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.’
Winter fuel grants are available again for UNISON members who are having difficulty meeting their heating bills.
The grants, which are available from the union’s independent welfare charity, There for You, are particularly timely after recent price rises by all the major energy companies. They consist of a one-off payment of up to £40.
The process will be very similar to previous years and an amount of money has been ring-fenced to support this initiative. This is a fixed sum and we are unable to make further grants once it is allocated.
Members who wish to apply for a grant can download an application form from the website.
Completed applications need to be sent to There for You, UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London, NW1 2AY, to be received by Friday 28 February at the latest.
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.
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!
UNISON local branches across Scotland are calling on Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, to meet UNISON members to hear about the damage Government policies are having on local government and to discuss the future of local services.
UNISON is the biggest trade union in local government and branch secretaries from across Scotland have written to the First Minister calling on her to intervene. UNISON has real and acute concerns about the state of local government in Scotland, brought on by both UK Government austerity and Scottish Government policy towards local government.
Douglas Black, UNISON regional organiser for local government in Scotland said:
"John Swinney’s spending review in December 2015 was met with disbelief by UNISON members. Local Government has borne the brunt of public sector cuts since 2008. Of the 50,000 jobs lost in devolved services, 40,000 have been in local government. And John Swinney’s latest budget means we will see many more cuts in local services and upwards of 10,000 more job losses.
"The situation is serious. Services are being privatised, community based services are stopping, grants to the voluntary sector are being slashed, caring services can provide only minimum client contact time, and we are seeing significant rises in charges for other services such as burials, school meals and leisure pursuits. This cannot continue. The First Minister must meet UNISON members to hear about the real damage being caused and to discuss the future of Scotland’s local services."
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 email@example.com) 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 is calling on DCC Neil Richardson to meet with them to discuss his plans for further job cuts after his words at the Justice Committee of 1st December, wherein he stated it would be wrong of him to say there won’t be further reduction in staff.
George McIrvine, UNISON Police Staff Scotland branch secretary said: ”They have no real strategy as to how they are going to achieve this years savings never mind the next 11 years and that's quite apparent with the current £25 million blackhole. It's not best value for the public purse and it's not what the rank and file officers signed up to do.
We now see a civilian staff workforce who have young family, rent, mortgages and debt; they therefore need to work for the foreseeable future. Redundancy is no longer an option to the majority.
Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority will either have to look at making cuts elsewhere to their budget instead of focussing it all on a small percentage of the civilian staff workforce or finally admit they cannot achieve the Scottish Governments efficiency savings. Chief Constables in England & Wales have been spoken out about such unrealistic goals and budget cuts, why can't Scottish senior police officers do the same?”
DCC Neil Richardson also denied there was any formal policy of backfilling vacant staff jobs with police officers but that the practice does occur as UNISON has often said in the past. He states that this was not a planned approach and yet some may ask why it has to occur at all, if a job still needs done why is the staff member leaving on voluntary redundancy?
Civilian staff have been cut by 2,243 since 2010 - that’s over 1 in 4 police staff jobs already been cut by 2010 – and many of the posts are just backfilled by more expensive police officers.
UNISON feels it is past time for the senior leadership of Police Scotland to recognise that to keep people safe a realistic and achievable plan engaging all key stakeholders is needed and it is incumbent upon the next Chief Constable to make that happen. UNISON has said it is willing to work with him to keep people safe.
The Police Staff Scotland branch nominated Heather Wakefield for General Secretary because she knows what needs to change to make our union more effective she is a credible and experienced woman in a union which is three quarters women.
If you are a UNISON member and haven't received a ballot paper - or if you have lost it - you can get one by phoning 08000857857 or Textphone 08000967968.
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 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.
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.
The motion was supported by conference and a commitment by Scottish Labour
Join the TUC and union members from all over the country coming together to lobby and rally against the trade union bill on Monday 2 November 2015, Central Hall, Westminster (rally) and the House of Commons (lobby of parliament).
This is a big opportunity to make sure MPs hear directly from people who are worried that the bill will undermine the right to strike and risk public safety and service quality. We’ll meet up at Central Hall in Westminster to hear some inspirational speakers, and then in groups head off to the House of Commons to meet our MPs and explain why they should vote against the bill. The rally will kick off at 1pm and the lobby at 2.30pm. More information to come soon.
The latest issue of Scotland In UNSION is available to view as a PDF online at the following link http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/siu/oct15/siuoct15.pdf
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"
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.
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.
UNISON Police Staff Scotland, the UKs largest Police & Justice Branch, today placed their full support behind Heather Wakefield to be the first female General Secretary of our great trade union.
George McIrvine, Branch Secretary, said, "After much debate the Branch have overwhelmingly placed their support and faith in Heather Wakefield to take forward the challenges facing policing both in Scotland and the UK. The threat of more job losses, a crisis of confidence in the Police service and the low morale of the workforce need to be effectively addressed and challenged and this Branch feel that Heather is the right person for the job.
It was felt there needs to be a change of direction and action at the top and today the 1st of October 2015 the branch has voted in favour of this."
UNISON is urging all activists and members to get involved in its campaign to get the government to drop the Trade Union Bill and protect facility time – the time UNISON volunteers use to do their union-related work.
All UNISON activists know the valuable role trade union reps play in public services.
Our unpaid stewards enable meaningful consultation and negotiation to take place, improve workplace relations and employers’ reputations, make early interventions to prevent grievances escalating into more serious problems and save jobs during restructuring and redundancy processes.
Facility time pays dividends for both employers and staff.
The Trade Union Bill includes new powers requiring all public sector employers to publish information on the amount of money used for trade union facilities, including paid time off for local representatives.
It also gives the government the power to introduce a cap on the amount of money public authorities can spend on facility time.
The cap could also apply to different trade union duties and activities, such as health and safety, workplace learning and representing members.
UNISON believes this attack will damage workplace productivity, employee wellbeing and constructive relationships in the workplace.
It will shift the balance of power away from all employees, whether in a union or not, and reduce the ability of working people to have a voice in the workplace.
Trade union activity provides staff with a way to voice their experiences and mechanisms for resolving grievances and disputes whether informally or through collective bargaining.
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.
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.
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