LG Pay Update May 2021

As you will be aware UNISON wrote to COSLA Leaders last week following the outcome of our consultative ballot and in advance of their meeting on Friday 30th April.  We were hopeful that they might have factored in the strength of feeling amongst our membership and make an improved pay offer.

However, the SJC Steering Group met yesterday and were disappointed to be told that Leaders had decided not to do anything at all until the outcome of the Holyrood elections were known and a new government in place, at which point they will again ask the Scottish Government for more money for local authorities to improve the offer.

UNISON pointed out that we had been campaigning for more money for local authorities for over a year and there was little sign of movement from the Scottish Government on this issue.  We also pointed out that our members pay implementation date has been and gone and any further delay to a pay uplift, and consequential backdating, has the potential to create difficulty for members on benefits and that additionally COSLA need to be cognisant of the fact that they, rather than the Scottish Government,  are the employer.  Members can only take a dispute with their employer, not a third party, and Leaders need to be aware that two of the three SJC trade unions have members telling them that they are willing to take some form of action.

Your UNISON local government Chairs met yesterday and agreed to issue a press statement.  ‘You can read that here: 

Pay Ballot April 2021

Letter to Council Leader

The results of our pay ballot are: 

  • 88% of members voted to reject the current pay offer and  
  • 74% of members voted in favour of taking some form of industrial action, up to and including strike action, in pursuit of an improved offer. 


UNISON have communicated this result to the employer and COSLA Leaders (attached) and issued a press release .  

COSLA Leaders meet tomorrow and have this on their agenda.  There is a further negotiating meeting next Tuesday and it is anticipated that if any improvement is going to be made to the offer that it will be presented then.  We are also liaising with other trade union colleagues around next steps.  We will keep you abreast of any developments.   

In the meantime as UNISON Stirling Branch Secretary I have forwarded the attached letter to our Stirling Council Leader  with a request that they stand by their workforce at tomorrow’s meeting and support calls for an improved offer to be made. 

Updates 27 April

Pay ballot – ONLY 48 HOURS TO GO 

There are now less than 48 hours left for members to vote in the Local Government pay ballot.

Don’t Delay Vote Today Only Days Left Vote to reject – vote Yes for Strike Action Ballot closes 28 April Members can vote using this link https://unison.tfaforms.net/190

HR Advice on vaccination 

Please find attached a Human Resources Advisory Circular which has been issued to HR Directors across all local authorities and provides advice about how employees might be supported to participate in the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Shielding advice and support 

The gov.scot website has been updated with existing and more detailed advice for people on the shielding list on going to work, to support them to return to work from today if they can’t work from home. Coronavirus (COVID-19): shielding advice and support – gov.scot (www.gov.scot) 

This includes existing advice from the Chief Medical Officer about working at levels 3 and 4; guidance on employers responsibilities to carry out regular workplace risk assessments and make the workplace safe for everyone; and advice to carry out individual risk assessments to highlight personal risks and consider any other changes needed.  More detailed advice about How to Keep Yourself Safe at Work has been added which outlines things people on the shielding list or their household members can do to keep themselves safer in the context of existing and current policy.  This has been developed in conjunction with the Faculty of Occupational Medicine 

Updated guidance for Museums, Galleries and Heritage Attractions 

As venues start to re-open the guidance for museums, galleries and heritage attractions has been update.  You can find the updated guidance below and here: Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for museums, galleries and heritage attractions – gov.scot (www.gov.scot) 

Revised guidance on calculating physical distancing 

The guidance on calculating physical distancing has also been updated and can be found here:  

Coronavirus (COVID-19): calculating physical distancing capacity in public settings – gov.scot (www.gov.scot) 

A key paragraph to note is: 

This guidance is based on physical distancing standards which have been in place since summer 2020 and the guidance in this document does not change the policy or regulatory position on physical distancing requirements. This guidance is designed to support public settings to consider their capacity taking into account these existing requirements. Where premises have fully considered physical distancing rules in line with their sectoral guidance and taking account of their unique business layouts and flows we do not expect premises to adjust these calculations. 

UNISON Updates April 2021

Pay Ballot

There is only a week left to go on the ballot so it’s important members contact the branch asap if they have not yet received their ballot.

One Year of Covid Survey 

The press release issued for our One Year of Covid survey can be found here: 

It has already received some coverage: 

https://www.scottishhousingnews.com/article/union-reveals-stress-and-workload-impact-of-pandemic-on-local-government-workers

We have sent this to all Council Leaders but have yet to receive a single response.  We also raised it today at the SJC Steering Group. 

Covid Updates: 

Update April 2021

LG Pay 2021  

Preparations are underway for the consultative ballot and further campaign resources will be circulated in advance of the ballot opening.   

LG Hustings – Thursday 15th April, 7pm

Three of the five major parties have now confirmed they will send a representative to our online hustings event which will be live-streamed on Facebook. 

Click on the image to go to Eventbrite

LG ‘One Year of Covid’ Survey –  Members should have already received a national reminder, however please see link below

Return of schools 

As you will be aware nearly all pupils are due to return to full-time school when the Easter holidays end. 

However, children who are on the shielding list are advised to stay at home until 26 April, in line with advice from the Chief Medical Officer. All other pupils, will return to school once the summer term starts. 

Strict 2 metre physical distancing between pupils in secondary schools will be removed and schools will consider how they can strengthen other mitigations. 

Following the national expansion of lateral flow testing, twice-weekly tests are available for all school staff in primary, secondary and special schools and for secondary school pupils. 

More info on the return of schools here: 

https://www.gov.scot/news/return-to-full-time-school

Reassurance of Safety of COVID-19 Lateral Flow Test  

There have been inaccurate posts on social media and on-line regarding the safety of Covid-19 lateral flow tests in relation to the use of ethylene oxide in the sterilization of the swabs. We urge everyone to get their facts from reputable sources. 

Dr Fu-Meng Khaw, Public Health England COVID-19 Incident Director, said: 

 “Parents, children and staff should feel reassured that lateral flow tests used in schools have been rigorously tested and are completely safe to use on a regular basis. Any suggestion otherwise is inaccurate and harmful misinformation.” 

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:  

“Lateral flow tests have been rigorously tested and are safe to use on a regular basis. Any suggestion otherwise is inaccurate and harmful misinformation. 

“The manufacturers have confirmed that 1-2ug/g of ethylene oxide is used in the swabs, which is well within national/international safety standards. 

“We are working closely with social media platforms to help them identify and take action to remove incorrect claims about the pandemic, including deliberately false information that could endanger people’s health.” 

Local Government Pay 2021

You will be aware from our previous correspondence that we urged COSLA to improve their current pay offer by today, the normal pay implementation date.  They have not done so.   

Your UNISON Local Government committee have met and agreed that we should reject the offer and mobilise for action. 

It is anticipated that the digital ballot will open on the 12th April and preparations are underway for this.  As part of that we will draft some FAQs and some key messages to help explain the offer and the rationale for the recommendation.  These, and other supporting materials/graphics etc, will come out to you in due course. 

UNISON Update April 1 2021

LG Pay 

Please see below the latest correspondence sent to COSLA following our SJC Steering Group meeting this morning.  Please note the Local Government Committee meets to consider this issue on the morning of Thursday 1st April.  Preparations for a consultative ballot are underway. 

LG Survey 

You should now all have received your LG survey.  Please do fill it in and encourage all members to do likewise.  The initial response has been really good but the more data we have the better our info. 

LG Hustings 

All major political parties have now been invited to our UNISON Local Government Scottish Parliamentary election hustings which has been organised to take place on Thursday 15th April at 7pm.   

The event will be held online and each Party has been invited to nominate a representative to attend who they think will best represent their views in this area.  The event will be open to all of our LG members and more information will be sent out to all once further details have been confirmed. 

COVID Workforce Issues Update March 2021

Changes to level 4 restrictions were outlined yesterday.  Updated guidance and regulations will be published on Friday 12 March to reflect these changes.  In the meantime you can read more here: https://www.gov.scot/news/changes-to-level-4-restrictions 


Schools 

The revised guidance on arrangements for the phased reopening of schools in March 2021 has been published.  You can read that here: 

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-schools-reopening

The Health and Safety Executive’s bulletin on education and schools is also here: 

Education and schools eBulletin: March 2021 | Hse.gov.uk (newslettercollector.com) 

Elections 

A joint statement has been issued by the Scottish, UK and Welsh governments regarding the elections due to take place in May.  You can read that here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/elections-2021-joint-statement-scottish-government-uk-government-welsh-government  

The UNISON Stirling branch are requesting that the risk assessments associated with all polling stations, polling places and counting places.be shared with them and indeed that they receive a report/update on how a safe election in Stirling will be facilitated.

Library Guidance Updated 

The Covid guidance on public libraries has been updated and can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-public-libraries-guidance

Pay and COVID Workforce Issues Update March 2021

Local Government (LG) Pay 

Please see above a copy of a letter we have received from COSLA following our representations about the lack of any offer at this time.  It’s clear there is no movement until after the Scottish Government’s budget has been finalised.   

We understand that a special meeting of COSLA leaders is being convened, after the third reading of the Scottish Government budget, on 12th March with a meeting of the SJC Steering Group to be convened for the following week.  We will as always keep you abreast of any developments. 

LG Finance/Plug The Gap Campaign 

  • As we enter the final weeks of budget negotiations we would ask that all members please do try to make another push on getting members to contact their MSPs about our campaign to PlugTheGap

Education 

  • The ‘Big Blether’ for support staff took place on Friday and was, we hope, really helpful for all who participated.  The session was recorded for those who were not able to attend the session and it can be viewed here.
  • The FM announced this week that, subject to continued progress on suppressing the virus, all remaining primary school children are set to return to school full-time from 15 March, with all secondary pupils returning on a part-time basis from that date.  Regulated childcare, including breakfast and after-school clubs, for primary pupils will also re-start on 15 March as part of the Phase 2 return.   Updated schools safety guidance to support the phased return will be published next week though an advisory note from the Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues providing advice on school transport, outdoor learning, community transmission, the impact of school closures and staff safety and well-being was published today – you can read that here .

WIG Update 

  • Long Covid – a special meeting is being set up to look in detail at how this should be treated for the purpose of attendance management procedures.  We continue to argue that the principals in the Fair Work statement re no-detriment for Covid related absence should apply.  
  • We raised again the issue of the £500 bonus payment and asked when H&SC staff employed by LG might expect to get it paid.  Following receipt of legal advice and a ‘letter of comfort’ from the Scottish Government underwriting any legal liabilities COSLA Leaders have now apparently agreed to make the payment.  COSLA are now finalising the guidance that will be issued with this and we have requested sight of it in advance.  It is likely payments will be made in April but we’ll confirm as soon as we know. 
  • Homeworking allowance – the JTUs had quite a heated exchange with COSLA on this issue.  It followed rejection of a collective grievance in Glasgow where the council argued, amongst other things, that the payment of the HMRC £6pw allowance was a matter for national negotiation with COSLA and COSLA again seeking to argue that it was a matter for individual authorities. 


Confidential mental health support for Health and social care staff 
Health and social care professionals will have access to a new specialist service offering confidential mental health assessment and treatment. 

The Workforce Specialist Service will be delivered by experts with experience in treating a range of issues such as stress, anxiety, depression or addiction, with a focus on the impact this may have on a person’s work. 

A multidisciplinary team will support anyone who belongs to one of the regulated professions within health and social care.  

It is the latest part of a package of resources available to these workers, including the National Wellbeing Hub, the National Wellbeing Helpline and specific psychological services provided by health boards at a local level.  More information here.