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Revitalise Principles and Briefings
Manifesto Index
Welcome and Index
Introduction
Background
Revitalise Scotland's public services
Principles for Renewal
Financing Public Services
Staffing Protocol
Public Service Networks
Lifelong Learning
Equalities
Social Inclusion
21st Century Government
Healthcare
Joint Future
Local Government
Police Services
Higher and Further Education
Energy
Transport
Water
Environment
Community & Voluntary Sector
Conclusions

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Public Service Networks

Public service networks are an innovative idea designed to improve service delivery in many specialisms by using Scottish-wide resources to deliver local solutions. They would aim to ensure that services that require expertise that might not be regularly available at a local level can be delivered across Scotland. They involve specialists liaising across authority boundaries to pool expertise, support and indeed services directly to be delivered where and when required.

They will have many advantages, including:

  • avoiding the iniquity of the ‘postcode' determining the level of services to provide better services to users across Scotland,
  • operating more quickly and effectively than reorganisations or boundary changes,
  • taking advantage of economies of scale and information technology,
  • cross boundary trading and supplying services across the whole of Scotland from local centres of excellence, and
  • most importantly, retaining the public service ethos in delivering public services across sectors.

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Lifelong Learning

Learning partnerships have been more of a success story. Government funding for workplace based projects has shown steps in the right direction. The welcome awards of trade union learning funds to encourage the take-up of lifelong learning in many industries and the promotion of skills training in new technology are useful.

UNISON Scotland is itself currently involved in a partnership funded through the Executive with the Workers Education Association: Learning @ Work However more needs to be done, both in ensuring that those who need such opportunities get them, and in ensuring that there are trainers and institutions available to provide the necessary resources.

Almost all those who have been on a lifelong learning training sing its praises, but there are many more who can't get a place. Education and training should be available to staff at all levels across our public services, to equip them to move into higher skilled jobs within public services. It is also clear that we should target new learning opportunities to areas with poor records of employment and social inclusion.

We are concerned at the decrease in the Budget for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning. We believe that the Executive should devote adequate resources to training and development within the life long learning agenda to support workers in all sectors.

We need to increase substantially the availability of training and of trainers. It would be particularly useful if this work was done in a joined-up way, continuing and expanding the work done with Schools, FE Colleges and HE institutions and involving the Careers Service, employers and trade unions.

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Equalities

UNISON recognises that equality legislation is a reserved matter. But there is much a Scottish Parliament has been able to do. The introduction of the Equality Strategy was an innovative and radical initiative for which the Executive and Parliament deserve congratulations. UNISON will use the strategy to work with and put pressure on employers to implement improved equal rights in the workplace.

In addition we welcome the establishment of the Older People's Unit in the Scottish Executive. This has already had some success in giving older people a pathway to express views to the Government and a method of galvanising and clarifying demands.

UNISON welcomes the Executive's commitment to Close the Gap on equal pay. We will be calling on employers to undertake pay audits to identify inequalities in pay structures and hope that employers will work in partnership with us.

We call for a clear commitment to tackle domestic abuse. The Scottish Executive's Preventing Violence against Women and the National Domestic Abuse Strategy contain much good policy, but it must be recognised that the need for funding and training continues in order that good policies can be properly implemented.

UNISON has, to date, been impressed with the consultation and discussion on access to public transport for disabled people. Meetings and discussion have proved useful and positive and we hope to continue to have an input to the process, particularly through the Mobility and Access Committee (Scotland).

Hamid Rasheed

Hamid Rasheed, UNISON Member working for Dundee City Council.

"We welcome the Executive's campaign to counter racism in Scotland, and would like to see the campaign covering all the sectors for which the Executive is directly responsible.

Equality must be a key element in all policy areas. The threat of racist parties to use these elections, to peddle their poison can only increase the problem. UNISON will strongly campaign to challenge them."

The need for the Scottish Executive to tackle racism in Scotland has been sadly underlined by the attacks on asylum-seekers and on faith communities. The rise of racist groups like the BNP in the political process in England and their threat to use the Scottish Parliament elections to spread their racist hate also threaten to increase the problem. UNISON welcomes the report of the Race Equality Advisory Forum and encourages the Scottish Executive to adopt the plans it has proposed. We welcome the Executive's campaign to counter racism in Scotland but call for it to be expanded in all its areas of responsibility and in particular to raise the issue in mainstream policy areas, including in rural areas where racism has traditionally been ignored.

The abolition of the pernicious and discriminatory Clause 2a was an act of which our Scottish Parliament can be proud. Likewise the incorporation of the Human Rights Act into Scottish legislation, the establishment of an Equalities unit, and the stated aim of equality proofing Scottish legislation have set a high standard.

Now that the framework to promote equalities has been put in place, the principles underlying them must still be promoted.

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Social Inclusion

Many of the improvements above have been driven by government commitments to social inclusion and for social justice. It is clear that these commitments can and will only be delivered by public services (public, not-for-profit and voluntary sector). It is also clear that unless resources are directed into ensuring the ability of mainstream services to deliver the services that social inclusion demands, then the effectiveness of any improvements will always be at risk.

We want the government to recognise the central and crucial position played by our public services in delivering a fairer and more just society, and provide the resources to enable this.

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21 Century Government

The use of new technology in the delivery of service is also an area that the Government has started to address. However, there appears to be a failure to recognise the resources required at the ground level.

If the aim of ensuring the widest possible delivery of services using information technology is to be successful, what will be required is increasing and targeted training for staff whose job it will be to deliver the services, and increasingly innovative methods of delivery.

Installation of terminals in local government offices, libraries, community education centres, schools - even in shopping centres, supermarkets, post offices etc - should be increased. However for this to be successful, the community buildings and the front-line staff who deliver services, must be there. The reduction in the number of public facilities must stop and the decline in opening hours must be reversed. We must also recognise that people will continue to want to speak to people directly as well as using terminals, and retain face-to-face contact staff. If people cannot get to grips with new technology, it will only ever be used by those who are educated and affluent enough to have their own hardware.

An illustration where UNISON is active in this area is in Scotland's booming call-centre provision, although the rise in this industry is now levelling off. Some centres have fair and reasonable employment practices whilst some are still mired in nineteenth century attitudes. The UNISONScotland Call Centre Charter outlines six key principles to raise standards in Scotland's call centres - fair pay, good work-life balance, positive job-design, union recognition, proper training and a pro-active safety structure. We need to promote this type of high-quality employment standard throughout the area of information technology, to ensure that Scotland establishes a position of quality work and quality service.

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Healthcare

UNISONScotland remains committed to the principle of a National Health Service providing universal care free at the point of use. We want to see the National Health Service in Scotland truly reflecting that principle.

UNISON welcomes the increasing trend for NHS staff to be brought back in-house as both a recognition that this is a more effective way to deliver a proper service, and a commitment to valuing all the members of the healthcare team.

We also welcome the increasing investment in Scotland's health services and in particular the increased focus in preventative work and health promotion. However we think that more needs to be done to address the underlying causes of ill-health and to address the problems that affect service delivery.

In particular, new funds should be directed to providing front line services rather than being funnelled into the pockets of shareholders via expensive new PFI projects. We welcome the STUC/Scottish Executive protocol on staffing and would urge health boards and trusts to start to make this retrospectively effective on existing PPP/PFI contracts. Public funding of new projects would provide more flexibility in service delivery. It is not helpful to service delivery for staff doing the same jobs to be employed by separate employers and on different sets of conditions. Ring fencing of PFI payments will mean that any future cuts in funding will have to be carried disproportionately by other parts of the Service.

In addition partnership working in the NHS, whilst not always delivering the aims sought for it, is a welcome commitment to the healthcare team. UNISON would urge the clear adoption of the principles of partnership working across the NHSiS and beyond.

UNISON thinks that it is vital also to tackle the issue of recruitment and retention of staff. Skill shortages, especially amongst front line staff are threatening service delivery. We must address the shortage of training opportunities for clinical staff. This should be done in the long term by increasing training opportunities and tackling the low pay endemic in the NHS. Funded education and training should also be available to staff at all levels in the health service to equip them to move into higher skilled jobs.

Anne McGinley

Anne McGinley, UNISON member and Health Visitor, Greater Glasgow Primary Care Health Trust

"Increasing investment for the NHS should go to front-line services, not into shareholders pockets. We must address shortages amongst clinical staff with better pay and training if we are to improve services. In particular we need to offer incentives to bring staff back into the NHS, and remove barriers that keep them out, like having to fund their own training, and non-family-friendly working."

In the short term we should be offering incentives to non-practising clinical staff to return to the NHS and eliminate the barrier that forces health workers to pay for their own refresher courses and work unpaid when they return to healthcare.

We welcome the decision to deliver free personal care to Scotland's elderly. However it is clear that this initiative is under-resourced and is heavily reliant on the traditionally poorly funded care sector. We must back up public statements of support for community-based health care with the financial resources. Terms and conditions for voluntary-sector staff are lagging behind their role and responsibilities and resources are often project based, time limited and insecure. The Scottish Government must ensure that proper funding is available both to resource community-based services and to ensure good employment practice.

This should also apply to community-based mental health projects in order both to improve accessibility to these services and to increase local educational work combating the myths and stereotypes affecting people suffering from mental illness.

UNISON supports the steps so far taken by the Scottish Government to cut the number of Trusts, and its work to eliminate the internal market in the Health Service. It is time now however for the next step - the removal of the remaining Trusts, clear away the remnants of the failed internal market and create fair and representative Health Boards to run our NHSiS.

In order to increase the effectiveness of healthcare provision and to stop the unfairness of ‘postcode prescribing' there should be greater use of public service networks in clinical specialisms, such as cancer, coronary care etc. This would both provide economies of scale and allow better service delivery to the individual patient - wherever in Scotland they live.

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Joint Future

UNISON recognises the need for the various agencies of care to be more co-ordinated in the delivery of their services. We support ideas of crosscutting service provision and one-stop shops for increased accessibility. However, the traditionally poorly funded nature of such services and the drive towards specific forms of delivery threaten to derail that potential.

In order to be successful, these plans must:

  • Be properly resourced - ensuring that the services that are needed are available when people want to access them
  • Not dilute the democratic accountability and control of peoples' services
  • Ensure that the staff working in these areas from different agencies and employers are secure in their employment and that there is not a two- (or three!) tier workforce
  • Ensure these projects aim to improve and co-ordinate service delivery, and are not used as an excuse to cut services and
  • Ensure that services continue to utilise fully qualified and trained staff and not dilute staff professionalism.
Michelle Brankin

Michelle Brankin, UNISON member and Home Care Supervisor, South Lanarkshire Council.

"We cannot allow underfunding to derail the potential benefits of co-ordinated care via the Joint Future Strategy. Services must be properly resourced, and be provided by appropriately qualified staff who are secure in their employment. The new arrangements must improve and not cut service delivery."

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