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

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Enough is enough - why Britain needs a pay rise

National industrial action on pay in both health and local government is only two weeks away. Labour Research examines the backdrop to the upcoming TUC demonstration - hard on the heels of the pay strikes - on 18 October in support of the demand that Britain Needs a Pay Rise: ‘In what is one of the slowest recoveries on record, earnings have fallen in value to an unprecedented extent. And, as TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady points out, the economy seems to be very good at creating low-paid jobs, but is struggling to create better-paid work. Action is needed to make work pay’  http://www.lrdpublications.org.uk/publications.php?pub=LR&iss=1735&id=idp2221712&fromopp=y

Would you buy a second hand war from this man? by John Tomlinson

Want to buy a second hand war?
Want to buy the war in Iraq?
We went there for oil, made Iraqi blood boil
now we’re asking what for
and wondering how we ever get back.
The profits have gone and hope is forlorn
it’s preloved, it’s used and we feel abused
want to buy a second hand war?
We killed Saddam, it was a great plan
want to buy a second hand war?
We’ve bombed the people, the mosques and the steeple,
we’ve displaced many poor as we wage this war.
We had a great dream but now it would seem
that we are bereft of ideas.
We’ve bombed Shiites, Sunni and Kurds
we killed mothers and left children in tears
want to buy a second hand war?
We’ve murdered at will or just for the thrill
want to buy a second hand war?
We have oil leases but the country’s in pieces
our soldiers are dying, their mothers crying
please buy this second hand war!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Crimes against humanity in Gaza

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine’s Emergency Session on Israel’s Operation Protective Edge held last Wednesday in Brussels has found evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution and also incitement to genocide.
    The Jury [1] reported: ‘The cumulative effect of the long-standing regime of collective punishment in Gaza appears to inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group in Gaza.’ http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/

For Tony Benn by Peter Branson

You told it how it is, a money world
that doesn’t work for most, all double think
and spin. My question, did you go too far
or not half far enough? A lifebelt in
a sea of sharks, what use is that? They love
you now. Their Fool, you never stood a chance.


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Labour's misguided embrace of austerity

Not only do Balls’s austerity gestures fail to appease Labour’s opponents while alienating its natural supporters still further. They also ignore the disastrous record of austerity in Britain and across Europe, even on its own terms. Osborne’s four-year squeeze delivered three years of recession and stagnation, a forecast deficit of £75bn instead of a balanced budget and the longest fall in living standards since the 19th century’, writes Seumas Milne in the Guardian, stating a plain truth that appeared to evade many delegates at the recent Labour Party conference:

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Labour will not deliver without a fiscal stimulus

#Lab14 Yesterday’s pro-austerity mantra of Ed Balls about ‘balancing the books’, ‘difficult decisions’ and ‘tough fiscal rules’ should send a shiver down the spine of every UNISON member. As Nobel Prize winning Economist Joseph Stiglitz said in the FT last week ‘the single most important policy is to improve the macroeconomic policy through a well designed fiscal stimulus’. Deflationary policies of austerity are the cause of wage stagnation.
Dave Prentis was right to point out in his Conference speech yesterday that working people have been ‘betrayed by privatisation, betrayed by the very people who crashed our economy’ and have suffered a five-year pay freeze while their pay has fallen in value by over one fifth’. But the economic prospectus set out by Balls can only lead to more of the same – continuing austerity means a continuing pay freeze and capping of benefits as well as further cuts in funding of public services. Unions working flat out for the return of a Labour government next May must challenge the Balls economic narrative otherwise we will be sleepwalking into a future of permanent austerity.

Democracy & Devolution - Rule P 1.3.6 the UNISON solution

In the aftermath of last week’s Scottish referendum the big political issue is the impact on the UK Parliament of greater devolved powers to Scotland, namely to what extent if any should Scottish MPs be excluded from voting at Westminster on say, matters affecting English public services. UNISON conference delegates might consider that this is one area where the union has been ahead of its time.   
    Over ten years ago UNISON NDC approved a report on bargaining and devolution which led to a simple rule change which dealt with the new reality of bargaining structures in devolved administrations and thus empowered the standing orders committee to make recommendations on restricting voting to delegates covered by specific negotiating machinery. Who are the modernisers and who are the dinosaurs?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Trade union internationalism and practical solidarity

This weekend a very productive joint region international seminar at the Mechanics Institute in Manchester brought together 50 UNISON activists from Northern, North West and Scotland. Building on a session in Glasgow in 2013, the event heard a keynote presentation on TTIP from Polly Jones of the World Development Movement and following workshops an action plan was agreed to step up campaigning/lobbying on the proposed trade deal which will open up public services to US corporations as well as undermine democracy.

Moving House by Dave Puller

One day when I arrived home from school
My family had moved without telling me
But they'd left things behind
There was the tatty three-piece suite
The radiogramme
And the bed I shared with my three brothers
Then I saw my brother Sid
And I asked him why we moved
He said "Dave we've not moved anywhere
We've been evicted"

Saturday, 20 September 2014

UNISON will continue to press for a just and fairer Scotland

UNISON's Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby has issued a post-referendum statement calling for the union to play its part in bringing Scotland together and campaigning for a just and fairer society. The first step is on 15 and 18 October when UNISON will join the STUC and Poverty Alliance conference and rally as part the Challenge Poverty Week.

Mike says UNISON will expect promises on powers to be honoured but warned about the debate getting bogged down in that alone: "...as we stated at the beginning of the referendum campaign the real question is how new or indeed existing powers are to be used for the benefit of working people." The full statement is below: