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Scotland in UNISON



Wednesday 21 June REPORTS 2



Challenge to defend public services

Mike KirbyUNISON has mapped out a realistic but challenging programme of work looking at how to address public service reform across the board, protecting our interests not only as public service workers but also as public service users.

With the misdirection of extra funds for public services, and pessimistic forecasts for the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review, it is even more important that UNISON effectively campaigns to protect our public services.

This programme will build on the Positively Public Campaign, and look at how the Political Fund can be used to its best effect. "Public Services! Properly Funded. Through taxation. Universally available. And Democratically controlled”, was the call from Scotland's Mike Kirby.

"Our experience shows us that public services must be run on ethical lines, integrity, openness, accountability, competence and equality.” Revitalise In Scotland's 'Revitalising Our Public Services' manifesto launched in preparation for next year's local government and Scottish Parliament elections, "we call for democracy, partnership, fairness, investment and excellence.”

Mike explained there has been progress - democracy strengthened by voting reform; partnership, a positive approach in many of Scotland's services and supported by our Memorandum of Understanding with the Executive; fairness illustrated by positive efforts to improve recruitment and retention and increase staffing levels and in lifelong learning.

"But there is much to do to secure the culture change to real accountability. There is much to do to get Government's head out of the sand and accept its share of responsibility to achieve equal pay, finance past discrimination settlements and to secure a fair deal on pensions. The pursuit of excellence does not require more scrutiny regimes but a better engagement with staff unions.”

In light of recent criticism of public spending, Mike defended public sector institutions as critical to the success of the British economy, "Through infrastructure, human and technological resources public services are an economic lever.”

The way forward is through "Partnerships, co-operation and public service networks pooling resources, sharing capacity and working to common action plans rather than wasteful and debilitative reorganisations.”

Mike warned, "But public service networks and shared services do provide an organisational and bargaining challenge which we must address if efficiency is to mean more than a threat to jobs. We need to build upon good examples and provide bargaining support to branches.”

Good practice

Wendy Nichols, Regional Convenor, Yorkshire and Humberside Region admired Scotland and Wales different attitude to public services. The Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Executive stood as pillars of good practice, particularly in terms of their relationship with stakeholders like UNISON.

It was a shame that, "England still endured the Thatcherite madness of privatisation and the obscenely wasteful Private Finance initiative when our neighbours in the North and West are able to have far more democratic accountability in the way their public services are run. How can driving down wages, making redundancies and maximising profits to shareholders possibly lead to improved public services?” asked a visibly puzzled Wendy.


After 39 years Neil retires

Neil  McGregorEast Renfrewshire's Neil McGregor has been a member for 39 years and active for most of that time. The 'BigYin' is about to reach that great milestone which may be denied to some of us - Retirement before 56 with a pension.

He has been a treasurer at East Renfrewshire since before it started. It is said he is a born treasurer. Who could disagree he is forever saying that 'you will not get your expenses if they are not signed'. Neil's Mantra is misery never takes a holiday.

However, since I have known him he has always been a great friend and a most reliable activist. It is no surprise to know that over 90% of the finance services staff at ERC are members of UNISON due to Neil's work. Neil's retirement ‘do' is in St Vincent's Crescent Bowling Club on Friday 30th June 2006 - Why not come along and celebrate with him.

Gerry Green, Chair East Renfrewshire Branch

(PS. We hear he is so fastidious about the branch's funds that he adds to them every time he finds coins on the floor. He found dozens this week before he discovered he had a hole in his pocket.)



Remember, as Chair of Finance, John Flynn's message to conference 2003 was SPEND, SPEND, SPEND? Well you did!

You helped raise over £16,000 for John's part in the New Zealand Cycle Ride, which all went to designated charities. Still a couch potato, still overweight and 3 years older, but still as dedicated and helpful, he is decided to do the 'Cycle Nova Scotia' in September.

His commitment to UNISON Welfare and our members has never wavered but he needs your help. Branches and individuals probably have more call on their funds than ever before, but if you feel you can support John and UNISON Welfare, it would be appreciated.

Please send donations or messages (clean ones only!) to:- John Flynn, 15 Bramley Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham B27 6TR.

Nancy Coull - Past President