Aberdeenshire UNISON

National Local Government Service Group Conference 2010

13th-14th June in Bournemouth

Organise to protect members and services

This year's Local Government Conference laid out the challenges facing our members and our services as we prepare to fight against the massive cuts proposed by the Con-Dem Government - cuts that despite what they say, are not inevitable - to meet a deficit which was not of our making.

Again it was clear from the debates that the challenges our colleagues in England have been facing - privatisation, outsourcing, academies etc - are much worse than we have been facing here in Scotland.... so far! But it is very apparent that these challenges are coming our way and we must be ready to defend our services - the services we provide to the most needy - from being eroded.

Conference set out a range of strategies to organise to recruit and retain members, to protect equalities and to defend our services and our members' jobs and pensions.

Both Kate Ramsden and Susan Kennedy spoke in the debates.


Guidance on medical procedures will protect staff and children

Susan Kennedy
Susan Kennedy

Pressure on members in schools, colleges and nurseries to administer medication and medical treatment without proper training is increasing, leaving them vulnerable to disciplinary action if things go wrong.

The Service Group Executive will lobby for national protocols and guidance to protect both staff and children, will produce clear advice for branches and members, and will ensure consistency across service groups.

Branch delegate Susan Kennedy, herself a Support for Learning Auxiliary, introduced conference to the 'guilt-factor' - "low paid educational support staff, predominantly women, who care about the children they support, who are guilt tripped into administering medications and carrying out medical procedures. They do so because they are not only scared of losing their jobs in the present climate but also feel guilty about the pupils in their care not receiving the treatment they need."

She added, "We need to make a stand against being bullied into administering not just medications, but an exhaustive list of medical procedures too.

Colleagues who are persuaded into "volunteering" by managers are setting unwanted precedents. They are practising without policy, without extra pay and without certified training," she warned.


UNISON standing up for Social Work

Kate Ramsden
Kate Ramsden

Local Government Conference re-affirmed its support for our members in social work and threw its weight behind a range of measures to campaign for proper resources to fund social work services and to ensure that social work staff can provide quality services to the most vulnerable in our communities.

"The great majority of our members, like me, are in social work because we want to make a positive difference to the lives of the people we are giving a service to," said branch delegate Kate Ramsden, calling for proper investment in social work and proper systems of support for social work staff.

She told conference that the Scottish Social Work Issues Group has had some success in highlighting social work issues because its activists are front-line staff from across the range of social work services and she urged other regions to set up their own Groups.

"The issues for social work members can't and shouldn't just be left to the national organisation. We must all play our part".


Who's who and what's what?

Service group conferences bring together members across the country doing similar kinds of jobs or working for the same kinds of employers. Our branch's service group is local government. It has its conference just before the National Conference and in the same venue.

The delegation
The branch is entitled to send four delegates to this conference and must have regard to proportionality in line with the gender balance etc in the branch. We tend to have the same delegation as the Delegate Conference because of the distance to travel and the fact that one conference follows on from the other.

The Branch delegation to this year's Local Government Conference in Bournemouth is:

Ian McDonald   Susan Kennedy   Tricia Morrison Kate Ramsden   Morag Lawrence
Ian McDonald
Branch Treasurer
  Susan Kennedy Steward   Tricia Morrison Branch Officer Kate Ramsden
Branch Chair (sharer)
  Morag Lawrence, Branch Officer (sharer)

Over the past few years the branch has regularly submitted motions to this conference. Last year we submitted one motion on UNISON's reponse to "baby P". We have not submitted any motions or amendments this year.

Motions are passed by a straight majority of the conference delegates on a hand vote. If it is close, conference delegates or the chair of conference can call for a card vote. The number of card votes per delegation is based on the number of members in the branch.

As delegates we will vote on the motions and the rule changes in line with branch policy, where we have that in place and we can speak for or against any of the motions, amendments and rule changes.