Budget Day demo—united in our call to invest in Council workers and jobs

On Thursday, we braved the chill and snow to demonstrate outside the City Chambers in solidarity with fellow trade unionists, activists and concerned citizens as the Council met to approve next year’s budget.

Read the budget papers and watch a webcast of the budget meeting, which includes the full deputations summarised below.

The Council have delivered a balanced budget for 2022/23, thanks to an underspend in 2021/22 and a 3% Council Tax rise, however the forecast for the years following looks bleak, with a gap in 2023/24 of around £55m with this gap increasing around £25m each year thereafter. The Council have said there must be a ‘robust savings plan’—which we know by now, translates to more cuts.

The demonstrators sought to raise awareness of the impact of cuts and call for measures to tackle the crises we face today that will be worsened by further cuts and by failing to change how the Council delivers services. We need a shake up and we need it now.

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Reducing COVID risks in schools

Photo by Ivan Aleksic from unsplash.com

We continue to see a high number of COVID cases in schools and this is likely to increase in the near future as we approach the peak of the omicron wave.

Staff in schools should be aware of the current Scottish Government guidance for schools. Contact us if you have any concerns whatsoever.

Shirley-Ann Sommerville, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, wrote to the trade unions on these, with the main points

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Face coverings at work—for those exempt

Graeme Smith, vice convener, reports from the Resources and Chief Executive JCC

Members reported that those who are exempt from wearing face covering due to health conditions were being treated unfairly and told they needed to wear them.

We raised this issue with management, who responded that workers should be treated in line with the legisltation.

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Unite CEC branch on schools’ Health & Safety groups

Unite CEC branch started raising concerns over Health & Safety (H&S) communications in Edinburgh schools in late July 2020, prior to the schools’ re-opening. These concerns centred around the operations, composition and communications regarding the schools’ H&S groups. Members’ uncertainties indicated a lack of involvement from all staff groups (both FM and C&F) working in schools.

A survey of Unite members in Edinburgh schools was initiated at the end of October 2020, following persistent inadequacy of response from Communities & Families (whose domain the H&S groups sits in). The resultant report revealed that far too many staff (particularly FM) were unaware of the existence of their school’s H&S group and had had no H&S communications.

The report was shared with senior C&F and FM staff who promised to rectify the situation and make all staff welcome to each school’s H&S group where possible. Our message now to all school workers (FM and C&F) is to inquire from Head Teacher or Business Manager how you can become involved in your school’s Health & Safety group.

Download the full report or the executive summary.

Day in the life of a learning support worker—local authority newsletter

The local authority newsletter is focusing on jobs across local authorities to show how valuable our public sector workers are and the hard work they put in under difficult conditions and often low pay.

Today, Unite would like you to meet Iona (not real name).

Iona works full-time in the Highlands and Islands and is paid £378 per weeka mere 60% of the UK’s average wage (£31,830).

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