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

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.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Oppose TTIP in principle – it has no redeeming features

#A18DoA #NoTTIP Today is a Global Day of Action against free trade and investment treaties. Over 25 protests are planned in Britain including a major event ‘Democracy vs TTIP’ at Shepherds Bush Common, London:
     Many trade unionists will have been disappointed to see Labour include in its General Election manifesto support for the 'principles behind the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Treaty (TTIP)’. Although it goes on to say that a Labour Government ‘will hold the European Commission to account on issues of concern, including the impact on public services and the Investor to State Dispute Settlement Mechanism. And we will ensure the NHS is protected from the TTIP treaty’, this is a massive and unacceptable capitulation to the competition and deregulation agenda of the EU and US:

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Tory guns loaded and targeted on trade unions

#GE2015 David Cameron's cocksure comment in last night's BBC interview that the Tories are 'only 23 seats short of a majority' should make every trade unionist reflect on what's at stake in next month's General Election. A look at the Tory Manifesto confirms an intention to outlaw public sector strikes and introduce a further raft of repressive restrictions on union freedom to organise:

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Half a work manifesto is better than none

On Monday Labour launches its 2015 General Election manifesto but the 'work manifesto' A Better Plan for Britain’s Workplaces published on 1st April, provides an early insight into the party's proposals for employment rights. Strong commitments include an apprenticeship guarantee, outlawing the use of agency workers to undercut permanent employees (but not removing the 12 week qualifying period for equal rights), banning 'exploitative' zero hours contracts and raising the national minimum wage hourly rate to £8 within the next five years.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

ISDS - a corporate power grab

#NoTTIP One of the most pernicious measures in the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) which empowers corporations to go to secret tribunals to attack the laws we rely on for public services, a clean environment, safe food and decent jobs etc.

A new resource has been launched for campaigning on ISDS -www.ISDSCorporateAttacks.org – a website that outlines the basic facts/threats of ISDS; provides summaries of ISDS cases organized by issue area: health, environment, financial stability, etc.; gives stories of inspiration of governments and government officials that opposing ISDS; and includes a basic petition.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Why TTIP is bad for workers

#NoTTIP The recent War on Want Manchester conference - ‘TTIP: Building the Fightback’ - included a presentation by Jeronim Capaldo of TUFTS University in the USA. Capaldo’s study, ‘The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: European Disintegration, Unemployment and Instability’, provides conclusive evidence that contrary to official assessments, TTIP's intensification of market competition and deregulation will have negative effects on European workers including falling levels of employment, lower incomes and a reduced labour share of national wealth. A summary of the study can be read here:

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Why Workers Won't Unite: That is the question

In her review of two US books on the decline of unions in the States, Kim Philips Fein of NYU takes us through a hop, skip and a jump of US Union history and then dives into a complex seeming summary of the current state of the American Trade Unions. It's a familiar journey, 100 years ago unions were oppressed but we worked in occupations that lumped us together and now this has disappeared and is being replaced by jobs that are almost wholly precarious and involves mainly service workers in solo occupations.
   So far, so familiar. But let us pause. US union density now stands at about 12%. In the private sector it is 7%. Any explanation for this will have to include the play of certain factors that may not apply in the UK. Or anywhere else in the world. So an examination of the US labour movement is not necessarily very useful when looking at the UK.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Will conference words of unity translate to reality?

Calls for unity from both platform and floor were welcome after a sometimes bitter special local government conference in London on Tuesday - and unity is essential if anything positive is to come out of this costly exercise.

Really important stuff about how we organise, how we consult clearly and transparently and how we engage members, was battered through with little debate as the conference voted time after time to move the business on.

But it did back the motions. Sound and considered templates from Scotland, Northern Ireland, The Service Group and others on strategies for consultation, including using electronic communication, more political lobbying and developing union wide strategies on pay. All very positive, although tying negotiators’ hands when it comes to consulting on last minute offers may yet come back to bite us.

The real challenge for the lay and full time leadership is how they implement the mandate to re-open the pay claim in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – which was clearly what it was all really about for most delegates. The technicalities of that are not simple; members will no doubt be a bit confused as will the whole bargaining structure, so it will test the pronouncements on unity to the full.