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UNISON's Local Government Network e-newsletter for councillors across Scotland
Issue 001 - 21 May 2012

Welcome to Council Connections, the e-newsletter of UNISON Scotland's Local Government Network.

This newsletter will be circulated regularly and will provide you with all of the latest news and information on what’s happening across Scottish local government.

UNISON is Scotland’s largest local government  trade union with more than 165,000 members working for Scotland’s public services. As part of our work, we produce regular policy documents, briefings, newsletters and manifestos with all of the latest news and information across our public services. If you want to know what’s really happening in Scotland’s local government, you need to speak to us.


UNISON march

It's time to get serious

This year’s local government election brought a much-needed focus on the importance of local government and the essential services it provides. But now that the votes have been cast and the results are in, it’s time to get serious.

Scotland faces many challenges. We believe that tackling poverty and inequality to make Scotland fairer is the key to overcoming these challenges. Our public services are under threat, and it’s not just our communities that are suffering from the cuts. These are tough times for local government workers. In the space of a year, the number of people working to deliver council services has declined by over 13,000. Workers are also facing a pay freeze at a time of rising costs.

The fact is, the cuts are hurting. But you can’t cut your way to better services. There is growing evidence that fairer, more equal societies perform better on a range of indicators including crime, health and education. Local government has a crucial role in reducing both inequality and the impact of inequality. Through the principles of Democracy, Fairness, Excellence, Partnership and Investment, local government can support communities through the crisis – and lead the way out of the crisis through investment in those communities. For more information see our manifesto for local government (pdf).



Living Wage commitment must be followed through

Workers in Scottish councils deserve a living wage.  The electorate clearly agree with that as parties standing on a living wage platform triumphed at the polling stations and will now control most of Scottish local government. Both Labour and the SNP made commitments to a Living Wage of £7.20 per hour prior to the election. These parties are in control, or will be part of a coalition, in almost all of Scotland’s councils. UNISON is calling for this commitment to be written into any partnership or coalition deal about who is in charge in Scotland’s towns and cities. We expect the major parties to insist on decency and fairness for the workforce - and for the wider community through procurement - in their negotiations.

Fair Pay for council workers

Local government trade unions have launched a claim for fair pay this month – a flat rate rise of £1000 and a guaranteed Living Wage of £7.20 per hour for all staff.  Low pay is a serious issue in local government – to the extent that unless the bottom two pay rates are adjusted before October – councils will fall foul of minimum wage legislation. In the last two years, local government workers have seen their living standards fall as pay remained virtually static while prices rise. This burden is heaviest on the lowest paid as rising power, food and transport costs mean they experience a real level of inflation far outstripping RPI. Fair Pay is a matter of justice, but it also makes economic sense as increased wages would boost local economies.

UNISON, GMB and Unite unions are launching a campaign calling for fair pay for council workers. You’ll be contacted by your local constituents over the coming weeks asking what you are going to do to ensure public service workers get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. To keep up-to-date with the campaign, look out for our forthcoming editions of Council Connections, or check out our website.



National forces - at what cost?

The Scottish Government’s plans to maintain an artificial target of police officers will lead to large scale civilian cuts and turn the policing clock back decades, warns UNISON.

UNISON’s recent publication, The Front Line Starts Here, dispels the myth of ‘frontline’ and ‘back office’ staff. The fact is, the future of policing has to focus on a balanced, modern police team, with the right people doing the right jobs. We need the skills of police staffs to enable police officers to do the job the public wants them to do, where they want them to do it – that is fighting crime, out on the streets.

On top of these cuts, the new national forces could see the police lose their VAT exemption which will cost Scottish taxpayers at least £30m.  If the new national forces were organised on the basis of local authorities, not only would this strengthen local democratic accountability, but it would retain s33 status and maintain the exemption to the taxpayer. Read more.



Integration of adult health and social care

The Scottish Government has published a consultation document on its proposals to integrate Adult Health and Social Care. This follows years of attempts to bring closer working between the NHS and local authorities, mainly on care of the elderly. However, the consultation raises wider issues of public service reform, including workforce issues, and leaves a number of issues unresolved. Read more.

Early years workers are not second best

Early years’ education is delivered by a wide range of highly-trained professionals, not just nursery teachers, and Scottish councils must work with all staff involved to provide children with the best start in life. Read more.

Guide to tackle Gypsy Traveller discrimination

UNISON Scotland has launched a guide to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by Gypsy Travellers and to offer advice on effectively engaging with these communities. The booklet – Make a Difference! – has been produced in partnership with Gypsy Travellers and is designed to challenge the prejudices surrounding the community, dispel some of the common myths and to provide occupational for those most likely to engage with these communities. Read more.

Delivering public services that work

Delivering Public Services That Work, the latest book by John Seddon, outlines a better way to organise public services. Like UNISON, Sneddon believes in a bottom-up approach to public services and uses real-life examples and case studies to illustrate his work. This model is reflected in our own recent joint publication with APSE 'The Front Line Starts Here'. Designing services from the bottom up was also championed by the Christie Commission.



Public Works
UNISON Scotland's major campaign to protect public services

Protect our pensions
UNISON Scotland's campaign to secure fair and decent pensions for all


UNISON’s Local Government Network is for councillors and others with an interest in local government. Our regular e-newsletter, Council Connections, brings all of the latest news and information on what’s happening across local government in Scotland. If you are receiving this in error, or your email address is changing, please contact UNISON Scotland’s Bargaining and Campaigns team on 0141 342 2850. If you wish to unsubscribe to this email please reply to this email with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject heading.

Want more information? Visit our website for comprehensive news, information and updates on what is happening across Scotland’s public services.

UNISON, UNISON House, 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow, Scotland, G2 6RX. Tel: 0845 355 0845.

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