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

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Austerity is rolling back equality gains

The Institute of Employment Rights has published an excellent report of a recent conference held on the theme of 'Equality and discrimination: what next for equal rights'. Legal and trade union experts dissected the Coalition Government's track record on equalities and concluded that there is a systematic (and ongoing) weakening of anti discrimination laws and statutory enforcement of equal rights:

A Stiff's Progress by Ernest Antony

The world is round, and mostly mud and rocks and stones and sand,
And it's hard as hell if you're on tramp and broke, you understand;
I've landed broke in twenty towns, and reckoned the game was fair,
When I didn't tramp from any place if I didn't tramp to there.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Real wages cut for fifth year in a row

UNISON Scotland's Public Works blog reports that full-time earnings have now fallen by 6.2% in Scotland since 2010 leaving workers £1753 worse off, with the gender pay gap widening. http://publicworksscotland.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/real-wages-cut-for-fifth-year-in-row.html

Councils face an impending cuts catastrophe

There is a consensus across the political spectrum that local government services are facing a meltdown over the next three years as planned funding cuts kick in. The LSE blog reports that by 2015 'the spending power of English councils will have reduced by 30% in real terms, from the peak in 2008, while those in Scotland will be down 24%. Furthermore, the most deprived councils will be the hardest hit. By 2014 the most deprived English councils will have lost £100 more in grant income per head than the least deprived. In Scotland the difference will be £90… Given the scale of the cuts and the increasing focus on front-line services, this implies fundamental change is coming. Councils are likely to pull out of some service areas altogether’

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Markets a destructive force in higher education

'The marketisation of higher education is still in its infancy but already its effects are pervasive in so many ways. Many staff report grave concern about the future of higher education. A commonly held belief is that our world-leading system is steadily being turned into a “sausage factory” of graduates’ writes Sally Hunt General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU). The current national pay dispute involving UCU, UNISON and Unite has highlighted growing pay inequalities in the sector with an exponential grow in executive pay in contrast with declining real earnings for academics and support staff:

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Workplace justice denied as ET claims plummet

As critics of the introduction of an excessive fee regime for Employment Tribunals had predicted, there has been a sharp decline in the number of claims submitted. LRD reports that on official statistics showing the number of employment tribunal claims issued between the launch of tribunal fees on 29 July 2013 and September 2013. Claims peaked in July at 7,307, plummeting to around 1,000 in September. The judgment in UNISON’s High Court judicial review challenge to the fees is imminent:

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Is This What Europeans Want?

The New York Times asks whether the Europeans want the US deregulation economy, with tiny unions and no legal minimums of any note. It is a good question. If we can re phrase it - is it what the governments and corporate bosses want and what can the unions do about it? Certainly it is what our economic masters want.

NEF report identifies 6 steps for public sector pay justice - now it's over to us

Research by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) think-tank, commissioned by UNISON, is the latest in a long line of reports to identify that ‘workers on low and middle incomes are experiencing the biggest decline in their living standards since reliable records began in the mid-19th century.’      
   The NEF sets out 6 excellent recommendations (below) for government and other policy makers to adopt. However it should be added to the mix that union agency in collective bargaining, including the effective and smart use of strike tactics, will be critical to realising pay justice for workers who provide public services in the UK:

Monday, 9 December 2013

Report of Latin America 2013 ¡Adelante!

This weekend's 9th Annual Latin America ¡Adelante! conference paid moving tributes to three giants of the progressive revolutionary movement at the weekend. The deaths of Nelson Mandela and Hugo Chavez and the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Salvador Allende brought sadness but also hope to over 500 delegates packed into Congress House in London.

Stepping up the campaign for pay justice in UK Universities

Following last week's successful second day of national strike action by higher education unions, UNISON has pledged to step up the campaign for an improve pay offer from UCEA, the universities and colleges employers association. Meeting on Friday the union's service group executive pledged to build the pay campaign and engage with members to highlight inequality and low pay throughout January leading to further strike action with UCU and Unite in February:

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Rolling back the State

In last week's Autumn Statement a further round of spending cuts was announced - an additional £1bn per year up to 2017. Whitehall Watch, the University of Manchester policy blog, argues that the relentless reductions in public expenditure by Tory Chancellor George Osborne 'isn’t a reaction to the fiscal crisis – it’s a long-term strategy to permanently shrink the state'

Random notes to my son by Keorapetese Kgositsile

Beware, my son, words
that carry the loudnesses
of blind desire also carry
the slime of illusion
dripping like pus from the slave's battered back
e.g. they speak of black power whose eyes
will not threaten the quick whitening of their own intent
what days will you inherit?
what shadows inhabit your silences?