Lessons must be learned from action
Branches across Scotland are being asked to contibute
to a major review of the nursery nurse industrial action.
Edinburgh's 400 nursery nurses voted to accept a revised
pay offer and return to work on 31 May after over a year
of selective action and three months of all out strike.
The offer was 'reluctantly' recommended after seven hours
of talks at ACAS. Nursery nurses voted to accept by five
to one in a postal ballot.
"The nursery nurses were magnificent throughout this
dispute and a model to others with their good nature,
solid organisation and real commitment to the future of
early years care and education", said John Stevenson,
UNISON Edinburgh Branch Secretary.
"They achieved an unprecedented 10 point pay rise, a
lump sum of up to £2,500 and an opportunity for almost
one in three to progress to an even higher grade.
"Along with winning a Scottish Executive national review,
that is the biggest achievement I have seen by any group
of workers over the last 20 years", added John.
Carol Ball, UNISON leader of the nursery nurse working
group and a nursery nurse herself, is to be on that review.
"Most of all, they have forced the council and the Scottish
Executive to wake up to the importance of early years
care and education and to the crucial services for children
with special needs. We will be watching the national review
very closely", added John.
"We will be consulting each and every nursery nurse
on the lessons to be learned from the dispute", said Barbara
Foubister, UNISON Edinburgh branch chairperson and also
a nursery nurse.
The issues the branch is keenest to address are:-
- How the initial claim was formed: The claim itself
did not help us in Edinburgh given our members' conditions.
- Clarify the role of the nursery nurses working group,
the local government committee and members themselves
in running the dispute
- What we do about branches making local deals within
national industrial action - this undermined the campaign
from an early stage.
Dispute still not over
As we went to print we were still in talks trying to
get the money sorted out for two nursery assistants as
well as supply nursery nurses - UNISON was clear the agreement
had included both groups but disagreements arose with
the council on this.
Back to Headlines
Sorry for the missing magazines
Our apologies for the lack of branch magazines recently
but we hope this issue marks a return to regular bulletins.
The problem has been sheer workload with the exceptional
Social Work issues over the last year, the nursery nurses
year-long action and the more recent huge reorganisation
involving Social Work, Education and central functions.
The magazine normally takes about three weeks to turn
round from copy date, through to printing and distribution.
This meant that most news would have been out of date
by the time it reached you as things were changing by
the day in all these issues.
We have however been issuing bulletins to the affected
workers and departments and city-wide via stewards, so
we hope you got some information.
We will use this issue to bring the latest news but also
to catch up on some of the main issues over the last few
Housing privatisation 'insult to
Despite assuring the union that the involvement of private
company Pinnacle PLC in managing housing stock in the
north of Edinburgh would end, the council has now handed
the company a two year extension as well as additional
Pinnacle now control Edinburgh Building Services, the
in-house function responsible for maintaining the housing
stock and other council buildings. They have also been
asked to provide one of their staff to carry out the role
of Neighbourhood Manager for Edinburgh North.
This post acts as a conduit for all public services including
health, police and the voluntary sector as well as all
council services in the area.
To add insult to injury they have now been asked to provide
an employee to manage the team responsible for managing
vacant properties in the north.
Unbelievably managers say they had no choice because
there was no member of staff good enough to fill these
roles. This despite having had a career development scheme
in place since 1995!
Service Conditions Convener, John Ross, said, "This
is an insult to our members who have worked tirelessly
to provide a quality service to the people who live in
the north of Edinburgh. It is significant the council
has put more resources in the area since Pinnacle came
on the scene. Additional resources had been called for
before when the area was managed by a council employee
but were never forthcoming."
At the time of going to print branch officers are in
talks with senior UNISON representatives to decide how
best to protect our services and jobs from being outsourced.
Delay in settling pay claim as other
unions consult again
Many members have been calling the branch office asking
what has happened to this year's pay rise which should
have been in place on 1 April.
The simple answer is (at the time of going to print)
there has been no settlement. Despite a clear majority
from UNISON members in favour of accepting the Scottish
local government employers offer of 2.95% in each of the
next two years, things will be delayed as the GMB and
T&GWU unions move to consult their members more widely
or ballot on action.
Joe Di Paola (UNISON Scottish Organiser for Local Government)
said, "I understand that members will be frustrated by
the length of time until a settlement is reached, but
UNISON will respect the decision of the membership of
our partner unions."
UNISON has the large majority of the membership in Scottish
local government. Any settlement will be backdated till
1 April 2004. Because the employers had made a 'first
and final' offer, it effectively put a stop to negotiations
and the three unions involved entered into consultation
processes within their own organisation.
UNISON members were consulted via branch ballots and
meetings during June this year. The result was a two to
one vote to reject in the City of Edinburgh Branch but
when translated across Scotland this turned into two to
one for acceptance.
Until the unions arrive at a consensus there can be no
pay award unless the employers decide to impose one. This
has happened before but would be an unusual step.
Shop Stewards will be kept appraised of any progress
and will keep their members up-to-date. Look out for details
as they become available at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/localgovt
News round the departments UNISON
is working for you
In the absence of a magazine recently, you might have
missed all the issues UNISON is involved in on behalf
of you in Edinburgh. This is just a selection of the major
issues round the departments and sections and does not
include the hundreds of individual cases we are taking
But even with all the work that is going on, we are only
as strong as our members. You can help by
- Making sure the person next to you is a member - if
not, give them a form (you can get one at www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk,
accessible via the Intranet, or by phoning 220 5655)
- Electing a steward at your workplace. That is the
best way to get all the news and information - and the
best way to ensure your views are passed on. You'll
get all the training and support you need.
The Service Conditions Team is active in all departments
supporting local shop stewards and representing members.
CITY DEVELOPMENT - Winter Emergency Operations - Health
& Safety issues in the Bus Station - Review of Network
ENVIRONMENTAL & CONSUMER SERVICES - Harassment - Review
of Waste Management - Reduction in Night Cleaning
CORPORATE SERVICES - Provision of Protective Clothing
- Transport Unit Review - New Council HQ
FINANCE - Centralisation of functions - Review of Revenues
and Benefits - Training Schemes
CULTURE & LEISURE - Departmental Review - Weekend Openings
- Chargehand Allowances
EDUCATION - Nursery Nurses - Staffing Levels - Merger
with Social Work (Children & Families)
FURTHER EDUCATION - Changes in Conditions (Queen Margaret
College) - Restructuring (Telford College) - Janitorial
Review (Jewel and Esk)
HOUSING - Stock Transfer - Outsourcing - Tied Housing
SOCIAL WORK - Restructuring - Review of Support Services
- Recruitment, Retention and Gradings
VOLUNTARY SECTOR - TUPE Transfers - Negotiation of Policies
- Contract Changes
The team is also involved with other employers such as
Edinburgh Leisure, Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade and
The above is just a flavour of the workload and each
member of the team has to take on a share of the grievances,
disciplines, sickness absence cases and the myriad of
other issues ongoing at any given moment in time.
So if you call the office and cannot get immediate access
to an officer it is because they are working on another
case. Be patient and you will get the assistance you need
but please remember your first point of contact should
always be your local shop steward.
New branch officers elected
The Branch Committee has elected Lyn Williams to the
vacant post of Branch Vice-Chair. Lyn is currently convener
of shop stewards in Social Work and has extensive experience
in negotiating and representing members.
Dot Paterson (also from Social Work) has taken up the
Lifelong Learning Convener post. This has been created
to coordinate branch activities to encourage members to
take up further education particularly in numeracy, literacy
and basic computer skills. Dot will be working with agencies
like the Workers Educational Association to provide a
range of courses for members.
Finally, Kevin Duguid (Service Conditions Officer) has
taken on an additional role as Freedom of Information
Officer. It will be Kevin's task to represent the branch
in instances where management are refusing to meet requests
for information. This is a new job and Kevin will be developing
the role which will be formalised in the branch at next
Why UNISON opposes housing stock transfer
The City of Edinburgh Council has decided its Housing
stock will be transferred to a Housing Association.
Tenants will be asked to vote to accept a change of landlord
or stay with the council and lose the promised investment
of several hundreds of millions pounds.
Stock Transfer means Privatisation of an essential Public
Service. There is no demand from tenants for a change
of landlord and democratic control and accountability
through elected councillors will be lost. If tenants vote
for transfer the Housing Department will cease to exist.
Staff are being advised that those moving to the new
organisation will be protected by TUPE. But experience
of staff transferring to Edinburgh Leisure shows that,
over time, conditions of service can be eroded.
Staff remaining will be dispersed to other departments.
It is UNISON's national policy to oppose Stock Transfer
and to campaign for renewed investment in public housing
without any strings. Stock Transfer in Glasgow is a failure
despite the vast sums of money promised for redevelopment.
Housing stewards are to contact their counterparts in
the Glasgow Branch to learn from their experience.
The Branch has also agreed to call for a Scottish Conference
on Stock Transfer. We will campaign for a 'NO' vote. If
you are interested in helping our campaign talk to your
local steward or contact the Branch Office. Duncan Smith
Housing Stewards Convener
New banner matches traditional with
City of Edinburgh Branch's new banner was unveiled during
the nursery nurses' dispute and immediately put to good
use in a series of rallies.
The banner hit the TV news bulletins and pictures appeared
in the Daily Record and Evening News in both colour and
black and white.
Since the new branch was formed in 1996, we have been
getting by with an interim plastic banner. The new banner
was long overdue but it took time to find the kind of
design we wanted and the person to make it.
The branch was keen to marry the traditional banner
making skills with a more modern design. Eventually we
found a member able to match the brief for a sewn applique
banner that would give an instantly recognisable but individual
and quality image.
Given the range of services our members work in, including
council, related bodies and the voluntary and community
sector, we also wanted the banner to depict a generalised
image of Edinburgh.
The banner is in satin applique. The edges and logo
are in the UNISON colours of purple and green with the
'Edinburgh' scroll reflecting the city's dark red livery.
The skyline is in merging browns and greens to reflect
the feel of Edinburgh sandstone buildings and green areas.
The main design by the Branch Communications Officer
was created over several months by branch member Morag
Child & Family Centres claim
Following the settlement of the nursery nurses dispute
in Education, UNISON has now lodged a claim for staff
in Social Work Child & Family Centres.
Both UNISON and the Council agreed early on to separate
these issues because, unlike in the rest of Scotland,
our Child & Family Centre staff were on separate national
conditions agreed some years ago.
UNISON has made it clear that all staff must be included.
Make your views known in reorganisation
Local government seems to have only one tactic to deal
with crisis - when in doubt, reorganise.
Only 10 years since the last game of musical chairs,
the Council has embarked on another huge upheaval by splitting
Social Work and merging the Children & Families part with
Two new departments, Health & Social Care (although Health
still seem bemused) and Children & Families are due to
come into effect in April 2005. By 2007, everyone will
have been affected in some way with work already started
on 'e-Finance' and a centralised Human Relations strategy.
UNISON's position was very clear on the Social Work
split. Members opposed this but stressed they did want
to see constructive change.
UNISON's submission outlined a range of radical steps
to change things for the better without all the bureaucracy
of a huge reorganisation. We were backed up by research,
specialists, professional organisations and everyone who
responded apart from one group. All were ignored.
The danger that all the issues UNISON said needed to
be addressed - the resource crisis, lack of IT and admin
support and a workforce deserting the council - will get
lost in the reorganisation is still there. Now we are
promised the biggest consultation ever.
UNISON will play its full part in that to protect members.
"Our members didn't want this reorganisation but if it
is to happen, they want to look for opportunities to make
things better rather than wasting energy for no purpose",
said John Stevenson, Branch Secretary.
The union is already in talks about new structures and
working to ensure members are protected and procedures
followed as the changes go through. The focus will be
on ensuring staff have the tools to do the job and that
their views are listened to and acted upon.
Members must be cynical about the promised 'widest consultation
ever' after their views were ignored before. Nevertheless,
we should test the council's commitment. Make your views
- taking part on the consultations coming up on structures
- make sure UNISON hears your views through stewards
UNISON has set up two 'shadow' stewards committees to
match the new departments and make sure that all members
can start working together to have the strongest voice
UNISON Social Work campaigns
UNISON is involved in every aspect of the host of issues
affecting Social Work just now. You can catch up with
all of these on the branch and UNISONScotland websites.
- Youth Justice Inquiry Written Evidence
- New issue of The Way Forward for Scotland's Social
- Review of the Children's Hearing System - UNISON Scotland
- Campaign against 'correctional' agency
- Borders - Failures accepted but social work pressure
must be recognised
- Child protection risk must be recognised www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk
YOU CAN ACCESS THESE SITES VIA THE COUNCIL INTRANET
Cautious welcome for Social Work
UNISON gave a cautious welcome to the Scottish Executive's
announcement of a review of Social Work.
Joe Di Paola, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Local Government
said; "UNISON has argued for a comprehensive review to
address the crisis in Scotland's social work for some
Edinburgh Social Work Convenor Lyn Williams warned "if
this group is to be successful, it needs to address the
whole of social work. To consider how best to support
and defend hard-pressed workers, to ensure that adequate
training is available to ensure workers can develop their
careers without artificial barriers, and crucially to
deliver proper pay and conditions to attract and retain
social work staff at all levels.
"It must also look at the best way to deliver social
work services, and hopefully recognise that splitting
different parts of social work away from local accountability
and each other will not help to deliver the joined -up
care we all aspire to."
UNISON will be speaking up for social work staff, and
has already produced our ideas in its document 'The future
for Scotland's Social Work.'
Audit confirms resources are the
key to child protection
UNISON's long campaign to expose the lack of resources
affecting child protection and child care work has been
confirmed by an expert external audit of child protection
And the council has responded by accepting all the recommendations
and immediately pumping new money into buildings and IT
John Stevenson, Edinburgh UNISON branch secretary, said,
"We welcome this action but it has been a long haul. We
took a grievance to councillors as long ago as 2001 about
this, and we argued that the O'Brien report into the death
of Caleb Ness was flawed and had missed this point.
"Now at last a report by three independent experts has
found that resources are the key issue thwarting social
workers' child protection work".
A council meeting in August received an audit commissioned
by the council in the wake of the O'Brien Inquiry. Professor
Stewart Forsyth, ex senior police officer Douglas Kerr
and widely respected social work consultant Anne Black
closely examined 41 cases of children on the child protection
register and looked at the social work, health and police
"Their detailed 187 page report is the most extensive
ever provided for a local authority in my experience",
said John. "As well as the resources issue, another of
their key findings was that information is still not being
shared and that often social workers are powerless to
get other agencies to pass on information or attend case
conferences. Even the audit had difficulty getting access
to health files", he added.
UNISON called on the council to address resources urgently
and not to wait for the new merger with the Education
Department in April 2005.
"This report shows the council must act now and it must
make sure specialist resources, management and support
are carried into the new Children & Families Department.
"It also has to address pay urgently to retain its skilled
staff. The council can act now but in the medium term
the Scottish Executive must act to make the funds available",
The report itself says:- "Our audit has identified many
very hard working, skilled and dedicated professionals
in the key agencies working together to try to protect
children and make their care safer.
"We remain concerned that in the absence of adequate
resources and without the resolution of the remaining
problems in sharing sensitive information across agencies
there remain some children whose safety cannot be assured"
The audit found that there were social work staff shortages,
inadequate admin support, poor IT resources, a lack of
placements for children and poor buildings and working
It did address some areas of practice but put this firmly
in a resources context and praised staff for the quality
of work and reports, noting that the social work report
was often the only report available to case conferences.
UNISON has issued its own response to the audit covering
the 49 recommendations. See
the website for details.
Write to your MSP to defend criminal
After the Scottish Executive's recent consultation on
reducing re-offending in Scotland, UNISON is campaigning
against fears that the Executive now seem determined to
press ahead with plans to create a new quango or single
This would involve merging the Scottish Prison Service
(SPS) with Criminal Justice Social Work (CJSW) services.
Over the last 12 months UNISON has played its full part
in trying to influence the direction of this legislation
at the political level.
"We have met with Ministers, submitted a lengthy response
to the Executive consultation on re-offending and submitted
written evidence to the Justice 1 Committee Inquiry into
the rehabilitation of prisoners", said John Stevenson,
"Yet, despite the weight of evidence that demonstrates
the inability of such agencies to effectively tackle re-offending
and the strength of opposition to the creation of such
an agency in Scotland, the Executive still appears committed
to establishing this model."
"We now need to step up our campaign."
A campaign leaflet that outlines our main arguments has
been circulated and is on
"Using these arguments we ask that Branches organise
UNISON delegations to MSPs surgeries to outline their
concerns and also that individual members write to their
MSPs", added Stephen Smellie, chair of UNISONScotland's
Social Work Issue Group.
Pay grievance lodged for Social Work
UNISON has lodged a grievance about the unequal application
of the retention and remuneration payments which are creating
a 'two-tier' workforce and is pushing for a full review
News on progress will go out to members as soon as possible.
The problem arose after the council put through some additions
to pay for some staff and extra payments for child protection
and Mental Health Officers.
"There was no negotiation with the union and, although
we managed to get some improvements, the fact that the
council did not engage with UNISON early enough has got
them into this mess", said Lyn Williams, Social Work Convenor.
The council has promised a review and UNISON is pushing
for this to happen quickly.
- Mental Health Officers recently settled their claim
for additional payments winning an additional £750 a
year backdated for two years.
Equipment and adaptations - Keep
assessments close to home
UNISON has criticised the Audit Scotland report on the
management of community equipment and adaptions for failing
to take into account the need for proper resources and
local needs in its critical look at the topic.
Occupational Therapists work in both the NHS and local
authorities ensuring that people with long term illness,
health problems or disabilities have the support necessary
to continue to live in their own homes.
Kirsten Hey, an Occupational Therapist and Edinburgh
UNISON activist said "This report points to a problem
with resources in some areas. Care in the Community and
Joint Future are not 'cheap' options and must be properly
"We are pleased that staff are appreciated, but where
there are problems it is almost always due to lack of
resources - something that the Audit Scotland report doesn't
UNISON supports the updating of national guidelines,
and supports the provision of best information, but the
union is concerned that the Audit Commission seems to
be suggesting a 'One-size-fits-all' approach.
Stephen Smellie, Chair of UNISON's Social Work Issues
Group said "Responsibilities are best allocated to the
authority nearest to the client. Assessing someone being
discharged from hospital is surely best done by staff
in the hospital. Assessing someone in the community is
best done by staff working in the community. OTs work
"And what is appropriate may vary across the country.
Indeed, the need for a local solution to local problems
was built in to the Joint Future legislation."
UNISON also draws attention to a new problem in this
area. Kirsten points out that new Scottish Executive guidelines
mean that Home Improvement Grants for adaptions to people's
houses are now means-tested.
"For a major adaptation, such as an extension on a house,
clients can be expected to contribute thousands of pounds
which can put it out of reach for many - although the
right adaptation can reduce or remove the need for care
packages, and thus save public money", added Kirsten."
Possible movement on job evaluation?
Remember the much acclaimed Single Status deal which
was going to make all workers equal with everyone being
paid on a single pay system framed round an open and transparent
Job Evaluation Scheme?
"Well, we may at last be getting close to something happening."
said John Mulgrew, Service Conditions Coordinator.
Just as we went to print, the council approached the
unions with an offer of talks on the possibility of implementing
the national scheme, something that it had resisted so
However, it will not be simple. Issues will remain about
protection of salaries for any downgraded posts.
"We should have had a Job Evaluation Scheme in place
by April 2002 but at the request of the employers this
date was extended to April 2004," said John.
Senior council officials had said they cannot afford
the nationally agreed scheme and, if it was put in place,
jobs and services would have to go. This is a comment
replicated in other authorities.
UNISON Scotland will now be drafting up battle plans
to lodge equal pay claims across Scotland and this branch
will be in the vanguard of that campaign.
John said, "We believe that national scheme is a fundamental
part of the Single Status agreement. The council has implemeted
all the negatives, it is about time they did something
This issue will be high on the agenda of the first meeting
of the reconstituted Joint Consultative Group.
Black members group here at last
After many abortive attempts to re-establish a self-organised
group for Black Members, a quorate meeting of black members
finally agreed a group be set up.
At this inaugural meeting Peter Sharma was elected to
be Chairperson with Shiv Lal and Reena Lal being elected
to the post of Secretary on a job-share basis. The group
is now meeting on a regular basis and has been participating
in events and conferences targeted at our black members.
Branch Equalities Convener, Irene Stout, said, "I am
delighted we have finally established this group after
so many failed attempts. "It now lies with our black members
to ensure the group is a success." T
he branch now has two self organised groups with the
black members following on from our disabled members group.
At the time of going to print Irene has called a meeting
for women members to assess the level of support for restarting
a women's group. STOP PRESS: Unfortunately not enough
members truned up to start up a womens group (tghe branch
requires six for a quorum to set up agroup).
The Branch has renewed its sponsorship of Salma Mohamed
in Habila, Sudan through Plan International.
Our money has helped Salma's family and community to
equip two classrooms, train community leaders, start a
vaccination programme, improve latrines and access support
on animal health care to boost production.
Believe it or not, Salma wants to be a government worker
when she grows up!
'Dramatic' twist to anti-PFI campaign
UNISON sponsors 7:84 'Private Agenda' tour - based
on the voices of its members
UNISON's long-running campaign against PFI/PPP has taken
a dramatic step forward, with sponsorship of a major tour
of 7:84 Theatre's new show 'Private Agenda'. It will be
in Edinburgh from 19-23 October at the Traverse Theatre
- check www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk for ticket offers.
The play has been created from the real life stories
of campaigners, workers and users of Scotland's public
services - many UNISON members amongst them.
Lorenzo Mele, 7:84's Artistic Director says: "It promises
to be a surreal, maddening and hilarious trip through
the corridors and wards of privately financed hospitals
"It starts with a trip over the bridge to Skye, uncovers
corporate cuts in Caithness, finds fighting in Fort William
and pillaging in Perth's Royal Infirmary!"
In addition the company is giving the audience a chance
to air their views on the local issues and campaigns.
After each performance they will create a 'Public Space'
and invite local guest speakers, so that they (and you)
can have their say.
A council with no Social Work Department, no Housing
stock, no schools and no sports centres? - it is happening
A view from the Branch Office
Throughout the past 12 months the Branch has been fighting
to retain a Social Work provision following the lamentable
O'Brien Report which reported on the circumstances of
the tragic death of Caleb Ness.
That report focussed on attaching blame to individuals
rather than looking at issues such as resources and staffing.
This led to a kneejerk reaction from the Council Leader
who led a campaign based on the inadequacies of staff
rather than recognising he had been leader of a council
which had year upon year failed to maintain budgets and
had created a real staffing shortage.
This has led us to the point where the Children's and
Families function will be transferred to Education. As
a result the Department of Social Work becomes the Department
of Health & Social Care. Note the absence of the words
What is left?
Criminal Justice - but for how long with the Scottish
Executive stating its clear intention to create a single
Scottish-wide agency with staff transferring from councils?
Community Care - how long before the government realises
the Joint Future agenda involving councils and Health
Boards with shared budgets does not work and community
care will transfer to Health Boards?
Is this scaremongering?
Not when we are talking about a council which has placed
the management of Housing in the north of Edinburgh under
the control of a private firm because we allegedly do
not have staff who are good enough to do the job.
A council who is prepared to transfer their Housing stock
to an external agency rather than campaigning for additional
A council who is about to hand over more schools to
the private sector as a result of embracing once more
the discredited PPP initiative. Remember the days when
sports centres were run by the council? Edinburgh Leisure
is now looking at cuts and closures because the council
is reducing its grants to the arms-length Trust.
A council with no Social Work Department, with no Housing
stock, no schools and no sports centres. It not only could
happen - it is happening!
Will the last one leaving the building please switch
off the light?