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

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Tory plan to restrict the right to strike

The prime minister yesterday revealed that a future Conservative government will introduce strike ballot thresholds in essential services – although it is not yet clear whether new laws will require at least 50% of affected workers to cast votes in a strike ballot or an absolute majority of those workers balloted to support strike action. There has been sustained lobbying for more anti union legislation from Tory MPs and big business, notably the Institute of Directors which has published a raft of proposals to restrict the right to strike, the first of which is a so called ‘double lock-in vote’ – a requirement that 50% of union members balloted must support strike action as well as a majority of those voting. This will be an impossible hurdle to overcome in large scale national ballots.

Overtown Store Front by Colleen M. Farrelly

Backlit by the Miami skyline,
the broken sidewalk
and crooked fence
lining a grassy, abandoned lot
lead to the convenience store
beside the breeze-blown
“Peace and Justice” banner.

The broken Nordic Model

For many years the economic and social model of the Nordic countries - which combined a free market, capitalist economy with a universal welfare state - was held up as an alternative to the ravages of neo liberalism. A Red Pepper article on ‘Sweden’s great welfare heist’ highlights the extent of privatisation since the 1990’s with public contracts subject to competitive tendering and most new clinics and hospitals privately financed and operated: ‘They promised higher quality, cost effectiveness, better working conditions. All three were false. We can see certainly that marketisation increases inequality, especially in Stockholm. The people who need more get less. Resources are distributed according to profit not need. As for the idea that the Swedish welfare system needs big capital to survive, that’s simply a myth. Private equity does not invest money. It extracts money.’

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Privatisation is as innovative as a quill pen

As reported once again in the Manchester Evening News Trafford’s new young Tory leader at aged 26 and three quarters thinks he is ahead of the game in developing a mass outsourcing of public services. As you might expect the lure of the private sector selling promises of services the same if not better than they are now, and for cheaper, is a sum which only adds up to those yet to be introduced to an abacus board.
   Which may in fact be the case with Sean Anstree. What however is alarming is the seeming silence of the sensible – and yes I know that they are Conservative - backbenchers at Trafford Council who appear to be naively sleepwalking into this chaotic nonsense. Given:-

Sunday, 4 May 2014

New poll backs right to strike

Conventional political wisdom, including in New Labour circles, suggests that strikes by public sector workers are irresponsible and unpopular with the public. A recent Populus poll, commissioned by the BBC, revealed strong support for the right to strike and for the statement ‘striking is legitimate in an industrial dispute if in a ballot of union members the majority of those voting call for it’. However, long term polling confirms the marginalisation of trade union political influence with only 1% of the public mentioning unions/strikes as an important issue facing Britain. On a more positive note 76% see unions as ‘essential to protect workers’ interests’.

An Abandoned Factory, Detroit by Philip Levine

The gates are chained, the barbed-wire fencing stands,
An iron authority against the snow,
And this grey monument to common sense
Resists the weather. Fears of idle hands,
Of protest, men in league, and of the slow
Corrosion of their minds, still charge this fence.