Council Implements Dangerous and Dishonest Policy

Battling PresenteeismWe wrote today to Dundee City Council to protest their unilateral imposition from 1st November of a 12 week limit on COVID absence being treated as special leave.
Letters were sent to our members caught by this change and meetings held to move them onto another absence reason that will be treated as any other absence for absence management and pay reduction. These letters stated it had been agreed with their Trades Unions, which it had not.
We view this as dishonest and the imposition a breach of negotiation frameworks and will be seeking legal advice on a case by case basis for members this change is imposed on.
We informed the employer of this and our intention to let our members know.
It is bad enough that a lah, lah, lah approach to transmission in schools has been applied across Scotland and the UK. This let's just get on with it approach to a pandemic that is still killing people in the hundreds every week and seeing many more needing hospital treatment, is a disgrace.
The 12 week limit seems to be a just get over it attitude to the virus' often dreadful long-term impact on people's lives. It is also flying in the face of good public health. It may well, for instance, lead to people disguising/denying their illness until they are simply too ill to attend work - thereby creating a much higher risk of in work infection. This is the antithesis of good public health practice.
If you have been affected by this change, please contact the branch.

NEW Council Pension Website - Did you miss the letter?

Tayside Pension Fund has recently moved all its info and much of its services to a NEW Website.

This will now be the ONLY WAY to see your LGPS Pension statement/forecast, unless you write to the fund requesting a paper copy.

Retired members will also soon find that this is where there pension payslips will be provided.

The letter giving active (working) members access to the website was sent out around 11th August.

The landing page on the website does offer people the chance to register for access:

Welcome - altair Member Self-Service (aquilaheywood.com)

So if you didn't get the letter you should go there and try it.

It is unfortunate that there was little or no promotion of this chaange, so many will have missed it.

Council staff are worth more! Strike Action to Come Soon

‘Council staff are worth more’ says UNISON as it prepares to ballot members on strike action

UNISON, Scotland’s largest local government union, has informed employers this week that it is to conduct a formal ballot of its members in a dispute over pay.

COSLA, the umbrella body representing council employers, had previously offered staff earning less than £25,000 a flat rate rise of £800. Last week COSLA came back with a revised offer of £850 – working out at approximately 97p per week for the lowest paid staff.

The union says council staff who have kept services and schools running throughout the pandemic deserve a proper pay rise. They say the latest pay offer falls far short of their pay claim and does little to address low pay which has become endemic following a decade of austerity.

The trade union says that councils have suffered a decade of cuts and jobs losses, and that staff have received year-on-year pay cuts. It has meant delivering services has become increasingly stressful for the workforce.

Pressure is mounting on both COSLA leaders and the Scottish Government to find an urgent resolution to this issue. COSLA leaders are meeting again on Friday (August 27).

UNISON intends to take targeted strike action, which means select groups of workers will be balloted. These include members working in school cleaning, school catering, school janitorial as well as those working in waste and recycling services.

Mark Ferguson, chair of UNISON’s local government committee, said:

“The last 18 months have taken an enormous toll on council staff who have been working flat out for no reward. Their courage and sacrifices need to be rewarded, yet the employers are failing to recognise their efforts.

“These workers, mostly women, are amongst the lowest paid in the country and have seen their pay drop substantially in recent years. The pay offer falls far short of their colleagues in the NHS and local government workers are left feeling exhausted and undervalued. Scotland’s council workers deserve fair pay.”

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, said:

“We’ve all relied on council staff to keep our communities clean and safe, protect the most vulnerable and to work in our schools throughout successive lockdowns to allow others to work.

“Without these workers going above and beyond to keep services running over the past year their colleagues in the NHS would have been left without childcare, our mortuaries would have been overwhelmed, our children would have been left without an education and our elderly would have been left without care. Yet to date they have received no reward or recognition of their efforts at all. It’s simply not good enough – our council staff are worth more.”

Notes to editors

  • UNISON is Scotland’s largest local government union representing around 80,000 workers throughout local authorities.
  • The ballot will run from 1 – 22 September 2021.

 

Contacts

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland head of local government, on 07817 120 894

Trisha Hamilton, UNISON Communications officer, on 07943 507 307, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / Danny Phillips, UNISON Communications officer, on 07944 664 110, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Join the Trade Union Bloc at the COP26 Day of Action - Glasgow Nov 6 (free bus from Dundee)

Dundee City UNISON recognises the real threat climate change is increasingly posing to society both locally and across the world. We appointed a new Climate Crisis and Green/Environment officer and are engaging with local green and climate activists in common work on these issues.

We are appalled by the lack of real commitment on action by UK, Scottish and Local Governments to promote the nature and pace of change needed to prevent future climate catastrophe.

Our branch exec has agreed to do everything it an to support local activity in the run up to COP26, including, hopefully a local day of action on Friday 5th Nov.

We have also agreed to sponsor at least 1 bus through to the COP26 Day of Action in Glasgow on Nov 6. See details here:

Dundee COP26 bus on Facebook

Contact the branch if you are interested in getting involved in working on our response to the climate crisis. We'd love to have a branch group of climate activists.

We are also affiliated to the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group and involved in work with local climate campaigns/activist through the local CACC:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Read more: Join the Trade Union Bloc at the COP26 Day of Action - Glasgow Nov 6 (free bus from Dundee)

A reminder about the impact of 2016 Pension and NIC changes for LGPS members

It was much talked about at the time but like lots of Pension details, sadly, soon forgotten.

Until 2016, members of the LGPS (and other employment pensions) enjoyed paying lower National Insurance Contributions (NICs) (referred to as being contracted out) while still being treated as contributing fully to their State Pension.

Then the UK government decide to retrospectively remove that protection leaving many LGPS and other pension scheme members with a shortfall in terms of the new state pension of as much as around £50 of the weekly state pension.

Generally, NICs were adjusted and people began to make up about £5 of that weekly state pension for each further year worked.

This meant most people would recover any losses by the time they retired.

A few people who were close to state retirement age (or unable to work longer for other reasons) would be left with a reduced state pension compared to what they might have expected before the change.

Employers, including DCC, did issue letters/statements about this issue back in 2016 which gave advice on checking your state pension forecast etc.

This was circulated through the Confirm Policies portal in Employee Resources and would presumably have been distributed as hard copy to staff unable to access the portal.

Sadly, management have allowed the document location to be changed breaking the link from the portal. We are seeing if this can be restored.

A number of recent retirees have been caught out by discovering their state pension was lower than expected.

The government provides access to a forecast of your state pension and your history of National Insurance Contributions.

You can access that service here.

If you have concerns, the council's pensions/payroll teams may also be able to offer some advice.

Contact Tayside Pension Fund

Please do check your forecast and make sure you aren't caught out at retirement.