Single Status jobs and conditions threat
UNISON rejects 'package'
To all UNISON members City of Edinburgh Council
You will have seen communications from the Chief Executive and
stories in the press about possible redundancies if the trade
unions do not agree to changes in conditions. The council had
insisted that UNISON balloted on a package that would disadvantage
some staff. UNISON rejected this because we could not ask one
group of members to vote on another group of members' conditions.
The package, as we understand it has now been withdrawn and the
threat of redundancies or other cuts remains to finance the nationally
agreed reduction in working week from 37 hours to 38 hours for
residential and manual staff.
The package the council wanted included:
Inland Revenue rates of 40p a mile for the first 4,000 miles,
22.5p a mile thereafter(the notional mileage rate that is set
by the inland revenue as being the 'true cost' of running a car,
albeit somewhat less than the reality) and therefore does not
attract tax. There would be no differential between casual and
essential users and therefore no lump sum will be paid to essential
users. They would get a £1,644 two year buy-out.
Apart from 4 days at Christmas and New Year, all other public
holidays would become part of the normal working week, adding
them to annual leave. This will affect the pay of those who have
to work current public holidays and UNISON believes it may affect
those with child care responsibilities. School holidays will remain
the same and so staff will have to compete for those days off.
All staff on to monthly pay
The proposal is that all staff will be paid monthly (third last
working day). This will be achieved by offering staff who are
currently paid weekly and fortnightly an advance on salary which
will be repaid over a year.
In exchange the Council would offer:
All Residential and Manual staff will have their working
week reduced from 38 to 37 hours. This is required anyway by April
2002 under the Single Status agreement.
An Employment Break scheme to allow staff extended career
breaks under ceratin circumstances. A current deal applies to
ex District Council staff but the new scheme would not be the
same and so far the Council has given no details.
A Retirement Scheme: Staff in their final year of work
to have a phased reduction in their working week (with no loss
of pay) in order to prepare them for retirement.
UNISON felt that it would be inappropriate to ballot those who
did not have car allowances on whether other staff keep the current
scheme. We also felt it would be inappropriate to ask people who
would lose no money due to public holiday changes to vote on whether
other staff should lose money.
UNISON is preparing a full bulletin for all members.
Janitors about to strike
Janitors in 100 primary schools and community education centres
were about to go on strike for six days as we went to press.
"We regret this action but we want the public to understand we
have been trying to resolve this with the Council since May 1999",
said George Lee (Manual Convenor).
"All janitors want is the same as their colleagues in secondary
schools. Currently they are up to £20 a week worse off because
the Council will not pay a nationally agreed irregular hours payment
to recognise the long 6am to 6pm day.
"This is cheaper than the overtime they would have to pay for
janitors coming in at 6am, but they are not even paying that.
They can't have it both ways", added George.
Because janitors jobs are so crucial to the school team, the
public is bound to be affected. Janitors are responsible for fire
alarms, heating, fire escapes, oversee cleaning and ensure safe
"We expect schools will close on safety grounds. But we have
taken other measures to try to stave off the worst effects", said
John Stevenson Branch Secretary. These measures include:
- giving as early notice as possible of the action
- exempting all of the special schools from the action (where
UNISON janitors work)
- taking no action in the last week of term to avoid disrupting
most pantomimes and other events children will have been planning
The initial six day strikes involving 103 staff will affect 67
primary schools, 18 Community Education Centres, Dr Bells and
one secondary school. 37 mmembers from the T&G union were also
involved. The strikes were due to take place on 4, 5, 6, 11, 12,
Branch sets key policies at Womens Conference
This year's Scottish Women's Conference surpassed all others
both in the uplifting contributions of guest speakers and in this
Branch setting union policy in several areas.
The morning session was a panel debate focussing on "Women's
Voices - Influencing the Policy Agenda" and the conference organisers
had certainly ensured all the panel were more than qualified to
speak on the subject. Margaret Curran MSP - spoke of the Committees
she was involved in (eg the Petitions Committee) and of her concerns
that some committees were underused (eg Legislation ).
Her input was certainly interesting and informative. Cathy McCormack
- a community activist - outlined the campaign she led which led
to her community becoming the first to get European Funding for
health and fuel problems in Scotland. A fascinating contribution
which certainly demonstrated women can set agendas and achieve
Annie Thorne - Chair of the STUC Women's Committee - advised
delegates of her committee's work in 3 areas, those being Free
School Meals, Seeking proportionality in Public Life (the 50 -
50 Campaign ) and, Equal Pay (Closing the Gap Campaign) which
included poverty issues and pensions.
She closed her contribution with the thought-provoking statement
- "Women working together can and do change things. Women are
able to share and learn together. We have to keep doing it for
Sue Robertson is Convener for Engender. This organisation strives
to increase women's participation through the provision of targetted
training (eg Political Skills Training). They work closely with
the 50 - 50 Campaign and provide a network for women in organisations
such as Trade unions. Sue closed her input by pointing out a very
cogent and important point - Engender is also about educating
men .(Think about it!)
The branch delegation spent the lunch-break at a fringe meeting
with Anne McKenzie, MP for Maryhill, being the speaker. Her subject
was the World Trade Organisation which was a failure in her eyes.
One identified failure was that no multi-national company had
its H.Q. in the southern hemisphere. The WTO required to be repaired,
renewed and reformed if it was to achieve the key aims of Equality
The morning had been an invigorating experience and was a credit
to the conference organisers. Of six motions on the afternoon
agenda four were from this branch.
Breast Cancer - calling for the collation of support mechanisms
put in place by different employers - "We know there are employers
out there who care for their employees and who address problems
such as Breast Cancer in a manner which is supportive and sensitive
to the needs of the individual."
Women in Afghanistan - calling for a campaign to highlight
the tragic treatment of women under the Taliban regime - "We demand
equality in this country. It would be hypocritical not to make
the same demands for our sisters- no matter what country they
live in -no matter what religion they follow - no matter the colour
of their skin. We must support these women and we must ensure
their plight is broadcast far and wide".
Anti-depressants - calling for more control of their use
and for more information on side effects to be made available
- "We should have an awareness that there are other ways to alleviate
stress and depression. Natural medicines, counselling, cognitive
therapy, homotherapy - all are viable alternatives to popping
pills. "As a union we have a responsibility to our many women
members. We should be taking action to highlight these issues
and we should be putting pressure on whoever we need to if we
are to ensure women can have a choice and that they can make that
choice in an informed way - sure of the facts and the possible
Violence against Women - calling for changes in the legal
system and more secure funding for support agencies - " The world
is changing. Let's make sure it changes in a way which ensures
women are treated with respect and dignity and are truly seen
as equals rather than some form of subordinate species. "
All our motions were agreed as Scottish Policy with our motions
on Breast Cancer and Antidepressants going to the National Womens
Conference as Scottish motions. A very successful afternoon's
The conference concluded with a contribution from Nancy Kelly,
UNISON Regional Officer, on the need to improve organisation in
the workplace if we are to meet head-on future challenges and
A thoroughly exhausted delegation returned to Edinburgh flushed
with success and full of ambitions for women in the Branch.
The Branch Delegation was led by Irene Stout, Branch Equalities
Officer, ably supported by Agnes Petkevicius, Barbara Foubister
(both Education), Dot Paterson, Rose Jackson (both Social Work)
and Cath Kane (Voluntary Sector ).
Compulsory redundancies avoided at Valuation Board
Calls from Edinburgh Council officials to immediately cut staffing
in the Lothian Valuation Joint Board (LVJB) were defeated at a
recent meeting of the board. A simplistic benchmarking exercise
produced questionable figures suggesting LVJB was overstaffed
compared to other boards in Scotland.
Following detailed discussion with UNISON, the board management
accepted that any reduction should be on the basis of in depth
research into systems and working practices. A working group has
been set up involving staff and the union to carry this investigation
Despite this reprieve, branch officials believe there are likely
to be job losses in the longer term.
On the negotiating line
New Family Care Leave Deal
A final draft of the improved Family Care agreement has gone
out to stewards for comment. This agreement covers issues like
maternity leave, parental and adoption leave, dependant leave
Negotiations are also under way on:
- Flexitime for part time and job share staff (and changes to
the full scheme)
- Harmonised job sharing scheme
- Public Interest Disclosures Policy.