MOTION 1 – HONORARIA
UNISON Aberdeenshire proposes to pay the sum of £1275.15 to the Branch Treasurer in respect of work carried out in their own time during 2014.
We ask the AGM to approve this expenditure.
That this Branch condemns the UK Government’s housing and financial policies that have focused upon “Buy To Let” as the main source of rented housing in Scotland and the UK. The result has been growing inequality and poverty across Scotland and the UK as working people struggle with ever rising housing costs, poor quality housing and insecure tenancies.
Within the Grampian area and particularly Aberdeenshire housing is outwith the reach of many.
Costs for purchasing a house are significantly higher than most areas of Scotland and private rentals are beyond the means of most, with many private rentals being at exorbitant monthly rates, restricting particularly those within the public sector from securing a decent affordable home for themselves and their families.
This Branch believes that homes are for people not profits.
The lack of affordable social housing marginalises people, breaks up families and ruins communities.
Homes that are affordable, secure, fit for purpose and responsive to the needs of local communities are essential to a Fair Society and the private sector has not been able to deliver these homes.
This Branch notes that the 1930’s Council House programme not only housed people, it provided jobs that helped the UK economy to recover from the Great Depression, revitalised local communities, peoples sense of identity and offered hope to millions for a better, healthier life.
Now in the 21st Century a Living Rent based system of rent controls, security of tenure and rented housing quality standards is needed in partnership with a public sector led house building programme to deliver homes for people, reduce welfare costs and allow rental income to be reinvested in Scotland’s infrastructure instead of being dumped in offshore tax havens.
The UNISON Aberdeenshire branch therefore resolves to:-
Engage with the UNISON Scotland, Aberdeen Trades Council, The Scottish Trades Union Council, Shelter, other Charities, Community Groups, and the People’s Assembly to build a broad based campaign to support a Living Rent and new council house building here in Scotland.
This AGM has already welcomed Aberdeenshire Council’s decision to implement the Living Wage backdated to April 2012 for Council employees. This provided a welcome boost for our lowest paid members and benefited local economies by putting some extra spending money into the pockets of these workers.
However, it is UNISON policy also to seek the Living Wage for all employees who work for private and voluntary sector employers from whom the council commissions services. There are serious concerns that in tendering for contracts, these employers depend on paying minimum wages to their workers in order to keep costs down.
It is clear that within Grampian area and in particular Aberdeenshire, that the cost of living is substantially higher than most areas of Scotland. UNISON believes that Aberdeenshire Council should recognise this when tendering for contracts to supply services and should ensure the living wage at least is paid. This AGM believes that Aberdeenshire Council should not be colluding with such a race to the bottom
This AGM calls on the branch to:-
- Continue to use the negotiating and bargaining machinery within the council to press for payment of the Living Wage to be a requirement for any employer tendering for council services.
- Campaign through all means available to us, for all public and private sector employers commissioned by the council to pay their staff the Living Wage.
This AGM applauds the actions of UNISON members and their willingness to take action in support of decent pay, which forced the employer back to the negotiating table for the 2015/16 pay negotiations and secured a commitment across Scotland to a living wage for all council staff consolidated into the pay structures.
Despite this limited success most of our members still only received a 1% pay rise last year and are still faced with the reality that the value of local government pay has fallen at least 13% since 2010. Workers in Scotland are on average £1,753 worse off, with the gender pay gap widening. This is the longest real wage pay squeeze since 1870. For the first time, we have more in-work poverty than out-of-work poverty.
This can only get worse as National Insurance contributions by council staff are set to increase by 1.4% of earnings from April 2016 further cutting take home pay.
Meanwhile top earners continue to amass obscene wealth, profiting from austerity. In the last four years the wealth of Britain’s 1,000 richest people has soared by a staggering £190bn to £449bn. The country is not broke, it is just the money is in the wrong hands.
There is a growing realisation that this is not about what the country can afford; it is about an ideology of planned poverty and a low wage, low skill economy. We must continue to organise to get that message out to members.
This AGM recognises that action on pay will not be delivered unless we fully consult and engage with members on why a decent pay rise is affordable, why it would boost local economies and why we are ‘Worth it’ in the words of the UNISON campaign.
This AGM calls on the Branch Committee to:-
- Support stewards to set up workplace meetings throughout the first part of this year, to consult and campaign with members
- Provide information and publicity for stewards and Branch Officers to take forward the arguments with members and to recruit non-members
- Call on the Scottish Local Government Committee to campaign to challenge the UK and Scottish Governments’ rhetoric and dogma and to continue to make the arguments why increasing the pay of public service workers is not just good for our members but also for the wider economy.
This AGM condemns the UK Government’s austerity measures, used to justify slashing public spending and the increased outsourcing and privatisation of public services and welcomes UNISON Scotland’s excellent report, “Austerity economics don’t add up.”
Austerity has resulted in growing inequality across the UK, which condemns the poorest to using food banks to live whilst the richest 1000 have doubled their income to £59 billion since 2009. Aberdeenshire is not immune. This is a well off part of Scotland but growing numbers of local people are relying on food banks to survive. Aberdeenshire’s four food banks have fed more than 2000 people, many of them children, since they opened their doors.
In 2012-13 more than half of the 480,000 working age adults in Scotland were living in poverty and more than half in homes where at least one adult was in work. Nearly one in five children – 180,000 – were in relative poverty, 59% in a home where at least one adult was working. Recent figures show that in wealthy Aberdeenshire around 14% of children live in poverty, and this number is rising.
Such inequality hurts the economy and the £6 billion cuts in Scotland are harming the public services we all rely on, with further cuts still to come.
The AGM calls on the Branch and all its members to continue its campaign against cuts to welfare and public services and to:
- Continue to highlight the impact of austerity not just on individuals but on the economy as a whole.
- Work with the Aberdeen Trades Union Council, the STUC, charities, churches and community groups to press local, Scottish and UK Government to produce active economic and industrial policies aimed at creating full employment, for work that pays enough to ensure a decent standard of living for all; a just transition to a low carbon economy; a crackdown on tax avoidance and fair taxation.
- Campaign for a moratorium on further public sector job cuts and a programme of long-term investment in housing, infrastructure and green energy by lobbying MPs, MSPs and local councillors.
- Continue to oppose the “false economy” of outsourcing and privatisation of public services.
- Campaign for the Scottish Government to end its council tax freeze which has cost more than £2.5 billion and benefits the better off most.