John Quigley, Regional Secretary welcome
I would like to wish you seasons greetings from Unite. It has been a historic year for your union. The merger between Amicus and the TGWU catapulted Unite on to the top spot of UK unions both in terms of size and influence.
Taking a moment to look back over 2007, we have seen a year where so many employers have gone on the offensive in pursuit of profit. Unfortunately, job security is the still the biggest issue affecting UK’s workers who live in fear of that ‘next round of redundancy’.
But what has been encouraging is that more and more employees are realising that trade unions are the only way they can protect themselves at work. As well as recruiting around 200,000 new members the union is now training teams of young trade union reps in a scheme that buddies young reps with older more experienced reps. This year has seen a new wave of Equality reps and the number of Learner reps have pushed the learning agenda in thousands of workplaces in our region, bringing the benefits of life long learning to our members.
Have a great Christmas and New Year.
Unite campaign for Lil-lets boycott
Unite members were joined by Jacob Marley when they demonstrated outside of Lil-lets head quarters in December to protest against the decision not to pay the enhanced discretionary pension to 46 of the 150 workers who lost their jobs when Lil-lets closed their factory and shipped production abroad. The ghost of Scrooge’s ex-business partner, Jacob Marley warned of the consequences of chasing profits without regard to the impact on society.
Lil-lets UK are owned by private equity company, Electra. Electra’s profits runs into the tens of £millions yet they decided to reduce the expected enhanced discretionary pensions of 46 of the workers who lost their jobs, who were aged over 50. Unite believes a boycott of Lil-lets is the only way to make private equity company Electra change their minds.
BAA pension changes lead to strike ballot
The announcement by BAA that it is to close the final salary pension scheme to new entrants from has outraged thousands of Unite members at the company. Unite have over 6500 members and the call for an industrial action ballot is a direct response to the BAA refusal to review it’s position.
Chris Jones, Unite Regional Officer said: “The current situation with BAA is wholly unacceptable to Unite. While the company argue that the proposed changes will not affect existing employees, the result will be a divided two-tier workforce.” Unite is urging all members to support the call for industrial action.
Hunslet Barclay TUPE staff
Hunslet Barclay Ltd, Kilmarnock have been bought by BRUSH Barclay, a subsidiary of FKI Plc. This follows a short period when the engineering manufacturers of rail stock went into administration.
The takeover is a TUPE transfer and the new company have expressed a commitment to honour existing contracts. However, there has been an indication that the new owners will seek to reduce the workforce by 20.
Unite has requested discussions with the new owners as early as possible with a view to retaining as many jobs as possible.
Oticon to slash it’s workforce by half
Oticon, the Danish owned company who manufacture hearing aids, have started a 30 day consultation regarding 91 possible redundancies at the Hamilton plant. The company currently employs 192 people at the site.
The redundancies are due to the company’s restructuring it’s European operations. Oticon also have plants in Poland, Spain and Denmark all of which seem to be unaffected at present. Unite is the only recognised trade union for the workforce who are 99% female. The union is seeking meaningful discussions with the company with a view to mitigating the number of redundancies.
Bumper pay deal in the pipeline for plumbers
Unite has negotiated a bumper pay increase for thousands of plumbers across Scotland and Northern Ireland. A massive 93% of union members voted to accept the two year deal.
The deal covers up to 10,000 plumbers working in the private sector and was struck between Unite and the Scottish and Northern Ireland Joint Industrial Board for the Plumbing industry (SNIJIB).
From June 2008, plumbers covered by the agreement will get a 4.6% increase followed by a further increase of 4.6% in 2009. Significantly, the threshold for the application of overtime will be reduced from 45 hours to 43 hours and an introduction of 25p mileage allowance.
Unite National Officer, John Allott said: “This is a good above inflation deal for thousands of plumbers across Scotland and Northern Ireland. It just goes to show how effective national pay bargaining can be. The employers took on board the aspirations of our members which was shown in the ballot result.”
The deal will also see an injection of significant new money into the plumbing pension scheme with 7.5% employer and 3.25% employee contribution.
Unite backs public sector pay campaign
Unite has joined forced with 26 other unions to put pressure on the government to end Treasury interference in pay rises for the UK’s six million public sector workers.
The campaign, ‘Speak up for Pubic Services’ wants to see the government implement pay rises in line with the recommendations of the many different public sector pay review bodies in order to avoid a repetition of the anger that provoked a wave of strike ballots across the public sector earlier this year and in particular to put an end to the 2% pay cap that falls short of inflation.
The unions will argue that giving public sector workers fair pay rises will not impact on inflation contrary to government thinking.
Gail Cartmail, Head of Public services said: “Public sector workers ensure that this country functions as a society. By imposing below inflation pay rises, the government risk alienating the people who run our schools, hospitals and emergency services.”
Unions supports housing bill lobby
Unite is calling on members to come to Parliament to demonstrate support for the ‘Fourth Option’, direct investment in council housing, on 22 January the day of the debate of the Housing and Regeneration Bill.
Unite has already expressed concern about aspects of the new bill including No mention is made of local authorities being given the ability to use funds to borrow and invest in the maintenance of council homes and new council house building.
John Quigley, Regional Secretary said: “We are concerned by the emphasis being give to the role of the private sector in providing low cost housing for rent when it has contributed to the crisis in affordable housing in the UK.”
Unite is also worried that the proposal that people’s entitlement to affordable housing depends on means testing will result in a reduced social mix, not more which is a key government objective. For more information click here
Temporary and Agency workers campaign continues
The union’s campaign to gain employment protection for temporary and agency workers is to continue despite a recent set back at the European parliament, when the UK government objected to a European directive that sought the equal treatment for temporary and agency workers.
The union will be supporting a private members bill, tabled by Labour MP Andrew Miller, that aims to ensure over1.4 million agency workers in the UK will receive the same terms and conditions as their directly employed colleagues.
Unions and the majority of Labour MPs regard such a measure as vital in stemming the growing casualisation experienced by workers in all sectors of the labour market. Unions are increasingly reporting that agency workers are employed on poorer terms and conditions than permanent employees, and that the widespread use of agency working is leading to job insecurity.
Unite sponsors world book day – 6 March
Unite is calling on union learning reps and workplace reps to get involved in world book day in March and organise an event to celebrate the benefits of reading.
Unite Deputy General Secretary, Graham Goddard said: “The benefits and enjoyment of reading are endless. As well as entertainment, reading provides us all with knowledge and information. As a trade union with two million members we are well placed to promote reading to a wide audience.”
Unite reps are invited to hold world book day events in their workplaces. There are packages of books and materials available. For ideas and further information look at worldbookday.com . 2008 has been designated as the National Year of Reading, so activities in March could be used as launch pad for other events throughout the year. For further information please contact your regional learning organiser, Michelle King.
Rolls-Royce workers lobby Minister
Unite reps and officers from Rolls-Royce have met with Minister John Hutton, to discuss ways the Government can assist the campaign to stop the closure of the plant in Bootle, Merseyside.
John Hutton told the Unite that he would look into the closure. Commenting on the union’s campaign he said: “I will do all I can to help your campaign. I am willing to say to the company you are busting a gut to find a future for the plant, I am very impressed and will do all I can for you’ The meeting follows a successful day of action at Rolls-Royce sites across the UK. Over 200 highly skilled engineering workers at Rolls-Royce, Bootle, which makes turbines for the oil and gas industries, will lose their jobs next year if company plans to shift production to its’ Mount Vernon plant in the US go ahead. The campaign ‘Keep Rolls-Royce Pride on Merseyside’, has been gathering massive support across Merseyside. Over 10,000 people across Merseyside have already signed up to support the campaign to ‘stop the Rolls-Royce’s planned closure. To add your name visit the web site.
Pledge to Kick Out
Please add your voice to the campaign to ‘Kick-Out Bigotry’ which is Scottish football’s united campaign against sectarianism, by signing the on-line pledge at www.kickoutbigotry.org
Leaders of Scottish football and politics including First Minister Alex Salmond, SFA chief Gordon Smith and football legends Billy McNeill, Richard Gough and Maurice Malpas have joined Scottish celebrities the Proclaimers, Lorraine Kelly, and Elaine C. Smith in signing the pledge, committing themselves to create a football free of offensive behaviour.
Date for your diary
Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals and Process Scottish Regional Conference – January 25th 2008
For more information contact: Rab Wilson