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Date: Tuesday 22 May 2012

UNISON challenges Glasgow’s councillors over immediate breaches of manifesto pledges

UNISON has today written to Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council, charging the Labour-led council of breaching key manifesto pledges within days of being elected.

Labour fought the elections on a manifesto which promised job creation and fairer pay, however, the union has criticised the council for forcing through redundancies and pay cuts to workers who provide services and support to the most vulnerable in the city.

UNISON has long been raising concerns about Glasgow City Council’s personalisation agenda for social care and has been working with service users, carers, families and campaigning groups in the Glasgow Personalisation Network to highlight these. UNISON believes that the personalisation and transformation of social care has been introduced without adequate funding, with the focus being on reducing the cost of supporting individuals rather than genuinely giving people greater control and support to transform their lives.

The council’s latest actions involve requiring providers of social care services to cut their hourly rate in order to get on to the council’s ‘framework’ and thus be allowed to continue to provide services funded by the council. This has led to a rash of redundancies and pay cuts being embarked on by voluntary organisations such as the Mungo Foundation, Glasgow Association for Mental Health and the Richmond Fellowship Scotland.

Simon Macfarlane, UNISON’s Regional Organiser, said:
“We are seeing a wholesale onslaught against our members working in social care in Glasgow with jobs, pay and conditions all being cut.

“The situation has been grim for a while, but the last few weeks have seen this deteriorate markedly due to the council’s overt pressure on providers to cut hourly rates. The whole sector is being demoralised and deskilled and our members are at breaking point, they want to maintain the quality of care and support but in this climate it is not possible.

“Our members are committed to providing service users and their families with the best possible service and they are not willing to be exploited any longer. If the Labour council doesn’t act on its new mandate to stop these cuts then they are going to see significant unrest and disruption in social care and the blame for this will be laid squarely where it belongs - at their feet.”


Note to Editors:

1. UNISON’s campaign brings together members, service users, carers, day care staff, social work staff and disabled people’s organisations.

2. The Glasgow Personalisation Networks’ report in to personalisation in Glasgow published earlier this year can be found online at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/socialwork/Personalisation_01_2012.pdf

3. The text of the letter sent to Councillor Gordon Matheson is copied below.

For further information please contact:
Simon Macfarlane, UNISON’s Regional Organiser, on 07703 194 132.

Text of letter sent to Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council calling on Labour Group to stand by pledges to create jobs and promote Living Wage

Councillor Gordon Matheson
Glasgow City Council
City Chambers
George Square
Glasgow G2 1DU

Dear Gordon


In this month’s elections Labour stood on a manifesto of 100 pledges which included 75) the creation of 1000 new jobs each year, which to have some meaning must involve a focus on additional jobs and 80) Labour will continue to support and promote the Glasgow Living Wage to employers. I am writing to you on behalf of UNISON workers in the City of Glasgow who are either being made redundant or having their pay and conditions cut at the behest of the Council. In the last week alone I have attended formal consultations in the Mungo Foundation, Glasgow Association for Mental Health and the Richmond Fellowship Scotland. In each and every case UNISON members have been told jobs are being cut and if they remain they face savage cuts in pay and conditions.

These steps are as a direct consequence of the Council’s cuts agenda under the guise of personalisation of social care and are a complete breach of the pledges above. It is simply not tenable or credible for the Council to try and separate themselves from what is happening. The Council has stipulated to providers that in order to be on the ‘framework’ going forward they have to cut their hourly rates. What the Council says voluntary organisations do. Your Council has instructed voluntary organisations to cut rates and our members are paying for that in jobs and wages.

When Glaswegians went to the polls earlier this month and returned a Labour administration they did not do so as a mandate to cut the jobs and wages of some of the lowest paid workers in the city who provide vital support to our most vulnerable citizens. UNISON believes the vote was a rejection of austerity and vote for decent public services.

UNISON and our members are all too aware of the challenging financial climate in which the Council operates. Yet we reject the Council’s decision to focus cuts on the support and services provided to those with learning disabilities, mental health conditions, the physically disabled and other disadvantaged groups and those who deliver them. It is time for honesty from the Council rather than the disingenuous doublespeak we so often get; the experience for many service users has been cuts in support, less choice and more anxiety. Yes there have been positive success stories and these should be welcomed and learned from, but so to should failing be acknowledged, rectified and not repeated.

In the last meeting of the previous administration the Council passed a motion acknowledging concern about personalisation and committed to an expanded review. During the election campaign Councillor Matthew Kerr at a hustings organised by the Glasgow Personalisation Network committed on behalf of Labour a place for the Network and UNISON on that review.

UNISON calls on you and your administration to take 3 immediate steps:

1. Withdraw the requirement for providers to cut their hourly rate to get on the framework and issue a clear and unequivocal message to providers to cease and desist from cuts in wages, jobs and conditions;

2. Pause the continued role out of personalisation and commence the promised review of the Council’s approach to personalisation and involve representatives from UNISON and the Glasgow Personalisation Network in that review;

3. Be honest and frank about what has and is happening – for some personalisation has and will be a positive step forward for many it represents cuts and a backward step to less choice, less support and less life.

I believe it would be good for you to meet UNISON members affected by these cuts and I’m happy to facilitate this anytime that suits you. Our members are galvanising in a way I have not seen before. They will take their fight for their jobs, wages and the standard of support they provide to service users wherever it needs to go. We’d hope a Labour Council would be an ally in this issue by being an opponent rather than a proponent of such savage cuts and would therefore welcome your active involvement in this matter to ensure Labour honours its pledges.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Regional Organiser