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

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Vintage tables and the NHS

Yesterday Andy Burnham addressed a packed gathering of the Labour faithful at North West UNISON’s office.
   It was a timely speech as part of Labour's summer campaign offensive. Burnham is an articulate and engaging speaker who talks in language that actually speaks to ordinary voters. A rare quality in a shadow cabinet awash with southern policy wonks whose ideas seem to stem from glugging Rioja over an Islington vintage effect kitchen table, complete with Cath Kidston crockery and twins called Cornelius and Cosmo.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Workplace rights are being priced out of existence

A new report from the TUC - What Price Justice? - shows how since the introduction of fees in July 2013 there has been a 79 per cent fall in overall claims taken to employment tribunals, with women and low-paid workers the worst affected. One year on, the worst fears of trade unions are being realised and workplace rights are being priced out of existence. In business and Tory Party circles much is said about 'regulatory barriers' yet they have hypocritically introduced a fees regime to block enforcement of legal rights for workers. All in support of their preferred 'hire and fire' flexible labour market:

Monday, 28 July 2014

Privatisation by stealth

The Herald reports that the Policy Exchange is proposing that job centres should be broken up and forced to compete against private firms in helping people find work. The A4E profiteering debacle clearly escaped the notice of this right wing 'think tank' as they disguise further privatisation of public services as 'personalisation'. A spin originally weaved by Blairs' policy wonks. It now seems you can have a 'choice' about which provider will subject you to benefit sanctions and workfare. How nicely personal is that!
 Anna Rose

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Pay campaigning and the future of public services

The current national pay campaigns in local government and health are a necessary and overdue response to Government pay policies which have resulted in public service workers being on average £2,245 worse off in real terms.
    All of the unions involved, especially UNISON as the largest, have a heavy responsibility to halt this unprecedented downward spiral in earnings and to force employers (and politicians) to respect collective bargaining and pay determination processes.
    The stakes are high. In addition to halting the unjustified pay detriment of our members and restoring union credibility, Professor Roger Seifert, reviewing the impact of the 10 July coordinated strike action, argues that the pay campaign poses a much wider question - ‘what do our main political leaders consider to be the future of UK public services? Pay cuts, workload increases, further supply-side fragmentation, and privatisation suggest not just a down-grading of all public services but a removal of some services from public access’

I’ve been expecting the unexpected for a long time by Othman Hussain

The boy screams: Stop
He gets up alright and steps forward cautiously like a blind man
[Nothing calls for that]
I whisper:
Only now will I fall on my way to the first street in Asia*
Rafah can’t cope with a new blind man
A strongly featured blackness keeps him awake
A careless woodsman drags him from the haze
behind our ageing galaxy

Saturday, 26 July 2014

International Brigades remembered

The annual commemoration by the IBMT for the 2500 volunteers from Great Britain and Ireland who went to Spain to fight fascism and support democracy between 1936 and 1939, was held at the International Brigades memorial, Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, London on 5th July 2014.
    300 people gathered on London's South Bank to commemorate the men and women from Great Britain and Ireland who went to Spain to support the Spanish Republic - 526 British and Irish volunteers died. They were part of International Brigades - 35,000 men and women from over 50 countries - who went to Spain to support the Spanish Republic, oppose fascism and stand up for democracy.

In my condition by Othman Hussain

In my condition
I lay my heavy head on the pillow of noon
A faceless whirlwind brushes your frail body
I shudder holding my heavy head
waiting for a cause-scream
Things explode in themselves
and become still
so I fall down exhausted in the labyrinth of chaos
swimming in the coma of ignorance.
And in my condition
the evening approaches the dreamers’ expectations
it weaves evil in our sullied space
for a dreamer
who has not drowned as he ought

Friday, 25 July 2014

TUC deplores Gaza attacks and calls for immediate ceasefire

The TUC General Council has agreed a strong policy statement on the murderous Israeli attacks on Gaza - called for an end to the blockade, an immediate, negotiated and total ceasefire, condemned media reporting bias and supported next Saturday's national demonstration in London: 'In the third such attack over a five year period (demonstrating the futility of such attacks in delivering peace), the Israeli armed forces have so far killed over 600 people in Gaza, and the death toll continues to rise. Up to 80% of those killed are women and children – including children playing football on the beach - and many people have been killed going about their daily jobs such as health workers, teachers and journalists. Far more have been injured and over 80,000 have been displaced, and the bombardment of hospitals and other facilities further exacerbates the humanitarian crisis facing the people of Gaza. This amounts to yet more collective punishment of a population suffering the existing blockade, just as Palestinians in the West Bank suffer the occupation of their land and the continuing expansion of illegal settlements which make the prospects for peace ever more bleak.'

The full statement can be read here: http://www.tuc.org.uk/gazajuly2014

Monday, 21 July 2014

Asking difficult referendum questions is essential

Despite some recent press coverage, UNISON's position on the referendum remains one of challenging both sides of the referendum debate on how their plans will create social justice, bring an end to austerity, poverty and health inequality. We want to know what they will do about building social cohesion, a more equal society and a world without nuclear weapons.

The referendum differs from the devolution campaign of the 1990s. There is no 'settled will of the Scottish people'. There is a divide. So, more important that taking positions of Yes or No, is pushing home the difficult questions for both camps and getting answers for our members.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

In our thousands in our millions we support the Palestinians

Over 100,000 people came onto the streets of London, Glasgow and Belfast and other towns across the UK yesterday to protest at the continuing Israeli attacks on the people of Gaza in which over 340 have died including 75 children. In London the names and ages of all the Palestinian children killed
by Israeli air and ground attacks in Gaza in the last 11 days were read out in front of the Israeli embassy

Among the other events across the country, Aberdeen saw campaigners gather for the third consecutive week in St Nicholas Square in a show of solidarity with the people of Gaza. http://aberdeentuc.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/hundreds-of-voices-raised-in-protest.html

See more photos of protests around the world at http://theworldstandswithpalestine.tumblr.com/