Monday, 7 August 2017

Aberdeenshire UNISON branch statement on council's Equalities Outcomes 2017-21

Below is the statement which the branch has sent to all Aberdeenshire councillors as well as to the HR Equalities Team within the council.

Kathleen Kennedy speaking on equalities
Aberdeenshire Branch welcomes the council’s new Equalities Outcomes for 2017-21 with their specific focus upon disability, posted last week on Arcadia.

The branch commends the council’s Disability Confident accreditation under the Department of Work and Pensions' Disability Confident Scheme. This accreditation recognises the council’s commitment to ensure that people with disabilities and long-term health conditions feel engaged, supported and presented with opportunities to fulfil their potential within the workplace.
The branch is committed to doing everything we can to support the council in making this a reality. We are also proud that our Equalities Officer, Kathleen Kennedy is a member of the UNISON Scottish disabled members’ self-organised group and has also been active on the national disabled members’ committee and is on the standing orders committee for their conference this year.

This reflects very positively on the branch and also on Aberdeenshire Council, as Kathleen can bring her knowledge and experience gained on these groups back to the council. We will be looking for the council’s support for this work.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Sleeping in and the minimum wage

Recent legal judgements mean that an employer who requires workers to do a sleep in at their workplace must include that time in calculations for the national minimum wage.

This means that members, and potential members, who sleep in and are low paid, may be entitled to a pay rise and possible back pay.

Inez Kirk
This issue will particularly affect low-paid members in the private or community and voluntary sector who do regular sleep-ins.

But probably not those working for Aberdeenshire council because they are paid above the minimum wage.

Here Inez Kirk, Branch Secretary explains the issue:

“The law states that all workers over the age of 25 should be paid the national living wage as set by Westminster. This rate is £7.50 per hour. This means that for every hour worked this rate should be paid.

“However, this does not mean that each hour during a sleep in should be paid £7.50.

“What it does mean is that the total number of hours worked and the total pay received for those hours should meet the living wage rate.

“So, for example, if you start work at 3pm and work until 11 then sleep in for 8 hours then work from 7 until 3, your total working hours are 24.

“If you then take the total amount of pay received and divide it by 24 and it comes to above £7.50 then your pay meets the level of the national living wage. If it is below £7.50 then the law has been broken and this has to be sorted and back pay given.

“So if you were on £9.77 per hour for the above shift you would be paid 16x£9.77 = £156.32  Plus sleep in £35.41 =  £191.73

“Then divide that by the total number of hours classed as working £191.73/24 = £7.99

“This shows that pay rate is within legislation.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Local Government pay deal agreed

CoSLA has agreed the 2017/18 pay award

The pay deal is..

• Employees earning less than £35,000 a £350* increase (*pro rata based on 37 hours)
• Employees earning more than £35,000 a 1 per cent increase.
• Scottish Local Government Living Wage is the minimum pay for all pay and allowances including additional hours, contractual overtime and other allowances. It will be pensionable.

Letter to branches from Dougie Black, SJC Secretary:

I can now confirm that COSLA have at a Special Leaders Meeting now agreed the SJC Pay award for 2017/18 and the appropriate agreement for issuing to all local authorities is being drafted and will be distributed within the next few days.

The Leaders have also agreed to a joint approach to the Scottish Government making the case for additional resources for local government and if this was successful they recognise that additional money for future pay awards is a priority.

We will also be meeting with COSLA within the next few weeks to start preliminary discussions on a future Pay Strategy and hoping to conclude this by December this year.

Douglas Black
Regional Organiser/SJC Secretary
UNISON Scotland

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

UNISON legal victory sees employment tribunal fees scrapped

The branch is delighted to report that employment tribunal fees will be scrapped after UNISON won a landmark court victory against the government this morning.

The Supreme Court – the UK’s highest court – has unanimously ruled that the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees four years ago.

From today, anyone who has been treated illegally or unfairly at work will no longer have to pay to take their employers to court – as a direct result of UNISON’s legal challenge.

 The government will also have to refund more than £27m to the thousands of people charged for taking claims to tribunals  since July 2013, when fees were introduced by then Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling.

Anyone in England, Scotland and Wales wanting to pursue a case against their employer has had to find as much as £1,200. This has been a huge expense for many low-paid employees, says UNISON.

Reacting to this morning‘s decision, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The government is not above the law. But when ministers introduced fees they were disregarding laws many centuries old, and showing little concern for employees seeking justice following illegal treatment at work.

Read the full story here

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Under 27? Come along to UNISON's young members' BBQ and Information Event on 22nd July

Local UNISON branches have organised a young members' BBQ and information event for Saturday 22nd July from 10am at the Grampian Resource Centre, Alford Place, Aberdeen.

Local Organiser, Ann McEvoy said, "The Young Members Committee is coming up to Grampian Resource Centre and this is a great opportunity for Young Members (up to the age of 27) to drop by and meet and find out more about the Young Members Self Organised Group (SOG).

"It is also an opportunity for them to become more involved."

The BBQ begins at 1pm but the Young Members Committee will be there from 10am to answer any questions or just to meet with local young members.

UNISON - protecting members' interests as council continues to look at alternative delivery model for sport and leisure

The branch has written out to all affected members with an update on the proposals for an Alternative Delivery Model - essentially a Trust - for sport and leisure services.

The branch will hold meetings with affected members in September to seek your views.

Inez Kirk
Inez Kirk, Branch Secretary writes, "The Council are continuing to work on the proposals for a full business case to establish a Trust for Sport and Leisure. 

"UNISON continues to be involved at every stage of this process; within the Project Board Working Group and Sub Groups.  UNISON is continuing to play the role of “critical friend”, pointing out alternatives to accepted ideas and emphasising the need on ongoing two way communication with all affected staff. 

"We are aware that proposals are due to be heard by full Council in September with a view, if the proposals are accepted, to be implemented on 1st April 2018.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Sadness but also optimism at this year's UNISON National Delegate Conference

The cloud of the tragic events in London and Manchester hung heavy over this year's Conference.

The aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, whatever the causes, threw into focus the reality of the divide in a Tory UK between obscene wealth and inexcusable poverty.

The need to address that was reflected in policies we set on breaking the pay cap, on campaigning for decent public services, on housing policies and on a decent living wage that is actually enough to live on.

Equalities too was high on the agenda. One of the most moving bits of any Conference is when people who are directly affected have a personal story to tell. There was much of that in this debate. The pain of the stories was matched only by the courage of the delegates telling them.

But there was optimism too. The outcome of the General Election left us all with hope that there is an end to austerity in sight. The Labour Manifesto, so heavily built on the policies that UNISON has been calling for since 2010 and before, gave a more upbeat feel to this conference than has been in evidence for a long time. And Jeremy Corbyn's wonderful speech as he addressed UNISON conference was the icing on the cake.