GMB Scotland Defending Your Interests
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Local Government

Dear GMB Member 

Important Local Government Member Update: Covid-19 Working from Home Guidelines 

Yesterday evening the following guidance was issued to all Scottish local authority Chief Executives from the Scottish Joint Council (SJC) concerning working from home arrangements for staff at this time. 

SJC Covid-19 Working from Home Guidelines: https://tinyurl.com/t2p56p2

Please take the time to read this document for guidance on home working, vulnerable groups of workers (underlying health conditions) and for additional guidance concerning roles that do not readily lend themselves to working at home. 

This unprecedented public health crisis means that guidelines and recommendations may be subject to change as the virus spreads but be assured that GMB will take a no-nonsense approach with any employer that fails to respect your basic employment, health and human rights. 

This is about everyone doing the right thing. 

If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact your GMB workplace representatives. Alternatively, you can reach your local office in the contacts provided here:

https://www.gmbscotland.org.uk/contact

I would like to thank all our reps across local government who are organising and representing members at this exceptional time. 

Please remember that your union is here for you and we will do our best for you. 

Drew Duffy 

GMB Scotland Senior Organiser for Public Services 

Dear GMB Member

Local Government Update - School Closures 

You will have seen the First Minister announce today (Wednesday 18 March) that all Scottish Schools will close after Friday this week.

We have been told by your employer that all school based staff will be asked to work from their normal workplace, from their home or, with local agreement, be asked to work from another workplace. If none of these are an option or reasonable then you will be sent home on normal pay. 

Those of you that work in a school but are not directly employed by a council may have different procedures in place. We are actively trying to ensure you have the same clarity council staff have and we will communicate updates to you as soon as we have them. 

There will be further updates on this situation as we get into more detail around childcare, meal provisions for children who need it and what you are expected to do at home. Please keep an eye out for texts and emails from GMB Scotland. 

If you have colleagues who are fellow GMB members and are not receiving our updates, they can sign-up to our service at www.gmb.org.uk/mygmb  

If you know a colleague who is not a member of GMB and wants to join, they can do so online at www.gmb.org.uk/join 

Finally, you will be able to find your local union office contact details at https://www.gmbscotland.org.uk/contact

Remember, your union is here for you and we will do our best for you. 

Let's stick together and look after each other. 

Drew Duffy

GMB Scotland Senior Organiser 

Dear GMB Member, 

GMB Scotland in Local Government - Update

We are entering into a period of uncertainty and we can't say for sure what the next three months will look like. Your union will be here for you and to defend your interests in local government. 

We have asked for daily updated with COSLA and Scottish Government because the information going to workers across Scotland is far too inconsistent and there needs to be more engagement with your GMB reps and yourself. 

Yesterday we had our first national telephone call and I shall work on getting a daily update to each and every one of you. If you have any major concerns then please speak to your GMB rep and they can deal with it locally and flag it up to me to raise at a national level. 

At the moment GMB Scotland's main concern for staff is threefold: 

PPE - To many frontline staff don't have the correct equipment and I've been assured that is being worked on from a Scottish Government view but I will continue to press on that until each of you has what you need to do your job safely. 

Communication - This has been poor for far too many of you. There needs to be clearer and more consistent guidance issued at a national level so a pregnant worker in Stirling isn't getting different advice to a pregnant worker in Aberdeen. 

Money - Councils need money to stop any proposed cuts coming up but actually to put money into services. That could be more hours for people or starting more staff to help out. You have seen your take home pay slashed for 10 years and it's also time you were rewarded for the work you are doing and will be asked to do over the next 3 months. 

As I have said before, the facts are that had this crisis happened 10 years ago the workforce would have been better equipped to deal with this, but years of austerity has cut services to the bone.  

We will continue to keep you updated and thank you for everything you are doing at the moment. 

Drew Duffy 

GMB Scotland Senior Organiser 

Dear GMB Member,

GMB Scotland In Local Government – Coronavirus Update

Thousands of you have completed the survey I sent out on Monday, thank you, some of the feedback is sobering.

Many of you are on the front line and after years of cuts to services far too many of you are struggling to cope with the extra demands of coronavirus. GMB will always defend your interests so we have written to the president of COSLA today (Friday 13 March) to demand answers but make it clear that your local GMB reps must be involved in local discussions to protect staff.  You can read the letter by following this link: https://tinyurl.com/tf2ua35

I have also written to the Scottish Government to demand extra money is put into the pockets of front line staff whether they work in NHS, social care, waste or in a school everyone has a part to play but you must have the equipment and staff to do that. 

Read the full letter here: https://tinyurl.com/ujauvt9

The reality is if we hadn't had years of cuts we would be in a stronger position to fight this virus so politicians need to face the facts that it's time to put more money into your service.

Drew Duffy

GMB Scotland Senior Organiser

Dear GMB Member,

GMB Scotland in Local Government – Coronavirus Information

GMB have been in discussions with COSLA to ensure guidance is issued that puts your mind at ease if you have to self-isolate yourself due to Coronavirus and today we have written to Nicola Sturgeon MSP to raise concerns about how councils can fund additional resources.

Follow this link to the official guidance from COSLA that makes it clear that if you are instructed to self-isolate then you must inform your manager and do so but you will be paid for the period of self-isolation. Should you become ill during that time then normal sickness procedures will kick in. https://tinyurl.com/rr73dls

In our letter to Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP we have asked for two things. Cuts to any cleaning budget are stopped with immediate effect and if anything these budgets should be increased. Secondly, council budgets are cut to the bone and any extra demand on additional hours/overtime and buying in extra resources need to be paid for and that should come from the Scottish Government not an already squeezed council budget. See a copy of GMB Scotland’s letter here: https://tinyurl.com/vak656g

If you have any concerns about what is happening in your area then please speak to your local GMB Rep.

Drew Duffy

GMB Scotland Senior Organiser

Dear Colleague,

GMB Scotland In Local Government – Budget Cuts 

Today the Scottish Greens have once again capitulated and done a deal with the SNP to get the budget through, you can view GMB Scotland's press release by following this link: https://tinyurl.com/vqv5g4t

No matter what you read or see this is still a substantial cut to local government next year and you will see the consequences of 10 years of austerity every single day.

I’m aware of local campaigns to protect our members and this must continue as we show employers and politicians our members have had enough. 

Thanks for all your efforts so far and please speak to your GMB Organiser if you need any support.

Drew Duffy

Senior Organiser GMB Scotland

Dear Colleague,

GMB Scotland In Local Government – Coronavirus Update

You will have seen all the news surrounding Coronavirus and I have written to COSLA to ask that guidance is put out to remind councils and employees the provisions in the COSLA red book which states:

8.7 Infectious Diseases

An employee who is prevented from attending work because of contact with infectious disease will advise the Head of Department immediately and will be entitled to receive normal pay.   The period of absence on this account will not be reckoned against the employee’s entitlements under this scheme.​

What we also need to do is ensure councils have the resources to help prevent the spread of this virus. If you have any concerns about what is happening in your council can you please email me back as soon as possible on drew.duffy@gmb.org.uk so I can raise it with COSLA.

Drew Duffy
Senior Organiser GMB Scotland

Dear Colleague,

GMB Scotland In Local Government - Give Public Sector Workers the Respect They Deserve

This week we have written to all the party leaders at Holyrood to ask them a simple question; will they stand with GMB Scotland and start to give public sector workers the respect you deserve?

The Scottish Government need to make a deal with one of these party leaders to get their budget approved so one of them will play a crucial role in what happens next. 

You will all see the devastating impact cuts have made to your members lives and their working conditions. Never mind the impact it has had on our communities, enough is enough.

We have seen some really good local campaigns across the country in West Lothian, Highlands, West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow, Dundee and we want to see more of that in every local authority.

We will continue to make noise and put pressure on the Scottish Government but the battle has to be won locally in your council and in your workplace too. If you need help with planning a local campaign then speak to your branch secretary, your GMB organiser or get in touch with me drew.duffy@gmb.org.uk

Drew Duffy

Senior Organiser GMB Scotland

Dear GMB Member,

Highland Council ASN Ballot Result – 93% Support for Strike Ballot

The consultative ballot on industrial action in Highland Council has now closed, and we can confirm that you have voted by a huge majority in favour of taking industrial action.

Of those who voted, 93% voted in favour of taking industrial action in opposition to the “stealth cuts” to the ASN service proposed by the Council.

We will notify Highland Council of the result of the ballot at this evening’s AGM, and in light of such significant opposition from the workforce, it is our hope that they step back from these proposals and instead engage in a proper consultation with you about how we secure the future of the ASN service.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact our Inverness Office on 01463 233088 (office hours) or email gmbscotcampaigns@gmb.org.uk

Drew Duffy

GMB Scotland Senior Organiser

Dear GMB Member 

GMB Scotland in Highland Council - ASN Consultative Ballot Reminder! 

Our consultative ballot against Highland Council’s proposals for savings in care and learning is well under way.  

Thanks to all our members who have have taken the time over the Easter break to cast your ballot. If you haven’t done so already, you still have time! 

Our ballot closes on Monday 29 April, so don’t delay - vote today! 

GMB is asking you: “Are you prepared to take part in industrial action against Highland Council’s proposals for the ASN service?” 

We are strongly recommending that you vote ‘yes’.  

You have previously been issued with either an e-ballot to your mobile phone (vote by text / SMS) or a postal ballot to your home address.  

If you haven’t received a ballot then contact us immediately on 01463 233088 (during office hours) or email gmbscotcampaigns@gmb.org.uk 

Drew Duffy 

GMB Scotland Senior Organiser

Dear GMB Member

GMB Scotland in Highland Council - ASN Consultative Ballot

Our consultative ballot campaign against HC’s proposals for savings in care and learning gets underway today.

HC’s proposals for the redeployment of a minimum of 63 full time ASN staff present a clear and present danger to your livelihoods.

Your e-ballot or postal ballot will be issued to you directly later this week.

You will be asked:

“Are you prepared to take part in industrial action against Highland Council’s proposals for the ASN service?”

GMB strongly recommends that you vote ‘yes’.

If you have been selected for an e-ballot (members who have approved SMS contact) you will be sent an advance message on Wednesday 17th explaining how you vote, followed by a link to your ballot on Thursday 18th.

All other members will receive a postal ballot to your home address directly.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact our Inverness Office on 01463 233088 (office hours) or email gmbscotcampaigns@gmb.org.uk

Drew Duffy
GMB Scotland Senior Organiser

Dear GMB Member

GMB Scotland in Highland Council – ASN Service Proposals Update!

The priority of GMB Scotland is the defence of your interests. That’s why we are campaigning against Highland Council’s (HC) proposals for savings in care and learning.

HC’s proposals for the redeployment of a minimum of 63 full time ASN staff present a clear and present danger to your livelihoods.

For years you have been working longer and harder with less resource and for less pay in real terms. A challenging working environment isn’t getting any easier; HC has some of the highest levels of support needs in Scotland.

Your goodwill cannot be taken for granted and it cannot last forever.

Redeployment of your post could mean significant upheaval and the council are firmly imposing their will on this process. In short, if you are selected for re-deployment and cannot accept it, the council have indicated they will view this as your resignation.

This is unacceptable and completely ignores the realities of employment within the Highlands region, never mind running roughshod over any work-life balance commitments you may have. It’s a totally flawed process, driven by cuts and not consultation.

That’s why GMB Scotland will launch a consultative ballot of our ASN membership in Highland Council on Monday 15 April.

We will ask you: Are you prepared to take part in industrial action against Highland Council’s proposals for the ASN service?

GMB will strongly recommend that you vote ‘yes’ to send the strongest message possible to HC that they need to think again and consult properly with your union reps on your future.

Our consultative ballot will be conducted by SMS (text message) or by post with full details to follow.

Even though you close for the Easter Holiday’s today, we will be sending communications to our members throughout the break so please make sure your contact details, particularly mobiles, are up to date. 

You can do this online at www.gmb.org.uk/mygmb 

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our Inverness office on 01463 233088 (office hours Monday to Friday) or email gmbscotcampaigns@gmb.org.uk

Drew Duffy

GMB Scotland Senior Organiser

Dear GMB Member

GMB Scotland in Aberdeenshire Council – Pupil Support Staff Workplace Abuse Update!

Following a meeting between trade unions and AC, I can confirm that the council has committed to bring forward a new policy document for all staff in education, which will advise and promote the correct process to formally report incidences of abuse and violence at work.

The first step to dealing with any problem is to recognise that one exists and the response from the council to our previous survey findings has been positive. This is a step forward from your employer and one that should be welcomed.

Our campaigning agenda means that we are working through the challenges we previously set for AC:

  • Schools must be safe places for the staff who work there – violence and aggression can never be accepted as normal.
  • There needs to be a greater respect and recognition for the massive contribution support staff make to our kids’ education and wellbeing.
  • AC must work with GMB Scotland to being forward new policies for safety at work to tackle this crisis.

This is very much a process and not an event but the delivery of a new incident report process is a step forward in the fight to eradicate workplace abuse in AC schools and we hope this will be, at the very latest, introduced for the new school term in August.

However, we won’t rest on our laurels. Our priority is the defence of your interests and that means continuing to engage, organise and grow to help ensure your workplace rights are better protected.

So in the meantime, if you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact me on 01224 582367 (office hours Monday to Friday) or email melanie.greenhalgh@gmb.org.uk

Mel Greenhalgh
GMB Scotland Organiser

Dear GMB Member

GMB Scotland in Aberdeenshire Council – PSA Workplace Abuse Survey Results

Survey exposes shocking conditions affecting of Aberdeenshire’s school support staff

The priority of GMB Scotland is the defence of your interests.  That’s why we surveyed our PSA members across Aberdeenshire Council extensively over fears concerning safety at work.

The results based on your feedback are now in.  They aren’t just shocking, they reveal the ugly truth about the untold story working life for many PSA’s in Aberdeenshire’s schools.

The headline results based on the feedback from over 400 responses show:

  • Over 90 per cent of PSA’s have either witnessed or been on the receiving end of verbal or physical abuse.
  • Nearly 70 per cent don’t know if reported incidents have been recorded by their employer.
  • Over 80 per cent haven’t received any training on how to record incidents of abuse; and
  • Over 75 per cent haven’t received any feedback or support for incidents they have reported.

It’s clear that your employers are burying their heads in the sand to the scale of this problem; a culture of verbal and physical abuse has been allowed to fester for too long.  This is unacceptable.

GMB will stand-up for your interests. Tomorrow (Tuesday 5 February), we will inform the council of our findings and call for urgent interventions to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of PSA’s across Aberdeenshire.

Our message will be straightforward: “Our schools must be safe places of work and the council cannot sit-back and normalise violence and aggression.”

We will report back on the outcomes to you later in the week so please check your SMS and emails for the latest developments.

If you haven’t updated your contact details to receive our communications, you can do so at www.gmb.org.uk/mygmb

Do you know a colleague who isn’t a trade union member but wants to join? They can do so here www.gmb.org.uk/join

If you have any other questions or concerns you would like to raise, you can contact me direct on 07738 486317 or email melanie.greenhalgh@gmb.org.uk

Mel Greenhalgh

GMB Scotland Organiser

 

Additional Resources

GMB HOME CARERS WITH A MESSAGE FOR THE COUNCIL

download pdf1878Kb (pdf) - 14 February 2019

STOP THE CUTS! WE WANT TO BE VALUED.