UNISON Highland Branch represents Highland Council Staff, Further Education Support Staff, Highlife Highland, Bear Scotland and Community and Voluntary Organisations in and around Highlands and Islands. We negotiate with employers on pay, terms and conditions, and assist members with work issues including grievances and disciplinary, bullying, and health and safety matters.
UNISON is Britain's biggest public service union, representing more than 1.3 million people across the UK's public services.
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UNISON Highland News - December 2016
Council CCFM Staying In-house
The Highland Council had proposed to transfer its CCFM (catering, cleaning and facilities management) school staff out to High Life Highland (HLH). Though UNISON is a recognised union with HLH, we had concerns about the transfer - HLH has no experience of providing these types of services, it would double their workforce and it's not obvious what the benefits to the service would be. As a union we put our concerns to the Council and we are pleased that the elected members have subsequently decided to keep CCFM in-house.
For CCFM staff there will still be a change as the service will be moving from the Care & Learning service to the Development & Infrastructure service. We expect this change to come into effect on 1 April 2017. For most staff this change will be business as usual, the main practical effect is that you will have a new line manager who will be a FM Team Leader. For day to day issues though you will still liaise with your Head Teacher.
The main group of staff who will be seriously affected are those in the Janitorial service who will be consolidated into the FM service. This will involve formal one-to-one consultation with all current janitorial staff and UNISON members are entitled to representation at these meetings. We will contact all our janitorial members in the new year but feel free to get in touch earlier if you have questions you would like to ask.
College Strikes - We Won!!
UNISON has been involved in a long running pay dispute with colleges in Scotland. We have been forced to take strike action over their unequal treatment of support staff when compared to lecturers and senior management. In the Highlands, members in North Highland College and Inverness College have been out on strike. As result of the sustained action by UNISON members, the employers have finally made an offer that we have accepted. The offer is a flat rate of £550 for all staff, meeting UNISON's demands for equality.
UNISON would like to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU and WELL DONE to college members for a highly successful Pay Campaign 2016!! Pay 2017 looms large and there is much to do on pay and grading, terms and conditions moving forward, but we start now from a hugely different and better place, thanks to all your efforts.
Is Your Annual Leave Pay Correct?
In 2014 UNISON successfully changed the law regarding how your annual leave pay should be calculated. In the employment tribunal case of Lock v British Gas we successfully argued that your annual leave pay should be based on your 'normal' week's pay. This affects staff who regularly receive 'extra' payments such as sleep-ins, unsocial hours, regular overtime etc. Previously, when such staff took annual leave, they would only have received their basic pay with no extras. Now you should be receiving your regular extra payments as well. This would apply to staff who work regular unsocial hours, regular overtime or receive regular stand-by / on-call payments.
UNISON has become aware that the Highland Council is not paying annual leave on this basis, at least not in all workplaces, and we think that this will be the case with other employers as well. If you think that this issue affects you, contact Alasdair Vickers firstname.lastname@example.org.
UNISON Inverness Area Retired Members Section
At the start of 2016 the number of retired members in the Inverness Area Section reached 434. We run a number of activities and events and are looking to encourage more retired members to take part. Those who come always gain much enjoyment from taking part. We recognise that the issue of loneliness and isolation is a matter of concern for some older people and we know that coming to our events to meet former work colleagues and make new acquaintances gives them something enjoyable to look forward to and can make a big improvement to their lifestyles.
Our existing office bearers have now served us well for many years, but they have now intimated that they intend to stand down and we are anxious to have them replaced at our AGM next March. Our management group consists of a Convener, Vice Convener, Secretary, Treasurer and Welfare Officer. The tasks they undertake are not unduly arduous and can be rewarding in so many ways. Expenses are paid to meet any costs they incur.
We would hope therefore that our appeal for recently retired members to be nominated to fill the vacant posts next March will be successful so that we can continue to give good useful service to our members. Our annual report on all our activities throughout the year will be issued near the end of December. - Alastair Owens, Secretary
Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI)
WASPI is a campaign that fights the injustice done to women born in the 1950s (on or after 6 April 1951) regarding the changes to their state pension age. They started the campaign with just five ordinary women who in 2015 got together and decided to fight it.
The 1995 Conservative Government's Pension Act included plans to increase women's SPA (State Pension Age) to 65, the same as men's. WASPI agrees with equalisation, but does not agree with the unfair way the changes were implemented - with little/no personal notice (1995/2011 Pension Acts), faster than promised (2011 Pension Act), and no time to make alternative plans. Retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences. To find out more about WASPI and to see what local events they are running, go to http://www.waspi.co.uk. We would also encourage you to check your retirement age by going to https://www.gov.uk/state-pension-age.
Is your employer a living wage employer?
UNISON Scotland is campaigning to get as many employers as possible accredited as Scottish Living Wage employers. The Scottish Living Wage is currently set at £8.45 an hour and is different from the Government's new so-called living wage of £7.20 an hour, which is not calculated based on the cost of living and is only payable to over 25s. To find out if your employer is Living Wage accredited, go to http://scottishlivingwage.org. If your employer is currently not accredited, let us know!
UNISON Highland ASN Issues
UNISON has become increasingly concerned about the high number of incidents involving abuse by children who have Additional Support Needs (ASN). We have more and more cases of children being either physically or verbally abusive to staff and we are worried that it is increasingly seen as being ‘part of the job’.
School and nursery staff have the right to a safe working environment and abuse is never acceptable. Though UNISON is supportive of the Council’s Inclusion Policy – schools should do all they can to support children with ASN - we are concerned that the Council tends to hide behind this policy and uses it to stop staff raising concerns about safety.
There should be a risk assessment in place in the school that addresses the risks that staff may face from ASN children. You have a right to see these risk assessments, to have input into them and to enforce their recommendations. We would encourage all PSAs / EYPs to ask to see these risk assessments. These should be reviewed and, if necessary, adjusted after each incident.
If you feel that you are being asked to do something that would leave you unsafe, the following is what you should say to your (Deputy) Head:
Also, always make sure that all accidents / incidents are written down and recorded – if it’s not on paper, it didn’t happen!
We would also ask you all to complete our survey on these issues, available at www.tinyurl.com/hgf6axr . This is to provide us with evidence about how serious and widespread the problem is for us to take to the Council. We would particularly like some actual examples or stories of situations that you’ve faced. Be assured that the survey is completely anonymous.
We have further concerns about PSAs being asked to do a range of intimate care duties, ranging from toileting to catheterisation. Similar principles should apply here: any such duties should be done in a way that staff feel safe and it should be risk assessed for both the child and the staff.
It would be helpful if you can pass this onto your colleagues and encourage as many as possible to complete our survey, it’s open to both members and non-members. For information about this or any other issue, please get in touch with Alasdair, details below.
John Gibson - Highland Branch Secretary 01463 715891 Alasdair Vickers - Local Organiser 01463 723965
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