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Health Service Group Conference Liverpool 13-15 April 2015

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Scotland wins devolved NHS pay bargaining

Click here for UK site report on decisions

Lucie Fontana: ‘PRB has let down low paid workers’
Margo Cranmer
Margo Cranmer: ‘Obscene rise in registration fees’
Cathy Miller: Support for Northern Ireland strike

After eight years of UK Health Conferences the persistency and consistency of UNISON Scotland finally won through when UNISON voted to devolve how to approach pay bargaining to each of the four nations.

This allows UNISON Scotland to determine whether it believes it is in its members’ best interests to remain in a Pay Review Body or seek direct negotiations with the Scottish Government.

The motion that finally saw this significant change in UNISON policy was moved by Ayrshire and Arran and amended by the Scottish Health Committee and attracted a number of high quality speeches from Scotland.

Lucie Fontana from Ayrshire and Arran spoke passionately on how the Pay Review Body had: “let down low paid NHS workers and was simply an instrument of a Tory government of the wealthy.”

Gordon McKay of the Scottish Health Committee told the conference how UNISON Scotland’s successful bargaining strategy had delivered the living wage in NHS Scotland and meant for example that a Band 3 worker in Scotland was paid £466 a year more than a worker in England doing the same job.

UNISON Scotland has fought off any attempts to reduce sick pay, halt incremental progression or alter job profiling unlike the rest of the UK. “This shows that UNISON Scotland’s industrial strategy has worked”, said Gordon.
Sandra-Dee Masson of the Scottish Health Committee won applause with a passionate speech that assured delegates that UNISON Scotland’s commitment was to work to roll out all of our success stories across the UK.
“UNISON is a family of workers and that it is how it will stay”, said Sandra-Dee.

Lanarkshire delegate and UNISON Scotland convener Lilian Macer reinforced that gains that had been won through hard bargaining and the strength of UNISON.

Lilian listed examples: “Lifetime pay protection, a no compulsory redundancy agreement and family friendly policies such as four weeks of parental leave a full pay, including enhancements, for each child.”

Support for Northern Ireland strike

Cathy Miller of Greater Glasgow and Clyde CVS branch praised UNISON members in Northern Ireland who were on strike and promised them that UNISON Scotland would be there for them if they needed us.

As well as taking the lead as always on pay, Scotland was to the forefront on professional and occupational issues.

Liz Rankin of Greater Glasgow and Clyde CVS moved the composite calling for a salary of no less than the living wage for all pre-registration healthcare students.

Liz said: “85% of student nurses now earn a wage but the problem is they earn it ion fast food outlets, call centres and bars because they cannot live on the miserly bursary from the Scottish Government.”

Tom Cairney of Ayrshire and Arran said it was to the: “shame of our society that we refuse to pay a wage to those people who are going to look after us, our children and our parents when they are at their most vulnerable.”

Campaign against registration fee rise

Margo Cranmer of Lanarkshire moved motions on HPC registration fees and nurse staffing levels. Margo called on the Service Group Executive to: “organise a high profile campaign against the obscene increase in registration fees at the same time as NHS workers have seen their wages cut by 16% in five years.”

Lanarkshire’s Margaret Anne Hunter spoke on NMC revalidation and on the use of agency staff.

“12% of the NHS budget goes on agency and bank staff and this is to the detriment of both staff and patients. This money should be spent on funding permanent jobs”, said Margaret Anne.

Claire Haughey of Greater Glasgow and Clyde CVS spoke passionately on rejecting the Tory vision of the NHS. “There is no place for privatisation of the NHS. UNISON Scotland is always willing to talk with employers on ways of improving services and we do it every day.

“However, any attempt to take any part of the Scottish NHS out of the public sector will be met with a strong and vigorous response from UNISON.”
Healthy eating facilities

Helen Ann Hawkins of Lanarkshire moved the motion on catering services for all NHS staff. Helen told the conference that for the overwhelming part of the working week if NHS staff wanted a hot meal they had to rely on old and dirty microwaves or cold food from under-filled vending machines.

“A health service that wishes to promote healthy eating should see its first duty to provide such facilities to its staff who provide the care for those in need”, she said.

UNISON Scotland once again showed itself at the head of debate, engagement and thinking in the NHS.






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