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

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Does it matter which union is the 'largest'?

Inter union rivalry has been a negative characteristic of British trade unionism for more than a century. The highly unionised teaching profession is strongly contested by 3 TUC affiliated unions and claims of the 'best', 'biggest' and 'largest' trade union feature on union websites and other communications. The NUT recently lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about an NASUWT job advertisement which included a claim to be 'the largest teachers' union in the UK'. The complaint was upheld and the NASUWT must not repeat the advert in its current form. The ASA has told the NASUWT to ensure it holds evidence to support such claims in future.
    A parallel situation arguably exists between Unite and UNISON with the former claiming to be 'Britain's biggest trade union' despite having 150,000 fewer paying members. But does size matter? The Con Dem Government seems to think so with Part 3 of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 bringing in a new statutory requirement for unions to submit a membership audit certificate (verified by an independent assurer) to the Certification Office each year. The pretext for this legislation was that unions 'should reflect the will of their members' but in reality it is about marginalising unions from public life. And faced with such hostile state interference maybe it's time for unions to end one-upmanship and place greater emphasis on trade union unity rather than making competitive claims more befitting of mobile phone firms and supermarket chains?

A Prayer for the Loners by Keith Armstrong

The dejected men,
the lone voices,
slip away
in this seaside rain.
Their words shudder to a standstill
in dismal corners.
Frightened to shout,

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Stop TTIP - the Trojan Treaty

#noTTIP Many hundreds of campaigners, including a contingent of UNISON activists, protested in Brussels over the past two days. The demonstration coincided with the latest round of talks on the proposed EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). A giant wooden horse drew attention to the 'Trojan treaty' which threatens democracy and puts corporate profits above people.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Vultures circling over Police Staff

Metropolitan Police proposals to transfer 500 'business services' staff in human resources, payroll and procurement to a new company Shared Services Connected Ltd, (75% owned by French multinational Sopra Steria and 25% owned by the UK government) could lead to 'the mass privatisation of civilian staff employed by police forces across England' according to a Tribune report by David Hencke:

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Labour's public transport policy heading in wrong direction

When will the Labour Party learn a bit of municipal history? Announcements trumpeted as some kind of radical overhaul of bus regulations by the party appear to be yet another neo-liberal experiment of continued privatisation of what ought to be public services.

Prior to Thatcher’s deregulation of municipal buses councils ran good, reliable services, which served urban and rural communities alike because profit was not a motive. Fast forward to the Thatcher vision of a share-owning democracy and despite the language of ‘employee owned non-profit businesses’ the deregulation of the buses was de facto management buy-outs. The employee owners soon sold their former municipal shares to the highest bidder and flirted off to Spain to buy a villa on the proceeds - never to drive a bus again. The reality was an audacious asset stripping of local transport and replacement by big business to run are now not-so-local bus companies that have abandoned rural communities and less profitable routes and hiked up fairs.

So why would the Labour Party want to espouse as radical a rehash of a Thatcherite policy of non-profit bus companies and community transport. Transport is a complex and costly and risky services and needs to have at its heart the core capacity to deliver which the public sector has. This timid approach from Labour, which smacks of the big society ‘blue labour’ nonsense that has confused voters and stands for nothing but an incoherent plan on public transport policy, is a shameful indictment of the lack of vision in Labour policy making. I just wish these people would grow a pair and say what we really need is a return to municipal bus companies.

Anna Rose

To a Waverer by Bertolt Brecht

You tell us
It looks bad for our cause.
The darkness gets deeper. The powers get less.
Now, after we worked for so many years
We are in a more difficult position than at the start.
But the enemy stands there, stronger than ever before.
His powers appear to have grown. He has taken on an aspect
of invincibility.
We however have made mistakes; there is no denying it.
Our numbers are dwindling.
Our slogans are in disarray. The enemy has twisted
Part of our words beyond recognition.

What is now false of what we said:
Some or all?
Whom do we still count on? Are we just left over, thrown out
Of the living stream? Shall we remain behind
Understanding no one and understood by none?

Have we got to be lucky?

This you ask. Expect
No other answer than your own.