New website

PLEASE NOTE: With the move to our new website, we are no longer regularly updating this blog. See the latest updates from our website on the right or click here for the new website.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Look back with pride and forward with confidence - message to members from Branch President

Branch activists and members can be rightly proud of our successes in 2011.

Keeping Edinburgh’s environmental services in-house was a high point that came from using all the resources at our disposal. Publicity, campaigning, engaging with local communities, lobbies, leafleting and stunts all went alongside research, organising, political lobbying and the sheer force of persuasion to achieve the right decision from the council.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Thanks to all Edinburgh Council members for a great day

The turnout to fight for fair pensions exceeded expectations and branch members joined 10,000 other trade unionists for a massive rally in Edinburgh (see A big thankyou to the pickets who turned out from the wee small hours and throughout the day to show a union presence. Polls now show great public support and we are sure that any member who was unsure about the action will now be convinced of the justice of our case. Every day we need to challenge the myths and lies of the Government on this issue. For the ammunition to do that see
Check out the website for moredetails

Strike day photos now on website

Strike day photos are now on the UNISON Edinburgh website and Picasa. See

Bick: You have a legal right and moral duty to stand up to bullies

Upwards of 10,000 public service workers were treated to a barnstorming performance by Rodney Bickerstaffe today outside the Scottish Parliament. Reaching out to the young people on the rally, he was cheered as he urged them, “You wonderful young people, you have a legal right and a moral duty to stand up to bullies and diktat or they will walk all over you”.

50,000 on strike in Edinburgh and Lothians

A cold wet morning on the picket line but we're not alone by any means. STV reports that 50,000 will be on strike in Edinburgh and Lothians. #unisonscotn30
Check out the website for full details

Friday, 25 November 2011

Our City's Not For Sale. Thanks

Thanks to the host of branches who sent messages of support today after the Environmental contract stayed in-house.
Check out the website for full details

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Edinburgh Council votes to keep Environment Services in-house

SNP, Labour and Greens carry vote to back the best value in-house option. Well done unions, workers, councillors and the public who supported us. But two more huge privatisations coming up on 22 December. Keep up the campaign. Our City's Not For Sale.
Check out the website for full details

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Edinburgh bin workers back in house option

Workers have overwhelmingly backed the environment in house option in their response to a council and union letter. Now it's time to back them. Check out the website for full details

Edinburgh In House: Up For Change, Realistic Fair Efficient

Rally at the Council 08.30 tomorrow. Get your button badge to back the best value in-house option. #citynotforsale

Check out the website for full details

In-House: The Right Choice for the Right Reasons

Why the Edinburgh in-house option is 'best value'. UNISON has issued a briefing on why the In-House Environment Option is 'best value' and should be supported by councillors on 24 November: . UNISON examines all the privatisation issues in a detailed briefing to councillors and urges a decision made on 'best value' for the people of Edinburgh (PDF document) 23 Nov. Check out the website for full details

Monday, 21 November 2011

Back the in house option

#citynotforsale Lobby of council 24 Nov 0830. Up for change. Last big push against environment privatisation. New leaflet online
Check out the website for full details

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Website currently down

Apologies for the branch website being down at the moment. We are advised it will be back online soon.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Ten reasons why City of Edinburgh Councillors should oppose privatisation

Peter HunterThe City of Edinburgh Council will vote today on a plan to outsource environmental services to a private company. UNISON Organiser, Peter Hunter tells STV News why councillors should vote against.
Check out the website for full details

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Lib Dems and SNP posted missing as public meeting calls for halt to privatisation

A packed public meeting called by UNISON at Edinburgh University last night called for a halt to massive privatisation and poured scorn on the council administration’s failure to consult the public.

As the council decision to sell-off waste collection and street cleaning looms on Thursday 27 October, UNISON’s Peter Hunter urged people to contact their Lib Dem and SNP councillors and demand that they ‘listen to the people”, as well as demonstrating outside the council at 8.30 that day. He also signalled that the union may take legal action against the council’s failure to consult.

Exposing the administration’s ‘secret’ Mori poll, Peter slammed the administration’s labelling of genuine public concerns as ‘myths’ and ‘information gaps’. The fact that consultation would only happen after the privatisation decision was taken was ‘disgraceful’. Peter demolished the flawed process, the false comparators and the failed contracts across the country. (see briefing)

He revealed council plans, in breach of the government PPP protocol, to allow private companies to close the pension scheme to new employees – an unfair advantage over the in-house bid but also a threat to the whole pension scheme. The privatisation contracts last between seven and 12 years, so the Lothian pension scheme is “staring at a slow and lingering death”.

He challenged Cllr Cameron Rose whether the other councils in the pension fund had been consulted on this and urged him to take this up in his role on the pension fund.

The meeting was ably and entertainingly chaired by Evening News columnist Martin Hannan who is an SNP activist and ex UNISON steward. It heard a detailed briefing from Peter Hunter but was denied the chance to question the ruling coalition as both Lib Dem and SNP leaders pulled out at the last minute.

However, Labour’s Andrew Burns did attend and told the meeting that privatisation was “At the wrong time, for the wrong reasons and the wrong decision”.

It was the wrong time when it was only 29 weeks to the next election yet the administration was committing any future council to contracts that would run for at least seven, and perhaps 12 years. The real place to consult the people was at the ballot box, especially since neither the Lib Dems or the SNP made any mention of massive privatisation in their manifestos.

The reasons, cutting expenditure, were wrong because there were other ways of doing that. The difference between the in-house and privatised bid was only £3million. There were other ways of saving that in a budget of £1 billion if there was the ‘political will’, especially when the council was committing to paying £15.3 million a year for 30 years for the trams.

Andrew said he, like many councillors, came into politics to try to make things better for people. “I didn’t stand (as a councillor) to be just a manager of contracts”, he said.

Somewhat courageously, Tory leader Jeremy Balfour also attended to defend his support for the privatisation plans. He claimed they would save jobs and save money. He conceded that the plans would affect everyone and he was also critical of the failure to engage with the public.

The audience then weighed in with question after question. Nick Gardner from Greater Leith Against the Cuts asked probing questions about the environment contracts.

He was backed by bin men who underlined that they had had wages cut already by up to 30% being ‘softened up’ for privatisation. One stressed they took pride in doing their best for the people of Edinburgh as a public service and questioned what would happen when the main motive was profit rather than service.
UNISON’s Kirsten Hey won huge applause when she spoke of the disastrous result of privatisation in the NHS.

Speaker after speaker praised UNISON’s role in campaigning and exposing the council’s plans to the people of Edinburgh.

For further information

Friday, 21 October 2011


UNISON has condemned Edinburgh council for gambling with jobs and services as it sets out plans today to sell off the city’s essential cleansing, waste and award winning parks services. The union has also condemned the Council’s refusal to publish its last minute Mori poll into the public’s views.

The council is publishing the first of three controversial privatisation proposals when they recommend that councillors pass all environmental services to Enterprise, the private contractor.

“Edinburgh council is gambling with essential services, jobs and livelihoods by proposing wholesale privatisation”, said Peter Hunter, UNISON Regional Officer.

“Privatisation can only be seen as a massive gamble. The council should be “once bitten twice shy” after the fiasco with the Tram contractor, but like a compulsive gambler the council is determined to solve its problems with one more roll of the dice.

“And like most gamblers, the council has an audience of friends begging them to step away from the table. Unions, community groups and even Audit Scotland have all highlighted the fact that the odds on victory for Edinburgh are unattractive, but it would seem the die is cast”

“Councillors do not own Edinburgh’s services, they are merely the custodians of them. They have no right to gamble them in this way. When it all goes wrong it will be the taxpayer as usual who has to pay”.

The council report endorsing the sell off has been published at the end of a week when the council steadfastly refused to release the findings of the public consultation on privatisation.

“Having failed to tell voters about the privatisation plans for two years the council hired MORI to capture public opinion at the last minute. Although the report is censored and FOI requests have been denied, the council leaked excerpts of the report to the press so we know what voters think. Edinburgh people are hostile to privatisation, they resent the profit motive of private contractors and they rightly doubt the ability of the council to win any contract dispute over service standards. We need an honest public discussion on today’s proposals and that must start with release of the MORI report”, added Mr Hunter.

UNISON has asked all political parties to pledge their support for a fair process but the union has a specific message for SNP councillors as the party of Government gather for their annual conference in Inverness.

“UNISON has great admiration for the SNP vision for quality, integrated services in the NHS delivered by public sector workers. We stand with Nicola Sturgeon in condemning Tory health plans as an “experiment in privatisation” as she will say from the conference platform today. But Nicola doesn’t need to look beyond the streets of Edinburgh to see the threat of private experiments. Her capital city has been put up for sale. The fate of public services in Edinburgh lies in the hands of the SNP and we ask them to join us in saying no to private gambling and experimentation”.

For further information

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Edinburgh Council censors critical report as UNISON launches privatisation pledge

Unions have warned that the fall-out from Edinburgh council's £1billion privatisation plans could be 'worse than the trams', as citizens take things into their own hands by organising public meetings across the city to demand answers from the council.

Beleaguered officials at City of Edinburgh Council have censored a report which records public attitudes to the proposed £1 billion privatisation of council services.

Peter Hunter, UNISON's Regional Organiser for Edinburgh said:
“The council has a legal obligation to consult stakeholders on the great service sell-off and there has been growing criticism of the veil of secrecy surrounding plans for privatisation”.

Councillors attending public meetings across the city have witnessed the clamour for openness and transparency – a call endorsed in writing by UNISON, Audit Scotland and the council’s own independent consultants.

The censored report was written for the council by pollsters IPSOS MORI and it is based on the views of Edinburgh residents who came together to debate the council’s privatisation plan.

In response UNISON has launched a “Privatisation Pledge” - the union will be asking elected politicians to oppose privatisation of services until there has been full public consultation and proper scrutiny.

Peter Hunter explained the background:
“UNISON and the council’s consultants have been calling for consultation for over a year, but secrecy is the name of the game in Waverley Court. The MORI report was always just a fig leaf – it was only commissioned after the negotiation with bidders was finished. People never had the chance to influence the design of new services.”

Now the council faces further intense criticism for censoring public opinion.

Peter Hunter said:
“The lesson of the trams fiasco is that we need more scrutiny, not less. When we heard a rumour that the MORI report was being suppressed we made a Freedom of Information Request which has been refused. We’ll see what the courts make of that, but in the meantime we’re calling on councillors to make a stand. We want all councillors to pledge their public opposition to privatisation until we’ve had open and transparent consultation across the city. The city needs another tram fiasco like a hole in the head.”

Check out the website for full details

Monday, 10 October 2011

Somerset to take failed privatisation back in house

There are huge warning lights for Edinburgh as Tory Somerset council is negotiating to take many services back in-house – including finance and HR, with staff expected to transfer back next year. As the Daily Press has reported, the controversial deal was intended to save Somerset more than £200 million through sharing back-office functions, and also involved Avon & Somerset Police and IBM.

MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, who has waged a four-year campaign over the project, welcomed news that the county council is renegotiating its contract with Southwest One. But he warned the “failed enterprise” had wasted four years and cost taxpayers thousands of pounds.

Check out the website for full details

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Vote Yes to protect your pension

Papers will be out soon for the pensions ballot. Vote YES – you can’t afford to do anything else. More details at


Public Meeting 7pm Mon 24 October, Appleton Tower, Edinburgh University

Lobby the Council: 08.30-10.00 Thurs 27 October, City Chambers, High Street

"Privatisation and pensions attacks are wrecking services and fleecing public service workers. But there is an alternative if we are prepared to fight for it", John Stevenson, Branch President.

Get more info, leaflets and posters on the branch website at

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Delay in branch email connection

Following the branch office move there has been a delay in getting the broadband online again. We hope this will be resolved today. In the meantime emails are being checked periodically.
Check out the website for full details

See the new trams fiasco privatisation video

See the new video with UNISON's own tram mock-up - keeping up our campaign against Edinburgh's £1billion privatisation plans.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Lively hustings demands consultation on privatisation

The public attending a lively hustings for candidates in the Edinburgh Central Ward by election to be held on Thursday 18 August, made it clear to candidates from all parties that they were demanding full consultation before any decisions on privatising Edinburgh's services.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Edinburgh citizens to get 'long overdue' chance to quiz politicians on privatisation. Hustings 15 August

Edinburgh citizens will get a 'long overdue' chance to quiz politicians about the council's privatisation plans at a public meeting called by unions on Monday 15 August.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Website online again

The Edinburgh Branch website is now up an running again. Sorry about the interruption. Check out the website for full details

Website still down

The branch website is still down at 09.30 Mon 8 August. Our hosting company is aware and is dealing with this. Check back here for updates.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

UNISON Edinburgh website down

We are sorry that UNISON Edinburgh Branch website appears to be down this morning (Sunday 7 Aug 2011). We are investigating so please check this blog for any updates.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

City Not For Sale events updates....

Edinburgh Council's privatisation plans are clearly under pressure. The Council look as though they will be forced to delay making a decision until September or October. The bidders have missed the deadline and the council are trying to cover up weaknesses in their process.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Edinburgh privatisation 'worse than the trams' say unions as communities take action

Unions have warned that the fall-out from Edinburgh council's £1billion privatisation plans could be 'worse than the trams', as citizens take things into their own hands by organising public meetings across the city to demand answers from the council.

Saturday, 30 July 2011


Stop the council's £1billion privatisation of our services. New leaflet online now. Check out the website for full details

Friday, 29 July 2011

We're Moving!

The Branch is moving to a new office on 26 August 2011 at
10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LT
New Phone: 0131 558 7488
New Fax: 0131 558 7041
Email unchanged:

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

UNISON Scotland: MOBILISE anti-cuts festival 13-20 August Edinburgh...

UNISON Scotland: MOBILISE anti-cuts festival 13-20 August Edinburgh...: "Mobilise: A week-long Festival of Campaigning skills happening in Edinburgh from 13-20 August 2011. MOBILISE does exactly what it says on th..."

Check out the website for full details

Sunday, 3 July 2011

UNISON Scotland: We are frontline NHS events 5 June

UNISON Scotland: We are frontline NHS events 5 June: "A new video has been launched publicising events at hospitals across Scotland to say 'Who do you think you are kidding mR Cameron - we are f..."

Check out the website for full details

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Edinburgh must delay privatisation decision until public have their say

A packed public consultation organised by UNISON last night (27 June) heard calls for Edinburgh's Lib Dem/ SNP council to delay its £1 billion privatisation plans until the public is properly consulted.

Monday, 20 June 2011

They are not your services to sell, UNISON Edinburgh tells politicians

#uNDC11 Local public services are best provided by locally accountable local authorities and public bodies. This was reaffirmed by delegates to Local Government Conference who committed the union to supporting branches to mount robust campaigns against privatisation and outsourcing.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

New video for Our City's Not For Sale campaign

Check out this new video urging Edinburgh citizens to oppose privatisation and come to our public consultation on 27 June....Check out the website for full details

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Privatisation public consultation 27 June 6pm Augustine Church

The City of Edinburgh Council is considering bids for the privatisation of large swathes of local council services. The largest ever single privatisation of services in Scotland.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Keeping safe in the workplace

UNISON Scotland has issued a new guide for social work staff on 'Keeping Safe in the Workplace'. This follows one on Supervision and Workload Management and 'Helping People Change Their Lives' a manifesto for social work in Scotland. For much more with reports, responses, guidance and research on social work and social care issues, see
Check out the website for full details

New branch magazine out now

Covering privatisation, pensions, appeals, new social work guide and March 26 rally report, look out for your June UNISONNews or see it online at

Check out the website for full details

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Suspended staff statement

As a trade union we do not comment on the details of disciplinary matters but such has been the publicity created by the recent suspensions in a council department (Seven more suspended in fraud probe, News, May 11), we feel there is a need to set some of the record straight.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

UNISON Scotland: Rally for cuts flops

UNISON Scotland: Rally for cuts flops: "Only 350 people turned up to the rally for cuts in London today . This is in contrast to the half a million people who joined the TUC march..."

Check out the website for full details

UNISON Scotland: Austerity measures don't work

UNISON Scotland: Austerity measures don't work: "Austerity measures “don’t work” and prevent countries from creating jobs needed to generate economic growth, said Nobel Prize winning econom..."

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Saturday, 26 March 2011

Edinburgh joins thousands in London to say NO to cuts

Members and friends from Edinburgh came overnight by bus hired by the branch, by train, or caught the very early special STUC train this morning to join thousands of Scotland UNISON members descending on London from across the country to join hundreds of thousands in the biggest trade union demonstration in a generation.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

UNISON Scotland: UNISON launches safety guide for social workers

UNISON Scotland: UNISON launches safety guide for social workers: "UNISON Scotland will today (Monday) launch a guide to help social workers stay safe in the workplace. The new guide – Keeping Safe in the Wo..."

Check out the website for full details

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Save Edinburgh's Jobless Services Campaign takes the message to Holyrood: 'Save services that help jobless into work'

Campaigners will be at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday to press home the message that the Scottish Government's cuts of funding for employment programmes in Edinburgh will hurt people who most need help at this time of economic difficulties.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Edinburgh budget goes through despite protests

The Edinburgh Lib Dem/ SNP budget, threatening 1,200 jobs, has been voted through on the casting vote of the Lord Provost. Labour's alternative budget which would have avoided compulsory redundancies, protected services to the most vulnerable and set in train a process to get a living wage of at least £7.15 for the lowest paid, was beaten despite the Tories voting with them.

Check out the website for full details

Edinburgh Council votes to close Blindcraft

The news from the Edinburgh Council budget meeting is that Blindcraft is to close. More details to follow

Check out the website for full details


Members of UNISON's Edinburgh branch will lobby the City of Edinburgh Council Budget Meeting at the City Chambers, High Street, Edinburgh on Thursday 10 February 2011 from 08.30 - 9.30 to urge the council to protect front line services, avoid compulsory redundancies and abandon 'wasteful' privatisation plans.

The union has produced a briefing for councillors urging them to look at new ways of generating income in light of central government cuts and to consider a 'living wage' to protect the lowest paid workers.

John Stevenson, UNISON Edinburgh Branch President, said: "We know from the economists who actually predicted the crash that cuts like these are not needed and they are likely to damage the economy further. The UK Government cut £6 billion from public services in June and now we hear bankers are to give themselves the same £6 billion in bonuses this year. Surely something is sadly wrong when public services and public service workers have to pay for the folly of the financial sector.

"But we also know that the council has to face the reality of the UK Coalition's cuts and the Scottish Government's budget settlement. That makes it all the more important that the Council does all in its power to stand up for Edinburgh's jobs and services now so that there will still be an infrastructure there to build on in the future."

Kevin Duguid, Branch Lead Negotiator said: "At times like these every penny counts. That is why we are calling on the Council to end its wasteful privatisation plans. This would save money on legal advice and consultants and free up managers and staff to get on with the job of providing services. All of the in-house service improvement models have shown that they will deliver significant savings, so why throw good money after bad by continuing down the privatisation road?"

Agnes Petkevicius, Branch Secretary, highlighted the human cost of cuts: "Council services are relied on by the elderly; disabled people; children: Essential services delivered directly by people like home carers, social care workers, classroom assistants, nursery nurses. Often the lowest paid and least valued. Services like roads, public safety, cleansing are relied on by everyone in Edinburgh - jobs delivered for Edinburgh people by Edinburgh people. People who put around 70p of every pound they earn back into the local economy.

"Despite council claims that front-line services will be protected, each and every one of these services is facing cuts. We need to bust the myth about front and back office jobs - they are all part of the team delivering essential services."

Calling for the council to avoid compulsory redundancies, Kevin Duguid said, "Unions will work with the Council but that is hard for workers to do when they could be forced on to the dole. Many are toiling to cover for the hundreds of jobs already lost without also being faced with the sack. A Council this size should be able to manage any job losses on a voluntary basis".

Check out the website for full details

Monday, 7 February 2011

UNISON to meet with Joint Trade Unions to discuss a pay claim to tackle low pay

UNISON to meet with Joint Trade Unions to discuss a pay claim to tackle low pay
The proposed claim, for a single year, would focus on a flat rate to benefit lower paid workers and would press for employers to introduce a Living Wage. Click here for more details on UNISON Scotland Check out the website for full details

Lobby against the cuts 10 Feb

If the need hasn't gone away, why should the services? LOBBY AGAINST THE CUTS: 08.30-09.30 Thurs 10 February City Chambers, High Street. Come and show the Council we will stand up for public services. Click here for a poster for your workplace.
Check out the website for full details