10 years of City of Edinburgh UNISON
The City of Edinburgh Branch was founded on 13 May 1996 when
ex NALGO and NUPE Edinburgh District and Lothian Region Branches
merged. And right away it was a lively time.
We faced a conditions crisis and members rejected the package
by 9-1 in a ballot in late November after a 700 strong (yes 700)
Branch Meeting in August. And on top of that hundreds of members
faced cuts in salaries due to the Detriment Regulations. After
months of negotiating that was brought down to seven and those
cases were to be further considered following test cases at an
I recall spending New Year 1996/97 trooping round TV and radio
stations after the Council issued redundancy notices on 31 December.
Still, we won the national magazine competition.
1998 saw even more budget cuts and what seemed to be the annual
fight to save Childrens Centres (now Child & Family Centres).
We won the national magazine competition
In 1999, the Council faced a cut of nearly £28m. The consequences
were reduced services and 165 job losses, mainly met by voluntary
School meals: The withdrawal of subsidy for catering threatened
90 job losses in school meals. But the school meals service was
saved following a massive campaign.
General Secretary Rodney Bickerstaff was the guest at the AGM
that year and we won the national magazine competition
The 2000 Millennium brought a strike by Revenue and Benefits
staff which won a compromise settlement on a new grading structure.
The bitter janitors' dispute rolled on with huge mis-information
going back and forward. I know it was UNISON that proposed conciliation
and the Council that refused - but try telling the Evening
News that. In the end the jannies won the day. We also got
fair deals on Millennium payments.
But the major issue was the pay dispute with national strikes
rolling on through to 2001.
We won best website in 2000 and 2002 along with second prize
in the magazine competition.
Branch organisation was strong and as Branch Secretary Dougie
Black said in the Annual Report; "The massive rejection in the
second ballot was the envy of other branches and demonstrated
the response to all the work put in."
2003 was dominated by two high media profile issues - the nursery
nurses' ongoing action and the crisis in Social Work. However
there were also major issues in other departments. The Nursery
nurses dispute rolled on throughout the year.
The Branch took the lead in discrediting the O'Brien Report into
the death of a child when many others were expressing concerns
about the report's accuracy and competence but were not willing
to speak up.
Oh, and we won the magazine competition.
2004 saw The Nursery Nurse dispute end with a 10 point rise for
many members but it still kept us all busy tying up outstanding
issues. The huge reorganisation in Education and Social Work and
the campaign against Housing Stock Transfer also placed considerable
pressures on stewards and activists.