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

Saturday, 11 February 2012

94% of Con Dem Cuts yet to take place

Tribune reports on ominous findings by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) that only six per cent of cuts planned during the current Parliament have been implemented. The IFS says Chancellor Osborne’s autumn statement confirms that two more years of austerity than originally intended will be needed, so its own projections should not be seen as controversial. “Since the financial crisis and recession began, a £114 billion hole has become apparent”: http://www.tribunemagazine.co.uk/2012/02/they%e2%80%99ve-only-just-begun-millions-are-feeling-the-pinch-but-94-per-cent-of-the-coalition%e2%80%99s-cuts-have-yet-to-take-place/

Inside by Mark Ford

There are wheels within wheels, he yelled
At the wall, and within those wheels
Are tiny images, untitled books, desperate
Or creepy entanglements. The arrow-headed cursor points

Friday, 10 February 2012

The NHS : A plan B?

As embattled Lansley looks increasingly vulnerable to the NHS Bill being savaged by yet more amendments. The cracks are beginning to appear in the Governments reforms. Conservative home page reports at least three cabinet ministers who are now sounding warnings about the bill’s future.

200th anniversay of Dickens and squalid housing still prevalent in UK

It is the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens and one has to wonder what the author would make of today’s housing conditions? In the fifth richest economy in the world the lives of 1.6 million children are still blighted by poor housing. The feedstock for poor housing is the demand for social housing that is not being met.

United Health Destroyers

Many critics of the Con Dem Health and Social Care Bill have warned of the dangerous consequences of a US style health care system in Britain. This week the Camden New Journal reports that a GP surgery in Camden is to close four years after being taken over by the biggest health company in the United States, UnitedHealth. http://www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2012/feb/gp-surgery-was-sold-us-health-company-set-close

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Scotland council budget cuts: UNISON calls for review of funding to protect vital services and jobs

UNISON Scotland has called for a review of local government funding to prevent further loss of vital local services and job following news of local council budgets approved across Scotland today. http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/news/2012/janfeb/0209.htm

London UNISON Regional Council AGM

UNISON London Region's existing leadership team, led by Convenor Gloria Hanson, saw off an attempt by the SWP and its sympathisers to take over at yesterday's Regional Council AGM. This is the seventh victory in a row for London grass root union activists who soundly defeated the challengers at the ballot box.

The Downside of the German Economy - The Rise of the 'Mini Jobs'

UNISON activists representing members in the cleaning, catering and low wage sector will be well aware of the new employment patterns of workers with multi jobs and more than one employer. Current austerity strategists have been raising the example of the German economy to contrast its relative ability to survive compared with other advanced economies, including the UK. But in Germany – where there is no minimum wage at all, rising job insecurity and even the Social Democrats have been supporting massive cuts in welfare – the so called German success is being paid for by the low paid:

Barnet UNISON members strike to stop mass privatisation

UNISON members in the North London borough of Barnet will be striking today in opposition to the One Barnet Project - which seeks to transfer the majority of the staff out of the Conservative led Council. UNISON estimates that the total cost of outsourced services will exceed £2Billion:

Exhibition of contemporary Cuban art in support of Miami Five

A ground-breaking exhibition in support of the Miami Five is coming up in London and Glasgow. The London event is at Gallery 27 Cork Street, London from 23 to 28 April, 2012 followed by The Lighthouse in Glasgow from 7 to 13 May.

Beyond the Frame is a ground-breaking exhibition aimed at raising awareness around the case of the Miami Five organised by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.

The exhibition features special works by Antonio Guerrero and Gerardo Hernández, two of the Miami Five. Antonio has contributed a selection of drawings and paintings whilst Gerardo has contributed a series of cartoons.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The hidden costs of outsourcing

Despite the orthodoxy that outsourcing produces financial savings, the outsourcing industry giants can offer little evidence to support their claims. The same is true of the Government departments who suggest outsourcing will generate savings but then can’t identify these supposed savings on any public accounts.

Government Accounts do not meet 'true and fair' requirement

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has just published a damning report on the Government's Whole Government Accounts 2009-10, which contain a mine of information including the staggering facts that 'the accumulated value of future commitments under PFI schemes was £131.5 billion - four times the value of the assets secured through the deals' and 'the amount of unpaid tax written off by the government was as high as £10.9 billion' http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/feb/07/whole-government-accounts-public-accounts-committee

Concert celebrates UCS work-in

.. an emotional moment when UNISON's Mike Kirby, STUC President, invited veterans of the UCS leadership to the stage at a Glasgow Celtic Connections concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in. It came after a year-long series of events marking the anniversary of 1971. At least one more is still to come with showings of contemporary films made by Cinema Action, the only film crew allowed into the yards by the Stewards. These will be shown at The Mitchell Theatre from 21 – 23 March. http://entertainment.stv.tv/music/296693-ucs-40th-anniversary-concert-is-late-highlight-of-celtic-connections/  For more on the work-in see http://unisonactive.blogspot.com/search/label/UCS

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Glasgow protest against fascist attacks on left activists

UNISON Scottish Council delegates meeting in Glasgow joined a Unite Against Fascism protest against the Scottish Defence League who have recently attacked Saturday solidarity stalls in the city's Buchanan Street. UNISON, the STUC and many others have also written to the city council to object to an SDL application to march in the city on 25 March.

UNISON Black Members Conference salutes courage of Lawrence family

This year’s National Black Members' Conference took place in Brighton, which was not so sunny, but more akin to the arctic! There were 315 delegates attending conference which is a slight decrease on numbers from 2011 and you could have counted the number of young black members who attended conference on one hand.

Is this a return to the failed YTS?

A new report, trailed in the press by David Miliband MP, highlights the costs to individuals and the economy of youth unemployment which ACEVO ( the report authors) estimate will cost the public purse at least £4.8bn in 2012 and potentially £28bn by 2022. These are eye watering figures but the loss of dignity and hope to the individual young unemployed is surely incalculable? http://dn56eaq5gsh5n.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/The-crisis-we-cannot-afford_Website-version.pdf

Monday, 6 February 2012

Pensions - Negotiating the Waves

'Those who argue that unions wanting to negotiate – the majority – have ‘sold out’ and undermined trade union solidarity need to get to grips with the complexities of public sector pensions, serious areas of weakness in membership density and organisation, sectoral bargaining arrangements in the public sector. Only when they have done that should they decide whether there is a route to getting everything we want through industrial action', says UNISON's Heather Wakefield in a Red Pepper response to those who, despite the objective realities, believe their own propaganda that industrial action alone will safeguard decent public sector pensions: http://www.redpepper.org.uk/n30-and-after-was-that-it/

Equal pay victory in Bury

It is a notable success for Bury UNISON that it has won a settlement of thousands of Equal Pay claims against Bury Council in the North West of England. A combination of hard work on the ground and the backing of the Region's Equal Pay Unit delivered for the low paid women of Bury Council.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

'Nothing to be gained by supporting cuts' Tony Lloyd MP tells NW Region

'Cuts are wrong and nothing will be gained by saying there's any merit in them' said Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd in a keynote address to UNISON's North West Regional Council meeting in Liverpool yesterday.

Money Makes The World Go Around...If There Were Enough Of It!

The clinking clanking sound is of it disappearing from sight not flowing into our pockets! The Bank of England has published the latest UK Money Supply figures and they show the sharpest drop on record. The data is painting a very grim picture of life in Britain as draconian fiscal austerity drives that economy into the ground. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/economics-blog/2012/jan/31/all-eyes-money-supply

Occupy the Super Bowl

Occupy protesters in Indianapolis are gearing up to use the media spotlight on tonight's Super Bowl XLVI to rally for union rights - in response to Indiana Gov Mitch Daniels this week signing a so-called "right to work" measure into law which lead to lower wages and diminished collective bargaining rights. Indiana workers have received the backing of the National Football League Players Association, which has called "right to work" "a political ploy designed to destroy basic workers’ rights"

Strange Fruit by Abe Meeropol

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.