You may, or may not have heard, certain news with regards the future of how all NHS Scottish Health Boards may be reconfigured in the near future? There have been articles in several newspapers relating to this matter, and a few members have been raising questions about what this may mean for all NHS staff? As a UNISON health branch, we have discussed what little we know, and felt it appropriate to relay what little is known at this time, but without raising undue concerns.
It is no secret that the current Scottish Government have previously raised that there would need to be a revue of how all health boards are structured and possible reconfiguration of these going forward. The latest “Rumours” indicate that a preferred way forward might be a total of 3 Territorial Health Boards and 2 “National”
Obviously it would appear that the members where our branch represents in National Services Scotland, National Education for Scotland, Health Scotland and Healthcare improvement Scotland, would fall into the “National” Health Boards going forward. However, this is merely our opinion at this point in time based on the nature of our organisations.
Whilst there have been no formal discussions held at this point with the Trade Unions, we fully expect that to happen in the near future, and any new updates on this matter will be relayed to you going forward.
Ultimately any reconfiguration will be fully consulted on with the Trade Unions. However, what this will mean for each individual member of staff within each Health Board is obviously unknown at this point.
Our branch will keep you updated when anything more concrete is known.
A number of our branch stewards recently attended a branch training and development session, aimed at equipping stewards with knowledge and advice that can be used to advise members on a number of topics.
One of our sessions on this occasion was an awareness session on Dementia. It’s just about understanding a bit more about dementia and the small things you can do to help people with the condition, and to better interact with them. Our stewards are now equipped to signpost members in the right direction on where to find further information.
The session was delivered by Anne McWhinnie from an organisation called "Dementia Friends" and further information on the excellent work this charitable organisation do can be found by following this link.
21/04/2016 - The UK government, after pressure from UNISON and other trade unions, have withdrawn plans to have members forced to pay their unison subs by direct debit, rather than at pay source.
More news on this and the Anti Trade Union Bill can be viewed by following this link.
The Lords has inflicted a triple blow to the government’s controversial Trade Union Bill.
Peers voted overwhelmingly for three amendments to the bill, on electronic balloting, facility time, and the funds used by unions for political campaigning.
The government was heavily defeated on each vote, and will now be forced to rethink its plans when the bill returns to the Commons.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “It was great to see the Lords reject some of the attacks on unions that are in the Trade Union Bill – and I want to thank every UNISON member and branch who have helped lobby peers.
“In April the Lords will vote on the government’s attack on ‘check off’. We hope that peers will take issue with the government on that crucial issue too.
“But in the month that ministers have until that vote, there is still time for them to think again about their brutal attack on ordinary working people – and withdraw this ill thought-out and wholly unnecessary bill.”
Three amendments were tabled during the report stage in the Lords yesterday.
Peers voted by 320-181 to commission an independent review of electronic ballots for strike action – which ministers have rejected, despite calling for changes that would require a minimum turnout of 50% and backing of at least 40% of those eligible to vote.
They also voted 248-160 against a cap on facility time.
And where the bill requires Labour-affiliated union members to “opt in” to paying a levy to the party, peers voted 320-172 to apply those changes to new members only, with a 12-month transition period.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This is an important result for the six million trade union members across the UK. But it’s a bad day for the government.
“It has tried to force this bill through parliament. Once again, peers have rightly held them back.
“The government needs to think again and withdraw this damaging and divisive bill.”
The Lords next considers the bill after Easter, with a second day of the report stage.
10/03/2016: EUROPEAN REFERENDUM - BRANCH CONSULTATION
UNISON have Asked all UNISON branches to carry out a branch member consultation on the topic of the European Referendum taking place on June 23rd 2016.
Please see belo where you will find a downloadable document where you will find information in relation to this in with what is hoped is useful for you in taking part in this consultation.
Scottish Health Care Branch have set up a survey online that members can access to complete the 5 questions posed from UNISON. Our branch will collate these answers prior to April 5th when we have to feedback to UNISON nationally.
For those members wishing to complete the survey manually, there is also attached a document with the questions that can be printed out and sent to the branch freepost address at
Scottish Health Care Branch
60 Belford Road
To access the survey online to complete, please follow this link
I would encourage all members to please take 5 minutes to read over the information provided and complete the survey. Thanks.
Scottish Health Care
07/03/2016: February 29th 2016 was a day when UNISON branches across Scotland held various events to highlight opposition to the UK Government's proposed Trade Union Bill that would have far reaching consequences for all UNISON members and the way in how branches could represent members.
Our branch, through our Health & Safety Committee, set up UNISON stalls at our 2 largest workplaces, Gyle Square and Meridian Court, where stress surveys were handed out and completed by branch members. The results of these will feed into national a stress survey audit.
These are a selection of branch activists and members highlighting the "Anti Trade Union Bill" on the day.
01/03/2016: Please see information attached below with regards the New State Pension
22/02/2016 UNISON PRIZE DRAW
UNISON are currently working hard to ensure all member details held by them are current and up to date. This is extremely important in the event that UNISON require to contact members. This will be vital in the event of the current (Anti) Trade Union Bill removing the right that all members can have their subscriptions removed at pay source, and implementing Direct Debit deductions only.
Please see below downloadable documents on options for entering this prize draw.
Attached is the PDF copy of the Bullying and Harassment Advice & Guidance booklet produced by the Scottish Young Member’s Committee.
Bullying and harassment are common problems affecting many young people at work. The Young Members Committee recently undertook a survey of UNISON’s young members, which showed shocking numbers of young people are still being bullied and harassed in the workplace, despite the policies and laws that should protect them.
This guide is part of a wider campaign by our Young Members Committee, to raise awareness of the issue, to help young people understand what bullying and harassment is, how to recognise it and how UNISON can help them when needed.
The guide was officially launched on the 6th February at Scottish Council, where copies were distributed, and the Young Members Committee submitted a motion asking for branch support of the campaign and with help to get the guide distributed to all young members in Scotland. The motion was supported overwhelmingly
UNISON has secured another significant breakthrough in the unions attempts to eradicate low pay in the public sector after NHS bosses agreed to undertake a review of the roles and responsibilities of staff on Agenda for Change pay Band 1.
Whilst the terms of the agreement are still being worked out, the basic principle is that every Health Board including National Services Scotland (NSS) will work with UNISON and other unions locally to review all Band 1 job descriptions and that every opportunity will be taken to expand these to secure a real pay uplift for the lowest paid workers in the NHS.
The agreement which has backing at a political level will ensure that an all band 1 staff who wish to transfer to these extended roles will do so by 1st October, 2016 and will see UNISON members increase from £15,358 to £18,103 after progression and pay uplifts.
The deal which has been negotiated by UNISON will deliver real increases in pay for almost 8000 workers across NHS Scotland
Branch Secretary Tam Hiddleston said, “Once again we’ve shown that UNISON delivers on low pay, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do to ensure that everyone who wants a Band 2 secures the right job description and that for the very small number of people who don’t want a Band 2, that we understand their concerns and protect their position.
It’s important that UNISON members keep up to date with these developments as they progress and we will be in regular contact over the next few months.”
The (Anti) Trade Union Bill update:
The Bill has passed the initial stages in the House of Commons although, despite the Conservative majority, not unscathed. In particular, the government dropped much of its planned limitations on protests. MPs at the committee stage savaged the Bill and government witnesses were shown to be shockingly unaware of industrial relations practice or even the Bill’s provisions.
Amendments have also been tabled to the Scotland Bill to devolve employment law. UNISON supports this while recognising that it won’t provide any immediate threat to the Trade Union Bill. Other amendments to the Trade Union Bill seek to exclude Scotland from the Bill’s provisions on the grounds that it conflicts with devolved powers.
The Bill is now in the Lords. An early success was a vote against the government to refer the political fund provisions to committee, on the grounds that the Bill is a breach of the Churchill Convention: “it has become a well established custom that matters affecting the interests of rival parties should not be settled by the imposition of the will of one side over the other.”
The Lords have also been critical over delays in completing consultations on the detail of the Bill and the UK government’s own Regulatory Impact Committee has described the Bill as ‘not fit for purpose’.
The Westminster Joint Select Committee on Human Rights took evidence in Edinburgh this month and that was opportunity to seek their support on the human rights aspects of the Bill. This reinforces our submission, with HRCS, to the United Nations in Geneva last October.
The Scottish Parliament debated the Bill on 10 November and overwhelmingly passed a motion critical of the legislation. MSPs recognised many of UNISON’s arguments on the impact the legislation has on Scotland’s industrial relations culture, particularly in the public sector.
The Scottish Government then tabled a Legislative Consent Memorandum, which argues that the Bill has devolved aspects that require the approval of the Scottish Parliament through a Legislative Consent Motion (LCM)
The Presiding Officer has ruled this motion incompetent, wrongly in our view. Subsequently, we set out how this could be dealt with by changing the Parliament’s Standing Orders and that proposal has been submitted to the Standards Committee.
The Bill was also referred to the Devolution Committee and their highly critical report was debated in parliament on 26 January, when parliament yet again passed a critical motion.
The Welsh Assembly has been more robust in its approach and has passed an LCM and threatened to pass a Bill repealing the provisions that conflict with devolved matters. Their approach may result in the Bill being referred to the Supreme Court.
Resisting the Bill
The Scottish Government has made it clear that they will not willingly cooperate with the Bill. CoSLA has taken a strong stance against the Bill and a number of councils have passed motions indicating that they will not cooperate with the legislation if it is passed.
During the last Parliamentary debate, Labour indicated that they had received initial legal advice that the Bill was contrary to the Human Rights Act. Under the Scotland Act, the Scottish Government and public bodies cannot do anything that is ‘incompatible with any convention’ and that includes the ECHR. We are assisting with firming up that legal position, as it is consistent with our view of the legislation as outlined in Briefing 68.
Another example of how the Trade Union Bill conflicts with devolved matters is NHS staff governance and partnership. The NHS Reform (Scotland) Act 2004 (s3(2)) reinforced this commitment by legislation.
The Staff Governance Standard requires a level of engagement from trade unions that is underpinned by facility time. Staff governance is viewed as an investment in patient care because Staff who are well informed, appropriately trained and sharing best practices, can influence and deliver services to the best of their ability in the changing health care setting.
While similar arguments apply to industrial relations structures in other public bodies, NHS Scotland has a statutory duty to maintain staff governance, creating a conflict of laws.
The parliamentary campaign has to be supported by activity on the ground.
Branches have been asked to make the Trade Union Bill a feature of AGMs this year. New pop-up banners and leaflets will be available for use at these events.
UNISON Week is supporting the TUC ‘Unions Week’ on 8-14 February. The week is about celebrating UNISON and the achievement of all unions, and making sure we are the strongest union we can be.
The STUC campaign focus is a Day of Action on 29 February. The aim is to show how the Bill will impact on workplace industrial relations and we will be discussing this at UNISON Scottish Council Meeting on 6th February
Every UNISON branch has to hold an Annual General Meeting. As a branch who covers 4 health boards and has members based around the country, we hold a series of aggregate AGM's, 11 meetings in total.
Every branch member is invited to attend 1 of these meetings, where election of stewards and officials are elected and/or ratified. Local issues may also be discussed. Other important business will also be addressed.
A full list of meeting locations, dates and times are included within the attached Branch Annual Report. This report is also posted out to every single branch member's home address (Assuming your address details are current and you have updated this branch)
This report also includes information on work carried out in the past year and a number of branch officer reports.