Monday, 23 June 2014

Conference slams the austerity agenda and supports Scotland's stance on independence

Like Local Government Conference the focus of National Delegate Conference was again on the pay and conditions of our members, with calls for decent pay rises, an end to zero hours contracts and a proper living wage for all.

There was also a huge focus on the equalities agenda as it is women, especially low paid women, black, disabled, LGBT and young members who have been the hardest hit by this Tory/Lib Dem Government's austerity policies.

Conference backed action, including co-ordinated strike action to win decent wages for our members.

Local Government Conference - Fighting for decent pay

This year's Local Government Conference rightly had a major focus on pay, with UNISON in England and Wales balloting members for strike action on pay, and a consultative ballot in Scotland.

Kate Ramsden
Delegates were reminded that pay freezes and paltry rises over the past few years have led to a 13-17% pay cut for most of our members. With rises in food and energy prices, this has had a big impact on many as they have seen the money in their pockets more and more squeezed.

However, for our low paid members, it has forced many into a choice of eating or heating, reliance on foodbanks to feed their kids and the need to work more than one job.

This has been exacerbated by a steep rise in zero hours contracts, especially (though not exclusively) in the private and voluntary sector, and a failure by many employers to pay the living wage, with more than 5 million out of only 38 million people of working age earning below this level.

And all this at a time when the rich have seen their wealth rise by £190 billion and the levels of income inequality are almost as high as they were in Victorian times.

Aberdeenshire UNISON Pay Meetings - Find out why you should vote in pay ballot

The Branch will be holding two Pay Meetings where members can come along and find out more about the pay campaign and consultation.
  • 26th June 2014 12.30-2pm Inverurie Town Hall, Market Place, Inverurie
  • 27th June 2014 12.30-2pm Council Chambers, Arbuthnot House, Peterhead
Why is UNISON balloting?
The Scottish Employers have rejected UNISON’s 2014 Pay Claim for £1 per hour and consolidation on of the living wage. It is their view that pay has been settled until April 2015.
This is because, after UNISON members accepted a 1% rise in 2013 in good faith, the employers imposed 1% for 2013 and 2014. The decision to move to a consultative ballot was taken at a meeting of all council branches. UNISON wants all our members to have a say on how we go forward to challenge the erosion of our pay over the past four years.

Inez Teece, Branch secretary said, "Many of our members are low paid and a 1% pay rise, even with the living wage and the Aberdeenshire uplift, is still paltry when you think that we live in one of the most expensive parts of Scotland.
"With the pay freeze, we have taken a 13% pay cut in real terms."

Friday, 13 June 2014

North East Branches host Norwegian trade unionist Kerry

The North East Branches were delighted to welcome Kerry Macallan (centre) from Norwegian trade union Fagforbundet to talk about about working life in Norway and to hear about the challenges facing trade unions in Scotland.

Lyndsey Wallace, local organiser, who had a role in organising the event on Thursday 12th June, at the Aberdeen Resource Centre said,
"Kerry was born in Aberdeen and moved to Norway when she was just 20 years old, so has spent all of her career in Norway.

"She explained there are many similarities between work life and trade unionism here in Scotland and in Norway—namely the fundamental employee rights that trade unions have fought for that are still relevant today—paid annual leave, maternity and paternity rights, a minimum wage,  health & safety standards in a workplace, paid overtime, paid sick leave, equal rights... The list goes on and on!