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News and Press Release Archive


5 Sept: UNISON slams Edinburgh Council for 'bully boy' conditions cuts and sack threat

28 March 06: Thousands back pensions strike

27 March 06: Edinburgh Rally to be told pension cuts are a disgrace

03 Jan 06: UNISON calls on first minister to respect Edinburgh tenants and wipe out housing debt

1 Feb 06: Equal Pay - Council financial settlement offer. Letter sent to members in affected groups

26 Jan: Letter to members who may receive 'equal pay' offers

3 Jan: UNISON calls on first minister to respect Edinburgh tenants and wipe out housing debt


30 Dec: UNISON takes action to protect low paid after council tries to sidestep equal pay laws



30 Dec: UNISON takes action to protect low paid after council tries to sidestep equal pay laws

23 Nov: Housing Stock Transfer ballot under way - new broadsheet and advertsising campaign

6 July: Respect public service workers, our city and the make poverty history campaign, says Edinburgh UNISON

30 June: G8 Saturday - Stay away troublemakers, and respect public service workers, says UNISON


27 Jan: Edinburgh's new Children & Families Department must tackle resource crisis and learn from others' mistakes, says UNISON

21 January 05: Edinburgh Social Work cash crisis again: Care packages stopped and £100,000 child protection pleges vanishes


19 August: Audit confirms resources are the key to child protection

28 May: Strike over as Edinburgh Nursery Nurses vote to accept revised offer

20 May: Edinburgh nursery nurses to be balloted on revised offer

11 May: Edinburgh nursery nurses reject offer and warn council against prolonging dispute

6 May: Edinburgh City Centre vermin threat as night cleansing is cut, warns UNISON


9 March 04: Nursery Nurses rally to both of 'Edinburgh's Disgraces'

1 March 04: UNISON slams Edinburgh 'del boy' offer as nursery strike starts

3 Feb 04: Council must 'put up or shut up' on Nursery Nurses

UNISON calls for 'critical debate' on O'Brien Inquiry


No season of goodwill with 'intolerable pressures' on Edinburgh's social workers - UNISON alerts council to unallocated work

Parents and nursery nurses join forces to confront CoSLA - Scottish UNISON leader to address Edinburgh council

O'Brien Inquiry Information - see Social Work pages

7 Oct: Edinburgh Nursery Nurses lobby First Minister and public as anger grows

6 Oct: Nursery Nurse events this week in Edinburgh

Letter to parents underlines that for most nursery nurses, the offer gives extra hours but NO rise at all!

1 Oct: Nursery nurse talks at risk from councillor's letter

12 Sept: Fury over nursery nurse offer 'sham'

11 Sept: UNISON challenges Council to be 'straight with staff' and 'honest with nursery nurses'

11 August 03: Council admits staff 7% underpaid - but reneges on pay deal

11 Aug 03: UNISON says Employers' investigation into Nursery Nurses is flawed.

28 May 03: Nursery Nurses to lobby CoSLA

26 May 03: Nursery nurse strike action to target Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders

22 May 03: 'If you mean what you say, then let's have talks' nursery nurses tell council

21 May 03: Huge support for Edinburgh's nursery nurses on first strike day

21 May 03: Edinburgh's nursery nurses demonstrate for fair deal

12 May 03: Nursery Nurses vote to strike

01 Jan 03: New Year Message: UNISON Edinburgh calls for a period of stability, respect and recognition for staff to give them the tools to deliver Edinburgh's services.


30 August 02: UNISON Mela sponsorship 'Celebrates all that's best in Scotland'

28 August 02: UNISONScotland index on Middle East Crisis

19 Feb 02: Edinburgh janitors vindicated by arbitration decision

14 Feb 02: Nursery staff grading claim submitted to City of Edinburgh Council

Latest Janitors Strike News


20 Dec 01: Janitors - Joint statement on arbitration

14 Dec 01: Talks hope as janitors leave widow of opportunity

9 Dec 01: UNISON calls for re-think on 'flawed' Edinburgh Scrutiny Panel report

Childrens Services Crisis - Grievance

6 Dec 01: Janitors consider ACAS approach despite council provocation

3 Dec 01: UNISON says stubborn council has picked fight with janitors

29 Nov 01: Edinburgh spurns unions' offer to avert Janitors' strike

29 Nov 01: UNISON warns public before last minute bid to avoid Edinburgh janitor's strike

17 Nov 01: UNISON calls for real modernisation and partnership to make services Positively Public

3 March 01: Creches could have been saved: UNISON says no-one taking responsibility for cuts in service

6 March 01: UNISON members vote 'Yes' to pay deal

13 Feb 01: Edinburgh council budget must address children services crisis (13 Feb)

Four-year inflation-busting pay offer to be put to UNISON members.

Return to work crisis averted (12 Jan)

'Rogue' Edinburgh Council risks pay talks by victimising returning strikers (11 Jan)



UNISON to fight Edinburgh Leisure holidays fiddle

Local government pay dispute window of opportunity

UNISON won't be scrooge at festive season, but warns...Talks, not media dirty tricks will solve dispute


Strike escalation adds to councils' problems (16 Nov)

Sheriff Officers will be reading your mail! (15 Nov)

Edinburgh Gritters to strike after Council uses strong-arm tactics (14 Nov 2000)

Council draws back on strike suspensions

Edinburgh council workers start selective strikes - areas announced.

Selective strikes start in local council pay dispute

UNISON action to escalate Scotland-wide as 68% reject pay offer

Edinburgh UNISON members reject pay offer in landslide vote

UNISON warns strike may close schools

'Pay insult' angers Edinburgh council workers

Strike ballot called as local government pay talks collapse

March for Equality and Diversity - Saturday 24 June Edinburgh

UNISON calls on Edinburgh to save childrens project

Edinburgh Budget: UNISON calls for partnership

Serving Scotland's Capital - UNISON calls for partnership for Edinburgh's services in 2000


Edinburgh UNISON backs election inquiry but warns against scapegoating staff or management (28 Oct)

UNISON proved right on cleaning crisis prediction: Call for united front on education funding

3.3% pay deal accepted

Revenue and Benefits Strike Settled (20 July)

Edinburgh care staff 'outraged' at anonymous allegations

Edinburgh UNISON tells Tony Blair Stop moaning and give us the tools for the job (7 July 99)

Serving Scotland's Capital

Edinburgh budget breathing space for jobs, but UNISON slams nursery cuts and job loss. - Union offers partnership to save services (4 March)

Edinburgh to privatise Garden Aid (24 Feb)

UNISON General Secretary calls on Scottish Parliament to scrap PFI (15 Feb)

UNISON welcomes Edinburgh Inquiry call for more resources (4 Feb)


Evening News Shock for School Meals Staff (15 Nov 98)

UNISON Calls for Lifeline for Local Government 28 September 1998: Response to Chancellor Gordon Brown's speech

The Schools Private Finance Illusion (7 July)

Response to Local Govt and Scottish Parliament Commisssion



Four-year inflation-busting pay offer to be put to UNISON members.

UNISON, Scotland's largest local government union today agreed put a new offer from Scottish Councils to a ballot of their 80,000 Scottish Local Government members. The offer guarantees inflation-plus pay awards giving an average 14.1% increase to Scottish Council staff for the years 2000 -2004.

The pay rises would range from 16.37% at the bottom of the scales to 11.29% at the top. The pay offer increases the current two-year offer from 6.1% to 6.5% by bringing the settlement date for next year (2002) forward to March. .In addition there is a commitment to reopen discussions at any point, should inflation get within 1/4% of the annual settlement. The settlement in 2002 will be a flat rate £500 which will deliver a minimum wage in Scottish Local government which will break the £5.00 an hour barrier for the first time - the lowest paid council worker will earn £5.03 per hour..

The indefinite industrial action that affected around 1300 local government staff across Scotland will remain suspended whilst the ballot is carried out

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, said
"This new offer is a major step forward and we want to ask our members whether they are prepared to accept it. The members' wishes have driven us throughout this dispute. It is the members' action in the one-day and selective strikes that has pushed the employers to this new position. This offer is the first inflation-plus pay offer that I am aware of. It improves on the 6.1% offer for the existing two years, guarantees members pay will be above inflation for two further years, and takes a major step towards dealing with the problem of low pay. It is now time for them to tell us what they think of this new offer."

John Stevenson, UNISON City of Edinburgh Branch spokesperson said,

"We will consult members and activists over the week on whether we should recommend rejection or acceptance. But there are two key issues in this offer. The flat rate we have long campaigned for is one, and the other is the first ever inflation proofing mechanism. Our members will have to look at these very closely. It is their action that has brought us this far".

The union, who represent two-thirds of Scottish local government workers, was claiming 5% or £500 for 2000's pay rise, plus a minimum wage of £5 per hour. They rejected both CoSLA's original 2.5% offer and the new 6.1% two-year deal, and have been in dispute with CoSLA for over 5 months.

NOTE: UNISON City of Edinburgh Branch represents over 8,000 staff working for the City of Edinburgh Council.

Pay Offer 1 April 2000 - 31 March 2004

 Dates of implementation   1.4.00  1.10.00  1.2.01  1.3.02  1.4.03  Total %
 Increases offered  2%  1%  3%  £500  4%  14.1%
 Pay points            
 £8,652 (scp 3)  8,826   8,913  9,180  9,680  10,067   16.37%
 £11,115(scp10) 11,337    11,451  11,796  12,296 12,788   15.05%
 £14,028(scp20)   14,310 14,454   14,889  15,389  16,005   14.09%
 £21,636(scp34)  22,068  22,290  22,959  23,459  24,397  12.76%
 £55,329(scp73) 56,436   57,000  58,710 59,210  61,578    11.29%


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Return to work crisis averted (12 Jan)

Agreement has now been reached with the City of Edinburgh Council that we will await the outcome of talks at CoSLA regarding return to work agreement. No plans will be implemented meantime.

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11 January 2000

'Rogue' Edinburgh Council risks pay talks by victimising returning strikers

UNISON has reacted furiously to Edinburgh Council's plans to penalise strikers who are returning to work at CoSLA's request to allow talks to resolve the six month pay dispute.

Despite national negotiations on conditions for a return to work, Edinburgh has unilaterally imposed its own terms. It has announced that when the strikers return it will:
- cut their annual leave entitlement
- cut rights to sick pay
- cut any access to future career breaks.

"It is hard to find words for our anger. These members are going back as part of a national agreement to allow talks to take place, yet they are being kicked in the teeth by a vindictive Council. You have to ask whether Edinburgh really wants a settlement and to restore normal services", said John Stevenson, UNISON Edinburgh spokesperson.

"By another idiotic move, the Council has again managed to insult its whole workforce. This exposes the problems that have led to so much unrest in the first place and will make it all the harder to reach a settlement"

Douglas Black, Edinburgh UNISON Secretary and one of the national negotiators said,

"We are in talks with CoSLA to ensure a smooth return to work to allow crucial talks to take place. Rogue actions like this by Edinburgh will hardly help that process. I call on Edinburgh Council to withdraw its threats and get into proper talks to try to reach an honest solution in the interests of its staff and the people of Edinburgh".

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20 December 2000


Click here for card and leaflet

A group of City of Edinburgh UNISON members - some on indefinite strike - will gather outside the City Chambers (High Street Edinburgh) on Thursday 21 December at 5pm to sing Christmas Carols outside the Labour Councillors' Christmas Party.

"We have been accused of being 'selfish' and in our campaign for fair pay. We want to show everybody that is not true - and what better time than the season of goodwill", said John Stevenson, UNISON Edinburgh spokesperson.

In presenting a giant Christmas Card (click here), the carol singers will also have a serious message.

"Even during our strike for fair pay, thousands of our members in childrens homes, homes for older people and a range of emergency and caring services will be working round the clock over Christmas and New Year to provide essential services", said Mr Stevenson.

"Our members are committed to those services. But local government pay has fallen so far behind, councils are having problems recruiting staff to do these jobs. A fair pay settlement could make the difference", he added.

"With the Scottish Executive, UNISON and even some councils saying they think a settlement is possible, we are calling for some festive goodwill from councillors to get into real talks to solve the nine month old dispute.

UNISON points out that

Local government has had pay deals BELOW inflation for 6 of the last 7 years The current 3% offer is LESS than the headline inflation rate Workers across public services and the private sector have been paid more The offer will do nothing to help the lowest paid

"We will be leafleting the public to ask them to urge their councillors to brief themselves on the dispute and push for a settlement", said Mr Stevenson


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11 December 2000

UNISON to fight Edinburgh Leisure holidays fiddle

UNISON is to mount a three pronged campaign to fight changes to contracts that could see Edinburgh Leisure staff lose hundreds of pounds in pay, as yet again the Trust tries to undermine conditions protected under Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (TUPE).

The union's City of Edinburgh Branch has slammed the Leisure Trust's consultation with staff as a 'fiddle'. The Trust, which runs Edinburgh's leisure centres and swimming pools, wants to change five public holidays to annual leave, meaning staff working public holidays will lose out on enhanced payments. UNISON was prepared to talk about a possible buy-out but the Trust refused.

The union will now send a letter to all members to apply to Employment Tribunals, will lobby the City of Edinburgh Council as the primary funders and consult its members on industrial action.

"UNISON balloted members individually and they voted with a resounding 'NO' to the change in conditions. The Trust claimed it had balloted all staff but they were found out and eventually admitted they merely 'consulted' via managers. On the basis of this dubious exercise, they are claiming staff have voted for the change", said George Lee Edinburgh UNISON Manual Convenor.

On top of all this, the union is furious that the Trust has sent out a letter asking staff to sign to agree to the change. The letter ignores a contractual requirement to give staff the opportunity to sign to disagree with the change.

"The Trust's own statement of particulars require any changes to conditions to be negotiated with the union. They have even ignored that. These are disgraceful breaches of the Trust's obligations and give the lie to City of Edinburgh Council's assurances that staff conditions would be safe after transfer from direct council control", added Mr Lee.

"The Trust's letter to staff claims it does not want to issue new 'statements of particulars', yet it plans to do just that. We have received a copy for consultation which, along with the holiday changes, sneaks in further reductions to pay and conditions. You expect this from a 'cowboy' employer, not an arms-length Council Trust".


Note: UNISON holds documentation to substantiate its complaints about the Trust's actions.

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7 December 2000

Local government pay dispute window of opportunity

UNISON's National Disputes Committeemeeting in London earlier today decided to defer a decision to escalate its programme of industrial action in local government in Scotland to allow talks on the current dispute to proceed.

After an approach by the employers to UNISON directly, the union has agreed to take advantage of this window of opportunity and will not escalate the dispute at the present time.

In making their decision, the Committee recognised the employers' position both with regard to inflatioon-proofing the current offer and a guarantee of inflation-plus pay awards in future years. The employers have also said that negotiations could be weighted towards the lower paid - an objective which UNISON has been fighting for for many years.

UNISON's National Disputes Committee expressed strong support for the current industrial action and the continuing fight by members in Scotland to reach a successful conclusion to the dispute.

The committee will meet again in early January to review the situation and will look positively at the call for escalation should talks break down.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary, called upon CoSLA to re-open negotiations immediately.

"The ball is now clearly with the Employers' Side. We have decided not to further escalate the dispute at this time. This gives the opportunity for negotiations to begin. I have written today to Pat Watters, the Employers' Side leading negotiator, calling for urgent talks. We are long past time for a settlement".

John Stevenson, Edinburgh UNISON Vice Chair said, "We are glad that more disruption over the festive season can be avoided. We said neither we nor the employers should be Scrooge over Christmas and we hope this will bring a genuine attempt to solve the dispute.

"We are asking Edinburgh Council leaders to play a full part in CoSLA to bring about a settlement".


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UNISON won't be scrooge at festive season, but warns...
Talks, not media dirty tricks will solve dispute

Edinburgh UNISON is calling on the City of Edinburgh Council to ignore the CoSLA 'dirty tricks' campaign and use its influence to get councils back to the talks they walked away from last week.

Over 90 strikers meeting today were furious at a CoSLA letter, exposed by the Evening News, that calls on councils to create public fear by publicising a 'worst possible scenario' of the effects of UNISON's action.

"We will certainly not be Scrooge this Christmas and we will genuinely try to avoid any unnecessary impact on Hogmanay festivities. We are asking the Council to do the same", said John Stevenson, Edinburgh UNISON Vice Chair.

"But we are now worried that the CoSLA letter betrays a strategy to risk services just to get UNISON a bad press".

UNISON say their targeted areas in Edinburgh for indefinite strike were designed to put pressure on finances, senior managers and councillors. They say the Council knew it would get little public sympathy in these areas.

"The Council then began to undermine our action by using agencies and by threatening other staff. They knew we would be forced into areas that would affect the public directly and they were prepared to take that risk with services. The CoSLA letter seems to suggest they welcome this as a chance to turn the public against UNISON".

"By their intransigence, the Councils are the ones playing roulette with council services."

"Let us not forget, it was the councils who walked away from the talks with ACAS. Let us not forget that the Scottish Executive have said a solution is possible, more and more councils are saying a solution is possible. UNISON believes a solution is possible. Only CoSLA seems to be stuck in 'NO' mode".


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17 NOVEMBER 2000



UNISON has responded with concern to the announcement by COSLA that it is to impose a pay award on local government staff. Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, said,

"COSLA's decision is very unhelpful and runs the risk of prolonging rather than shortening this dispute.

"However, we have made clear from the beginning that we would enter into negotiations with COSLA at any time. And we have already indicated to ACAS our willingness for them to act as conciliators. This dispute will only be resolved through negotiation. UNISON still has an outstanding pay claim for 2000/2001 which has yet to be concluded.

"We cannot accept this unilateral action by COSLA as the end of the matter and our plans to escalate strike action next week remain unchanged."

Edinburgh UNISON Spokesperson John Stevenson said, "If the Councils impose the award, we will see it as an interim payment pending a proper settlement. They can afford more and our members deserve more".


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Date: 16 November 2000

Strike escalation adds to councils' problems

As around 70,000 UNISON members struck for the third day of action in four months, Scotland's largest local government union announced that - as there had been no movement from CoSLA - they would be starting a further series of selective industrial action from Thursday November 23. This would mean bringing out on indefinite strike a new wave of key workers, adding to the day-to-day problems of running Scotland's Councils.

In addition services were closed or severely disrupted across Scotland as UNISON members stayed away. Council Offices, housing and social work services, libraries and museums, public health and cleansing services were affected. Schools in some areas were either shut or had limited classes, and strikers attended rallies in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Falkirk and Glasgow. Emergency Services and 'Life and limb' cover was maintained, except where councils had deliberately provoked the union by bringing in private firms to break the strike of the selective strikers. Dougie Black, Chair of UNISON's Trade Union side, said

" It is almost unbelievable that Scotland's Councils seem more intent in deliberately provoking their staff to escalate their action than in pressurising their own side to resolve their problems. We know that the selective strikes are causing major problems for councils, and yet they allow their negotiators to prolong the agony."

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government said
"The success of today's action shows that UNISON members are as committed as ever to the fight for a fair pay deal in 2000. They have also shown that they will not allow their colleagues on indefinite strike action to be victimised and picked off. Unfortunately, instead of pressurising CoSLA to deal with the problems of low pay, Scottish Councils' appear to think that attacking their own staff will resolve their problems. It will not resolve anything.
"As we have had no movement from CoSLA, and only threats from councils, we have to respond by adding further groups to the indefinite strike action."

The groups, who are listed overleaf, add a further 700+ staff on indefinite strike, doubling the 600+ who started their strike on 1 November. It will also affect an additional seven councils, bringing the total number affected to 26 (from a total of 32).


Note to Editors: The lists of NEW groups of staff called out on indefinite action is listed overleaf. They are listed by council, and are in addition to those announced on 1 November 2000, who also remain on strike.
P2 New Selective Strike Action - UNISON pay dispute

Aberdeen City Council: Collections Team - Revenues Section/Finance Department
Angus Council: Non Domestic Rates & Incomes/Supervisors (Recovery)/Machine Room
Argyll & Bute Council: Janitorial Employees
City of Edinburgh Council: Telecommunications Exchange
Clackmannanshire Council: Community Access Points
Dundee City Council: Support Services/Finance Revenues/Information Technology/
Lawside Academy
East Dunbartonshire Council: IT Helpdesk
East Renfrewshire Council: School Janitors/Hallkeepers/Call Centre/Barrhead Sports Centre/
Neilston Leisure Centre/ Eastwood Recreation Centre
Falkirk Council: Neighbourhood Officers/Central Allocations Officers
Fife Council: Finance - Council Tax Recovery/Council Service Officers & Assistants
Highland Council: Corran Ferry/Inverness Service Point/Cash Collection - Service Point (Church Street)/Cash Staff - Headquarters
Inverclyde Council: Housing Benefits/Committee Clerks
Midlothian Council: Revenues/Housing
Moray Council: Environmental (Cleansing)
North Ayrshire Council: Finance Section/Creditors
Perth & Kinross Council: IT
Renfrewshire Council: Housing Neighbourhood offices-clerical staff/Committee Clerks Members' Services
South Ayrshire Council: Council Officers/Civic Officers
South Lanarkshire Council: Housing/Tech Resources (Debtors Section)
West Lothian Council: Members Services/IT Services/Creditors/Admin & Legal Staff/Revenues

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15 November 2000

Edinburgh Council threatens American style strike-busting

Edinburgh UNISON has information that the City of Edinburgh Council is set to bring in Sheriff Officers to deal with mail and cash payments to try to break the pay strike at its Finance offices at Chesser House and Waterloo Place.

Cash Collection and Security staff have been on strike since 1 November as part of the Scotland-wide campaign for an improvement on the Councils' 3% offer this year.

"We understand that the Council is planning to use Sheriff Officers to take cash, cheques and mail off the premises to process it at their own office. The move has been prompted by the Council's panic at losing at least £5 million in payments since the strike began", said John Stevenson UNISON Edinburgh spokesperson.

"While we have no reason to doubt the integrity of Sheriff Officers, we are sure the public did not intend their mail and their cheques to be seen by anyone except the Council", he added.

Kevin Duguid, UNISON branch officer and Finance Department steward said, "Our members are angry at yet another American-style strike busting attempt by the Council. As we keep saying to them, this can only escalate the action dangerously. They would be far better using their efforts to seek a solution rather than alienating their staff and the public".

The 3% pay offer is less than the rest of the public sector, much less than the private sector and less than half of the Civil Service offer. Local Government workers have had pay rises below inflation for six out of the last seven years.

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Edinburgh Gritters to strike after Council uses strong-arm tactics

For the first time in UNISON's four month fight for fair pay, Edinburgh's gritters will be on strike on 16 November. This follows the Council's decision to use agency staff to try to break the selective strike in the City Development Department's planning section.

But Striking UNISON members will respond to any major flood emergency.

"This is the first time we have ever removed emergency cover. But we simply cannot supply volunteers in one area when our members are being attacked in another. Edinburgh is the only council in Scotland to bring in agency strike-breakers", said John Stevenson, Edinburgh UNISON vice chair.

"We have already exempted staff who would provide emergency centres and our members will turn out if a major flood is imminent. We are approaching this responsibly despite the immense provocation from management. They have put their desperation to break the strike before public safety", said John Stevenson, Edinburgh UNISON vice chair.

"We have warned the Council over and over again that strong-arm tactics would lead to a problem with life and limb cover. We have sustained that cover in every dispute for nearly 20 years. It is a sad day indeed that we have been forced into this", he added.

Wattie Weir, steward for the City Development gritter staff said, "The men are furious. They will not in all conscience go out on emergency cover when management is breaking the strike in the very same Department".

"After UNISON pleas for the Council to change its mind fell on deaf ears, the union has now blocked all exemptions in City Development until further notice".

The gritter service involves about 20 vehicles with up to 50 staff depending on the weather.

"This gives the lie to the Council's claim that the strike is having no effect. Clearly it is biting hard if it is forcing the Council into considering such desperate action", added Dougie Black, Edinburgh Branch Secretary and national negotiator.

"The Council seems hell bent on escalating the action. If it would put as much effort into seeking a solution with fair pay for council workers, we would not be in this position".


Further information:

John Stevenson 07880 563 178, 0131 558 7488

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10 November 2000

Council draws back on suspensions

The City of Edinburgh Council has drawn back from forcing more local government staff out on strike to join the 76 UNISON members already out in the city since 1 November.

Five staff in the Council's City Development Department were about to be instructed to cover the work of exisiting strikers who normally deal with planning applications. If they refused and were to be sent home without pay. Now the Council has postponed a decision until Monday 13 November.

"We would have had no alternative but to bring these members out on strike", said John Stevenson, UNISON Edinburgh Branch spokesperson. "Now we are urging the Council to make a clear decision and not leave our members worrying over the weekend".

"This gives the lies to the Council's claim that the strike is having no effect. Clearly it is biting hard if it is forcing the Council into considering such desperate action.

"All it would succeed in doing is creating more disruption. If members are to be pressurised in this way in one area, it is bound to affect the volunteers we send in to cover emergencies in other areas", he added.

John Mulgrew, UNISON Edinburgh service conditions co-ordinator warned,

"The Council will get nowhere with these macho tactics, particularly evident in this Department for some time. It would only further escalate the disruption. We call on the Council again to use its influence on CoSLA to get down to serious talks to resolve this dispute. Our pay rise was due last April and the Councils have draggd their feet since, creating enormous ill-feeling amongst staff, and unnecessary disruption.


Further information:

John Stevenson 07880 563 178, 0131 558 7488
John Mulgrew 0131 558 7488

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1 November 2000

Edinburgh council workers start selective strikes

Seventy-six Edinburgh Council staff came out on indefinite strike today as the pay dispute with Scottish Councils goes into its fourth month. The action by members of UNISON, the main union for Edinburgh Council staff, is designed to try to get CoSLA round the table to improve the 3% pay offer for 2000 which was rejected by 83% of those voting in the Edinburgh ballot.

Dougie Black, UNISON Edinburgh branch secretary and national negotiator said,

"The employers must take notice of their staff's strength of feeling. They have underestimated it all along and it is now time to come forward with a decent offer. As Scotland's capital, Edinburgh should be playing a key role in CoSLA. We urge councillors to play that role and exert pressure to come up with a better and fairer deal to avoid further disruption and to keep faith with their staff".

John Stevenson, Edinburgh Branch Vice Chair, warned the employers against escalating the action.

"We welcome statements from Edinburgh councillors that strikers will not be victimised, but we have already encountered management instructing other staff to take on extra jobs to cover for strikers. This can only lead to more strife. Instead of working away at wheezes to get round the action, the people of Edinburgh will expect the Council to put their efforts into seeking a sensible resolution to the dispute.

"Of course the Council has to try to deliver services. The best way to do this is with fair treatment of the staff who deliver these services day in day out. The employers accept our members have fallen behind on pay over the years but the new offer (only 0.5% more).....

shows no evidence of new money being used, contrary to CoSLA claims does nothing for the lower paid, goes no way to compensate for previous below-inflation pay awards.

"Staff are angry at the employers lack of understanding and their refusal to get into meaningful negotiations. The time to talk is now, before the disruption bites. They can afford a better deal and our members deserve it", added Mr Stevenson.

The staff on indefinite strike in the first phase starting 1 November are......

Cash Collection Staff, Finance Dept.
Affecting receipt of payments like Council tax and major financial transactions amounting often to over £10million
Corporate Secretarial Services, City Development Directorate
Could create crisis in management and delivery of planning, transportation, building control and economic development.
Planning Reception
Will impact on planning applications and major building developments and hit Council income.
Front Counter/Plan Store, Property Management
Planning, Building Control and archive searches of building layouts will be disrupted. Developers and Builders will be hit, putting pressure on the Council. Loss of Council income.
Building Support Staff, Council HQ
Will disrupt a range of work across the council and affect public access to buildings.
Building Support Staff, City Chambers
Council meetings could be affected. Loss of income from lets.
Licensing Section, Legal Services
Will disrupt all licensing applications, eg liquor, entertainment, street trading and taxis.
District Court Admin Staff
Will affect collection of fines including road traffic penalties. Loss of income to Council.
Security Staff, Chesser House
Will affect services at Benefits Office, Trading Standards, Environmental Health, Valuation and Assessor.

Further staff have been identified for a potential second phase of indefinite action.


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Date: 31 October 2000

Selective strikes start in local council pay dispute

76 Edinburgh workers will join over 600 key local government staff across nineteen Scottish local councils begin indefinite strike action on Wednesday 1 November, as the pay dispute between UNISON and Scottish Councils goes into its fourth month.

The action by members of UNISON, the main local government union is designed to disrupt the work of councils and persuade them to put pressure on the leadership of CoSLA to improve the 3% offer for 2000 that was rejected by council staff.

This new move in the dispute comes after UNISON members rejected the new offer from CoSLA by 68% to 32%.
Joe Di Paola says

"This shows that staff know that the new offer involved no new money, did nothing for the lower paid and locked them into a two-year deal. That's why they are angry about the way they are being treated. We call upon Scottish Councils to get their CoSLA representatives back round the negotiating table. Scottish local government staff deserve a fair pay rise."

Areas on strike have been chosen to exert maximum effect on the councils with minimum direct effect on the public. In Edinburgh, the areas on strike will announce on this site on 1 November 2000.

See UNISONScotland Press Releases

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23 October 2000

UNISON action to escalate as 68% reject pay offer

UNISON members across Scotland today rejected a revised pay offer from the local government employers and will now step up their action. Edinburgh members had already delivered an 83% rejection (see below) of the offer and it was clear that this pattern would follow around the country.

The new offer meant an increase of half a per cent on the previous one, with a further 3.1% promised for next year. UNISON suspended its industrial action to consult its members and today announced that its Scottish Local Government members had resoundingly rejected the offer. In the consultation exercise 23,423 (68% of those voting) voted to reject the offer and 11,212 (32%) voted to accept.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government, said

"UNISON members are angry and frustrated. The new offer shows no evidence of new money being used, does nothing for the lower paid, and goes no way to compensate for previous below-inflation pay awards. The idea of being locked into a two year deal was also rejected as a hostage to fortune. We would hope that Scottish Councils will take note of the huge majority of their staff who have voted for rejection of this offer and will, even at this late stage, look at using some of the money they have for next year to give their staff a fair pay deal this year."

John Stevenson, City of Edinburgh UNISON vice chair added, "The employers must take notice of their staff's strength of feeling. They have underestimated it all along and it is now time to come forward with a decent offer.

"As Scotland's capital, Edinburgh should be playing a key role in CoSLA. We urge councillors to play that role and exert pressure to come up with a better and fairer deal to avoid further disruption and to keep faith with their staff".

A meeting of UNISON's Scottish Local Government Branches today (Monday) agreed to resume the campaign of industrial action suspended to allow the consultation. Joe Di Paola said

"Our members have no alternative now, but to reinstate the action by calling out on indefinite strike small groups of key members, moving the disruption into the heart of Scottish Councils. This action will also be supplemented by a further one-day strike of all local government members."

The selective action will involve indefinite strikes by key groups of council staff like financial workers who collect debts for councils, legal and administrative workers, mail room and security staff, committee clerks, telephonists and computer staff, people whose absence will have a major impact on council running.


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20 October 2000

Edinburgh UNISON members reject pay offer in landslide vote

Councillors urged to put pressure on CoSLA for a deal

City of Edinburgh Council UNISON members have rejected the employers latest national pay offer by four to one in a branch wide ballot. The branch's views will now go to a meeting of all Scottish branches next week. If other branches vote the same way, the suspended programme of strike action will start again.

The ballot result was 4,000 (80%) to reject with only 1,000 (20%) to accept, on a 60% return.

"The employers made much of the low turnout in the original ballot but they cannot ignore this massive rejection of an offer that means only 0.5% more this year. Their approach to this dispute and their miserly offers have only served to harden our members attitudes", said John Stevenson, Edinburgh UNISON spokesperson.

"The 6.11% two year offer means only 3.015% this year and just over 3% next year. All the employers have offered this year is what they've saved due to our strikes. There is no evidence that money is being brought forward from next year, and so there is no need to leap into the uncertainty of a two-year deal.

"There is nothing in it for the low paid - our claim included a flat rate and a minimum hourly rate - and some will even be worse off through losing welfare benefits.

"Our members are angry that the complicated two-year deal has been dressed up to look like more than it is. They are not going to commit themselves to no further increase before April 2002"

"After years of falling behind on pay, Local Government staff deserve more and the employers can afford more.

"As Scotland's capital, Edinburgh should be playing a key role in CoSLA. We urge councillors to play that role and exert pressure to come up with a better and fairer deal to avoid further disruption and to keep faith with their staff".

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22 August 2000

UNISON warns strike may close schools

Edinburgh UNISON is warning the City of Edinburgh Council and parents that schools will be seriously affected and could face closure on 29 August as a result of strike action.

"UNISON wants to make it clear that we have given plenty of notice of this action to the council. We do not want any child turning up to school to find it unexepctedly closed. Parents must assume that most schools will be affected", said John Stevenson, Edinburgh UNISON vice-chair.

UNISON members provide the whole infrastructure for schools. Janitors, clerical staff, auxialiaries, school meals staff, cleaners and crossing guides are all members of UNISON.

"With so many UNISON members crucial to the running of schools, we would have expected the council to take steps to close them to be on the safe side. However, in case they don't, we have exempted crossing guides as a safety measure", added Mr Stevenson.

"The last time there was industrial action, we were concerned that people covering for janitors did not follow the proper safety procedures in some instances. This meant, for example, that all exit doors were not always unlocked", added George Lee, Edinburgh UNISON manual workers convenor.

The strike is the first in a rolling programme to try to get the employers round the table after their final offer of 2.5% in this years pay talks.

"The offer is an insult. It is less than inflation forecasts, only half the going rate in the economy, less than the English local government settlement, and less than elsewhere in the public sector. It would mean that for six of the last seven years, local government workers would get a rise less than inflation - effectively a pay cut", said John Stevenson.

The union's Scottish claim is for 5% or £500 (whichever is the greater) and a £5 minimum hourly rate.


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'Pay insult' angers Edinburgh council workers
Offer of half the going rate means staff can get more working for McDonalds

"A McDonald's hamburger worker can earn £1.20 an hour more than an auxiliary helping children with special needs in Edinburgh's schools", a meeting of Edinburgh UNISON shop stewards heard today as they geared up for the first day of strike in the union's pay campaign.

John Stevenson, Edinburgh UNISON vice-chair, branded the Scottish Local Government Pay Offer an "insult to staff who have bent over backwards to keep the council running through reorganisation after reorganisation".

"Our members have been left with no choice. They do not want to strike but what can they do when they are offered 2.5%, half the average settlement this year in the public and private sectors?", he added.

The first council pay strike for 11 years will start with plans for a one day stoppage by all staff on 29 August, followed by all staff striking for a further two days and three days. It will also be backed up by indefinite strike of selected groups of staff.

"For five out of the last six years we have had pay cuts with settlements falling below inflation. This year the offer is over 2% lower than the top independent projected inflation figure. Scottish council staff are being paid on average £17.50 a week less than their English counterpart. This offer was never a serious attempt to address pay, it was an attempt to rub council staff's noses in the dirt", said Mr Stevenson.


1999 figures: Edinburgh School Auxiliary approx £4.70 per hour. McDonalds Catering Asst. £5.90ph (top) Tesco Cleaner £4.72 - £5.74ph Source: Incomes Data Services, Sept 1999

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Date: 21 June 2000

Strike ballot called as local government pay talks collapse

Talks to agree a pay increase for 250,000 Scottish local government workers ended in deadlock today (Wednesday 21 June 2000) and UNISON, Scotland's largest local government union moved towards an industrial action ballot. Unions -including UNISON, GMB and the T&GWU - representing staff in Scotland's 32 local authorities rejected an employers offer of 2.5%. The employers refused to increase the offer.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government and Trade Union Side Secretary said
"This miserly offer was emphatically rejected in the extensive consultations that we carried out amongst the UNISON membership across Scotland. It doesn't go any way towards dealing with low pay in local government and doesn't even match the offer made by English councils."

Unless there is a breakthrough in the talks, UNISON will begin the process leading to a ballot of its 90,000 members in Scotland's local councils on industrial action. This would cause major disruption to local services like environmental health and cleansing services, social work and other care services, educational, leisure and cultural provision and many others.

Jane Carolan, Chair of the Scottish trade union negotiators, said
"Whilst we agree that employers have had no funding for pay increases for seven years now - our members feel that they shouldn't be penalised. We want Scottish local government to be properly funded, and in particular those who provide the services should be properly paid."

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March for Equality and Diversity - Saturday 24 June 2000

You are invited to join a March for Equality and Diversity in Edinburgh on Saturday 24 June 2000. This is being organised by the STUC and Scrap the Section - the Scottish campaign to repeal section 28.

It is being timed to coincide with the repeal of section 28 by the Scottish Parliament and is aimed at promoting the principles of equality and diversity in Scotland today.

Assemble at 12.30pm on Saturday 24 June 2000 in East Market Street (beside Waverley Station). Depart at 1.00pm. March along Princes Street and up The Mound past the Scottish Parliament.

The march will be an opportunity to reject the attempt by Brian Souter's Keep the Clause campaign to use chequebook democracy and impose a narrow view of traditional family values. It provides an opportunity for the real mainstream majority to be heard who want to build a modern Scotland on the foundations of respect for diversity. It is also hoped there will be contingents on the march from Refugees Welcome Here and Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre.

The march is supported by the following trade unions: AUT, EIS, GMB, MSF, TGWU and UNISON. And invited to take part are children's and parents organisations, youth and student groups, church groups, COSLA, women's organisations, equalities groups, arts organisations and many more.

Bring yourself, your friends and your family and support equality and

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UNISON calls on Edinburgh to save childrens project

Click here for the full submission to council.

UNISON's Edinburgh branch has called on the City of Edinburgh Council to delay their shock decision to close Craigmillar Childrens Project until the full results on "Working Together" reviews are examined.

UNISON's John Ross will ask the council to think again a submission to the council's Social Work Committee on Tuesday 14 March at 10am. Deputations of parents and staff will also lobby the committee.

"There has been no consultation with staff or service users and are still waiting for the results of two reviews into provision in the area", said John Ross, Edinburgh UNISON Service Conditions Convener.

"Our members are not resistant to change. Like the council, they want "Joined Up Working" and they are commited to the Scottish Executive's social inclusion policies. But If this project closes now, the council will have nullified all the detailed work that has been done to look at integrating services in the area", added Mr Ross.

"This is a valuable project that has been supporting children in their local schools, and in their local communities for 12 years. The alternative could mean some children going away to residential schools", added John Stevenson, branch vice chairperson.

In a detailed submission, UNISON makes the following points:-

1. There are two ongoing reviews of provision in the area, both of which involve the project's role. One is about to report on 'Working Together' in Craigmillar. The other in which the Community Education Strategy Group has commissioned a consultant, is considering the possibility of merger of the project with another in the area. Closure at this stage will undermine these reviews and the strategy for services to children and families. It would also pre-empt and in reality nullify the detailed work carried out to date.

2. Lack of consultation, implications for other staff/services. There has been no consultation with staff, service users or the community. There are implications not just for staff in the project, but also for other social work staff in the area who could face increased pressures and workload without this resource.

3. Closure at this stage would undermine the council's concept of 'Joined-Up Working" and the Scottish Executive's aim of promoting "Social Inclusion". The strength of provision in the area is the contribution of all of the existing resources and how they integrate. The reviews are attempting to address this. The project is not resistant to change and welcomes proper and evidenced examination of its role.

4. The 'alternative provision' mentioned in budget documents has not been identified. The current project is cost effective. If it only prevents two children having to go to residential school (each placement costs approx £60,000), it would more than recoup the cost of continued Social Work Department funding.

NOTE: The project was the first in Edinburgh to work with primary school age children in schools. It supports children with difficulties and works with them and their families to keep them in their local community and at their local schools. The project employs five social work staff and four teachers. The social work staff look set to be transferred to to other posts.


Further Information. John Ross 0131 558 7488, John Stevenson 0131 343 1991

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Mon 3 January 2000Serving Scotland's Capital
UNISON calls for partnership for Edinburgh's services in 2000
UNISON's City of Edinburgh Branch has called for financial stability in 2000 to allow the council and its workers to provide services that:-give the people of Edinburgh a real say in their services. are the best that can be delivered - choosing quality services are provided by a public services team, a work force trained and qualified, treated fairly and equally, with the resources to deliver - choosing teamwork. The branch has re-issued its 'Partnership to Save Edinburgh's Services' document to call for a new joint approach with the Council to avoid the yearly crisis over funding."We face cuts of £10 million this year, £15 million next year and a further £16 million the year after. Councillors, the public and, most of al,l the workers that deliver services are frustrated by year upon year of cuts.", said John Stevenson, spokesperson for UNISON Edinburgh."Cheapness is too often being chosen over quality. Staff who are committed to Edinburgh's services are under more and more stress. They know systems could work better and wWe need new ideas, new partnerships, new involvement by workers and the public - but they need basic public service values to underpin them."There is nothing modern or new about 'rolling back' to the days of failed private, selective, outsourced and unco-ordinated services. Progress can only be made by building a new future based on the best principles of public service, responsive to the needs and wishes of the people of Edinburgh. We need to join with the council in arguing for the Scottish Parliament to provide the resources to achieve that aim", added John StevensonAs part of its "Serving Scotland's Capital" campaign, the document calls for:-'Partnership Groups' involving councillors, management and unions to consult and seek solutions from the people actually doing the job. Systems for fully involving and consulting service users. A training package for all staff to develop and diversify skills to make the most efficient use of staff resources, to build consistency and stability, to make jobs more rewarding and interesting and to protect jobs and services. A voluntary sector forum to integrate and support initiatives and to ensure consistency of conditions. Protection for staff with a no compulsory redundancy element to build an atmosphere of trust and co-operation. ENDS
Note for Editors:
The full document is on Edinburgh UNISON's website at http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/partner.htmlFurther Information:John Stevenson 07880 563 178 (m) - 0131 558 7488 UNISON OfficeHome Page | Top Index | UNISONNews

Edinburgh UNISON backs election inquiry but warns against scapegoating staff or managementUNISON's Edinburgh branch has called on City of Edinburgh councillors to back their staff and management as the full council on 28 October considers a report on problems with the Scottish Parliament and Local Government elections in May 1999.In a submission to the council, the union says it is "time to learn constructive lessons (a process demonstrated successfully in the European elections) and to avoid the temptation to divert from the real problems by scapegoating management or staff."UNISON quotes the Association of Electoral Adminstrators' report to the Secretary of State which said "Survival (at the election) was only achieved by considerable, if not unreasonable, personal effort by large numbers of election staff ....""This sums up the work put in by our members. They feel that their efforts have gone ignored by politicians. Worse still, they have been made to feel vulnerable by comments in the press. Throughout this they have appreciated the position taken by senior council management in trying to explain the difficulties staff faced", said John Stevenson, Edinburgh UNISON spokesperson.The union draws on four more points made by the Association of Electoral Administrators. The urgent need for a review of election funding; a well funded training programme; and the problems of long overnight counts due to proportional representation, which puts pressure on staff who have to work as normal the following day.Further Information: John Stevenson 0131 558 7488, 0131 343 1991Text of Submission to CouncilCITY OF EDINBURGH COUNCIL - 28 OCTOBER 1999
CONDUCT OF THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS ON 6 MAY 1999UNISON represents most of the staff involved in the organisation of elections. They faced an unprecedented task on 6/7 May 1999 due to a number of factors, some specific to Edinburgh, which are outlined in the Chief Executive's report.Despite their efforts, staff have been made to feel extremely vulnerable due to nature of recent press comments and speculation, and the absence of public recognition by politicians of the task they had to undertake in particularly difficult circumstances.We would draw your attention to some of the factors identified by the Association of Electoral Administrators which include:-• "Survival was only achieved by considerable, if not unreasonable, personal effort by large numbers of election staff and by some degree of luck"
• There is an urgent need for a review of election funding.
• There is a need for a well funded training programme.
• The problems associated with long counts due to PR when many casual and part-time staff have to work as normal the following day.The Council is already aware of the large absentee rate and as part of its investigation it may be well advised to look at the pressures that then fall on to Council staff at all levels.UNISON appreciates the position of Senior Council Management in seeking to explain the difficulties staff faced amidst ever more hysterical press coverage and political comment. It is fair to say that the staff have perceived some politicians as distancing themselves from the problem, concentrating more on blame than support.Our members would fully support a reasoned national inquiry into the elections. Our members strongly feel that this is a time to learn constructive lessons (a process demonstrated successfully in the European elections) and to avoid the temptation to divert from the real problems by scapegoating management or staff.John Stevenson
Branch Vice-Chairperson

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25 October 1999UNISON proved right on cleaning crisis prediction
Call for united front on education funding
UNISON's City of Edinburgh Branch has slammed criticism of cleaning staff at Boroughmuir High School and puts the blame on council cuts which it warned would lead to a crisis in cleaning services."You cannot cut œ1million in two years and expect the same service. We argued this when our cleaning members were facing redundancy but no-one listened" said Morag Stevenson, Branch Secretary. "Now schools are facing the reality of these cuts and the very people who are striving to deliver the services are getting the blame".UNISON says that cuts mean far less staff are expected to deliver the same service. It also says that the way contracts are formulated is out of date."Contracts used to be very specific about what service was expected. Now the council uses 'output' contracts which set broad guidelines. We see over and over again how these can be wide open to interpretation, both by private contractors reducing service, and by the council itself when it forces through cuts", added George Lee, Service Conditions Convener."In-house staff have consistently shown they can deliver on quality and cost if they are allowed to. We need a level playing field that outlines blow by blow exactly what level of service the council expects, and is prepared to pay for. If it is not prepared to pay for the service, let it be honest about the cuts", said George Lee.United FrontUNISON has also criticised Boroughmuir's Headteacher for his 'ill-informed' criticism of cleaning staff and has written to teaching unions urging a united front for proper education funding."There is no place in education for 'them and us'. The whole school team, from the dinner lady to the Headteacher, is essential to delivering an education service to our children. They all need to be respected and valued. We call on all school staff to join together to work for adequate funding for all aspects of education", added John Stevenson, UNISON branch spokesperson.Further Information: John Stevenson 0131220 5655/ 0131 343 1991Home Page | Top Index | UNISONNews

3.3% pay deal acceptedUNISON members across Scotland have voted by almost nine to one to accept this year's 3.3% pay deal.But hopes that the cash, backdated to 1 April 1999, would be paid at the end of September have been dashed by the GMB union's delay in responding."The deal will be go through in any case because the GMB represent so few local government workers", explained branch secretary Morag Stevenson. "But the delay meant the council looked unlikely to catch the September pay deadline".Stewards in Associated Bodies and Voluntary Sector organisations linked to the national pay bargaining should now be approaching their employers on implementing the pay rise.This is the first separate pay deal done by the new Scottish Joint Council, which broke away from the UK negotiating machinery in 1998/99, came up with a different settlement from England, because of the differences in timescale of implementing the agreement on creating one set of conditions for local authority staff - the so-called "Single Status" agreement.Dougie Black, branch assistant secretary and UNISON's Scottish Chair of Local Government, said:"Whilst we are disappointed that we were unsuccessful in getting specific help for the low paid in this pay round, it is clear that members were not prepared to strike to get a better offer. We will now be concentrating on making sure that Single Status is implemented fairly across Scotland."ConsultationOver 63,000 UNISON members responded to the pay consultation with 89% voting to accept.In our branch the response was better than previous years with real attempts by stewards to get members opinions."There were some areas where we could have expected a better response", said John Mulgrew, service conditions co-ordinator."Officers and stewards committees need to work on this for next year."John acknowledged that consultation in Education was difficult because of school holidays."But the union extended the consultation to the end of August to try to ensure these members would get their say and this improved the response this year", added John.Cyber voteFor the first time members could vote on the Internet. A page on the branch website allowed workplaces and individuals to record their views."About 10% of responses came via the web and we are looking to encourage more use of this by far flung members and by voluntary organisations", said John Stevenson, communications officer and 'webmanager'.Home Page | Top Index | UNISONNews

Edinburgh care staff 'outraged' at anonymous allegationsUNISON's City of Edinburgh Branch has urged the person making allegations about a childrens secure unit to use the council's 'whistle-blowing' procedures so that the matter can be properly cleared up."UNISON supports the rights of young people in care. That is why we co-operated so fully with the Edinburgh Inquiry. That is why we negotiated the 'whistle-blowing' policy. But we cannot stress strongly enough that allegations put this way do not protect children, they only throw mud", said John Stevenson Edinburgh UNISON spokesperson.Care staff, mostly UNISON members, are said to be confident that their practice will stand up to scrutiny and point out that the unit has just received a positive report from the Registration and Inspection Service."Caring and dedicated staff doing one of the most difficult jobs in Social Work, are outraged by the allegations and feel the way they are being made gives them no chance to reply", added Mr Stevenson.UNISON says staff are very concerned about the effects on young people and their parents, as well as the effect on staff morale."Parents must be very worried about all this. That makes it all the more important that, whatever their motives, the person making the allegations must come forward to the council or the police to allow the matter to be cleared up. He or she must be aware of the effect of such allegations on children, parents and staff if they are left to hang in the air".


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Edinburgh benefits strike settled

Edinburgh's Council Tax Benefits and Housing Benefit staff have returned to work after voting to accept a revised offer from the Council to settle a 16 month dispute culminating in a seven week rolling programme of strikes.

"The improved offer does not meet all our demands, but we always said we were prepared to negotiate for a fair settlement. It is only sad that it took strike action and disruption of the service to get to this point", said John Mulgrew, Edinburgh UNISON's chief negotiator.

The dispute arose after the merger of the Council Tax benefit and Housing Benefit functions. Despite additional responsibilities, the Council graded the combined job up to £4,000 a year less than the old Housing job. While the new deal still falls short of the old rate for the job demanded by UNISON, it is considerably more than the rate the Council had tried to push through.

The settlement involves a rise of one salary point for all staff backdated to October 1998 and a further increase from April 1999. A career scheme should bring everyone up to just one grade below the old Housing job and two grades up from the old Council Tax job, by October this year. Those previously on higher grades will have their salaries protected.

"This means our objectives of improving conditions for the lowest paid and protecting those who had higher salaries have been achieved. A fair deal was all our members wanted and they deserve credit for the dignified way they have seen this through", added John Stevenson, branch spokesperson.

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Edinburgh UNISON tells Tony Blair ...

Stop moaning and give us the tools for the job


Edinburgh UNISON has responded angrily to Prime Minister Tony Blair's "ill informed tantrum against the public sector", and has written to him demanding that he gives councils proper funding, realistic planning control and the "tools to do the job". The branch is to call an emergency meeting with the council to ask whether it has the same jaded view towards public services.

"The only people resistant to change are the government", said Edinburgh UNISON branch spokesperson John Stevenson. "Public services are crying out for change, but the change we get is cuts, privatisation and no ability to plan except from month to month. If the Prime Minister is serious about change, he needs to invest. After all, that is what the business people he was speaking to would do.""Children in care without social workers, old people without home helps, staff driven to an all time low in morale, wages and conditions; those are the changes Mr Blair has overseen. Does he really think that will build better services?""Time after time we have seen the public sector win contracts over the private sector, on quality, cost and delivery of service to the public. When we have lost contracts it has been to the 'cheapest is best'. Grounds Maintenance in Edinburgh has gone to an outfit in Linlithgow with staff having to go there in the morning and then come back to Edinburgh to cut the grass. Is that the 'efficient' change Mr Blair wants?"Edinburgh UNISON has produced two documents in recent years to try to take public services forward in a radical direction. "The "Partnership to Save Edinburgh's Services" and the response to the City's "Edinburgh 2000" document both met with a deafening silence", said Mr Stevenson. "These both advocated change to make services better but both were ignored. Is it UNISON or the politicians that are resistant to change?", he asked.UNISON in Edinburgh will demand that the council disassociates itself from the Prime Minister's remarks and leads the campaign for quality services, accountable to the public and delivered by a properly respected public service team."Despite this attack, we are still ready to enter into a partnership for public services. We want to make things better for the people of Edinburgh. We can do that if the Government would give us the tools to do the job, rather that blaming us for their mistakes", added Mr Stevenson.Home Page | Top Index | UNISONNews

Edinburgh budget breathing space for jobs, but UNISON slams nursery cuts and job loss.Union offers partnership to save services(Full text of branch secretary's address to Council)After years of cuts in the tens of millions, UNISON has cautiously welcomed the council's 1999 plans which bring 255 jobs with cuts of only £214,000 on a base budget up £30million on last year to nearly £580 million.Nevertheless over 30 jobs risk redundancy (compared with up to 1,000 in previous years), even though the council says it will try to avoid this.Branch Secretary Morag Stevenson left councillors in no doubt about UNISON's response to redundancies when she told the Council Budget Meeting."If there is one compulsory redundancy in any corner of the authority of any of our members, we are mandated to ballot for industrial action. We would win that ballot"."The responsibility lies with you to ensure that is an action your workforce does not have to take."Partnership"I would remind the council again of UNISON's offer to work in partnership to deliver quality services, in house, efficiently and effectively", added Ms Stevenson."We are here to talk to. You only have to agree to listen to us and consider seriously what we are putting to you".Her strongest words were reserved for the plan to cut the subsidy to the Workplace Nursery, with a 20% increase in charges."We are upset, confused and angry, at the attack on the Workplace Nursery", she said, pointing out it was only two weeks since the government released the first ever National Carers' Strategy.UNISON has called for detailed talks at all levels to avoid redundancies and to seek ways to avoid the worst cuts."The branch has offered to work in partnership but if that is rejected, we must act to defend our members and the services they provide", added Ms Stevenson.Full text of UNISON submission follows..........Home Page | Top IndexFull text of branch secretary Morag Stevenson's submission to City of Edinburgh Council Budget Meeting 4 March 1999Lord Provost, Members of the Council, thank you for agreeing to hear us this morning.Can we first of all, on a positive note, say how much we welcome the decision to retain a service in-house which had been considered for deletion.The loss of the service would have resulted in the outsourcing of that service at a loss of 40,000, and that sum would of course be an annual loss. And we have demonstrated that there is a further spend of around 100,000 that could be reduced dramatically by a simple reassessment of the current in-house provision.We welcome the fact that we have worked together to achieve that. We have shown that an in-house service is more efficient, more effective, more responsive to our needs as a Council, and have, into the bargain, saved the City of Edinburgh taxpayers a vast sum of money.But that's the tip of the iceberg. There are many other areas where we could show that the in-house provision is the route that this Council should be taking. If you would sit down and talk with us we could elaborate on that. Here we have a situation where you did sit down with us. The result was a good one. Not just for our members who don't go onto the dole queue, not only for you politicians, but for the citizens of Edinburgh. All we are saying is that in-house services deliver, they deliver in terms of quality, it terms of consistency, in terms of economy of scale, in terms of cost effectiveness. Something very important that the council has to bear in mind is that we are an organisation which is not driven by profit. If you use a business to deliver your service, you have to expect them to profit - but bear in mind it is profit that will be made, not only on the back of your loyal workforce, but on the back of the Council Tax payer.What we are saying here is we've shown if we actually do sit down and thrash these things out, we can all win, or even survive. Forget the dogma, and let's see some real partnership in action. We've said we'll work in partnership to achieve our common goal which is providing a service to the people of Edinburgh. You just have to agree to talk to us about that, that's allIt is not all positive though. There are some highly negative aspects of this budget. For example, Capital Skills. This training facility has provided employment opportunities for thousands of otherwise disadvantaged youngsters primarily from the north of EdinburghWith the Government's much welcome New Deal initiative, we are at an absolute loss as to why a Labour administration would even contemplate the closure or run-down of this service. It seems to us that, if government policy were to be taken seriously, the Capital Skills facility would be extended, not written off.Similarly, we are upset and confused, no angry, at the attack on the Workplace Nursery.Only two weeks ago the government released the first ever National Carers' Strategy.The strategy includes, amongst other admirable initiatives:- more carer-friendly employment, with the government taking the lead;
-a new focus on local authorities, together with other services, taking carers' needs fully into accountThe government is pushing hard at initiatives to facilitate the return of women to work through employer-provided childcare.Our service, our very cherished service, will be put under threat of closure by the 20% increase in charges that is proposed to you today. Some of you here may remember the reasons behind the workplace nursery being set up in the first place. It was because women were forced to leave their work because of a lack of affordable and accessible childcare. Edinburgh was at the forefront of equal opportunities policies at that time, pushing the barriers and going where no man had gone before.Low paid workers cannot sustain the 20% increase and we would challenge the administration to evidence that they have, according to government guidelines, "taken carers' needs fully into account". True it may be that some of the nursery users can stretch to that increase but some of them will not be able to. It will force them out of the workplace and back into the home, back onto benefit.This flies in the face of current policy on childcare, return to work policy, welfare provision and education policy. Where are you Edinburgh - the rest of the world is streets ahead. Women, in particular, feel let down by you on this one.We would strongly urge you to vote down this part of the budget proposals before you today.Our final specific would be on the declaration of 13 surplus posts in Housing. We would submit that unless the Council has a crystal ball that the rest of us are not party to, it cannot be determined that 13 posts are surplus because the outcome of the Housing review is not known. Well, not to some of us anyway.You might decide that, on this occasion, you won't discuss with us the deletion of posts, but it hasn't been discussed at committee either. Does this mean we have moved into a dictatorship or does it just mean that there's something dodgy about the deletion of these posts. If there is not anything dodgy about this, why has it not gone through committee? That is perhaps a question better dealt with by the politicians.The budget proposals are left with some 40+ redundancies. Can I make UNISON's position clear here. If there is one compulsory redundancy in any corner of the authority of any of our
members, we are mandated to ballot for industrial action. We are confident we would win that ballot.The responsibility lies with you to ensure that is an action your workforce does not have to take. I would remind the Council again of UNISON's offer to work in partnership to deliver high quality, efficient and cost effective services. We are here to talk to. You only have to agree to listen to us and consider seriously what we are putting to you. Cheapest is not always best - certainly not in the longer term. Our members can deliver real best value if you will let them.Home Page | Top Index | UNISONNews

Date: 24 February 1999EDINBURGH TO PRIVATISE GARDEN AIDEdinburgh Council has become the first authority to use Voluntary Competitive Tendering as a means to privatise in-house services.Following assessment of bids from several companies, Garden Aid will in future be provided by the Private Sector The Council have not yet announced who won the tenderl6 jobs will be affected. At this stage it is unclear whether these staff will be offered full-time or seasonal work with the new providerStaff have demanded the Council offer them other jobs in the authority and honour their contracts.One employee said:"The huge difference in the bids can only mean we will be paid less on a seasonal or part-year basis. The Council have gone for cheapest and not best. What about their responsibilities to their employees?"Charlie McInaIIy, local UNISON shop steward said:"We are worded not just for our members but for the vulnerable people, elderly and disabled, who depend on these services. They have had a quality service over The years and have got to know and trust the workers. God knows what happens now"Service Conditions Convenor, John Ross said:"This is a sad day for Edinburgh. After 18 years of stopping privatisation of services under the Tories, we now see a Labour Council voluntarily privatising the jobs of our members and the vital services they provide."UNISON is seeking urgent talks with management and leading politicians. They are also consulting their lawyers.

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Monday 15 Feb 1999

UNISON General Secretary calls on Scottish Parliament to scrap PFI AGM | Annual Report

Rodney Bickerstaffe, General Secretary of UNISON, Scotland's largest union, will today call for the phasing out of the Government's controversial Private Finance Initiative (PFI).Speaking to the union's City of Edinburgh Branch AGM this evening (15/2/99), Mr Bickerstaffe will announce the prospective publication of UNISONScotand's Manifesto Briefing Serving Scotland's Taxpayers, due to be published next week. This is the next step in the union's Serving Scotland campaign, which argues for priority for public services in the Scottish Parliament"Scotland's public services should be democratically accountable, best quality and delivered by a public service team," said Mr Bickerstaffe. "PFI cannot deliver on these criteria and should be scrapped. We are calling on the new Scottish Parliament to draw a line under this system and to develop new ways of funding essential service facilities.""Serving Scotland's Taxpayers makes clear arguments for changes to this costly and secretive method of funding our public services and we will be campaigning for these changes with all the prospective MSP's, political parties and other Scottish organisations."Edinburgh has two 'flagship' PFI schemes, a private consortium has been awarded the new Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and the city's schools are proposed for private takeover. UNISON has already pointed out that the extra cost - 6million - of the Royal Infirmary contract is the equivalent of nearly 16,000 day case operations.The union's Serving Scotland campaign is planned to run up to the Scottish Parliament elections an May 6. It argues for services that give people a say in their running, are the best quality possible, and are delivered by a public service team. Mr Bickerstaffe congratulated the Edinburgh Branch for taking this message to heart."It is good to see that this branch has taken the lead amongst Scottish Branches", he said "and produced its own definition of 'best value' in local services, which embody the principles set out by our campaign. This is the sort of positive lead we want and I wish them success in negotiating agreement with the employer."ENDSFURTHER INFORMATIONMatt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 0141 332 0006(w) 07771 548997 (m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0141 959 7165 (h)
George McGregor (Research Officer) 0141-332 0006(w) 0976 754420(m)
John Stevenson (Edinb Br Comms Officer) 0131-220 5655 or 0131 343 1991 (o) 0831 381464(m)Home Page | Top Index








Date 4 February 1999UNISON welcomes Edinburgh Inquiry call for more resourcesSee also: Policy on abuse investigation | Inquiry BriefingsSummary & Full Report on City of Edinburgh WebsiteUNISON has welcomed the Edinburgh Inquiry's recognition of the need to address the low status afforded residential staff in the hard job that they do.The union particularly welcomed recommendations that:-- Edinburgh should work towards a fully qualified residential care workforce, and- Residential social workers should be exempt from the requirement to leave posts vacants due to financial cuts ('performance factor') and this performance factor should be reviewed for field social workers."We know these are resource issues but they are an essential part of minimising problems in the future", said Bill McAllister, UNISON Regional Officer."These recommendations are in line with UNISON's evidence to the inquiry", said John Stevenson, Vice Chair of UNISON City of Edinburgh Branch. "It has been a very full inquiry that sought to address and rectify problems in the system rather than looking for one or two scapegoats. We will be studying it very closely and issuing detailed comments later".ENDSHome Page | Top Index

Press release 16 Nov 98

Evening News Shock for School Meals Staff

School meals workers facing 90job losses were shocked last night to find their jobs were being advertised in the Evening News.

UNISON, the union representing school meals staff, has responded furiously to this "breach or and lodged a formal dispute with Edinburgh Catering to stop these adverts until the mess is sorted out.

UNISON has an agreereent that any changes in hours. severances or retirements would be voluntary The union is appaled that callers responding to the advert have been told that the Jobs were coming up because people would be made redundant if they were not prepared to accept reduced hours.

"This comes only weeks after management agreed a joint plan with the union to stop people being bullied into changing their hours and to make sure that the agreement that all changes would be voluntary was properly implemented", said Morag Stevenson, Edinburgh City UNISON Brarich Secretary.

"The purpose or these adverts was to fill gaps in the service which had been created by voluntary severances. It is disgraceful and underhand of Edinburgh Catering to imply it is planning to fill the jobs ofr staff who have forcibly been made redundant".

"I am sure that the people or Edinburgh, who backed the school meals campaign so strongly through the summer, will feel betrayed by the way the staff are being tmated", added Mrs Stevenson.

Despite the huge Council cut in support for school meals, the UNISON and public campaign earlier this year led to saving most of the service and reducing job cuts from 350 to 90.

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Press Release Date: 28 September 1998

Response to Chancellor Gordon Brown's speech to Labour Party Conference

UNISON Calls for Lifeline for Local Government

UNISON's City of Edinburgh Branch has reacted to Gordon Brown's Speech to the Labour Party Conference by calling for a lifeline for Local Government. The Branch issued the following statement today.

"We welcome Gordon Brown's call for long term stability. Local Government more than most has suffered from policies that mean it cannot plan, it cannot invest and it cannot protect and build services.

But the Chancellor's vision is not matched by the reality of councils limping from year to year with more and more cuts and privatisation. Yet again it looks like our members, our services and the people who depend on them, will end up paying the human price of political vision.

Gordon Brown's speech rightly looks to the long term, but does nothing to deal with the here and now crisis in local government. Our members and their services lost out under the Conservatives, now they are losing out again. It is hard to see the broader picture when your conditions are cut and your livelihood is threatened. It is hard to see the broader picture when the services you rely on continue to be savaged.

Challenging that is not a 'vested interest', it is a legitimate demand to know why we are being asked to pay the price again.

Our message to Gordon Brown is that there is real strength in taking the hard decisions and sticking to your guns. But is also takes courage to be flexible. Local Government cannot wait for things to get better, it needs a lifeline now."

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