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

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Speak out against injustice - Ed Miliband

In his statement to mark 2012 Holocaust Memorial Day, Labour leader Ed Miliband says that this year’s message - ’Speak Up and Speak Out’ - is one which we must all take to heart and commit to act upon. 'In order to ensure that the atrocities of the Holocaust and other genocides are not repeated in the future we must all recognise our individual duty to protect our communities and neighbourhoods by speaking out against injustice wherever and whenever we see it. Memorial Day provides us with the opportunity to remember this call to action while reflecting on those who have suffered, and to renew our determination to work together to ensure a better, safer and more just future for all.'

First They Came - Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me


Friday, 27 January 2012

Salford needs more Lads Clubs not an Elected Mayor

Last night’s results in the Salford Mayor referendum are alarming and should act as a wake-up call to trade unionists everywhere. Just 18.1% of the total eligible electorate voted in the referendum in Salford triggered by a petition from the right wing English Democrats Party (who claim they are not anti-anything but want a devolved English Parliament) http://www.socialistunity.com/english-democrats-party-all-rotten-apples-in-a-rancid-barrel/

Gloom, doom and more austerity dominates Davos World Economic Forum - but ITUC pushes for change in direction

World leaders’ gather in Davos this year knowing that disaster is still able to sweep them all away. Whilst the world's workers and their families suffer the global austerity measures - the political leaders and their big business masters still insist that cuts in welfare, in education and in health or the only way to preserve the system. But as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has conceded their strategy might be too late to save Greece. If that is the case the implications for the European Union, the Euro and the chances of any kind of recovery will appear even more distant and again the lives of people across the European economy will be devastated: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jan/25/davos-summit-growth-gloom-live

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Prospects for Unions in the UK - a slow death or a renewed purpose?

In a week when the Tory right formally launched an advanced guard in its war against trade unions, the laughably named Trade Union Reform Coalition, the BBC has published an insightful on-line feature on the state of the UK trade union movement. Geraldine Healy, professor of employment relations at Queen Mary, University of London, says that the role of unions is of renewed importance during an era of austerity and widening inequality "At the moment there's a really strong sense of injustice in society and people are looking for different ways of reducing that level of injustice. Trade unions are one of the key ways of doing that,"

European Trade Union Day of Action - 29 February 2012

In the face of a worsening economic and social situation and the ever-tougher austerity measures being imposed by Europe's leaders as the only solution, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has called for a European day of action on 29 February, the eve of the European Council. Trade unions will mobilise across Europe to have jobs and social justice placed at the heart of political priorities.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

New TUC report - Facility Time for Union Reps: Separating fact from fiction

In an excellent riposte to the union bashing Tory right and their tabloid mouthpieces, Professor Gregor Gall has written a TUC report highlighting the value of workplace union representatives, featuring a number of case studies including Angela Rayner, UNISON local government branch secretary in Stockport, Greater Manchester: http://www.tuc.org.uk/tucfiles/206/FacilityTimeSeparatingFactfromFiction.pdf

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Outsourcing in the era of austerity - diminishing returns?

The FT today carries an interesting report on ‘growing scepticism’ in central and local government over the potential savings to be achieved by outsourcing of services, despite the worst efforts of the public sector industrial complex. David Hall, director of the Public Services International Research Unit at Greenwich University, says: “What is interesting is that despite the biggest austerity package in postwar history the outsourcing route has not been seen as a way of delivering significant cost savings. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b01353c2-27d0-11e1-9433-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1kOo6dZTF

Cuts in England - mapping the North-South divide‏

A heat map of the cuts does a pretty good job of showing the north south divide in the way government cuts are hitting people. Unsurprisingly, Liverpool having taken one of the worst cuts in the country is shown as having lost more than £40 per person out of next year's budget. St Helens and Knowsley are in the same category. http://blogs.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/dalestreetblues/2012/01/goverment-cuts-maps-shows-nort.html

1.1bn people unemployed or living in poverty

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has published its annual Global Employment Trends report and states that 'the jobs crisis continues unabated, with one in three workers worldwide, or an estimated 1.1bn people, either unemployed or living in poverty.' The ILO also added that young people continue to be among the worst hit by the jobs crisis and that future prospects for them are bleak - 'judging by the present course, there is little hope for a substantial improvement in their near-term employment prospects'

Monday, 23 January 2012

Green light for Mutuals - Dust off your old CCT guidance and get ready to fight

Whilst the Cabinet Office desperately struggles to reinvent the failing ‘big society’ policy the LGA recently reported that less than 3% of councils responding to a survey have had any interest from staff in setting up employee led mutual arrangements and very few intend to encourage or push this route.

Despite these figures which would depress the most committed ‘big society’ proponent The Cabinet Office are intent on flogging a dead horse are now issuing guidance and changes to legislation to take forward coops and mutuals to make it easier to set them up to run public services:

Injunction blocks Tory Council plans to replace libraries staff with volunteers

Library campaigners in Surrey have won a court injunction which stops the Tory led County Council from replacing paid staff at 10 libraries with volunteers.The action was brought last week by Surrey Libraries Action Movement (SLAM), whose spokesman Lee Godfrey told the BBC “We were expecting a three-week wait while the judge considered the merits of the case before deciding whether to issue an injunction. It didn't take the judge very long to decide that our case was strong enough to merit a quick injunction."

Fight intensifies against NHS & Social Care Bill

The fight against the NHS and Social Care Bill is hotting up. Yesterday's Observer reported that the cross-party (but Tory led) Commons Health Select Committee is about to publish a highly critical report saying that the reorganisation of the NHS in England is counter productive and "often creates disruption and distraction that hinders the ability of organisations to consider truly effective ways of reforming service delivery and releasing savings"  http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/21/health-reform-crisis-andrew-lansley?

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Southampton one year on - 'UNISON members will not accept pay cuts'

The dispute at Southampton City Council has entered its second year with UNISON and Unite members continuing their resistance to imposed pay cuts. A new phase of protest action is planned including a lobby of a 15 February council meeting and action on 10 April to mark the opening of the £5 million Sea City Museum. The hard line Tory led Council is aiming to cut £76 million from its budget by 2015.

Tomography by Kersten Hensil

The X-ray of my aching
shows nothing
but the predictable hardenings
of age.
Stop worrying,
the doctor says,
it's just the world
your head.