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

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Celebrate National Libraries Day by joining your local campaign to save them!

#NLD13 Today is national libraries day in the UK but what should be a celebration of the crucial contribution of libraries to human development and social progress is tinged by sadness and rising anger. Ever increasing numbers of libraries face closure throughout the UK as austerity cuts bite deep into the budgets of local councils, schools and universities. Over 200 libraries have closed in the UK over the past two years and UNISON branches across all regions are linking up with local community groups to resist further closures in the next round of spending cuts:

Cutting meat inspectors to the bone is a recipe for horsemeat

In 1906 the left wing American writer Upton Sinclair published his classic novel ‘The Jungle’ which exposed the rotten and unhygienic working conditions in the US meat packing industry. It caused a sensation and literally within a few months the Federal Meat Inspection Act was passed.

A Quiet Afternoon at the Office by Brenda Hillman

When you're overwhelmed at your job
           & the room is a field of consciousness,
           forming first the violet edges
   & later the pierced spiral
                        of what just happened,
you try to remember events while you
stumble over twigs of the day like a red bee.
     So much anger in the economy
    after too much not enough—
  people setting tents in the streets,
                  the last of the fruit gives way
on branches you see as you work
    holding the annihilated breath.

Friday, 8 February 2013

The disastrous effects of austerity policies

‘In short, the UK experience shows how austerity policies, when applied without regard to the state of the economy, often lead to more government borrowing and debt creation, not less. In the past few years, we’ve seen pretty much the same thing happen in other European countries: Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and now Italy and Spain. Still, though, many proponents of austerity refuse to acknowledge their errors,’ writes John Cassidy in his New Yorker column 'rational irrationality'. Cassidy calls on US fiscal policy makers to heed the lessons of the Con Dem Government’s disastrous austerity policies:

Proposed University privatisation in Lancashire is a dangerous precedent

Denise Ward, chair of UNISON higher education service group, has warned that proposals from senior management at the University of Central Lancashire to become a company limited by guarantee would ‘have a devastating impact on the local economy, access to education, academic provision, the student experience and staff morale’:

Thursday, 7 February 2013

A tribute to Jhonny Silva Aranguren - a student murdered by the Colombian state

On 22 September 2005, Colombian state agents (ESMAD) attacked students at the University del Valle, killing student Jhonny Silva Aranguren. Seven years on a video has been produced to pay tribute to his parents who have waged a relentless struggle to ensure that the perpetrators are prosecuted and pay for such a horrible act: http://youtu.be/jNIKl_mfL1U

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Lift the burden: Jobs not debt

On 9 February, 'the people of Ireland will be on the streets in their tens of thousands' against crippling debt repayments that will cost 30,000 jobs, ICTU General Secretary David Begg tells Union Post. Demonstrations have been called in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Sligo.
“We have been saddled with a €64 billion bank debt burden that eliminates any possibility of economic recovery and guarantees years of continued stagnation", added David.
   UNION Post also runs a tribute to Inez McCormack who died last month.

The global commodification of health care

At a time when health workers and local communities are struggling to retain hospital services in the face of austerity driven closures and cutbacks, we have the grotesques spectacle of the UK Government, via its trading arm ‘Healthcare UK’, touting health services for sale to political elites in oil rich Gulf states. Claudia Tomlinson, writing on Left Foot Forward, questions ‘how will the income from providing healthcare to the fabulously wealthy flow back into the UK to fund care to populations and improve the health of the nation, particularly the poorest?’

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Eric’s prefect used to threaten local council leaders

The debacle that Pickles deployed to control council tax rises (after spending years condemning the labour government’s imposition of council tax capping) looks set to end in an even bigger farce. Junior Minister Brandon Lewis has warned (also to be read as threatened) councils that work perfectly lawfully within the current rules with changes next year if they ignore central government diktat on how much money they can raise through council tax. The laughable DCLG letter is here.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Time to end the scandal of Local Government pay and mobilise to break the freeze

On Wednesday 6 February UNISON's Local Government NJC committee will meet to consider progress on the 2013/14 pay claim. The situation with pay and living standards for local government workers is now nothing short of a disgrace. Three years of a total pay freeze has reduced the value of their earnings by 13% just since 2009.

Fife's working class heroes of 1926

The Sunday Mail in Scotland yesterday published an excellent two page feature on The Happy Lands – the new film about the 1926 General Strike which shows how ‘the mining villages of Fife and the working-class heroes who fought for better conditions were made to suffer during the nationwide stand against the bosses’:

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Combating Poverty - What is to be done?

The study of poverty and its impact on working people is not new. Phillips Kay-Shuttleworth was a doctor practising in Manchester when in 1832 he produced his report “Condition of the Working Classes”. A humane and enlightened social reformer he laid bare the degradation suffered by working people in England - “the most pauperised country in Europe”.

Disappointment by Ahmed Mejjati

We came. An illusion that set the square on fire kept us on the path.
We came from behind the rampart.
We shook off shadow, dust, sound, and shrouds
And then muttered: with God’s help we start, O lamp!