UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

NHS employers move into anti-strike mode

The Guardian reports that the NHS employers have been quick to move into an adversarial mode as the real trade unions in the health service gear up for industrial action in defence of NHS pensions and the agreement on a new sheme reached less than five years ago: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/sep/23/nhs-court-orders-halt-strikes

LGPS – dog's breakfast of ‘savings’ is a £900m windfall tax on scheme members

Local government employers in England and Wales have cobbled together a package of increased pension contributions, worse accrual rates and increased retirement age for LGPS members - designed to deliver £900m short term ‘savings’ as demanded by the Con Dem spending review:

In memory of the Paris Commune, Born March 18, 1871, and Died in June the same year

What wingéd shape, with waving torch aflame,
Wild with winds of March, and streaming hair
Above the storm clouds, doth to men declare
What message, and a memory doth claim?

A star through drifting smoke of praise and blame -
The toilers’ beacon, still to re-appear
With spring-tide hopes new quickening year by year
Since bright in Freedom’s dawn the COMMUNE came.

Maligned, betrayed, short-lived to act and teach,
Whose blood lies still upon the hands that slew: E’en now, when Labour knocks upon the gate
That shuts on Privilege, He thinks of you,
And what men dared and suffered, and their fate
Who ruled a City, once, for all and each.

Walter Crane March, 1891

Friday, 23 September 2011

Talks hope after Shropshire strike

Shropshire UNISON members are hopeful of 'productive' talks after their solid 24 hour strike against Tory council plans for pay cuts of 5.4%. The strike closed customer service points, day centres, highway depots, leisure centres, libraries and Shirehall. In a joint statement the union and the council committed to talks, recognising it had been too late to call off the strike. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire-15012988 and http://www.unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=7226

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Whitehall protest demands that UK recognises Palestine

A lively demonstration last night opposite Downing Street in Whitehall demanded that the UK votes in favour of Palestinian membership of the United Nations, based on 1967 borders: For more on the Palestine 194 recognition campaign see: http://palestine194.org/?page_id=447 For a report and pictures of last night’s demonstration go to: http://www.demotix.com/news/839669/pro-palestinian-demonstration-outside-downing-street

PFI debt-infected chickens come home to roost

Confirming UNISON warnings to Labour as far back as 1997, the rising cost of paying for hospitals built through the Private Finance Initiative is jeopardising the finances of some NHS Trusts, according to the Department of Health which says 22 trusts, which run 60 units, are facing spiralling costs running into billions:
'We told them so' http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/siu/aug10/4.html

Irish pensions levy has had a “devastating impact” on the country’s pension system

The Irish government austerity levy on private occupational pensions has led to a collapse in membership. A similar scenario is predicted for public sector pension schemes in the UK if the Con Dem’s succeed in imposing increased contributions. This will leave the LGPS funds in tatters and the NHSPS in deficit – both would lead to further cuts in jobs and pay as they tried to recover the cash deficits: http://www.globalpensions.com/global-pensions/news/2111010/pensions-levys-devastating-impact-irish-market

CTC statement supporting the Palestinian cause

Cuban trade unionists have called on unions around the world to back the Palestinian call for UN recognition.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Strike by Birmingham UNISON as home carers face massive cut in pay

UNISON members Birmingham City Council are on strike today against cuts in pay and conditions designed to set services up for privatisation. The cuts will hit the lowest paid hardest, says the branch in a public leaflet. The council is cutting the pay and changing the contracts of 26,000 council staff. They are taking away the extra money that workers get for providing services at weekends, for working shifts and during unsocial hours. Home carers who care for the elderly and vulnerable in their own homes earn £14,500 a year and face cuts of £4,500 from their pay. That’s a loss of over £380 a month.

Austerity is causing economic destruction

Only the really, really smug use the phrase ‘I told you so’ and there is nothing joyous about being right in the context of a double dip recession: http://news.sky.com/home/business/article/16073633

Superficial Labour constitutional reforms will fool nobody

The Guardian reports that ‘Ed Miliband has tabled proposals billed as the biggest change to the party's structures for 20 years,’ including diluting the trade union share of the vote in leadership elections by conferring the same democratic rights on non-paying registered party ‘supporters’ as those held by trade union political levy payers. Predictably, despite the hype of ‘Refounding Labour’ project, the democratic deficit in the electoral college, which in last year’s leadership election gave each MP a vote equivalent to that of 608 individual party member and to that of 12,915 affiliated trade unionists, will remain unchanged:

The UK's neo-liberal revolution

Professor Stuart Hall analyses the agenda of the Con Dem Government which he sees as 'the most radical, far-reaching and irreversible social revolution since the war': http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/sep/12/march-of-the-neoliberals?cat=politics&type=article

Monday, 19 September 2011

Tebbit eggs on Ed to undermine union call to arms

Tory dinosaur Lord Tebbit - who has no interest whatsoever in Labour's future success - uses his Telegraph blog to call on Ed Miliband to subvert union democracy in the looming pensions dispute: '.... he will have to lead the calls for union members to ignore their leaders. It will not be easy for him, but then leadership is often about taking tough decisions and getting them right. What is more, there would be a huge longer term dividend for him in establishing himself as a man who speaks for his country, not just his party' http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/normantebbit/100105541/poor-ed-miliband-needs-the-courage-to-face-down-his-demented-trade-union-backers/

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Unions can be agents of economic change

Ed Miliband is making a strategic error in keeping a distance from the unions. Hilary Wainwright argues that within the labour movement lie the skills, know-how and creativity needed to discover economic alternatives and make change happen: http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/hilary-wainwright/workers-are-agents-of-economic-change-so-why-isnt-labour-listening-to-u

Marx In The Park by Ken Champion

He bumps into a bench, jumble of books, papers
under his arms, sits beard on belly, stares at a tree,
found himself in Starbucks an hour ago looking across
to a golden M, people dressed oddly, shouting at things
held to their ears, giving strange money to bargirls,