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

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Insatiable - the neo liberal lust for privatisation

In recent years many European countries have followed the British example and sold off public services and national assets. According to the Economist magazine, in a feature promoting a new wave of privatisations worldwide, '2012 was the third-best year ever and preliminary evidence suggests that 2013 may have been even better''. The CWU recently put up an excellent but ultimately unsuccessful campaign against the privatisation of the Royal Mail. The rail unions are campaigning hard to return the railways to public ownership. A renewed effort to halt the privatisation process across all public services is urgently required involving community groups, service users and trade unions. This must include backing the excellent We Own It organisation campaigning for public services for people not profit:

Wise I by Amiri Baraka

If you ever find
yourself, some where
lost and surrounded
by enemies
who won’t let you
speak in your own language
who destroy your statues
& instruments, who ban
your omm bomm ba boom
then you are in trouble
deep trouble
they ban your
own boom ba boom
you in deep deep

probably take you several hundred years
to get

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Stop the public sector fire sale on assets

Instead of Eric Pickles encouraging councils to dispose of their assets in a public sector fire sale new research from APSE and CLES suggests that local council assets could be the key to reinvigorating failing high street in our town centres. As the retail sector fails to drive regeneration of our high streets this reports shows the value that local authority assets can bring to the High Street though there use as community hubs, leisure facilities, civic centres and town halls. The research also highlights the spend of council employees in local economies as a welcome boost to local traders. It is further proof that the public and private economies are intrinsically linked and you can’t have a buoyant private sector if you take away the steadying anchor of the public sector;
Anna Rose

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

A challenge to anti scrounger rhetoric – and to anti union propaganda

As the tide of anti claimant misinformation reaches a crescendo led by Channel 4 at the moment, any challenge to the “feckless shirkers” argument needs to be carefully considered. Larry Elliott in the Guardian does more than challenge the rhetoric. Not only does he provide a manifesto that any socialist would be able to sign up to - full employment, a house building programme, and an industrial strategy - but he presents an argument that tackling poverty requires the unshackling of trade union power and the reinstatement of free collective bargaining. If there is to be an end to poverty pay, zero hours contracts, and a return to permanent employment patterns it can only be achieved by restoring the balance of power in the workplace. That would really make work pay but requires more than demonising the poor. We hope Mr Miliband is reading http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2014/jan/12/george-osborne-welfare-cuts-distortions-benefits-street

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Privatisation - Who benefits?

Following last September's election of a right wing federal government in Australia pressure is mounting for a large scale sell off of essential services. As in Britain in the 1970's, proponents of privatisation argue that it will bring greater productivity, efficiency and lower prices. Professor Sharon Beder writing in the Brisbane Times provides a compelling rebuttal of the case for privatisation and exposes the public services industrial complex which it has spawned: "Privatisation is promoted by a group of powerful vested interests greedy for low-risk financial investments, consultancy and legal fees, or banking business. They are aided by business-funded think tanks and economic advisers who spread the ideologically based belief that private management is superior, despite the plethora of examples contradicting this"
  Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/privatisation-provides-no-dividends-for-the-poor-20140109-30k95.html#ixzz2qM69k5fe 

In Con Dem Britain the serial privatisers march on

Neil Clark, of the Campaign for Public Ownership writes in the Morning Star about the Con Dem's relentless drive to hive off public services in the face of both public opposition and mounting evidence of the failures of privatisation: "Thatcher may be dead, but in 2014 Thatcherism continues, in a new and even more extreme form. Despite public opinion being against them and the arguments for privatisation being more discredited than ever, the serial privatisers march on. But we should not allow ourselves to become demoralised. We have all the arguments on our side as well as the support of the vast majority of the public. It's true that 2013 was a year of disappointments, but that should only make us redouble our efforts in 2014 to bring the privatisation era to an end"

Monday, 13 January 2014

Nicaraguan example shows that unions can overcome political adversity‏

UNISON activist Ruby Cox reports on developments in Nicaragua over the past 35 years. She argues that trade unionists in Britain have much to learn from the way in which Nicaraguan trade unionists struggled to survive against all of the odds following the election of a right wing coalition government in 1990: "It shows us that even though it seems that so much that we fought for has been taken away from us, we can and will win it back. It shows us that we are not the first to struggle against “austerity”, nor will we be the last, and that’s why we have to win. It’s a global struggle, and whether we’re British or Nicaraguan we are committed to the same goal; a fair and compassionate society in a fair and compassionate world. By working together in solidarity, this is a goal which we will surely succeed in achieving"

New legislation leaves TUPE hanging by a thread

Legislation amending the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE 2006) was laid before Parliament on Friday. As expected the proposed changes, which will take effect on 31 Januury 2014, will weaken employment protection when services are outsourced.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Anti Trade Union UKIP are Tory Clones

In recent political opinion polls UKIP has registered as high as 13% and in upcoming elections will be a significant electoral force, particularly in May’s European Parliament elections. It will be looking to surpass its success in 2009 – when it forced Labour into third place in the popular vote and bagged 13 seats – the biggest representation of any right wing xenophobic party in the Parliament. A recent article on the UKIP Daily website examined the party’s relationship with trade unions and working class. It repeated many anti union positions associated with the Tory Party – that unions are unrepresentative and merely a ‘special interest group’ on a par with big corporations, acting only in our self interest. One thing the author is correct on, however, is that few trade unionists committed to collectivism and a welfare state will find appeal in UKIP’s stance as a ‘small government, low tax party’

For more information on UKIP attitudes to workers’ rights read here:

The Plan by José M. Tirado

It was a brash maneuver-
Part of a task planned for long before the fall,
Almost gratuitous, even unto the details
About the girl.
She could be made to break him
They thought,
It´s only a fruit, after all.