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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

UNISON TO CHALLENGE EDINBURGH COUNCIL ON CUTS AND NEW DAMNING EVIDENCE ON PRIVATISATION PLANS

UNISON will call for an immediate halt to privatisation at Edinburgh City Council at a lobby of the Council tomorrow (16th December) after it was revealed that two of the private bidders had not revealed criminal convictions arising from fatal workplace accidents.

The lobby and demonstration, from 08.30 to 09.30 at the City Chambers, High Street Edinburgh, will hear of a catalogue of concerns about private contract bidders and will raise concerns that in-house efficiency and cost cutting plans delivered by the Council’s own staff are being ignored.

The Council has reached the half way stage in a £1 billion privatisation programme and councillors are being asked to approve another million pound investment in the tendering process. However, union negotiations have revealed that council officials allowed some bidders to remain in the sell-off process despite failing to respond accurately to repeated calls for full disclosure of previous convictions.

UNISON Edinburgh lead negotiator Kevin Duguid said: "Clearly our members are worried at the prospect of working for private companies with a poor health and safety record. But the problems run deeper. Through either carelessness or intent, these companies have led council officials to believe their hands were clean when that was not the case.

“Edinburgh already has a troublesome relationship with the tram contractor, we don't need more hassle, disruption and cost. The report to council shows that in-house services are high quality and low cost, lets stop the privatisation nonsense now"

“The new revelations follow councillors not being informed earlier in the year that four companies had received multi-million pound fines for price fixing in public sector contracts. On top of that Connaught, although not shortlisted, went into administration a matter of weeks after passing the council’s finance checks”, added Peter Hunter, UNISON Regional Organiser.

“The Trams saga shows just how important it is to get things right and avoid the risks. The in-house bids are open and transparent and deliver real savings. We believe they are streets ahead on price, quality and risk management. It is time for the Council to abandon this wasteful and risky privatisation adventure and get back to focussing on delivering efficient services with its own staff”, said John Stevenson, UNISON Edinburgh Branch President.

ENDS

Notes for editors: City of Edinburgh Council will consider the Chief Executives Recommendations on privatisation at its meeting on 16th December. Full copies of the UNISON submission will be available this evening at http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/citynotforsale/AMBsubmissionDec2010.pdf

Check out the website for full details http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

We appreciate your work - even if the council doesn't

While Edinburgh council workers struggle through the snow to deliver essential services, the best the Council's Head of HR can do is email managers telling them how staff will lose money or have to make up time if they are late or have to go home early.

With stories from all parts of the council of staff taking hours to get to work and fighting through the snow to deliver home care, protect children or ensure public safety - not to mention the gritters working round the clock - the head of HR might have been better offering a smidgeon of thanks instead of a headmasterly lecture on how to dock wages.

Thanks perhaps to the home carers and the Pentland Rangers helping them get to clients. Thanks perhaps to the social workers walking miles to visit children. Thanks perhaps to the road workers and cleansing workers working long shifts to try to keep the roads clear. Thanks maybe also to the staff managing to get into the central offices to keep systems working. And perhaps a hint of recognition might have been in order for the people who just could not get in, many of whom will have been working at home.

UNISON members deliver services but also rely on them too, like any other citizen. So if the council can't bring itself to value the efforts of its workers through the blizzards, we at least can.

Thanks to you all.

PS: We hear the Head of HR didn't manage in today because of the snow!

NOTE: Later this afternoon, the Chief Executive issued a thankyou to staff. It was justified and appreciated.

Check out the website for full details http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/

Friday, 26 November 2010

Suicide bids stopped by award-winning council scheme

UNISON members at City of Edinburgh Council, who have successfully prevented potential suicides at a social housing block, have been recognised at the Guardian Public Services Awards 2010. http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2064

Staff on one of the council’s high-rise estates had been struggling to cope with at-risk tenants until a suicide prevention initiative was set up. More than 200 people in the frontline team have now been trained to spot signs of mental illness and a multi-agency mental health awareness group, including police, social services and NHS members, has been formed.

The initiative was launched after the Edinburgh Tenants Federation raised serious concerns with council landlords about the risk of suicides and the scheme has prevented at least four deaths since.

Personal information on residents and their support needs is now available to staff and information leaflets on mental health services have been delivered to all the council’s high-rise blocks.

The City of Edinburgh Council received the award for Skills Development in the Innovation and Progress category.

UNISON member Michael McCrossan, senior officer for services for communities, said:

“We are over the moon to have received the Guardian award and believe that the initiative has had a huge effect on the lives of council tenants.

“Mental health awareness is extremely important, especially for those living in high-rise buildings, which can be very isolating and lonely.

“It is vital to keep talking to local people, who can raise concerns and help develop the scheme.

“We hope to continue with the good work and prevent many more tragedies.”

Dave Prentis, UNISON’s General Secretary, said:

“It is a huge honour for the team to win this award, as it is such a ground-breaking initiative.

“Training staff to identify problems and have the confidence to deal with them, can clearly help save lives.

“This scheme shows how important it is to empower workers through training.”



Check out the website for full details http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

PUBLIC MEETING Thursday 25 November 2010 7.30pm

Edinburgh Anti Cuts Alliance: PUBLIC MEETING Thursday 25 November 2010 7.30pm City Chambers, High St. Speakers: Margo McDonald MSP, Derek Thomson PCS, Peter Hunter UNISON, Liam Byrne NUS, Plus speakers from community campaigns. All welcome

Thursday, 18 November 2010

BLINDCRAFT SAVED WITH 3 DAY WEEK PLAN

Kevin DuguidLate negotiations saw councillors agree to backtrack on plans to close Blindcaft. "We’ve got a platform to build from", UNISON's Kevin Duguid tells Deadline Scotland
Check out the website for full details http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

UNISON VOWS TO FIGHT CLOSURE OF BLINDCRAFT

UNISON and the other trades unions at Blindcraft have vowed to fight the closure of its renowned beds factory in Edinburgh as they join with workers to lobby the City of Edinburgh Council meeting on 18 November.

UNISON understands the City of Edinburgh Council's Lib Dem /SNP Administration is to push for the closure of Blindcraft at the meeting.

Kevin Duguid, UNISON lead negotiator, said: "The closure plans are being pushed through despite the unions positively engaging with the Council over Blindcraft's future and coming up with proposals, including a reduced working week, which would hugely reduce the deficit the organization faces".

Many of those losing their jobs are people with disabilities who will find it incredibly difficult to get another job and to cope with a huge upheaval to their daily life.

"These are skilled staff who make a quality product that is more than a match for its competitors", added Mr Duguid.

"Unions and council officials met last week with the Minister for Enterprise, Jim Mather but this failed to address the reality of the position Blindcraft is in and concentrated more on nice words and platitudes than any help that could be offered.

"Nothing constructive emerged from that meeting, but if the Scottish Government are serious about supporting people with disabilities to be part of mainstream society they must put their money where their mouth is and support places like Blindcraft", said Mr Duguid.

There will be a lobby of the Council Meeting on Thursday at 9.30am which Blindcraft Staff will attend and the unions will be calling for the Council to reject closure and work with all stakeholders including the Scottish Government to safeguard the future of Blindcraft .

Check out the website for full details http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Get your Modernising Pay appeal in by 17 December

Details on how to appeal under Modernising Pay for City of Edinburgh Council employees will be on the website from 8 November.

Check out the website for full details http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/

Sunday, 24 October 2010

20,000 march in Edinburgh against the cuts

Expectations were high for the Edinburgh demo on 23 October. All the signs were that people were building for it. But even then, the turnout exceeded expectations, such is the widespread anger against the unfairness and savagery of the cuts. The anger at a government that “blames the excesses of the privileged on the poor”.

Colourful and lively, over 20,000 people marched along iconic Princes Street with one clear message. There is a better way. See full report and photos at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/publicworks/betterway.html

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Unions' fury as Edinburgh Council reneges on pay protection promise

The joint unions representing Edinburgh Council staff have condemned the Council for reneging on its promises to staff about three-year pay protection if they lost out under ‘Modernising Pay’.

"You can't cut half-a-million jobs and think services and people using them won't suffer,"

"You can't cut half-a-million jobs and think services and people using them won't suffer," Kisten Hey tells today's Scotsman newspaper. Spending review: Case study: In the firing line - people whose lives will be affected by the changes http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/spendingreview/Spending-review-Case-study-In.6591996.jp

ABM privatisation roadshows


Come and find out more about the Council's ABM privatisation programme....

Tuesday 26 October City Chambers
Dunedin Room 2-4pm
Wednesday 27 October Chesser House
Canteen 4.30pm
Thursday 28 October Waverley Court
Canteen 3pm - 4.30pm.
Launch of the Manifesto Friday 29 October:
City Chambers, Main Council Chamber 12pm - 2pm.
  • Do you work in one of the ABM privatisation
  • programme locations and work groups?
  • Do you provide services for vulnerable groups?
  • Do you want to know more about the
  • outsourcing and privatisation plans?
No matter where you work, come along and....

  • Get a briefing on ABM and what it means
  • Get your questions answered
  • Make your views known

Check out the website for full details http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Thousands rally against cuts at Westminster

Thousands rally against cuts at Westminster Thousands of public sector workers have packed Central Hall to capacity with standing-room only as they protest against the coalition government's plans for huge cuts in public spending. Messages from the rally are giving us updates on events.

Demo 20 October: There is a Better Way

The Edinburgh Anti-Cuts Alliance is holding a demo on Wednesday 20 October at 5.30 at the Mound Precinct in protest at the cuts in the Comprehensive Spending Review that day in parliament. All members are urged to attend.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

October 23 - Tell them There is a Better Way

There is Better Way and UNISON is urging all members to turn out on 23 October - in Edinburgh - for a national demonstration for decent public services, public and private sector jobs, fair taxation and a living wage. The cuts are politically, not financially based. They risk even more recession.
Use the leaflets and posters on this link and see more on the truth about the crisis at...
 http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/publicworks/index.html

Investing in quality public services - the best alternative to austerity cuts‏

Investing in quality public services - the best alternative to austerity cuts‏ - an excellent paper by David Hall of the University of Greenwich on ‘why we need public spending’. http://www.qpsconference.org/sites/default/files/PSIRU_Report_final_11-10-2010.pdf

Thursday, 7 October 2010

UNISON Scotland: UNISON response to Hutton report on pensions

UNISON Scotland: UNISON response to Hutton report on pensions: "07/10/2010 Dave Prentis Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, has responded to the Hutton report on pensions published today.

Decent Work Day - today and every day‏

Decent Work Day - today and every day‏ Today trade unions across the world are mobilising to tackle the global economic and employment crisis and demand fundamental reform of the world economy. Events can be followed on a dedicated website: http://www.wddw.org/

Monday, 4 October 2010

UNISON Scotland: STUC slams Chancellor’s Tory Conference speech

UNISON Scotland: STUC slams Chancellor’s Tory Conference speech: "October 4th 2010 Commenting after George Osborne had delivered his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, Grahame Smith, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary said:“It is hugely unfortunate that the Chancellor has used this occasion to shamelessly repeat every distortion used to justify Coalition policy. The implications for growth and employment across Scotland and the UK are dire. read more at http://www.stuc.org.uk/news/784/stuc-on-chancellor-s-conference-speech

Saturday, 2 October 2010

An air of madness in being asked where the axe should fall

Edinburgh Council cuts meetings: "Like many in the hall, I began to question the wisdom of this whole exercise. Cutting jobs on this scale – at a time of recession or near recession – is just what a government is not supposed to do, according to conventional economic theory", writes John Knox on Caledonian Mercury. http://politics.caledonianmercury.com/2010/10/01/an-air-of-madness-in-being-asked-where-the-axe-should-fall/

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Council must listen to public on saving services

With the revelation in today's Evening News (http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/topstories/Big-backing-for-higher-council.6558389.jp ) that 7 out of 10 of Edinburgh residents would rather pay more in tax than lose services, UNISON has called on the Council to listen to the public properly and abandon the 'fixed' consultation.

There is an alternative

There is an alternative UNISON regions and branches mounted a series of individual and joint union events across the country on yesterday's ETUC day of action against austerity cuts. http://www.unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=6363

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Monday, 27 September 2010

We don't need cuts - tell a pal

Tell a PalWe don't need these cuts. There is a Better Way. Spread the word and 'Tell a Pal'
You can email, use Hotmail or Gmail and share on facebook, twitter and many others. Help put out the message for public services.

PAY CONSULTATION

Stewards will be holding meeting to consult members on the Employers' imposition of 0.65% this year with a pay freeze for the following two years. You can make your views known at these meetings or you can respond online by clicking here. We need all responses by 1 October.

Check out the website for full details http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/

THE DANGERS OF PRIVATISING SERVICES

As Connaught's administrators try to get services brought back in house, questions are asked about the firms accountancy methods. This firm had passed Edinburgh's finance checks! Click here for our bulletin
see more on the unofficial UNISONActive blog

Check out the website for full details http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/