It is time for real pay rises for all public service workers, says
Opening the debate on public sector pay at the Labour Party conference in Brighton on 25 September, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: 'For millions of public service workers struggling to survive, there is no more pressing issue than lifting the pay cap. They've suffered years of brutal austerity and vicious attacks on public services, overseen by a government that does not care what damage it causes to people's lives. In the first six years of Conservative rule, public sector pay rose by just 4%, while the cost of living soared by 22%. So for every year that's a pay cut, and every pay slip is a painful reminder for those struggling to get by and to afford the basics. The Conservatives call it prudence and restraint - I call it inhuman. The care worker who can't afford the bus back from work, the nurse relying on a local foodbank, and the teaching assistant forced to apply for pay day loans - frightened that if her boiler finally packs up this winter, her family is a cold snap away from disaster.
These are not tales of pity or tales of woe. This is about real lives - the lives of the millions of people who work for all of us and who ask for nothing more than dignity, respect and a fair share. Thanks to this Conservative government, a quarter of UNISON members - 300,000 public service employees - don't know how they would pay for an unexpected expense. More than three-quarters of them are buying less food and one in ten are missing entire meals to feed their children. This is an outrage, and it's getting worse. Inflation is three times the level of pay rises. People face spiralling debts that are impossible to repay.
It's immoral - which is why we're delighted that the Labour Party will today announce plans for a cap on credit card debt. And why we welcome the commitment in Labour's magnificent manifesto to scrapping the pay cap. But we can do so much better than that. Scrapping the cap is not enough. We must fight for real funding and real change. Real, above inflation pay rises for all public servants every year until pay is back at the level it was before the Conservatives strangled our public services. That must be the minimum that we demand because yes it's about the police officer, but it's also about the police community support officers. Yes it's about nurses, but it's also about care workers, social workers, ambulance staff and healthcare assistants. Yes it's about teachers - but it's also about teaching assistants, school meals staff and caretakers.
All of them, together, have borne the brunt of Conservative austerity. All of them together have fought against cutbacks. All of them together know that better pay means better public services. So this fight starts now. We need the whole Labour Party, MPs, councillors, mayors, every constituency to stand with us - and if the time comes to take strike action I want to see everyone with us on picket lines. This is a struggle for the many not just the few. Now is the time to stand strong and stand united. It's time to put public services first and to put pay up now.'
Don't forget, if you don't work in the public sector, this is your fight too, as private/voluntary sector wages, particular in the health/social care sector, are very much linked to those of public sector workers (in some cases directly).
NHS Highland Care at Home
Updates have been sent direct to relevant members. Please contact us if you have any issues/concerns.
NHS Highland Band 1 Review
1 October 2017 marked the anniversary of the implementation of the 'Band 1 review' in NHS Highland. What this means is that 673 staff in NHS Highland, who were moved to new Band 2 jobs, will receive a pay increment, in some cases for the first time for many years.
UNISON Highland Healthcare Branch Secretary, Janette McQuiston said 'We very much welcome this development for the lowest-paid members of staff in the NHS. This is as a direct result of UNISON action nationally in persuading the Scottish Government that this was the right thing to do, and UNISON action locally in getting this fully implemented in NHS Highland. We look forward to these vital members of staff - domestics, porters, catering and admin staff - progressing up further through the pay increments in the years to come. This has also enabled members take on new and changed roles and additional training, offering the chance of further career progression within the NHS. It's a win-win for members, for services, and for patients.'
NHS Highland Paid As If At Work
The end of this month will see the first 'Paid as if at Work' payouts for staff at Raigmore where back pay is due for 2013/14. This is greatly overdue, but we are delighted this will now be happening. This will be followed by payments for any other years of back pay due. We have also won reinstatement of pay for midwives where extra shift payments while on holiday had been stopped when they shouldn't have been. Hopefully we are now at the 'beginning of the end' with this issue!
Raigmore Low Acuity Ward
Management will now take forward work to look at the feasibility of creating a new 'low acuity' ward (but within the existing overall Raigmore bed complement). This will potentially be a significant redesign, which UNISON will be involved with. We will ensure that relevant staff are fully involved as plans are considered/developed.
Student Nurse Recruitment
We are pleased to report that 45 new student nurse members were recruited to the Branch last month, and we welcome these new members!
A UNISON protest took place in Aviemore at NHS Highland's Annual Review, where we took the message to the Scottish Government and the media about the 'Scrap the Cap' campaign on public sector pay. It was a colourful and high-impact event - and just a few days later, the Scottish Government announced their new policy that the cap would indeed be scrapped (although this is as yet short on detail). We think it was the Highland demo wot won it!
Pay Up Now/Scrap the Cap National Demonstration
This took place on 7 October in Edinburgh. The Branch wasn't very well represented, unfortunately, but we were there! There was a turnout of about 5000 people, mostly UNISON members but from other unions as well. We marched down the Royal Mile, and the sun came out at Holyrood for some excellent speeches by UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis; Senior Vice President, Gordon McKay and Scottish Convenor, Lilian Macer. It was an excellent day. Hopefully we will get a few more Highland members there next time. See Facebook page and the website for pictures of the day. Next step is for a pay claim to be submitted direct to the Scottish Government.
Registration is now open for the National OT Stewards Training Seminar - 30 November & 1 December
Registration is now open for the popular BAOT stewards annual training seminar to be held on 30 November & 1 December 2017 at Aston University, Birmingham. If you think you might be interested, please get in touch.
Public sector pay cap survey September 2017
A (UK-wide) survey of the general public has been undertaken for 14 public sector unions about public sector pay. Results include:
• Public backing is strong for the removal of the public sector pay cap for NHS staff, with over four in five (84%) saying they support this move.
• Three quarters (73%) of British adults think that if the Government make an announcement that they will lift the pay cap in the NHS, they should also increase the funding available for the NHS pay review body to recommend an award higher than 1%, whereas only 10% think they shouldn't. However, approaching a fifth (17%) are uncertain and say they don't know.
• As well as supporting lifting the pay cap, over four in five (83%) British adults support increasing pay for all NHS staff to meet or exceed cost of living.
• The consensus among around three quarters of British adults is that existing staff leaving the NHS, moving to private work, and young people not choosing NHS careers are each a significant consequence of the low pay in the NHS (77%, 75% and 74% say this respectively).
• The majority (69%) of British adults support NHS staff being paid £800 to account for the last seven years of pay restraint on top of a pay increase - however it is worth noting that approaching a fifth oppose this (17%).
UNISON led courses being held in November are:
9 November 2017, 1pm - 4pm, Lochgilphead - Transition from work to retirement - dealing with change
A half day course supporting people in transition from work to retirement and in later life.
17 November 2017, 9.30am - 3.30pm, Inverness - Dyslexia Awareness
Learn about Dyslexia and its different forms;
What is it like to be dyslexic?
What to look for that may indicate somebody is dyslexic?
The course will highlight professional support and testing available; as well as strategies and styles used by people with Dyslexia.
20 November 2017, 9.30am - 3.30pm, Invergordon - Mental Health Awareness
Understand the most common mental health problems that people face, gain an insight into the experience of having mental distress; explore some strategies for promoting good mental health.
24 November 2017, 10am - 4pm, Fort William - End of Life Care
Overview of palliative care and definition of a 'good death'; communication with people who are dying - the importance of listening; common signs of approaching death; management of carers' grief.
30 November 2017, 9.30am - 3.30pm, Inverness - Transition from work to retirement - dealing with change
One day course supporting people in transition from work to retirement and in later life.
If you wish to find out more or book a fully funded place please contact:
Regional Learning and Development Organiser
53 Shore Street
Mobile: 07950 889765
Legal Representation if referred to a regulatory body
Another union seems to have been stressing to its members about how they will 'provide a lawyer' if staff are referred to a regulatory body. This is associated in particular with forthcoming changes to staff who work in care at home services (including private/voluntary sector organisations) who will require to be registered with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC). Just to reassure you, UNISON provide exactly the same service as part of your membership. If you are referred to a regulatory body for alleged misconduct etc, whether you are a nurse, an AHP, or work in adult social care, UNISON will support you and represent you legally in such circumstances. If you should need this service, please contact the Branch as soon as possible.