Aberdeenshire UNISON

Public worksCampaign to defend terms and conditions

Update 4th June
Members vote to accept new terms and conditions

Branch members have voted to accept the council's revised terms and conditions package but respondents identified a number of issues of concern.

Inez TeeceOn the ballot, 75% voted to accept 25% voted to reject This gives a majority 50% of those voting to accept the proposals to change the Current Terms and Conditions.

However, Inez Teece, Branch Secretary said, "It must be noted that although there is a general agreement to the new proposals, some issues remain for many workers, even those that have accepted the revised offer."

These include

  • The loss of significant income for some mainly female staff that are compelled due to the nature of their post, to work shifts covering 365 days per year 24hrs a day. These employees do not have a choice when to work and feel still that they are being disadvantaged compared to 9-5 Monday to Friday workers who can choose to work in the evening or weekends.
  • That these proposals only affect a proportion of employees. This leaves them feeling that they are taking a disproportionate cut compared to others with the Council.
  • That the sudden removal of the lump sum for car usage is too much to take at one time, considering that the Council still requires in some contracts that workers must provide a car for Council business. This again is an extra burden on some staff.
  • The consultation response has suggested/proposed that the Council consider paying half the lump sum for one year then remove allowing time to budget and possibly offering a buyout of the allowance.
  • It has strongly been proposed by responses that the requirement to provide a car for Council purposes be removed from all contracts as a result of the removal of the lump sum.
  • Concerns that the changes to the standby/on call payments for Social Workers will have a detrimental effect on the ability to recruit sufficient staff to cover the requirements of the service, when it is already a difficulty with current pay rates.
  • Respondents have queried whether the allowances are set in "stone" or whether they will change in the future in line with pay increases or inflation.

Inez added, "Although there remain outstanding concerns about the new proposals it is clear from UNISON's response that members are in agreement to the changes and accept the new proposals but would still like consideration to be given to some aspects.

"These will be taken forward in our further discussions with the council.


Update 22nd May
Ballot papers out now

The Branch has issued ballot papers to all our members in Local Government to get your views on the councils' new plans for your terms and conditions.

Please return your ballot paper by 1st June and have your say!

Click here to see the Branch Briefing on the pros and cons of the new proposals.

Inez Teece, Branch Secretary and chief negotiator said, "UNISON, along with the other trade unions has been negotiating for improvements in the council's proposals on terms and conditions.

"Due to the massive no vote at the first ballot the Council have come up with a set of revised proposals.

"UNISON believes this currently is the best that can be achieved through negotiation. Some people still stand to lose significant income but there are proposals that lessen those losses and protect the lower paid," said Inez, pointing specifically to the council's plan to adopt the Scottish Living Wage.

"We are asking you to look at all the pros and cons and tell us whether you wish to accept or reject these proposals, bearing in mind that if you reject, you are indicating that you would be willing to take further action to get an improved offer."

Ballot papers must be returned by 1st June 2012


Update 10th May
Unions will consult on new plans

The Branch will be consulting on a new terms and consitions package within the next few weeks. Only trade union members will have a say on whether or nor to accept these proposals.

In an email to members, Inez Teece, Branch Secretary urged members to speak to their colleagues and to encourage them to join UNISON to make sure that they have a say.

"Remember, it's you, the members, who will decide," said Inez.

Click here to join UNISON

UNISON, along with the other trade unions, has continued negotiating with the Council on an improved Terms and Conditions package, after the response to the last set of proposals forced the council back to the table.


Update 18th April
Council returns to negotiating table on Terms and Conditions plans

Aberdeenshire council has set up a series of meetings with the joint trade unions for further discussions on terms and conditions.

The move comes after all the trade unions rejected the original proposals on ballots of members, with some 92% voting NO in our UNISON ballot. There was also a massive response to the Council's own consultation.

The Branch has issued a Briefing to members to update them on the union's position.

Inez Teece, Branch Secretary said, "We have indicated to our members that we will be entering further discussions with the Council on Terms and Conditions. It is clear from the response to our ballot that the majority of our members feel very strongly about the proposals and want to reject them.

"It is through your support and that the council have returned to the negotiating table," she added.

"We will now enter negotiations knowing that we have the strength and opinion of our membership behind us and we will endeavour to achieve the best results for all of you.

"At the end of the day all decisions will be made by Trade Union members. You will be balloted and you will have your say."

The Branch will continue to keep members updated throughout the process.


Update 3rd March
UNISON calls on council to rethink as members reject cuts plans

The Branch has called on the council to rethink its cuts plans and to get back round the negotiating table, as members voted overwhelmingly to reject Aberdeenshire Council's planned cuts to term and conditions.

On a 45% return, a massive 92% gave a resounding NO to the council's plans.

Click here to see Branch response to the consultation which includes comments from members.

The Branch issued a Briefing for elected members, which calls on councillors to reconsider their proposals for terms and conditions.

Click here to see Branch Press release

Inez Teece, Branch Secretary said, "UNISON has warned the council that these cuts to terms and conditions are unfair, unjustified and counterproductive. They are targeting front-line staff, most of them women, who provide essential and emergency services to the people of Aberdeenshire. Some of them stand to lose up to a quarter of their salary.

£11 million underspend
"The council had an underspend of 11 million last year, yet still they are planning to cut the wages of their lowest paid staff to make a saving of just over 5 million. And this on top of a wage freeze, which is a real terms pay cut, at a time when the cost of food and fuel is spiralling. We think that there are other ways that the council could save this money, without hitting already hard pressed staff.

"Our low paid members are extremely worried, upset and downright angry that, yet again, they and they people they work to support, are bearing the brunt of the budget cuts. Morale is at rock bottom," said Inez.

Kate RamsdenKate Ramsden, Branch Chair added, "The council is rightly proud of the quality of the services it provides to vulnerable groups, such as older people. It states that its aim is to provide high quality services at a cost comparable with the private and voluntary sector.

No race to the bottom
"However, the costs of these services have been driven down by the need to make a profit in the private sector and by squeezing pay and conditions in the voluntary sector.

"In the care sector this has led to a reduction in quality standards, with high turnovers of staff; insufficient staff and staff who are more poorly trained and supported. In the worst case scenarios it has led to companies such as Southern Cross going into administration, leaving councils to pick up the pieces, often at high cost.

"Driving down costs by attacking the pay and conditions of some of our lowest paid staff will not only affect the workers but will also affect the quality of the service provided. Many of our members are saying that they will need to look for alternative employment if this happens, as they will be unable to afford to work in the residential and home care sector. They say that they will be unwilling to work public holidays and weekends, with all the impact this has on their family and social life, if the council does not recognize this in their pay structure.

"Our members point to the excellent service that Aberdeenshire Council provides to its older people both in residential care and home care services and ask what priority the council gives to its elderly citizens when it is so prepared to compromise the service it provides to them. The council should not engage in a race to the bottom," warned Kate.


Update 1st March
Members vote overwhelmingly to reject cuts plans

UNISON members have voted overwhelmingly to reject Aberdeenshire Council's planned cuts to term and conditions. On a 45% ballot return, a massive 92% gave a resounding NO to the council's plans.

The Branch has submitted a response to the consultation on terms and conditions and has called on the council to rethink their plans and to get back round the negotiating table.


Update 25th Feb
Last chance to complete your ballot paper

Members must return their ballot on terms and conditions to the Branch Resource Centre by Monday 27th Feb and all are urged to do this. The response so far has been excellent but it is really important that all members in the Council have their say.


Update 23rd Feb
Well attended meetings slam council's cuts plans

At a series of well-attended meetings across Aberdeenshire, the Branch heard from a whole range of members about the immediate and serious impact that the proposed cuts to terms and conditions will have on their take home pay and their livelihood, with many describing cuts of up to a quarter of their salary.

Their colleagues in 9-5 jobs, not immediately affected by these pay cuts, pledged their support, recognising that the council's plans open the door for changes to everyones' working hours and terms and conditions. Here are some of the things our members are saying:

"Obviously a few hundred pounds taken from your monthly wage will have a big affect and while I appreciate cuts have to be made why should it always be the worker on the floor who is hit the most? As a shift worker my social family life is limited and the enhancements go somewhere to compensate for the weekend working. Take these away and my working hours will be a throwback to years gone by!"

"Almost all of the changes to terms and conditions affect us. We are estimating a cut in salary of 8,000 per year that is 666.00 per month."

"On hours worked at the moment I would be 1,000 worse off which affects, pension, loans, mortgage etc. I think cuts should start from the top. I would be happy for one of the Directors to come out with me and see what the job entails."

"I have sat here and listened to fellow colleagues of how the new T's & C's are going to affect them and I'm outraged. Somewhere down the line I feel that I will be affected too."

"Shift allowance basically make up 1/3 of my wages and I currently also receive weekend and night enhancements. Should these payments be removed or reduced it will force me to look for alternative employment. This is because the cost of basic living costs are continuing to rise and it is already very difficult to make ends meet at present with the pay freeze. When on early shift I am up a 3.30am to enable me to get to work on time and do essential safety checks before service users arrive. I also have a 25 minute car journey each way that I don't get paid for. I feel all employees are experiencing an increase in roles, responsibilities and work loads off their own backs without payment."

"Removal of lump sum each month (will affect me)- only 8.33 per month but despite increasing mileage from 40p to 45p, AA state it costs 90p - 1 per mile to run car."

"I am a full time carer, working mornings, lunchtime, teatime, bedtime and weekends I use my own car to get about *** they say we could get pool cars but there are so many carers that there would not be enough pool cars to cover them all. This will affect my wages and the hours I work, as I do quite a lot of overtime to help my family have a slightly better way of life but with the cost of living going up all the time it is very hard."

The Branch will include all the comments from members in their response to the council's proposals and in a briefing to councillors. These cuts are unfair, unnecessary and unjustified and the Branch alongside our members and the other unions, will do all we can to fight them.


Update 8th Feb 2012
Branch to ballot members on council's pay cut plans

The branch, along with the other trade unions is balloting members on Aberdeenshire Council's plans to slash the terms and conditions of its workers.

Ballot papers and a members' briefing will be sent out from 8th Feb. If you don't receive a ballot paper please contact the UNISON Resource Centre on 01224 620624 and request one. Only UNISON members may vote in the ballot.

UNISON, GMB, UCATT and UNITE have all condemned the council's proposals and we are calling on our members to reject these in the consultative ballots that each union is holding.

Click here to see Joint Union Press Release

Branch Meetings on changes to Terms and Conditions

The Branch has organised a series of meetings throughout Aberdeenshire and will ballot members on their views of the changes. Please come along and find out how these cuts to terms and conditions will affect you and what you can do to stop them.

  • Mon 13th February Council Chamber, Gordon House, Inverurie 12 noon to 2pm
  • Mon 13th February Council Chamber, Viewmount, Stonehaven 10am to 12 noon
  • Mon 13th February Committee Room 5, Woodhill House, Aberdeen 4.30pm to 6pm
  • Tues 14th February Macduff Town Hall, Macduff 12 noon to 2pm
  • Wed 15th February Council Chamber, Arbuthnot House, Peterhead 12 noon to 2pm
  • Thurs 16th February Council Chamber, Gordon House, Inverurie 4.30pm to 6pm
  • Friday 17th February Committee Room 5, Woodhill House, Aberdeen 12 noon to 2pm

Tea, Coffee and Biscuits will be provided.


Some staff set to face big pay cuts

Inez TeeceInez Teece, UNISON Branch Secretary said, "These cuts will affect all staff but the biggest impact will be felt by low paid, predominantly female, workers in front line jobs who rely on the unsocial hours enhancements and overtime to make a living wage in the most expensive part of Scotland to live. These are the very people who deliver essential front line services, often to our most vulnerable citizens.

"Now that our members have seen these proposals they are very worried. Many are telling us that they will lose up to a fifth of their pay if they go through.

"One of our members who works 30 hours a week, including two weekends out of three, as a domestic in a care home providing care for our vulnerable older people has worked out that she will lose around 1,600 out of a pay of just over 12,000 a year. That is a pay cut for the council's poorest paid staff of around 13%.

"Another member who works as an Assistant Manager stands to lose 6,000 from a salary of around 30,000. That is one-fifth of her income gone. That can't be right," Inez added.

"And this is on top of the real terms pay cut of around 10% over the last two years as a result of the pay freeze combined with inflation and the ever increasing cost of living."

Proposals discriminatory

Kate RamsdenKate Ramsden, Branch Chair added, "We believe that these proposals are discriminatory, particularly against low paid women. However, despite our requests, the council has not provided the trade unions with detailed information on the impact on particular groups, or the amount of savings that each proposal represents."


Update 28th Jan 2012
Branch calls on members to reject council's "unjustified" attacks on terms and conditions

The Branch has condemned Aberdeenshire Council's plans to slash the terms and conditions of their workers. They have warned that the proposed changes will affect all staff but the council's plans to cut overtime and unsocial hours payments will hit low paid, mainly women workers hardest. UNISON has joined with GMB, UCATT and UNITE to call on members to reject the council's proposals in their entirety.

Click here to see the Joint union press release issued on 30th Jan

Low paid hardest hit

Inez Teece, Branch Secretary said, "We believe the council's proposals on changes to Terms and Conditions go too far at a time when workers are also suffering the effects of pay freezes and job reviews.

"These proposals affect all staff but disproportionately affect low paid workers and we are calling on members to reject the proposals.

She added, "We are particularly concerned that the biggest impact of these draconian cuts to terms and conditions will be felt by low paid, predominantly female, workers who rely on the unsocial hours enhancements and overtime to make a living wage, in the most expensive part of Scotland to live.

"The council's own estimates show that some of our lowest paid members could lose up to 18% of their take home pay under these plans. And this is on top of the real terms cut of around 10% over the last two years, as a result of the pay freeze combined with inflation and the ever increasing cost of living."

Unfair, unnecessary and unjustified

Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair added, "We believe that these proposals are unfair, unnecessary and unjustified. The Council says they will save 5 million after 4 years. However, the council has already made savings of 5 million this year, on the back of our members who have carried on providing services to the people of Aberdeenshire whilst dealing with the stress of service reviews, job regradings and job loss, redeployments and vacancy control. We say, enough is enough!"

She warned, "The Council says that evening and weekend working is now regarded as part of the normal working week and therefore shouldn't attract any special payments. We do not accept this.

"The worst employers in the retail and care sectors give no recognition to the disruption to family and social life through working unsocial hours to provide essential services. But Aberdeenshire Council says it wants to be an exemplary employer of choice. It shouldn't be seeking to ape the worst employers - it should be setting the standard for all employers in Aberdeenshire."

Reject the proposals

Inez added, "Think about the staff that provide services over 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, including care staff, refuse staff, the roads workers that keep our roads gritted throughout the Winter, and many more low paid staff. They will see their wages decimated by these proposals. That is a step too far for anybody.

She added, "Even if you believe they don't affect you now, in the future you may rely on one or more of these conditions to help maintain your income," she added, warning that there is no need for these drastic cuts, which attack all staff but hit low paid workers hardest.