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Date: 9 Feb 2008

UNISON UK president calls for increased anti-racist campaigning

The UK president of UNISON, Scotland's public service union, will today (Saturday) call for the work the union does in combating racism across the UK to be increased.

The union's Scottish Council, comprising delegates from Branches across Scotland and meeting in Glasgow today (Saturday), will hear UK President Norma Stephenson, from Stockton-on-Tees, congratulate UNISONScotland for the campaigning they did against the British National Party in the last Scottish elections, preventing the right-wing party from gaining a foothold in Scotland.

She will go on to call for the union to join with the anti-racist charity - Show Racism the Red Card - to extend the union's message to the general public.

Norma Stephenson, UNISON's President, will say. "I am proud of UNISON's record in opposition to racism, and this is a campaign that I have put my energies into over the years. I am particularly heartened to see that the BNP have no political foothold in Scotland, and proud of the action that you in UNISONScotland took to deliver that.

"As both an anti-racist campaigner and a football supporter, I want all UNISON branches - and as many members as possible - to sign up to back Show Racism the Red Card and join branches like South Ayrshire, Stirling and Perth & Kinross in promoting their work in football."

Norma will also warn that the effect of the Scottish Government's recent budget was likely to lead to challenges for the union especially in the government's apparent enthusiasm for Shared Services as a panacea, and condemned the new government for moving away from their promise to get rid of PFI.

She said "Private sector consultants are lining up to sell shared services as a quick fix to meet financial targets, but there is no quick fix. The history of shared services in the public sector is one of high costs, centralisation and job losses. It must be very disappointing to you that the Scottish Government - who promised to get rid of PFI, has now come up with a PFI-Lite solution - the Scottish Futures trust - that offers little to end this waste of public money."


Note for Editors:- UNISON is Scotland's largest public service union, representing well over 160,000 workers working in Scotland's public services. We have long campaigned against racism and against PFI/PPP and have recently issued warnings on Shared Services - see http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/revitalise/sharedservicesleaflet.pdf

Norma Stephenson, 51, is a healthcare assistant for Tees, Esk & Wear Valley NHS Trust, was elected to the union's highest lay position in July 2007. Norma joined the union as soon as she started work, quickly became involved, and has held virtually every union post since then. A member of the UNISON national executive council for the past eight years, she was elected to the Labour Party national executive four years ago. She chairs Labour's women, race and equality committee.

For Further Information Please Contact: Mike Kirby (Scottish Convenor) 07803 952 261(m) Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 07771 548 997 (m) Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser - Policy) 07958 122 409(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)