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Wednesday 29 Dec 2004

Overseas nurses network celebrates second anniversary in first for Scotland

Overseas NursesOn the second anniversary of the establishment of the first network for overseas health workers in the UK, UNISON, Scotland's nursing union, today agreed to further expand its successful Overseas Nursing Network (ONN) in Scotland by setting up regular meetings for overseas health workers in different cities across Scotland.

The union, who started the network two years ago has seen it rapidly expand until there is now a contact list of 200 plus health workers from the Indian sub-continent, China, other parts of Asia, Africa and recently from Eastern Europe.

Dave Prentis, UNISON's General Secretary said "UNISONScotland's Overseas Nurses Network is an important weapon to ensure that nurses from overseas get a fair deal, receive the same terms and conditions as those from the UK and are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

"UNISON has already highlighted scandals such as the 'Cash for jobs" being charged by recruitment agencies in the Philippines, and an earlier scam involving excessive rents being charged to overseas staff by a private company. This is the first network of its kind in the UK, and through their work and campaigning, they have doubled their membership in the past two years and raised the profile of overseas nurses working in Scotland and in the UK."

UNISON has now had experience of some of the problems affecting this group of staff, and as a consequence is planning to develop its campaigning. Sofi Taylor, UNISONScotland NEC member, and founder of the ONN said, "It shows what a need there is for an active union taking up cases for our overseas colleagues. When we started this we attracted six nurses to our first meeting. Now we regularly get 50 or 60 to our regular monthly meetings in Glasgow.

"What is becoming clearer is that the ethical recruitment policy of the NHS in England needs to be extended up here and needs to be extended across all sectors. The main area where problems arise is still the private nursing home sector.We have just started meetings in Edinburgh, and hope to expand to Aberdeen and beyond in the near future. It helps overseas workers immensely to be able to get together, to share experiences and to know there is a union out there that has shown it is prepared to fight for them."


[Notes to the Editor: UNISON's Overseas Nurses Network started in 2002 in Glasgow. It now has a contact list of over 200 members. It also has a dedicated mini-site on the union's Scottish website. http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/nhs/overseas.

For Picture Editors: A photograph of the recent Second Anniversary meeting of the Network in Glasgow is attached - please credit Alan Wylie.]

For Further Information Please Contact: Mary Maguire, (Press Officer) 0207 338 6609(w) 07771 548 957(m) Sofi Taylor (UNISON NEC) 07970 719 062 (m) Bridget Hunter (Lead Officer for Nursing) 0845 355 0845(w) 0 7968 960 040(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)