Scotland’s health workers are calling on the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) to ‘scrap the cap’ imposed on NHS staff.
In an open letter sent to the PRB today (Thursday), UNISON expressed the anger and disappointment of NHS staff at its recommendation to continue with a one per cent cap on wages. This is the fourth consecutive year that the PRB have imposed real terms pay cuts upon dedicated, hardworking NHS staff and their families.
Matt McLaughlin, UNISON Scotland’s head of health, said: “UNISON is Scotland’s largest health union and we see first-hand the impact of the pay cap on health staff. NHS staff have suffered a pay cap for the past four years and in that time have seen their take-home pay fall by a massive 14 per cent.
“The sad reality is that hospitals will struggle to keep skilled workers unless they’re rewarded with decent pay and it’s patients who will suffer as a result. Our NHS depends on having a dedicated team of staff with the right training to deliver the best standard of care.”
UNISON has criticised the PRB for choosing to endorse the Westminster Government’s austerity agenda. The union is calling for a firm commitment from the PRB to deliver fair pay for NHS staff and not to be bound by the government-imposed pay cap.
UNISON members and activists will meet at the Scottish Parliament to ‘Smash the Pay Freeze’ with a giant ice sculpture and will invite Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport to join them.
Tam Waterson, chair of UNISON Scotland’s health committee, said: “UNISON will continue to call for the NHS pay review to scrap the cap on pay for all NHS workers. Our members are at breaking point; whether it’s our low-paid members working extra jobs or our professional members relying on bank work as the gap grows between take home pay and household costs.
“Hard-working, dedicated NHS workers tell us time and again how they love working in the health service but are struggling to make ends meet – no matter how hard they work. It’s time to smash the pay freeze.”
Band 2 -3 New and changed job description
Did you know that UNISON has successfully assisted over 100 Nurse Assistant / Health Care Support Worker / Nursing Auxiliaries members to secure a regrading claim from Agenda for Change (A4C) Band 2 to A4C Band 3?
In the course of this activity it became clear, that across NHS Glasgow and Clyde many of our Nurse Assistant / Auxiliary and HCSW members and other nurse members are working way beyond the skills and competencies that they were evaluated on as part of the Agenda for Change process. This is why, UNISON is writing to those members across NHSGGC to make them aware that they COULD have a case for re-banding.
The principle is straightforward according to A4C;
Band 2. 1) Undertakes personal care duties for patients in hospital or similar settings
2) Reports patient condition to qualified staff
Band 3. 1) Undertakes a range of delegated clinical patient care duties in hospital or similar settings
2) Records patient information.
This does not mean that doing one clinical task e.g. taking bloods, means that members will be able to pursue a regrading claim, but we know that in many workplaces including wards, theatres and out-patient departments our Band 2 members are doing a number of clinical tasks on a daily basis – if that sounds like you and your colleagues – you COULD have a legitimate reason to pursue a regrading claim.
I believe I work beyond a band 2 – what do I do next?
UNISON wants to work with members and groups of members who have legitimate re- grading claims by taking individuals and groups of members through the NHSGGC New and Changed Job Process.
To help you work out you may have a reasonable prospect of a successful regrading claim, you can request a form be posted to you which you should complete and return in the freepost envelope provided.
Local stewards and activists will then use the form in order to start to gather a picture, and where there are cases which have a reasonable prospect of success, we will be in touch to discuss how we make a formal claim.
What it’s not
Whilst UNISON is keen to help as many members as possible secure a fair pay outcome, we need to be quite clear, this is NOT an exercise on free money; neither is it an opportunity to re run the issues of Agenda for Change. We also fully expect resistance from NHSGGC as they try to ignore the fact that UNISON members are working beyond their pay grade and that this is a benefit to the NHS.
I am already a Band 3 and think that I might be a Band 4
At this time our focus is on Band 2/3, but if you think that you should be higher than your existing Band 3, email the Branch on [email protected] and a local steward will look at your circumstances.
What do I do next?
If in looking at the New and Changed Job Pro forma you feel that you carry out a ‘range’ of the clinical duties identified:-
UNISON NHS Glasgow and Clyde Branch has won 2 national awards for communications at a recent meeting of the unions Scottish branches in Glasgow.
The awards were made by the Scottish Communications Commitee with the branch winning a gold award for the Branch Newsletter and a bronze for the Branch website.
Cathy Miller, Branch secretary, added, “The full time staff and stewards work hard to keep UNISON members up to date across our branch. These awards from the Scottish Communications Committee are a nice way to recognise that hard work and demonstrate that across the Scottish union, this branch is leading the way.”
Branch Communications Officer, Watty Gaffney added, "We've done lots of hard work in the last year around pay issues, safe staffing, the One Team campaign and have had significant wins across the board. It was especially nice to see our branch newsletter recognised as being highly informative, updating members on important issues and recognised as good practice. The newsletter and our web site and social media sites are an essential component of our communications strategy."
Worried about patient safety?
Is short staffing affecting your ability to provide clinical care?
The FREE UNISON Duty of Care APP, provides you with the tools to raise concerns and meet your obligations as a healthcare professional.
UNISON NHSGGC & CVS Branch Secretary Cathy Miller said, “In a recent survey 86% of UNISON nurses told us that they had left care undone and 63% said that there were not enough staff on shift to deliver safe a compassionate care. I know from speaking to UNISON members across NHSGGC that many of our members have lost confidence in the Datix system, because nothing ever seems to get done. The UNISON APP will give members the tools to quickly and efficiently report their concerns to the Director of Nursing and with their union.”
The APP, developed by UNISON is free and can be used by registered and non registered nurses and will automatically send a report by email to UNISON and to the local Director of Nursing. It’s not a replacement for Datix and members are still encouraged to comply with their employers policies and procedures to report professional and clinical concerns.
Cathy added, “Under the NMC Code, Registered nurses have an obligation to raise concerns when they feel that patient safety is compromised, but our Nursing Assistant and Health Care Support Workers should feel free to express concerns over patient safety as well – they are after all part of the healthcare team. As part of our work UNISON NHS GGC & CVS Branch will be seeking regular meetings with Margaret McGuire to discuss member concerns raised via the APP and more importantly we will be pressing for NHSGGC to take long term, positive action in response to our members concerns.”
You can find out more about the APP at www.unison-scotland.org/nursing/
NHS union UNISON has secured a commitment from NHS employers across Scotland that they will enter into discussions with the union at a Scottish level over the issue of holiday pay claims which could benefit thousands of UNISON members.
On 22 May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) found, in the case of UNISON member Joe Lock v British Gas, that a worker’s 20 days statutory annual leave pay should include commission payments if these were part of normal pay.
The Employment Tribunal will decide how UK law will now be interpreted in light of this decision. It is likely that whatever decision is reached by the Employment Tribunal will be appealed through the higher courts, so it may be a long time before any payments are received.
If members are regularly paid payments for time or activities at work that are not paid when they take annual leave (e.g. commission payments, other supplements, bonuses or overtime payments) then there may be entitlement to increased holiday pay in future and back pay.
Across NHS Scotland UNISON has raised the issue locally and the agreement to discuss the issue with employers at a Scottish level means that in Health the union is confident that an agreement can be reached which prevents the need for lengthy legal action.
UNISON NHS Glasgow Clyde and CVS Branch Secretary Cathy Miller said, “Once again UNISON is delivering for our members across NHS Scotland. Of course the detail of the negotiations will need to be carefully considered and if necessary UNISON will litigate, but seeking a collective agreement across Scotland is quicker than going to the law and will ensure that our members get what they are entitled without the hassle of litigation and expensive legal fees.”
Cathy Miller has confirmed that NHSGGC and CVS has formally raised the issue with NHS Glasgow and Clyde Health Board and has lodged a formal grievance for all UNISON members.
Commenting attempts by some private law firms to cash in on holiday pay claims, Cathy said “Private law firms are in this for the money with some of them charging up to 20% of any settlement fee. They won’t fix the issue going forward and they are only interested in people who make a claim with them. UNISON is negotiating to secure a deal that will ensure everyone is treated properly and fixes this for the future. UNISON members get legal advice and assistance free and get to keep all of the value of any settlement when we litigate.”
Every week across NHSGGC, The National Waiting Times Centre and hundreds of other workplaces, UNISON staff and activists are out and about speaking to members and listening to their concerns.
During February we decided to have some fun and added a Valentines theme to some of workplace visits. Local Organiser Wendy Hudson said, "I'm out and about nearly everyday in one workplace or and members are always pleased to see us.It'snot enough to do the work in meetings, we need to keep in touch with our rank and file membership"
Staff and members at Vic Inf, Western Inf, GRI and SGH were visited in the week and everyone we spoke to got a pack of 'love hearts'. Wendy added, "Our members to a great job everyday, so this was an opportunity for us to have some fun and bring a light hearted moment to a tough day."
UNISON steward Walter Gaffney recently helped the union launch it's latest campaign 'Worth it' at the House of Commons in London.
The campaign objective is to raise public and political awareness around pay for UNISON members - making sure it stays at the top of the agenda.
Walter said, "Pay has fallen in real terms by 16% in recent years, yes members are worried about job security, but we must keep pay at the top of the agenda or for some folk work just wont be 'worth it'."
Walter is pictured with the Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party - Anas Sarwar MP
You can find out more about the Worth It campaign at
UNISON NHS Glasgow and Clyde Branch has won 2 national awards for communications and campaigns at a recent meeting of the unions Scottish branches in Glasgow.
The awards were handed out by the Scottish Communications Commitee with the branch winning a gold award for the Pay as if at Work Campaign and a silver for the branch Newsletter.
Branch Chair Marie Garrity said, “The lay and full time staff work hard to try and keep UNISON members up to date across our branch. These awards from the Scottish Communications Committee of the union are a nice way to recognise that hard work and demonstrate that across the Scottish union, this branch is leading the way,”
Cathy Miller added, "We've done lots of work around our pay as if at work campaign, its not over, but it's nice for that effort to be recognised by the wider union. It was especially nice to see our branch newsletter recognised as good practice, it's an essential component of our communications strategy."
UNISON is calling for better guidance for NHS staff (in particular nurses in the community) who are being asked to provide evidence and statements in civil court cases.
Professional Officer for Nursing, Una Provan said, "More and more our nursing members in the community are receiving citations for civil court cases and are asked to give evidence about a patients health and well being. UNISON is concerned that the current guidance is not suitable, sufficiently clear or well enough understood and as a result Nursing staff are at risk of breaching both the NMC Code or the rules about giving evidence in court.
The union has written to NHS bosses in NHSGGC with our concerns.
Branch members and activists were in attendance and the Manchester Demo on 29 Sept, along with 55,000 others fighting for the NHS and sending a message to the Tories.
Convenor for Clyde, Raymond Odonaghue said, "It was incredible to be part of something this large, 55,000 people standing up for our NHS and telling Cameron and his cronies that we wont allow them to dismantle it."
Branch Secretary Cathy Miller said, "Whilst the NHS is being hammered in England and Wales, our service in Scotland is under more pressure than ever before as UK cust bite deep and claims that NHS funding is protected in Scotland are proven to be built on foundations of sand. It's our NHS and it will be there as long as people are prepared to fight for it."
Commenting on the fight to defend the NHS and more planned cuts in services across Glasgow and Clyde Cathy added, " For as long as I am the Branch Secretary of this Branch, the biggest branch in the UK, we will fight to defend the NHS, our members and our services. The day we stop fighting for the NHS is the day that we cease to exist."
UNISON has written to NHS Glasgow and Clyde Chief Executive, Robert Calderwood in the strongest terms expressing concern and anger that the Boards Policy is “draconian and heavy handed” after NHS bosses told staff that they can’t smoke on their tea breaks – even if they go off site.
The union has also called for a discussion amongst NHS unions at a meeting next week
OPEN LETTER TO ROBERT CALDERWOOD, CHIEF EXEC, NHSGGC
NHS GLASGOW AND CLYDE – NO SMOKING POLICY
I refer to the implementation of the NHS Glasgow and Clyde – No Smoking Policy which has been articulated in recent Core Briefs and Staff Newsletter.
From the outset let me be clear, UNISON accepts and acknowledges that smoking is bad for your health and the impact of smoking in Scotland is such that it is a major public health issue.
However UNISON is not supportive of the most recent policy implementation and roll out which appears to have taken a particularly draconian twist.
In particular the key points of the policy as advised in Staff Newsletter:
· Staff are not allowed to smoke when on duty and can only smoke during unpaid official breaks – this means that staff are not allowed to smoke during tea breaks as these are paid for. You can only smoke during your unpaid meal break and this MUST be off hospital grounds.
· Repeated breaches f the policy will be dealt with through the disciplinary process.
Are of particular concern to UNISON and our members who have been phoning and emailing UNISON to raise their concerns.
We are concerned that this policy has a direct impact on the way that staff live their lives and go about their work. We believe that the policy has such a significant impact that it should have been agreed at the Area Partnership Forum (we do not believe that it has been) and that in rolling it out in he particularly aggressive manner – the Board should have at least spoken to trade unions and senior officials by way of a discussion – heads up.
More importantly we are disappointed that the Board have chosen to put significant resources into the application of this particular policy when other policies which have a direct impact of staff health and safety and patient care seem to be ignored.
It is in our opinion no surprise that repeated staff surveys show that stress in on the rise, bullying is a significant issue for staff and violence against staff is still a major problem. Add this to your Boards failure to pay staff properly when on leave and major concerns about staffing levels and it is little wonder that our members are angry, disillusioned and down right fed up with NHS Glasgow and Clyde. (as borne out by the embarrassingly low levels of responses to staff surveys).
As I have said, UNISON is supportive of reasonable measures to help staff tackle addictions and to improve their lifestyle choices.
However we do not support this draconian and heavy handed approach. We certainly do not support wasting valuable time and resource ‘disciplining’ staff who smoke during breaks be they paid or unpaid.
It is noteworthy that a similar bully boy approach was taken over the Boards Car Parking Policy and as expected it has not produced a single positive result.
UNISON therefore requests that the policy is rescinded pending further discussion and that you give us your personal assurance that NHS resources will not be squandered pursuing smokers.
I look forward to hearing from you.
UNISON has called for a full and detailed review of holiday pay as it became clear that many nursing staff have not been paid the correct holiday pay.
UNISON believes that nursing staff who are on rotational shifts may not be getting the correct holiday pay.
Branch Secretary Cathy Miller said, “The employers are all over the place on this issue and it is simply not acceptable. UNISON wants them to step up and take some responsibility for this mess, if they do not we will consider legal action.”
Assistant Branch Secretary Frances Lyall said, "How does it save money to expect a highly paid and experienced nurse to manage waiting lists or input pay information into a computer. The mess over holiday pay is an example of what happens when people make cuts, simply to save money. Nursing staff should be free to speak with and provide care for patients. Admin support staff should be managing systems and inputting information, that is what they are skilled to do."
The union does not think the problem extends to all staff or non nursing staff.
Branch Secretary Cathy Miller has confirmed that UNISON will ballot NHS members (employed by NHSGGC) over proposals to remove one of the existing (2) public holidays from staff at Easter.
Cathy said, "NHS Glasgow and Clyde have said that they want to move one of the public holidays staff have at Easter and move it to an as yet undisclosed alternative day. They claim that this will assist with the management of services because long weekends cause too much disruption to some theatre lists.”
Responding to the proposal Cathy said, “UNISON members have already told us that they share my anger over this latest idea by NHS bosses. Easter is traditionally a time for families and this proposal puts that family time under attack. The answer to delivering waiting list targets is to properly fund and resource our NHS not steal away hard working staff from their families.”
UNISON is balloting all members on a ‘consultative’ basis and is recommending that they REJECT the employers proposal.
Recent changes in the law around disability and legal decisions have encouraged UNISON to demand that employers introduce a Disability Leave Policy.
Disabled Members Officer Bob Gibson said, “All too often disabled staff are invited to attend formal absence management meetings where the absences are clearly related to the employees disability. In recent years UNISON have had to get tough with managers who thought that it was okay to discipline staff who were off work illness related directly to their disability.
"The introduction of a Disability Leave Policy would mean that any leave taken in relation to the employees disability would not be recorded as and would be distinct from any sick leave (not to separate disability leave from sick leave may discriminate against a disabled worker). Disability leave also includes time when an employee is well but absent from work due to their disability e.g. hospital and doctors appointments, hearing aid tests and recovery time from treatments.”
What is disability leave? The law states that all disabled employees are entitled to ‘reasonable adjustments’ where the physical working environment or practices place the disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared with a person who is not disabled. introduction of a Disability Leave Policy for our disabled colleagues would allow for this reasonable adjustment to be facilitated. Disability leave is paid time off work for a reason related to someone’s disability. Typically this would be for treatment, rehabilitation or assessment related to their disability. The introduction of this policy would provide disabled employees with reasonable paid time off work for reasons related to their impairment. It would also help local managers better understand the rights of disabled workers.
Bob added, “UNISON NHS Glasgow Clyde and CVS Branch are committed to discussions with your employer to seek the introduction of a Disability Leave Policy and to remove this clear discrimination. If you are disabled and feel that you might benefit from disability leave ask your manager and talk to your local UNISON steward.”
UNISON has used the annual review of the workforce plan to speak out about a number of issues that affect staff and patients. In a letter to the Chief Exec, the union said,
The work being done around this years Workforce Plan has given UNISON the opportunity to focus on a number of strategic issues which we think are not only important, but could be critical in the way that we take things forward in the next few years.
Setting aside the technical comments and observations we have made concerning the workforce plan, I wanted to take the time to raise some of the more strategic issues directly with you.
The Workforce Plan makes references to workforce tools, but we are not convinced by these or their application at the coal face. As you know this has been a long running point of contention between UNISON and the Board. However as we move into another round of cuts and re organisation, we believe that it is important that we develop a clear meachanism and structure for agreeing safe staffing levels. Critically we believe that it is essential for the safety of patients and staff, that they, the staff are confident that staffing levels and appropriate and safe.
On centralisation - the draft workforce plan (maybe because it is not a workforce planning issue per say) ignores the human challenges that the new SGH (and other centralisation programmes) presents.
Staff travelling from all over Central West Scotland means that the transport links and parking need to be better and facilities improved in that regard. To fail to do so leads to specific workforce challenges which will have an impact on their ability to meet their plan. It is simply not good enough, for people at the top of NHSGGC to simply take the view that staff should not bring their cars to work or as has been suggested in the past – that they can move to Govan!
In our opinion the other major current impediment around workforce planning and change remains the inability of NHSGGC to be consistent and reasonable.
The idea that we can have different 'selection criteria' across the Board every time we try to achieve a workforce change is madness. It leads to too much lost time at a local level as stewards and managers argue about what should be in criteria and how criteria should be used.
UNISON is also worried about the issue of reasonable offer of employment and travel. There seems to be a prevailing attitude that as long as NHSGGC offers a member of staff a job, then that offer is reasonable. There seems to be no regard for personal circumstances, travel and profession.
e.g. recently we had a band 2 employed at VOL who was offered a post at Gartnavel ...the member lives in Arrochar and the 'offer' added hours to her working day. Similarly I have a 4 hour band 4 based at IRH who is expected to work now at SGH - it takes her 2 hours to travel to and from work (if she makes her connections).
From what I can see this is the prevailing attitude amongst some groups of HR and managers. Again maybe not an issue for the Workforce Plan, but I think these needs to be some recognition that the changes they are implementing is complex and has significant challenges which may not be covered within the framework of existing terms, conditions and policies.
I would also take this opportunity to raise again our concern about the Boards practice of letting staff leave under cover of a compromise agreement. It is clear that in many circumstances this is an alternative to redundancy and it is simply not palatable that the Board are making staff redundant and then with holding their contractual payments.
More relevant to UNISON is the existence of the ‘slush fund’ to facilitate these terminations. Clearly the NHSiS has a specific position re redundancy and we would I hope all welcome that. UNISON would argue that this fund should be used to find ways to retain and retrain staff within the employment if NHSGGC. Sadly there is little evidence of NHSGGC taking an ‘employability’ approach to the challenges that we all face."
To Whom it May Concern
On behalf of our members within our branch of Unison NHS Glasgow Clyde CVS and the Golden Jubilee National Hospital we feel that we need to contact you on their behalf regarding the above proposals at the Southern General Hospital. We have 20,000 members and are the largest Branch in the UK and obviously we take our members concerns seriously, especially when it comes to their Health and Safety.
As you are probably aware the Southern General Hospital is going to be one of the largest hospitals in Europe when all building works are completed. It will have 3 multi-storey car parks, however that is some years into the future. At present there is only one multi-storey car park and parking on site is at a premium. Applications by staff for parking permits are very limited and revised Car Parking Policy issued by the health board a few months ago makes it clear that any member of staff not holding a permit will be liable to disciplinary action if their car is parked on site for more than 4 hours.
As I am sure you will realise , many teams of hospital staff work 12 hour shifts, and as they have to work unsocial hours, due to the start and finishing times a car be the only option to get them to work on time. This can make parking on the site near enough impossible and it is neither practical or possible for staff to leave the workplace to move their car during the working day, if they were lucky enough to find a parking space under the 4hr limit. That is if in fact if there was anywhere on site to move it to. Recently the new Laboratory and Mortuary block opened and staff were being transferred from other six other NHS hospital sites in Glasgow and Clyde to work at the Southern General. At their induction they were clearly told that the only place they could park their cars was in the surrounding streets unless they had a permit to park on site.
Adding to this, the bus service is severely curtailed and would certainly not meet the needs of the service. The nearest underground being Govan is a considerable walk for staff and certainly not a safe option especially early morning or late evenings.
We would be grateful if some common sense around this issue prevails for the safety of our members as the only options that would be open to them would be to either walk to and from the nearest underground or to an area where a more routine bus service is provided.
UNISON NHS GLASGOW CLYDE & CVS
UNISON Branch Secretary Cathy Miller ,has thrown weight in with staff at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, after they organised their own lunch time demonstration against above inflation pay rises at the privately operated car park on the site.
The demo took place on Tues 8 November and Cathy joined staff as they made their feelings clear.
Cathy said, “UNISON continues to support staff and campaign on car parking. It’s just not good enough that politicians continue to ignore this and allow a private company to rip off hard working NHS staff. We won’t forget – even if Scottish Ministers appear to have done.”
Cathy is now working with local staff to plan the next phase of their campaign.
NHS Glasgow Clyde and CVS Branch launched their new branch banner, prior to the 'peoples march' on 1st October.
Speaking at the launch Branch Secretary Cathy Miller said, " This banner is more than a focal point for UNISON members in our branch. It is a living breathing beacon of hope in these tough times. It is our talisman against the cuts and our standard in the fight to save our NHS."
Whether it's a health and safety campaign, fighting service cuts or campaigning to secure a Scottish Living Wage. NHS Glasgow Clyde and CVS Branch are at the forefront of the unions efforts to help workers organise themselves for a better future.
Local stewards are working everyday across our membership area on a number of campaigning issues. Listed below are some of our current campaigns that you can become involved in.
Public Sector Pensions
Health and Safety
Scottish Living Wage