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Unite Adult Apprentices in ScotRail

28 Nov

Adult Apprenticeship to SVQ Level 3 and a National Certificate in Mechanical & Electrical Engineering. 

– by Pat McIlvogue

Unite negotiated and organised with ScotRail an apprenticeship programme to facilitate progression paths through the skills grades for our members. This group of members had hit a “glass ceiling” within the employer as they were not accredited as being skilled despite having a huge amount of skills, knowledge & experience. The group were all semi-skilled “B” grade fitters with ScotRail. This apprenticeship will allow them to have the opportunity to move to the skilled “A” grade position within ScotRail or will give them the opportunity to gain skilled employment elsewhere. This progression would not be possible without this qualification.

The Adult Apprenticeship programme was negotiated and arranged by Unite, train drivers’ union Aslef, ScotRail & SEMTA. Prior to the commencement of the apprenticeship, the members undertook an Open College Network accredited “Brush Up Your Skills Course” arranged and delivered by Unite & Aslef through Stow College’s trade union education department. This course gave our members the confidence and skills to undertake the National Certificate studies & the skills to compile the portfolio for the SVQ Level 2 & SVQ Level 3. This everyday skills support was beneficial as a lot of our members had been away from learning for over 20 years prior to commencing the apprenticeship.

All 9 members who under took the apprenticeship programme have completed their studies to SVQ Level 3 and have completed a National Certificate in Mechanical & Electrical Engineering within the last 2 years. They have combined practical knowledge with vocational learning and are now accredited as being skilled. They now have national industry recognized qualifications that will allow them to progress to skilled positions within ScotRail or if they wish gain skilled employment with another employer.

The next step for our group of learners is have their skills utilized within the workplace & to achieve “A” grade status within ScotRail. Having completed the training our members are undertaking CV & interview training provided by Unite, Aslef and Stow College.

In undertaking this apprenticeship programme our members overcame many barriers. Some of these were being away from learning for over 20 to 30 years in some instances, doubt that the employer was committed to the scheme, doubt that the skilled workforce within ScotRail would recognize their apprenticeship as being “pucker”, learning in their own time, attending night school, incorporating learning into their rotating shift patterns and still managing to for fill their substantive role as a “B” Grade Fitter within ScotRail. It is testimony to the groups determination that they have overcame all of the above and completed their Apprenticeship & their National Certificate in Mechanical & Electrical Engineering.

The entire group’s lives have been changed by undertaking union lead learning as they are now more confident & importantly accredited skilled workers. This progression path in learning that Unite & Aslef has created & negotiated has facilitated the opportunity for our members to break that glass ceiling on progression with ScotRail & indeed within all employers within this sector.

This group of adult union learners is particularly exemplary as they were a pilot group around skills utilization within the workplace, that looks to take the skills, knowledge & experience that workers have in a workplace and put them to use. This is matches with the Scottish Government policy of Skills Utilization. It is now hoped that this model can be rolled out across employers and sectors. Our members at ScotRail have now set the paradigm for others to follow.

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Drive a taxi? Join Unite

4 Oct

Drew Connelly and Ian Meldrum talk about the Unite Taxi Branch. All taxi drivers need a union, and Unite has a track record of defending conditions for drivers.

Mothball Edinburgh trams fiasco

31 Aug

The Edinburgh trams project should be mothballed until an immediate public inquiry can be conducted following the Scottish government’s intervention into the fiasco.

The Unite trade union which represents Lothian Bus workers also argue that full and independently validated costings should be presented for all options on the future of the trams.

Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, said:

“Its curious that John Swinney should intervene now after letting the Audit Scotland report wither for four years. Why now and what does this mean for Lothian Buses?

“Alex Salmond has said there should be a public inquiry. This should happen immediately including a presentation of the true costs for all options. We’re told the Haymarket line is not profitable, but a line to St Andrew’s Square could cost over £1 billion with initial borrowings of at least £270 million – a catastrophe for the buses and business, saddling the city with generations of debt.”

The Scottish government has said the remaining public funding of £60 million will be withheld unless Edinburgh’s councillors reconsider last week’s vote to abandon the Airport – St Andrews Square line in favour of line stopping at Haymarket.

Buses Must Not Pay For the Tram

30 Jun

Unite Scotland comments on Edinburgh Tram Project Report

Ahead of tomorrow’s crucial Edinburgh Council meeting where the future of the trams will be decided, Unite members at Lothian Buses have again warned Councillors not to mess with the city’s successful bus network.

This week, Councillors have been issued with a report on the Edinburgh trams project that ultimately urges them to vote for a tram line running from Edinburgh Airport to St Andrew’s Square in the heart of the city at a cost of over £770 million.

Unite believes the report is a piece of propaganda, a one-sided document that does not consider or present the full facts of the matter.  Furthermore, the biggest losers in this process will be the world-class service provided by Lothian Buses and the travelling public of Edinburgh and the Lothians.

It is clear to Unite that Lothian Buses will be used as a cash cow to help offset the immense cost of this white elephant project should this report have it way.

The position of our members is as clear and incontrovertible as it was before:  The publicly owned status of Lothian Buses must not be compromised and its profitable services should be left untouched.

This means no cuts to routes, workers terms and conditions, no back-door marketisation or attempts to re-introduce integrated transport bodies that would be used to ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’.  Most importantly, it means no more disruption and travel misery for the public who are sick and tired of the whole fiasco.

Please find attached a short brief detailing our concerns with this report and the wider issue of Edinburgh’s transport future.  It has been sent to every Council member’s e-mail this afternoon (Wednesday 29th June) and our reps from Lothian Buses will be distributing this outside the city chambers from 8:30AM on Thursday morning, where they will also be available for comment.

For further details, please contact Peter Welsh in the Unite Scotland Campaigns Office on 07810157931 or Lothian Buses Joint Trade Union Rep Rab Fraser on 07981673899.

Download the Joint Trade Union Committee statement here

Unite to a Better Way through Skills Utilisation

14 Apr

Scottish Union Learn will showcase one example of the work Unite has done in Skills Utilisation within the workplace at the STUC Congress. A fringe meeting/reception will be held on Monday, 18th April 2011 at 5.30pm in the Roman Warrior Suite of the Ayr Racecourse.

Ian Gray Adult Apprentice

The meeting will feature a short video demonstrating the contribution that Unite the Union can make to improved skills utilisation in workplaces. Working with ASLEF and ScotRail, Unite has developed, facilitated and supported an Adult Apprenticeship programme for Semi-Skilled workers within ScotRail’s Shields and Corkerhill Depots in Glasgow.

The Adult Apprenticeship programme gives opportunities to members who have worked in the railways for years and have hit a glass ceiling in progressing to A Grade Fitter from B Grade Fitter due to not having completed an apprenticeship. Prior to commencing on the Adult Apprenticeship programme, members undertook a 20 hour Brush Up Your Skills course  delivered by Stow College’s trade union education department on site at the depot. This Brush Up Your Skills course refreshed members skills, enabling them to take on the task of producing a portfolio that is required to evidence their knowledge for their Scottish Vocational Qualification Level 3 (SVQ 3).

Benny McGinlay Adult Apprentice

The programme brings members up to SVQ Level 3 and gives them a National Certificate in Engineering. The programme has been developed in conjunction with SEMTA, the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies. SEMTA supports UK businesses in achieving global competitiveness through investment in skills. The programme that Unite members are undertaking at ScotRail, is a bespoke development to meet the needs of ScotRail and the daily tasks that A Grade Fitters within the railway are required to perform.

This is another good example of where Unite has identified a learning need of our membership within an employer and developed a programme to meet the needs of both our members and the employer that they work for.

Download flyer for event here.