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

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Checklist for building a union in your workplace

The Red Pepper magazine has produced a useful list of steps for building a union at work. It properly emphasises the need to avoid a number of classic activist mistakes - don't rant at people, listen to them, don`t substitute yourself for the union, don`t go for the big unwinnable issues first and give others small tasks to do to build confidence. Although it assumes there is no union presence at the workplace already (which in the larger economy is more likely than not) much of the advice is appropriate to a unionised public sector workplace. It lists what is simply good practice:

Six O’Clock News by Tom Leonard

this is thi
six a clock
news thi
man said n
thi reason
a talk wia
BBC accent

Friday, 10 May 2013

Community Budgets & public service transformation

Since October 2012, in four areas of England, ‘Community Budgets’ pilots have been underway which could radically transform the funding and structures of public services.
  With local/national cross party support and based on the New Labour concept of ‘total place’, the LGIU reports that ‘whole place community budgets have been lauded by the coalition government as a flagship policy to put major principles of localism, ‘customer first’ service integration, public services reform, and deficit reduction into practice.’ The LGIU has published an important briefing ‘Much ado about…whole place community budgets' reviewing progress made (or lack of it) on the four pilots:  http://www.lgiu.org.uk/briefing/much-ado-aboutwhole-place-community-budgets/ (subscribers only). For more on Community Budgets pilots read here:

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Carry On Regardless - Queen's Speech

Reading this year’s Queens Speech, its most remarkable trait is actually how banal it is and how little it has to offer in the real world.
  This speech has obvious gestation in recent events. After a collision with the shock troops of Little England in the local elections last week, Her Majesty's Government has clearly looked out the Dummies Guide to Reactionary policies (British edition).
   It then appears to have dictated bits at random from its collective position in the downstairs lavvy - a stance necessitated by the collective overflow of effluent.

Mentoring Future Union Leaders

UNISON’s ‘Trained and Active’ approach to developing and supporting workplace representatives includes detailed guidance for the mentoring of activists - recommending the GROW model of Goal, Reality, Options and Way forward:  http://www.unison.org.uk/

  The US Berger-Marks foundation, which supports women organising in unions, recently published ‘The Next Generation: A Handbook for Mentoring Future Union Leaders' which gives useful advice and concrete tools for developing mentoring programmes for union members and staff. It can be downloaded here: http://www.bergermarks.org/resources/BergerMarksMentoringHandbook2012.pdf

Jailbird billionaire says public sector unions are a blight on society

Convicted fraudster Conrad Black, upon whom Tony Blair conferred a peerage in 2001, says that ‘there simply should not be any collective bargaining at all in the public sector.’ The billionaire media oligarch spits out his contempt for trade unionism in Canada’s National Post: ‘Collective bargaining is a defiance of the free market, which is efficient and meritocratically fair. Union rules standardise, regiment, stifle initiative, discourage enterprise, and concentrate power to intimidate and influence political decision-making in the hands of unrepresentative and self-serving cabals. Unionization divides any enterprise and creates a them-and-us-mentality that is a collapsed lung that cripples and stultifies any organisation’

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

1% in Local Government - the only credible option is to reject and fight

A pay offer that is one third of the rate of inflation would be unacceptable at the best of times. But in a service where endemic low pay has been well documented by the NJC unions - GMB, UNISON and Unite - and where 65% of the workforce earning under £21,000 per annum were denied in successive years the £250 rise sanctioned by Chancellor Osborne to mitigate the Con Dem pay freeze - it is wholly inadequate.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

What is going on? Labour MPs link to right-wing group

Left Foot Forward has published a powerful expose of the Labour right's links with the neo-con Henry Jackson Society (HJS). It reports that recent statements by at least two HJS members, including the executive director, took stridently right-wing anti-immigration stances.
http://www.leftfootforward.org/2013/05/labours-links-with-the-anti-immigration-right/ Yet the HJS lists 11 Labour MPs as Political Council Members! Just what is going on?

Monday, 6 May 2013

Mayday message from Scrap Trident

The Scrap Trident coalition would like to say a big thank you to all the supporters and activists who attended May Day celebrations around Scotland this weekend. The turnout in Glasgow was particularly good and it all helped to keep our message uppermost in the public mind and to remind those in power that the majority of people in this country oppose nuclear weapons:

3 ways Labour can set the world on fire

Michael Meacher MP reviews last week’s local elections in England’s shire counties, and calls for ‘two or three key exciting ideas which really resonate with the public and set the pulse racing a bit.’ How about this for a Labour 2015 General Election pledge card?

1. End austerity
2. Tax the hyper-rich
3. A massive programme of social housing construction


Sunday, 5 May 2013

NHS111 systemic failings

As NHS111 braces itself for a huge increase in calls this bank holiday, the GP's magazine Pulse reports that at least 22 possible "serious untoward incidents" (or SUIs) related to the new NHS 111 have been reported since the launch of the service. These include three where a patient died, the magazine has claimed. http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/commissioning/commissioning-topics/urgent-care/22-nhs-111-serious-untoward-incidents-reported-including-three-deaths/20002842.article

Private sector unionisation at 'dangerously low levels'

An article in the April 2013 edition of Labour Research magazine highlights that the trade union presence in the UK private sector 'has hit dangerously low levels.' The decline in unionisation has been rapid in the manufacturing sector, where the proportion of workplaces with any union members fell from 24% in 2004 to just 15% in 2011. In private services, which is the sector of the economy where employment is fastest growing, union membership presence is 6% although in hotels and restaurants this falls to only 3% of workplaces. In construction - which accounts for 8% of overall employment - only 7% of workplaces include some union members. The LRD analysis is based on the 2011 Workplace Employment Research Study First Findings:
http://www.lrdpublications.org.uk/publications.php?pub=LR&iss=1655 (subscribers only)

from Slowly by Lyn Hejinian

I frequently slowly wish for more of the sudden experience
   But it might be that I'll be surprised at myself by myself,
i.e., abruptly dismayed
   An impulse is something of a summation
   An impulse is not a sudden nor an arbitrary act
   I can't help but choose
   In my jealousy I may take hold of the worl through you
and that doesn't bring me any conveniences
   But it brings together a large but not infinite
accumulation of temporary panoramas
   Shown light I could swing around a camera and never
hide an "original choice"