Aberdeenshire Branch AGM 2007
Busy year for branch as progress made
Support for asylum seeker children
Members attending the branch AGM were the first
to hear, hot off the press, that all three trade unions have now
accepted the council's single status proposals. This was the major
issue at an AGM on 21st February that reflected the hugely busy
year for branch officers and activists with complex negotiations
and campaigning on single status, equal pay and pensions.
"It has been a long process and the negotiations have been fraught
at times, as UNISON has fought to get the best possible deal for
our members," Bob Revie, Branch Secretary told the AGM. "We know
that not everyone is happy with the outcome and we will continue
to support and advise members who wish to appeal their mappings.
However, we believe the scheme is fit for purpose in terms of pay
equality and the best we could achieve through negotiation."
The AGM heard from Emma Philips, Regional Organiser, that the
branch has achieved a scheme which has relatively few losers. "This
compares favourably with other schemes such as the Shetland scheme
where around 50% of the workforce face a cut in wages," she added.
A lively question and answer session followed as members checked
out how the appeals process will work and the support they can expect
from the union. "We are hoping that many more of our members will
come forward as stewards and workplace contacts and will do the
training on appeals, so that they can support their colleagues,"
said Emma. She added that this need not be a lot of work and that
time to do this work will be arranged.
The motion on single status
calling on the Branch Committee to keep up the good work, to keep
members informed and to encourage member involvement was carried
Click here for regular updates
on single status.
Branch wins equal pay claims
Almost half the equal pay grievances lodged by the branch have
been resolved to the satisfaction of the members, Inez Teece, Assistant
Secretary (Service Conditions) told the AGM. "Many of our members
accepted the compensation offers made by the council back in May
last year, but the branch has supported many members to take grievances
against the council," she said. "Others, including the equal pay
claim by classroom assistants, have been lodged at Employment Tribunal."
Support pledged for voluntary sector
The plight of the voluntary sector was highlighted by members attending
the AGM who are employed by voluntary organisations. They spoke
of the problems caused by the funding squeeze both for staff and
for the service users. "Because of these cuts, our service users
no longer get the quality of service they used to. We feel this
is discriminatory," said one member.
Bob pledged UNISON's support at both local and national level,
to campaign for improved pay and conditions. He acknowledged that
the squeeze is a result of the voluntary sector being at the end
of the funding chain. "It is all to do with local authority funding,"
he said, "and we will continue to raise the funding issues and the
wider practice issues both locally and nationally."
Click here for more information.
"Cautious optimism" for new pensions scheme
There was some good news for members on the pensions front,
and the AGM heard about the talks underway to design a new look
pension scheme which will be distinctively Scottish.
"We were very disappointed that the magnificent day of action last
March did not save the Rule of 85," said Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair.
"However there are some grounds for "cautious optimism" that the
new scheme will give improved benefits for members, many of whom
are relatively low paid," she added, citing the average wage of
pension scheme members as £16,000.
Ian McDonald, Branch Treasurer added that the scheme is likely
to remain a final salary scheme and looks set to include improved
partner benefits and death benefits and a better basis for ill-health
retiral as well as a flexible retirement scheme. "Once the scheme
is finalised there will be a full consultation and a ballot of all
members," he told the meeting.
Click here for
more pensions news.
Branch calls for action on asylum families
The branch is to keep up the pressure for the humane treatment of
asylum seeker families and their children. The AGM voted overwhelmingly
to submit another motion to UNISON's Annual Delegate Conference,
calling on the union to campaign at a UK level for an end to dawn
raids and the detention of children, and an amnesty for asylum families
who have lived in the country for more than a year.
Proposing the motion,
Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair, outlined the progress already made in
Scotland since the branch put a motion to UNISON's Scottish Council
last year. She pointed to the guide for members working with asylum
seeker children; the talks with the Scottish Executive about their
proposed protocol to ensure the needs of these children are assessed;
and the links built with other like minded organisations. However,
she warned there is no room for complacency.
"Dawn raids and locking up children are still happening," she told
the meeting. "We need to get this issue onto the national stage
and get UNISON nationally to join forces with others to put pressure
on the Westminster government to end these appalling practices."
Click here for more information.
More stewards please!
Once again there were no elections for officers' or stewards'
posts and the business of the branch was quickly dealt with. There
was the annual plea for more stewards and workplace contacts to
come forward. The branch is busy but members can take on as much
or as little as they feel they can manage in these posts and there
will be lots of support and training available to those interested.
For the new list of branch officers and
stewards click here.
Branch finances are healthy and the AGM approved the accounts and
the honoraria paid to key
branch officers for their services to the branch. The AGM recorded
a vote of thanks once again to all the branch activists, branch
officers and full-time staff who have worked so hard over the past