March/April 1999 No 17

 Campaign makes its mark on Scotland
Serving Scotland public services message hits home as election nears

 Branches raise campaign profile in islands No such word as can't as UNISON helps with access

 UNISON kicks out in Kilmarnock - with Ally McCoist PFI - pressure increases as opposition grows 

TUPE does apply, says appeal  Court confirms Strathclyde Buses compensation win 

Frizzell's sponsor big recruitment prize for branches  Huge support forecast for April 10  

Protest at bank deal 
bigotry 'insult'
 Recruitment adverts target work frustrations

Vigil as fight goes on to save home   Abuse Inquiry lessons for councils 

 West Lothian Return 2 Learn presents first awards  Bickerstaffe urges Scottish Parliament to ditch PFI 
UNISON couple's Himalayan trek to fight cancer  Conference backs carers allowance call 
Anne in chair for STUC  Disabled members postcards 
 Thirty years at the Star Round The Mags
What's in the branch magazines?

  We want to hear your news 





Serving Scotland public services message hits home as election nears

Campaign makes its mark on Scotland

Headline picture: A beaming Bartter launches the Serving Scotland manifesto in Shetland. Backing up Chris are Shetland UNISON activists Richard Goodlad, Richard Hayward, Lyn Jenkins and Averil Simpson.

UNISON members across Scotland received their own summary of the Serving Scotland Campaign at the end of February, writes Chris Bartter, Communications Officer Scotland.

The Serving Scotland magazine features details about the campaign and urges UNISON members to go out and vote for public services on May 6.Further copies are available from Chris Bartter at West Campbell Street - 0141 332 0006, email:

The hugely successful Serving Scotland manifesto for Scotland's public services has already made its mark with responses coming in from all walks of Scottish life.

Now that has been followed up by the first of a series of 'minifestos'. As we go to press, the new minifesto on PFI - Serving Scotland's Taxpayers and a clipsheet with materials for branches to use in their own bulletins is going out to branches and communications activists.

Calling on the new Scottish Parliament to scrap the Private Finance Initiative, the minifesto promotes UNISON's alternatives, and shows how PFI/Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects run contrary to the campaign's key demands:-

  • giving people a say in their services;
  • choosing quality services;
  • choosing teamwork.

Copies of the minifesto are also being sent to prospective MSPs, government departments and political parties.

The clipsheets, with copies of the campaign slogan(s), photos and a brief article on the campaign are going out to all branches and communications activists. These clipsheets are designed to be used in branch magazines and newsletters.

The manifesto, the PFI minifesto and the clipsheet are all available here on the UNISONScotland website.


Branches raise campaign profile in islands

The launch of the Serving Scotland campaign in Shetland has raised both the campaign's and UNISON's profile in the islands.

Chris Bartter, UNISON's Communications Officer launched the campaign at the AGM of the Shetland Health Branch in mid February.

A joint press release from the health and local government branches led to a photo and article in the Shetland Times and Richard Goodlad, Shetland Health Branch Secretary was interviewed on Radio Shetland.

Chris Bartter said:
"This is just the sort of partnership activity that the campaign is designed to promote. I was impressed by the enthusiasm and organisation of the branches in Shetland. In particular, the health branch - which was in danger of collapsing two years ago - is now resurgent. I think that the local activists and the regional officer deserve the union's commendation for a job well done."

Argyll and Bute

Jointly working together to set up meetings of the local MSP candidates in their area are the Argyll and Bute Health and Local Government Branches.

Public meetings featuring the four main candidates have taken place in Lochgilphead, and are planned for Rothesay (29 March), Oban (8 April),
Campbeltown (12 April), and Dunoon (23 April).

Advertisements are placed in local papers the weekend before the meeting, and flyers distributed round local workplaces.

David Graham Education Officer of the local government branch, says "At first some of the candidates claimed they couldn't make some meetings, after the success of the Lochgilphead meeting, they have all promised to be at all meetings. We hope to ensure that UNISON's key messages relating to public services are clearly fixed in the candidates minds."

Barrie Grunewald, Branch Secretary of the health branch says "With such a large area to cover we need to set up a series of meetings and we hope to get press coverage locally as well as the advertisements."




No such word as can't

At first Eileen Brunton found her management less than helpful when she had access problems in her workplace.

But when UNISON stepped in things began to move
Eileen, a City of Edinburgh Social Worker specialising in Children and Families, became a victim of Multiple Sclerosis several years ago.

Despite medication the situation led to restrictions in her mobility with a wheelchair being increasingly needed to allow her to fulfil her duties at a local hospital.

Management's response was to offer Eileen an ill-health redeployment which would have led to a substantial drop in salary and a move from the Social Work service, in which she has excellent qualifications and long experience.

Enter Irene Stout, UNISON Equalities Officer of the City of Edinburgh Branch.

"When Eileen contacted me, she was at the end of her tether. Management would not accept she was capable of doing the job she was trained for."

Legal responsibility

Irene's first action was to tell management they were in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act and they must meet their responsibilities to Eileen.

The matter was taken out of the hands of Eileen's line managers and the council's Special Needs Employment Team were brought into action.

After a priority assessment, the specialists accessed external funding and Eileen was very quickly delivered a state-of-the-art wheelchair.

Now she was mobile and looked forward to carrying out her duties in the hospital.

Happy ending? Not quite!

Irene visited Eileen's workplace to see how she was getting on.

"I could not believe what I saw. Eileen could not get access to her support staff, the premises were riddled with steps and stairs which were not only restrictive but were downright dangerous. Eileen could not even get through the front door without assistance".

Irene called for immediate action from management who were now beginning to learn the error of their ways.
As a result Eileen was relocated immediately, carrying out duties suitable to her Social Work background. She is based in an environment which allows her to work on an equal basis with her colleagues and allows her to be independent.


The icing on the cake is her skills have been recognised by the authority who now want Eileen to draft a response to a research document on infertility, a field she has specialised in.

Eileen said, "I was really lost when I contacted Irene Stout. Like most people I thought I could do it on my own but, until the union got involved, I was hitting a brick wall.

"Now I can get on with what I want to do, putting my knowledge and experience to play in helping others".

But despite the success, Irene warned,

"There are so many people who do not contact the union when they have problems. They think things will be right in the end.

"I'm happy Eileen's situation has been resolved but I worry for those cases we don't hear about.

"With the resources available to help with access and other issues, there should be no such word as 'can't'".


UNISON kicks out in Kilmarnock

Ally McCoist of Kilmarnock FC was present at the unveiling of UNISON's new advertising board at Rugby Park on 12 March 1999.

Paid for by the Ayrshire health and local government branches, the board is situated next to the players' tunnel.

Although it is smaller than many of the pitchside boards, it is a prime site as Margaret Jamieson, Regional Officer explains:

"We wanted to ensure that we were opposite the camera positions, but felt we could not run to a full board, so this was ideal. We will be monitoring its visibility and may make changes to the design, if necessary."



PFI - pressure increases as opposition grows

By Chris Bartter, Communications Officer Scotland

Coinciding with the publication of UNISON Scotland's Serving Scotland's Taxpayers, our minifesto on the Private Finance Initiative, two new developments have added to the pressure on Government and Scottish Parliament to scrap PFI and develop different ways of financing public services.

In the Water Industry a new sewage treatment works at Dalmore will be the first 'PFI without people' scheme agreed in Scotland. Alan Mitchell, Branch Secretary of West of Scotland Water Branch said;

"We have agreed with the authority that staff will stay employees of West of Scotland Water, on their terms and conditions and subject to all their relevant procedures.

Whilst this does not address the long term cost problems of PFI, or the ultimate ownership of the works, we are pleased that UNISON has managed to keep the service team together."

Jim Waller, Senior Regional Officer said; "One of the reasons for this is that West of Scotland Water has realised that, whether a contractor is on site or not, they are responsible for water quality. Therefore they wanted to employ the staff monitoring that. This is, of course, exactly the point we have been making on PFI across all the services."

The potential damage from PFI to team-working in the public services has also led to a highly condemnatory report from a Parliamentary Select Committee.

Despite a majority of Government members, the Health Select Committee "regrets the transfer of ancillary staff that is currently a consequence of PFI and has called on the Government to limit PFI to pilot schemes until the impact on patients and staff can be evaluated."

John Lambie - Scottish Head of Health - has called on the government to implement the report as soon as possible.

"This echoes Serving Scotland's key theme of team working" he said "It is good to have this endorsement of our position."

These new developments are fully covered in a new Private Finance Illusion bulletin recently circulated to branches. This also gives UNISON's initial response to the SNP's alternative - a Public Service Trust.

UNISON will give this full consideration although at first glance it doesn't appear to address the problems of accountability, or to solve the problem of the cost against the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement (PSBR).

Dave Watson, Secretary to the former PFI Working Party says: "UNISON's policy of moving to the GGFD (General Government Finance Deficit) standard common in Europe is part of a better alternative and would free up public sector investment."




TUPE does apply, says appeal

Dundee City Council has lost its appeal against a tribunal decision that had confirmed wage protection for employees affected by council reorganisation.

UNISON had gone to a tribunal when member Jill Arshad was put on a lower grade at reorganisation and Dundee decided to offer only three years protection instead of existing national conditions.

UNISON had always argued that TUPE (the Transfer of Undertakings regulations) should have covered staff, and not the less favourable scheme put in by the then Secretary of State.

UNISON took legal opinions that agreed, and so did the tribunal. Dundee appealed but now the original decision has been confirmed.

"This is an outstanding success for UNISON", said Mary Crichton, Dundee UNISON Branch Secretary

"Although it is the first case, I hope that the result will end the misery all my affected members have been experiencing since April 1996", she added.



Court confirms Strathclyde Buses compensation win

By John Stevenson, SiU Editor

After three years struggle, and a Court of Session appeal, UNISON members made redundant by Strathclyde Buses have at last won compensation.

The case, outlined in a briefing by Lucy Crone, UNISON Scottish Legal Officer, began when eleven members lost their jobs when Strathclyde Buses merged with Kelvin Central Buses in 1995.

UNISON took the cases to tribunal due to lack of consultation on the redundancies and on unfair dismissal.
On the first point, the members won the maximum award - 30 days pay. On the unfair dismissal, two members were awarded 're-engagement' and the rest compensation.

But the compensation issue was complicated by the fact that the members held Strathclyde Buses shares which they had to sell back to the company.

However by the time of the tribunal, First Bus had taken over and the share prices had risen greatly.

Shares loss

UNISON successfully argued that the loss connected to these shares should be included in compensation and the tribunal agreed, giving more realistic compensation, although this was restricted to £11,000 due to tribunal limits.

But then an Employment Appeal tribunal threw this out, saying the tribunal had "erred in law" by including the share value because it was "too remote" from the dismissal.

UNISON took this point to the Court of Session which in effect upheld the tribunal's initial decision (reported in Leonard -v- Strathclyde Buses 1998 IRLR 693).

"Unfortunately the appeal process did not bring a higher level of compensation to the applicants; however it did establish a principle which will become increasingly important when the cap on unfair dismissal compensation is removed", said Lucy Crone.

The Court of session confirmed the tribunal's discretion to calculate compensation by applying the statutory tests of what is just and equitable.

"This therefore gives scope to widen the arguments concerning the losses to be included for compensation", added Lucy.



Frizzell's sponsor big recruitment prize for branches

A new prize will be launched at the Scottish Council meeting on 17 April. A prize for branches who have completed a significant organisation and recruitment initiative during the year.

Frizzell's UNISON's Life Insurance providers will be donating £1,000 as the prize which will be divided two ways. £750 will go to the branch that organises the best recruitment initiative in 1999 and £250 to the steward or stewards who have, in the opinion of the branch, made the most significant contribution.

Chris Bartter, UNISON's Communications Officer says: "The idea is to try and establish this as a regular event and to cement in people's minds the link between good organisation and recruitment; the importance of recruitment to anything we do; and the key role that Stewards should play."

Forms will be issued shortly and any recruitment initiative - organising a new workplace, recruiting new stewards in a previously unorganised section etc - will be eligible, but there must be a clear membership gain from the initiative.

Further information at the Scottish Council or from Chris Bartter or Glyn Hawker at West Campbell Street.



Recruitment adverts target work frustrations

A series of radio adverts intended to back up recruitment across the UK have been broadcast in a number of Scottish commercial radio stations.

The ads feature people's common frustrations with work, offer various solutions - shouting at the mirror, having a hot bath, a relaxing bowl of soup - but finish up with the most effective solution, calling UNISON.

They are being broadcast in Scotland in North Sound Radio in the NE, Radio Tay in Tayside and Scot FM across the Central Belt. They are backed up by posters, coasters and mugs for use in the workplace.

Anne Middleton, Depute Scottish Secretary said
"The ads are receiving a very positive response from people, showing the need for unions and the increasing frustrations and stress in everyone's working lives.

"The award winning "ants and bear" advert has also reappeared on TV, and will be distributed via newly released videos too."



Vigil as fight goes on to save home

Despite 2,500 people backing a huge campaign of petitions, letters and a silent vigil by UNISON East Lothian Council Branch, staff, residents and the local community, the council is to close Waverley House Residential Home for Older People, writes East Lothian's TOM LITHGOW.

The council has admitted the reason for the closure is purely financial. With a Social Work budget running into the red to the tune of £1million, it is apparently cheaper to buy residential care from the private sector.

Why? Are local authority homes run less efficiently than the private sector? The Audit Commission doesn't seem to think so in East Lothian's case. No, the over-riding factor is simply that the Residential Care Allowance paid by government for those in private residential care is not paid to those in local government residential homes. How can local authorities hope to prove Best Value when the playing field is so slanted towards the private sector?

What about Waverley then? Well the East Lothian Council Branch will continue to fight for its members and the services which they provide. The Branch has managed to change the Council's mind in the past and will continue to campaign to keep Waverley open.



Abuse Inquiry lessons for councils

Edinburgh's Children, the report of the inquiry into abuse in Edinburgh childrens homes, says its findings will have "considerable relevance to the rest of the country".

The Inquiry followed the conviction of two staff members for sexual abuse of children during the late 70's and early 80's.

With 135 recommendations and 80 'Lessons' from the past, the Inquiry calls for a corporate responsibility to protect children in care and and a public acknowledgment that there are risks involved. Staff should feel supported in decisions arising from risk assessments.

Significantly it also called for vacant posts in residential units and children and family teams to be filled - the end of the so-called 'performance factor' that left posts unfilled due to cuts.

The council has already acted on this, on the statement that no-one should be disciplined as a result of what they told the Inquiry, and has accepted all of the recommendations.

"Many of these recommendations are in line with UNISON's evidence to the Inquiry", said John Stevenson Edinburgh UNISON Vice Chair.

"It has been a very full inquiry that sought to address and rectify problems in the system rather than looking for one or two scapegoats. The challenge now is to ensure the lessons are learned."



West Lothian Return 2 Learn presents first awards

UNISON and West Lothian Council have celebrated their Return 2 Learn partnership with an awards ceremony for the first participants.

"I believe it is one of the fine examples of employer and union working in partnership", said Mike Kelly, West Lothian Branch Conditions of Service Officer.

"UNISON has invested heavily in these courses", added Mike who is looking forward to "R2L 1999" to build on the 1998 success of over 100 applications.

Mike is now looking for an annual commitment from the council and the union.

"We both owe it to staff to deliver an environment in which they can shape and deliver their skills", he said.



Bickerstaffe urges Scottish
Parliament to ditch PFI

UNISON General Secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe has called on the Scottish Parliament to ditch PFI, in a speech to the Edinburgh branch AGM last month.

"Scotland's public services should be democratically accountable, best quality and delivered by a public service team", said Rodney.

"PFI cannot deliver on these criteria and should be scrapped or radically reformed. We are calling on the new Scottish Parliament to draw a line under this system and develop new ways of funding essential service facilities", he added.

"Serving Scotland's Taxpayers argues for changes to this costly and secretive method of funding our public services and we will be campaigning for these changes with all the prospective MSPs, political parties and other Scottish organisations".



UNISON couple's Himalayan trek to fight cancer

A UNISONScotland couple are about to set off on a Himalayan trek to raise funds for Cancer Research.

Vicky Crane, who works in the union's membership section in Edinburgh, and her partner Malcolm Cunniffe, a member of the UNISON East of Scotland Water branch, have already collected £4,200 before they depart for Nepal on 1 May.

"I decided to do this as my mum died from cancer at the Western General and Imperial Cancer has a large research unit there. I also thought it would be a once in a lifetime experience to visit such a remote and beautiful region. I have always loved hillwalking in Scotland", explained Vicky.

"I am thrilled at having the opportunity to achieve one of my personal ambitions and trek in the foothills of the Himalayas, knowing that every step is helping the Imperial Cancer Research Fund to find new answers to cancer."

Thirty-three participants from Scotland will join a team of 85 on the trek.

Imperial Cancer Research Fund is the largest cancer research organisation in the UK, employing over 1000 doctors, scientists and technicians dedicated to research into the treatment, prevention and cure of all types of cancer.

Cheques made out to Imperial Cancer Research can still be sent to Vicky c/o UNISON, Douglas House, 60 Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3UQ

Follow them on the Web: Scotland inUNISON is trying to make contact with an ex member who works in Kathmandu in the hope that she will help us post trek updates on the Internet. Check the website for details.



Conference backs carers allowance call

Scotland's call for the union's carers allowance to reimburse the full amount paid was backed by this year's National Womens Conference.

The Womens Committee will now raise the matter with UNISON's National Executive (NEC) to change the policy of a set rate for the first dependant and a lower rate for any additional dependents.

The agenda for Womens Conference was very full and delegates were kept busy from the moment they arrived.

Seminars included Action against Violence Against Women, Harassment & Support in the Workplace, Northern Ireland Women Seen & Heard Project and Proposals for Changes to the Race Relation Act.

Motions were wide ranging from Child Support Agency to Free Sanitary Protection. The main debates were Imprisonment of Teenage Girls, Action Against Violence Against Women and Harassment.

The standard of the speeches was excellent and surprisingly there was little debate as, in the main, there seemed to be a consensus as to how we take forward our concerns.



Protest at bank deal

A UNISON banner formed the backdrop to a demonstration at the Bank of Scotland head office on 12 March against the bank's deal with Pat Robertson, the American 'preacher' who promotes offensive and bizarre sexist, homophobic and racist views.

"We oppose all bigotry and we call on members to search their consciences as to whether they should deal with this bank", UNISON's Tracy Gilbert told the 100 strong crowd.

Earlier SiU editor John Stevenson told Scot FM radio that the bank had "sent an insulting and degrading message to its customers through this deal".



Anne in chair for STUC

Anne Middleton, UNISONScotland Depute Secretary, will chair the Scottish Trade Union Congress in April at the end of her presidential year.

Best wishes to Ann for a good, and well behaved (they'd better be) Congress.

And UNISON looks like keeping the presidential post with Scottish secretary Matt Smith tipped as 1999/2000 President.



Disabled members postcards

The Scottish Disabled Members Group has issued special postcards to try to build its contact list of disabled members - and to recruit new members.

The postcards are available from Regional Officer Carol Judge at the West Campbell Street office (email her at and an internet version is on the UNISONScotland website.



Round the Branch Magazines

Invisible workers undervalued

A new branch magazine came out last month from the recently formed South Glasgow Hospitals Branch. It kicks off with a feature on UNISON's campaign for Administrative and Clerical staff in the NHS, the 'invisible workers'

"Unlike the high profile jobs of doctors and nurses, the contribution of A&C staff to patient care is unseen and too often undervalued", says the Southside UNISON magazine

A packed 12 page issue covers a host of stories and advertises the branch's website at

Design services jobs threat

Argyll & Bute's The UNISON Way leads on the threat of redundancy facing transportation design services staff after the consortium of Argyll & Bute, Perth and Kinross and Stirling lost the contract as managing agents for Scottish Office trunk road development.

It slams a "spurious cost saving exercise by the Scottish Office that takes no account of the loss to the authority or the community".

Below the line review

Renfrewshire's UNISON Feedback runs a busy four page issue covering pay, Single Status and the Serving Scotland campaign.

It runs a major story on the council's 'below the line' report on reviews of posts. The branch has embarked on an appeal because of the uncertainty for staff after three years waiting and the 'unacceptable' benchmarking, evaluation and appeals procedure.

Another new arrival is Dumfries & Galloway's Spark!. A 12 page issue covers advice on applying for regrading, bullying at work, PFI and a critique of privatisation in Social Services.



Thirty years at the Star

UNISON figures were strongly in evidence at a presentation organised by the GPMU and the NUJ in honour of Andrew Clark's thirty years work for the Morning Star.

The union, which has recently bought £500 of shares in the 'paper of the left', has dealt with Andrew for a number of years - both in his position as 'Scottish Correspondent' and as distribution manager. Andrew is a GPMU and NUJ member and was previously in the NUM.

John Stevenson, Chair of UNISON Communications and Campaigns said: "It seemed fitting that we contribute to the presentation to Andrew, who has been 'Mr Morning Star' for so many years. He is even good at 'improving' my quotes!"



Huge support forecast for April 10

Support is strong for UNISON"s major Campaign day in Newcastle on 10 April.
Both at UK and at Scottish level tickets are being sold out and transport booked up.

Tickets for the concert in the Telewest arena are already sold out. The concert, featuring the bands Ash, The Divine Comedy, Space, Travis, Fungus, has taken off amongst young people and is sure to be a 'biggie'.

The Scottish Train (from Glasgow and Edinburgh) going to the March is also rapidly filling up. The Scottish Committee heard last Tuesday that 550 out of 750 tickets have been sold and that several groups are still to be confirmed. A bus (from the same start points) has also been booked to come back later than the train - so that people with concert tickets don't have to leave before its end.

Discussions are going on with disabled delegates who wish to attend, to ensure that they will be able to. Unfortunately, disabled access to the train is very poor - due to the privatised companies use of old rolling stock.

The building of alliances between UNISON (and other trade unions) and campaigning, community and young people's groups has been tremendously successful.

As many of these have charitable status (debarring them from party political activity), and because of UNISON's own code of practice concerning behaviour at demonstrations, it has been unanimously agreed by all the groups who have come together to steer this campaign, that only official campaign material should be carried on the march.

Branches are urged to remind members attending, to support the volunteer stewards on the march, and to appoint their own delegation leader.

The festival event, in the arena car park, will be held in a number of marquees and features music from a variety of bands, celebrity guests, a childrens centre and a market stall 'village'.

Bars and refreshments will be available, catering for all tastes and ages.

Have a great day out!



We want to hear your news

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