Archive | June, 2012

Unite Scotland & The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – Edinburgh Fringe & Special Events

19 Jun

Unite Scotland is dipping its toe into the arts this summer!  We’re delighted to help sponsor Townsend Production’s new two handed version of Stephen Lowe’s play based on the classic Tressell book, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.

The play will be running everyday at the Edinburgh Fringe from 1st – 27th August, 12PM at the Assembly George Square Two. Tickets can be purchased online now.

The inspiration and roots of Tressell’s story are fuelled by anger at increasing political ineptitude and social inequality and the need for an alternative, a better way. Arguably, many of the story’s key themes still resonate over a century later; the game hasn’t changed much since 1914.

We’re hoping this play provokes curiosity and questioning in the audience of the world we live in today and how the levers of power are controlled, whether you are a trade unionist or not.  Above all, it’ll be a really enjoyable show!

As part of our work with Townsend Productions we’re also excited to host two events in advance of the play’s run which we’re calling: Revisiting the themes of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ An evening of working class debate, entertainment, beer & sandwiches.

These events will be free and open to all on a first come first serve basis until the respective venue capacities are reached. They will take place on:

  • Thursday 5th July, John Smith House (5th floor), 145-165 West Regent Street, Glasgow, G2 4RZ, from 6PM to 9PM.
  • Tuesday 31st July, Committee Room 1, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, from 6PM to 9PM.

We’ll have speakers discussing the contemporary political and social relevance of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, encouraging debate from the audience on the parallels between the 1900s and today’s Britain, and we’ll have live enactments from the play for your entertainment…we’ll also provide the beer and sandwiches!

  • To confirm your attendance at the Glasgow event, please contact Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns Unit on 07810157931 or

You can also get all the up to date information on the play via:

twitter @raggedtour A5 Hertford on the frontBack of Leaflet GOLD MAY 2012


Ideas from the ‘Lost Generation’ – Unite solutions to UK youth unemployment

18 Jun

Unite Policy Conference 2012 – Unite Scotland Fringe Event

Monday 25th June 2012, Brighton Centre, Top Floor Restaurant, 12.30 – 2PMLost Generation lflt 140612-1

Youth unemployment in the UK is spiralling out of control with more than 1 million 16-24 year olds (over 22.5%) across the UK out of work, the highest levels since comparable records began in 1992.  But the national average merely hides geographical and demographic variations which paint a far bleaker picture…

Geographically, economic black-spots in Scotland like North Ayrshire have been burdened by youth unemployment rates averaging at more than 30% over the last two years.  Demographically, unemployment among young black men has doubled in three years, rising from 28.8% in 2008 to 55.9% in the last three months of 2011.

Yet in the UK, such are the new depths being reached across Europe, ‘experts’ have argued our crisis is fortunate compared to others. In Greece in and Spain youth unemployment hovers around or above 50%.  That’s a catastrophe, not a crisis.

We can’t go on like this.

How can we seriously debate and shape youth unemployment problems if the very people impacted by it are not at the centre of the solutions? Now, more than ever, we need robust proposals for strategies contributing to the wider debate for the alternative to a neo-liberal economic and social agenda that’s been struggling on life-support since 2008.

Mainstream party politics won’t deliver the alternative, only people can.  It’s the same in the context of youth unemployment as it is in any issue whether its pensions or pay.  And young people should be given every platform possible to offer up their views on the alternatives and have the chance to implement change.

Who else understands the problem better?

So what are the ideas from the ‘lost generation’? How did we end up here and what are the barriers confronting young people? How can young members deliver change for themselves, both local and national, and help to sustain their future and the future of the union?

This is an opportunity for all our conference youth delegates, and delegates with an interest in the youth unemployment crisis, to come listen to our speakers and join the debate.

We look forward to seeing you there!


For further information please contact Unite Scotland Equalities Officer Elaine Dougall on 07810157904 & Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns Unit on 07810157931.

Agreement reached to resolve Livingston packaging dispute

15 Jun

Unite members at API Foils in Livingston have welcomed a deal which has ended weeks of industrial action after the company removed union facilities for activists and changed employee’s terms and conditions of employment.

The company have given Unite written commitments that going forward they will respect the collective bargaining agreement and engage in meaningful consultation over workers’ terms and conditions of employment.

Unite is delighted that the company has recognised the role the Livingston plant plays in the group’s business and following years of austerity at the company they made the decision to share that with the employees.

Unite national officer, Steve Sibbald, said, “After a week of meetings we have reached an agreement with the employer that resolves this dispute. API accepted that it failed to consult and failed to recognise the collective bargaining agreement with Unite.

We have now received written agreement stating that API will respect the collective bargaining agreement with Unite and in future will have meaningful consultations.”

Unite regional officer, Gillian McKay, who has been involved in the dispute from the start, added, It’s not been an easy period for the workforce and strike action wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly, particularly in this economic climate.

Our members are delighted they can return to normal working and also that the issues which caused the dispute have been resolved, in addition to securing a further 1 per cent increase on basic pay from 1 July 2012.

The Unite negotiating committee is now looking forward to working with the company in the spirit of the collective bargaining agreement starting on the 25 June.”


Notes to Editors: for further information please contact Unite Regional Industrial Officer on 07798531007.

One year of trade union learning success at Kilmarnock engineering plant

14 Jun

Unite members at Mahle Engine Systems in Kilmarnock are celebrating the first anniversary of their highly successful trade union learning agreement, ‘Racing Forward with Learning at MAHLE Engine Systems’.

Last May the landmark agreement was signed by Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty and the German automotive manufacturer’s Site Manager Jim English, resulting in over 530 learning and training requests while delivering over 1,000 hours of learning in subjects like literacy support, German, pensions and industry-based accreditations.

The agreement also includes the provision of a bespoke on-site trade union learning facility and trade union office, 5 workplace learning representatives and a fortnightly union – management steering group to oversee the delivery of the workplace learning programme.

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said, “This is a gold-standard learning agreement, a benchmark across the industry and the wider Scottish economy that demonstrates the value of trade unions and employers working together to deliver a learning agenda.

This huge demand for learning also reflects the appetite for up-skilling from our members in Kilmarnock – ably assisted by our hard-working Unite learning organisers who help deliver the programme – which they largely fulfill in their own time.

It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved but most importantly we are giving working people the opportunity to personally and collectively improve their skills and learning abilities – you cannot put a price on that.”

Alison Bryson Mahle Human Resource Manager said: “Entering into lifelong learning in a partnership approach with Unite learning reps on site has been really successful. Employees have been asked about their learning needs and courses have been arranged to meet those needs at times to suit both the company and the individuals. It’s really good to see people learning new skills”


Notes to Editors:

For further information please contact:

Pat Mcilvogue Unite Regional Learning Organiser on 07918631805;

Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns Unit on 07810157931; or

Alison Bryson, Head of Human Resources MAHLE Engine Systems Kilmarnock, on 07733301632.


  • Union Learning Reps are workplace reps, recognised under the Employment Act (2002). They have similar rights to time off and facilities as Shop Stewards and Health and Safety reps. Their remit is to promote lifelong learning in the workplace.
  • Unite has learning agreements with many of Scotland’s key employers, including Rolls-Royce, SPT, First Group, National Australia Group, Remploy, and various local authorities and NHS Boards.
  • Where we have signed learning agreements, we work with employers to promote learning and skills in the workplace.
  • We work in partnership with FE colleges to provide accredited training. We sign service level agreements with colleges to ensure our members get high quality tuition delivered in the workplace.
  • Workplace learning is free at the point of access, and funded in a variety of ways, including through employers’ training budgets, ILA, ESF & Glasgow Learning.
  • MAHLE is a leading global development partner for the automotive and engine industry, MAHLE offers unique systems competence in the internal combustion engine and engine peripherals. The MAHLE Group ranks among the top three systems suppliers worldwide for piston systems, cylinder components, as well as valve train, air management, and liquid management systems. Almost all automobile and engine manufacturers around the world are customers of MAHLE


Rolls-Royce East Kilbride Learning Programme Successes 2012

14 Jun

The lifelong learning programme at Rolls-Royce East Kilbride continues to provide quality learning opportunities to Unite members on site. The ULRs on site recently conducted a learning survey, and members responded with 409 learning requests in February this year. As part of the survey a prize draw was held for completed surveys and John Hogg pictured below was the lucky winner of a £50 shopping voucher.

The ULRs for the site have a structured organised approached for the learning programme. There is a Steering Group meeting with HR & Management representatives every 3 weeks which overviews the requirements of the learning programme. The ULRs monitor their progress with the use of a 12 month plan shown in the following link; RR_EK_ULR_12_Month_Plan_2012.

Unite member John Hogg receives his prize from Regional Learning Organiser

Pat McIlvogue & Lead Shop Steward & ULR John Craig

The learning programme at Rolls-Royce East Kilbride has already this year delivered two British Sign Language courses, two Understanding Pensions courses and two Cohorts on an Engineering Degree course with the Open University.

Sign Language courses were organised by the ULRs in response to a deaf apprentice entering his permanent work area on the completion of his apprenticeship. The ULRs organised the Sign Language course so his colleagues in his work area on both shifts could communicate with him.

The Understanding Pensions courses gave members a basic understanding of pensions, before moving on to specifics with their Rolls-Royce pension schemes. The final session was delivered by a Unite Pensions Trustee for the schemes, who also conducted a question & answer session at the end of the course.

There are now 14 members at Rolls-Royce East Kilbride currently on the Open University BEng Degree programme at the East Kilbride site with all members progressing well. All members have passed the tutor marked assessments with an average pass rate of 80%. The ULRs also have a further 10 members waiting to join to the BEng Degree programme in October.

These wonderful learning opportunities for Unite members would not be possible without the selfless work of ULRs Mark Tweddle, Brian Ronald & John Craig. The group of ULRs at East Kilbride is being boosted by the training of Robert Imire as a new ULR this week. Robert, who himself is on the BEng Degree course, wanted to train as a ULR to help give something back to other Unite members for the opportunities the programme has facilitated for him.  This is a great example of the true spirit of collectivism in action.



Livingston packaging boss needs to ‘negotiate, not dictate’

8 Jun

Workers at packaging firm API Foils in Livingston remain firmly in dispute today as Managing Director Will Oldham stubbornly continues to undermine the plant’s long-standing collective agreement following yesterday’s (Thursday 7th June) latest strike.

This was the third strike taken in the last three weeks after 94% of the workforce voted for action following Mr Oldham’s attempts to impose new contracts of employment without consultation or negotiation.  Oldham’s attempts to undercut the trade union agreement have also reached the Scottish Parliament with local MSP Neil Findlay tabling a motion in support of the workers.

However, dialogue continues to be undermined by management’s inability to acknowledge the root cause of the dispute.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer Gillian McKay said, “I’m afraid its a case of one step forward and two steps back with Mr Oldham’s approach to this dispute. 

Mr Oldham says he doesn’t understand why our members are on strike; we try to make progress in discussions and then Mr Oldham takes it upon himself to doorstep members on the picket line and in the plant when he doesn’t get what he wants.

You simply cannot run a train through our trade union rights and then expect our members to accept it.  The workforce is resolute – Unite membership has increased and widespread support has been received, particularly from the likes of Neil Findlay MSP who has brought the issue to the attention of parliament.

Our message to Mr Oldham is clear: We want a return to talks within the terms of our successful collective agreement.  We are ready to negotiate but we won’t be dictated to.


Notes to Editors:  For further information please contact Unite Regional Industrial Officer Gillian McKay on 07798531007

Neil Findlay MSPs Scottish Parliamentary Motion (API Foils S4M-03072) can be accessed at:


Frustration at Diageo ‘rob Peter, pay Paul’ investment plans

6 Jun

Unite Scotland has reacted with frustration to this morning’s announcement by drinks giant Diageo for a proposed five year £1 billion investment in Scottish-based operations.

Only months after doors closed on the historic Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock, Diageo Chief Executive Paul Walsh revealed Diageo are to build a new malt distillery at an unconfirmed Highland location coupled with an expansion of its warehouse operations.  This follows global sales growth of 6% in the last quarter in addition to net sales of £3billion in the last year from its Scotch brands alone.

Unite continues to represent many of the 900 workers impacted by the closures of the Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas distillery site in Glasgow.  The trade union’s campaign to save these jobs was supported by politicians from Holyrood and Westminster, including First Minister Alex Salmond.

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said, “There are two sides to every story and while Diageo’s investment plans are positive, particularly for Scotland’s rural economy,  redundant workers in Ayrshire and Glasgow will rightly be asking questions. 

Diageo is a corporation in the rudest of health with vast reserves of capital to invest.  But how much of today’s announcement is an exercise to offset Diageo’s economic damage done elsewhere in Scotland?

In July 2009 Finance Minister John Swinney said Diageo ‘must listen to the people’ who campaigned in their communities to save jobs in Kilmarnock and beyond, yet today Mr Swinney ‘looks forward to working constructively with Diageo’.  That shows you the power of corporations; their power exceeds that of any politician.

Unfortunately its difficult to see how this amounts to anything more than a ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ exercise in the Scottish economy and it will be met with frustration and anger among Diageo’s former employees.”


For further information please contact Unite Scotland’s Campaigns & Communications Unit on 07810157931.