ever."

The campaign is sponsored by the public sector trade union UNISON, the EIS and the Professional Footballers Association.

ENDS

For further information:

Ged Grebby, Show Racism the Red Card, 07710 776616

John Stevenson, UNISON, 07876 795 018

Index

 

Wednesday, October 2002

"Bridge the NHS pay gap or risk losing essential staff" says UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's largest healthcare union, today (Wednesday 9 October) added their voice to calls for a fair pay award for all nursing staff, as unions launched this year's joint evidence to the Pay Review Body.

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

"Nurses, midwives and health visitors are the life blood of the NHS and we cannot risk losing more of these essential workers because of low pay. This year's evidence to the Pay Review Body highlights the need to bridge the gap between nursing staff and other key workers such as teachers and police who typically earn 10% to 14% more.

"It is a growing cause for concern that one third of students completing their nurse training, fail to register. But when you consider the starting salary of just £16,000 a year, you can begin to understand why. We must act to ensure that nursing is seen as not only a worthwhile career but as a rewarding one too.

"As for health care assistants they need a real pay boost to recognise their developing skills and expertise on the wards. It is now routine for non-registered nurses to take blood, do ECG's, put patient's feeds up and be trained in resuscitation, and yet for that they are rewarded with a starting salary of £9,735 a year, no wonder so many are struggling to make ends meet.

"UNISON believes they should have the money to match their duties and that includes a re-grading to a C grade with a starting level of £13,040."

Ends

Further information from Bridget Hunter on: 0870-7777-006

Index

2 October 2002

UNISON welcomes Parliamentary call to protect PPP workforce

UNISON Scotland welcomes the call made in the report of the Scottish Parliament's Finance Committee for workers conditions to be protected in PPP contracts. The union also supports the Labour Party's call for an independent review into PFI/PPP schemes.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said "This report reinforces our call for protection for staff and the need for an independent review to be established. We particularly welcome the commitment to protect employment conditions of workers. Pressure is building on the Executive to deliver on its commitment to do away with the scandal of the two-tier workforce and to bring back the ethos of public service that Scotland has consistently voted for in elections."

UNISON has consistently said that PPP projects are vastly more expensive than publicly-funded equivalents, that they make profits by cutting staff, pay and conditions, and they do not deliver the levels or flexibility of service available through the public sector.

Matt Smith said: "We are glad that a number of our proposals have been identified by the Committee. Coming on top of the critical report by Audit Scotland into schools' PFI, and the decision of the Labour Party this week to call for a review by an overwhelming majority, this is further evidence of the need for a review of such projects."

UNISONScotland will be keeping up the pressure on the government in the run up to the Scottish Parliament elections with its campaign supporting public services delivered by publicly accountable staff - not by private companies accountable only to their shareholders.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith, (Scottish Secretary) 0845 355 0845(w) 07771 548997(m) Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - P&I) 0845 355 0845(w) 07973 672513(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

 

 

12 September 2002

Budget Plans 'fail to address problems' - UNISON

UNISON Scotland, Scotland's largest public service union, welcomes the extra investment in Scotland's public services, although there are a number of disappointing areas where the Executive could do more to ensure that the crisis at the core of Scotland's public services is addressed.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said "Extra Government investment is welcome and some key problem areas have been recognised, but we need to bring home to the Executive that much-needed improvements will not come about until they address the problems of resources, training, and pay for the front-line staff who deliver those services. Higher and further education is a particular example. There are major problems of low pay and underfunding in these services but they receive a really low investment increase next year, a mere 3 and 2% respectively. And social work, where low pay and staffing shortages are leading to major problems in delivering full services, has only been addressed in part"

The union is particularly concerned that investment should go into dealing with core services. This seems to have been omitted in the rush to fund specific projects and initiatives.

Matt said "When front-line services are creaking at the seams it is frustrating to see £160m over three years being ring-fenced for a 'public service reform' fund - whatever that is. Reform will only be delivered if the resources go to the staff delivering the services."

UNISON is also disappointed by the failure of the Executive to recognise the evidence of the waste of PFI/PPP financing.

"It is disheartening" said Matt, "to see money that could be used to improve people's services being earmarked, and poured into shareholders pockets in huge capital spending projects financed via PPP's. The £1.15bn school building programme, for example, includes millions to be wasted on expensive PFI schemes rather than being used to improve our children's education."

UNISON will continue its campaign to revitalise public services.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0845 355 0845(w) 07771 548 997(m)
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser P&I) 0845 355 0845(w) 07973 672 513(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

10 September 2002

Nursery staff need review to give them clear career choices - UNISON

UNISONScotland, Scotland's public service union, today called on the Scottish Executive to set up a review into early years education and childcare, and in particular to establish a clear career path for early years staff within education.

In presenting a petition of 20,000 signatures to the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament, Carol Ball, Chair of UNISONScotland's Nursery Nurse Working Party said:

"Early Years education is a key part of everyone's lifelong learning. It isn't merely preparation for school, or somewhere to get the kids looked after. Nursery staff lay down the foundations that children will build on for the rest of their lives."

UNISON represents around 7,000 nursery nurses across Scotland and is arguing that a Scotland-wide review is needed to address the increases in duties and responsibilities undertaken by staff since their last regrading thirteen years ago. In the meantime a wide range of qualifications and occupational standards have been introduced leading to confusion amongst new professionals and employers.

UNISON want the review to address the structure, remits and career path of nursery nurses as well as rates of pay. Carol Ball also said "European countries already recognise and value early years education and childcare as a separate profession. Unfortunately in this country it is often viewed as a 'woman's' job, or one that is taken because the individual is not intelligent enough to teach. Both these skewed perceptions serve to make nursery work an undervalued job."

The petition is part of a UNISON campaign to review and enhance the status of nursery staff, which also involves discussions with local authority employers and public rallies and leafleting.

ENDS

UNISON's submission of the Scottish Budget 2003-2004 is available from contacts below or on the UNISONScotland website - www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/csr.html

For Further Information Please Contact:
Carol Ball (Chair - Nursery Nurses Working Party) 07803 952263(m)
Joe Di Paola (Scottish Organiser Local Govt) 0845 355 0845(w) 07990 505 698(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

10/09/02

Don't waste Spending Review cash on private profits - UNISON

Scotland's largest union, UNISON today called on the Scottish Executive to ensure that it spends the additional £4.1bn allocated to Scotland delivering high quality public services and does not pour it into the pockets of private shareholders via PFI/PPP schemes.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said in Glasgow today: "The £4billion is clearly new money, and is welcome. But we need to ensure that it is used to deliver the higher quality public services that people need. This means:

* improving pay levels in the public services particularly of the lowest paid,

* ensuring money goes into core services rather than being ring-fenced for special projects,

* allowing authorities to borrow capital to build schools and other services without forcing them down the PFI/PPP road.

"Public services in Scotland are at a cross roads. We need to increase core resources to make sure those who deliver the services have the pay, training and resources to allow them to do so. We must give them the tools to do the job, and stop money being siphoned off into the pockets of private sector firms and shareholders."

UNISON has written to the Executive with its suggestions, and would also like to see more money allocated to the voluntary sector, the joint future agenda, the equality audit, and higher and further education. The union also remains unconvinced about the SNP's claims of a 'spending con', and says that this distracts debate away from how the money is spent.

Matt Smith said; "At the end of the day this is real cash, and if it is going to be spent to improve real public services then it is welcome. Scottish people want their services improved - they are not interested in a financial discussion about accounting methods."

ENDS

Note to Editors:
UNISON's submission of the Scottish Budget 2003-2004 is available from contacts below or on the UNISONScotland website - www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/csr.html

For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0845 355 0845(w) 07771 548 997(m)
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser P&I) 0845 355 0845(w) 07973 672 513(m)
Mary Senior (Information Development Officer) 0845 355 0845(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

30 August 2002

UNISON Mela sponsorship 'Celebrates all that's best in Scotland'

UNISON is sponsoring a multicultural tribute to Scottish internationalist and poet Hamish Henderson on Saturday 31 August at Edinburgh's celebrated Mela festival.

The late Hamish Henderson's celebrated anthem to freedom, peace and friendship - 'Freedom Cam A' Ye' - will form a central part of this multicultural event.

John Stevenson, Edinburgh UNISON branch secretary and Chair of its Scottish Campaigns Committee said:

"This is an ideal opportunity to celebrate all that's best in Scotland - its commitment to equality, its diversity and the host of cultures that enrich it. There is no better way to challenge the narrow racism that poisons those ideals."

The union has always supported the Mela through advertising but this year the union's General Political Fund, UNISON Scotland and the Edinburgh City Branch have joined forces in this major sponsorship as part of their 'Positively Public' campaign.

"Public services are about people. They should be responsive to people's needs, offer complete equality of access and recognise the rich diversity in the communities they serve. This can only be done by public investment in quality services delivered by a properly trained and properly rewarded public service team", added Mr Stevenson.

ENDS

NOTE: 'Freedom cam A Ye' is part of 'The Roses Turn to Bloom' programme at the Mela on Saturday 31 August at 2.30pm, Pilrig Park Edinburgh. For Further Information Please Contact:

John Stevenson (Chair Scottish CampaignsCttee) 07876 795018(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

Thurs 29 August

Social workers need pay and resources to resolve crisis - UNISON

UNISON delegates from Social Work services across Scotland are meeting today in Glasgow to discuss their growing concern about their service, and to draw up a plan to address the crisis in Scotland's Social Care.

Members of UNISON, Scotland's largest social care union, are reporting staff shortages and increasing pressures right across the spectrum of social care. Stephen Smellie, UNISON's South Lanarkshire Branch Secretary, who works for the local social work department, will introduce the discussion.

He says "This is the first step towards addressing the many concerns of social care staff across the board. UNISON members are telling us in no uncertain terms, that vacancy levels are increasing, workloads are building up and cases are unable to be allocated as quickly as they should be. Pressure is increasing across the care spectrum. Home care workers, residential staff, unqualified social work assistants and qualified social workers are all facing increasing demand with less resources. This cannot continue."

Whilst welcoming Government planned recruitment and retention advertising and initiatives, UNISON is quite clear that both the pay levels and the job structure and content need to be addressed. How that is best done will be discussed at the meeting.

"Whilst poor pay is an important factor leading to the current high vacancy levels, and a shortage of new graduates, it is not the only one." says Stephen. "We will be looking at potential pay and grading but also at how the service is resourced, and other pressures such as political and media pressure. As the people delivering at the sharp end the government must listen to what our members say."

Joe Di Paola, Unison's Scottish Organiser for Local Government agrees. "This is just the first step," He says. "UNISON will be taking our recommendations into early discussion with the government and the employers. If the government wants to deliver better social services and initiatives like joint future, then they have to will the resources as well as the changes. UNISON is the union representing Social Care staff wherever they work and whatever qualification they have and Ministers need to both include us in discussions and be prepared to find resources before it is too late."

ENDS

{Note to Editors: The UNISON Social Work Conference will be held from 11.00am - 4.00pm in Glasgow's City Halls. It is an internal UNISON - only conference, but interviews with delegates and officers may be available outside the conference. Contact Chris Bartter (numbers below) for access.}

For Further Information Please Contact: Stephen Smellie (UNISON South Lanarks.): 01698 454690(o) 07740 096 864(m) Joe Di Paola (Scottish Org - Local Govt): 0845 355 0845(o) 07990 505 698(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer): 0870 7777006(o) 07715 583 729(m)

Index

28 August 2002

"Argyll and Clyde five pounds and hour pay deal is wake-up call for the Scottish Health Service" says UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's largest health care union, today welcomed an agreement with Argyll and Clyde Health Board that will see low-paid NHS Ancillary workers paid at least £5 an hour from next Monday and are warning that it is a wake-up call for the rest of the NHS in Scotland.

Speaking at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley today, Jim Devine, UNISON Scottish Organiser (Health), said, "After days of protracted negotiations, lasting well past midnight, we have concluded a deal that will see many low-paid workers receive an increase in excess of £20 per week from Monday.

"The Barriers against £5 an hour for Health Service Workers have now been ripped down in both Lothian and Argyll and Clyde Health Boards. This agreement is a wake-up call to the rest of the Scottish Health Service, that in the year 2002 £195 per week, at the top of your salary, is a reasonable reward for the vital job these staff do."

Ends

Further information from Jim Devine on: 07719-369-874

0870-7777-006

Index | Health News

Monday, 26 August 2002

"FIVE POUNDS AN HOUR - ITS TIME HAS COME" SAYS UNISON

Scotland's largest health care union, UNISON has today called on the Scottish Executive to introduce a £5 per hour minimum for healthcare staff working in the Scottish Health Service.

Speaking in Glasgow, Jim Devine, UNISON Scottish Organiser (Health), said, "Low pay is endemic in the Scottish Health Service. The basic pay of a NHS employed Ancillary worker is as follows:

Pay Spine Point

Hourly Rate

Weekly Rate

1

£4.247

£165.64

2

£4.283

£167.04

3

£4.320

£168.46

4

£4.356

£169.88

5

£4.393

£171.33

"While these staff enjoy sick pay, extra duty payments, and pension schemes, that is not the case in the private sector.

"If you work for ISS in Lanarkshire you ‘enjoy' 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.

"In Argyll and Clyde, working for a private contractor, the situation is very similar:

Pay rate is £4.47 per hour.

No overtime payments.

No bonus payments.

Annual leave as per the Working Time Directive.

Sick pay at discretion of employer, usually paid for industrial injury.

No pension.

"Lothian Health Board, other Trusts and some private contractors have shown the way forward. A minimum of £5 an hour for a 39 hour week is not an unreasonable rate of pay for vital public Health Service workers. Therefore, I am writing to the Health Minister Malcolm, Chisholm today asking him to instruct Trusts to help eradicate low pay in the NHS by paying at least £5 per hour."

Index | Health News

Wednesday 31 July 2002

"GRADING DEFICIENCY LEADING TO NURSING CRISIS" WARNS UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's largest health care union is today warning that low pay for Scottish Nurses is leading to a care crisis. UNISON has cited as evidence a briefing from the Director of Nursing at Lanarkshire Acute to his Board colleagues in which he says

"The situation is so serious at Monklands that curtailment of services may have to be considered".

"Two weeks ago UNISON launched a grading campaign for Scottish nurses." said Jim Devine, UNISON Scottish Organiser (Health). "We said many nurses were working at too low a grade throughout Scotland"

"We warned that this was leading to recruitment and retention problems and unless this issue was resolved, patient care could suffer.

"Our campaign has been vindicated in a report to today's meeting of Lanarkshire Acute Trust by the Director of Nursing, Paul Wilson.

"In his paper, Paul Wilson states that: 'To illustrate this we are losing D and E grades from accident and emergency, acute receiving and other critical care areas to F and G grades in NHS 24. Similarly we are losing Nurses whom we have trained over several years in chemotherapy to the centres in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The situation is particularly acute at Monklands Hospital where there has been an 82% turnover of Nurses in the last 12 months but where the replacement staff are not skilled in chemotherapy and other techniques. The situation is so serious at Monklands that curtailment of services may have to be considered.'

"Similar concerns have been expressed by both Glasgow and Argyll and Clyde Health Boards. If the establishment of, a relatively small, new NHS facility is having this impact on 3 of Scotland's largest Health Boards then there are clearly major issues relating to the grading and subsequently the pay of nurses throughout Scotland.

"UNISON has written to the Scottish Health Minister asking for a review of all nursing grades in Scotland and asking to ensure that D Grade nurses only remain in post for 6 months and E Grade nurses in post for 18 months."

Ends

Further information from Jim Devine on: 07719-369-784 (m)

Click here for grading pack

Index | Health News

Friday 26 July Date

UNISON wins contract victory at Victoria Infirmary.

Public service union UNISON today welcomed the announcement by South Glasgow Hospitals NHS Trust that it will bring back in-house over 250 people employed by the private contractors who run cleaning, switchboard, catering and portering services in Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary by 1st November this year.

This will mean the contractor -Sodexho - leaving the contract before it is due to finish, and comes after earlier decisions in principle from both the North Glasgow, and the Primary Care Trust, to bring staff back in-house when private contracts end. Matt McLaughlin, Regional Organiser for UNISON said:

"This is a great result for the workforce and their union. UNISON and its members have campaigned tirelessly to see this contract brought back in house.

"UNISON has worked in partnership with South Glasgow Hospitals NHS Trust to agree a business case for bringing the contract back, and the union will now start working with the Trust to improve our members pay and conditions. It is a clear indication that people across the NHS recognise that the best way of providing world class public services is by having an in-house team, not with a two-tier workforce".

Commenting on the one portering contract at the Southern General Hospital that now remains in the hands of the private sector within the Trust, Matt said,

" It's a pity that we are not in the position today to announce the complete and total end of the two tier workforce in South Glasgow's Hospitals. Sadly the Trust have not taken the necessary steps to return these valued employees also. UNISON will continue to oppose privatisation in our public services, we'll be working to ensure that maximum pressure is brought to bear on South Glasgow NHS Trust and that the private contractor staff at the Southern get the same fair deal as we've announced here today"

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt McLaughlin (Regional Officer) 0845 355 0845 (w) 07974 225 202(m) Chris Bartter (UNISON Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845 (w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index | Health News

Tuesday 23 July 2002

"No time for HIV scaremongering" warns UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's largest health care union today warned that public confidence could be undermined by newspaper reports about doctors and nurses from Africa being subjected to compulsory HIV tests. The union stressed that there have been no known cases of a patient being infected by an HIV health worker.

Jim Devine, UNISON Scottish Organiser (Health) said:

"UNISON understands that public safety is paramount. At a time when the NHS is crying out for staff this is not a time for scaremongering.

"We believe that if health workers are to be tested for HIV it should be professional, anonymous and not be part of a pre-contractual obligation.

"It is worth pointing out that six healthcare workers have died over the past few years, including one student nurse as a result of acquiring HIV because of a needlestick injury."

Ends

Further information from Jim Devine on: 07719-369-784

Index | Health News

15 July 2002

Education reforms at risk unless support staff involved - UNISON

UNISON, the union representing the largest number of staff working in the education service, today warned that unless school support staff were included in the National Education debate, they would deal with the whole of the education process.

In an initial response to the Debate initiated by the Scottish Executive, the union points out that, although support staff have a key educational role, they appear to have been ignored in the Executive's introduction to the debate.

"UNISON members are involved in all aspects of education. " Said Joe Di Paola, Scottish Convenor of UNISON.

"Caring, protecting, assisting and directly teaching our kids. Yet both the pack and the video that introduce the National Debate ignore them. McCrone's proposals could mean increasing loads on support staff, and yet they are given fewer than their teaching colleagues.

The union's response details a number of initiatives that its members are already involved in - including improving the status of Nursery Nurses; campaigning for Free School Meals; better conditions for term-time only staff; and opposing the use of PFI to build and run new schools. Joe Di Paola said:

"PFI aggravates the split between teaching and support staff. Breaking up the team by transferring a whole range of support staff to the private sector, to employers whose motivation is profit - not education. It is also increasingly being exposed as an ineffective and inefficient use of public money."

In addition to the comments made by support staff on their own role, UNISON's education members have given valuable responses on educational topics as diverse as - the curriculum; the need for increased exposure to the world of work; the importance outside-school experiences to children's overall development; and the need to involve library staff in compiling reading lists.

ENDS

Note for Editors:
The full response from UNISON is available from the UNISONScotland website www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/respons.html.

The latest update on PFI in Schools is at
www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/pfischools.html

For Further Information Please Contact:
Joe Di Paola (Scottish Organiser - Local Govt) 07990 505 698(m)
Diane Anderson (Organising Assistant) 07931 794 705(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

12 July 2002

European Investigation into Housing Stock Transfer - UNISON response

UNISON, the union for workers in Housing, today said it was not surprised by the EU investigation into the £300m 'subsidy' into the Glasgow Housing Stock Transfer, by the Scottish Executive, and suggested that as the stock required major public investment it should be retained under public control.

"Far from being malicious, the points regarding the Executive's use of public money were made to the Executive by UNISON as far back as December 2001." Said Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government.

"It is clear that the much-trumpeted private investment is not coming in without this significant public sweetner, and UNISON thinks that an investigation is needed.

"The transfer package has also not yet been provided to staff and UNISON is extremely concerned about their future - especially the protection of their pension rights.

"Glasgow's tenants have been asked to vote on a package that is increasingly looking suspect. The financial package is looking far from certain, tenants organisations are increasingly falling out with the GHA, and we have no information on what conditions staff will work under.

"It is long past time that the Executive recognised that housing for people is best provided by publicly accountable organisations with the proper resources."

UNISON - who represent the majority of the workforce involved is currently arguing for the best possible protection for staff faced with transfer to the Glasgow Housing Association and for those who remain with the Council but who are affected.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Joe Di Paola (Scottish Organiser - Local Govt) 07990 505 698(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

09 July 2002

One in five Scottish nurses could be substantially underpaid

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON has today launched a campaign to improve the grading of Scottish Nurses by claiming that up to 12,000 Nurses may be underpaid for the work that they are doing.

Speaking at a press launch in Glasgow, Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser of Health for UNISON said, "UNISON has welcomed the developing and changing role of Nurses that is taking place throughout Scotland. Unfortunately, these changes may not be reflected in the Nurses' pay packets.

"Nurses pay is determined by a system known as Clinical Grading, which was first introduced in 1988. Unfortunately, since then as higher graded Nurses have left the service, they have been replaced by staff doing exactly the same job but on a much lower salary.

Bridget Hunter, Lead Officer for Nursing for UNISON said, "Prior to launching this Scottish campaign, we carried out a pilot in Lanarkshire. UNISON targeted community and hospital based staff. Over 100 Nurses participated in this pilot and as a result of our initiative they have received pay increases of nearly £4,000 per year."

Ends.

A press conference will be held in UNISON House
on Tuesday, 9th July 2002, at 11am.

Available for Interview:
Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser of Health, UNISON
Bridget Hunter, Lead Officer for Nurses, UNISON
Nurses from Lanarkshire Pilot.

The nurses campaign pack is available on this site at
www.unison-scotland.org.uk/nhs/nursing

For further information contact
Jim Devine on: 0870-7777-006, 07719-369-874

Index | Health News

 

8 July 2002

"Use Labour Party Postcard consultation to oppose PPP in the NHS" says UNISON

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON has today called on the people of Scotland to use the Labour Party's postcard consultation exercise to oppose the use of Private Public Partnership in the NHS.

"This week the Scottish Labour Party are issuing 100,000 postcards, to the people of Scotland, as part of a manifesto consultation exercise" said Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser of Health for UNISON.

"We welcome this initiative and see it as the perfect opportunity for the people of Scotland to register their opposition to the creeping privatisation of the NHS by using Private Public Partnership (PPP).

"By using PPP the tax payers of Scotland become the tenants of hospitals and not the owners. It is a much more expensive process. Hairmyres Hospital will cost Scottish tax payers nearly £450m over the next 30 years. In every PPP project there are fewer beds, fewer doctors and fewer nurses. Patient care becomes a secondary consideration because under the law a private company's primary function is to make profit for their shareholders.

"Therefore, the people of Scotland should use the Labour Party's postcard consultation exercise to tell the First Minister no more Private Public Partnership in the Scottish Health Service."

Ends.

For further information contact
Jim Devine on: 0870-7777-006, 07719-369-874

Index | Health News

PRESS CALL for Thursday 27 June 2002,
12.30pm, Scottish Parliament main entrance, The Mound, Edinburgh
Issued: 26 June 2002

UNISON's 20,000 signature nursery nurses petition to be submitted to Scottish Parliament

Scottish nursery nurses are stepping up their campaign for a review of the profession on Thursday 27th June by presenting Margaret Jamieson MSP with a 20,000-signature petition. The petition calls on the Scottish Executive to recognise early years education and childcare as a separate profession within the education sector and standardise qualifications. It calls for a national enquiry to produce a report and recommendations.

Despite the increasing emphasis on the importance of early years education, nursery nurses' vital role is not recognised in either their pay or career development. Nursery nurses had a Scottish-wide regrading claim rejected by CoSLA earlier this year and have submitted separate but identical claims to all Scottish local authorities.

Carol Ball, chair of UNISON's nursery nurses working group, said:
"Nursery nurses play an invaluable part in young children's education and it is time this was properly recognised by the Scottish Executive. We want Ministers and MSPs to conduct a thorough review of the sector, recognise it as a separate and valued profession in its own right and make recommendations on career development issues. June is National Childcare Month and we believe that there could be no better time to highlight this issue.

"The huge number of people who have signed our petition recognise the importance of nursery nurses. Margaret Jamieson, whose daughter is a student nursery nurse, also recognises the importance of this and we are delighted that she has agreed to accept our petition. We hope that the Public Petitions Committee will also agree and put pressure on the Executive to conduct the review."

ENDS

Margaret Jamieson MSP, Carol Ball and a group of nursery nurses will be available for interview and photographs at 12.30pm.

For Further Information Please Contact:
Carol Ball, Chair, UNISON Nursery Nurses Working Group 07803 952263 (m)
Sarah Duncan, Information Development Officer 077 200 93879 (m)
Chris Bartter, Communications Officer 0771 558 3729 (m)

Index

 

18 June 2002

Time to remove private contractors from the NHS, says UNISON

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON has today called on the Scottish Executive to remove private contractors from the NHS, following the decision by the relatives of patients, who died in South Glasgow Hospitals as a result of Hospital Acquired Infection, to sue for negligence.

"The Tory Government chickens, of privatising and cutting back on cleaning staff in NHS hospitals, have come home to roost" said Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for UNISON.

"In 1985 there were over 25,000 domestics employed in the Scottish Health Service. Today that number has fallen to around 10,000. It is absurd to suggest that hospital cleaners play no part in the healthcare team as the tragedy in South Glasgow highlights their crucial role. Therefore, the Scottish Executive should be sacking Sodexho, the privatising cleaning company that cleans the Victoria Hospital.

"Putting profit before patients is putting lives at risk."

Ends.

For further information contact Jim Devine on: 0870-7777-006, 07719-369-874

Index

Date: 17 June 2002

Shetland Council Job Loss - UNISON response

UNISON, Scotland's public service union, today said it was extremely concerned and wanted an early meeting with the Shetland Islands Council to seek a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, in the discussion over the proposed job loss.

"UNISON is extremely concerned about the size of these proposed job losses." Said Dougie Black, UNISON Regional Officer. "We do not think the council can lose this many staff without a consequent affect on island services.

"Whilst we have had initial discussions with the council we will now be seeking an urgent meeting with them to ask for the reason for such a massive investment loss. We will also be demanding that the council commits itself to no compulsory redundancies."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Dougie Black (Regional Officer - ) 0131-226 2662 (Edinburgh office - today 17 June) 07968 478195(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

Monday 17 June, 2002

UNISON welcomes new report backing free school meals bill.

UNISON, Scotland's largest union, today welcomed the publication of a new report backing the School Meals (Scotland) Bill which is to be debated in the Scottish Parliament later this week.

UNISON, the largest union in education, is supporting the bill to deliver a free school meal to all children, and welcomed the report The case for the School Meals (Scotland) Bill: The health of our children the future of our country, by former HEBS Director Dr David Player.

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary of UNISON said: "UNISON believes that we should establish a child's right to a free, healthy and nutritious meal, and it is good that the Player Report is supporting this position. UNISON members, who deliver school meals and are the key to their success, tell us that the current system of free meals still has a stigma attached. Indeed 20% of kids entitled to them do not take them. The School Meals Bill will remove stigma and allow pupils from low-paid families who are not currently entitled to free meals to benefit. It will also take an important first step in tackling Scotland's poor health record."

Recent UNISON commissioned research across the UK revealed massive price variation in Scottish schools: from 95p to £1.70.

"The price of school meals has risen ahead of inflation over the last 6 years". Said Matt. "This Bill would end the huge price variation ensuring all children are able to access decent food regardless of their ability to pay".

At the launch of the Player Report at the Scottish Parliament today, UNISON highlighted how free school meals would help develop social skills in children, improve social inclusion, have massive health benefits, and create employment opportunities.

ENDS For

Further Information Please Contact: Mary Senior (UNISON Information Development Officer) 0845 355 0845 (w) Chris Bartter (UNISON Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m) 0845 355 0845 (w)

Index

Wed 12 June Date: 11 June 2002

UNISON calls for PFI moratorium
Welcomes Accounts Commission report

UNISON, Scotland's largest public service union, today welcomed the findings of the Accounts Commission report into the existing Schools PFI schemes and called for future schemes to be halted until the alternative funding methods had been adopted. Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said

"The comments from the Accounts Commission on the key Value for Money tests echo what UNISON has been saying all along. Criticisms of the high set up costs, the inherent constraints on future spending and the bias in favour of the private sector in the current Public Sector Comparator tests show that PFI is bad value for money for public services. We also welcome the Accounts Commission's finding that there is no benefit to the public services in transferring staff.

"It is particularly appropriate to publish these critical points
now, when the Executive has the next round of school's PFI applications in their hands. We call on them to accept the key points made in this report and impose a moratorium on PFI projects."

The union, who have been campaigning against PFI for some years, is pleased that its financial criticisms have been confirmed by the government's own spending watchdog. It comes after a number of academics, agencies parliamentary committees and councils have also backed criticisms of the controversial policy. Matt Smith said

"It is time to abandon this expensive and divisive policy. It is
clear that it has not delivered value for money in the schools projects evaluated, and that public sector alternatives are as efficient, cost less and deliver better services."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 07771 548 997(m)
Dave Watson (Scottish Org - Policy and Info) 0845 355 0845(w) 07973 672 513(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)


Index

 

Mon 10 June 2002

Call centre survey highlights continuing health problems

Three quarters of UNISON members working in call centres across Scotland suffer from stress and nearly two thirds have pain in their hands, wrists or back says a survey carried out by UNISON.

As call centres expand across the services from the utilities into local government and the health service, UNISON feels it is necessary to encourage best practice. The survey, sent to 500 members randomly selected across Scotland, also identified high noise levels at work as leading to strain in speaking and listening, and software and process problems.

UNISON today launched its Call Centre Charter - Raising the Standard - which promotes six key principles to raise standards for Scotland's 46,000 call centre workers. Dave Watson UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Utilities said

"This Charter aims to develop best practice in this important industry. It recognises that while progress has been made recently, all call centres need to be brought up to the standards of the best."

The key areas the Charter calls on employers to address are:

fair pay and conditions,

positive approach to a worklife balance,

better job design,

opportunity to join a trade union,

training and development, and

health and safety.

It is clear that improvements are taking place in equipment and workstation design, and there is greater recognition of the importance of regular breaks and health checks. Dave Watson thinks that this is because of increasing unionisation.

"There is no doubt that unionisation has a positive effect on pay and conditions. " He said' "Another recent survey found that salaries average £700 more in unionised call centres. Health and safety are also improving, however, as our survey shows, there is still much to do."

ENDS

Survey Results

Note for Editors The Call Centre Charter is available from the contacts below, or it is on the website at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/cccharter.html The full survey figures are also below.

The survey questionnaire was sent to a random sample of UNISON call centre members in Scotland. 500 forms were distributed and 382 were returned (76% return rate).

Q Question %Yes %No
1 Personal details    
2 Have you suffered from any throat or respiratory problems 22 78
3 Is your workstation comfortable 62 38
4 Have you suffered any aches or pain in your hands, wrists, upper arms or back 61 39
5 Have you suffered from headaches at work 82 18
6 Have you suffered from any hearing impairment 12 88
7 Have you had any other health problems which you feel are associated with your work 32 68
8 Do you believe background noise levels at work are comfortable 15 85
9 Do they make listening and speaking a strain 82 18
10 Do you feel stressed at work 75 25
11 Does monitoring affect your stress levels 66 34
12 Do you get regular breaks 73 27
13 Is drinking water available at all times 85 15
14 Is your equipment comfortable, easy to use and efficient 71 29
15 Is it maintained hygienically 56 44
16 Are the software systems and processes easy to use and efficient 26 74
17 Do you have regular health checks particularly for voice, hearing, eyes and back problems 78 22

Key issues arising from the survey:

Nearly two thirds of staff suffering from pain in their hands, wrists or back.

Noisy workplaces which make listening and speaking a strain

Three quarters of staff suffering from stress with monitoring systems the major cause

Given the younger age profile even the lower figures for throat and hearing impairments could indicate long term health problems.

On a more positive note equipment and workstation design is improving together with greater recognition of the importance of regular breaks and health checks. However, even here standards need to be improved particularly in software and process design, which is a major source of frustration to most call centre staff.

For Further Information Please Contact:
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - Utilities ) 07973 672513(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

5 June 2002

List of Scottish PFI failures grows - UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's largest public service union, today published a further list of PFI failures including two projects where the in-house staff have had to clear up the mess! In a regular briefing to its 96 Scottish Branches, the union also refutes the claim that risk is transferred to the private sector in these deals - claiming that 'risk transfer' is only an excuse to load extra costs onto the public sector comparator.

They are also asking their branches to identify any likely 'conflict of interest' caused by an authority appointing private firms as auditors who also have substantial PFI businesses.

"Across all the public services there are failure after failure." Said Dave Wastson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser (Policy and Information). "In East Renfrewshire, the council is in dispute with Jarvis after a PFI school roof blew off and the council had to call in the DLO to clear up the mess. In Dundee the Baldovie waste to energy plant is in financial crisis. And there are more and more PFI chickens coming home to roost."

"The current dash for PFI schools is also going to be bad value for the taxpayer" Dave said, "All the projects we have seen add a 'Risk transfer' cost to the public sector alternative which masks the cost difference between the public and the private sector. But the 'Risk' doesn't get transferred. In all the Outline Business Cases we have seen, if the contractor goes bust or fails to deliver an adequate service, the authority picks up the tab! Some Risk!"

UNISON has also highlighted the fact that a number of Scottish public authorities have appointed companies to audit their books, when those companies have substantial PFI business in Scotland. The union has asked its branches to flag up any potential conflict of interest.

"PriceWaterhouseCoopers have 22 appointments as external auditors to Scottish Public bodies." Said Dave Watson. "they are also involved in 132 PFI projects across the UK. We have no direct evidence of any conflict
of interest, but with KPMG with a further 28 audit contracts and many other firms involved it is something we have asked our branches to watch."

ENDS

Note for Editors: Copies of the PFI briefing are available from Chris Bartter - numbers below or by clicking here on this website.


For Further Information Please Contact:
Dave Watson (Scottish Org - Policy & Info) 0870 77 77 006(w) 07973 672513(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0870 77 77 006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)
Or on the web at www-unison-scotland-org.uk/comms/pfi.html

Index

Wednesday 22 May 2002

UNISON calls for extension of "guardian angel" protection project

Scotland's largest public sector union UNISON have today 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. 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: 0845 355 0845, 07719-369-874 or
Peter Mackie, H&S Advisor, St John's: 01506-419-666 Ext 3652
Geoff Hayter, Guardian Angel: 02890 466 460

Note to Editors :

UNISON's annual Health & Safety Conference will be held on Wednesday 22 May starting at 11am in the Lecture Theatre at Stirling Royal Infirmary. Speakers include Jim Devine, Patrick McGuire from Thompsons Solicitors and a Geoff Hayter from Guardian Angel.

Index | Health News

Tuesday, 21st May, 2002

Prosecute violent relatives who abuse NHS staff says UNISON

Scotland largest public sector union UNISON have today called on the Scottish Executive to ensure that relatives who physically abuse NHS staff are automatically charged and prosecuted.

Speaking at a "Combating Violence in the Public Sector Conference" in Glasgow the Scottish Organiser for Health, Jim Devine said,

"Staff surveys being carried out throughout Scotland show a major increase in physical and verbal abuse of NHS staff and even more worrying is the fact that in some Trusts nearly 30% of the assaults are being carried out by relatives and visitors.

While literally thousands of NHS staff are being physically and verbally abused every year, very few individuals are actually charged with assault. Neither the Scottish Executive nor Trusts keep figures relating to the number of assaults, police interventions and successful prosecutions.

This is an unacceptable situation.

While UNISON have attempted to separate the sick and the psychotic from the, quite frankly, abusive patient, it is not acceptable for relatives to be physically and verbally abusing NHS staff. It is not part of the job. Therefore UNISON are writing to the Scottish Executive demanding that any relative or visitor who physically abuses an NHS staff member is automatically charged and prosecuted."

ENDS

Attached Appendix A : extract from Fife Health Board

For further information contact Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser: 0141-342-2830 (w) 07719-369-874 (m)

Note to Editors :

Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for Health, is speaking at the Glasgow Jury's Hotel, Great Western Rd, Glasgow at 11.00 a.m.

FIFE HEALTH BOARD

 

Q6.6 In the past 12 months have you personally experienced a violent/aggressive incident?

Yes

813

No

1908

Not Stated

130

Q6.6a If Yes, how many incidents:-

One

190

23%

Two to Five

449

55%

Not Stated

150

18%

Q6.6b Was the Incident:-

Verbal

403

50%

Both Physical and Verbal

354

44%

Physical

28

3%

Q6.8 Who was/were the attacker(s) aggressive:-

Patient

648

80%

Relative/Carer

244

30%

Colleague

113

14%

Other member of the public

84

10%

More than one attacker

46

6%

Not Stated

6

1%

Q6.9 Did you report the incident?

Yes

501

No

296

Not Stated

16

Q6.10 If not, why not?

Considered part of job

182

61%

Nothing would happen

104

35%

Not Stated

23

8%

Other

22

7%

Time required to report

22

7%

Possible Victimisation

20

7%

Concern about being labelled as a troublemaker

17

6%

Unaware of Procedures

10

3%

 

Index | Health News

 

UNISON call for calm over HIV positive staff member

Scotland's largest health care union, UNISON have called for calm following the announcement by Highland Health Board, that a former member of staff has been identified as HIV positive.

Speaking in Edinburgh, Scottish Organiser for Health, Jim Devine said: -

"People in the Highlands and throughout Scotland should be re-assured that there are policies, procedures and practices in place to protect both NHS staff and patients who have been in contact with a member of staff who is HIV positive. To our knowledge, no person in a Scottish hospital has contracted HIV as a result of the behaviour of an HIV positive NHS staff member.

But it is worth pointing out that over the last 15 years, 5 NHS staff including 3 nurses, have died as a result of HIV being contracted from a patient. The individual concerned is entitled to his / her anonymity. A wider debate on identifying the extent of HIV in the community may be needed."

ENDS

JIM DEVINE, SCOTTISH ORGANISER FOR HEALTH: TEL: 07719 369 874

Index | Health News

UNISON welcomes House of Commons Select Committee report on private practice

Scotland's largest health care union, UNISON, has today welcomed the House of Commons Select Committee Report on Private Practice.

UNISON has described private medical sector as inefficient, immoral, and parasitical, and a major threat to the National Health Service.

Speaking in Edinburgh, the Scottish Organiser for Health, Jim Devine said: -

"We welcome this report from the House of Commons Select Committee today because it reminds us of the threat that the private sector has on the NHS.

Private medicine is immoral because availability of treatment should depend on clinical needs and not the ability to pay. The private sector is parasitical because it recruits doctors, nurses and other staff who have been trained by the NHS. The inefficiency of the private sector is well known because they have to cost treatments before a patient is admitted to hospital. Every aspect of care is costed and then they have to chase up either the patient or an insurance company seeking payment which substantially adds to the administration cost.

Finally, the private sector cannot work hand in hand with the NHS because of the private sector's role is to destroy the NHS. Suggesting that a private - public partnership is feasible in delivering health care in Scotland is like proposing you could invite Al-Qaeda to join the British Army and fight against the Taliban".

ENDS

Further Information
JIM DEVINE, SCOTTISH ORGANISER FOR HEALTH: TEL: 07719 369 874

Index | Health News

Date: 30 April 2002

Largest union backs school meals bill

UNISON, Scotland's largest union, today threw its weight behind the School Meals (Scotland) Bill being promoted by John McAllion MSP, Alex Neil MSP and Tommy Sheridan MSP.

In its response to consultation, the union, which is the largest union in education, backed the bill which aims to deliver a free school meal to all Scotland's children.

"UNISON thinks that we should establish a child's right to a free, healthy and nutritious meal." Said Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary of UNISON. "Our members who are the key to the success of school meals, tell us that free school meals still have a stigma attached. In fact 20% of them go unclaimed by pupils entitled to them. This would remove the stigma and allow pupils from low-paid families who are not currently entitled to free meals to benefit."

UNISON's has commissioned research across the UK and points out that the price of meals in Scottish schools varies greatly from 95p in Dumfries and Galloway primary schools to £1.85 in Edinburgh secondaries.

"The price of school meals has risen ahead of inflation over the last 6 years." Said Matt. "This Bill would end this huge price variation, ensuring that all children are able to access decent food regardless of ability to pay."

UNISON's response also says that a greater take up of school meals would - help social skills in children - go some way to counter the effect of mass marketing of fast foods, and - improve social inclusion, health and employment.

However the union wants Scottish Ministers to re-introduce nutritional standards, as has already been done in England and Wales; and include trade unions representing school meals staff as well as pupils in the discussion on food that is nutritious and likley to appeal to the customer.

ENDS

Note for editors: UNISON's response (click here) and the research School meals in the 21st Century are available from Chris Bartter or Mary Senior, below.

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary ) 0845 355 0845(w) 07803 952 261(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m) Mary Senior (Information Development Officer) 0845 355 0845(w)

Index | Local Govt News

24 April 2002

UNISON calls for strategy to address skills shortages in local government

UNISON, Scotland's largest local government union, will today call on the Scottish Executive to address the drastic skills shortages across local government that could stop local councils from implementing key Executive policies. UNISON's Head of Local Government, Joe Di Paola, will outline UNISON's concerns on skills shortages when he gives evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Local Government Committee today as part of an STUC delegation.

Speaking before giving evidence, Joe Di Paola said: "UNISON is fully behind the ground breaking initiatives of the Scottish Executive, such as those to install central heating in all pensioner homes, to provide free personal care for the elderly, and to offer nursery and out of school care for children. However, we have grave concerns about the availability of workers and the skills that are needed to implement these programmes".

UNISON is aware of dire shortages in the number of social workers and home care workers who all provide essential care services and are crucial to the success of care in the community and free personal care programmes. There is also an absence of skilled workers to carry out the construction and engineering work in the Executive's Warm Deal programme, and to carry out the renovations and improvement work on Glasgow's transferring housing stock.

Joe Di Paola said: "Where workers are available Councils are telling us that they just cannot compete with the supermarket chains on pay, hours and working conditions. And we are alarmed at the skills shortages in the key sectors of social work, engineering and construction. Today we will be making our case very clear to the Local Government Committee, that more resources are required for long term planning, and training and development, if local authorities are going to have any chance of implementing these key social policies on behalf of the Scottish Executive.

ENDS

Further Information: Joe Di Paola 0845 355 0845

Index | Local Govt News

Date: Wednesday, 24th April 2002

UNISON LAUNCH £5 PER HOUR : NHS PAY CAMPAIGN

UNISON, Scotland's largest healthcare union, have today launched a minimum of £5 per hour pay claim for Ancillary staff who work in the National Health Service.

"Low Pay is endemic in the National Health Service," said Simon Macfarlane, Lead Officer, Ancillary Sector.

" Many Hospitals are experiencing major difficulties recruiting and retaining Ancillary staff because even MacDonalds are paying a better hourly rate of pay. This lack of staff is having a direct impact on patient care services and as the number of cleaning staff has fallen we have seen a corresponding increase in hospital acquired infection throughout Scottish Hospitals.

"Just over 10,000 porters, domestics and catering staff are providing an essential service to ensure the delivery of quality care to patients throughout Scotland. They are being rewarded of a starting salary of around £4.20 per hour. This is disgraceful pay for essential staff doing such a crucial job."

UNISON are launching their Campaign:-

on : Wednesday, 24th April, 2002, at : 11.00 a.m. in : UNISON House, 14 West Campbell St., Glasgow, G2 6RX

Uniformed NHS staff (with their payslips) will be available for photographs and interview.

ENDS

For Further Information please contact:
Simon MacFarlane (Regional Officer) 0845 355 0845

Index | Health News

 

April 17, 2002

UNISON calls for new strategy on the disposal of dirty needles.

UNISON, Scotland's largest healthcare union, has today called on Scottish Health Boards and local authorities to work with trade unions to resolve the problems of discarded dirty needles following shocking statistics on the prevalence of used needles abandoned in public areas.

Speaking today in Stirling, Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for Health said, "It is shocking to find that over 20,000 discarded needles were found throughout the United Kingdom last year".

Statistics revealed in a report by Keeping Scotland Beautiful showed that 214 people were injured, including young children at play, and 42% of Scottish councils found discarded needles on beaches.

Jim Devine said: "This is a major health hazard, affecting not just the public at large, but health service and local government workers, as well as having a detrimental impact on the environment.

"UNISON, in partnership with the Scottish Executive, were at the forefront of introducing safety needles to the Scottish Health Service, following our own survey that showed that nearly 20,000 health service workers per year were suffering needlestick injuries in Scotland. We are convinced that the introduction of retractable syringes to the Scottish Health Service would reduce the risks for doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, of contracting Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV from needlestick injuries".

"We further believe that health authorities and local government should be working together to introduce safety needles to the drug-taking population, as well as looking at how councils remove this dangerous litter. Safety needles could substantially eradicate the problems identified in the Keeping Scotland Beautiful report."

ENDS

Further Information: Jim Devine (UNISON Scottish Organiser Health) 0845 355 0845 (w) Chris Bartter (UNISON Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index | Health News

17 April 2002

UNISON WELCOMES HEALTH CARE INTERNATIONAL INTO THE NHS FAMILY

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON has today welcomed the discussions that are taking place, between the Scottish Executive and Health Care International, to bring the troubled hospital into the National Health Service.

Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for Health said, "This was a flawed project from the start which initially cost Scottish tax payers over £200m. Day and daily the Scottish tax payers have been subsidising this hospital through the free provision of doctors, nurses and paramedical staff. This hospital was designed to accommodate 240 beds but we understand that at any given time no more than 56 beds were staffed and of those, occupancy levels were around 40%.

"By any business criteria, this is a bankrupt company. Therefore, the Scottish Executive should bring this hospital into the National Health Service at no further cost to the Scottish tax payer."

Ends.

For further information contact Jim Devine on: 0870-7777-006

Index | Health News

11 April 2002

Scottish call to end fuel poverty

UNISON has teamed up with government agencies and environmental groups to address the problem of fuel poverty in Scotland.

Over a third of Scottish homes are currently "cold, damp and expensive to heat" and the government will struggle to meet its target of ending fuel poverty by 2016, they claim.

The Keeping Scotland Warm Campaign has launched a new strategy document, Fuel Poverty Now, supported by Transco, Help The Aged, EnergyWatch, Friends of The Earth, Scotland and UNISON.

Some of the measures called for include: A helpline to get people through the maze of energy efficiency grants available. A requirement for landlords to display energy ratings for properties. An energy efficiency advice pack for new parents and older people when leaving hospital.

Energy Action Scotland director Ann Loughrey said: "We have produced our strategy in light of recent initiatives to tackle the problem of cold, damp and expensive to heat homes, which affects a third of Scottish households.

"Much is happening, but we have a long way to go before meeting the ambitious target of ending fuel poverty in 15 years. Fuel Poverty Now offers both proactive and practical solutions to move the debate forward."

You can obtain a copy of Fuel Poverty Now from eas@eas.org.uk or by clicking here to link to the UNISON UK site

Fuel poverty is a major problem in Scotland: More than 700,000 households are unable to afford adequate warmth due to the energy-inefficiency of their dwelling. Nine out of ten homes fall below current energy efficiency standards. Only about a quarter of Scotland's homes are adequately heated or insulated.

Last month UNISON also launched a report called A Tale Of Two Cities, in conjunction with French union CGT. It compared fuel poverty issues in London and Paris. Both cities have their electricity provided by the French publicly owned Electricité de France (EdF), which owns London Electricity.

The report focuses on measures by EdF in both capitals to ensure poorer consumers get access to affordable electricity.

"In Britain, the poorer consumers pay more for their electricity than the better-off consumers do," said Greg Thompson, UNISON's regional head of utilities and private companies.

"Because of this they self disconnect their electricity supply when they can no longer afford it. In Paris, however, the fuel poor do not pay more for their electricity - disconnections are made by the company and are rare. They are also restricted to summer months."

You can obtain a copy of A Tale Of Two Cities from
g.thomson@unison.co.uk
or a.mayers@unison.co.uk

ENDS

Index

5 April 2002

Housing Stock Transfer - UNISON response

UNISON, the union for workers in housing, today said it was disappointed with the result of the Glasgow Housing Stock Transfer ballot, but understood why tenants had voted for transfer, and respected their decision.

"When you are faced with the kind of one-sided vote forced on them by the Executive, people will vote pragmatically for the promises of better homes." Said Mike Kirby, Scottish Convenor of UNISON.

However he warned that the Executive should recognise the 42% of those voting who had rejected the transfer and the 35% of tenants who did not vote.

"The arguments against stock transfer still stand, and other Councils have taken different attitudes towards the issue." Mike said, "This is not a one-size fits all solution. The Executive has to take into account the substantial opposition to this policy and change their dogmatic approach. We will also continue to monitor the financial health of the GHA, as any privately financed body subsidised to this extent by public funds will have difficulty meeting the First Minister's test of best value."

He indicated also that UNISON - who represent the majority of the workforce involved - would now be arguing for the best possible protection for staff faced with transfer to the GHA and for those who remain with the Council but who are affected. The union has not changed its opposition to Housing Stock Transfer and will continue to argue for the retention of housing under public rather than private control.

ENDS

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

Index

Date: 28 Mar 2002

Lanarkshire nurses get Easter present

90 Lanarkshire psychiatric nurses are today celebrating, following their unions' regrading victory that could see their pay rise by up to £4,000 a year.

The nurses, who work as community psychiatric nurses all across Lanarkshire have been claiming for nearly three years that they were undergraded. After a meeting organised by UNISON, Scotland's health care union, the Lanarkshire Primary Care Trust finally agreed and upgraded all the nurses by two grades.

Bridget Hunter, UNISON's Regional Officer for Lanarkshire Primary Care said, "We are delighted that, after all this time, the Trust has finally recognised the true worth of these nurses and paid them all what they should be getting. It has been a long road but now at least the staff are getting no less than they deserve."

The nurses have a further reason for celebration too, as their award will be backdated nearly three years to the date of the submission of the claim.

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Bridget Hunter (UNISON Regional Officer) 07968 960 040 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index | Health News

Wed 27 Mar 2002

Cautious welcome for Scottish Local Government proposals - UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's local government union, today gave a cautious welcome to the Scottish Executive's second consultation document on Local Government this year.

Previously the union, who are Scotland's largest, criticised proposals as missing an opportunity to address a radical and positive agenda for local government and for ignoring the rights of the workforce and their trade unions.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, said "Whilst we accept the need to properly recompense councillors for the job they do and the importance of the decisions they take, we are disappointed that there has been no clear commitment in either recent consultation, to Fair Employment for councils' workforces. This is particularly galling as it jeopardises the success of Best Value, by restricting it to a finance-led system, rather than one that delivers services that people value.

"We are pleased to see the abolition of capital consents and will closely monitor the regulations and system proposed to replace it. It is discriminatory and very short-sighted not to extend this change to borrowing for building council houses however, leading to the clear suspicion that the Executive wants Scottish councils to stop being providers of social rented housing.

"It is disappointing to see that, whilst the Executive have moved some way towards allowing employees to stand for their own council, they still want them to give up their job. We will be also arguing for a form of PR for Local Government and which retains the link between councillors and their constituencies"

The union has also criticised the power of 'well-being' as not giving local councils sufficient power to take initiatives to benefit their area. Joe Di Paola said "A power of General Competence was recommended by the McIntosh Commission, and we would like to see this implemented. In addition, council's need the power to be able to raise their own finance to give reality to these powers, and we support the Scottish Parliament's Local Government Committee recommendation to devolve the business rate back to local councils.

"We support the overall aims of the consultation document to renew local democracy and bring forward new and younger councillors in order to ensure local government maintains its important role in our democracy and providing services. However we will be making suggestions to stengthen proposals that we feel do not go far enough. We will continue to argue for Scotland's local democracy and on behalf of the 250,000 people employed delivering local services"

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Joe Di Paola (Scottish Organiser - Local Govt) 0131-226 2662(w) 07990 505698(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

Thur 21 Mar 2002

Fingerprint staff backed by UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's public service union, today threw its weight behind the result of the independent committee, who found that the six fingerprint staff suspended and restricted for 20 months pending investigation of the Shirley McKie trial case had no case to answer.

Kath Ryall, UNISON's Regional Officer for Strathclyde Police support staff, said, "We are pleased that our complete confidence in the competence and integrity of these six members has finally been vindicated. It is regrettable that they have been under this cloud for so long. We now think a line should be drawn under this affair, and our members should be allowed to return to the job they do so well, in the most appropriate way."

The Independent Committee who were set up to look specifically at this case to ensure the staff were treated fairly, found that the four members who were suspended and the two who were removed from operational duties had no issues of misconduct, or lack of capability, to answer.

Kath Ryall said "These members have had their work scrutinised by independent experts both before and after this case and in both inquiries they returned a 100% accuracy rating. We do not believe that the competence and integrity of these experts should continue to be called into question after yet another investigation has found that they have no case to answer."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Kath Ryall (Regional Officer) 0870 7777006(w) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

Thur 21 Mar

UNISON backs call for business rate return

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary of UNISONScotland will today (Tur 21 Mar) back the call from the Scottish Parliament's Local Government Committee for Scottish business rates to be returned to local government.

In a speech to CoSLA's Annual Conference in Crieff, Matt will say that the return of the business rate would increase the robustness of local government finance and ensure that council ratepayers are less vulnerable to minor changes in central funding. Matt Smith will say,

"UNISON welcomes this step towards local accountability recommended by the Local Government Committee. It is surely fairer that councils raise nearer half their funding from local sources, rather than less than a fifth. We too think that councils should retain responsibility for a wide range of services, services that are used by local businesses as well as by local ratepayers. Councils should be able to levy a fair charge for those services, and should be financially accountable to their local businesses. "

Matt also accepted the need for change in local government and the need to make services more relevant to local users. But he will say that this will not be done successfully if the services are delivered by a two-tier workforce.

"UNISON members need to know that change is not about attacking workers rights." He will say. "The success of the Chancellor means there is a surplus of nearly £7bn. This means that PFI projects funded on the back of cuts in pay and conditions are not necessary. We need to ensure the two-tier workforce becomes a thing of the past."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith (UNISON Scottish Secretary) 07771 548 997m Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m) yours Chris 0141-342 2877(w) 0141 342 2835(f) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

Mon 18 Mar 2002

Pensions protection helps Careers transfer

UNISON, Scotland's largest public service union today welcomed the announcement that 1,000 staff transferring from existing careers services and companies to CareersScotland on 1 April, will be able to retain their local government pensions.

Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, who will receive the staff, have been admitted into the Scottish Local Government Pension Scheme, thus allowing staff pensions to be protected in the transfer.

UNISON has been arguing for such protection in this and other transfers, and has been concerned that in the private sector final-salary schemes like the LG scheme are disappearing and are being replaced by less valuable money-purchase schemes.

Matt McLaughlin, UNISON's Regional Organiser for Scottish Enterprise said "This is a great result for UNISON members. Far too often, in recent years, public sector staff have lost out when their jobs have been sold off to private employers. This transfer to the public sector from public, or in some cases private sector employers, shows that working together, UNISON, the enterprise agencies and the Local Government Pension scheme have worked out a credible solution that protects the long term pensions of our members."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt McLaughlin (Regioanl Orgniser) 0845 355 0845(w) 07974 225 202(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

Fri 15 Mar 2002

Glasgow Councillors risk surcharge in pro-transfer campaign

UNISON, Scotland's largest public service union has today written to Glasgow City Council looking for a commitment from them to comply with legal codes on council publicity in the Housing Stock Transfer ballot, or risk surcharge.

Matt Smith UNISON's Scottish Secretary said, "We are very concerned that the council is breaking the conditions which seek to prevent biased or persuasive campaigning on this issue. In particular that there should be no canvassing or promotion during the ballot period.

UNISON is questioning whether the council may not already be in breach of the codes and guidance that should govern council publicity, especially the duty of the council to monitor and regulate the activities of the GHA and the Local Housing Associations.

In particular the union highlights: - The access to council buildings given to the GHA but not to campaigners from the 'opposition'. - The use of council employees to staff the GHA campaign bus, and to distribute GHA material. - Tenants receiving unsolicited calls from telephone canvassers.

"We are particularly concerned by the affect that this has on the perceived fairness of the ballot." Said Matt Smith, "I don't think anyone expects that people and organisations shouldn't campaign for their aims, but to officially favour one side of the argument runs contrary to our interpretation of the codes that are currently in force."

The union are pointing out to the council that councillors and senior officers may be subject to surcharge or disqualification if the council is directly or indirectly responsible for the production of unlawful publicity.

The three relevant sources are - The 1998 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity; the Scottish Executive Guidance for Local Authorities on Housing Transfer to Community Ownership (Aug 2000); and the Scottish Executive Code of Practice on Tenant Participation in Stock Transfers(Jan 2001).

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0845 355 0845(w) 07771 548 997(m) Peter Hunter (Legal Officer) 0845 355 0845w) 0774 016 7777(m) 0141-810 4656(h) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845 (w), 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

7 March 2002

Taxpayer to pay if PFI schools fail

UNISON, Scotland's largest public service union today pointed out that in all the planned schools PFI schemes the union had seen, local councils bear the burden of paying compensation if the scheme fails - even if it is the fault of the private contractor. UNISON has produced a new briefing examining the outline business cases(OBC's) for the current schools PFI bids. They have found that councils have utilised accounting ploys and financial sleight-of-hand to weight the findings in favour of PFI schemes.

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Policy & Information said,

"Councils are accepting all the risks on behalf of the council taxpayer - a fact that is usually hidden away in an appendix and not drawn to councillors attention. In addition they are adding in 'notional' risk transfer figures to overcome the fact that the private schemes are more expensive than the public sector comparators, and they are using an accountancy method that favours PFI bids.

"Even after these sweeteners, these schemes still have an affordability gap. And councils bridge this by cutting back on services, lowering quality and squeezing space."

He goes on to point out that this flies in the face of the public reasons given by The Scottish Government in announcing the likely outcome of 100 privatised Scottish Schools

"The Executive claims its support for PFI schools is based on the needs of pupils." said Dave "From our analysis, the one's who really gain out of this are the consultants, bankers and big business, whilst the poor old taxpayer picks up an inflated bill whilst taking all the risks!."

UNISON also points out that the bids ignore the Treasury rules which allow PFI schemes to take place without staff needing to transfer. These bids still cling to the outmoded 'off-the-balance-sheet' test, which was discarded two years ago.

ENDS

NOTE to Editors The Full Briefing PFI in Schools:Update is available from Dave Watson - contact below, or on the UNISONScotland website www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/pfischools.html

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

Index

20 Feb 2002

FUNDING CENTRAL TO NHS DEBATE SAYS UNISON

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON has today released the latest figures from the World Health Organisation on healthcare expenditure, which shows Britain at the bottom of the spending league.

Speaking at a meeting in Glasgow, Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for Health said, "UNISON believe in an open and transparent debate on the future of the NHS, especially with those political parties who are making comparisons with our healthcare system and those of our friends on the continent and in America.

"While systems may vary, the crucial gauge is expenditure and the latest World Health Organisation report on spending makes interesting reading. In the United States of America the annual spending per person on healthcare is £2,471. The German spend £1,610 per person, while in France it is £1,400. Here in Britain we spend only £938 per person per year on healthcare.

"There is no country in the developed world who pay less in income tax and receive a more comprehensive healthcare system than we do here in Britain.

"If we are going to have a debate on the future of the NHS then let that debate be honest. There are no simple cures to the ills of the NHS, unless we are prepared to increase investment substantially."

Ends.

For further information contact Jim Devine on: 0870-7777-006

07719-369-874

Index

Sat 16 Feb 2002

UNISON to comment on size of Scottish Parliament

UNISON, Scotland's largest union, will today decide whether to throw its weight behind the campaign to retain the current size of the Scottish Parliament. The union's Scottish Council, which consists of branches from all over Scotland, will meet in Glasgow today and discuss a motion calling for the retention of the current number of MSP's and suggesting that a reduction undermines the principles on which the Parliament was established.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said

"UNISON was in the forefront of the campaign for a Scottish Parliament that was equal, accessible, accountable and family-friendly. Decisions taken in Westminster should not threaten those principles. Our Parliament is new, evolving and in many areas innovative. To propose a cut before its first term is completed would be wrong. I hope we can agree to add our voice to the campaign to ensure that Scottish issues are decided in Scotland."

The motion is being proposed by the union's Scottish Committee and accepts a break in the link between Westminster and Holyrood constituencies. An amendment suggests retaining that link but electing 2 MSP's for each Holyrood seat by single transferable vote.

If you wish an interview at or after the meeting please contact Chris Bartter (numbers below) in the first instance.

Click here for full response to Scottish Executice Consultation

ENDS

NOTE to Editors; UNISON's Scottish Council meets in the Moir Hall, Granville Street, Glasgow, from 10.30am till 1.00pm on Saturday 16 Feb 2002

For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w) 07771 548 997(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index


Thurs 14 Feb 2002

Scottish Local Government proposals "disappointment and missed opportunity" - UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's local government union, today said the Scottish Executive had missed the opportunity of addressing a radical and positive agenda for local government. In their response to the Executive's consultation document on proposals for the Local Government Bill, the union criticises the failure to address many issues raised by the McIntosh Report, including:

dealing with local government's financial restrictions
reform of the 'first-past-the-post' electoral system
removing the political restriction on local government staff standing as councillors.


In addition the union, who represent 80,000 Scottish local government workers are angry that the rights of the workforce and their trade unions have been ignored. Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, said
"There is no statement in these proposals suggesting a Fair Employment clause, which we think is necessary to ensure that the workforce is no longer exploited when working arrangements are changed. Neither is there any reference to the role of trade unions as key stakeholders in the future of local government and its public services, despite their key role in delivering the services. Although there are some positive suggestions in the proposals, overall it is a disappointment and a missed opportunity."

UNISON supported the majority of the recommendations of the McIntosh Report which suggested reform of local government elections, a review of local government finance; an; agreement of parity of esteem between central and local government; and a power of general competence for local authorities (allowing them to take action on any beneficial plans for their area rather than being debarred from acting). The proposed 'Power of well-being' is seen as a watering-down of the power of general competence.

"Well-being is well meaning but cannot be seen as a substitute for a power of general competence." Said Joe Di Paola. "Existing legislative constraints will remain, and Ministers will gain the power to change the power without recourse to Parliament."

Best Value is also in danger of becoming a purely finance-driven exercise, according to UNISON. Joe Di Paola said

"We suggest a Quality Commission to scrutinise the practice of Best Value exercises, because we are suspicious of the suggested enhanced role of Audit Scotland. Best Value has been a mixed bag in Scottish Local Government and we want to ensure that Quality services, rather than the cheapest services prevail."

UNISON supports the ideas of Community Planning, the suggested amending of Section 94 controls on capital expenditure, and partnership working when it is appropriate.

ENDS

NOTE to Editors
The full response on the Governments proposals is available from Joe Di Paola, Steven Palmer (0131-226 2662) or Chris Bartter or by clicking here.

For Further Information Please Contact:
Joe Di Paola (Scottish Organiser - Local Govt) 0131-226 2662(w) 07990 505698(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

HAVE A HEART AND END LOW PAY IN THE NHS SAYS UNISON

Releasing new figures, which show a dramatic reduction in the number of ancillary staff employed in the Scottish Health Service, UNISON today called on the Scottish Executive to "end the scar of low pay in the National Health Service".

Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for Health said, "On Valentine's Day we are calling on the Scottish Executive to have a heart and end the scar of low pay in the National Health Service. The starting salary for a Domestic is £4.18 an hour and as a consequence Trusts and Health Boards throughout Scotland are experiencing major difficulties in recruiting and retaining ancillary staff.

"25,270 ancillary staff were employed in the Scottish Health Service in 1985. The latest figures show that there are now only 10,200 employed. Over a 15 year period, 15,000 less staff are working in the NHS, nearly 3 less staff every day of every week of every year since 1985.

"This reduction is having an impact on the service. The problems associated with less Domestic staff have been well documented but halving the number of portering and security staff, leads to an increase in attacks and assaults on other NHS workers. Incidents like the one that happened over the weekend, when an accident and emergency unit was evacuated typify the problem. Low pay costs money for the Scottish Health Service. Last weekend, Lanarkshire Acute carried this advert in a national newspaper.

KIRKLANDS/BIRKWOOD HOSPITAL

Head Chef (Acting)

35 hours per week (rota)

£5.16 per hour + weekend enhancements + bonus

You should possess 706/1 and 706/2 or equivalent and have completed or be working towards Intermediate Food Hygiene Certificate. Organisational and administrative ability, good inter-personal and supervisory skills, problem solving techniques allied to maintaining the highest standards for food safety, together with a minimum of 2/3 years' experience working as a chef is required. Supervisory experience would be advantageous.

Informal enquiries to William McCutcheon on 01698 245000 ext 3121.

"They had to advertise nationally because locally they received no response. It will be interesting to see how many head chefs apply for a job with a starting salary of £5.16 per hour.

"Today our Scottish Health Committee will be discussing a strategy to ensure that the eradication of low pay becomes the number one priority for the Scottish Executive in the coming year."

Ends.

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

Index


UNISON Warns Scottish MPs "Don't wreck our hearts over public services"

A broken heart will be on the front of a Valentine's Day card dropping through the letter boxes of MP's across Scotland today. In addition ten are being sent to Scottish Executive Ministers. The card from Scotland's largest union, UNISON, carries the warning "Don't wreck our hearts over public services".

Inside is the message

"UNISON members are the heart of our public services. Plans to use private companies and private sector managers and talk of handing over our best hospitals will not only wreck our public services but also break our hearts. Your voice and your vote can make a difference. Please support our campaign."

The card is signed "Forever yours" from Dave Prentis and every nurse, classroom assistant, ambulance worker, cleaner, chief executive, cook, porter, social worker, care worker, home help, architect, dinner lady, lollipop lady, debt advisor, caretaker, town planner, midwife, engineer, binman, environmental health officer, technician, welfare officer, park keeper, public service manager, truancy officer, nursery nurse, administrator, lawyer, medical secretary, finance officer, traffic warden, librarian, leisure worker, meat inspector, youth worker, housing officer and all the team that deliver our public services.

The card also carries a traditional poem which will be echoed in Valentine's Day columns of UK and Scottish papers.

"Roses are red
Violets are blue
83% love public services
We hope you do too!"

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary, said.

"This is a message to MPs and Scottish Ministers that the people of Scotland in particular value their Public Services and do not want to see them run by private companies. We will be continuing to talk to the Scottish Executive, and continuing to campaign against the use of the private sector to run public services. We are sending the message out across the UK that the private sector is not the answer to modernising public services."

The 83% refers to a MORI poll survey for UNISON which found that 83% of the British public are against private companies running public services.

ENDS

NOTE to Editors The Adverts will be in the Valentine's Day columns of the Daily Record, and the Herald as well as the Daily Express, Independent, Daily Star and Daily Mail

For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141-332 0006(w) 07771 548 997(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)
Anne Mitchell (UK Press Office) 0207 383 0717

Index

12 February 2002

PFI scheme secrecy threatens McConnell's vision

UNISON, Scotland's largest public service union today launched a series of criticisms of PPP and PFI schemes, claiming that amongst other problems, the increased secrecy surrounding such schemes, is jeopardising the First Minister's vision for modernising government. In a address to the Scottish Trade Union Research Network - a combination of academics and trade union researchers - Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Policy and Information warns that - despite commitments from the Executive - authorities and firms are still hiding the true costs of PFI.

Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Policy & Information said,

"The outline business cases(OBC) of the current round of schools PFI bids that UNISON has seen have, at best, included a partial publication of the OBC, at worst Dundee have sent us a 4 page summary, and South Lanarkshire sent us an OBC with all the figures painted out! No water industry scheme has ever been published and the Full Business Case of one of the Pathfinder schemes - Falkirk schools' PFI - has consistently been refused to everyone, including the local MSP, with no adequate reason ever given."

He goes on to point out that all this secrecy flies in the face of commitments given by Jack McConnell as Finance Minister in 1999 and also contradicts three of his five themes for modernising government - namely partnership, openness and accountability.

"The very design of PFI limits user involvement." said Dave "The funding arrangements are clouded in secrecy, private firms are not democratically accountable and if they make a mess the taxpayer has to pick up the bill."

In addition UNISON points out that the attacks on pay and conditions of predominantly low-paid women workers, and private sector inefficiencies from RailTrack to the Skye Bridge to Glasgow Schools also threaten social inclusion and delivery, the other two of Jack McConnell's key themes.

ENDS

NOTE to Editors The Full Text of Dave Watson's speech is available from Chris Bartter or Dave Watson - contacts below, or on the UNISONScotland website www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/pfisturn.html

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

Index

Mon 4 Feb 2002

Nursery staff grading claim goes to all employers

Scottish nursery nurses are to step up their campaign for a fair pay structure, by submitting a regrading claim to all Scotland's local authorities on or around the week beginning Monday 4 February.

Their union, UNISON, says that CoSLA, Scotland's Local Government employers, have refused to discuss a claim to review nursery nurses' Scottish grades and conditions, last looked at in 1988. The same claim will be submitted to 32 councils to attempt to locally achieve a Scottish-wide grading for nursery nurse.

This could end up with disruption in different authorities if they fail to come to agreement. Carol Ball, Chair of UNISON's Nursery Nurse Working party said,

"We have been left with no alternative but to raise the same claim separately in each authority. Despite the fact that there are currently supposed to be Scottish-wide terms and conditions;and that the Scottish Executive have recently created a national framework for Nursery Nurses, the failure of CoSLA to accept their responsibilities means we have to pursue claims in all 32 authorities. We will have to increase the pressure on local authorities and their paymasters, the Scottish Executive."

Nursery Nurses work in Scotland's day nurseries, nursery schools and classes, community nurseries and special schools. They want a four-level career structure, moving from nursery nurse grade up to head of establishment. They say this is needed both to reflect the increases in the duties of nursery staff since 1988.

Carol Ball says " Our nursery nurse members play a key role in the education of our young children. The Scottish Executive are keen to integrate that into a Scotland-wide network, so we will also be asking the Minister how this can happen if we end up with 30+ different sets of pay and conditions."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Carol Ball (Chair - Nursery Nurses Working Gp) 07803 952263(m)
Joe Di Paola (UNISON Scottish Org Local Govt) 0131-226 2662(w)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

 

 

28 January 2002

"NHS ETHOS UNDERMINED BY NEW EDINBURGH HOSPITALS" SAID UNISON

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON has today warned that the ethos of the NHS has been undermined by the opening of the new Public Private Partnership hospital in Edinburgh.

"This hospital has been built by the private sector, is owned by the private sector and will be maintained by the private sector. Scottish taxpayers will be tenants at this hospital and will pay an extraordinarily high rent over the next 30 years" said Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser of Health for UNISON.

"Support staff have been privatised, bed numbers reduced and less doctors and nurses are employed. All this is to ensure that the private sector can make profit out of ill health.

"The flagship, Public Private Partnership hospitals in Scotland are based in Lanarkshire where in the last few weeks we have seen admissions cancelled because of the lack of beds and attempts to reduce the number of consultants working in accident and emergency.

"It is sad to record that between Hairmyres, Wishaw and Edinburgh, this Labour led administration has privatised more NHS workers in the last 7 months than were privatised in the last 7 years of the previous Tory administration.

"This is a sad day for the National Health Service and it further undermines the ethos of the public service."

Ends.

For further information contact Jim Devine on Pager: 07693-533362, 07719-369-874

Index | Health News

23 January 2002

INFECTION SCRUTINY PLANS ONLY FIRST STEP - UNISON

Simon MacFarlane, Secretary to UNISON's Scottish Ancillary Committee, has written to Malcolm Chisolm MSP, urging him to adopt five further steps to clean up Scotland's hospitals. He said, "UNISON thinks that the continued use of private contractors, and the poor pay and conditions of cleaning staff all contribute to the infection problem. Whilst the increased checks by the Clinical Standards Board for Scotland and Audit Scotland will be welcome, we would urge them to speak to front-line staff and their unions to get the true picture of issues on the ground."

UNISON is calling for the Scottish Executive to take the following steps:

Remove private contractors from the NHS in Scotland;
Support UNISON's pay claim for ancillary staff with a minimum wage of £5 per hour, by advising the English Health Department that the Scottish Executive is willing to meet this in full;
Undertake to review funding for domestic services in the NHS recognising the cumulative impact of efficiency savings over past years and the corresponding rise in Hospital Acquired Infections and involving all partners;
To involve via their trade union front line domestic staff in advising the Health Department on tackling Hospital Acquired Infection. When the Clinical Standards Board for Scotland and Audit Scotland visit hospitals they must be required to speak to front line staff.
Ensure there is increased appropriate, ongoing training and development for domestic staff.

Ends

Note to editors: A copy of the letter from UNISON to the Health Minister is available from Simon MacFarlane or Geraldine McDade on 0141-332 0006 or see below

For Further Information please contact:
Simon MacFarlane (Regional Officer)07931 365 263(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer)0771 558 3729(m)

Index

s.macfarlane@unison.co.uk

Malcolm Chisholm
Minister for Health & Community Care

Dear Mr. Chisholm

HOSPITAL ACQUIRED INFECTION AND CLEANLINESS

For many years UNISON has been concerned about the correlation between HAI and basic cleanliness in hospitals. We are aware that cleanliness issues are not the only ones around HAI but we believe they are a major one.

Long before the ‘Clean Bill of Health' we have been raising these issues and since its publication we have continued to do. I enclose with this letter a copy of a survey the Ancillary Sector Committee of UNISON Scotland released last April. The enclosed copy will show you that at the Victoria Hospital of the 21 non Ancillary staff who responded, 19 had reported issues relating to cleanliness. All supported UNISON's calls for more money to be invested in Domestic Services and for privatised services to be brought back in house. We believe this survey was useful in persuading the South Glasgow Hospitals Trust to take an in principal decision to bring the service back in house, although that has still to happen.

However, bringing services back in-house is not the only solution to the major problems in Domestic Services. Low pay and the year on year impact of Cash Release Efficiency Savings are also major issues that must be addressed. In July 2000 we showed that the number of patients per domestic had risen from 59.6 in 1985 to 301 by 1999, a far sharper increase than any other staff grouping.

Turnover amongst Ancillary staff has reached such a rate that the Lothians NHS system have been in discussions with UNISON over ways they can tackle the problem. Whilst local initiatives are welcome the real solution lies in tackling the systemic low pay amongst all Ancillary workers. UNISON has lodged a national pay claim for ancillary staff that calls for a rise of £1000 or 5% whichever is the greater and a reduction in the working week to 35 hours with no loss of pay. In Scotland this needs underpinned by a minimum wage of £5.00 per hour.

On the 15 October 2001 and on 16 January 2002 I wrote to Gerry Marr requesting the UNISON Ancillary Sector Committee be invited to nominate a member of the Committee to the HAI Surveillance Steering Group and the Health Department's Advisory Group, to date I have had no response. We welcome your announcement today of increased external checks by the Clinical Standards Board for Scotland and the visits by Audit Scotland. We believe it is vital that nationally and locally frontline staff and their union are involved. When visits to hospitals are made it should be a requirement for CSBS and Audit Scotland to speak to Domestic stewards and trade unions and UNISON should be represented on national working groups.

That is why I am writing to you today at this time of heightened public concern about HAI and the state of our hospitals, to call on you to:

Remove private contractors from the NHS in Scotland;
Support UNISON's pay claim for ancillary staff with a minimum wage of £5 per hour, by advising the English Health Department that the Scottish Executive is willing to meet this in full;
Undertake to review funding for domestic services in the NHS recognising the cumulative impact of CRES over past years and the corresponding rise in HAI and involving all partners;
To involve via their trade union front line domestic staff in advising the Health Department on tackling HAI.
Ensure there is increased appropriate, ongoing training and development for domestic staff.

The above five points if undertaken by you would swiftly address many of the problems in the service related to HAI. In addition it would lift thousands of Scotland's workers and their families out of poverty with the consequential health benefits that would bring.

I and representatives from the Ancillary Sector Committee would be happy to meet with you and discuss the above further. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Simon Macfarlane
Secretary to the UNISON Scotland Ancillary Sector Committee

Index

21 January, 2002

HOSPITAL CLEANING PROBLEMS SCOTTISH WIDE SAYS UNISON

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON today warned that the cleaning problems associated with the Glasgow Victoria Hospital are Scottish wide. Speaking on BBC's Lesley Riddoch Show, Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser (Health) said, "In April 2000 Audit Scotland published a report entitled "A Clean Bill of Health" which was a review of domestic services in Scottish hospitals. In summary, that report highlighted the following:

Comparison of ward and SCOTMEG frequencies for a selection of tasks

Area of ward

SCOTMEG recommended frequency of full task per week

Percentage of wards complying

Percentage of wards over-cleaning

Percentage of wards under-cleaning

Clean hard floors in bed area

5

34% (57)

56% (93)

10% (17)

Clean soft floors in bed area

5

40.5% (67)

51% (85)

8.5% (14)

Damp clean furniture and fittings in bed area

7

58% (96)

0% (0)

42% (70)

Clean basin, taps and surrounds in bed area

7

57% (95)

5.5% (9)

37.5% (63)

Clean hard floors in sanitary areas

5

26% (43)

66% (111)

7% (11)

Clean basins, WC, baths etc, in sanitary areas

7

52% (85)

18% (30)

30% (50)

Clean dispensers and holders in sanitary areas

7

50% (85)

8% (13)

42% (68)

Clean hard floors in ward office

5

26% (38)

42% (62)

32% (48)

Clean basin, taps and surrounds in ward utility areas.

7

57% (92)

4% (6)

39% (63)

Source: Accounts Commission survey

"This survey reinforces the campaign that UNISON have been running to highlight the deficiencies of cleaning services in Scottish hospitals. In 1985 for every 60 patients treated there was one domestic employed in the Scottish Health Service. By the year 2000 this figure had fallen to one domestic employed by the Scottish Health Service for every 360 patients treated. A report last year showed that nearly 500 patients a year die as a result of Hospital Acquired Infection. The cost of treating these patients has been estimated in excess of £20m per year.

"The privatisation of domestic services has been detrimental to the NHS and we believe that the Scottish Executive should be implementing a five point action plan to rectify the situation.

Private contractors should be removed from the National Health Service.
Minimum staffing levels should be agreed.
Domestic staff should be accountable to ward sisters or ward managers.

4.Appropriate, ongoing training and development of domestic staff.

5.Minimum wage of £5.00 per hour."

Ends

For Further Information Contact:
Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser:0141-332-0006 or 07719-369-874

Index | Health News

18 January, 2002

UNISON CALL ON SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE TO SACK PRIVATE CONTRACTORS AT GLASGOW'S VICTORIA INFIRMARY

Scotland's largest healthcare union, UNISON has today written to the Scottish Health Minister, Malcolm Chisholm calling on him to sack the private cleaning and catering company, Sodexho following the latest revelations associated with the Victoria Infirmary Hospital in Glasgow.

Speaking at a meeting in Stirling today, Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser (Health) said, "another day and another tragedy associating the private sector's involvement in the National Health Service.

"We recently released a report from Glasgow University which showed that nearly 500 patients a year are dying in Scottish hospitals as a result of hospital acquired infection. We also highlighted Scottish Executive figures, which showed that there are only one sixth of the domestics working in the Scottish Health Service today compared to fifteen years ago.

"The ongoing tragedies at the Victoria Infirmary highlight the deficiencies of the private sector becoming involved in the NHS. This contract was awarded around the mid-1990s. Since that time domestic and catering numbers have more than halved. The strategy adopted by Sodexho in the hospital as a result of inadequate staffing levels is to carryout "spot-cleaning". They also have what they describe as a Rapid Response Team, which means that during a one-hour period a Sodexho employee could be cleaning the floors and then delivering meals.

"UNISON understand that staffing levels are so bad that on at least one occasion last year a staff member brought a relative into work to assist with the tasks that she had to complete. Recently the mattress room was infected with cockroaches.

"In fairness to the Trust management they recognise the deficiencies of the service that is being provided by Sodexho and no doubt they will furnish the Minister, Malcolm Chisholm with internal reports that they have completed on this company.

"This is another example of Public Private Partnerships that has gone disastrously wrong because Sodexho's priority is to make profit and patient care comes a very poor second."

Ends

For Further Information Contact:
Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser:0141-332-0006, 07719-369-874

Index| Health News

.

14 January 2002

UNISON condemns 'pig in a poke' vote call

UNISONScotland, Scotland's largest housing union, today condemned the decision to announce a date for the ballot of Glasgow's tenants on the transfer of housing to the Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) before the full funding details were available.

Mike Kirby, UNISON's Scottish Convenor said,
"Glasgow's tenants are being asked to buy a pig in a poke. The funding package for the GHA is not complete, and any claims it makes about its plans are speculative at best. The Scottish Executive is obviously trying to bounce the city council into committing to a ballot before their first stage consultation of tenants has reported, and before the GHA has been able to commit the funding to deliver on its promises. The council laid down those conditions for the GHA before they would take any decision on the ballot dates. We think it is essential that the GHA delivers."

The union, who represent Glasgow's Housing staff and staff working for Housing Associations, has recently distributed information to tenants opposing the plans for Housing Stock Transfer. They are opposed to the transfer of council housing away from local democratic control, and advocate a more cost-efffective way of ensuring that necessary investment is available to improve Glasgow's houses.

They claim that the GHA's business plan has had to be revised many times in attempts to plug financial holes. Mike Kirby said

"We are extremely concerned that it is not just the tenants but Scotland's taxpayers that risk being asked to buy a pig in a poke. How does the GHA's business plan measure up to the First Minister's five tests for public services? In particular, how does it stand up to best value scrutiny, and does it compare well with any tests about transparency?
ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Mike Kirby (Scottish Convenor) 07803 952 261 (m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

11 Jan 2002

UNISON welcomes Committee report on Freedom of Information

UNISONScotland, Scotland's largest union and the union that represents staff delivering Scottish public services, today welcomed the report of the Scottish parliament's Justice 1 Committee on Freedom of Information, and urged the Scottish Executive to adopt its recommendations.

Chris Bartter, UNISONScotland's Communications Officer said, "It is good to see that two of the most important comments that we made to the committee have been taken up. UNISON has always said that private sector and other bodies who provide public services should be automatically covered, and the committee recommends that they be included automatically. It is not in the spirit of the Bill that information on public services should not be made public simply because the service is provided by private or voluntary sector bodies."

The union, who represent many of the staff who will have the job of delivering the information requested is also pleased that the committee has recognised the need for the Executive to provide extra resources to authorities.

Chris Bartter says "As the committee says, training is key to this legislation. Training is not a cheap option, neither are proper records and information management procedures. Freedom of Information should be a core operation for authorities, and they need the appropriate resources to allow them to deliver. We urge the Executive to commit themselves to make the necessary resources available."

UNISON still has concerns about some other aspects of the Report, such as the committee's failure to accept the need for a clause detailing the purpose of the legislation, and the committee split over the Ministerial veto. They will be discussing with other organisations the possibility of submitting amendments to the Bill.

ENDS

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

Index

Wed 2 Jan 2002

UNISON looks for outside support for public service campaign

UNISONScotland, Scotland's public service union, today said that it was to distribute its draft manifesto around other groups and organisation as well as its members before finally deciding its contents.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said, "We launched our draft public services manifesto ...for world class public services, with MSP's and Ministers early in December. Now we intend to get it circulated around other Scottish organisations and society, to ask for their comments and their support. We will listen to their comments and seek to improve the manifesto and the campaign for public services that we will be continuing."

The manifesto will be sent out to councils, health trusts and boards, further and higher education institutions, other public bodies, voluntary and campaigning organisations and other local and national groups. UNISON has been running a major campaign called Positively Public, since before the General Election. It says that like UNISON, the general public oppose private companies running public services.

A cinema advert paid for by the union calls on the Prime Minister to remember that 83% of the public are opposed to this. Matt Smith says that figure is higher in Scotland

"A MORI poll that UNISON commissioned at the time of the last election put the Scottish percentage opposed to the private sector running public services at 91%. This is clearly a figure that no government can afford to ignore. We want to tap into that core support, both to get backing for our campaign from individual groups and organisations, and listen to them regarding possible improvements to the manifesto.

"We will of course also be circulating the manifesto widely within our own membership and at the end of the day all improvements and suggestions will come back to UNISON members for approval."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact:
Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 07771 548 997(m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

Index

 
See also