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

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Autumn Statement confirms that Austerity economics doesn't work

John Cassidy, writing for the New Yorker website, analyses the Autumn Statement of Chancellor George Osborne and concludes, without doubt, that austerity policies are not working: 'At every stage of the experiment, critics have warned that Osborne’s austerity policies would prove self-defeating. Any decent economics textbook will tell you that, other things being equal, cutting government spending causes the economy’s overall output to fall, tax revenues to decrease, and spending on benefits to increase. Almost invariably, the end result is slower growth (or a recession) and high budget deficits. Osborne, relying on arguments about restoring the confidence of investors and businessmen that his forebears at the U.K. Treasury used during the early nineteen-thirties against Keynes, insisted (and continues to insist) otherwise, but he has been proven wrong'

Photograph, Art Student, Female, Working Class by Liz Lochhead

Her hair is cut into that perfect slant
– An innovation circa ‘64 by Vidal Sassoon.
She’s wearing C&A’s best effort at Quant
Ending just below the knicker-line, daisy-strewn.
Keeping herself in tights could blow her grant
Entirely, so each precious pair is soon
Spattered with nail-varnish dots that stop each run.

Friday, 7 December 2012

UNISON fights North Lanarkshire cuts

UNISON, Unite and community groups demonstrated yesterday in atrocious weather against £73 million in cuts proposed by North Lanarkshire Council. Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Secretary, told the rally "This determination we have seen today has been reflected at communities across Scotland. As the councils focus on budgets for next year, people are saying we have had enough.” One of the groups was the Save Abronhill Highchool group, who are fighting to save the Cumbernauld school made famous by the movie Gregory’s Girl. For videos of speeches and STV report see http://unison-scotland.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/rally-at-north-lanarkshire-council.html

We Own It: public services belong to us

The government's Open Public Services policy aims to 'open up' all public services to a 'range of providers' including private companies, to increase choice and competition. Of course, the reality is that public service users don't get a look-in when it comes to the tendering process, and we get a seriously bad deal when private companies take over services. But we're fighting back: We Own It is a new campaign against privatisation on behalf of public service users. We want to support campaigns that exist already, make links between old and new battles and shift the debate on public ownership.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Lies, damned lies and Osborne’s statement

To deflect outrage from the OBR’s horrendous forecast that 1.1m public sector jobs will be lost by 2018, in his Autumn Statement Chancellor George Osborne repeated the Prime Minister’s claim from September that ‘1.2m new jobs have been created’ in the private sector since the Coalition Government was elected – a claim which doesn’t stand up to examination with the true figure being 874,000: http://fullfact.org/factchecks/million_private_sector_jobs_PMQs_David_Cameron-28124

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Unions and social movements

The current edition of the Economist carries an article on union decline and claims that social movements such as London Citizens are 'in some ways... taking the place of trade unions - which these days have programmes but little power.' This superficial theory ignores the fact that unions such as UNISON have been and continue to be integral to Citizens, and in the case of its forerunner TELCO, East London UNISON branches and the UNISON General Political Fund were instrumental in putting it on the map:

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Council care services ravaged by closures & outsourcing

'Cuts passed on to local authorities by central government since the last spending review have caused a raft of closures, and outsourcing of the remaining council-run homes and day centres. Local authorities are shouldering the burden of austerity, and with it the backlash from unpopular decisions' writes Lorna Stephenson in a Red Pepper article documenting the crisis engulfing social care in the UK:

Monday, 3 December 2012

Idea for next Labour Manifesto? - UK Ratification of ILO Convention 94 labour clauses (public contracts)

Given the Labour Party leadership's backing for a living wage and growing support for inclusion of a living wage clause in public sector procurement processes, it is timely to raise the demand for UK ratification of ILO Labour Clauses (Public Contract) Convention No. 94. The UK was one of the first signatories of the clause back in 1950 until the Thatcher Government denounced it in 1982 - at the very time they were first introducing compulsory competetive tendering in the NHS and local government:

Latin America 2012: Courage, solidarity and inspiration

It is impossible to put in words the feeling I had listening to Aidee Moreno from Colombia’s Agricultural Workers Union at Saturday's Latin America 2012 event in London. You are in shock when she tells how her husband was murdered in 1994, her mother ten years later and then numerous other members of her family. On top of this you are numb listening to tales of the thousands of members assassinated, disappeared or in prison. Living with two bodyguards because she is a trade union leader, Aidee is a brave and unbelievably stoic individual who makes as powerful case for international solidarity as I have ever heard.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Austerity and gender equality at work

UNISON activist Angela Rayner writes on the Shifting Grounds blog about the impact of austerity on gender equality and calls on Labour to follow Scandinavian countries by adopting radical policies on affordable childcare and flexible working: 'For women this can be a greater challenge as we continue to struggle for equality in the boardroom, in education and in pay. We work to live not live for work. Without vital changes to the current system we will miss out on a more productive society and lost income from the ability for all women to be active equal members of the workforce':

Mass dismissals in Italy by UK Contractor Compass

Approximately 1,000 workers are in the process of being dismissed in Italy by the UK firm Compass. Demonstrations were held by trade unions in Rome against the decision, which leaves these workers and their families looking forward to a Christmas of misery. In an economy spiralling down the path of Greece at lightening speed the company claimed that it was a decision taken not because of austerity policies but because of a need to `restructure` its business:

For those annihilated in riots...by Dileep Jhaveri

For those annihilated in riots, enduring and upright,
to whom history has granted no justice whatsoever