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Democracy Investment Fairness




UNISON's manifesto for Scotland's public services


Fairness in the delivery of services and at work is a crucial part of achieving a fair society. If the public sector is to continue to attract high calibre staff then it must be a model employer. The public sector also has a role in setting best practice for other sectors.

Fair pay & conditions

In an opinion poll conducted for UNISON, nearly 90% of respondents agreed that public services cannot be delivered successfully unless the people providing them are paid a fair wage and are treated fairly. No amount of job satisfaction is enough to keep someone in a public sector job where there are other (often private sector) local employers paying more. Family-friendly employment practices and promoting work-life balance will help retain staff in the public sector, ensuring that their skills and experience are not lost when their life circumstances change.

We have to reward all members of the public service team, including support staff, appropriately. Too often, the media and politicians focus on professional staff, like teachers and doctors, and forget that they are part of a team that provides the service. For example, police officers are not the only staff involved in crime fighting. A whole range of professional, technical and administrative staff ensure that the justice system can effectively fight crime. Support staff in all parts of the public sector tend to be the lowest paid and least valued, and many of them are women.

Fair pensions

A proper pension from your employer is important for very many reasons: People need a decent standard of living upon retirement when the cost of living is likely to be very expensive; Provision is needed for a person's partner/dependants in the event of a death or early retirement due to ill-health; Pensions are a form of deferred pay; State provision on its own is not enough. Adequate occupational pension provision is vital and public sector employees need to be protected.

Their pensions are part of the contract that they signed in taking the job and go some way to compensate for lower levels of pay prevalent in public services. Public sector pension scheme members contribute to their pension scheme. Changes to pension conditions need to be negotiated and agreed. Not imposed.





Raymond BrownBy delivering forensic specialisms, I and my colleagues make sure the police have the detailed information available to make the difference between solving a crime and it being repeated.

Raymond Brown, UNISON member and senior fingerprint expert





Tackling discrimination

UNISONScotland recognises that equality legislation is a reserved matter although the Scotland Act provides powers to encourage the development of equal opportunities. The introduction of the Equality Strategy was an innovative and radical initiative for which the Executive and Parliament deserve congratulations. UNISON will use the strategy to work with and put pressure on employers to implement improved equal rights in the workplace. The public sector is both an employer and provider of services and in both those areas must tackle discrimination in all its forms.

Racism has no place in Scotland; workers must be protected from racial harassment while carrying out their duties. All recruitment and promotion procedures should be monitored to prevent discrimination in line with the Race Relations Amendment Act (2000). Urgent work needs to be done to address equal pay issues in the public sector. Thirty years after the Equal Pay Act, it is not acceptable that women only earn 81p to every male £1 earned for full-time work. However, if these historic imbalances are to be corrected then the Scottish Executive needs to recognise it responsibilities to fund Equal Pay.

Lifelong learning

UNISON welcomes trade union learning funds that encourage the take-up of lifelong learning in the workplace. The Executive's commitment to continued joint working with trade unions on lifelong learning - The Executive Partnership Agreement is also a positive step. However, there is still much to be done both in ensuring that those who need such opportunities get them and that there are trainers and institutions available to provide the necessary resources. Education and training should be available to staff at all levels across the public sector to equip them to move into higher skilled jobs within public services. New learning opportunities should be targeted to areas with poor records of employment and social inclusion

Recruitment and retention

UNISON advocates the recruitment and retention of high quality staff through: fair pay and conditions, genuine partnership working with trade unions, equal opportunities and life-long learning. The public sector needs to employ good people and it is still a popular choice with graduates but needs to remain so. In some key disciplines - eg social work, nursing, other medical professionals, we still see staff shortages. Family-friendly employment practices and promoting work-life balance will help retain staff in the public sector, ensuring that their skills and experience are not lost when their life circumstances change.

We believe that real investment in training and development of staff is the key to improved public services, leading to enhanced performance. It is essential that training and development for all employees is included in the guidance on Best Value.

Model employer through procurement

UNISON welcomes the aim of the new European Public Sector Procurement Directive. Modernising, simplifying and clarifying the provisions of the previous Public Procurement Directives covering works, supplies and services is needed. However, it is also necessary to fully reflect the important changes that enable consideration of social and environmental criteria, including employment issues, to be taken into account in the evaluation and award of contracts.

Partnership at work

Significant progress has been made in recent years to develop partnership working between employers and trade unions across Scotland's public services. The Scottish Executive has played an important role in this through the STUC Memorandum of Understanding and agreements such as the PPP protocol.

Margaret BeanTaking part in UNISON's Refugee Mentoring project has given Farida the chance to get a worthwhile job in the NHS, has helped me and my work colleagues realise how much we all share our humanity, and provided a valuable new colleague to help our public services.

Margaret Bean, UNISON member, medical records clerk and mentor





Michelle BrankinTaking part in UNISON'S Return 2 Learn course gave me he confidence to admit I have dyslexia which resulted in both my employer and trade union supporting me to develop my career and complete the various computer courses that my new job required.

Michelle Brankin, UNISON member and home care support worker





Safety at work

Last year more than 22 000 assaults were carried out on NHS staff in Scotland. The Emergency Workers Act was welcome but a wider range of public service workers are regularly assaulted at work. More is needed to ensure that violence is not part of public sector workers job descriptions. Extending increased legal protection to all public service workers would be start. The Executive could do much more to promote workplace health. Recent research indicates that work is a major cause of ill-health and occupational stress is a significant factor.



Sofi TaylorWorking in primary care means we have a greater risk of violence than in acute services.

We are at particular risk when involved in lone working. Yet we are not covered by the Emergency Workers Act protection. We need to extend the cover to all public service workers.

Sofi Taylor UNISON member and nurse specialist for ethnicity and culture



UNISONScotland 2006
Published by UNISONScotland,
UNISON House, 14 West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX. Tel 0141 332 0006