Major Legal Victory for UNISON
Employment tribunal fees will be scrapped after UNISON won a landmark court victory against the government last week. 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.
Now, anyone who has been treated illegally or unfairly at work will not 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 had to find as much as £1,200. This has been a huge expense for many low-paid employees.
Reacting to the 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'.
NHS PAY SCOTLAND - wording of letter sent by UNISON to the Pay Review Body (PRB)
Health workers in Scotland feel compelled to express their anger and disappointment following the recent recommendation that NHS workers in Scotland and the rest of the UK do not deserve an increase matching costs or wage growth in the wider economy.
UNISON's 60,000 members working in NHS Scotland are angry because this is the 4th consecutive year that the PRB have chosen to endorse the Westminster government's 'austerity' agenda; thereby imposing real terms pay cuts upon dedicated, hardworking NHS staff and their families.
The trade unions' long-standing support for the Pay Review Body process is being challenged by members, who perceive that the PRB is providing cover for a politically-imposed 'pay cap' and is ignoring the fact that NHS wages have not kept up with the costs they experience.
Because UNISON represents the diversity of our NHS, we see firsthand the impact of the pay cap and rising prices. Whether it's our low paid members working extra jobs or our professional members relying on bank work, UNISON members are at breaking point as the gap grows between take home pay and household costs. In Scotland, right now, hard working dedicated NHS workers tell us they love working in the health service but are struggling to make ends meet, no matter how hard they work.
NHS trade unions have collectively supported the Pay Review Body and take engagement with the annual process very seriously. This support is being actively eroded by the pay cap and the strong belief from members that the PRB will continue to be used to provide political cover for the UK and Scottish Governments austerity cuts. Our First Minister seems open to consider a shift to collective bargaining in the NHS. UNISON Scotland will support the process most likely to deliver fair annual pay increases for health workers.
If you believe that the Review Body process can deliver fair pay for NHS staff we would urge you to make it clear that your recommendations for the next pay round will not be bound by the Government-imposed pay cap.
UNISON Scotland - Head of Health
At this point, the Scottish Government have not (yet!) agreed to 'scrap the cap' as UNISON are calling for, therefore the campaign continues.
NHS Highland Care at Home North & West
We are working with NHS Highland to bring about a change to members' terms and conditions, and to continue to ensure that their concerns are addressed. As part of integration (in April 2012) it was agreed with all trade unions that, in due course, staff would transfer to NHS (Agenda for Change) terms and conditions, as services were reorganised. This is the point we have now reached for Care at Home staff. We believe that members should be supported/encouraged to move to the new Agenda For Change job description - which members have advised us offers increased training opportunities and the chance to develop new skills, as well as fully integrating vital care at home services within overall integrated teams. For some staff there may be pay increases, and also there is a small additional holiday entitlement attached to NHS terms and conditions. We have also received repeated assurances from management that no member of staff will be asked to take on tasks they are not confident to do/fully trained for, and we will be holding management to these assurances.
It's certainly correct that travel is an issue, and a concern for many members. However, in order to protect members, we have agreed with management that staff will not travel over 5000 miles a year in their own car (which is the 'break even' point between the current Council expenses rates and the new NHS rates). Thereafter, either pool cars/vans or lease cars will be put in place. This is complex and will vary from one person to the next in terms of how this is managed - but we expect that appropriate arrangements can be put in place for every member of staff within the timescale of the 5000 mile 'allowance' (even for the staff who do higher mileages, this will be a period of several months). Many care at home staff travel less than 5000 miles a year on business - and for these staff there will be a financial benefit in moving to Agenda For Change (and of course no requirement for pool/lease vehicles).
We would advise UNISON members to reflect on all of the above - and sign the new contracts if they are content with what is on offer. We will be happy to support/advise members who are, or are not, content to sign up to the new job description, to NHS terms and conditions, to the training/development opportunities on offer, and to full integration with NHS community health services.
Re-election of Employee Director, NHS Highland
Adam Palmer, long standing UNISON rep, has been re-elected as Employee Director for NHS Highland for a further 4 year term. He gathered the support of most of the unions voting in the election. 'I am honoured to be re-elected and look forward (all being well!) to serving the staffside and trade union members for a further 4 years' Adam said.
UNISON Nursing and Midwifery Conference
If you are interested in going to the UNISON Nursing and Midwifery Conference which will be held in Glasgow on 1 September, please contact the Branch (email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01463 715891). See link for details: