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

Friday, 29 May 2015

Queen’s speech: We may have lost a battle - There is still a war to fight

“Where there is discord may we bring harmony. Where there is error may we bring truth. Where there is doubt may we bring faith.  And where there is despair may we bring hope.” Remember that nauseating quote from a newly elected Margaret Thatcher on the steps of Downing St on her first day in office in 1979?

This was a woman who went on to put troops on the streets of the UK; who declared class war on trade unions and open war on the miners and mining communities; who presided over almost 15 years of police corruption, most of which is just now seeing the light of day through events like the Hillsborough inquiry; and who caused untold damage to British industry and those who worked in it.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Collins Review paved way for Tory attack on union political funds

Yesterday's Queen's Speech included proposals to require an opt-in to political funds (rather than the current opt-out) and the Guardian reports that 'trade union officers and the Labour party seemed to have been caught unaware of the reforms'.
    No one can say that they were not warned about this scenario as they rushed to endorse the Collins Review which effectively ended collective affiliation to Labour and removed automatic voting rights from union levy payers. In acquiescing to a two tier system whereby levy payers are required to opt-in to affiliate Labour party membership in order to secure voting rights, the pass was sold on opposing the same mechanism for payment of the levy. The consequences were foreseeable and will be disastrous for the Labour party. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

The funding sting in the tail of Devo Manc

UNISON North West has produced an excellent policy statement on Devo Manc. They are rightly concerned by the blurred lines of accountability, future funding and how services will be delivered or commissioned in the future.
    One of the key areas to be included in Devo Manc is health spending. Labour’s vision for greater integration of health and social care was a strong concept which the Labour Party placed as a central plank of its NHS policy. Devo Manc appeared to wrong-foot Andy Burnham pre-election and led to accusations of a policy rift with the regions Labour leaders. Whether this is true or not it appears to me that Andy Burnham is the critical friend who should be listened to.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

ILO issues global inequality warning

The warnings and predictions just keep on coming. Following the World Bank statement earlier this year that the rise in Global Inequality is partly due to the decline of trade unions, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has released its own warnings about accelerating global inequality. The report notes that the Global Labour Market and the nature of employment is changing significantly.
   Only 25% of workers currently have a stable, long term employment relationship with their employer. The other 75% (60% of whom do not have a contract) are exist in zero hours, self employed, part time, temporary or even intern contracts. Even in the so-called stable economies of Europe and North America over 33% of workers work in `precarious work` employment.

Friday, 15 May 2015

No right turn

I have previously referred to Ed the Moribund and I was openly critical of his circus act hustings at the last leadership contest surrounded by labour students – an earlier pre-cursor to Milifandom without the notoriety; he struggled to distance himself from the Blair/Brown era and, terrified of the ‘Red Ed’ label, appeared to be neither the darling of the left or the right, popping out like a weather vane to try and please both sides. His early leadership days were beset by waffly concepts – egged on by ill-advisors, like Cruddas, who still tinker with blue labour ideals of replacing public services with co-ops, mutuals and all things woolly rather than making a commitment on hard policy pledges that would capture the hearts and minds of voters.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Agitate, educate, organise!‏

In the aftermath of the general election, trade unions have a unique role in leading the fight back against the Tory offensive, writes John Stevenson of UNISON Scotland:
    'The Tories know how influential we can be and that’s why we are about to face attacks threatening our very existence. That means getting back to organising, recruiting, engaging, educating and agitating. We have a membership to represent and they are going to need us now more than ever'

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

2015-2020: a do-or-die period for UK trade unions

'Trade unions will now pay a heavy price for Labour’s defeat. Tory plans are set out clearly enough in their election manifesto, including the much-trumpeted proposals for yet more restrictions on strike ballots, most notably a requirement that strikes in certain sectors will need the support of 40 per cent of those eligible to vote, as well as a majority of those voting' writes Professor Keith Ewing in today's Morning Star.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

People’s Assembly Scotland: Greens top pledge against austerity followed by Labour then SNP

#GE2015 Most of Scotland’s election candidates who responded to the People’s Assembly Scotland’s petition against austerity have also signed up to it, pledging “to commit themselves to oppose all Austerity Cuts.”
   Top pledgers were the Greens (14), next came Labour (11) and surprisingly in third place was the SNP with only 9 of its 22 responders agreeing to sign up to oppose all austerity cuts while the others issued a statement which included “We believe we can manage the deficit down, but without destroying the social fabric that holds us together.”
   Phil McGarry, Chair of the People’s Assembly Scotland, said: “With austerity right at the front of so many parties’ election campaign, we are surprised more candidates didn’t take the chance to publicly confirm their opposition to austerity. Given the public campaigning, we are even more surprised at how few SNP candidates were willing to actually pledge to oppose all austerity.”

Monday, 27 April 2015

Surrendering to neo-liberal ‘fiscal discipline’

Keith Ewing suggests that Scottish independence may come sooner than the high-speed rail link, partly because of ‘Labour’s extraordinary proposal to give quasi-constitutional status to Austerity.’ Unfortunately, Labour is not alone in this as the SNP manifesto betrays. (UK Constitutional Law Association)

He is right that the proposed ‘Budget Responsibility Lock’ – at least without a miraculous and spontaneous economic recovery – would effectively make some level of austerity legally compulsory, if it could be made to work at all.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

TTIP needs international union response

#stuc15 UNISON NEC member Jane Carolan reminded the STUC in Ayr today about the need for an international response to the TTIP “assault on democratic government”.

A composite from four unions and four local TUCs called on the STUC to campaign against TTIP, support an international protest in Paris in December and to call for politicians who have an interest in the privatisation to declare an interest and abstain on voting on TTIP.