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Scotland inUNISON   | Back issues

May/ June 2001 No 40
Nursery nurses to fight for fair deal

* Pay inquest to learn lessons for the future

* Redundancy fight as creches axed

* Housing review ignores experience

* Recognition key to IT transfer protection

* Partial victory on abatement of leave

* Officers have 331 cases

* Come on, let's get self-organised

* Minister's toll exemption pledge

* Accountability or quangos?

* About UNISONNews


Branch wins backing for pay review

* Victories for pensions campaigns

* Childrens services crisis must be tackled

* Conference bodes well for womens' involvement

* Fairness at work talks continue

* A lot done, a lot to be done, a lot to lose

* Branch gears up for National Conference

* Workers Memorial Day

* Action for a new deal on debt

* Is the person next to you a member? 

UNISON News Headlines  


Nursery nurses to fight for fair deal

Scotland's nursery nurses are to seek a regrading to reflect the increasing duties and responsibilities of the job in Scotland.

Delegates from branches across the country have agreed a new job description and are to submit a claim to Scottish employers.

As we went to print, a major Scottish demonstration was to be held in Glasgow on May 19 to demonstrate support from across the country, and to raise the profile of nursery nurses.

The Branch had sent leaflets to all workplaces and was arranging buses to encourage as many members as possible to attend.

"Nursery nurses are the largest single professional group delivering education to Scotland's children - we want our pay to reflect the importance of the job we do", said Barbara Foubister, nursery nurse shop steward.

The demands of the job have changed considerably due to changes in legislation and other initiatives but there has been no recognition in pay levels.

Six reasons for more pay

Low salary levels - average pay for Nursery Nurses is £10,000 rising after eight years to £12,800

Overworked and overlooked within the Education system

Working in partnership to deliver quality education and childcare with little recognition

Poor or no career structure leading to recruitment and retention difficulties therefore reducing quality

After the McCrone report the pay gap is wider and morale is lower

Yet other professionals involved in Early Years Education Childcare receive higher pay and recognition. Nursery Nurse salaries start at 30% less than teachers and after ten years are 50% less.

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UNISON News Headlines  


Pay inquest to learn lessons for the future

Learn the lessons of the pay dispute

Now that the pay dispute is over, lessons must be learned both in the branch and at Scottish level. This was the unanimous call from the Branch AGM on 8 March which backed a review of the dispute.

Moved by John Stevenson and Kevin Duguid, the motion called for a branch working party to report within three months on how the dispute was handled in the branch It also called for a Scotland-wide review (see this page).

Branch Secretary John Stevenson took that argument to the union's Scottish Council which backed the call to examine a range of issues including:

- The role of the 32 branch Local Government Forum, in particular the decision to depart from the original action outlined in the ballot

- How to address the varying support across Scotland l Negative, unofficial and misleading press briefings

- Clarity on the roles of full time and lay officials.

"A huge amount of work was put into this dispute by members officers and staff. "The work-rate cannot be faulted but there are always lessons to be learned", John had told the Branch AGM.

"While there were many positive things, we must never again get ourselves into a position where there are two conflicting recommendations on a ballot paper", he added.

Seconding the AGM motion, Service Conditions Officer Kevin Duguid appealed for the review to be allowed to do its job. The level of detail needed could not be adequately discussed at an AGM.

Steve Coulson (Social Work) called for the political as well as organisational issues to be addressed.

Branch President Joe Galletta congratulated members who gave great backing to the one day strikes, with a special word for those who were out so long on selective strike. He slammed the tactics of the employers and pledged the union would resist any victimisation.

Building a Blueprint for the Future

Scottish Local Government Chair and Edinburgh Branch Chair Dougie Black is upbeat about the lessons to be learned from the pay strikes.

"Whilst recognising the deficiencies of the campaign, ultimately it was its success that delivered the new offer.

"We hope this review will bring a blueprint for the future on how the union runs action on this scale" he said.

The review analyses the campaign step by step from lodging the claim in December 2000. It notes the poor return in the original ballot but the view that it had to be taken as a mandate for action.

Not all branches responded to the consultation on the first 'final' offer and the report proposes full ballots alongside workplace meetings in the future.

Role of other unions

The problems stemming from the split in the other unions' positions meant that the 'staff side' could not function and issues like arbitration could not be progressed.

The report calls for new dialogue with the other unions to look at issues like common ballot questions. The role of full time officers and the problems with advice given at different stages of the dispute is also raised and the Scottish Secretary is asked to comment.

Action strategy

The role of the 'Forum' of branches is also reviewed, especially its shift in role from a 'sounding board' to taking decisions on tactics, like the change from the planned 1, 2 and 3 days of action.

While backing this change, the report notes that it exposed serious concerns in some branches about the ability to sustain the dispute and that some issues highlighted the lack of a long term plan to win the dispute.

There should have been more examination of the use of selective action and more central control and co-ordination since this was a national dispute.

The report notes the issue of staff side members also being on the Forum when the staff side and branch views conflicted. It recommends a separation of the chair of the staff side and the Forum.

Press problems

The Communications Officer role is praised (the Communications & Campaigns Committee have also tabled a review). The report outlines a long list of bulletins and briefings that were produced and discusses the change from quite positive to very negative media coverage.

The link is made between that and the move to selective action hitting the public harder and calls for more cohesive co-ordination of local action.

But there were also other factors leading to negative coverage. Concern is raised about anonymous briefings to the press during the dispute, especially after Forum meetings and the report calls for delegates to maintain 'collective responsibility'.

National Committee

The National Industrial Action Committee escapes criticism with the report noting that it was supportive and acted in line with representations made by Scotland delegates.

After a year of dispute and six months of strikes, the final offer was accepted on a ballot vote of a 83% to 17% on a 46% return.

The Branch is setting up structures to respond to the review.


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UNISON News Headlines  


Branch wins backing for pay review

The Branch has won Scottish backing for the union to campaign for a 'comprehensive review' of local government pay.

"We know that normal pay negotiations have not and cannot address the seriousness of long term problems in local government", said Branch Secretary John Stevenson.

"Study after study has shown how much the gap has grown between local government pay and the rest of the economy. There is now a crisis that must be addressed".

Moving our motion at UNISON Scottish Local Government Conference, APT&C Convenor John Ross backed Councillor Kingsley Thomas's call for a review of Social Workers' pay.

"We are struggling to recruit Social Workers, we couldn't recruit health and safety officers last year and the disparity between public and private has grown", said John.

"For too long local government staff have been the fall guys. It is time to realise that quality services need quality pay and conditions", he added.

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UNISON News Headlines  


Victories for pensions campaigns

The long-running campaign to get equal access to pension rights for part-timers has finally been won.

A House of Lords judgement means any person who was prevented from being in the Pension Scheme now has the right to raise a claim of indirect sex discrimination. That claim can be raised over any time since 1976.

The only obstacle is that the claim must be lodged while you are still employed by the council or within six months of leaving the service.

Irene Stout, Equalities Officer, said, "This is great news for many of our members who were in low paid jobs and found their income even more stretched because they had no or very limited access to an occupational pension. It will also benefit those still in service who can now take action to secure a pension on the same basis as their full-time colleagues".

APT&C Convenor John Ross added, "We have already lodged a number of Tribunal Claims but there are many other members who have not pursued the issue. We would encourage them to contact the Branch Office and will assist them in their claim."

The costs to employers have been greatly exaggerated by the CBI who claim firms will have to find £17 billion to meet the cost of claims. This figure has been ridiculed by Employee Benefit Specialists who assess the cost to be somewhere nearer £750 million.

"At this stage we don't know the potential cost to the Council but no matter what it is, we will not be prevented from getting equality for our part-time members", said Irene Stout.


UNISON's long struggle to get the Pension Scheme amended to allow any partner (irrespective of marital status or gender) to be nominated as a beneficiary has begun to pay off.

The Government is issuing a consultation paper to Pension Trusts but the indications are the current discriminatory practice of only allowing married partners to be beneficiaries will be done away with.

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UNISON News Headlines  




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UNISON News Headlines  


Housing review ignores experience

Jobs losses and a real prospect of redundancies are the price of the merger of the Housing Repairs service and Edinburgh Building Services.

UNISON is negotiating hard to stop the threats of redundancies but Branch Officers are not hopeful of a resolution through dialogue alone.

With Best Value replacing Compulsory Tendering, the Council has decided to overhaul the repair processes and to do away with a client/contractor split. The end result is a potential 14 redundancies.

Branch Officers and local Stewards are concerned with how this merger has been progressed.

Management are approaching it as the creation of a new organisation with new jobs. They say this gives them the right to ignore the custom and practice which has been developed over the years.

"Staff have had to apply for jobs, have had to sit tests, provide references and sit interviews. The end result has been staff being told they are not good enough to work in the new service", complained John Ross APT&C Convenor.

"I have never seen a review carried out in such a manner. Negotiations have been practically non-existent and management have just cast our members aside ignoring a depth of experience and knowledge which cannot easily be replaced", he added.

One supervisor with over 22 years experience failed to get a post in the new organisation even though there were vacancies at his level. Those vacancies are to go to external advert.

Local steward Robert Park said, "Staff are demoralised. They see longstanding colleagues being treated purely as names on a piece of paper. Their commitment and loyalty means nothing".

UPDATE - Through a combination of natural wastage and temporary redeployments, only three members now face compulsory redundancy at we go to press.

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UNISON News Headlines  


Childrens services crisis must be tackled

The City of Edinburgh Council cannot meet its pledges under the Edinburgh Inquiry unless it puts more money into childrens services, Branch Secretary John Stevenson told the Council Budget Meeting.

He was following up an AGM motion that called for Edinburgh Council to recognise the corporate responsibility it accepted in the Edinburgh Inquiry recommendations and adequately fund the Social Work Department to fulfil those recommendations.

"The Edinburgh Inquiry into abuse in childrens homes demanded more resources to allow young peoples units to hold vacancies. This was so there could be an active and 'positive' choice in placement.

"Despite accepting this, the Council has consistently cut the number of beds. Some young people at risk are waiting weeks for a place, and then getting the first available rather than the 'matching'' that the inquiry envisaged.

"This means inappropriate placements and intolerable stresses on staff. With children at home who should be in care, we fear there is a tragedy waiting to happen", said John.

John welcomed the decision not to close any childrens centres but since the issue crops up every year, "there is massive uncertainty for parents and staff. The council must come up with a long term commitment to this service", he said.

UNISON has welcomed Councillor Kingsley Thomas's call for talks on childrens services and Social Work stewards have already put key strategies from the AGM motion in place. These include:

- task groups of members to gather evidence for a co-ordinated campaign to build public and political awareness of the crisis,

- a confidential reporting system to allow members to report situations that may leave them vulnerable,

- work in partnership with initiatives coming from the British Association of Social Workers where these match UNISON aims and objectives.

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UNISON News Headlines  


Recognition key to IT transfer protection

Talks are continuing with Syntegra (a subsidiary of BT) who won the contract to provide the Council's IT function from 1st April 2001 and have taken on all IT staff under TUPE provisions.

The final terms of their contract with the council were only agreed in February but talks have been going on with Branch Officers and local stewards for some months previously.

Syntegra viewed these negotiations important enough to send in their national negotiators rather than leaving it to local management.

Arising from those talks agreement has been reached to allow those members transferring to retain their UNISON membership with the Branch becoming the first in the UK to be officially recognised by BT and its subsidiaries. Previously members had to transfer to other unions recognised by the company.

Pensions transfer

Pensions were a major concern but staff now have the assurance they will be transferring to a scheme comparable with Lothians Pension Fund and that the value of their payments will be retained.

The company has accepted its obligations to respect and maintain current Conditions of Service but have indicated they wish to negotiate round potential changes to certain provisions (eg Discipline and Grievance).

"These negotiations have been long and at times complex but we are pleased we have met the mandate of our members to ensure no redundancies and the transfer of council conditions of service. Syntegra's willingness to enter into a recognition agreement is a real plus and affords those members transferring further protection", said John Ross who led the negotiations.

Share schemes

The main outstanding issue is regarding accessing share schemes. Share Schemes are a condition of service for BT staff and staff who are transferring under TUPE with no change in conditions would not be able to enter such schemes.

The union will be actively involved in the following months to ensure a smooth transition for the members and to make sure there are no attempts to move away from the agreed terms of transfer.

"I must commend Syntegra's negotiators for the purposeful way they went about their business, respecting the union's position and making real efforts to achieve agreement rather than imposition", added John.

Steward George Davis added,
"There is no doubt the involvement of the branch ensured negotiations were treated seriously by the new employer and by the council. It has been a long drawn out affair and members have had concerns throughout the process but we can see the end of the tunnel. We have been successful in securing all the necessary protections".

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Is the person next to you a member?

The successes on this page are just some of reasons why everyone at your workplace should be in UNISON.

The union is only as strong as its members - our ability to protect you depends on how many members we have.

Give this to a colleague who isn't in the union. And remind them about who negotiated the procedures that protect them in the workplace.

Ask them whether they would have got any pay rises without the union?

Remind them about...

  • representation in grievances, gradings, disciplinaries, health & safety
  • free legal help on work issues and free or cheaper advice on many others
  • mortgage discounts
  • 20% off car breakdown cover
  • holiday and insurance deals and much more

Phone 0131 220 5655 to join. You can also join by clicking here.

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UNISON News Headlines  


Redundancy fight as creches axed

Edinburgh Leisure's decision to go ahead with creche closures, despite the union coming up with a plan to save the service.

Branch officers have pledged to fight redundancies 'with every means available'. At this point some members have been redeployed but the Branch is preparing to take other cases to tribunal.

After UNISON submissions to the Council's Scrutiny Panel, the Leisure Trust had asked the union to look at the books and suggest how the creches could be saved. Union officers pored over the finances and found that the actual savings needed were just over half of the £63,000 quoted by the Trust.

"We suggested that with more energy efficiency, promoting increased use, administrative savings and a marginal increase in charges, the money could be found to save the creches and avoid any job losses", said George Lee, Edinburgh UNISON manual convenor.

"If there was a will in Edinburgh Leisure to save the creches, it could be done. With our proposals rejected out of hand, it is clear that the will is not there. This loss will now exclude many people from services".

Edinburgh Leisure has lost its way. It needs to decide whether it is really a charitable Trust set up to provide public services for the people of Edinburgh, or whether it is just another business".

George Lee has also slammed the Trust boss's claim that the union was offered talks on the budget last year as 'ridiculous'.

"We were asked to comment on a blank sheet of paper. They would not give us access to their draft plans, so there was nothing we could comment on", he said.

"The Council keeps saying sports and swim centres are a council service, but it can't influence Edinburgh Leisure's decision. Edinburgh Leisure says it's the council's fault for not providing the money.

"The fact is that no-one is taking responsibility and that is the whole problem with 'arms-length' provision.

"We don't have a say, the public don't have a say and the politicians apparently don't have a say in a service we are all paying for", added branch secretary John Stevenson.

The creches affected are: Craiglockhart Tennis, Dalry, Glenogle and Warrender Swim Centres and Meadowbank.

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UNISON News Headlines  


About UNISONNews

The views expressed in UNISON News are not necessarily those of UNISON City of Edinburgh Branch or the union.

All articles/comments to John Stevenson, Communications Officer at 0131 220 5655

P&P by UNISON City of Edinburgh Local Government & Related Sectors Branch, 23 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EN

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UNISON News Headlines  


About UNISONNews

The views expressed in UNISON News are not necessarily those of UNISON City of Edinburgh Branch or the union.

All articles/comments to John Stevenson, Communications Officer at 0131 220 5655

P&P by UNISON City of Edinburgh Local Government & Related Sectors Branch, 23 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EN

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Strikers lobby Sheriff Officers

Striking Finance and Housing staff lobbied Scott & Co Sheriff Officers to hand in a letter demanding they did not cover their jobs by handling Council mail and cash.

The company handed a letter in return admitting their firm was doing this, but saying it was being handled by a subsidiary and no Sheriff Officers were involved.

Nevertheless, branch officer Kevin Duguid said "I am sure when people write to the Council, especially on sensitive financial matters, they expect that to be seen by the Council and no-one else".

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Conference bodes well for womens' involvement

By Natalie Robertson

National Womens Conference took place in Southport this year, an interesting choice given there are no direct rail links which made travel arrangements more than difficult.

Notwithstanding those difficulties our delegates took their place along with the other 600 delegates (an encouraging feature being the number of new delegates - a surprising 40%).

The conference itself was a mixture of workshops followed by the normal conference format of debating motions.

This was innovative and allowed for greater delegate participation particularly for those over-awed by the thought of speaking to such a large audience.

Our delegates participated in an excellent workshop on the subject of Breast Cancer. The discussions contained many personal and tragic stories but by the end of the workshop we were all of the view we could take away positive thoughts and intentions which would ensure UNISON were in the forefront of the campaign for greater resources being allocated to the prevention of this terrible condition.

We also have to raise the issue locally with the employers to ensure women suffering from Breast Cancer (and other potentially fatal conditions) are treated with more sensitivity and compassion than currently given.

A wide range of issues were discussed when we got down to motions. Among the subjects covered were Domestic Violence (the agreement which applied in the District Council is still held up as Best Practice), Harassment and Bullying (a growing problem across the union), Section 28 (Scotland takes the lead as usual) and the issue of Carers Allowances (which was an issue originally raised by our branch).

My only disappointment was the lack of debate on Best Value which is proving just as big a threat as CCT.

For the first time ever in my memory, every single motion on the Conference Agenda was debated and voted on.

The debate was stimulating and there were many excellent speeches made by strong speakers. It was encouraging to see such a quality input and that must bode well for the future participation of women in all levels of the union.

The conference also heard from the union's President, Adrian Dilworth, who gave a very strong message that we must never stop campaigning for our beliefs and that we should all be proud of what we have achieved in our union. It was an excellent contribution and set the tone for the conference.

Unfortunately, Dave Prentis our new General Secretary was unable to attend due to health problems. Dave is gradually taking over the reins from Rodney Bickerstaffe and I am sure we all wish him a full recovery from the problems he had suffered with his health in the past year.

In conclusion the conference was a great improvement on previous years with myself and our other two delegates (Kathleen Barclay , Corporate Services, and Rose Jackson, Social Work) having learned new and interesting initiatives which we will hopefully be able to develop in the branch over the next 12 months.

Any member who wishes to discuss any aspect of the Conference should contact me at the Branch Office.

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Partial victory on abatement of leave

One of the biggest issues since Single Status came in to place in 1999 has been the council's decision to abate (ie cut) the leave of staff who have been absent due to a long-term illness for three months or more.

This decision hindered the recovery of many who would have welcomed the opportunity of a holiday when they are fit enough to take it. Instead of a period of recuperation, staff found they had to return to work immediately their doctor said they were fit to return.

Following arguments from UNISON the council has now accepted their actions were illegal as the Working Time Directive gives all employees the statutory right to 20 days leave in a year.

The council has now stated it will not abate leave to the extent that an employee will have less than 20 days holiday.

Members who have found their Annual Leave restricted to less than 20 days should seek advice from their local Shop Steward on how to pursue local grievances on this matter.

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Fairness at work talks continue

Talks are continuing on the replacement for the old harassment policies. The Branch raised a host of concerns about the first draft which lumped a range of other issues into the document. It has now gone back for reconsideration. Look out for updates.

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Officers have 331 cases

The Service Conditions Team is currently dealing with 331 cases, many policy issues and a number of complex negotiations.

John Mulgrew, team leader says, "While we try to provide a speedy response, this is not always possible for officers with an extensive caseload. We hope members appreciate this and will allow for it."

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A lot done, a lot to be done, a lot to lose

A report from APF Officer Matthew Crighton

Are we getting complacent about politics? Although they only ended four years ago, the Tory years seem like the bad old days in the distant past, which can never return.

We can too easily forget that the Labour Government ended a period of unbridled sleaze and privatisation.

The minimum wage, devolution in Scotland and Wales, making work pay through the Working Families Tax Credit and the end of hereditary votes in Westminster are other achievements.

They justify the hard work which many UNISON members and the Affiliated Political Fund (APF) put in to get Labour elected.
But many UNISON members are now more aware of the points at which Labour in power is at odds with UNISON members and policies.

The Private Finance Initiative; tight expenditure limits, which underlie so many problems at work, and our difficulties in getting a fair pay settlement; housing stock transfer and externalisation.

UNISON in the Labour Party has been fighting on all these issues:
At last we are seeing real, substantial increases in public funding in health and education - although not nearly enough in local government.

UNISON changed Labour policy so that PFI did not have to involve transfer of staff or assets to the private sector.

In Scotland the election of UNISON member Henry McLeish as First Minister was followed by the Parliament agreeing on free care for the elderly.

The efforts of Branch member Natalie Robertson on Labour's Scottish Policy Forum ensured that its social inclusion paper takes in equal opportunities, discrimination and violence against women.

Locally, we have established policy for Labour's City Party on Best Value of which the objective is to achieve high quality, publicly controlled services; and which requires the Labour Group to bring any reviews which might result in externalisation to the City Party before implementation.

'Things can only get better' was Labour's slogan. We need to make sure that applies after the next election.

If you want to get involved, contact Matthew Crighton via the Branch Office on 0131 220 5666.

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Come on, let's get self-organised

It has been a busy time since the AGM for Equality Officers Irene Stout and Natalie Robertson, hosting meetings with Disabled members, black members, Lesbian and Gay members and women members to re-establish self-organisation in the branch.

The Branch has a commitment to self-organisation and has reserved places on the Branch Committee and the Equalities Committee for the Groups.

Irene had made efforts in the past to establish a Disabled Group but her efforts failed to get the enough members involved to sustain the group beyond a few meetings.

There was previously an active Women's Group but their meetings have been few and far between over the past few years.

The attempt to start a Black Members Group is a first for this Branch but Irene feels there is a desire for members to get involved.

The Lesbian and Gay Group have met more frequently but there are concerns that their links with the branch are not as strong as they should be.

The Equality Officers have split responsibilities for supporting the groups with Irene being involved with the Disabled Members and the Black Members. Natalie has the Lesbian and Gay and Women's groups.

Irene Stout said "The branch has people who are active at a Scottish level in all the self-organised groups but we have to try to get them to put some of their energies into the branch activities.

Without that participation we may just be going through processes of consultation with little prospect of success in reestablishing self organisation in the branch".

Any member who was unable to attend the recent meetings but who would be prepared to help set up the groups again should contact Irene or Natalie at the Branch Office.

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Branch gears up for National Conference

The branch's delegation to UNISON's supreme policy making body recently spent a Sunday in the Branch Office going through the 251 motions and rule changes.

Their report with recommendations on all the issues went to the last Branch Committee on 8 May.

The Branch is putting forward eight amendments based on existing branch policy. These are

  • A commission on Social Need
  • Calling on the meat inspection service to be brought back into local democratic control
  • Better awareness of ME as an illness
  • Call for a report on Fire Evacuation procedures for disabled people
  • Union to support but not fund Drop the Debt Genoa demonstration
  • Against fragmenting strategic control of Communications
  • Counselling service for lay activists
  • Road tolls and principle that no member should lose out for using vehicle for business reasons.
  • The delegation will meet again to go over amendments from other branches.

This year's delegation for the Conference in Brighton in June are:-
Maureen Christie, Kevin Duguid, Alison Gowrie, Mo Innes, George Lee, Natalie Robertson, John Stevenson, Wattie Weir.

If there is any issue you would like more information on, please contact John Stevenson via the Branch Office.

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Minister's toll exemption pledge

UNISON Edinburgh has seen a quick response to its call to protect disabled members from road toll charges.

Sarah Boyack, (Minister for Transport) has pledged to UNISONScotland's Disabled Members Group that disabled people will be exempted from charges under the congestion charging and motorway tolls legislation.

She said she had always intended these exemptions, and asked for UNISON's views on how to make it work in practice.

"Road tolling not only affects those using a vehicle at work but can also discriminate against disabled members who cannot access public transport as it exists", said Edinburgh'szzzz John Ross raising the issue at UNISON Scottish Council

The Branch will also ask UNISON Conference for a co-ordinated campaign to ensure no member suffers financial detriment through the need to use their vehicle for employment reasons.

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Workers Memorial Day

Asbestos dangers and rail safety were themes of Workers Memorial Day events throughout Scotland on 28 April.

Phil McGarry of the RMT and STUC General Council led the ceremony at the Workers Memorial Tree in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens, remembering those lost in recent railway disasters.

He called for guards on trains among a range of other safety measures.

Edinburgh UNISON's John Stevenson and John Ross also laid a wreath.

John Stevenson called for an inquiry into the Chester Street Insurance affair.

"Apart from the current dangers in 60's buildings, many other members previously worked in industrial areas where asbestos was a major problem. We have to support them and the thousands who will continue to suffer", said John.

Des Loughney of Edinburgh Trades Union Council called for support for South African workers affected by British asbestos company Cape plc.

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Accountability or quangos?

When the Scottish Executive announced they were going to have a "Bonfire of the Quangos" and return services to democratic accountable control it was thought greater duties and responsibilities would be given to local councils.

But the evidence is not encouraging. The Branch is currently in talks about three services which are could go outwith council control, writes John Ross.

The Careers Service looked like coming back to local government but instead the Executive is talking about rolling all the Careers Services in Scotland into one either under the Parliament or as a Quango.

Social Work in prisons has been put in the ridiculous position of tendering for the work. Does no person in the Executive understand these services are joined up with other elements and do not operate exclusively within the four walls of the prison?

Originally the successful bids were to be in place by 1 April but the Scottish Executive has grown strangely silent on this issue. Perhaps someone may have seen the error of their ways and are now trying to dig themselves out of a hole.

Trunk Roads: Talking about digging themselves out of a hole, we now have the responsibility for Trunk Roads maintenance being passed to the private sector. Hundreds of jobs are at risk and all the experts agree that the pursuit of a cheaper service will impact on the service with safety issues particularly at risk.

Consider gritting services. The gritting vehicle will only service trunk roads. Other roads will remain the responsibility of local authorities. Will we be able to retain the number and calibre of vehicles now the income from Trunk Roads work has been lost? It will cost the authorities more to maintain a service which means there is no real financial gain in transferring the work to the Private Sector.

Despite the threats to those services we have avoided any great impact on jobs to date but who knows how long we can maintain that position. And who knows what will be next? Watch this space.

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Action for a new deal on debt

The Branch Executive is encouraging members to attend the Drop the Debt demonstration at the G8 summit at Genoa, on July 21-23.

Drop the Debt is a short-life campaign to win a 'New Deal on Debt' by the time world leaders meet in Genoa.

The G8 consists of the world's richest countries; Great Britain, USA, France, Japan, Italy, Canada and Germany, with the addition of Russia. This meeting therefore has the power to act decisively to cancel poor country debt.

Workplaces are urged to set up collections and to take part in local activities up to the summit.

The campaign is a successor to Jubilee 2000, which achieved much in the worldwide fight to lift crippling debt repayments from developing countries - but the campaign must continue.

The previous G7 in Cologne promised $100 billion in debt repayments, but so far only $12 billion has been delivered. The UN estimates that 7 million children's lives could be saved every year if resources used for paying debts in countries affected were invested on health and education. 2,406,740 children have died since the start of the year 2001

Getting to Genoa

'Travelscope' offer a good deal on getting there from Scotland by bus. Contact the Jubilee office on 0131 225 4321, e-mail: jubileescot@freeuk.com

Jubilee would also like to hear from people who would prefer to fly as this could be arranged if there is sufficient demand.

What you can do locally

Local events: Jubilee Scotland is also planning a series of local and national campaign activities in the run up to the Summit.

See their website at www.jubileescot.freeuk.com for details as they are posted.

Postcard for the PM: Along with many of the charities and agencies that support Jubilee, Drop the Debt has produced postcards for Tony Blair asking him to use his influence as a senior member at the summit to get a new deal on debt signed in Genoa. Jubilee has lots available for individuals or local groups who want to add their support. Get postcards from email: jubileescot@freeuk.com, or 0131 225 4321.

NOTE: The Branch Committee agreed to urge people to attend Genoa and to raise funds for those attending. It ruled out using branch funds to pay for mem
bers to attend.

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