Inez Teece, presenting the Annual Report as Acting Branch Secretary, told the meeting that already we were beginning to see the impact of the budget cuts as vacancies were frozen and temporary contracts brought to an end, with the knock on effects on other staff.
"We know that the council are in a difficult position," she said, "But we will continue to press them to avoid compulsory redundancies and we will be monitoring the effects of the cuts on our members and our services."
She called on all members to help the branch by telling us when services are cut and the effects of staff reductions on their ability to do their job.
She warned that the council will be coming after our terms and conditions next. The branch will be doing its best to maintain these as far as possible and will be consulting with members on any proposed changes.
The AGM pledged to continue to fight at both local and national level against the Tory LibDem government's cuts to public services. It approved a range of motions that provide for a two-pronged strategy of negotiation alongside campaigning.
Cuts will affect jobs and services
Julie Neale, steward, added, "It is the greed of the rich and the bankers that has forced the shortfall for Aberdeenshire Council but it is us who will pay."
She called on members to be vigilant and to report any changes within our workplace and service provision to the branch. "We have difficult times ahead but together we can make a difference," said Julie
We need to get the message across that cuts
are unnecessary and will damage the economy
Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair told the AGM that not only are the cuts unnecessary, but they will further damage the fragile economic recovery and may well lead to a double dip recession. They are hitting the poor and low paid way more than the rich, but even middle income groups are feeling the pinch of food and fuel rises and the VAT hike.
"The only ones getting off scot free are the wealthy and the bankers," she said, "And these are the very people that created this economic crisis in the first place.
"£6 billion is being cut from public services, and what is the amount being given out in bankers' bonuses this year? You've guessed it - £6 billion. That is just immoral when so many of our members are being thrown out of work, when public services are being slashed and when 4million of our children still live in poverty," slammed Kate
She told the AGM that there is an alternative; fair taxation and growing the economy is a far better way out of the recession.
"Most respected economists say the same," said Kate. "But this government is hell-bent on the destruction of public services and cares little for the well-being of ordinary folk. With 18 millionaires in the cabinet, what can you expect?"
Steve Gray, steward, added that if the banks and the rich paid their fair share there would be no need to cut services to the most vulnerable.
"We hear in the papers every day about how the richest businesses avoid paying their corporation and other taxes and this needs to stop," he said.
The branch will now take this motion to UNISON's Annual Delegate Conference and will call for UNISON to continue and build on its campaign to expose and challenge this Tory LibDem government's ideological cuts to public services.
The more members the more clout
Tricia told the meeting that to properly challenge the cuts the branch needs to do more to involve our members - not just at AGMs but all the year round. "We need to make sure that our members recognise that they are being sold a lie - a great big one - when they are told "we are all in this together" and the cuts are necessary," said Tricia.
"We need to involve all of you and all our members who are not here tonight in campaigning against these cuts to our services. And we need to increase our membership, because as we have already heard, the more members, the more clout we have with the council."
Supporting the motion Susan Kennedy, Equalities Officer added, "We need to tell our members we are not all sharing the pain - not when bankers are still getting billions in bonuses when the rest of us are taking pay cuts in real terms. We need to tell them that cuts to public services will hit the most vulnerable and will make the economic situation worse, and we need to tell them why."
She called on members to get the key messages across and to take away application forms and encourage their colleagues to join.
"Trade unions are the best chance there is of combating the myths put about by the ConDem government and protecting public services now and for the future," said Susan.
Car users are subsidising the council as
fuel costs spiral
Kate said, "This has been a concern for this branch for many years and yet again we see fuel costs spiraling out of control with its knock on effect on our members who, in a rural area like our's, must use their cars to provide services to our most vulnerable citizens.
"But we are fast reaching the point where those of us who use a car to do our jobs are subsidising the council. It is a cut in our pay in real terms because the mileage we get barely pays the fuel costs never mind the insurance, road tax and wear and tear on our cars," she added
She called on the branch to do everything it can to prevent the loss of our lump sums, but warned that members will also need to decide what they are prepared to do to back this up.
Supporting the motion, Susan Kennedy said that petrol and diesel costs in this part of the world are amongst the highest in the UK and are hitting over £1.35 a litre in some parts. She added that many of our members who need a car for their work are amongst the lowest paid.
"Members who travel a lot to do their jobs, like home carers who provide lifeline services to our older citizens to allow them to stay in their own homes, are being hit with huge fuel costs at a time when a pay freeze means a pay cut, and when there is a big knock on effect on the cost of food and heating our homes," she said.
The branch will now take this issue to the Local Government Service Group Conference and will call on union leaders to press the UK government for a fair fuel regulator and an increase to the Inland Revenue mileage rate.
The AGM approved the branch accounts and gave a vote of thanks once again to Ian McDonald for his sterling work as treasurer. Honoraria were approved again for key branch officers. However, the Chair advised that next year honoraria payments would be made only to the treasurer and the auditors.
The AGM also approved Amended Branch Rules and Updated Financial Regulations by a two thirds majority. It agreed the nominations for Branch Officers and Stewards and agreed to remit the vacant posts to Branch Committee to fill.
Bob Revie, from the floor, gave a vote of thanks to the table for the conduct of the meeting and to the Branch Committee, stewards and staff for their work throughout the year.
Kate thanked all those who attended for their contribution to the meeting and closed the 2011 AGM.
Whether we work for Aberdeenshire Council, a related employer or the voluntary sector, we all face major challenges ahead, as the Westminster Government's spending cuts begin to bite. It has never been more important to be part of a union and we would urge you to come along to the AGM to hear what UNISON is doing to defend members' jobs and services, both nationally and locally.
The AGM is your chance to have your say on the issues of the moment and gives you a chance to raise issues or discuss concerns with Branch Officers.
A buffet is available from 6.30 p.m. and members of the Branch Committee will be on hand to answer any questions or just to chat. We very much hope that you will come along and look forward to seeing you there.
1. Chairperson's remarks
2. Appointment of Tellers
3. (a) Minute
of AGM 2010
(b) Matters arising
4. (a) Annual Report
(b) Redraft of Branch Rules for approval: click
to see redrafted rules
6. (a) Treasurer's Report and Presentation of Accounts
(b) Updated Financial Rules for approval
8. Any other competent business
9. Close of meeting
Anyone wishing advance copies of papers to be tabled at the meeting, please contact the Resource Centre on 01224 620624.
The AGM is the branch's supreme policy making forum. It will elect the Branch Officers for 2011, set policy on important issues affecting all members and can amend rules.
The preliminary notice has already been sent out, to allow members time to consider and put forward nominations and motions and to meet deadlines for the agenda which will be sent out no later than Friday 28th Jan 2011.
But don't let the talk of motions and deadlines put you off. This is your chance to raise anything you would like the branch to be doing, provided that it is within UNISON rules. If you would like to raise an issue but don't know how to write a motion, get in touch with Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair. You can email her or contact her via the Branch Resource Centre on 01224 620624 and she will help you to find the right way to do it.
UNISON members in Aberdeenshire have particular challenges coming up with budget cuts locally and an ideological opposition to public services by the Con Dem Government at Westminster. Come to the AGM and find out how UNISON is campaigning to protect public services and get involved!
Branch officer and steward posts
Nominations are invited for stewards and branch officer posts. Any nominations should be on the forms below and should be returned to Inez Teece, Acting Branch Secretary at UNISON Freepost (AB048), 7 Alford Place, Aberdeen AB10 1ZQ no later than Wed 26th Jan 2011.
Motions and other business
Any member can submit a motion or let us know of any other business for consideration at the AGM. Motions need to be signed by two members and sent to Inez Teece, Acting Branch Secretary at UNISON Freepost (AB048), 7 Alford Place, Aberdeen AB10 1ZQ no later than Wed 26th Jan 2011.