Tag Archives: Cuts

North Lanarkshire Council Cuts – Think again!

23 Nov

A message to all our Unite members living and working in North Lanarkshire Council:

North Lanarkshire Council (NLC) estimates that it will need to save as much as £73.3million between 2013/14 and 2015/16.  In terms of jobs, Unite has been told that saving will conservatively mean the cut of some 1,400 jobs.

NLC has not sat down with Unite and other trade unions to discuss the best way forward and they haven’t properly engaged with the wider communities of North Lanarkshire, where this massive cuts agenda will hit the hardest.

Instead they carried-out a survey called ‘The Way Ahead – Lets talk about our future’ and asked the people of North Lanarkshire where the proposed £73 million worth of cuts should be made.

How many people completed this survey? Only 3000 – roughly 1% of North Lanarkshire’s estimated population of 326,000.  Not quite a majority of public opinion…

Furthermore, this fluffy rhetoric of ‘let’s talk about our future’ masks a sinister reality for many of NLC’s workers – one of jobs and pay cuts on a frightening scale.

Unite believes that:

  • NLC have completely undermined the collective bargaining process at a time where they should be holding meaningful discussions with the workforce in order to offset these cuts and sustain services the best we can.
  • NLC have abdicated their responsibilities, effectively pitting services and people against each other where the only losers will be the public and the workers.  And with the extent of the cuts that will be enforced there be will no winners.
  • NLC are playing politics with livelihoods and futures in a time of extreme economic difficulty. We need a concerted effort from all levels of politics to work with the workforce and public to re-think these cuts.

We believe this process, brought about without any consultation with the trade unions, demands a collective response. 

If we’re going to have a debate on jobs and the services which local communities rely on, then the scope of that debate should be extended meaningfully to everyone with an interest or role in the running of NLC.

That’s why we’re asking NLC workers and residents to contact their local Councillor ahead of 6th December, when these cuts will be confirmed, and tell them to think again.

Here’s how you can do it:

1. Click on this link to find your Councillor and Council Ward;

2. Click on the Councillor’s email address which will open a new email;  and

3. Copy and paste our campaign message Think again! into the email and send.

Be sure to put your own name on the email to officially register your opposition to the cuts.

Collectively, our hands are not tied.  We can all pull together for a future that works across North Lanarkshire. 

 

Local authority bosses ‘bottle-out’ of defending jobs and services

9 Nov

Unite has slammed officials at one of Scotland’s biggest local authorities today (Friday 9th November) after they left the future of some 1,600 jobs at the mercy of an online survey.  

North Lanarkshire Council (NLC) claims it needs to save up to £73 million over the next four years and carried-out a public survey via their website asking people where service cuts should be made in order to make these savings.

The survey, called ‘The Way Ahead’ and which also closes today, will be used by the council’s officials over the coming weeks and months to set-out a savage public sector cuts agenda.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer, Tam Connarty, said, “This fluffy rhetoric of ‘let’s talk about our future’ masks the sinister reality for many North Lanarkshire public servants which is one of jobs cuts on a frightening scale. 

NLC have completely undermined the collective bargaining process and are playing the worst kind of populist politics at a time where they should be holding urgent discussions with workers to sustain services the best we can. 

Instead, they’ve bottled-out of dealing with the big issues they’re paid handsomely to do and made the public judge, jury and executioner for the services they rely on and the future of workers who will rank among family and friends.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors: For further information please contact Unite Regional Industrial Officer Tam Connarty on 07810157911.

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 jack.ferguson@unitetheunion.org

 

Industrial action at Capita ITS

28 Aug

Unite has today (Tuesday, 28 August) announced the start date for industrial action at four Capita ITS sites.

Unite members working in Reading, Craigforth (near Stirling), Birmingham and Bournemouth will be taking continuous action from 4 September. The dispute centres on Capita’s plans to offshore work to India and a wider compulsory redundancy programme.

David Fleming, Unite national officer, said: “Unite has made every attempt to find a negotiated settlement with Capita, but we have been frustrated by the response from management.

“As talks stalled last week, Unite now has no option but to announce a ban on overtime and on-call working as well as a refusal to undertake any work associated with the offshoring programme from Tuesday 4 September.

“Capita management have underestimated our members’ strength of feeling who are determined to fight for their job security. The union will stand alongside them. Despite some initial progress, Capita is insisting that compulsory redundancies remain an option and will not rule out any further offshoring in future.

“A lasting agreement on all the issues is the only way to resolve this dispute. Escalation to full strike action is the next step if Capita does not reconsider its position.”

Unite members voted 4:1 for strike action and 9:1 for action short of strike on a 65 per cent turnout.

Unite is calling on Capita to withdraw its offshoring plans which will be detrimental to Capita clients including: Prudential Phoenix and Abbey Life. The union has challenged the company’s assertion that the transfer of work abroad will deliver the unsubstantiated cost savings and holds the view that vital skills and knowledge will be lost if the Capita plans are implemented.

Ends

For more information please contact: Saba Edwards, 07768 693 953

Livingston packaging workers to strike

23 May

Workers at packaging firm API Foils in Livingston, West Lothian will strike this Friday (25 May) over imposed changes to their terms and conditions and increasing attacks by management to their long-standing collective agreement.

A resounding 92.4% of Unite members voted to take industrial action in what will be the first in a series of 24-hour strikes.

A collective agreement has been in place for over 30 years at the Livingston plant, but management has imposed new contracts of employment without consulting local Unite representatives in a move which will impact all workers – from the shop floor to the back office.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer Gillian McKay said, “This is the culmination of six months of management hostility towards our members and now they have simply had enough of this draconian approach to employment relations.

In recent negotiations the employer refused to accept our members’ right to reject their offer and then proceeded to impose the new terms without any notice. These new contracts of employment will make employees work for longer with no salary increase and remove all flexible working arrangements.

It would seem API management are touting themselves as poster-boys for the botched Beecroft Report with this dictatorial agenda. They should now come back to us with their own Plan B that respects the existing collective agreement.”

Further 24 hour strikes have been planned for every Friday from a minute past midnight for the next 12 weeks.

ENDS

For further information please contact Unite Regional Industrial Officer Gillian McKay on 0131 556 9676 or 07798531007.

 

 

Shattering ‘gold-plated’ pension myths in the health service

14 May

By James Ito

You could be forgiven for thinking that the only issue facing staff in the NHS in Scotland was an attack on their so-called ‘gold-plated’ pensions.  Unfortunately, not only is the ‘gold-plated’ description wrong, there are numerous other concerns, both local and national, facing our NHS members.  Here’s a insight for readers to consider…

Local – Perhaps the biggest impact on NHS staff are the day-to-day issues at local level.  Services are being ‘modernised’. Usually this means doing more work with fewer staff and changing the skill mix ratio to have more unqualified or unregistered staff.

Governments at UK and Scottish level have boasted that the health service budget has been protected and given increases equal to inflation. Whilst this is superficially true, it ignores the fact that ‘NHS inflation’ is higher than RPI. This is partly due to the increasing cost of drugs (new drugs for serious conditions like cancer tend to be very expensive) and partly due to the increase in life expectancy (older people need more health care for more complex conditions on average).

The end result is health boards faced with a shortfall in money compared to the service demands. They solve that problem by employing fewer staff on lower grades – resulting in staff that at best are under pressure and stressed, and at worst are bullied into lowering standards.

Pay – NHS staff have had three years of significant pay cuts compared to inflation. In 2010 most received a 2.25% pay increase when the Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation was 5.3%. The following year, they were subject to a pay freeze when inflation was 5.2% and in 2012 yet another pay freeze (March RPI = 3.6%).

In 2011, the standard rate of national insurance was increased by 1% and most Unite members in the NHS have had to pay an extra 1.5% towards their pension this year (with another 1.3% average still to come). Added together this means the equivalent of a 15% pay cut for most.

For some members the position is even worse. The removal of the National Recruitment and Retention Premium (NRRP) for Estates craft workers, healthcare chaplains and perfusionists is another pay cut equating to another 15% or so for these groups.

Terms and conditions – At the Joint NHS Staff Council the Management Side have brought forward a series of proposals to reduce staff terms and conditions.

The latest proposals would reduce sick pay to basic pay only and introduce performance related pay with incremental progression being dependent on staff exceeding certain locally determined criteria. The top points would be ‘non-consolidated’ so staff on the higher pay band points could have these removed and they would not contribute towards pension benefits.

Pensions – Prior to the April 2012 increase, NHS staff contributed about £8 billion to the UK Treasury and the Treasury paid out about £6 billion. The Treasury retains the £2 billion surplus – and yet the NHS scheme is described as ‘unfunded’ as though the taxpayer was paying out instead of receiving a massive excess sum of money over expenditure.

The UK government’s current proposals are to increase most Unite members’ contributions from the previous 6.5% to 9.3% with some paying 14.5%. None of this extra money is being used to pay today’s NHS pensioners or being invested for the future.

Public sector workers are being asked to pay what is effectively an extra tax as a deficit reduction measure and nothing to do with the affordability of pensions.  As well as the increase in contributions, the government proposes to reduce pension scheme benefits by making the age at which the pension can be drawn equal to the state pension age (age 66 in 2020; age 67 in 2026) and basing the pension on average earnings throughout your career rather than final salary.

Put simply: pay more for longer; get less.

James Ito is the Vice Chair of the Glasgow Health Service Branch, currently serving Unite members in the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde and Forth Valley Health Boards and the Golden Jubilee National Hospital.

For the latest local and sector updated, please visit the Branch website at www.uniteglasgowhealth.org

Glasgow Council workers unite to ‘lick’ tyrant Cordia

4 May

Glasgow City Council staff employed on contracts run by service management giant Cordia will demonstrate outside the city chambers this Sunday (6th May) over efforts to impose draconian cuts to their terms and conditions.

The workforce who deliver a range of public services across Glasgow, from the traditional lollipop road crossing for school children to cleaners, catering, janitorial staff and home carers, have seen their access to overtime denied and a proposed reduction to their holiday and payment entitlements due to their union affiliation. Unite members in Cordia previously rejected the proposals in a ballot last year.

Cordia have further intensified grievance among workers by refusing to allow members of Unite paid holiday leave for the Queen’s Jubilee (4th June) unless they signed-up to the reduced contracts. Unite has lobbied Glasgow’s Councillors extensively over the Cordia cuts, already receiving significant cross-party support.

Unite Regional Industrial Officer Willie McGonigle said, “The people delivering these public services are often pillars of their local communities but the reality is they are also among the most low-paid. 

This Sunday at the Glasgow May Day rally we’ll ramp-up our campaign against these draconian cuts. We’ll also be laying down the challenge to Glasgow’s Councillors – fresh from Thursday’s elections – to support our view that people and not profit are central to the delivery of our basic public services.

Cordia’s campaign of coercion to erode the modest terms and conditions of low-paid public servants in Glasgow is a disgrace and they should know that we’ll fight them every step of the way.”

ENDS

Notes to editors: For further information please contact Unite Scotland Regional Industrial Officer in Glasgow City Council Willie McGonigle on 07810157912.

‘Lick the tyrant Cordia! Campaign launch: Cordia staff will demonstrate outside the Glasgow City Chambers this Sunday 6th May from 10.30AM to 11AM before joining the May Day Rally, they’ll be joined by the ‘lollipop man’and will be distributing t-shirts, balloons and lollipops for everyone that joins them.  Contact Unite Scotland Organiser Kay Milliken on 07890762186 for press and photo-ops on the day.