George McIrvine challenges the #polishambles at Scottish Labour Party Conference

George McIrvine, Labour Link officer and Branch Secretary speaking at the Scottish Labour Party Conference, October 2015

George McIrvine, Labour Link officer and Branch Secretary speaking at the Scottish Labour Party Conference, October 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UNISON Police Staff Scotland's George McIrvine, Labour Link officer and Branch Secretary, spoke to the Scottish Labour Party conference about the issues with the C3 Strategic Direction over the last eighteen months. 

HIs speech, shared here, was part of a debate on Police Scotland brought to the conference by Graeme Pearson 

'Chair, comrades, conference

George McIrvine, UNISON Scotland seconding Aberdeen Central CLP motion on Police Scotland and the call to halt the 'strategic direction' of the Force on the continued closures of local Control Rooms and Service Centres across Scotland. 

Two years ago, a proposal was tabled by Police Scotland to the Scottish Police Authority to seek agreement for a staged approach of control room closures across Scotland. This 'so called' business case had no real detail on why, other than meeting year on year unachievable efficiency savings targets, by this they would require to drastically cut and relocate the loyal workforce.

This approach by Police Scotland has only served to manipulate propaganda stats that show calls from the public are answered quicker than ever before and the service is coping admirably.

The reality is Conference, we have a 24/7 blue light emergency service workforce under continued pressure to perform, shifts woefully under resourced, leading to a vastly increased workload for those that still find themselves in employment and as the recent Police Scotland staff survey showed staff morale and loyalty at its lowest level.

Sadly these factors recently led to the tragic loss of life in the widely reported M9 incident in July which was eventually acknowledged by the Scottish Government when they called on HMICS to review this area of the business and threw £1.4 million of their budget underspend to iron out this particular problem that was causing embarrassment.

We all agree Conference, what we don't want is another incident like the M9.

As the motion states, even with a damning interim report by HMICS, Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority are continuing with the imminent closure of service centres in Dundee and Aberdeen as well as the Control Room in Aberdeen and Inverness. 

UNISON have always said we wholeheartedly disagree with this direction of travel of these planned closures and the centralisation of services. However we continue to support our civilian police staff members through these difficult times and challenge the changes which have been foisted upon the employer because of the uncosted soundbite and outdated manifesto pledge of the 1000 extra cops and the ridiculous  £1.1 billion pounds efficiency savings.

Be mindful Conference, we are only into Year 3 of Police Reform and we seem to be at crisis point, we still have to endure another 11 years of these planned brutal cuts.

UNISON Scotland asks Police Scotland to step back from their blinkered centralisation plans of control rooms / service centres closures, review the situation they find themselves in and consider a different path providing a quality public blue light service engaging with those who know the job best, the workforce. 

More so, we ask this Centralisation mad 'control freakery' Scottish Government the real need to release the handcuffs from the Scottish Police Authority and the Force and allow them the freedom to return Scottish policing to protecting the local community's in which they should be serving.

UNISON Scotland fully support the need for Scottish Labour to commit to develop and sustain an effective local network of emergency control room / services centres across Scotland.

PLEASE SUPPORT"

The motion was supported by conference and a commitment by Scottish Labour

Scottish Police Authority / Police Scotland Opinion Survey - UNISON Statement

The release today (2 October) of the long awaited Staff Survey is a golden opportunity for the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland to genuinely engage with police support staff and for both organisations to genuinely commit to responding and acting on the findings of this staff survey.

The findings of the survey are not a surprise? to UNISON and the UNISON members who work in the service. The fact that over 50% of staff responded demonstrates the massive interest employees have in getting their opinions and voices heard.

George McIrvine, UNISON Police Staff Branch Secretary said: "UNISON has said for a long time that there are major issues that need addressing. The fact that only 9% of staff believe that genuine engagement will result from the survey is deeply concerning. ?33% of staff indicating that they intended leaving the organisation is indicative of a workforce who feel neglected, undervalued and under stress. Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland must act on these outcomes."

Gerry Crawley, UNISON regional organiser and lead negotiator for police support staff in Scotland said: "The Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland have received a clear message from UNISON members who work in the service and are committed to delivering an excellent service to the public in Scotland. And the message is this: Don't under value our roles, don't ignore our issues, listen to our opinions and act on them.

Gerry Crawley added: "Communication is a key area for UNISON and for UNISON members. 23% of staff who responded said that they found out about changes to their role through the media. This is totally unacceptable. The Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland must improve communication with its staff and UNISON will ensure that this is a priority going forward."

Gerry Crawley added: "One of the most concerning statistics to come out of the survey is that only 8% of staff thought the organisation was genuinely interested in staff wellbeing. This must change. And quickly. UNISON will raise this directly with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, the Chair of the Scottish Police Authority and ensure it is a key priority for the new Chief Constable of Scotland as well"

Friday thought: Why join a union? Let me count the ways...

1. Get help if you have a problem at work 
If you feel you've not been treated fairly, or are facing difficulties at work, ask your local UNISON branch for advice. If you're facing a disciplinary hearing or need support at work, we can help. Our local reps draw on the combined knowledge and experience of the whole of UNISON. We can work with you to find a solution.

2. Have a say in how to improve things in your workplace 
UNISON is also there to try to make work a better place. If you have ideas about how to improve work - from better lighting in the car park to more flexible working hours - UNISON gives you a voice. Working together, our collective strength means we can talk with your employer to try to improve things.

3. Make savings on top of this 
Helping you at work is our main concern. But there are lots of other benefits that you are entitled to - cheaper holidays and insurance, financial services, a UNISON credit card, and vehicle breakdown cover. UNISON welfare, our own registered charity provides support for UNISON members and dependants at times of special need.

4. Undervalued?
You earn more in a unionised workplace
 
Average earnings are higher in unionised workplaces. UNISON stands up for your rights as a higher education worker to a fair wage and a decent standard of living. If you're a member, you'll get a say in the claims we put forward to your employers.

5. Deserve a break?
You get more annual leave in a unionised workplace
 
The average trade union member in the UK gets over 25% more annual leave a year, compared with a non-unionised worker. This is because trade unions like UNISON have fought a better working life on behalf of members.

6. At risk?
You're less likely to be injured in a unionised workplace
 
All employers have a legal duty to provide a safe workplace, but the union has trained health and safety officers to make sure employers stick to their legal obligations.

If you get injured at work, UNISON will help you pursue a case for compensation from your employer. Unions won over £321 million in compensation for people who were injured or became ill at work in 2000.

UNISON successfully fought for increased compensation for nursery nurse, Lisa Potts, who was seriously injured while protecting children in her care from a horrific machete attack. "I'd only just become a member. Funny enough one of the other nursery nurses said I should join in case anything ever happens," recalls Lisa, who was only 21 when the attack happened. "I'm so glad I filled in those forms. Without UNISON it would have been very difficult for me, especially legally. I'm always telling people they should join a union."

We've also helped people involved in more commonplace accidents. Only last year Norman Thurrell, an ambulance worker, received £140,000 as compensation when he lost his job as the result of a serious back injury.

7. Moving on?
You get more and better training
 
Workers in unionised workplaces are more likely to receive job-related training. Since 1994 UNISON has reached agreements with employers to pay for courses and give paid time off for employees to attend them.

"The UNISON leaflet for the Return to Learn course came through my door at the right moment," says Pauline Jones, an Occupational Therapy (OT) Assistant in West Yorkshire. "I've recently become a single parent with young children, and now I'm the main breadwinner I want to set things up for when they're older. Eventually I want to take on a Senior Clinical OT role in the health service. But it's a bit daunting going back into studying - I left school at 16 and I haven't done any studying since. This course has given me that bit more confidence. I'd certainly recommend it to anyone." As a result of the Return to Learn course, Pauline now feels ready to take the next step on her career path.

8. Time to adjust?
You get more maternity leave, paternal and carer leave
 
Unionised workplaces are much more likely to have maternity, paternal and carer leave policies in place which are more generous than the statutory minimum. UNISON can negotiate better leave policies at local level and help you achieve a better work/life balance.

9. No respect?
You're less likely to be discriminated against in a unionised workplace
 
UNISON campaigns against all forms of discrimination - including age, disability, race, gender, sexual orientation. We have successfully led the campaign for tougher anti-discrimination laws being introduced in the workplace.

10. Keep public services public 
UNISON continues to work to protect all our public services, including schools, colleges and universities from all forms of privitisation, including PFI, cuts and contracting out.

Our members are the people who provide the services the public depends on. We have succeeded in winning pay and employment protections for staff transferred to the private sector. We work to improve the working conditions of our members within the public sector. Join us in our campaign to keep services public and strengthen the voice of public sector workers.

Branch Development

The branch executive are gathered in Stirling today discussing the future of the branch in a national police service, the key objectives for the branch assessment and the fight we face over the next year.

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Yes to workers' rights. No to austerity Manchester, Sunday 4 October 2015

As Conservative Party Conference meets in Manchester this year, thousands of trade union members and supporters will march through the city, taking a clear message to the Conservative Party about their Government's damaging programme of austerity and their attacks on the rights of working people and their unions.

Check back here for updates. See the links on the right for the UNISON UK rally pages with resources, leaflets, web graphics etc and the TUC rally pages for news and updates.