June 1999 No 18

SiU June 1999
PDF version
 Poll calls for Serving Scotland themes to go to Parliament
Members say campaign must
go on

 Fife workers celebrate return of conditions Local Government pay talks to start in earnest
 Now we've got our Parliament we need to meet the challenge What next for Serving Scotland campaign
Council offer "too late and too low" to avert benefits strike  Highland Healthcare wins allowances for A&C staff 
Backing Stevie for Bosnia  Detriment dead at last  
Scotland out in force for march   First for Glasgow NHS Employees Credit Union - and another UNISON success
The customer service challenge  STUC Youth Conference
Birthplace of new leaders?
 UNISON faces in the Scottish Parliament  Have a great day at Pride Scotland
UNISON backs Chhokar family's fight for justice Round The Mags
What's in the branch magazines?
UNISON courses at a glance  Jim Waller
an appreciation
 We want to hear your news





Poll calls for Serving Scotland themes to go to Parliament

Members say campaign must
go on

A MORI poll of members shows they expect pay, jobs and services to be UNISON's priorities in talks with the new Scottish Parliament.

In an immediate response, the union's Scottish Committee has extended the union's Serving Scotland campaign for public services to carry on through the first session of the Scottish Parliament.

"Serving Scotland's themes of accountable services, quality services and fair treatment for staff that we raised with all parliamentary candidates are confirmed in this survey", said Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Convenor.

"Listening to our members, we think the best way to carry out their wishes is to continue the Serving Scotland campaign".

The campaign will now be taken up directly with the Scottish Parliament's Executive, Parliamentary committees, political parties and MSPs.

"We have already written to all MSPs congratulating them and enclosing copies of our manifesto", added Mike

"We are now writing to the new ministers looking for meetings and wll be arranging meetings with MSPs from all parties to express our members' concerns", said Mike.

The poll was carried out by MORI in March 1999, surveying 505 UNISON members across Scotland.
Members were asked;

"Which two or three of the following would you most like UNISON to make the top priorities in discussions with the new Scottish Parliament?"

The replies were:
Priority %
Wage levels - 50
Improved job security - 28
Rights for part time workers - 25
Ending privatisation of public services - 24
Better health & safety at work - 21
Improving the quality of services - 21
Rights for training at work - 21
Public sector pay - 19
More jobs in the public sector - 14
Improved equal opportunities - 12
Improved recognition for unions. - 10


Fife workers celebrate return of conditions

By Chris Bartter

Stratheden and Whyteman's Brae Hospitals in Fife are celebrating their return to Whitley conditions thanks to UNISON.

The workers, who's jobs were privatised five years ago when the contracts were awarded to Initial, were happy to learn that an in-house bid had been successful in July 1997.

However the in-house management continued to employ the staff - including new starts - on old Initial conditions.
Betty Ferguson, joint branch secretary of Fife Primary Care Branch, takes up the story.

"I was visiting Stratheden Hospital last October." she said. "When the staff told me about this, I could hardly believe it. The branch obviously took no time in raising the issue with the local management - to no avail. Eventually we took the matter up at directorate level and finally Ishbel Anderson, the Branch Chair, and I were heard by the Trust Board. We were delighted that they then agreed in principle that these staff should be on trust contracts."

So, as from May 1 this year, the ancillary staff in both Stratheden and Whyteman's Brae Hospitals are back on Whitley conditions - the Trust's contracts mirror Whitley - costing the Trust £ 90,000 per year.

Mary Murray, a domestic at Stratheden Hospital and now a steward for the ancillary staff, says they now feel they are being treated with some degree of fairness.

"The staff felt cheated, having backed the in-house tender, only to find no difference to their conditions."

She said. "Now that UNISON has backed our case, everybody has benefited, with increased pay rates, holidays, and sick pay. It goes to show the worth of being in the union."


UNISON Courses at a glance

Stewards Induction 24-26 August Edinburgh  14 days before
Introduction to Law at Work 27-29 August Glasgow 14 days before
Stewards Induction 31 Aug-2 Sept Glasgow 14 days before
Branch Management 3-5 Edinburgh 14 days before
Branch Finances 3-5 Edinburgh  14 days before
Equality & Fair Treatment 3-5 Edinburgh 14 days before
Health & Safety Stage 2 3-5 Edinburgh 14 days before
 Branch Magazine Editing 3-5    Paisley 14 days before
Stewards Induction  7-9  Perth 14 days before
 Stewards Induction  7-9   Kilmarnock 14 days before
 Tutor Training Stage 1  9-12  Clydebank  14 days before
Health & Safety Induction  14-16  Glasgow  14 days before
Health & Safety Induction  21-23  Edinburgh   14 days before
Assertiveness (Women) 1-3 Irvine  14 days before
Grievance & Disciplinaries 5-7  Glasgow 14 days before
Grievance & Disciplinaries 12-14 Edinburgh 14 days before
Grievance & Disciplinaries 19-21 Perth 14 days before
Stewards Induction 22-24 Pitlochry 14 days before
Grievance & Disciplinary  26-28 Kilmarnock 14 days before
Law at Work Stage 2 12-14 Glasgow 14 days before
Stress at Work 18-19 Glasgow 14 days before
Stress at Work 25-26 Edinburgh 14 days before
Grievance & Disciplinaries 26-28 Dundee 14 days before
Stewards Induction 30 Nov-2 Dec Glasgow 14 days before
Stewards Induction  30 Nov-2 Dec  Edinburgh 14 days before
Law at Work Stage 3 10-12  Glasgow  14 days before

Extra courses may be organised, look out for them. Courses should be booked at least two weeks in advance. Applications must be signed by branch secretary or education officer.



Local Government pay talks to start in earnest

By John Stevenson

The real talking on pay will start on 21 June when UNISON negotiators next meet Scottish local government employers. UNISON has already rejected a 3% offer last month.

"Unlike England and Wales, we are in a unique situation in Scotland where the costs of the reduced working week do not apply this year.

" Any deal we can recommend to members would therefore need to be more than England and Wales", said Dougie Black, UNISON Scottish Local Government Chair.


'Its task is not merely to govern but to initiate, to innovate, and to repay the faith of the Scottish electorate'

Now we've got our Parliament we need to meet the challenge

What is the significance of the new Scottish Parliament for
UNISON members?
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary, reflects on the outcome of the election and where we go from here.

The Parliament we elected on 6 May 1999 is like no other we have experienced. It has no predecessors for comparison, and must establish a pattern for its successors.

Its task is not merely to govern but to initiate; to innovate; and to repay the faith of the Scottish electorate.

That the legislation establishing the Parliament was based on the consensus of the Constitutional Convention and is of tremendous significance.

A political party - the Labour Party - took on board a set of proposals agreed by people who were not necessarily party members or even supporters, and had the confidence to place them in its manifesto for government. This was new to British politics and its significance was not properly appreciated at the time.

The consensus process has continued with the work of the Constitutional Steering Group, again broad based. Its work built on support from a range of views across Scotland. The similar principles underpinning the establishment of the McIntosh Commission on the Parliament and local government, is also welcome.

We now have a Parliament built on consensus, elected on proportionality, and containing a fairer share of women members (although not yet enough). It can and may vary income tax. In its early days it has proved itself capable of independent thought and has created an institution quite different from that at Westminster.

We have a Parliament with power to act on any issue not specifically reserved and the ability to speak out on any issue it so chooses.

We have a coalition government, which may be a continuation of consensus politics, or may be an attempt for secure parliamentary majorities. Only time will tell.

Traditionally trade unions in Scotland have understood the importance of consensus support. We have worked with civic Scotland, and benefited from the shared vision, whether in opposition to the poll tax, in support of our industrial base, or to promote international solidarity such as Jubilee 2000. We need to continue that work into and with the new Parliament.

UNISON is very much aware of the impact of a Scottish Parliament on our services, our members and their living standards. Our vested interest is real. It is in the people we represent, their families and their communities, and we offer no apology for that. It is why we embarked on our Serving Scotland campaign, to highlight the needs of Scotland's public services.

Three key themes underpinned the campaign.

We continue to voice our concerns over divisions created when some service providers have cuts and job losses inflicted upon them, while others are protected.

Nowhere is this more relevant than in the case of PFI, which will continue to be a major issue for UNISON.
We will continue to reassert the public service ethos. The ethos so undermined over the past couple of decades. It is now fashionable to knock public services and to assume that efficiency and profit are one and the same thing. They are not.

Inevitably there will be a new look at many areas of our public services. The interface between them and the Parliament is of great significance, as is their relationship one with the other.

New models of service delivery to reflect the social inclusion agenda will need to take account of the principles of community planning and the lead role identified for local government.

All of this sits well with the principles outlined in Serving Scotland. Above all the principle of team work takes on a new significance. We should not only have public service teams within the public services but increasingly across the public services.

The Scottish Parliament has a wonderful opportunity to address these issues in a holistic manner and not on a piece meal basis as so often in the past.

We too must change. We must be better focussed in putting forward our agenda. The opportunity to influence early, to involve ourselves in pre-legislative scrutiny, and to serve on, and provide support to, parliamentary committees means new responsibilities for us.

We will need to adapt and change to meet them. For example we have within our ranks trade unionists with expertise across a range of services. We must do better in tapping into that wealth of knowledge to enhance our arguments.

The challenges of the new Parliament are therefore two-way. We want to be listened to and expect to have our views taken seriously. That demands that we better articulate our case, and better resource our arguments.

Whether as individual trade unions or acting collectively through the STUC, or indeed working with others, we need to embrace new ways of working. The Scottish Parliament provides the opportunity to develop methods which are appropriate to Scotland.

Whether or not they are appropriate for other parts of the United Kingdom is not relevant.

We argued for a Scottish Parliament so we could do things better in Scotland - we need now to get on and do it.



What next for Serving Scotland campaign

By Chris Bartter, Communications Officer Scotland

The successful Serving Scotland campaign has modified its targets to ensure UNISON's message is put across in the new Parliament.

"Within three days of MSP's being elected UNISON had contacted them all, reminding them about the campaign.

The information we are getting back is that they found this useful - and particularly because it came before the masses of material that they have now started to receive", said Matt Smith, UNISON Scottish Secretary.

The campaign will keep in contact with MSP's from all parties who have had a UNISON connection - not just those sponsored MSP's, updating them on the union's policies and concerns.

The 'minifestos' also continue. These, more detailed, expansions of the main manifesto were published on PFI and on women. Now planned are issues on local government, health care, housing and equalities.

Agreement has also been reached to co-sponsor a Fabian Society conference on the legislative agenda for the first term of the Parliament, and investigations have started on a major conference on PFI.

The whole area of UNISON's relations to the new Parliament will be discussed at a seminar in August.




Council offer "too late and too low" to avert benefits strike

The strike of 120 Edinburgh's Council Tax Benefits and Housing Benefits staff went ahead on Wednesday 9 June after UNISON members overwhelmingly rejected a last minute offer from the council.

"Our members clearly felt the offer was too late and too low after their long 16 month dispute", said John Stevenson UNISON Edinburgh Branch spokesperson. "At the eleventh hour the Council came up with an offer, conditional on the union recommending it to its members. If we had not recommended it, the offer would not have existed. However we warned that the mood of our members was that they were likely to reject it."

The new offer, now withdrawn by the Council, would have given two pay increments to 28 staff who gained nothing under the initial offer. However, UNISON says that this does not address the core issue of lack of equality and fairness.

"We will still have a grade for a more complex job which is less than the rate paid before the functions merged, and we will still have staff working side by side on the same job with often vastly different wage rates", said Tracy Gilbert, one of the affected staff and an Edinburgh UNISON service conditions officer.

UNISON's claim over the last 16 months has been for all staff to be paid at the same rate as Housing staff were before, despite the increase in duties. "This is not an unreasonable claim", said Ms Gilbert.

"If the Council had made this offer six months ago, it may have been a basis for negotiation. But at this late stage our members have said it is clearly not enough to settle the dispute", added Mr Stevenson.

"The last thing our members want is any disruption for the public they serve. We repeat our call for them to support us in fighting for a better service with fairly treated staff. We urge the Council to get back round the table to come up with a constructive way to avoid the disruption".



Highland Healthcare wins allowances for A&C staff

By Morag Stevenson

Highland Healthcare Branch have won agreement for admin and clerical staff to be entitled to proficiency allowances.

Said Adam Palmer, Branch Secretary, "The proficiency allowances were outdated, so UNISON came up with a new list which included admin and clerical staff.

"The new deal means that these staff will now be entitled to an allowance i