Archive | October, 2012

Unite Learning Reps Organising Learning & the Workplace

30 Oct

During the last few months Unite Learning Reps from different employers including BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, Mahle Engine Systems and British Airways have been carrying out Learning Needs Surveys within their workplaces.

The workplace Learning surveys have had a great response with thousands of learning requests from our members wanting to take up Unite’s Life Long Learning Opportunities. The learning requests of the members are now being delivered upon within workplaces with the commencing of courses this quarter within the surveyed workplaces.

Unite Govan Shipyard Convenor Billy McKay presents prize voucher to Lyndsey Gray along with Unite Regional Learning Organiser Pat Mcilvogue

The ULRs used different methods of surveying their workplaces that best suited the members within that employer. Some used a hard printed copy of their survey other used electronic copies circulated by email. All surveys were bespoken to each workplace and sector.

Regardless of which method of circulation and collection the ULRs used they used Survey Monkey an online survey tool that provides sophisticated analysis of responses to analyse the responses. The analysis of these workplace surveys are also a great Organising tool for our Unite workplace committees, providing then with valuable data that can be used for Organising, Mapping and Collective Bargaining purposes within the workplace.




An example of the Survey results from BAE Systems Clyde shipyards can be seen below.





Further strike action over pay & jobs at DHL Cumbernauld

26 Oct

Unite Scotland members at the Cumbernauld-based DHL Supply Chain will take further strike action as a long-running dispute over pay and the future of the site continues because of ‘management stonewalling’.

Two 24 hour strikes will take place from midnight on Friday 2nd and Monday 5th November respectively affecting all warehouse operations.  A seven day overtime ban will also come into force from midnight, Friday 2nd November.

The workforce, who overwhelmingly rejected management’s previous pay offer, fear for the future of the Westfield site after key contractor Marks & Spencer announced changes to its distribution network which will impact operations at DHL.

This follows over two years of internal turbulence where over 100 workers have been made redundant and 15 jobs were lost over the summer following the M&S re-structure announcement.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer Tony Devlin said, “Our members cannot do anymore than they have for the business in the post-2008 economic climate – pay cuts, pay freezes, job diversification and job losses have all been suffered – but they’ve been pushed beyond their limits.

Once again our members have voted overwhelmingly for strike action over this untenable situation affecting their modest pay and job security. The continuation of both DHL and M&S managements stonewalling is a disgrace – the workers are being treated with unbelievable contempt.

Until our reasonable demands for meaningful negotiations over pay and clarity on the future of the warehouse operation are met then this dispute will rumble on and on.”


Notes to Editors:  For further information please contact Unite Scotland Regional Industrial Officer Tony Devlin on 07810157908.

Gearbox fault helicopters ‘must be grounded’

25 Oct

Unite will this afternoon (Thursday 25th October) tell the second emergency meeting of the Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) that all Eurocopter Super Puma EC225-type aircraft serving the North Sea offshore industry should be grounded.

This comes in the wake of Monday’s latest helicopter ditching involving the Super Puma model, the second such incident in six months. It also follows the release of the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) report attributing the ditching off the Shetland Isles, where 19 people were rescued, to ‘serious mechanical failure in the gearbox’.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer Willie Wallace said, “The AAIB findings point towards a serious mechanical failure in the gearbox as the cause of Monday’s ditching. 

It’s the same fault which caused the ditching of the Super Puma off Aberdeen last May, so we clearly have a problem with the gearbox components on these particular helicopters. 

The manufacturer Eurocopter has ordered safety checks and said that ‘two ditchings is two too many’.  We agree but we also said on Tuesday that we cannot rely on luck to keep saving lives. 

We now have hard facts over the cause of this recurring problem – grounding these helicopters is the only sensible and truly safe option available to us until the problem is resolved.”


For further information please contact Unite Industrial Officer William Wallace on 07712444952 or our Aberdeen Office on or 01224 645271.

New community membership campaign meetings – Edinburgh & Glasgow

23 Oct

Unite is the biggest trade union in the UK and Ireland, with 1.5 million members and over a century of experience in organising to stand up for our rights at work.

Now Unite wants to take the unions beyond the workplace and into the community.

Community membership offers the chance to join for people who wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to be part of a union because they’re not working – unemployed people, disabled people on benefits, retired folk or students. Community members get the support of the union with issues like free legal advice and access to training and education.

But it’s also bigger than that.  Being part of the union is about being part of a movement to build a better society. We want to bring people together who want to change something and who want to work with others to make their community a better place to live.

It could be something local like saving a library that’s closing or it could be a national issue like defending vulnerable people losing out through welfare cuts.

Unite will give you the support you need to build successful campaigns and groups – and make change happen.

To get things going in Edinburgh and Glasgow, we’ve organised our first meetings.  We want to bring together everyone who’s interested in organising and campaigning out in the community and has ideas about what we should do.

The meetings are open to all, so please come along and find out more.

Edinburgh: Saturday 27th October 2 – 4PM, St John’s Church, Princes Street, EH2 4BJ

Glasgow: Monday 29th October 6.30 – 8.30PM, John Smith House, 145-165 West Regent Street, G2 4RZ


For further information and to find out more about Community Membership, please contact Unite Scotland’s Community Coordinator, Jack Ferguson, on 0845 604 4384 or via email at


Luck can’t last on offshore health & safety after helicopter ditch

23 Oct

Unite will highlight the growing fear among offshore workers over helicopter safety and rescue procedures at an emergency industry meeting tomorrow (Wednesday 24th October) in Aberdeen.

The Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) will reconvene following the ditching of a helicopter transporting offshore workers in the North Sea on Monday afternoon, the second such incidence in 6 months involving the Super Puma EC 225 – type aircraft.

Unite has already called into question the existing rescue procedures for ditched helicopters where the planned flight is based on the use of the ‘Dacon Scoop’ as the only method of rescue due to hazardous travelling conditions.

Unite Industrial Officer John Taylor said, “We go into this emergency meeting of the HSSG with serious concerns about whether these aircraft are fit for purpose and to make clear our members growing fears over wider safety procedures for offshore helicopter rescue, particularly where the rescue fall-back plans involve the use of the Dacon Scoop.

It’s unacceptable to Unite and our members that helicopters should be allowed to fly where conditions are deemed so hazardous that being fished-out of the sea by a mechanical device from a rescue vessel is the last line of safety. 

Mercifully there were no fatalities with this latest incident, largely due to the skills of the pilot crew, the close proximity of the Nord Nightingale tanker in the waters off Shetland and the elements. 

They were lucky but we can’t always rely on luck and we need to tighten-up industry safety standards now.”


Notes to Editors:

For further information please contact Unite Industrial Officer John Taylor in our Aberdeen Office on 0845 604 8312 or 01224 645271.

Unite Scotland has an open petition to improve safety for all offshore workers which you can sign and support here:

Informative articles on the use of the Dacon Scoop and also a short video clip of the scoop in action can be accessed on the news page of the Unite Offshore Catering Branch website at

Unite & Babcock to push workplace safety for young people

16 Oct

Unite and Babcock Clyde’s Health, Safety & Environment Department  are holding a two day ‘Apprentices and Young Persons Safety Workshop’ at the Clyde Off-Site Centre near Helensburgh, today and tomorrow (Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th October).

The event which is open to apprentices and other young people, aims to give participants an opportunity to learn more about safety and specifically how it relates to young people in an industrial setting.

Over the next two days, members of the Unite Youth Committee will also be delivering a workshop to the young workers to highlight the importance of health and safety in the workplace and also to encourage delegates to take on the role of a trade union health and safety rep.

Those in attendance will also be encouraged to think about safety outside of the workplace during presentations from Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Strathclyde Safety Camera Partnership.

Newly elected Chair of Unite’s Scottish Youth Committee Jamie-Max Caldwell said, “We welcome the opportunity to deliver this workshop and our aim is to encourage people attending to think about taking up representative roles in workplace health & safety. 

Being part of a trade union is important for young people in today’s climate, it is also important that young workers voices are heard as part of the positive relationship that exists between Unite and Babcock.”


For further information please contact: Elaine Dougall, Unite Scotland Women’s and Equalities Organiser on 07810157904 or Jamie-Max Caldwell,  Chair of Unite Scotland’s Youth Committee on 07786638777.

A referendum deal shaped by politicians, not the people

15 Oct

Unite Scotland believes today’s agreement between the Scottish and UK Government in Edinburgh confirming the terms for an independence referendum has largely ignored the views of the Scottish people.

And while Unite welcomes the control given to the Scottish Parliament to oversee the referendum’s delivery and the inclusion of 16 and 17 year olds in the vote itself, the deal also reflects the ongoing disenfranchise of ordinary people from the political process.

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said, “The rhetoric of both politicians and the commentariat this afternoon hails a deal on the referendum’s terms but the reality is that people’s views are still being ignored by politicians.   

This deal takes place before the Scottish Government has published and debated the findings of the recent ‘Your Scotland, Your Referendum’ Consultation.  Furthermore, other mainstream political parties effectively imposed referendum positions on their members without any consultation whatsoever.

The good news is the people of Scotland can now debate our country’s future and how we want to shape it.  The bad news is that Scotland has been left with a referendum shaped by the views of a political-class with little input from the people themselves.”


For further information please contact Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns Unit on 07810157931.