Important - Lobby against Cuts (Thursday 15th Dec)

There are protests on Thursday 15th Dec both in Edinburgh, Lobbying Holyrood (from 10:30am)  and here in Dundee, 5pm - City Square.
 
This is because the Scottish Govt will be determining how much money will be distributed to the various services, including each of the Local Authorities across Scotland.
 
It should be remembered that the Council Tax only delivers between about 8% to 15% of the revenue that local government uses to pay for it's services (and the jobs that deliver them). The vast majority of our income is dependent on the grants from government. This is initially set by the overall public spending figure passed to Scotland by the UK Government, then distributed by them (based on their own priorities) between Health, Police, Fire, NDPBs, Local Government etc.
 
Last year, a decision by the Scottish Government to prop up health spending meant the cut intended for it by Westminster fell on Local Government (on top of our own cut). This looks likely to be repeated again this year.
The end of the Council Tax Freeze (allowing an up to 3% rise in Council Tax) will only result in around an extra £1million for Dundee City.
This is against, we understand, at least another 5% cut in grant that last year equated to £23million.
Changes to Council Tax bands for higher priced properties will raise around £100 million across Scotland.
This is to be collected centrally and then redistributed exclusively for targeting the education attainment gap that has been set as a priority for the SNP nationally.
What share each authority gets will be based on their determined need - likely calculated based on number of children receiving free school meals.
Based on current figures this looks like it could be around £3-5million for Dundee. As it is ring-fenced, however, it won't do much to help budgets outside the Children and Families department.
 
At the same time, we were very early in submitting our pay claim this year that was essentially for a flat £1000 per annum on all points and a demand to finalise the implementation of the living wage.
 
The employers had promised a response/offer to come from their CoSLA leaders meeting on 13th Dec but they have subsequently said they will be too focussed on resolving the budget issues to make an offer before the end of January.
 
Unison has written to all the group leaders in CoSLA to express its anger at this development. Our Scottish Local Government Committee that was meant to meet on Monday 19th December to consider the expected offer, will now discuss our response to the employers' decision to stall. You will be aware that our Scottish Local Government Conference agreed that it would ballot for industrial action, if an acceptable offer was not made by February next year.
 
In Dundee, we are expecting to be told the top-line figures for Dundee City on Tuesday 20th December. It's unlikely this will involve any discussion about more detailed plans for savings but, given management have had an idea of the scale of the cuts, they will likely have been working up some ideas. We may be told if there are likely to be further redundancies (voluntary or otherwise). Again, our branch, last year established clear lines in the sand, whereby a ballot for industrial action would be triggered if there were attempts to impose changes to key terms and conditions.
 
We are in the midst of a serious battle for the future of our own jobs, pay and conditions and the very services we provide. It doesn't look like anyone but ourselves, acting together, can be relied on to change things for the better. We need to be prepared to take the action that will be needed to win that battle.
 
Much will depend on how resolute we appear about defending ourselves. Supporting the protests on Thursday will be an important start.

 

Vital Consultation for all “SSSC registered” members (Social Workers and managers, Social Care Staff, Early Years Practitioners etc.) - Hike in fees and proposals to change procedures etc.

The Scottish Social Services Council has begun a consultation on proposals to significantly increase their registration fees. This follows an earlier overhaul of their Registration and Fitness to Practise Rules.

This will affect thousands of workers across the public and voluntary sectors in Scotland – a significant portion of which are Unison members. The fees increases are (in our branch view) excessive and will potentially create a barrier to people maintaining their registration and, as a result, their employment in social services.

Their page gives the following summary of the changes:

  Current fee level   Fees in 2017/18   Increase - £   After tax relief*  
Social work student   £10   £15   £5   £12  
Support worker £15   £25   £10   £20  
Supervisor/practitioner   £20   £35   £15   £28  
Manager/social worker   £30   £80   £50   £64  

 

It seems a bit of a con to mention the Tax Relief on the new fees, as it can apparently be backdated for up to 6 years (so must have also applied to the current fees). Either way, many of our members will find it cumbersome to claim.

Click here to go to their consultation page on fees (look for the buttons at the bottom of that page) and their comparisons and breakdown of roles and fees is here.

SSSC also conducted a survey earlier this year on proposed changes to the Rules for Registration and Fitness to Practise. Both Unison Scotland and Thomsons Solicitors (who represent our members at SSSC and other professional registration bodies) submitted public responses to that consultation. The page for that consultation can be found here.

While Thomsons Solicitors' response has foccussed on the legal and technical aspects of the rules, procedures, arrangements etc. the Unison response is a little more general. Both have stressed the need for fairness and proportionality in both the processes and outcomes of SSSC proceedings. They have made reasonable and practical suggestions for improvement - while welcoming the genuine desire by SSSC to improve it's methods and provide a valuable support to social services and the professionals who work within them.

 

 

Watch that Pay Slip!

All Local Government Members on SJC terms please remember: (particularly if you are a current member of the Local Government (or similar) pension scheme)

Due to the introduction of the NEW State Pension, all members of workplace pension schemes like the LGPS, who formerly paid 1.4% less of their pay to National insurance (a rebate for being part of a "contracted out" scheme) will have lost that reduction as of 6th April 2016.

This reduction was for pay earned between around £8000 to £40000 per year. So, those of us who are members of the LGPS will see our take home pay reduced as that 1.4% rise in NIC is applied.

For those earning above around £20000, it will wipe out the 1% pay award for 2016/2017 and appear as an overall cut in take home pay.

The State Pension changes also ruled that those of us who were "contracted out" will not qualify for the Maximum amount if retiring immediately due to the "reduced" contributions we made in the past. This may, of course, be recovered over a few more years working and paying the full NIC.

This has no impact on the quite separate rights and benefits of the LGPS itself.

Hopefully this will make some sense of the changes but you can find out more at the Tayside Pension Fund Newsletter and more general LGPS advice from the Scottish LGPS website or The Scottish Public Pensions Agency or by speaking to your local pension team.

 

Invite to Branch AGM 2017

Dundee City UNISON
Room2, Floor 3
11 Castle Street
Dundee
DD1 3AA
Tel: 01382 224948
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
08-FEB-2017
RMS No: 9999999
 
Dear Member
 
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING - FRIDAY 3RD MARCH 2017 
 
You are invited to attend the UNISON Dundee City Branch Annual General Meeting.  To encourage attendance, members can attend either on:
 
Friday 3rd March 2017 at 12.30 p.m., finishing no later than 2 p.m. in The Steps Theatre Conference Room, Central Library, Wellgate Centre, Dundee.  Buffet available from 12 noon.
 
Friday 3rd March 2017 at 5.30 p.m., finishing no later than 7 p.m. in the Baxter Park Bowling Club, Wortley Place, Dundee. Buffet available from 5 p.m.
 
Following the AGM in Baxter Park Bowling Club, there will be a fundraising and entertainment event in aid of UNISON's There for you charity.  Tickets cost £4 and are available by contacting the UNISON Office above.  
 
Nominations are invited for all branch officer, steward and departmental representative positions.  A nomination form is attached and should be completed and returned to the above address no later than 12 noon on 21 February 2017.  If there is more than one nomination for any post an election will be held in accordance with branch rules.
 
Please click here for nomination form:  nomination form
 
Current postholders should note that they must be nominated annually and a 2017 nomination form must be completed.  Late nominations will be consider by the branch committee.  
 
Motions for consideration at the AGM are also invited.  These should be sent (preferably typed) to the above address no later than 12 noon on 21 February. Motions must be signed by at least two members.
 
The final agenda and supporting paperwork will be available at the meeting.  Should you require copies in advance please contact the branch office as above. 
 
Given the budget situation, threats to your jobs, threats to your terms and conditions and cuts to local services, this is your opportunity to find out more and to discuss the way forward.
 
I look forward to seeing you on 3 March 2017.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Jim McFarlane
 
JIM MCFARLANE
Branch Secretary Dundee City Branch