Scotland Newsletter Issue 10 Oct 2007

Unite is just over six months old but even in this short time has made a big impact as the UK’s biggest, newest and foremost campaigning union.Since May, over 75,000 workers have joined our union. Our campaigns to stop the exploitation of agency workers, to demand an end to the privatisation of the NHS and our demand that government support our manufacturing base are striking a chord with working people.

We believe we have the ear of the government. But we don’t just want Gordon Brown to listen, we want him to act. We want affordable homes, a well managed, fully funded public health service and a level playing field with Europe on employment rights so that sacking UK workers is no longer the cheapest option for multinationals as they ship thousands of jobs abroad.

Unite members will be out again in force at the national demonstration in support of the NHS on November 3rd. Unite has over 100,000 members working in the NHS and we are the fastest growing union in the health service. Although we welcome the extra billions the government have given the NHS, we condemn the rapid expansion of the private sector and reforms that have set different parts of the NHS competing against each for patients and investment. This is fragmenting the health service, threatening patient care and undermining its public ethos. So come along and support the demonstration which assembles from 11am at Temple Place, Victoria Embankment and marches at noon through Westminster. The rally starts at 1 pm in Trafalgar Square.

Government promise to work with Unite on manufacturing
Secretary of State, John Hutton made a promise to consult with Unite to develop a strategy for manufacturing following our successful lobby and rally in October.

1,000 manufacturing workers traveled from all over the UK to tell the government that intervention is needed if the UK is to maintain and develop its manufacturing industry. In a jam packed room over 60 Labour MPs and Ministers were directly lobbied by Unite members who gave first hand accounts of the problems in manufacturing.
On the day of the lobby Unite published new research showing that many of the UK’s £42 billion worth of public manufacturing contracts are awarded to overseas firms.

Unite says that if that £42 billion was invested in UK manufacturing it would create or secure over half a million high value manufacturing jobs.

John Quigley, Unite regional secretary said “Unite wants the UK procurement process to take account of the impact on UK industry and jobs. This compares with other European countries that favour their own producers in the award of public contracts.”

Asbestos victims let down by House of Lords decision
Unite is bitterly disappointed with a House of Lords decision to end compensation for victims of pleural plaque – an asbestos related condition.

For several years Unite has been fighting a legal battle to defend an established right to compensation, which had existed for 20 years, for pleural plaques which are in almost every case caused by workers being exposed to asbestos due to negligence of their employers.

Pleural plaques is associated with an increased risk of developing fatal conditions like mesothelioma or asbestosis. Diagnosis of pleural plaques often leads to extreme distress for the victims, as they fear they may develop fatal asbestos related diseases which can often lead to a slow and painful death.

Regional Secretary, John Quigley, said: “This decision means thousands of people diagnosed with pleural plaques will no longer be entitled to compensation. It also means massive savings for the insurers of companies who knowingly exposed their employees to asbestos in the workplace.”

Equalities conference
Regional Council is holding a one-day Equalities conference on Wednesday 28 October 2007. The conference will cover a range of topics currently affecting our members. This is a very important event in the Scottish Calendar and one we hope that you will all enjoy attending.

Equalities affect everyone. This conference is aimed at all trade unionists, whether lay reps, shop stewards, ordinary union members, both men and women. To ensure that this event is successful we need you to publicise this event as widely as possible in your workplaces. We would like you to encourage as many members as possible to attend.

A detailed programme will be available in due course. To allow us to reserve places at the conference please contact Gillian McKay at the address below by 17 November 2007.
Please direct any queries concerning the above direct to Gillian McKay, 17 South Tay Street, Dundee, DD1 1NR.


Unite are currently involved in a recognition campaign at low cost carrier Flyglobespan. ACAS are now involved in the current discussions and have centred the campaign on Cabin Crew employees. “The general public sometimes forget the difficult working conditions that Cabin Crew have to undertake, when booking and travelling on many Airlines.” Said Unite National Officer Brian Boyd.

The Company has also recently announced redundancies, and despite our efforts, they are refusing to allow Unite the opportunity to participate in the full consultation process. This makes the current situation extremely difficult for our Flyglobespan membership. The unite Campaign is being coordinated by Regional Officer Fiona Farmer, who along with our CAT Organiser Janet Henney has now recruited more than 200 Cabin Crew into Unite membership. “Cabin Crew now form a substantial part of Unite Civil Aviation Membership, and we are determined that our members in Flyglobespan will secure a recognition agreement that gives them the opportunity to determine improvements to Terms and Conditions of employment, which to date, they have been denied” stated Fiona.

Fiona Can Be Contacted on: 01382 226268

Learning agreement signed with Highland Council
A learning agreement was signed with Highland Council at the Council Headquarters in Inverness on 3 October.

It is believed to be the first learning agreement with a local authority in Scotland. The Highland Council is one of the biggest employers in the Highlands, and covers a wide geographical area. The learning agreement sets out the intentions of all parties to work together to bring new opportunities for learning and development to council employees across the region.

Councillor Carolyn Wilson, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Council, said: “We fully support what is a very worthwhile initiative. The Council is committed to developing the potential of all our staff.”

Walton Pantland, learning organiser for Unite-Amicus said: “We welcome this opportunity to work with The Highland Council to bring new learning opportunities to council workers across the Highlands. By working in partnership, we will be able to make the best use of our combined resources to reach as many people as possible.”

The agreement was negotiated by a steering group made up of representatives of the council, as well as from Unite-Amicus, Unite-T&G, and UNISON. In attendance at the signing were a number of learning reps from the Highland Council, including Unite-Amicus rep Hugh Gall.

We are committed to cross-union work to bring learning opportunities to council employees across the Highlands. Earlier this year, a cross-union learning at work day was held in Inverness, and a mobile learning bus visited a number of Highland Council sites to offer employees taster sessions and information about courses.
This included a visit to Bught Park, Diriebught depot, council headquarters and Lotland street depot, where Hugh Gall is based.
Staff expressed a great interest in learning, with a desire for computer skills being particularly apparent.

There are small groups of learning reps across the Highland region, including Inverness, Lochaber and Caithness. The reps will come together in local cross-union forums to plan learning activity and build relationships with local learning providers…
The first of these forums will take place in Inverness on 5 November.
Unite goes to Brisbane for Global Unions Conference in National Australia Group

Representatives from Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank recently went to Brisbane as part of an annual get together of the Global Unions who negotiate with National Australia Group.

Delegates from the Australian and New Zealand Finance Unions FSU and FINSEC met with UK Unite colleagues to discuss member’s issues and the Company strategy globally. Top of the agenda and common to all was understaffing, challenging targets, off shoring, outsourcing and market rates of pay. It was agreed that the Global Unions would put forward a Global Off shoring Agreement to the Company to protect members’ jobs and safeguard their interests and that a Global Unions’ Overtime survey would be posted on all the Unions’ websites early in the New Year for completion and return by members. John Stewart, Managing Director and Group CEO of NAB, spent the day with the Unions listening to the issues put forward by members. He then spent some time on the Company’s Corporate Social Responsibility agenda and the significance of their climate change and diversity plans which he said were being progressed at the highest level. He outlined his commitment to the Global Unions Agreement which was formally signed off earlier this year and talked about the importance of staff wellbeing to the success of the business. “Happy staff make happy customers make happy shareholders” said Mr Stewart. NAG are signed up to the Unite/DTI joint initiative on Dignity at Work and will benefit from the 9 days’ training currently being rolled-out on anti bullying initiatives.

Unite delivers for members in the contracting industry
The new three year deal will see an Approved electricians basic hourly rate increase from its current rate of £12.58 to £13.08 in Jan 08 £13.67 in Jan 09 and £14.35 in Jan 2010 all other rates will increase pro rata.

At a time when the government are advising that wage increases should be kept below 2.5% this agreement stands up well when compared to any recent wage settlements as it gives a 4%, 4.5% and a 5% increase over the three year period.

Rab Sherry Regional Officer responsible for the Electrical Contracting Industry in Scotland says that once again Unite has proven that it can and does deliver for its members in regard to their terms and conditions at the workplace. Rab also went on to say that he will be continuing with his efforts to increase the Unite membership within the electrical contracting industry and would appreciate any assistance that any member may be willing to give.

Rab can be contacted at Unites Dundee office 01382 226268 Yours Fraternally Rab Sherry Regional Officer Unite the Union (Amicus section)

SECTT Apprentice awards
Fiona Harper, SJIB secretary and head of employment affairs for SELECT, recently attended the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trusts 1st and 2nd stage apprentice of the year final.

In line with the competence based assessment in the electrical SVQ, the SJIB and the SECTT are continuing to promote training and excellence in the electrical contracting industry. All the finalist went through rigorous assessment, not only in practical skills but also in theoretical knowledge before meeting with the interview panel; Fiona Harper, John Noble (employer representative on the SJIB and member of the chairman of SJIB grading committee) and Rab Sherry (Unite the Union representative, SJIB Board Member and SECTT Trustee).

The winner of the 1st stage apprentice was Martin Kinmond of Alliance Services Ltd, followed by Niall Barber of Argyll Electrical Services Ltd and Michael Cunnea of Glengala Ltd. The 2nd stage apprentice was won by Richard Sagar of Eden Electrics Ltd, with Scot Morgan of Alexander Duthie & Sons and Alan Hood of D. Hood Electrical Contractors closely behind.

Pat wins award

Pat McIlvogue, ULR and stators business convenor at Rolls-Royce Inchinnan has been awarded the TUC learning rep of the year award.

This is the second year in a row that the award has been won by a Unite-Amicus ULR – it was won last year by Nikki Simpson at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Southend, Essex, who received her award from the Prime Minister at TUC congress.

Although all our learning reps work hard, and are the unsung heroes in the silent skills revolution that is happening in our workplaces, we congratulate Pat on his achievement.

He has worked particularly hard to make the learning programme at the Inchinnan site a success, and a model of good practice. He has worked particularly hard to make the learning programme at the Inchinnan site a success, and a model of good practice. Pat chairs a weekly learning steering group, made up of union and company representatives, which has developed a 12-month plan for delivering learning. As a result, around a quarter of the workforce (some 300 people) have signed up for courses in basic IT, the European Computer Driving Licence and language training.

According to the unionlearn press release,
‘…Gordon Brown praised the work of Pat McIlvogue and all the 18,000 ULRs around the country. Speaking about the need for the UK to raise its game and increase the country’s skills levels in order to become more competitive in the global economy, Mr Brown said: “trade union learning becomes central to the future not just of trade unions, but to our country.”‘

The award was announced the day after Pat’s birthday, and he said it felt like a belated birthday present. Pat was also quick to praise the hard work done by others, in particular the strong trade union structure at Rolls-Royce.

“I was a wee bit embarrassed, to tell the truth”, he said. “All I do is front it – if it wasn’t for the structure we have in place at Rolls-Royce, none of this would be possible.”
For more about the project at Rolls Royce, see this case study.
The work being done is also recognised in the Scottish Government’s new skills strategy.
If you have any Scotland events or pieces of news you would like to include in the Regional Bulletin please forward draft contributionsto Brian Gallagher (email: or

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