Catastrophic Cuts to Tayside Scientific Services


A vital local public health service faces being torn apart by selfish, short-sighted budget decisions.
Cuts hidden away in the budgets of a number of local councils has left a vital public health service fighting for its life.
Tayside Scientific Services had been a shared service between Dundee City, Angus and Perth & Kinross Councils. It provides chemical and biological testing and analysis to public and private bodies across the region. Fife was also a major customer.
Other councils had recently withdrawn from partnership to become customers only, leaving DCC carrying responsibility for the staff and, building and equipment.
This year’s budget rounds has seen contributions to that service shredded.
Dundee City only offered a flat cash budget going forward, despite clear cost pressures making that a real terms cut of more than 5%.
Fife council has cut its contribution from £126k to just £100k,
Angus has cut from £256k to just £100k and Perth and Kinross has completely cut its previous £190k contribution.
Overall this sees funding for the service cut by £372k to just £526k per year starting next month before any cost pressures are applied.
With unavoidable commitments to building and plant costs, this over 40% cut will have a devastating impact on the staffing of the service and could jeopardise its very existence.
Dundee City Council has been left trying to salvage something from the ruins of these selfish political decisions.
It appears no task force has as yet been set up to rescue this service or the jobs of those who provide it. The staff concerned will face the tender mercies of Dundee City’s new “Managing Workforce Change” policy (see coverage of that elsewhere).
Despite the genuine sympathy of the senior manager sent to inform the staff yesterday, who has promised to look at TUPE protection etc, DCC's lack of commitment to avoiding redundancies was demonstrated by the fact no-one was there from HR to explain what plans they had to maintain their employment.
This is only to be expected from an employer that is cutting pay protection while claiming it will do its best to look at redeployment to avoid actual loss, having shown itself completely incapable of doing so in the past over longer periods of protection.
Unison will continue to fight for the best outcome for its members caught in the middle of this mess.
The politicians across the local councils should hang their heads in shame for their selfish short sighted decisions that have threatened the continuation of what is a vital public service.
Other employees of local councils should take note. We cannot simply wait to see where the axe will fall next.

As SNP Council Leaders Sweep away protection - Time to Get Ready for Action

The Dundee City Unison Branch sent the following statement by email today to all it's members in Dundee City Council and Leisure and Culture Dundee:

MANAGING WORKFORCE CHANGE POLICY

UPDATE

 Last night the above policy was heard at the Policy & Resources Committee. 

 All 14 SNP Councillors and the Lord Provost voted in favour of this policy being introduced.

 This policy opens the floodgates to introduce

  •  Compulsory Redundancies
  •  Reduce your pay protection to a year
  •  Force those seeking flexible retirement to agree to go after 2 years.

This is a direct attack on our terms and conditions and sets us up for further sweeping attacks.  Thursday’s budget setting meeting will look to pass a further report on commencing negotiations on other terms and conditions we currently have. 

We weren’t consulted on last night’s paper, there is little chance that consultation will be any better on the next one.

Be sure, these changes will affect you and I in the future.

UNISON will not stand by and watch our terms and conditions be eradicated by handing the employer the power and tools to do so. You have the power to stop this.

Last year saw big victories for staff at West Dumbartonshire and Glasgow’s Equal pay strikers who struck decisively and won.

The fight has to start here.  We will be going to consultative ballot shortly to allow your voice to be heard.

This is it – show the employer we are up for this fight.

The employer or the 15 elected members clearly only see you and I as just another cost to be reduced.  UNISON disagrees.

Let us show them we will not simply accept this.  Come along to the AGM.  Make sure you have the chance to have your say and prepare for action.

Maggie McGuire

Chairperson

UNISON members overwhelmingly vote to accept pay offer for council workers


UNISON, the largest union in local government, have today informed COSLA that their members have overwhelmingly voted to accept the pay offer for local government workers. 

The move follows a consultative ballot of UNISON Scotland local government members in which 91% voted in favour of the deal and in record numbers. UNISON’s ballot closed on Thursday 31 January.

Results of the ballot were announced at UNISON Scotland’s Local Government Committee today (Friday 1 February).

Congratulations to Dundee City branch members and activists for apparently recording the highest turnout in the ballot. Our employers should note that our members are involved and engaged.

The pay offer would deliver 9.5% cost of living increase over three years: 3.5% for 2018-19, 3% for 2019-20 and 3% for 2020-21. In addition it provides a commitment to fully consolidating the living wage, putting more money in the pockets of lower paid council workers, something UNISON has been campaigning on for years.

It also provides a commitment to re-open negotiations in the event of another local government bargaining group’s total pay offer value is revised such that it becomes greater than the sum agreed between COSLA Employers and the SJC Trade Unions for the SJC workforce for the period of the agreement. The award will be backdated to 1 April 2018.

UNISON Head of local government Scotland Johanna Baxter said: “This is a great outcome, delivered as a direct result of the campaigning activity and political lobbying efforts of UNISON members up and down the country. The cost of living increases meet current and projected levels of RPI and we have secured commitments to fully consolidate the living wage and maintain parity across the local government workforce. Our members have been waiting on a pay increase for over a year now so look forward to receiving their increase soon.”

UNISON chair of local government committee in Scotland Mark Ferguson said: “UNISON has campaigned hard to get the best deal we can for local government workers. While the offer does not make up for the many years of austerity, the offer, and particularly the commitment to consolidate the Living Wage, provides important safeguards for our lowest paid members.

“We will work to ensure this is properly delivered and local government workers will now receive back dated money in their pay packets in coming months.”

Notes:
– The improved pay offer has come after months of campaigning and negotiations by the SJC trades unions.
– The offer would deliver cost of living increases of 3.5% for 2018-19, 3% for 2019-20 and 3% for 2020-21. In addition it provides a commitment to fully consolidating the Living Wage and provides for negotiations to be re-opened in the event that any other local government bargaining group’s total pay offer value is revised such that it becomes greater than the sum agreed with the SJC trade unions.
– UNISON are the largest trade union in Scottish Local Government – representing 80,000 local government workers across the
country – and the largest trade union in the UK.
Local government workers have endured a decade of austerity with job cuts, and a decade real terms pay cuts.

UNISON contacts:
Head of local government Johanna Baxter 07817 120 894
Communications officer Danny Phillips 07944 664110

"Managing Workforce Change" - Warm Words Hide Hatchet Plan

Members will have received an "Allstaff" email from management on Tuesday (12th Feb) which talks in very mild and positive terms about an attached report that it claims "builds on a CoSLA agreement with the local government trade unions in April 2016".

Clearly we live in Orwell's 1984, where language takes on a whole new meaning.

It is utterly disingenuous to say the above, implying that this is part of on-going progressive discussions with the trade unions.

We have made quite clear, in the brief period this document has been made available to us that we are utterly opposed to its key objectives, which are to rapidly move to massive restructure of council jobs and services to move large numbers of employees onto poorer pay and conditions or out the door.

Dundee City Unison's brief discussions with management on this proposal point to it being nothing more than a management toolkit for rapidly cutting pay and jobs.

The report has 3 main changes that should ring alarm bells with all staff:

1. It clearly states what the Chief Exec has inferred on a number of occasions previously, that they believe Dundee City does not have a "No Compulsory Redundancy" policy but rather a policy to "try to avoid Compulsory Redundancy" (well who doesn't ??):

The obvious implication being that they expect to soon be moving to make compulsory redundancies. In fact, this has been stated by the Chief Exec at recent meetings (with council leaders present).

2. The reduction of the pay protection from 3 years to 6 months:

This has nothing to do with the cost of the tiny number of people currently on pay protection (which used to be permanent until implementation of the Single Status Equal Pay arrangements suggested only 3 years could be justified under Equal Pay concerns).

This is clearly a signal that they plan massive restructuring of council services to move large numbers of people into lower pay and to make the savings (which are it's only justification) much more quickly. You can guarantee that, as usual,  senior managers will not be significantly affected by these restructures.

Bizarrely, they see no irony in the fact they are proudly promising teachers, who are sadly to have their pay cut as part of the budget cuts, 3 years cash conservation.

3. Forcing those who seek Flexible Retirement (where you perhaps reduce hours or pay and take your (much reduced) pension early for the reduced hours/pay) to agree to go after a maximum of 2 years:

This is a cruel abuse that twists the purpose of flexible retirement - meant to allow people who want (or usually need) to reduce the strain of work as they get older - into another tool to get people out the door quickly.

Council workers have put up with a lot over the last decade or more. Seeing hundreds of colleagues disappear, while those left to carry the resulting growing workload see their pay shrink in real terms and a drip, drip of cuts to terms and conditions. Feeling the shame of not being able to deliver services to the same level that we have in the past.

We have seen our pay outstripped by inflation to the point where we have effectively worked for free for a whole year or more. Our current pay offer only sees us barely keep track with current and projected cost of living rises - leaving the pay gap and historical loss still growing in real terms.

This report, being snuck though just days before one of the most devastating budget proposals ever seen in Dundee, will give management free reign to rip apart our members' lives and livelihoods.

We will not stand for it and we encourage members to fight against it and have told management and council leaders as much. We will be consulting with members on taking action, including strike action if necessary, to oppose it in coming days and weeks.

We urge members to:

  • turn out on the Dundee Against Cuts march on Saturday (16th) (Assemble 11:30 - Unite the Union Offices, Blackness Road - marching to City Centre).

  • protest the Council meeting on Monday 18th, where this report is to be tabled 5:30pm for 6pm meeting.

  • protest the Council budget setting meeting on Thursday 21st

  • engage with activities and consultation over this issue

  • come to one of the upcoming AGM meetings on 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th March

  • prepare to take whatever action is needed and stand together to stop or reverse these proposals

Local Govt Pay - New Year, New Offer - Online Ballot

UNISON is asking for your views on the pay offer that has been put forward by COSLA which is a 9.5% cost of living increase over 3 years: 3.5% for 2018-19, 3% for 2019-20 and 3% for 2020-21. (see full details here)

In addition it provides a commitment to fully consolidating the living wage, putting more money in the pockets of lower paid council workers, something UNISON has been campaigning for, for years.

There will be discussions with employers on the practical details of how the living wage consolidation will be achieved but it's basic aim is to ensure that employees' basic pay is set above the living wage threshold and that sensible pay/grading differentials are still achieved.

If agreed, the award for 2018 will be backdated to the 1 April 2018 application date.

UNISON’s Scottish Local Government Committee is recommending that you ACCEPT the offer.

It is really important that you let us know your views in the online ballot running from 7-31 January 2019.

Click here for full details of the claim, the offer and UNISON’s reasons for recommending accept.

You should have received an email in the last few days giving details of how to vote.

If you didn’t get an email (you should check if we have the correct email address for you but) provided you know your membership number or NI Number, you can still vote by using the link below or by phoning UNISON Direct on 0800 0857 857. The ballot closes on 31 January 2019.

CLICK HERE TO VOTE ONLINE NOW

*** Please remember, we need to develop a culture of participating in Ballots (Voting), if we are to be taken seriously by the employers and politicians (and pass legal thresholds for any future Industrial Action Ballots). So please VOTE! ***

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