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Tackling Plastic Pollution Through Green Skills Training: A Step Towards Sustainability

In the current era, where the environmental footprint of human activity is more scrutinized than ever, the urgency to adopt sustainable practices has become paramount. Among the myriad of ecological concerns, plastic pollution stands out as a persistent and pervasive issue, threatening marine life, disrupting ecosystems, and contributing to health problems in humans and animals alike. Recognizing the critical need for action, a novel initiative has emerged in the form of the "Green Skills Training - Plastic Pollution" course, designed to empower individuals with the knowledge and tools to combat this pressing issue.

Understanding the Gravity of Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution is a multifaceted problem, with repercussions that extend beyond the visible litter in our streets and oceans. It encompasses a wide range of environmental, health, and economic issues. Plastics, being durable and slow to degrade, can persist in the environment for hundreds of years, leading to the accumulation of debris in natural habitats. The course aims to shed light on these challenges, offering participants a comprehensive overview of the problem at hand.

Course Overview

Scheduled for Thursday, 23rd May, from 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM, this fully funded, online session invites members to delve into the complexities of plastic pollution. By exploring topics such as the inherent problems with plastic usage, its everyday implications, the connection between plastics and climate change, and the concerning issue of chemical pollution, the course provides a holistic understanding of the subject matter.

Key Learning Outcomes

Participants will be equipped with critical insights into:

  • The Perils of Plastic Pollution: An in-depth examination of how plastics have become a global crisis, affecting marine life and human health.
  • Plastics in Everyday Life: A closer look at the prevalence of plastics in daily routines and its long-term implications.
  • Climate Change Connection: Understanding the intricate link between plastic production, usage, and global warming.
  • Chemical Pollution Explained: Unraveling the complexities of chemical additives in plastics and their environmental impact.
  • Actionable Strategies: Practical advice on how individuals and workplaces can adopt the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) to mitigate the effects of plastic pollution.

Why Participate?

This training is more than just an educational course; it's a call to action. It aims to transform how we think about and engage with plastics, prompting a shift towards more responsible consumption and waste management practices. For professionals looking to integrate sustainable practices into their workplaces, this course offers invaluable insights and strategies. It's also a fantastic opportunity for anyone passionate about environmental conservation to make tangible changes in their community and beyond.

Join the Movement

As we stand at a pivotal moment in our environmental journey, the "Green Skills Training - Plastic Pollution" course represents a significant step towards a sustainable future. By equipping individuals with the knowledge and skills to tackle plastic pollution, we can collectively drive change and foster a healthier planet for generations to come.

For those interested in making a difference, we encourage you to register for the course by emailing memberlearningscotland@unison.co.uk. Together, we can combat plastic pollution and pave the way for a greener, cleaner world.

A Significant Shift in NHS Scotland's Work Culture: The 37-Hour Work Week

In a groundbreaking move that marks a significant shift in work culture, the Scottish Government's Health Workforce Pay, Practice and Partnership Division has announced a reduction in the working week for Agenda for Change staff within NHS Scotland. This change, detailed in the PCS(AFC)2024/2 circular, is a result of extensive reviews and collaborative efforts aimed at enhancing work-life balance and overall staff well-being.

A Commitment to Well-being and Efficiency

The decision, emerging from the pay settlement for Agenda for Change staff for the year 2023-24, involves a reduction in the working week to 37 hours for full-time staff, implemented from 1 April 2024, without any loss of earnings. This initiative, approved by Scottish Ministers, reflects a deep commitment to improving the working conditions of NHS staff, ensuring they can deliver the highest quality care while maintaining their own health and well-being.

Key Principles and Implementation

The circular outlines several key principles guiding this transition:

The aim is clear: to reduce full-time staff hours from 37.5 to 37 hours per week, pro-rata for part-time staff, without any loss of earnings.

Transition to the reduced hours is expected to be managed locally within Area Partnership Forums, allowing for tailored approaches that consider the unique needs and capabilities of different service areas.

Hourly rates will be adjusted to ensure no loss in overall earnings, a move that demonstrates a careful balance between enhancing staff well-being and maintaining financial stability.

Innovative thinking is encouraged among managers and staff to effectively implement this change across various working patterns, promoting flexibility and a better work-life balance.

Part-time staff will also see their hours reduced on a pro-rata basis, ensuring that the benefits of this policy are shared broadly among NHS Scotland employees.

Challenges and Solutions

Recognizing the diverse and often intense demands placed on different sectors of the NHS, the circular also addresses potential challenges. In instances where service pressures prevent immediate implementation of reduced hours, staff will be compensated accordingly until such reductions can be safely accommodated. This pragmatic approach underscores the government's dedication to both patient care and staff welfare.

Looking Ahead

This policy represents a significant step forward in recognizing the importance of work-life balance and its impact on employee satisfaction and productivity. By reducing working hours without compromising on pay, NHS Scotland not only acknowledges the hard work and dedication of its Agenda for Change staff but also sets a precedent for other sectors to follow.

As NHS Scotland navigates this transition, the focus remains firmly on ensuring that this change benefits both staff and the communities they serve. The move towards a 37-hour work week is not just a change in numbers but a reflection of a broader commitment to creating a healthier, more sustainable work environment for one of Scotland's most vital workforces.

For those seeking further details or guidance on this policy, resources and contact information have been provided by the Scottish Government, emphasizing the ongoing support for both employees and management through this significant adjustment.

REDUCTION IN THE WORKING WEEK FROM 1 APRIL 2024

INCREASE OF HOURLY RATES

Note: The rates specified below are based on the 2023-24 pay settlement as the 2024-25 settlement has not yet been agreed. When it is, the relevant rates will increase and arrears will be paid. For clarity, the reduction from a 37.5 to a 37 hour week represents an across the board 1.35% increase in hourly rates.

From 1 April 2024, pay will be worked out with reference to the 37 hour rates. This will include unsocial hours enhancements and any other aspect of pay which is linked to hourly rates.

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REDUCTION IN THE WORKING WEEK FROM 1 APRIL 2024

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

From 1 April 2024, full-time hours for Agenda for Change staff will be reduced from 37.5 to 37 hours, without loss of earnings.

This document has been created in order to answer questions that have been raised.

This is a live document which will be updated on an ongoing basis as required.

Reduction in hours and flexibility

Q1: What will happen to my pay on 1 April if I am on an Agenda for Change contract?

A: There will be no detriment to basic pay. However, the reduction in hours represents a 1.35% increase in hourly rates.

Q2: What happens to my hours if I am part-time?

A: Hours will be reduced pro rata from 1 April 2024. New part-time hours should be calculated in the following way (current part-time hours/37.5)x37 = new part-time hours.

You may however be able to retain your original part-time hours following discussions with your line manager. This will be subject to service requirements. If this is agreed, you will be paid the improved hourly rate.

Q3: What happens if I start working on an Agenda for Change contract on 1 April?

A: The whole-time contractual hours will be 37. However, you may be required to work an additional half hour in the first instance, if the department you are joining has not yet reduced to the 37 hour working week.

Any member of staff who joins part-time will be paid as per the new hourly rate based on the new whole-time equivalent of 37 hours but again may need to work extra hours up to the original part-time hours of the post if the department you are joining has not yet reduced to the new 37 hour working week.

Q4: What happens if my service area cannot reduce my working hours in the first instance?

A: The standard working week for AfC staff in NHS Scotland from 1 April 2024 is 37 hours. It is however recognised that this change may impact on service delivery and patient safety if not carefully managed. It has therefore been agreed as part of the

collective agreement that in the limited circumstances where a service cannot

implement from 1 April, staff who are required to work their existing contracted hours during the local transition period will be recompensed by way of a temporary RWW Transitional Allowance at the following rates:

  1. Additional time worked, in respect of the RWW Transitional Allowance will be paid in a manner consistent with the rates agreed for overtime in the Agenda for Change Handbook. Part-time staff will receive plain time up to 37 hours and full-time staff will receive time and a half for anything above 37 hours.
  2. Contractual overtime will not apply as the move from 37.5 to 37 is transitional up to the point it is safe to fully reduce to 37 hours.
  3. Unsocial hours will be calculated based on new hourly rates.


Q5: Will all adverts posted after 1 April 2024 show a full-time working week of 37 hours?

A: Yes. See above answer where required.

Q6: What is the new whole-time for NHS Agenda for Change staff in the tax year 2024/25?

A: 37 hours.

Q7: I am a Bank worker only and don’t work regular hours – will the increase in the hourly rate apply to me as well?

A: Yes.

Q8: What happens if my manager and I can’t agree on how the working time is reduced?

A: Any disputes should be resolved through local partnership arrangements. You will be entitled to be represented by your trade union or professional organisation.

Q9: Will my Pension be affected?

A: No, pensions will not be affected.

Q10: What will happen to my current annual leave entitlement?

A: There will be no change to annual leave entitlement as outlined in the Agenda for Change handbook. Calculations in hours will now reflect the normal hours for a working day, which will now be 7.4 hours (37/5) instead of as current 7.5 hours (37.5/5).

Entitlement can be worked out using the online annual leave calculator - https://workforce.nhs.scot/calculators/annual-leave-calculator.

Staff wishing to ascertain their leave entitlement for the 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025 leave year should be careful to enter the correct hours under these new provisions, to ensure the calculator provides an accurate response. Any staff unsure of what their working hours are in the 2024-25 leave year may wish to check with their manager or HR department.

Q11: Does this apply to all NHS Contracts?

A: No, this agreement is for Agenda for Change staff only.

Q12: Will staff be issued with a change in contract as a result of the change in working hours?

A: No, a change in contract will not be required. However, the Agenda for Change handbook will reflect the new whole-time equivalent.

Q13: I am currently in receipt of pay protection. If the reduction in the working week is not implemented in my department from 1 April 2024 and a Temporary RWW Transitional Allowance needs to be paid, will this be offset against my pay protection?

A: No, this temporary RWW Transitional Allowance will be paid in addition to any pay protection already in place.

Q14: Does it attract organisational change protection if my service changes?

A: No. This is a negotiated national change to terms and conditions and not a service change being made by your employer. However, the expectation is that in circumstances where services are changed, the requirement to comply with the new standard working week will be resolved as part of the planned change.

Q15: What happens if I currently work contractual overtime?

A: Contractual overtime that you currently are required to work will not be affected by this additional half hour that may be required in the interim.

Q16: What are the plans for ultimately reducing the working week to 36 hours and timescales?

A: The reduction in the working week from 37.5 to 36 hours has an overall aim of reducing to 36 hours by 1 April 2026. The Reduced Working Week Group will work to consider how this can be safely achieved, including through a series of early adopters as well as full evaluation of the first 30 minute reduction.

Q17: I regularly do overruns. How does the reduction work and how does the payment work?

A: There will be a number of areas across the Health Service that work alternate arrangements/rosters where overruns occur. Please contact your manager or local HR department on how this is being managed at a local level.

Q18: Will the “RWW Transitional Allowance” appear on my payslip?

A: No. Whilst staff will be paid as per the agreed approach until such time as hours can be reduced to 37, it will not appear on payslips as a separate payment.


Unison Dental Plan: A Comprehensive Guide for Members and Their Families

Dental health is an essential aspect of overall well-being, yet it's often overlooked until significant issues arise. Recognizing this, UNISON offers a dental plan tailored to its members and their families, ensuring they have access to quality dental care without the financial burden. Here's everything you need to know about the UNISON Dental Plan.

Who is Eligible?

If you're a UNISON member or a family member of one, and you're between the ages of 16 and 69, you're eligible to apply for this dental plan. It's designed to be inclusive, providing coverage for a wide range of dental treatments according to NHS charges.

Coverage and Benefits

Under the UNISON Dental Plan, you're covered for 100% of your dental bill based on the NHS scale of dental charges, up to a generous annual maximum. This includes:

  • Examinations, scale and polish, X-rays: All NHS charges paid.
  • Fillings, root canal treatments, extractions, crowns, bridges, dentures, and repairs: All NHS charges paid.
  • Dental-related prescription items: Up to 6 items per year.
  • Maximum annual claim limit: £500.
  • Oral cancer cover: Up to £6,500.
  • Accidental impact injury: Up to £750.
  • In-patient cash per night (dental related): £25 per night, up to 25 nights per year.

How to Claim

Claiming is straightforward. Before your dental appointment, call the claims line to receive a form for your dentist to authorize. After paying your bill, submit the form along with your receipt to be reimbursed. This process ensures that members can easily manage their dental expenses.

Why You Might Need a Plan

Even with NHS dental services, costs can accumulate. For instance, a routine check-up resulting in a crown can cost £306.80, and additional treatments throughout the year can quickly exceed the average person's budget. The UNISON Dental Plan offers up to £500 per year to cover these costs, providing peace of mind.

Choosing Between NHS and Private Plans

If your NHS dentist charges privately for some treatments, the Private Patient Plan, which covers both NHS and private charges, may be more suitable. It's important to note that the NHS Patient Plan only covers standard NHS band charges, making it essential to choose the plan that best fits your dental care needs.

Eligibility for Treatment

New members should note that only new dental conditions occurring after joining the plan are covered. This policy ensures fairness and sustainability of the plan for all members.

Joining and Utilisation

Joining is easy - simply call the UNISON Dental Plan helpline or apply as directed. Coverage begins the day after joining, allowing members to start using the plan immediately for eligible treatments.

Duration of Coverage

Members can enjoy the benefits of the UNISON Dental Plan for as long as they wish. This indefinite coverage ensures UNISON members and their families can maintain their dental health without concern for time limits.

The UNISON Dental Plan is a testament to the union's commitment to the well-being of its members and their families. With comprehensive coverage, easy claiming processes, and eligibility for a wide range of members, it's a valuable resource for those looking to maintain their dental health efficiently and affordably.


Click here for more information on Unison Dental Plans

Enhancing Dementia Care: Training Opportunities for Clinicians in April

As healthcare professionals, our commitment to patient care extends beyond diagnosis and treatment; it involves a continuous pursuit of knowledge and skills that can enhance the well-being of our patients and their families. Recognizing the unique challenges presented by dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, we are excited to offer two fully funded online training sessions in April, provided in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland. These sessions are specifically designed to support clinicians in delivering compassionate, effective care to patients with dementia.

Dementia Awareness Session

Date & Time: 18 April, 1pm - 2pm
Course Provider: Alzheimer Scotland
Delivery: Online

This session aims to equip clinicians with a foundational understanding of dementia, covering its various forms, underlying causes, and the impact it has on patients and their families. Alzheimer Scotland's expert facilitators will offer insights into the latest research and best practices in dementia care, providing you with the knowledge to enhance your clinical practice.


Carer's Education for Healthcare Professionals

Date & Time: 25 April, 9.30am - 1.30pm
Course Provider: Alzheimer Scotland
Delivery: Online

While the primary audience for the Carer's Education session is family carers, we believe clinicians can greatly benefit from understanding the perspectives and challenges faced by carers. This knowledge can improve communication, foster empathy, and enable clinicians to provide more holistic care. The session will cover practical caregiving strategies, stress management techniques for carers, and ways to support the daily living needs of individuals with dementia.

Why These Sessions Matter

Dementia care is a multifaceted challenge that requires a comprehensive approach, blending clinical expertise with understanding, empathy, and support for both patients and their families. By participating in these training sessions, clinicians can deepen their understanding of dementia, from diagnosis through the entire care continuum, enhancing their ability to make a positive impact on the lives of those affected by these conditions.

Register Now

To book your place for either (or both) of these sessions, please email Marta at m.chaba@unison.co.uk. Spaces are limited, so early registration is encouraged to ensure your participation.

Dementia poses complex challenges, but through ongoing education and empathy, we can improve the quality of care and life for patients and their families. These training opportunities are an excellent step toward that goal, offering clinicians valuable insights and tools to enhance their practice in dementia care. Join us in our commitment to making a difference in the lives of those affected by dementia.


Ramadan 2024

Embracing Unity and Spirituality: The Essence of Ramadan

As we welcome the holy month of Ramadan, a time of reflection, community, and faith, it is essential to recognize the support and unity that organizations like Unison provide to their members during this significant period. Unison, a beacon for workers' rights and inclusivity, has continually shown its commitment to backing its members, ensuring that those observing Ramadan, particularly from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, feel supported and valued.

Unison's Role in Supporting Ramadan Observance

Unison understands the importance of Ramadan for Muslim members and the need for an inclusive environment that respects religious observances. The union has taken proactive steps to ensure that all members feel supported during this month. Initiatives such as arranging flexible working hours allow those observing Ramadan to maintain their fasting and prayer schedules without compromising their work responsibilities. Moreover, Unison has been instrumental in organizing iftar gatherings, providing a space for members to come together, break their fast, and foster a sense of community and mutual support.

Advocacy and Awareness 

Beyond logistical support, Unison has played a crucial role in raising awareness and understanding of Ramadan among all its members. Through educational programs and workshops, the union promotes a culture of inclusivity and respect, ensuring that everyone understands the significance of this month and how they can support their Muslim colleagues.

Empowering Black Members During Ramadan 

Unison's commitment to diversity and inclusion shines brightly during Ramadan, with a particular focus on empowering black members. The union's efforts to highlight and address the unique challenges faced by black Muslims during Ramadan and throughout the year are commendable. By providing platforms for voices from diverse backgrounds, Unison ensures that the spirit of Ramadan is shared with all, fostering a workplace environment where everyone feels respected and valued.


We have a great please in having with us as a UNISON Steward and Black Member.

Araf Saddiq QAM, Paramedic


Araf has contributed an informative piece about Ramadan, offering insightful advice on how to handle patients who are fasting during Ramadan in the event of a medical emergency. It's a highly recommended read. Read it here.