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

Friday, 18 September 2015

Women in UNISON

When national newspapers (Gender And Unity In The Labour Movement - Guardian 17 Sept) are used to urge that its time for 'a woman' to lead UNISON perhaps its time to look at where women are in the union.

The leadership of UNISON, as national newspapers may not be aware, lies in the lay membership. At its pinnacle is the National Executive Council, of whom at any point in time two thirds will automatically be women, due to an election process that awards seats at every level on the basis of proportionality, reflecting the proportion of women in the membership. The presidency of our union is guaranteed to consist of at least two women out of a structure of a president and two vice presidents. This means that in the last eighteen years since the merged union elected its own president, only six men have ever held that office.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

We have a moral and legal obligation to help refugees: Jane Carolan full #TUC15 speech

“We have a moral and legal obligation to help refugees”, UNISON NEC member Jane Carolan told delegates today in a moving speech backing a statement committing the General Council to campaign for Government policy to:
- recognise that the UK must play a full role in supporting refugees and fulfil its moral and legal obligations to significantly upscale its resettlement programme
- participate fully in a continent-wide response to the refugee crisis
- make welcome tens of thousands of refugees whether from camps in the Middle East or already in Europe
- .fully fund refugee resettlement, avoiding the exploitation of refugees and avoiding extra pressure on poorer inner-city communities, whilst ensuring that the international development budget is only used in line with OECD guidelines on official development assistance.

"Jane’s full speech is below.

This motion refers to events that everyone in this hall must be aware of, from the images that have been beamed into our homes on a nightly basis. I would hope that no one in this hall watches them with anything other than compassion and pity.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Pay - doing nothing is not an option

On Thursday a national pay summit was held at UNISON head office with representatives in attendance from all regions and service groups. Co-chaired by President Wendy Nichols and NEC Policy Chair Jane Carolan, the seminar was opened by General Secretary Dave Prentis who set out a context of Government long term 1% pay restraint, relentless public services cuts, vicious attacks on tax credits and the huge threat posed by the Trade Union Bill. https://www.unison.org.uk/news/article/2015/09/special-unison-summit-plans-to-tackle-pay-freeze/

In a speech outlining the challenges facing UNISON branches and members in local government, SGE Chair Glen Williams posed the big question to delegates - 'Does anyone here think doing nothing is an option in terms of a pay campaign?' With national pay disputes progressing in further education and probation, the local government NJC claim recently submitted as well as an all member consultation on a 2.5% two year offer in Scotland, that question will be answered soon enough (full speech below).

Monday, 24 August 2015

Can the leadership debate re-engage Labour supporters?

It is sad to see process overtaking politics in the Labour leadership debate, especially because the campaign had at least contained something about visions and policies and how best to deliver on them.

That is what has engaged the thousands who have turned out to hear Corbyn. Many of them are young and have been enlivened by a political debate on austerity that has been completely missing from the mainstream (except perhaps in Scotland but even there we detect a gradual awakening that SNP rhetoric and policy on that issue are two different things).

Engaging so many people in that debate surely can’t be a bad thing. So has it re-engaged disaffected Labour supporters?

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Labour ballot: The curious case of the Tory and the vote

Andy Burnham has expressed concerns that Tories may have been given votes in the Labour leadership election and many in Corbyn’s camp have been quick to dismiss this as scaremongering, or as means to invalidate the election outcome. Parking politics to one side this election has turned into a very curious way to run a ballot.

I work with an former Tory councillor who has received several mail shots from candidates as a ‘registered supporter’. He hasn’t been mischievous about this but his name for one reason or another over the years got onto Labour mailing lists. He jokingly quipped that he could have registered three votes using different email addresses, family names and accounts if he could be bothered – because it really is that easy to register as a supporter.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Kenny Bell remembered

On the 4th anniversary of his death, Colombian human rights organisation Nomadesc has produced a video tribute to the late Kenny Bell, Newcastle UNISON Branch Secretary and deputy Regional Convenor Northern Region.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

UNISONActive on facebook

See our new facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/UNISONActiveblog We've had problems with the existing facebook page that we are trying to sort out.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

4 October National March & Rally - programme confirmed

#4Oct British trade unions are facing a full frontal attack. Government spending on public services and the welfare state is being rolled back decades. It has never been more important for trade unionists to protest. The TUC has published details of the upcoming demonstration at the Tory Party conference in Manchester on Sunday 4 October:

Click here or on the graphic for leaflets and posters to download and print.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

A windfall for Fat Cats - Labour must oppose Corporation Tax Cuts in Finance Bill 2015/16

In the immediate aftermath of the Parliamentary Labour Party’s failure to oppose the Welfare Bill, its MPs with the sole exception of Dennis Skinner abstained on an amendment to decline a second reading to the Finance Bill 2015/16. As well as insuring income tax rates will not rise in the next 5 years, the Bill proposes a raise in the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million and further cuts in Corporation Tax (reduced in 2 stages to 18% by 2020). All of these measures will deplete public finances and intensify the squeeze on public services. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2015-07-21&number=52&showall=yes#voters

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.