Scotland Bulletin Issue 8 – August 2007

It’s less than a month until the Unite march at Labour Party Conference on Sunday 23rd September.

Members from our Region and thousands from across the country are already signed up to attend ‘March with a message for Labour’ in Bournemouth.

We have a new Prime Minister, many new Cabinet Ministers and the next General Election could be less than a year away so this really is the time for us to impress upon the government the issues we want them to prioritise. From keeping the NHS in public hands to building more affordable housing and from stronger legislation to protect jobs to greater trade union rights, the opportunity really is now.

Of course, we are also a new trade union, the UK’s largest, so the march will enable us to push Unite to the very top of the political and media agenda.

Unite is providing free transport to Bournemouth, and we have had a good response from Scotland and our delegation is now full.

Another 220 manufacturing jobs to go from West Scotland

NACCO, (formerly Hyster), has announced it is to cease forklift assembly at the plant in Irvine, Ayrshire by early 2009 with future manufacture diverted to a sister plant in Northern Ireland, causing possible loss of 220 jobs.

The firm, which is owned by US company Nacco, is one of Ayrshire’s biggest employers and has functioned in Irvine for 50 years.

The area has also recently been hit by the loss of more than 400 jobs when the Simclar electronics group closed its factories in Irvine and Kilwinning.

Hugh Scullion, Unite Regional Officer says: “We were aware there was likely to be problems but the announcement of the closure of the site in Irvine is far worse than we expected. We are seeking an early meeting with the company which should be some time next week to try and stop the closure. If the closure goes ahead it will be a devastating blow to the local economy.”

Unite gain recognition agreement.

The union has successfully achieve recognition for it members at Texol Technical Solutions. The union took the company to the CAC for an arbitration decision which was delivered on the 14th of August.

Unite Regional Officer, Gillian McKay, said: “This signals the end of a sweet heart deal and is great news for our members. It was achieved against fierce resistance from the company. Now we can move forward on terms and conditions and members will now feel better protected at work, we can now work on recruiting non union employees by showing them the benefits of belonging to an organisation dedicated to providing a first class service to our members.”

Below is the panel declaration.

Unite the Union (Amicus ) and Texol Technical Solutions
The Panel is satisfied in accordance with paragraph 22(2) of the Schedule that the majority of the workers in the bargaining unit are members of the Union. Additionally, the Panel is satisfied that none of the conditions in paragraph 22(4) of the Schedule are met. The CAC accordingly declares that the Union is recognised by the Employer as entitled to conduct collective bargaining on behalf of the bargaining unit comprising “All shop floor workers at the Myrekirk Road and Manhatton Works sites”.

Workers secure Pensions at Rosyth Dockyard

After months of ongoing discussions and an industrial action ballot which secured overwhelming support across the Joint Unions to oppose the imposition of changes to the Pension Scheme by Management at the Company an agreement was finally secured late last week.

The agreement means that the workforce by their show of support have secured:-
A retention of 1/60th accrual on pensionable pay of basic plus 20%, normal retirement age remains at 60.
Final pensionable pay calculated for past service at 1st July 2007 and increased annually by RPI+0.5%.
The company has agreed to avoid taking a pension contribution holiday for the at least the next 2 valuations.
The introduction of a pay conversion scheme to offset pension contribution by reduced NI contributuion.
The introduction of a scheme to attract and retain new entrants will be investigated.

This was only agreed at the eleventh hour prior to a planned programme of industrial action involving all disciplines, both Industrial and Staff, at the dockyard.

It is now hoped that following this deal on pensions that a fruitful outcome will emanate from a National level meeting on pay which is due to take place later in the month.

Regional Officer, Hugh Scullion said: “This is not a time to talk of victories, other than this has been a victory for common sense in the end. The members stood solidly by their negotiators and gave us the platform which was needed to persuade the company of our case. We are determined to protect our members hard won terms and conditions of employment and are hopeful that the forthcoming talks on pay will further enhance these for the workforce at the yard.”

Virgin settlement

Virgin Atlantic drastically improved its pay offer to cabin crew after Unite members voted to ballot for industrial action.

Virgin Atlantic has now offered a three year deal with 4.8% in the first year and RPI for the second and third years. The company also offered a 20% increase on trip pay. Virgin Atlantic had initially offered just 2% over eighteen months.

Other non-unionised Virgin Atlantic groups including staff, engineers, operations and administrative staff were awarded just 2%.

Unite (Amicus section) National Officer, Brian Boyd, said:

“Unite now believe that we have reached a point where the important part played by cabin crew in the continued success of Virgin Atlantic has been recognised.”

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew are now being consulted on the offer.

New protection – but more needed

New corporate manslaughter legislation was finally passed at the end of July.

The long awaited Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act which comes into force in April 2008, will mean that organisations, including those in the public sector, can be prosecuted for corporate killing when a companies’ negligence leads to the death of someone at work. Previously it has proved almost impossible to find organisations guilty of corporate manslaughter.

The new law also provides for offending companies to be ‘named and shamed’ and for judges to issue remedial orders, as well as fining companies but importantly, it does not include penalties for senior company directors which Unite has campaigned vigorously for.

Bud Hudspith, Unite Amicus Section’s National Health and Safety Officer, said:”It doesn’t do everything we want but it is still better than no Bill at all. There are many employers out there who, quite rightly, will be frightened by the possibility of prosecution, heavy fines and adverse publicity. We also expect to see judges issuing novel remedial orders. However, we do not want to wait for workers to be killed before action can be taken against guilty directors.”

Unite Amicus will now be campaigning vigorously for individual health and safety duties to be applied to directors and senior managers under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Date for your diary

Make Manufacturing Work

As part of the campaign for a strong government response to the continued decline in manufacturing Unite are holding a lobby of parliament on Wednesday 17th October 2007.

Please put this date in your diary, further information on transport arrangements will be issued shortly and will also be on the website.

Remploy Crusade

The Remploy Consortium of Trade Unions (Unite the Union, GMB, and Community), determined to bring work into the Remploy factory sites, are on a crusade to stop the closures of Remploy factories and let the whole of the UK know what is happening.

The Remploy road trip will start in Aberdeen on the 28th August 2007 and will stop at all Remploy factory sites that are earmarked for closure en route to Unite’s ‘March with a Message’ at Labour Party Conference on 23rd September.

Unite Officer, Kevin Hepworth, said:

“Unite, the GMB, and Community are making history in attempting such a gruelling schedule and never before have the trade unions taken on such a difficult commitment, which will be a real challenge, to visit over 60 Remploy sites and to hold so many public meetings.”

The Remploy Consortium are asking all union members in Unite, GMB, and Community to take part in this crusade and would ask all officers and activists to make sure that we have maximum support.

We are not prepared to stand back and watch our Remploy factory network destroyed because of an incompetent management. Our unions and our communities must stand and fight under the slogan: ‘FIND WORK FOR REMPLOY’

We are also asking for any donations. Cheques should be made payable to the ‘Remploy Fighting Fund’ and sent to Phil Davies, GMB National Officer, 22/24 Worple Road, Wimbledon SW19 4DD.

We are not prepared to stand back and watch our Remploy factory network destroyed because of an incompetent management. Our unions and our communities must stand and fight under the slogan:
Dates for Scotland,
28th of August 2007
Aberdeen 8.30am laurnch and send off 2 hours.
Dundee 1.30pm 1 hour
Cowdenbeath 4.30pm 1 hour
29th 08. 07
Edinburgh 8.30am 1 hour
Lanark 1.00pm 1 hour
Glasgow 7.30pm public meeting/rally 2 hours
30th 08.07
Glasgow Hillingdon 8.30am 1.5 hours

For further information please contact:

Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary:
Les Woodward, Convenor:
Jennie Formby, Unite National Secretary:
Kevin Hepworth, Unite Regional Officer:

Women officers summer school is a success
Unite officers Mary Alexander and Sally Fairbrace recently attended the week long TUC’s Women Officer Summer School held in London.

The training programme was very comprehensive and covered a wide range of topics from Ethical Trading to Pensions, the Learning Agenda, Organising and Interviewing and Presentational skills. Participants were joined by colleagues from the French union CDFT and the Nigerian Labour Congress and throughout the week met senior women from the Trade Union movement such as Jeannie Drake from the CWU and Frances O’Grady deputy general secretary of the TUC.

The highlight of the week was the parliamentary activity organised by the TUC which saw the whole group visiting Downing Street to meet the Premiers wife Sarah Brown in what was one of her first formal engagements.

Mrs Brown was very welcoming and acknowledged the role of trade unions in the labour movement and the importance of women officers.

Both Sally and Mary thoroughly enjoyed the week and would thoroughly recommend it to other women officers in Unite for next year. “It was hard work but the programme was extremely varied and interesting. We all came away reinvigorated and with our knowledge in a number of areas updated”.
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