UNISON takes a step forward at Cornerstone

Central Arbitration Committee says union’s bid for statutory recognition can go head at Scottish care charity

UNISON has taken an important step forward in the fight to regain recognition at Scottish care charity Cornerstone, with the Central Arbitration Committee agreeing that the union’s bid for statutory recognition can go ahead.

The charity employs care workers to provide support and care to “adults, children and young people with disabilities and other support needs” across Scotland.

UNISON has organised and represented staff at the charity for the past 24 years, up until November last year, when Cornerstone derecognised the union and ripped up its long-standing collective bargaining agreement following a dispute with its workforce on pay and the charity’s strategic plan.

The charity told UNISON of its decision at the same time as it told the media, and as the union was preparing for a meeting at ACAS to continue discussions on pay.

With more than 800 members employed by Cornerstone, the union vowed to push for statutory recognition if the charity did not change its mind.

Now that that bid has been given the go-ahead by the Central Arbitration Committee, UNISON and Cornerstone have 20 days to agree the bargaining unit that would be covered by a new recognition agreement. Once that is agreed, it is likely that a ballot of all staff will be needed and statutory recognition granted if 40% of the workforce are in favour.

UNISON Scotland’s head of community Deborah Clarke paid tribute to the stewards and staff of Cornerstone for all their commitment and hard work during this time.

“Cornerstone’s attempts to breach our members’ human rights by ripping up our collective bargaining agreement is disgusting and makes a mockery of the chief executive’s claims to be a Fair Work Employer,” she said.

She added that the union will be pressing ahead with the next moves required to win statutory recognition, something that will be “an unprecedented move”, but “one that members across Cornerstone are confident we can achieve.”