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Unite releases phone bank results for Scottish Voluntary Sector

14 Dec

Unite Scotland has today (14 December) published results from an online phone bank showing that eighty-three per cent of workers in the sector face cuts. The phone bank spoke with 423 Unite members in ten voluntary sector organisations across the length and breadth of Scotland. This is largest representative survey done by a trade union in the sector.

Key findings:

  • 423 of the 468 members contacted completed the survey. Of those respondents eighty-three per cent said their workplace was being directly affected by cuts.
  • Nearly half of those who responded to the question: ‘are you affected by any of these issues’ stipulated that they were at risk of redundancy – a huge figure.
  • Worryingly seventy-four per cent stated that they had their terms and conditions changed and nearly a quarter stated that ‘bullying’ was an issue in the workplace.

Recommendations:

As a result of the startling findings in our representative survey of voluntary and third sector workers Unite is calling for the following:

  1. A Scottish Parliament Inquiry into voluntary sector funding based on these results.
  2. A sector forum to be set up for areas of the voluntary and third sector in consultation with the relevant bodies which can help put in place and coordinate sectoral training, funding, investment, and, terms and conditions.
  3. For the Scottish Parliament to enforce that public procurement is used as a lever to ensure quality service provision and fairer conditions for the workforce.

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said:

“For many years we have been aware of the precarious situation of the voluntary and not-for-profit sector. However, even we were taken aback by the crisis in the sector.”

“The results portray an extremely worrying picture for the sector and that organisations and the workforce are on the brink of breaking point. A workforce who have had their terms and conditions eroded, a sector that is being dragged to the bottom, and, people fearing whether they will have a job this time next year.”

“The Scottish Government on the back of these results must intervene and all of us have a collective responsibility to ensure that we protect this vital sector which delivers a fantastic public service.”

Unite for our Society report

 ENDS

Notes to Editor:

  1. For a copy of the report please visit our website here or can be obtained by contacting Andrew Brady and Peter Welsh.
  2. The phonebank was conducted between June and September 2011.
  3. Unite members were selected randomly.
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Threat of job losses in housing support in Edinburgh

11 Jul

– by Ian McDonald

Proposed changes to Housing Support Advice and Information Services in Edinburgh will lead to job losses and risk the quality of care provided for homeless people.

If these changes are implemented, they could lead to a loss of 30 jobs across the voluntary sector. Worryingly, the structure of the proposed changes appears to avoid TUPE liability. This would remove protection for workers affected by job losses. There are around 20 jobs in Edinburgh Council that focus on complex needs housing support as a result of a transfer of Edinburgh Homelink Partnership staff in 2009. This followed the failed tendering exercise for contracts to provide support to the most vulnerable and repeatedly homeless adults in the city. These jobs were saved after a last minute intervention by Unite on behalf of members in April 2009.

We are concerned that attempts will be made to use volunteers to offer support to vulnerable adults as a replacement for qualified staff. This will further diminish the skill set of the experienced workers delivering services. Using volunteers as cheap, unskilled, under-trained labour for work with vulnerable adults is no substitute to care provided by trained and experienced professionals.

The sole purpose of these proposals is to create competition between the voluntary and public sector members who currently deliver housing support to adults with complex and multiple needs.

The report will be put before the health, housing and social care committee of Edinburgh Council on August 16th.

– Ian McDonald is a Regional Industrial Officer for the voluntary sector.