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

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Nazi Holocaust - never forget, never repeat

#HMD2015 Today, International Holocaust Memorial Day, is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. Angela Rayner, UNISON's North West Regional Convenor, reports on a recent union study trip and states that 'there is no better way to understand the true nature of the Nazi genocide than to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, and no better way to honour its victims, at a time when the far right is a growing political force across Europe, than stepping up our fight against fascism and racism in all of its forms'

Monday, 26 January 2015

The lesson from Greece - austerity must end

Yesterday, the Observer presaged the outcome of the Greek general election - a victory for the anti-austerity Syriza coalition - with an emphatic statement that 'the lesson of the Greek national polls is that austerity must end' Nobody would have expected David Cameron to heed that advice and his statement last night that 'the Greek election will increase uncertainty across Europe. That's why the UK must stick to our plan, delivering security at home' is consistent with his callous disregard of the impact of austerity on local jobs and services. But will Labour listen?

Friday, 23 January 2015

T-TIP of the deregulation iceberg

'It is not just TTIP, across the board the EU is bowing to business pressure to do away with ‘burdensome’ regulation – regulation that tends to save lives, protect consumers and ensure standards' writes Linda Kaucher on the Institute of Employment Rights blog. Yet another example of capital treating the costs of social reproduction as an 'externality - a cost for which it bears no market responsibility' as described by David Harvey in Rebel Cities:

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The 7 Deadly Myths that control the world economy...

Global Justice Now has done a great job in highlighting the 7 arguments that are presented as the deepest wisdom by Global Leaders on why the world economy is the way it is. Like a force of nature or some almighty God who we dare not anger, these myths are the foundations of Capitalism in the 21st Century. As the High Priests gather in the snowy tourist trap of Davos in Switzerland to consult the oracles, we are left to wait hopefully for signs that the Gods are appeased.

But the Global Justice Now campaign shows that even the slightest and quickest of examinations reveal that these 7 myths are man-made constructs. They are nothing more than simple justifications for a global economy where the worlds 80 richest people own more than half the wealth of the world. It is an outrage. They are lies. Read for yourself about Free Trade, the poverty of Africa, the Free Market … http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/dangerous-delusions

Meanwhile in Davos Global Union Leaders are shut out, prevented from meeting and speaking to World Leaders. But they are there and they are pointing the finger …

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Mutually incompatible

At the end of November the Government announced that nine English NHS Trusts had been selected for the Mutuals in Health: Pathfinder programme - described in a UNISON briefing as ‘part of the government’s drive to move more NHS services out of public ownership’. In a timely article on the lessons of the Hinchingbrooke hospital scandal, David Owen, believes Circle’s failure could derail the mutual bandwagon: ‘those who advocate “the market as the organising principle of the NHS”, have abused the term mutual as a less abrasive way of achieving their objectives. Fortunately, they have now been exposed, and happily so before the general election. Those who worry about the NHS can now rally, and let prospective candidates know exactly what they expect of all MPs in the next parliament. There is just enough time’

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Cuts are decimating not transforming local government

This is the headline message within an excellent piece on the impact of the cuts and on families in the north east from Gill Hale UNISON northern region secretary. Hale argues ‘Work is no longer a means out of poverty, but perpetuating its indignity through low pay. Why, in the sixth richest country in the world, should people in work be reduced to going to food banks to put food on their tables?'
     A moot question indeed and one partly answered by the ultra-right wing response from the CBI to outrageous Tory proposals to decimate the rights of those same working poor to fight for better wages and job security. Capitalist self-interest.

Anna Rose

Monday, 12 January 2015

Tory plans will put public service unions in a legal straitjacket

Tory manifesto proposals to impose a minimum turnout (50%) and a minimum threshold of support (40% of all those balloted) will make it impossible for unions to conduct ‘lawful’ industrial action in large public service bargaining groups. Put simply, on a 50% turnout an 80% yes vote will be required otherwise the ballot will be legally invalid. An acceptable response to this attack on union rights has now gone well beyond the development of positive policies (such as on line voting and workplace ballots) and requires a sustained political campaign exposing the proposed measures as a severe attack on our democratic and human rights. It requires unions to urgently develop new strategies to challenge these attacks on our right to defend our jobs, pay and conditions.
   It is perverse that the political elite can accept as valid opinion polls based on a fraction of 1% of the electorate yet deem turnouts of say 40% as unrepresentative of a large workforce. Taken together with the imposition of expensive fees to access Employment Tribunals, attacks on time off for union reps, removal of DOCAS etc, it is clear that the Tories are working towards an end game of destroying trade unionism in Britain's public services.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Organising workers and the question of race

Within recent memory part of the substantive debate around trade unions and equality was centred on the question of the extent to which white workers were seen to benefit from racism and working class men to benefit from the oppression of women. That debate has moved on significantly in the face of the collapse of trade union density. From the high of the 1970s with 13 million union members in the UK to the present day with 6 million there is less debate about the `social location` of members and much more about the sheer absence of members.

Dr Jane Holgate (Leeds University) in her review of `Racism, class and the Radicalised Outsider` (Satnam Virdee Glasgow University) draws on her vast knowledge of organising to remind us that those debates still have something concrete to say about the decline of union membership. In particular, in this work, with regard to the paradigm of race and class. Set against a background of two widely accepted trends – most trade union members are female and proportionally workers from an ethnic background are more likely to be trade union members – it is essential that organisers and activists consider the implications of this question.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

The compelling case against TTIP

#StopTTIP John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want, sets out the case against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - the proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the United States - in a video recording of a seminar held in Stockholm on 27 November 2014 which was convened by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation:

A Symphony for the New World by Sam Silva

Huge expressive violins
in symphonies of meat and work
and struggle
on the farm
or in the factory

made for the record player
to spin in sin
against tobacco smoke
perfuming night