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

Saturday, 20 December 2014

What workers read in 1909

The discovery of a time capsule left in the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh by joiners in 1909 has thrown a fascinating insight into where the workers of the day got their news. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/

It contained a copy of ‘The Labour Leader: A Weekly Journal of Socialism, Trade Unionism and Politics’, a paper set up by Keir Hardie in 1888. Stories covered in the 19 March 1909 edition included the Paris Strike of postal and telecoms workers, ‘The Liberal Betrayal’ (what’s new?), ‘Welsh Notes’ on the threatened coal strike and the Russian Azeff Affair.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Phoney Deficit Mania

Since the publication of the Con Dem Autumn Statement a new reverse paradigm has been introduced into the economic debate in Britain - cutting the deficit versus borrowing. Self serving Tory assumptions about the need for permanent austerity rule the roost. The deficit must be solved, taxation on big business and the wealthy must be minimised, public services outsourcing should be extended to everything but core functions and, of course, public sector pay should continue to be held down despite 6 years of wage stagnation.

Seumas Milne, writing in today's Guardian, challenges this new orthodoxy using the ample evidence of failed austerity policies since 2010: 'where Cameron, Osborne and their friends have succeeded, of course, is in convincing large numbers of people that Labour spending was somehow responsible for the crisis – which it wasn’t – and in turning the budget deficit into the central issue of economic policy – which it isn’t. In reality, the deficit was below 3% when the crisis was triggered by a financial crash – and up to that point public spending under New Labour, at 38.7% of national income, was lower than under every other government since the 1950s. And the budget deficit is only a reflection of the real problems in the economy and cannot be controlled by the government, as Osborne has demonstrated so comprehensively'

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Brendan McCarthy - a union man with a big heart

Brendan McCarthy former Joint Regional Convenor for UNISON Northern Ireland and Branch Secretary of the NUPE North & West Belfast Health Branch and the UNISON Royal Hospitals Branch died last week.

Brendan was a member of NUPE and UNISON for most of his life. He loved the union. He met his late wife, Frances, while working in the Royal Victoria Hospital. His mother, his brother George and many of his family members worked there too. His son Conor McCarthy is the current Joint Chairperson of the Branch. He loved his family.

Throughout his long service as a trade unionist Brendan helped thousands of members and they, in turn, consistently elected him as their chosen union rep. In the 80’s and 90’s he led some of toughest strikes we have ever experienced, including the longest strike in the NHS in Northern Ireland, which we won. Brendan went on to work for the union as a Regional Organiser.

Brendan believed passionately in the dignity of working class people. His service to the members is a matter of record. He also had a big heart. Few people know that he worked quietly to bring some joy to lonely pensioners in his community. He was our friend and colleague and we will miss him.

Patricia McKeown

Monday, 15 December 2014

Police Chief disregards compelling evidence

Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, writes in today's Guardian and calls for 'radical structural reform' to deal with the impact of Government funding cuts. His solution includes proposals for force mergers and predictably the 'opening up all but core policing functions to competition'.
    Clearly Hogan-Howe has not applied his detective skills to the track record of outsourcing companies in the criminal justice sector. Barnet UNISON has compiled a useful list of private sector commissioning failures. Maybe the branch should contact Crimestoppers?