UNISON Labour Link Scotland nominate Richard Leonard MSP

UNISON Labour Link Scotland today (Tuesday) decided to nominate Richard Leonard MSP in the election for a new Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

This followed a consultation with branch Labour Link officers which came out overwhelmingly in favour of his nomination.

UNISON Labour Link Scotland Chair Gordon McKay said:

“UNISON Labour Link is pleased to nominate Richard Leonard. He has consistently supported our values and understands that we need real and bold change in Scotland. We share Richard’s vision of a society based on full employment in a sustainable economy, funding properly our public services, providing dignity for our pensioners and hope for our young.”

It is time for real pay rises for all public service workers

Opening the debate on public sector pay today (Monday) at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “For millions of public service workers struggling to survive, there is no more pressing issue than lifting the pay cap.

“They’ve suffered years of brutal austerity and vicious attacks on public services, overseen by a government that does not care what damage it causes to people’s lives.

“In the first six years of Conservative rule, public sector pay rose by just 4%, while the cost of living soared by 22%.

“So for every year that’s a pay cut, and every pay slip is a painful reminder for those struggling to get by and to afford the basics.

“The Conservatives call it prudence and restraint – I call it inhuman.

“The care worker who can’t afford the bus back from work, the nurse relying on a local foodbank, and the teaching assistant forced to apply for pay day loans – frightened that if her boiler finally packs up this winter, her family is a cold snap away from disaster.

“These are not tales of pity or tales of woe. This is about real lives – the lives of the millions of people who work for all of us and who ask for nothing more than dignity, respect and a fair share.

“Thanks to this Conservative government, a quarter of UNISON members – 300,000 public service employees – don’t know how they would pay for an unexpected expense. More than three-quarters of them are buying less food and one in ten are missing entire meals to feed their children.

“This is an outrage, and it’s getting worse. Inflation is three times the level of pay rises. People face spiralling debts that are impossible to repay.

“It’s immoral – which is why we’re delighted that the Labour Party will today announce plans for a cap on credit card debt. And why we welcome the commitment in Labour’s magnificent manifesto to scrapping the pay cap.

“But we can do so much better than that. Scrapping the cap is not enough. We must fight for real funding and real change.

“Real, above inflation pay rises for all public servants every year until pay is back at the level it was before the Conservatives strangled our public services.

“That must be the minimum that we demand because yes it’s about the police officer, but it’s also about the police community support officers. Yes it’s about nurses, but it’s also about care workers, social workers, ambulance staff and healthcare assistants. Yes it’s about teachers – but it’s also about teaching assistants, school meals staff and caretakers.

“All of them, together, have borne the brunt of Conservative austerity. All of them together have fought against cutbacks. All of them together know that better pay means better public services.

“So this fight starts now. We need the whole Labour Party, MPs, councillors, mayors, every constituency to stand with us – and if the time comes to take strike action I want to see everyone with us on picket lines.

“This is a struggle for the many not just the few. Now is the time to stand strong and stand united. It’s time to put public services first and to put pay up now.”


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:

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


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.


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  

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.’

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.


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

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.