November 2016 news for members

It's a bit like British Rail (as was) - we're getting there...!  At the time of writing, the results from the audit are not yet available.  We have had discussions with Raigmore, and the calculations are being done now.  We are asking for these to be shared with staff once outcomes have been arrived at.  If, when you receive this, you are content with the outcome, that's fine.  If not, and you feel that you can evidence that you have been disadvantaged as a result, you can consider lodging a formal grievance - we can help with this.  An update for Raigmore staff was circulated and placed on the intranet on 31 October 2016.  Have a look at this if you haven't already.
The other thing to note is that anyone who has left the NHS but feels that they are entitled to back pay, must write in to your former line manager to request this.  We would also advise that this letter be copied to the Payroll Manager to make doubly sure your request is logged and will be dealt with.  (This applies, of course, beyond Raigmore).
Most other areas are also either paying the entitlements already, and/or calculating any back pay due.  We are still keen to hear from you if you have concerns and/or if you feel that nothing is going on where you are to sort this out.
Our next email update should include information about the audit - and management actions which may be identified within it.
The Branch has decided that one of the ways in which we want to consult/hear from you the members is through the periodic use of Survey Monkey surveys.  These will always be short, to the point, and confidential.  If we do circulate such a survey to you, it would be really good to hear from you!  Our New Craigs survey (circulated last month) has been the subject of some criticism - but we are getting some very useful information from members, which then gives us a much better platform from which to take action, rather than perhaps just reacting to what may be taken as one or two moans and groans!
So we hope you will bear with us, respond, and help us more accurately reflect your views.
Equally, if there is something YOU think we should be surveying the membership (or a group of the membership) about, please feel free to get in touch.
We have created a special page for this on the Branch website - see below:
You will (hopefully!) be aware that the HQA is about getting it right for every patient, every time, and minimising waste and duplication in processes (among other things).  NHS Highland is (in conjunction with trade unions) thinking about expanding the use of ¿team boards¿ to include 'people' indicators around things like KSF and iMatter, so there is a clear indication of how your team is doing.  If you come across (or are already a part of) teams where this is happening, we would be very keen to hear from you about the experience of this.  Is it useful?  Is it helping managers focus on achieving things through working better with their teams/or not?  We would like to know!
We have also had discussions with Raigmore management recently about how staff communication/involvement is not what it should be.  We will be looking to put in place some things to help with that.  Again, ideas/suggestions welcome!
For those fans of Monty Python's 'Life of Brian' (and who isn't!), this is a bit like 'what have the Romans ever done for us¿.  Except this is 'what has partnership working ever done for us'.  Well...
As you know, UNISON is a huge champion of partnership working in the NHS, both nationally and locally.  UNISON believes that this is the best way to get results for members, and contrasts strongly with the approach taken by the GMB, who seem to believe that confrontation is the best way forward.  Difference, though, is that UNISON actually achieves things for members, rather than just making a big noise.
Things like:
·         Band 1 review - a major gain for 100s of staff in NHS Highland, largely brought about through UNISON's negotiation and agreement nationally, and involvement of activists locally to make it happen.
·         Living wage for independent sector care providers - again, a significant financial gain for members, brought about through negotiation and agreement in Highland, years in advance of the Scottish Government catching up.
·         PIN Policies in the NHS in Scotland (for example 4 weeks paid parental leave per child).  Negotiated nationally, in partnership.  Parental leave was implemented locally, in Highland, in advance of many other Scottish Boards.
·         Facility time for trade union reps.  Like everything, we could do with more, but this enables trade union reps to be released from work so they can support members.
·         Training -  A huge number of people have been able to go along to a wide (and continuing) range of courses, both directly related to work (e.g. dementia awareness) and not related to work at all (e.g. computer skills).  See last month (and still on the 'news' section of the website) for current courses.
·         Organisational Change policy - This is vital for members, as it provides very strong protection, both in terms of continued employment (no compulsory redundancies in the NHS) and (if necessary) pay protection.  Also other important rights such as the right to be involved.  Brought about, again, through national negotiation/influence, plus local work on implementation, monitoring and support for members.
·         Representation both on an individual basis when needed, and collectively at the highest level in NHS Highland.
·         Annual pay rises in the NHS which (though much smaller than we would like) have still been better than those provided south of the border.  Again, this is about UNISON's political influence, nationally.
No other union can demonstrate so many successes, through partnership working as UNISON, both locally in Highland and nationally in Scotland.  We are not for a moment claiming that everything is wonderful, or that there isn't lots more work to do to safeguard and protect our members' interests, in the context of an organisation, the NHS (and very much related employers) that we all know and love, and also want to see protected and safeguarded.  We think, folks, that you are in the right union!  If you want to get more involved, and help the small band locally who try our best, but could always improve, please get in touch!
(OK I'll get off my soapbox now...)
Integration continues to move at a pace in Argyll & Bute, sometimes at too fast a pace.  There have been examples of the Integrated Joint Board not carrying out adequate consultation with public, patients and staff.  Most notably recently around proposals to close aspects of Struan Lodge in Dunoon and Thomson Court on Bute. UNISON has been challenging these and other situations where there has been inadequate consultation.  There is evidence that this is having an impact, Councillor Kieron Green sent a letter to affected parties on 13 October acknowledging engagement and consultation needs to be improved and advised that the decision on Struan Lodge and Thomson Court will be delayed for 6 months.
At the A&B Integration Partnership Forum on 26 October UNISON further raised issues with regards to the need for full and better consultation.  This is particularly important with regards to the approach to vacancy management and filling of posts below tier three in the structure.  There was recognition of UNISON's view that before management seek to reorganise services and posts they need to agree a robust and fair process that takes full cognisance of the different terms and conditions and approaches of the Council and the NHS. It was agreed to set up a working group to take this forward.
UNISON has made important progress in challenging Health & Safety issues.  The unacceptable working environment in a decrepit building for our members in the laundry at Argyll & Bute Hospital has been recognised further to pressure by local Steward and Health and Safety rep Peter Laing.  Hopefully there will be temporary relocation to stores. Peter is now pursuing issues in relation to the working environment for staff in Aros in Lochgilphead - again a decrepit building.
All over there are changes and challenges affecting staff, to mention just some of these include dental services in Islay; Extended Community Care Team in Oban; Band 1 review and many more.  In all these areas UNISON is representing members' interests. To do this best we need local stewards on the ground, the more we have the better organised we are. New stewards get full training and support and it's a chance to make a difference to your workplace, so why not get in touch with A&B UNISON Convenor Dawn MacDonald dawn.gillies@nhs.net if you'd like to find out more about getting involved!


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