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

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Tolpuddle Weekend is here

#Tolpuddle13 This year’s Tolpuddle Festival got off to a rousing start last night with a Campaign for Trade Union Freedom rally at Tolpuddle Village Hall. Speakers included Professor Keith Ewing who outlined the severe threat to trade union political involvement posed by the new Lobbying Bill. Today former UNISON General Secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe will be speaking in the Unizone and this morning Assistant General Secretary Roger McKenzie will discuss the legacy of Martin Luther King in a debate at the Martyrs' Marquee:

Time to Renationalise Water in England & Wales

Since privatisation in 1989 there has been relentless profiteering by utilities companies. A new report by Centre Forum catalogues the chronic failure of regulation and the drive by debt ridden companies to maximise short term profits at the expense of infrastructure investment. In Northern Ireland and Scotland water remains in public ownership. There is no shortage of evidence that water privatisation has failed in England and Wales. It's time to bring it back into public ownership as a common good:

Still life on a shelf by Karl Koweski

the dull roar of the furnace,
so absolute and implacable,
this must be the sound of all creation.
The lampworker honey spools
molten glass from the crucible within
and births it onto the marver.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Detroit is bankrupt - how soon before it happens here?

As British public policy ever increasingly mimics the USA - academies, City Mayors, large scale outsourcing and tuition fees to name a few - how long before a cash strapped Council goes the same way as the financially collapsed city of Detroit in Michigan. 'The citizens of Detroit need and deserve a clear road out of the cycle of ever-decreasing services' said Michigan governor Richard Snyder. Far fetched? Not according to the Local Government Association which recently warned that councils in England could face 'financial meltdown' because of draconian cuts in government funding:

Con Dem Lobbying Bill is a ‘cheap, partisan attack’ on unions as well as Labour

Labour MP Angela Eagle, the shadow leader of the Commons, said yesterday that the new Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trades Union Administration Bill has been designed to ‘divert attention away from allegations the Conservatives had offered dinners for party donors in Downing Street’ and is ‘cheap, partisan attack on Labour funding.’ These points are true and reflect current Westminster preoccupations, but worse than both is the attempt to remove trade unions from politics by severely limiting political fund expenditure in the full year leading up to a General Election:

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Why insourcing is the answer to outsourcing rip offs

This article in the Independent highlights the problems with outsourcing. The idea that the private sector creams off the volume work, that it can make an easy profit on, and parks the more complex work, will come as no surprise to the public sector or UNISON which has campaigned for decades against outsourcing:

New lobbying laws will muzzle unions during General Elections

The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning & Trade Union Administration Bill was published yesterday and contains two significant anti union measures - a draconian restriction on trade union political expenditure as well as imposing new administrative demands on unions.

Greek public service workers say 'no more sacrifices'

Tens of thousands of Greek public service workers staged a 24 hour general strike against austerity on Tuesday. But the Greek parliament scraped through a vote on Wednesday for on mass sackings of public sector workers as a condition of securing bail out funds from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Miliband reform proposals lack coherence

Ed Miliband's proposed changes to the relationship between the Labour Party and the 15 affiliated trade unions 'do not really form a coherent programme' and 'many of the Party will be disturbed by what appears to be a rushed and ill considered approach to party organisation' writes Eric Shaw on the LSE British Policy and Politics blog

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The compelling case against Trident replacement

CND has published ‘The Real Alternative: What the government’s Trident Alternatives Review isn’t telling you’ to coincide with Cabinet Office review. This is compelling analysis of the economic, humanitarian, legal, security and political case against Trident replacement. On cost grounds alone the decision is a ‘no brainer’ - replacing and running Trident will cost well in excess of £100 billion. Read the full report here:

5 home truths about the Benefit Cap

The welfare policies of the current Government owe a lot to the right wing social engineering of US republicans and similar divide and rule propaganda techniques have been used to justify this week’s introduction of the benefit cap. The New Statesman’s blog highlights ‘five things Iain Duncan Smith doesn't want you to know about the benefit cap’

1. An out-of-work family is never better off than an in-work family

2. It will punish large families and increase child poverty

3. It will likely cost more than it saves

4. It will increase homelessness and do nothing to address the housing crisis

5. It will encourage family break-up


Monday, 15 July 2013

Tory press playing cheap politics with the NHS

The hypocritical hand wringing and crocodile tears are already surfacing in the right wing press even though Professor Bruce Keogh's report into the apparent high deaths at 14 NHS Trusts will not be made public until Tuesday 16th July. In a knee jerk reaction to Robert Francis' report into Mid-Staffordshire David Cameron appointed England's Medical Director to review the incidents of mortality in the Trusts. Almost gleefully the Telegraph states that the report will be a damning indictment of the NHS:

A Defining Moment for Trade Unionism

‘Trade union leaders are now under great pressure. They and they alone have the opportunity to stop Miliband’s breath-taking changes from happening, and the opportunity to defend the principle of collective affiliation’ writes Professor Keith Ewing in stark contrast to the equanimity of some trade union leaders in responding to the Labour leader’s proposals for a new constitutional settlement between affiliated unions and the Labour Party based on individual opt in:

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Durham - a reminder of our collective strength

The massive turnout at yesterday’s 129th Durham Miners Gala proved once again why it is the key event in the labour movement calendar bringing together trade unionists, political activists and other campaigning organisations to show the collective voice and strength of ordinary people.
   We should never forget our collective history, whilst looking to change the future - the 'Big Meeting' is a political event which reminds us of our collective strength.
   Speakers including TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady and Mirror journalist Kevin Maguire hammered home this point in well received speeches. A contingent of UNISON strikers from Future Directions in Rochdale received great support on the march:

Political Fund Opt Outs – Separating fact from fiction

The complexities of union political funds have come under the microscope over the past week. Both Union News and Socialist Unity websites make a ludicrous claim (based on an erroneous Government Certification Officer report) that 35.2% or 35.3% of UNISON members have opted out of paying the political fund. This is utter nonsense. Far from UNISON having the largest opt out of affiliated unions, the reverse is the case. The opt out figures for (or exemption to be legally precise) as declared by each of the ‘Big 4’ Unions are as follows:

Miners Strike by Ian McMillan

It feels like a hundred years ago, or it could just be last week
When they stood on a freezing picket line and history took a turn
When communities refused to die or turn the other cheek
And what did we learn, eh? What did we learn?