Thursday, February 7, 2013

Scottish Budget

Yesterday the Scottish Parliament passed the Budget for the next year, the Unison Scotland website has the response from your Union.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Service Conditions Officer Report

Bullying and Harassment Survey

75% of the 137 responses were female and 50% approx reported serious or very serious bullying at work.

The main sources of this bullying are from above i.e. managers and this mainly comes in the form of excessive workload, excessive criticism and excluding staff from what is going on.

Thank you to all who took part in the survey. The Branch will use the data as a basis for discussion with the various HR Business Partners, starting with Social Care & Wellbeing where the greatest response was.

Disability Leave Policy

UNISON’s Model Agreement on this is being considered as a basis for a new ACC Policy as it is recognized that the Maximising Attendance Policy doesn’t cater for staff with a disability recognized by the Disability discrimination Act in the most supportive way.

What is disability?

You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

The intention is that this will provide additional support to those affected and Disability Leave will be granted for related appointments etc.

IVF Policy

This was also raised by UNISON and was already being looked at by HR to produce a Policy which best supports staff undergoing this treatment. It is recognized that none of the current absence provisions adequately provide that support.

Fruit and Flowers

When the Branch is alerted that a member is off sick for a significant period they are sent either a basket of fruit or a bunch of flowers. This small act can really cheer them up so please let your Steward or the Branch know if a colleague or friend is in that situation.

Member Support

I was approached this year by a member looking for support after he had been suspended and after allegations against him had been investigated, Disciplinary Hearing held, dismissed and Appeal lodged. This member like all others is entitled to support and representation from this Branch and it hadn’t occurred to him to contact the Branch.

Please let your Steward or the Branch office know if you need support at the earliest opportunity as the sooner you get in touch, the better support we can give!


UNISON is continuously raising the issue of Timescales re the Disciplinary process not being adhered to. This year members are waiting, suspended on full pay for many months while allegations are being investigated. This is not only hugely stressful no matter how untrue the allegations are, but hugely expensive to the Council who are having to cover these absences.

Trade Union / HR Meetings

The fortnightly meetings between the unions and HR have been expended to include regular meetings with the HR Business Partners for each service. This is useful to have direct access to these staff on a regular basis and enable early dialogue re general issues and specific cases. It is hoped this will prevent some issues escalating where early intervention can help find resolution.

Deirdre Macdonald
Service Conditions Officer

Aberdeen College Report for Branch AGM

Aberdeen College is due to merge with Banff and Buchan College in the very near future. This is part of a programme led by Mike Russell, Education Secretary in an attempt to make more efficient the FE Sector in Scotland as a whole. The main concern for members is the differing terms and conditions currently existing in the two colleges, wages etc. and of course any threat to jobs. It is likely that collective bargaining will be established for lecturing staff and unison are currently taking the views of support staff. One concern here is the difference in living costs compared to the rest of Scotland.

Sarah Reid, UNISON Representative in Banff and Buchan is due to meet with me next Friday when we have both been invited along with the local EIS representatives to meet Mr. Russell. We will be raising points of concern at the meeting

Additionally the college has been subject to cuts in budget over the last two years and as a result voluntary Severance has been utilised to cut labour costs. Given that Mike Russell is keen to make efficiency savings our concern is that this is likely to impact on support staff although he has stipulated that mergers should not take place without recourse to compulsory redundancies.

Stuart Smith STEWARD

Branch Secretary Report



The Creation of the Local Arms Length Trading Company for SC&W for older people’s services has been the subject of much debate within the Branch. As legislation and the budgets for care were to be paid direct to the client it was with some reluctance that Unison could see the merit in this instance for the formation of the LATC.

We have been fully consulted and any concerns we have raised have been given full consideration and solutions found. The LATC Bonaccord Cares was due to go live on 1st April but that date is likely to be deferred for a short time. Unison will continue to be recognized as a Trade union representative for this group of staff and Employee and trade unions reps will be on the board. With the Governance and TUPE arrangements that will be in place we are confident that job security, terms and conditions for current and new staff will be protected.


Housing and Environment presented a Business Case to Council on the creation of a Limited Liability Partnership. We are pleased that Councilors after listening to the concerns of Trade Unions and others decided to defer this for 6 months for the service to look at all other options for the service going forward. Approximately 570 staff were in line to be transferred to this new company for Building Services many of which are Unison members. We will continue to meet with managers and members to discus what alternatives might be considered.

Corporate Governance Internal Transformation

Following the reassurances Clr McCaig gave at last years AGM that the ADM planned for this service would be stopped this was indeed agreed by Council. A new CG internal transformation project was announced. We have despite repeated attempts to gain information into what form this transformation will take received very little information. We would remind members that if they have ideas on changes which may result in savings for ACC to put these forward. Unison can help with this if required.


Unison have set up a sub group of reps from each of the directorates so that reports or policy changes which have came to us for consultation are fully discussed and any implications are understood.

We have negotiated with HR on several of the council policies currently in use. Pay Protection ended in December 2012 . After discussions over several months a policy on Pay Transition was approved by councilors. Staff will now if faced with pay detriment will receive full pay at original grade for 6 months then a further 6 months of 50% of the difference between previous and new grade. Several of the council’s policies relating to retirement left the council open to challenge in the courts through age discrimination. This has meant that phased retirement will cease. We negotiated a deferred start date for this so If staff plan to retire prior to July 2014 they must inform there service before July this year or they will not be granted the phased retirement. There have also been changes to the long service awards If you leave the council for any reason no longer just retirement you can apply for a long service payment provided you have at least 25 years service with the council.

Changes are also to be made to the Grievance, Disciplinary and Bullying and harassment policies currently Trade Unions have no rights to become involved in the informal stages of these policies. Amendments have been made that when approved by Committee will allow Trade Unison reps to get involved sooner in order to try and reduce the number of investigations and hearings currently being carried out. We have continued to highlight our concerns with The Maximizing Attendance policy and discussions are about to begin with HR formally to try and improve this policy to avoid some of the unnecessary stress this has caused to some employees.

Karen Davidson
Branch Secretary

A copy of the report will be availiable at the AGM on Wednesday 6th of March 5-7pm Douglas Hotel

Monday, February 4, 2013

Notice of AGM

the Branch AGM will take place on Wednesday 6th of March at 5-7pm in the Dounglas Hotel, Market Street Aberdneen. We have arranged for Mike Kirby the Scottish Secretary of UNISON to attend, we have also Invited Cllr Barney Crockett the Leader of the Council. This is your oppertunity to question your Branch Committee on the actions they have done in the last year and to make your vopice heard on issues which affect you. So come along, have some of the Buffet and get involved in YOUR Branch AGM.