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

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

What will the Tory Trade Union Bill mean for YOU?

Headlines on the new Trade Union Bill and subsequent blog postings have concentrated on the threat to strike action, through the new thresholds on ballots, and on the new laws regarding picketing and strike breaking. The ability of workers to exercise the right to withdraw their labour is under threat as never before, and opposition to the bill is rightly unanimous throughout the trade union movement. The current anti trade union laws in this country are outwith international law as defined in the ILO conventions and the changes make a bad situation worse.

As local stewards however it is easy to share the outrage and then assume that the impact on the way that we go about the everyday activities that we take for granted will be minimal. The grievances and disciplines, the representation over reorganisations, the local campaigning will all still continue as long as the members still have problems and we represent the workforce. The truth unfortunately is that our role will be significantly changed, and as UNISON is based primarily on lay organisation at a local level, we will be drastically curtailed in our ability to act on behalf of our members. The devil, as always, is in the detail.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Swimming through vomit

The debacle created by interim leader Harriet Harman on welfare has created Tory accusations of a split when we should have been putting clear red water between Labour and the Tories. Their vile attack on the poorest families and kids in the country is dog-whistle politics and all the more galling to allow the narrative to go on Tory territory as this is also an attack on the working poor – many thousands of UNISON members amongst them.

Piss ups and breweries spring to mind when a simple failure of the labour amendment would have been enough for the party to unitedly oppose these reforms based on being unable to support the bill un-amended – without the nonsense of asking for abstentions. Instead confusion ruled, Corbyn is being portrayed as a villain who created the split (utter nonsense but serves a purpose for Blairites and Tories to spin in this way) and we had just 48 MPs prepared to vote on the principles upon which they have been elected. This is the list of the Labour MPs who possess a pair.

Quote of the debate goes to John McDonnell MP ‘I would swim through vomit to vote against this bill and listening to some of the nauseating speeches tonight I think we might have to’. Given the cowardice of some of his colleagues I propose that as their fitting punishment.

Anna Rose

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Scotland after socialism?

Beneath the EU’s affront to democracy in Greece there is still the debate about whether Syriza reflects a shift to the left or whether it is just a singular reaction to a single issue which unites elements of left, right, middle and non-aligned. There is a mirror of this in Scotland as the debate around austerity always seems to end up as a debate about the constitution or national identity, as opposed to politics.
    The contradictions couldn't be more obvious. The words say: 'fight austerity, stop privatisation' and the actions bring privatisation upon privatisation and decimation of local government. Many are willing to excuse that as the result of failing to 'grasp independence' or because 'Labour did it before'. More worrying are those who actually support the service cuts, privatisations, tax freezes and business tax cuts as legitimate while still trumpeting an anti-austerity front.
   It makes for a difficult job for trade unions challenging these issues. Elements - sadly sometimes on the left - continue to try to characterise trade unions as part of the problem (the 'old order' or 'red tories') rather than the only realistic resistance we have to a mainstream political consensus that backs at least some level of austerity.
    In light of this, our attention was recently brought to a three paragraph blog from writer Ken Mcleod  which deserves wider distribution and will no doubt provoke some controversy but hopefully an interesting debate:

Monday, 13 July 2015

Local government workers in firing line of tax credit cuts

The outrage at Harriet Harman's refusal to oppose outright the Tory £4.5bn raid on tax credits is in contrast to the muted response to Labour front bench's equally unprincipled support for George Osborne's proposed 4 year 1% pay cap in the public sector. But there is good reason to be very angry at the latest capitulation to the Government's austerity agenda. A recent UNISON report highlighted that 'the proportion of local government workers receiving working tax credits at 11.2% is around two and a half times higher than the rest of the public sector.'

As John Tizard writes on the Home Start blog, there is now a compelling an urgent case for all Councils to pay a Living Wage and to ensure that they 'require all their suppliers of goods and services to pay the Living Wage'

Monday, 6 July 2015

Greece votes for democracy

Yesterday’s referendum in Greece on the terms of the bailout offered by the European Union offered a decisive answer to those seeking to continue with the route to austerity. By a margin of 62% to 38%, the Greek people voted no, on any terms a decisive result.

Most commentators had prophesied that the referendum would reveal a deep split in Greek society between those voting for continued affiliation to the EU and those rejecting the terms imposed by the IMF and the EU. This split did not materialise.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

UNISON #Lablink15 Day 2 'Meet the Newbie MPs'‏

Day 2 of the National UNISON Labour Link Forum in Manchester started with a Parliamentary Panel of MPs and MEPS (see picture). It was inspiring to see three new MPs who come from our movement sitting for the first time alongside longer serving panel members. Former UNISON NEC member, Dave Anderson MP, spoke first about the risk to the union from indiscipline and how we must remain loyal and united to fight off Tory attacks on the union and the cuts.

Friday, 3 July 2015

UNISON #Lablink15: Day 1. 'We will never walk away from the Labour Party'

The UNISON political fund representing members who have decided to affiliate to the Labour Party began its annual forum this morning in Manchester.

The forum was opened by Dave Prentis who promised delegates that as long as he is General Secretary, unison will never walk away from the Labour Party. The unions formed the Labour Party and we need the Party to make a fairer society.

Following the defeat in May and the party leadership elections it was decided to cancel the usual workshops and hold hustings of leadership candidates.

The New Health and Social Care Economy – Dexter Whitfield

This ground-breaking 96-page report puts the health and social care sector at the centre of importance to achieve sustainable economic growth. Commissioned by New Directions, the definitive analysis covers Sefton MBC, Liverpool and Greater Manchester City Regions and the North West regional economy. It demonstrates the economic importance of the health and social care economy; sets out the terrain on which the integration of health and social care must take place including privatisation, inequalities, austerity, demographic change and quality jobs; and makes local and national 40 recommendations.
Full Report http://www.european-services-strategy.org.uk/publications/public-bodies/health-and-social-care/the-new-health-and-social-care-economy-dexte/the-new-health-and-social-care-economy-full-report.pdf

Executive Summary http://www.european-services-strategy.org.uk/publications/public-bodies/health-and-social-care/the-new-health-and-social-care-economy-dexte/the-new-health-and-social-care-economy-exec-summary.pdf

Friday, 26 June 2015

All roads lead to Manchester on 4 October

Building on last Saturday's larger than expected anti austerity protests in Glasgow, London and other cities, the TUC is calling a national demonstration in Manchester on Sunday 4 October to coincide with the Tory Party conference. Over 50,000 attended a similar demonstration in 2013.
    TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: “This October’s march and rally will allow thousands of ordinary people to show the government exactly what they think of their policies. The Conservatives’ planned attack on trade unions and extreme cuts are an assault on working people at a time when they should be focused on securing the UK’s fragile recovery and creating better jobs to boost productivity.”

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Europe - the dog that didn't bark at #uNDC15‏

As the clock ticked down on a bail out deal between the Greek Government and the Troika – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF – UNISON conference was debating emergency composite motion 2 on ‘UNISON’s political campaign after the General Election.’

However this omnibus composite (agreed between the NEC and 5 branches) was silent on Britain’s relationship with the EU - an issue which is central to the political agenda of the Tory Government and attracting growing concern in some parts of the British trade union movement (see below).