National Suicide Prevention Week

This week we have seen a lot of focus on mental health and suicide prevention.  Sadly last year 728 people in Scotland took their own life.

 

Police Scotland launched it's 'Wellbeing Matters' campaign on Tuesday 5th September at the Senior Leaders Forum and this initiative will be supported by a team of Wellbeing Champions across the organisation from the 18th September.  These champions have been trained and have a greater awareness of the various support services within the organisation and can guide individuals to the help they might need.  A full list of champions will be published on the Intranet from the 18th September.

 

However, we can all do something.  If you are concerned about a friend, relative, colleague then ask them directly about their feelings.  Even if they appear to be carrying on with life as normal, if you notice signs of distress it will not do any harm to ask them, sometimes all they need is someone to listen.  You can also advise them to contact the Employee Assistance Programme on 0800 531 6091 if they are an employee or family member.  Encourage them to contact their GP for an emergency appointment or call NHS Direct on 111.

 

For further information then please look at the NHS Choose Life web page.

MANIFESTO FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN SCOTLAND 2017

Launched at UNISON Scottish council on Saturday 1 April 2017 this is the UNISON Scotland manifesto for the local government elections on 4 May 2017.

Our manifesto calls for sustainable funding for local government, so it can take meaningful accountable decisions which can make a real difference to local needs. Rather than just protecting local services.

Local government have borne the brunt of austerity and this must stop. The next round of cuts will be even worse for local government with more jobs and service cuts planned. A staggering 91% of public sector jobs losses in Scotland since the crash have been in local government. That’s 30,000 jobs cut in Scottish local government since 2009.

UNISON welcomes the end of the council tax freeze and calls on councils to actively explore a comprehensive programme of refinancing which could save billions across Scotland.

UNISON manifesto also calls for:  planned expansion in early years to be delivered by the public sector as it is the most cost effective way forward; investment in social care with direct monitoring of care services and sufficient weighting to fair work in contracts and adoption with UNISON Ethical Care Charter; protection of social work budgets; a massive social housing programme; creating jobs to refurbish housing stock and do something about the 940,000 homes in Scotland; investment in library services and facilities.

See and download the full manifesto here:
http://www.unison-scotland.org/library/Local-Government-Manifesto-2017-interactive.pdf

UNISON members reject 1% pay offer

Today (12th January 2017) UNISON Police Staff Scotland branch advised the SPA and Police Scotland the result of theconsultative ballot of their membership who have voted to strongly reject the employers most recent pay offer by an overwhelming 92%.

 

Branch Secretary George McIrvine said, “This result indicates the strength of feeling amongst our members and the employer must listen to this collective voice, take us seriously and get round a table so we can work out a better deal. Our members living costs are increasing in very real terms and their pay is a long way behind as year on year they are held to the minimum allowed in the public sector pay policy. Police staff continue to feel the pain of Police Scotlands integrationwhich has yet to deliver a fair and equatable pay model for staff and we’ll be waiting on that for a few years yet.”

 

After delivering the outcome of the consultative ballot on Thursday UNISON was disappointed to find that the SPA had made no provision for negotiations in the likelihood of a wholesale rejection.

 

“The only way forward for the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland is negotiation, “ said UNISON Regional Organiser Gerry Crawley, “True and meaningful negotiation that results in an offer which treats our members fairly and recognises their value rather than with the contempt they have been shown in recent years. Until the employer is ready to negotiate and sets out a clear timetable for such, UNISON will not participate in any further JNCC meetings.”

 

UNISON Police Staff Scotland await a reply from the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) on when they will begin negotiations.

UNISON STRONGLY RECOMMEND POLICE STAFF REJECT LATEST PAY OFFER

UNISON Police Staff Scotland, the branch of UNISON representing Police Support Staff, informed the Scottish Police Authority today (8 December) that they are recommending its members reject the employers pay offer for 2016/17.

The offer made by the employer is no better than the the Scottish Government’s Public Sector Pay Policy and does not meet our reasonable demands and what our members expect. The Police Staff Branch will now run a consultative ballot over Christmas to gauge the strength of feeling of the members.

George McIrvine, Branch Secretary said, “Our members are not being paid appropriately for the work they do and the pressures they have been under since Police Scotland came into being in 2013. Average wages across the UK are on the increase.  And the rise in the cost of living, rate of inflation, National Insurance contributions are all impacting on take home pay, and yet our members are expected to cope on a miserly 1% pay rise. The employers delayed offer to our members is frankly derisory”

Gerry Crawley, UNISON regional organiser said, “There were no formal negotiations with the trade unions which has unfortunately led to this outcome. UNISON submitted a reasonable pay claim which has been rejected outright by the Scottish Police Authority. I do not think the employer really understands the day to day pressures our members are under. It is the employers’ financial mismanagement that has ultimately led to problems with budgets and Police Staff are the people who are bearing the brunt through brutal cuts. It is all the more frustrating when the Scottish Police Authority have not explored all options open to them.”

Remembering Eric

Eric Roberts was our President, but more importantly he was a loyal and true friend to so many of us

Eric Roberts

 

Eric Roberts, a lifelong servant of our union, and of those in greatest need, has died after a brief struggle with cancer.

He was the President of UNISON, but more importantly he was a loyal and true friend to so many of us.

Born in Litherland, a proud Scouser and Liverpool fan, Eric was a man who lived enough – and had stories to tell – for more than one lifetime. From fixing drums for the Beatles, to wine waiter, baker and pots and pans seller – Eric eventually found his way to London. And one day, seeing an ambulance shooting down Oxford Street, he decided that’s what he’d like to do.

He had found his calling. For 42 years he served the London Ambulance Service with the passion and dedication for which he became well-known, and his union as branch secretary, NEC member and – this year – our President. He was the first ambulance person to be elected as UNISON President – something that I know was a source of immense pride to Eric, his branch, his family and everyone who knew him.

Eric wasn’t someone who sought out high office. Ambition wasn’t what drove him. Instead, it was an unstoppable desire – a need – to serve people and help people. To represent them and to do his best for them.

To Eric, everyone in the union and the ambulance service had a part to play – and every day he did his job to the best of his ability, and brought out the best in others at the same time. His loyalty to this union was as unquestionable and unswerving as his love for its members.

I will miss his honesty. I will miss his infectious personality. But most of all I will miss his friendship. Eric Roberts was a good man who gave so much to so many people. Eric said upon his election as President that UNISON was the “best union in the country”, but the truth is that Eric was the best of us.

Today, our thoughts are with his children Jack and Rhian, family, friends and colleagues, as our union mourns one of our biggest personalities, most loved friends and most powerful advocates for the values that sustain our union.

Eric Roberts – I will miss you.

Dave Prentis 25 Novemeber 2016

Your tributes

UNISON is collecting tributes to Eric – if you would like to add your own please do so below or email action@unison.co.uk

Justice Sub-Committee on Policing Financial Planning 2017-18 Written submission from UNISON Scotland

Introduction

UNISON Scotland is the main trade union for police staffs in Scotland.

It is difficult to comment on financial planning for next year when we are still unclear what the budget provisions are for this year. In fact, it would be fair to say that we are unclear what financial planning has been undertaken, or what the outstanding budget deficit actually is. Our police staffs branch is meeting Police Scotland on Wednesday 23 November 2016 to discuss this year’s budget.

It is extraordinary in our experience for any public service to have this form of detailed discussion about a budget more than seven months into the financial year. It is all the more concerning when we understand there is a significant deficit and in recent years, due to the cosmetic target for police officer numbers, the brunt of cuts have fallen on police staffs.

Financial Impact

As Police Scotland struggles to balance the books and meet the necessary efficiency savings an atmosphere of uncertainty and a lack of a clear future for police staff continues to grow.

The quick fix solution to the service’s financial problems has been to the detriment of service to the public and our members. Business areas are quickly restructured to release staff; properties are lined up for sale with little consultation or forward planning to deliver an effective policing service.

The immediate response to the creation of Police Scotland and the budgetary demands placed on the new organisation, resulted in nearly 2000 police staff jobs shed under the auspices of a voluntary redundancy and retirement package. Many experienced and loyal workers no longer felt they were in the same job, no longer felt treated fairly and equally in relation to their police officer colleagues, and therefore chose to leave the service.

We are now informed that recruitment is needed to bolster staff such as in the Contact, Command and Control Division. We would normally welcome such much needed recruitment, but are mindful that these “new” numbers required are the same numbers of staff we had before the closure of Dumfries, Stirling, Glenrothes centres and the forthcoming closures at Dundee and Aberdeen. Public money has been spent on redundancies when the roles are very much required to meet service demand.

Our members continue to work on legacy force terms and conditions and different levels of pay for doing the same jobs across Scotland. The modernisation project staggers and delays in trying to bring all employers onto one set of terms and conditions and onto one pay scale. Next year will see the first outcome of that project, the move of members of staff onto one leave period across Scotland running from the 1st of April to the 31st of March annually. This is the one and only outcome from this project since the inception of Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority in 2013.

The worry among our members as they continue to see media coverage of the budgetary shortfalls and failings of their employer is that there will be no money to deliver a harmonisation of pay, an annual pay rise, or resources to recognise the pressures of carrying an increased workload due to reduced staffing numbers. There has been no recognition of going that extra mile, making it all work and a real concern that there is no indication of what a Voluntary Redundancy/Early Retirement Package may look like for 2017/18.

Best Value

The SPA and Police Scotland is under a statutory duty to provide Best Value .

Cuts in police staff numbers has resulted in police officers backfilling jobs of police staff, which fails the Best Value requirement in a number of ways:

  • police officers are more expensive,
  •  they don't have the specialised training for the jobs of police staff,
  • it effectively removes them from their own role,
  •  the high turnover and transience of police officers in backfilled posts breeds inconsistency and instability. Once embedded within the organisational culture and structural design this leads to inefficiency.

Any financial planning for 2017/18 needs to be based on Best Value principles and include a balanced workforce.

Conclusion

Our police staffs branch has had no financial update and has been excluded from finance and investment meetings, despite being a key stakeholder. Any SPA pretence about openness and transparency has been abandoned.

Our members are the service, its very backbone and yet they see no improvement in their working conditions as they continue to be the target of measures to address overspending or underfunding elsewhere. They feel they are the second class citizens in our police family.

Dave Watson 21 November 2016  

PUBLIC SERVICES AND THE GOOD SOCIETY

This is UNISON Scotland’s manifesto for the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. It calls on everyone in Scotland to vote for who they think is most likely to invest in public services.

UNISON manifesto says that investing in public services essential if we are to build a sustainable economy and a decent society.

We must defend the principles which underlie public services. To build the better Scotland we all want we must invest in public services but also make them more accountable and responsive to our individual needs.

UNISON is calling for, an immediate end to the council tax freeze, a reformed progressive property tax and councils should be able to raise more of its own funding; properly funded procurement policies so the third sector is not viewed as a cheap alternative to health and local government funding; stop cutting the support for learning and administration in schools which simply burdens on other staff; a balanced police workforce and an end to the arbitary political pledge on police number; water to remain publicly owned to stop the gradual privatisation of the service; strengthen the voice of the service users and staff in the design of health services.

When launching this manifesto Lilian Macer, UNISON Scotland convenor, said, ‘Public services are an expression of all that is good whether that is the joint decision making, expression of a community, solidarity between people and generations, and the idea that we all have a mutual obligation towards each other.

Public services are not optional they are essential to a civilised society. They hold our society together and make our lives healthier safer, cleaner, more secure, and fun. If we believe in a more equal society we must invest in public services and those who deliver them.’http://www.unison-scotland.org/library/Manifesto-public-services-and-the-good-society-201://http://www.unison-http://www.unison-scotland.org/library/Manifesto-public-services-and-the-good-society-2016.pdf.org/library/Manifesto-public-services-and-the-good-society-2016.p.unison-scotland.org/library/Manifesto-public-services-and-the-good-society-2016.p

A BALANCED WORKFORCE FOR POLICING THAT DELIVERS

Since the establishment of Police Scotland police staff have borne the brunt of a process of centralisation, budget cuts and politically driven targets. This process has been bad for policing, bad for communities and bad for staff. UNISON Scotland calls for policing in Scotland to be properly resourced with a balanced workforce responsive to locally determined priorities.

The new Chief Constable has said he is committed to developing a “sustainable operating model”. Cutting millions from budgets and demanding the same, or more, work from a dwindling number of Police staff is not a “sustaining operating model”. UNISON Scotland is opposed to neither change nor efficiency, but cutting tens of millions from budgets year on year cannot continue without adversely impacting on policing. Those who seek to govern Scotland should also seek to ensure that Scotland’s Police Service is adequately resourced to keep Scotland safe.

Civilian staff have been cut by over 2000 since 2010 – a 1 in 4 decrease police staff jobs. Many of these posts are just backfilled by more expensive police officers. This has driven a reversal of progress in civilianisation over many years and a centralisation agenda. The political target of 1000 extra uniformed officers has been clearly shown to have been detrimental to standards and efficiency across Police Scotland – resulting in less qualified, higher paid, uniformed officers carrying out work which could more effectively be performed by police staff. We should not forget that the Scottish Police Authority has a statutory duty to ensure ‘Best Value’. Substituting police officers for civilian staff is not ‘Best Value’.

http://www.unison-scotland.org/library/Police-Minifesto-2016-3-1.pdf

UNISON Police Staff Scotland Seminar

Delegates attending Police Staff Scotland seminar in Stirling for the next two days with guest speakers, Derek Penman, Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland and Tina Yule, HMICS Lead Inspector this morning and Phil Gormley, Chief Constable of Police Service of Scotland and Nicola Marchant, Chair of HRRC.

Tomorrow's guest speaker is Michael Mathieson, Cabinet Secretary for Justice.


UNISON calls day of action to defend local government services

UNISON Scotland’s largest trade union has called a day of action (Thursday 11 February) to campaign against cuts in local services and jobs

UNISON members are holding demonstrations, campaigns and lobbying to call on the UK government and the Scottish Government to use its powers to end austerity.

Local government has taken the brunt of cuts in Scotland. Of the 50,000 job losses in devolved services 40,000 have been in local government and we now expect 15,000 more jobs to go over the next few years.

Mark Ferguson, chair of UNISON local government committee said,‘ There are another 15,000 job cuts in the pipeline for local government in Scotland. This means more drastic cuts to services for vulnerable people across Scotland.

We are calling on all Councils to give assurances that there will be no compulsory redundancies in Scottish councils. Any council that tries to manage this situation by sacking workers will find themselves facing strike action. We are looking for councillors to stand up for their staff.

Councils already have contingency plans drawn up to cut hours and close services  across the country. This is despite the fact that the need for these services is greater han ever. The cuts in services will be real cuts. We have reports of services for people with learning disabilities being closed, day centres for older people closing, school support workers being cut leading to poorer education services. These cuts will have a really harmful impact on local communities and especially the most vulnerable.

It’s also the damage to local economies when so many jobs go. For some communities these job losses will be very difficult to bear. The loss of jobs also means a loss of opportunity for young people seeking a career in local government in the future. We are also concerned about  the stresses on the staff left behind as they try to deliver more services with less resource to go round. The Scottish Government must use all the powers it has and increase funding for local government.’

Save our services – where our campaign’s going in 2016

The local services we all benefit from need our help

After five years of relentless austerity, local authorities across the UK have been put in an impossible position, forced to make unfair cuts to libraries, buses, social care, leisure centres – the list goes on.

The funding that councils get from Westminster – either directly or through a devolved government – to spend on local services continues to fall. At the same time, rising demand for support from vulnerable groups like older people, the homeless and children puts even more pressure on council finances.

And this is hard for local government workers to deal with. My job as an officer for council staff in UNISON has brought me face to face with council workers who’ve told me about the stress of trying to look after the communities they serve as budgets are cut time after time.

The local services that we all benefit from will need our help if they are going to survive the next five years of cuts under a Tory government. It is vital that we, as UNISON activists and campaigners, speak up for our members who risk losing their jobs and service users who could be left stranded by further cuts.

This year, the save our services (SOS) campaign will help branches, activists and members, working with their communities, to raise awareness of the impact of cuts locally and campaign to save local services. We will also continue to expose the devastation the cuts have caused in services and communities in our Damage reports.

This blog is the new home of SOS campaign news. Keep checking back for the latest information and advice on local campaigning and news on the impact of cuts on local government across the UK.

Find out more about the funding crisis in local government in our ‘The issue’ and ‘Resources’ pages, and follow the SOS campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

Most importantly, we want to hear from you! Tell us about a local service that has been cut in your community and how it has affected you in ‘Tell us your story’. If you’ve been part of a successful campaign against cuts to council services, tell us about it in our survey.

Join our fight to save local services in 2016!

Are you up to date?

Keeping your UNISON membership details up to date ensures that you are kept up to date with the latest communications and activities of the branch. In this time of large organisational change it is likely you will have moved job or location, your post title has changed or maybe your personal circumstances have changed in relation to name or address.

If you navigate to www.my.unison.org.uk and log in with your membership number (and if you don't have that to hand you can contact us at the branch 0141 353 3625 or email branch@unisonpolicestaffscotland.org) and check over your details and provide us with any amendments that need made.

With the greatest challenge to us as union coming in 2016 in the form of modernisation we will be looking to actively communicate with you, the membership, as frequently as is possible.


UNISON Scotland to lobby Holyrood on Trade Union Bill

Following the successful lobby of Westminster by UNISON activists on the 2nd of November UNISON Scotland are organising a similar lobby at the Scottish Parliament on the 10th of November.

The Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament

The Trade Union Bill is a ferocious attack on almost every aspect of trade unionism. It shifts the balance of power in workplaces further to the advantage of employers and away from workers, whether they are in a union or not. It is fundamentally an attack on core trade union activity: facility time, check off, and the ability of unions to underpin collective bargaining with a credible right to strike. It subjects unions to unprecedented levels of civil and criminal penalties, red tape, and monitoring by the Certification Officer. It proposes to curtail unions’ abilities to fund political activities and campaigns

UNISON Police Staff Scotland fully intend to take part along with our brothers and sisters from across all the Scottish branches.