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 Headlines
Solid action by nursery nurses wins support!
Revitalise campaign moves to target MSPs
10th Conference gets under way
We have the right to work free from fear
New look to Scottish NEC
Recruitment drive targets 5%
New on the web
NHS needs impartial complaints system
 
June 2003 No 43
(Next issue September 2003)
 

SiU June 2003
PDF version

Headlines
Scottish police staff feel undervalued and stressed
Scots want fairly paid staff to deliver their public services
Moray UNISON - First in Scotland
Emergency motion as Suu Kyi arrested again
We want to hear your news
 
 
 
 
 

 

Solid action by nursery nurses wins support

Strikes and boycotts by Scotland's 5,000 nursery staff in the campaign for a review of their pay, started on 20 May following a solid 90% vote in favour of action.

Revitalise campaign moves to target MSPs
Following the Revitalise Our Public Services campaign during the Scottish Elections which targetted members and the general public, the emphasis after the election is switching to the MSPs themselves.

10th Conference gets under way
When this SiU arrives with you, UNISON's 10th National Conference will be under way in Brighton.
We have the right to work free from fear
Trauma 2003 survey shows growing levels of violence to public service staff.

Scottish police staff feel undervalued and stressed Police staff across Scotland feel undervalued and stressed, says the first national survey of police staff released by UNISON recently.

New look to Scottish NEC
UNISON's plan to address the problems of social work in Scotland has been launched at a conference in Glasgow.

Recruitment drive targets 5%
June 2nd saw the start of a new and special initiative in Scotland to achieve a 5% increase in membership by the end of the year.

New on the web
Latest updates, responses, news.
Moray UNISON - First in Scotland Moray Council branch of UNISON can be justly proud of its latest success. They have just become the first branch in Scotland to negotiate a paid time off agreement with the employer to allow members to attend training offered under the Lifelong Learning programme.
Scots want fairly paid staff to deliver their public services
Almost 90% of Scots think that the successful delivery of public services will not happen unless the staff are paid a fair wage and treated fairly.
 
NHS needs impartial complaints system
UNISON Scotland has called for an impartial complaints system in NHS Scotland in its response to a Scottish Executive consultation.
Emergency motion as Suu Kyi arrested again
The democratically elected leader of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been arrested again by the 'junta', heralding a sinister new crisis in the country.
We want to hear your news Scotland inUNISON contacts
 


Published by UNISON Scottish Council, 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow G2 6RX. Editor John Stevenson
© UNISON Scotland 1998-2002

 

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Solid action by nursery nurses wins support

by Chris Bartter

Strikes and boycotts by Scotland's 5,000 nursery staff in the campaign for a review of their pay, started on 20 May following a solid 90% vote in favour of action.

After the Scottish Employers' attempt to push the Scottish claim back to a local level for the second time, at the end of a period of joint working, nursery nurses agreed to an industrial action ballot.

The results of the two ballot questions were an 89% yes vote for strike action and a 92% yes vote for action short of strike. The action started with two day strikes across Scotland on 20/21 and 22 May, with members being out on strike Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday depending on their locality.

This type of regional variation in the action has been a pattern of the dispute with further action being taken in different weeks dependent on the area.

Local action Edinburgh, the Lothians and Borders started off the regional action on the Wednesday and Thursday 28 and 29 May and the Ayrshire Councils repeated that on Tuesday and Wednesday, 3 and 4 June with Inverclyde taking strike action on 4 and 5 June.

Carol Ball, Chair of the Nursery Nurses Working Party said: "The support and solidarity from both striking nursery nurses and the parents has been terrific. The ballot result demonstrated how frustrated nursery nurses are with their 15 year wait. This has been translated into action that has clearly raised their profile".

The rolling nature of the action has also meant that nursery nurses have been able to get the maximum public profile with the least disruption to parents.

The use of local and national media has ensured that a traditionally low profile group has hit the headlines.

"The use of press releases to be adapted for local release, ensuring web information is kept up to date and that questions and answers deal with issues and problems likely to be raised have meant that media coverage has generally been sympathetic" said Jane Aitchison, Vice Chair of Campaigns Committee and Communications Officer in South Lanarkshire. "Not all the coverage has been good, but the vast majority has."

Media

Nursery nurses have hit a steep learning curve in dealing with the media and have appeared on radio and TV productions and even the BBC website.

Carol Ball said: "It has really been an issue in raising the profile of nursery nurses. "When parents have found out what we do and what we are paid they are flabbergasted. "Whilst they are obviously frustrated with the inconvenience and disruption to their children's education they have been overwhelmingly supportive".

Some stories have just been gifts. The story that Glasgow's Nursery Schools and Classes would close in the afternoon because nursery nurses were refusing to clean toilets hit Glasgow's Evening Times. Not one parent interviewed failed to support the nursery nurses and most were horrified they were cleaning toilets. Glasgow Council now employ cleaners. Unfortunately, the continuing bad press for the employers has failed to persuade them to make a realistic offer.

"After a week and a half of megaphone negotiations" said Joe Di Paola, Scottish Organiser for Local Government. "We finally received an offer of talks, which we accepted. However, there was no new money on offer at that meeting. We will continue to meet with them but also continue the pressure via the Industrial Action".

Demos and rallies have been staged by nursery nurses from Kirkwall to Ayr, with a large Glasgow rally on May 20 receiving support from EIS. In Edinburgh a lobby of COSLA on 29 May was well reported, following the previous week's event at the City Chambers. Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East and West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire and Highland will take action on 11 and 12 June. Perth, Dundee, Falkirk, Stirling and Fife are out on 17 and 18 June and there will be a Scotland-wide stoppage on 24 June.

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Revitalise campaign moves to target MSPs

by Chris Bartter

Following the Revitalise Our Public Services campaign during the Scottish Elections which targetted members and the general public, the emphasis after the election is switching to the MSPs themselves.

An event has been organised at the Scottish Parliament for June 25 to mark both UNISON's 10th Anniversary and to promote the campaign with Government and MSPs.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said, "This follows on the successful Public Services Day Event we held 18 months ago. We felt that with a new Parliament we should take the opportunity of meeting with MSPs and Ministers to introduce UNISON to them, and to promote UNISON's policies and Campaign."

The event, at lunchtime in Edinburgh will feature stalls with UNISON material promoting the campaign and its five principle themes:- democratic accountability, capacity and innovation, recruitment and retention, performance, and public service networks.

Mike Kirby, UNISON's Scottish Convener said: "We are taking the opportunity of UNISON's 10th birthday to build on our substantial profile with MSPs and government."

There will also be a jazz band and a large screen displaying UNISON's website. Dave Prentis, UNISON's General Secretary is attending and First Minister, Jack McConnell MSP hopes to be able to be present.

A number of MSPs, in responding to UNISON's letter of congratulations, have also accepted the invitation.
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10th Conference gets under way

by John Stevenson

When this SiU arrives with you, UNISON's 10th National Conference will be under way in Brighton.

Around 200 delegates from Scottish branches will join 2,000 UNISON activists at the union's supreme policy making forum from 17-20 June.

The Conference will be chaired by Scotland's Nancy Coull, this year's national president. The review of UNISON's political fund will be one of the main issues with a half day set aside for the debate.

On 15 June, Local Government delegates start their own two-day conference, with Police on the 15th, and Energy, Water & Environment, and Transport on 16th. Health and Higher Education have their Conferences at other times.

The Scottish Communications & Campaigns Committee runs special Conference Briefings throughout the week and will be posting news on the website www.unison-scotland.org.uk/ conf2003.

UNISON's tenth anniversary conference, will be dominated by the Political Fund Review.

"The NEC report is the considered response of two years consultation - support it", says Mike Kirby, Scottish Convener in a message to delegates. But pensions are very first on the agenda, reflecting the growing concern about what is after all, deferred pay.

Scotland again joins with the NEC on Tuesday to set a trade union agenda for the reform/revitalisation of public services. Another motion recognises growing legislation affecting members' work with children and young people and calls for an assessment and advice for branches. That is followed by a call for full comprehensive civil rights for disabled people.

What is the best way of challenging low pay? That's the question on Wednesday. Against the backdrop of the government and employers fiscal planning cycles, are one year deals the route or is planned longer-term strategy more effective? Then there's a call for greater involvement of young members in mainstream branch activity.

Asylum and Immigration is the main issue on Thursday along with new subs rates with a better deal for the lowest paid. Regional government in England gets an airing on Friday along with General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), employment rights, strike fund, and how much should go in it, and fair representation at Conference.

It's a funny part of the priorities set by Regions and NEC that Scotland's motion on the economy is on the reserve list - still it may just get heard if we get a move on.

Best wishes to Fife's Nancy Coull who, as national president will be chairing Conference throughout the week.

 

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Trauma 2003 survey shows growing levels of violence to public service staff

We have the right to work free from fear

An important new survey, entitled Trauma 2003, into the prevalence of threats and violence against public service workers in Scotland, and commissioned by UNISON's Scottish Health & Safety Committee, has highlighted the extent to which the growing levels of violence against people in the public service has come to be viewed as part of the job.

At least half the members surveyed had personally experienced threats, verbal abuse or violent attacks in the previous year and two thirds of those experiencing minor injuries said they received no assistance from their employer after the assault.

Sexual assault

Most worrying are the high levels of sexual assault discovered - 12% of women reported sexual harassment and again two thirds received no assistance from their employer. There were some serious sexual assaults that UNISON wants to draw to the attention of the Scottish Executive to try and work out an effective response.

Racial and Sectarian Harassment were also reported far too regularly (4% and 2% respectively). "This survey of shame shows the importance of UNISON's Zero Tolerance of violence at work campaign" said Millie Somerville, Chair of UNISON''s Scottish Health & Safety Committee.

"It seems particularly unacceptable that public service workers have to face these kinds of incidents during their work. UNISON rejects that and is campaigning to get our view implemented across Scottish public services".

Six point plan

The Health and Safety Committee will be pursuing the six-part plan first adopted by the Health Service Group. This comprises:

A joint staff/ management charter reiterating the point that physical or verbal abuse are not part of any staffs' job.

Standard definitions should be established across Scotland to record and follow-up incidents.

Widespread use of best practice should be put in place in the management of potential violent incidents.

Introducing a yellow and red card warning system for public who constantly abuse staff, ultimately leading to bans on persistent abusers.

People who physically abuse staff should be automatically charged and prosecuted by the Procurator Fiscal.

All public service workers to recognise the need to protect their own and other colleagues' safety and to use reporting mechanisms where provided.

Jim Devine, Scottish Organiser for Health and Secretary to the Health & Safety Committee, said: "It's time for a new strategy to protect public service workers. The climate of complacency from the Scottish Executive has led to this depressing daily picture of verbal and physical abuse.

"Threatening UNISON members with weapons, subjecting them to verbal, physical and sexual abuse is totally unacceptable to us. "The lack of training and support seem to indicate that these are viewed as part of the job - this is not so and UNISON aims to change such impressions".

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Scottish police staff feel undervalued and stressed

by Chris Bartter

Police staff across Scotland feel undervalued and stressed, says the first national survey of police staff released by UNISON recently.

UNISON, who represents 4,000 plus police staff in Scotland, wants the Scottish Executive, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) and Scottish Police employers to improve the status, training, management and terms and conditions of police staff who make up a third of the police workforce.

In Scotland especially, police staff are lower paid than in the UK as a whole, and are more likely to have suffered verbal abuse themselves or to have seen a colleague suffer it. They have less access to training opportunitie and are likely not to have access to flexible working arrangements.

Joe Di Paola, Scottish Organiser for Police Staff said, "The most worrying statistic is that half of our members do not feel valued by their force. The other is the level of abuse that they have to suffer.

"We need a new initiative to cut out this abuse. It should not be part of people's working lives."

Raymond Brown, Secretary of Strathclyde Police and Fire Branch, backs up the survey results. "I know members who have left the Force for the very reasons found in the survey. It is important that this work has been done but we now need to ensure our employers are aware of the results and address the problems."

UNISON is supportive of government aims to increase police presence on Scotland's streets and to switch background tasks to support staff.

But Joe Di Paola says the increased responsibilities need increased resources. "Police staff are open to change and increased responsibilities, and employers need to ensure that they get the training, support, professional status and salary to enable them to tackle these increased duties. Increased civilianisation needs proper resources if it is to succeed.

"These resources must be delivered up front, not on account. Police staff in Scotland want greater flexibility, professional development and training, higher grades and proper support."

The UK-wide survey - by independent pollsters NOP - found

50% of staff do not feel valued by their police service

Female police staff lose out unfairly in pay and training opportunities (although in Scotland all police staff have less access to training than elsewhere in the UK.)

  • 76% of members say workloads have increased
  • 66% say stress levels have grown in Scotland
  • More staff are likely to be low paid (21% earn between £150 & £200 per week cf 15% UK-wide)
  • Staff were also more likely to suffer verbal abuse or to have seen a colleague suffer it (46% cf 41%)

Police staff have a wide variety of roles including: - Admin & Clerical, enquiries, control rooms and station posts, forensic and scientific units, scenes of crime staff, crime and incident management, fingerprinting, training, vehicle workshops and traffic wardens and parking attendants.

  • Equal before the Law, attitudes and aspirations of UNISON's police staff members, (Stock number 2189) is a UK-wide survey commissioned by UNISON from NOP, the respected national research and polling organisation. 3,000 members (nearly 50%) responded. The full report is available from the Communications Unit, UNISON, I Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9AJ. Tel 0845 355 0845.

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New look to Scottish NEC

Following the retirement from the National Executive of three long-serving Scottish members, it was inevitable that the Scottish membership of the NEC would have a new look.

On 4 June the results told us who the new members would be. In the Scottish Woman's Section, Glasgow City's Angela Lynes was re-elected and was joined by Margaret Dunbar of Glasgow Health Branch. Katrina Purcell, Lanarkshire Health was unsuccessful.

In the General Scottish Section Jim Burnett of Dunbartonshire pipped Mark Ferguson of Renfrewshire. South Lanarkshire's, Michelle Brankin had directly been elected unopposed into the low paid women's section.

There were two other Scottish successes in the Service Group and additional members sections - although neither of these were new. Both Jane Carolan (Glasgow City) and Sofi Taylor (Glasgow Health) retained their seats in the Local Government and Additional Members sections respectively.

Both Margaret Bean (North Glasgow Hospitals) and Mick McGahey (Lothian Primary Care) missed out in their challenges for the Health Section.

The turnouts for the ballot were very low all over the UK . Scotland did better than most to register a 5.6% return.
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Recruitment drive targets 5%

June 2nd saw the start of a new and special initiative in Scotland to achieve a 5% increase in membership by the end of the year.

"The plan is to target the gaps in membership within our existing branches," said Glyn Hawker, Scottish Organiser, Organisation and Development, "by building on branch development activity and recognising the increased numbers of public service workers in Scotland.

"Over the next six months branches and staff within Scotland will be undertaking a range of activities that, we hope, will bring 23,000 new members this year."

Activity began this week with a UNISON presence at a major Glasgow City Council event in the Social Work Department. UNISON activists and staff have been meeting and talking with staff across the department about the positive reasons for becoming members of the biggest union in the country.

The initiative will continue until the end of October with a range of activities in identified branches across Scotland.

"While the initiative is focussing initially on 14 targeted branches this is a Scottish initiative and we hope that all Scottish branches will do their best to increase our membership over the coming months", added Glyn.
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New on the web

Conference 2003 Briefings
www.unison-scotland.org.uk/conf2003

Lib/Lab Partnership Brief
www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/partnership.html

Nursery Nurses campaign pages and photo galleries
www.unison-scotland.org.uk/localgovt/nurserynurse

Trauma 2003 report
www.unison-scotland.org.uk/briefings/trauma2003.html

Response to Energywatch Year 3 Forward Work Programme
www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/energywatch3.html

Reforming NHS Complaints Procedure Response
www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/nhscomplaint.html


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Lifelong Learning Policy accepted by Council

Moray UNISON - First in Scotland

by Chris Bartter

Moray Council branch of UNISON can be justly proud of its latest success. They have just become the first branch in Scotland to negotiate a paid time off agreement with the employer to allow members to attend training offered under the Lifelong Learning programme.

UNISON convinced the head of Personnel, and the council's training team of the value of supporting this policy.

Eric Foley, Branch Secretary said "The policy ensures that time off for training is available during the working day. This in turn allows line managers and staff to use the in-house employment review process more productively and target training more appropriately."

It all began when the branch was selected to pilot the Lifelong Learning Adviser training, organised by Anne Cascarino, UNISON Regional Education Officer, with funding from the Scottish Union Learning Fund (SULF).

A number of advisers were trained and found the training invaluable when recruiting members for both Return to Learn and basic IT courses.

Dougie McPhee, Branch Education Officer said "We realised that there was real potential, not only for new branch activists but also for serious negotiations with the employer to allow paid time off for these courses.

"From the employers point of view we demonstrated that here was a real opportunity to try to address recruitment and retention problems, particularly in the home care service, through innovative training."

UNISON's successful bid for more funding from the Scottish Union Learning Fund meant that Karen Barclay - previously involved as Branch Development Officer - was now able to co-ordinate more training for Moray branch in her role as Fieldworker for Lifelong Learning in Scotland.

Next the branch committee were convinced of the need to integrate Lifelong Learning into the branch development plan, increase UNISON's profile as a learning provider and to encourage successful learners to become active in the branch.

In constructing the policy, the relationship between UNISON and the Workers Educational Association (WEA) was crucial in convincing the Moray Council of the value and integrity of the training, in particular the links made with the local tutor Tricia Joyce.

The next step for Moray UNISON is to become a full partner in a team within the council that comprises all those with training responsibilities.

It is clear that training in Moray is high on the council's agenda and there was support from elected members.

Another positive spin-off has been the setting of common aims with other council unions as far as education and training opportunities for all staff are concerned.

As the SULF3 project gets fully underway, Moray UNISON recommends that as many branches as possible get in touch with the Learning and Organising team in West Campbell St, or Karen Barclay in Aberdeen Resource Centre, for more information. Dougie would be pleased to hear from any branches who would like to find out more.

He said, "It has been a lengthy process but the effort has been worth it. It is extremely rewarding when successful students share their enthusiasm with colleagues, become members of UNISON or encourage others to do so.

"The Lifelong Learning agenda gives members and potential members the chance to see a positive aspect of UNISON membership in their workplace."

More information

Dougie McPhee, Moray UNISON Education Officer Tel: 01542 885517 Karen Barclay Fieldworker Lifelong Learning Tel: 01224 620624 Anne Cascarino Regional Education Officer Tel: 0845 355 0845
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Scots want fairly paid staff to deliver their public services

Almost 90% of Scots think that the successful delivery of public services will not happen unless the staff are paid a fair wage and treated fairly, writes Chris Bartter.

"This result shows that Scots recognise how important it is, that the staff who deliver their public services are treated properly," said Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary.

"If politicians are genuine about successful public service reform, then staff must be paid a fair wage."

The poll was carried out as part of the Revitalise Scotland's Public Services campaign. Matt says that the campaign will now target Government and MSPs.

"We welcome the Government's commitment to empower front-line staff in its programme," he said. "But unless staff are fairly paid and treated they cannot contribute to the full. To recruit and retain the high quality staff our public services need, they need proper pay, training, equal opportunities, family friendly policies, trade union recognition and full collective bargaining. The days of low pay in our public services, like nursery provision, must be over."

The poll was carried out between 23-29 April 2003. 956 Adults throughout Scotland were asked the question:"Public services cannot be delivered successfully unless the people providing them are paid a fair wage and treated fairly"

  • Agree Strongly 67%
  • Agree Slightly 22%
  • Neither Agree nor Disagree 5%
  • Disagree Slightly 5%
  • Disagree Strongly 1%.

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NHS needs impartial complaints system

UNISON Scotland has called for an impartial complaints system in NHS Scotland in its response to a Scottish Executive consultation.

The response welcomes the commitment to 'patient focused' services but criticises the current complaints system as unresponsive and reflecting 'a culture of defensiveness'. It therefore welcomes proposals designed to improve the procedures.

The response also welcomes proposals to require NHS Boards to establish suitable sources of independent advice and support for complainants - and importantly, plans for training for staff.

UNISON also supports dispensing with the 'independent review' stage of the complaints process altogether and instead establish a system whereby complainants can directly request the Ombudsman to review their case if they are dissatisfied with the outcome of local resolution.

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Emergency motion as Suu Kyi arrested again

The democratically elected leader of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been arrested again by the 'junta', heralding a sinister new crisis in the country.

UNISONScotland has already called for Suu Kyi to be given honorary UNISON membership to raise the profile of human rights abuses in Burma, and UNISON's Edinburgh Branch is planning an emergency motion to National Conference. UNISON already has a campaign backing sanctions against Burma.

After Suu Kyi's arrest, National League for Democracy (NLD) offices have been closed and activists rounded up and at least four died in clashes with pro-junta crowds. 50 ordinary Burmese who had turned up to hear her talk in Northern Kachin State were injured. Suu Kyi was arrested despite local abbots flanking her in support and protection.

Sources have confirmed reports that the NLD headquarters in Rangoon has been sealed off by authorities. Top NLD party members in Rangoon have been placed under house arrest and their phone lines cut, making it almost impossible to obtain information about the situation.

This is the third time the Nobel Peace Laureate has been detained. Supporters are hoping her detention is temporary, unlike her last period of house arrest which lasted 19 months.

Since her release in May 2002, Suu Kyi has been allowed to travel outside Rangoon to meet supporters and reopen NLD officers which were shut down by the junta. But the so-called "secret dialogue" between her and her former captors has stalled.

Since the appearance of pro-government troublemakers, it has been a rough ride for Suu Kyi and her party members. Recently junta supporters reportedly threw bricks at her vehicle.

In late May, the NLD marked the 13th anniversary of its landslide 1990 election victory, which was never recognized by the military government.

"The NLD must stand up firmly to achieve the result of the elections of 1990. To ignore the result of the 1990 elections is to have total disrespect for the people and is also an insult to the people," said Suu Kyi in the strongest statement she had made since her release from house arrest.

Surprisingly, despite the physical obstacles and ill-will, Suu Kyi's visits have been successful. Thousands of people have turned up to listen to her speeches.

Burma is notorious for forced labour, child labour, trafficking in prostitution and as the world's largest producer of illegal Opium. According to UN estimates there are 50,000 child soldiers in Burma, more than any other country.

An Amnesty International report on Burma's 2002 human rights record said, "Extra-judicial executions continued to be reported in most of the seven ethnic minority states." About 1,300 political prisoners remain in jail. www.burmacampaign.org.uk/
www.unison edinburgh.org.uk/burma.html

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We want to hear your news

Won any deals or cases for members? Any 'people' stories we could use? SiU is your paper, we want to hear your stories.

Your SiU contacts are:
John Stevenson (Editor)
0131 220 5655
comms@unison-edinburgh.org.uk
Chris Bartter
0845 355 0845,
chris.bartter@unison.org.uk
FAX PRESS RELEASES to 0141-331-1203


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