Scotland newsletter issue 6 – June 2007

John QuigleyWelcome from Scotland Regional Secretary, John Quigley
We are now moving into an exciting and interesting period of change in British politics. The election of a S.N.P. minority administration government in the Scottish Parliament and a possible coalition with the Liberal Democrats or even the Tories over the next 4 years cannot be ruled out. Therefore Unite/Amicus and our Sister Unions in the S.T.U.C will continue to try and engage constructively with the Scottish Executive through the framework of our Memorandum of Understanding. In order to progress our Policies and with the interest of our members and their families in mind.At UK level Gordon Brown offers the country a new start and Unite is embracing this opportunity to push for the changes that ordinary people want to see.

Although Jon Cruddas’ campaign for deputy leader did well with the most first preference votes, Harriet Harmon won overall and Unite looks forward to a positive working relationship with both her and Gordon Brown.

We do believe however that the Government needs to change direction and start putting the needs of people before the interests of corporate exploiters. The Government can no longer afford to allow multinationals to call the shots – UK workers deserve protection against the worst excesses of globalisation.

Unite will be making its voice heard at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth in September. Thousands of members will demonstrate outside the conference to highlight our campaigning issues – an end to privatisation in public services and better management of the NHS. equality for temporary and agency workers and affordable housing for all who need it, and better pensions

Transport for the demo will provided by the union. So come along, take banners and bring the kids and let the party of government hear our concerns. Contact the Glasgow office on 01412487131

Anti-bullying road show comes to Scotland
Unite’s ‘Dignity at Work’ road show comes to Scotland on the 10th July to provide information to organisations and businesses in Scotland on how to combat workplace bullying.

Unite is leading the world’s biggest anti-bullying project, Dignity at Work. The project, which is part funded by the Department of Trade and Industry aims to offer solutions to the problem of bullying and is hosting training road shows across the country, including Scotland. The project brings together employers and trade unions to work in partnership to eradicate bullying.

Dignity at Work has produced a series of four guides targeted at different groups including a guide for trade union representatives, HR professionals and leaders.

Recent research has shown that 10% of employees are bullied at work and this serious issue already costs UK employers over £2 billion a year in sick pay, staff turnover and loss of production.

Dignity at Work co-ordinator Mandy Telford, said: “Bullying is indiscriminate, it can affect everyone, and anyone can become a bully. If employers work with their trade unions, organisations can tackle the problem of bullying head-on.”

For a copy of the guide e.mail There will soon be a Union TV film on bullying click on the Amicus Website.

Union reps are invited to attend the free road show. Contact Siân Grieve on Tel: 02920 545 383 or The Dignity at work road show is coming to Glasgow the date and venue is: Tuesday the 10th of July at the Abode Hotel, 129 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 2SZ, dead line for application to this event is the 3rd of July.

A resolution was agreed in principle following lengthy discussions through ACAS which allowed the 43 Unite members to return to work after 10 weeks of bitter all out strike. During the dispute the members had to endure temporary workers and existing staff members crossing the picket line.

The picket lines remained disciplined and operable throughout those 10 weeks despite their legality being challenged by the company in the local sheriff courts. The outcome of the members determination is an agreement that prevents management, without having prior demonstrated justification to the reps and TU, introducing lay-offs or short time working at anytime in the future. Failing to reach an agreement would be tested through independent arbitration on that single issue with committed compensation should the company be in default.

Of course this outcome would not have been achieved had it not been for the generosity and support of all sections of Unite the union and the broad Trade Union movement which these members are eternally grateful for and appreciative that donations even made post the settlement can help compensate the suffering of that 10 weeks.

Dundee job losses
Unite, Britain’s biggest private sector union is furious that Yorkshire Fittings, based in Dundee is planning to close its operations with the loss of 45 jobs. Yorkshire Fittings have announced that they are planning to close their Dundee operation and transfer some of the work to Hungary and the rest to Doncaster, which they will then eventually transfer to China. The company will be entering in to consultations with the union over the next 30 days. The union has criticised the company, which makes copper plumbing parts, for turning their back on loyal Dundee staff in the search for cheap labour. Unite Regional Officer, Gillian MacKay says: “This announcement is a real blow to the Dundee economy. In the last nine months over six manufacturing companies have announced closures and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find quality work. “Yorkshire Fitting’s announcement is about profits before people. We are deeply disappointed and we’ll be doing what we can to get the best possible outcome for our members.”

Contentious issues debated at Unite conference
Over 1,000 delegates debated some of the pressing issues of the day at Unite’s (Amicus section) policy conference in June and heard a commitment from Gordon Brown that he intends to engage more with trade unions.

Following a lively debate on energy and climate change delegates voted for a balanced energy policy relying on both nuclear and renewable sources. Trident was on the agenda and delegates argued that the £65 billion it will cost to renew the warhead should be spent elsewhere. However, conference also heard that the defence industry was the UK’s biggest exporter and that tens of thousands of jobs could be threatened if defence diversification was not properly implemented.

Gordon Brown addressed conference and made a specific guarantee that all 2,300 disabled workersGordon Brownaffected by redundancy at the government-supported Remploy would be offered alternative jobs with the company or the offer of another job with the same or improved terms and conditions. He also suggested that the ‘fourth option’ to allow local councils to build houses again could soon be up for discussion.

Derek Simpson told conference of the need to build international links with other trade unions to match the power of multinational companies. For a full conference report and to view conference pod-casts click here.

Lifelong learning – Your union needs you!
Unite is looking for members who are interested in promoting training and development for colleagues in the workplace.

Union learning reps play a vital role in encouraging employees to take up learning. They act as a link between employers, workers and training providers.

Scotland learning organiser Walton Pantland said: “The role of the learning rep is extremely rewarding. They provide advice and support to workers who in many cases have not accessed education since leaving school. There is nothing better than to be able to help colleagues improve their skills and education and watch their confidence grow.”

Unite already has hundreds of learning reps across the UK but would like to have a learning rep in every workplace.

Unite provides full training for Learning Reps. If you would like to find out more about the role contact: Walton Pantland

Outsourcing to Capita announced
Unite -Amicus is deeply disappointed by the decision by Resolution to outsource and offshore 2,000 jobs to Capita on the 1st of August, including the off shoring of a significant number of jobs to India.

Unite-Amicus Reps have been heavily involved in pre-announcement consultation meetings with the company and we have already begun to make progress on the key issues. We welcome the commitments given that serious attempts will be made redeploy staff and that off-shoring will be phased in over 3 years. We do not see the need for compulsory redundancies given the stated good will on the part of Capita in the way that it intends to manage the job loss programme and this will be a key priority as we progress.

We also welcome the commitments given around terms and conditions to date, in particular the arrangements for Pension provision which are not covered by TUPE. However, there will be no complacency on our part, Unite-Amicus remain committed to retaining, and where possible improving, members terms and conditions. At a meeting on 31st of May with Capita and Resolution we asked for a table of non-contractual benefits (Maternity leave provisions, bonus arrangements etc) to be drawn up in order to ensure that Capita maintain a comparable package of benefits.
The final terms of the transfer will be subject to full consultation with Unite-Amicus members.

Members’ meetings have been arranged at the Unite office at John Smith House, 145-165 West Regent Street and Wythall to give members the opportunity to voice their immediate views. Further meetings will take place as we go through the consultation process and members will be given every opportunity to express their views and issues through the Union Representatives who will be part of the Union’s team in all consultations. Unite are also committed to making sure that members get regular updates from the consultation process with Resolution and Capita.

STUC partnership opens the door to Open University learning for 630,000 Scottish workers

Over fifteen per cent of adults in Scotland could benefit from a landmark partnership agreement to be signed by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and The Open University in Scotland (OU) this week (Friday, 8 June).

The partnership is set to play an important role in widening access to higher education and developing skills in the workplace by opening up learning opportunities for approximately 630,000 trade unionists in Scotland.

The agreement outlines how the two organisations will work together to ensure that those who have previously benefited least from education and training can develop their skills, confidence and careers through access to learning.

A key element of the agreement will be to offer a 10 per cent discount on a wide range of courses to union members who are new to studying with the OU.

The launch event took place at Rolls Royce’s Inchinnan plant, Inchinnan Drive, Renfrewshire on the 8th of June. The agreement was signed by Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the STUC and Peter Syme, Scottish Director of The Open University in Rolls Royce, a workplace that has a successful history of trade union and employer partnership in learning opportunities.

Peter Syme said: “The OU has a long and successful history of working with trade unions in Scotland. This new agreement will enable us to take this to a new level by creating a direct route to hundreds of accessible and flexible learning opportunities for thousands of trade union members.”

Grahame Smith said: “The STUC is delighted to work in partnership with the OU to provide discounted, open learning opportunities for trade unionists throughout Scotland. This is a historic link that brings the practical benefits of each organisation together for the betterment of workers’ lives.

“This event is not just about signing the agreement but reflects the greater emphasis on learning that is happening in partnership between unions, employers and providers.”

For more information visit the websites:

Calling all environmentally-friendly people
“Do you think your employer is working hard to save the planet? If so then why not enter the VIBES competition for environmentally friendly firms”. Entries are now open for Scotland’s leading business and environment awards Vision in Business for the Environment of Scotland (VIBES). Now in their eighth year, entry is free and open to any business or organisations across Scotland which brings benefits to our lives through improvements to environmental performance. Open to Scottish organisations of all sizes and sectors, prizes are awarded at a high-profile award ceremony in December. For further information or to enter online click here or contact VIBES coordinator Linsay McGillivray on 01896 754797.

If you have any issues or events please email them to Elizabeth Cairns.

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