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

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Gearing up for strike action on pay

An impressive and growing number of UNISON members are now being balloted for industrial action to beat the Coalition Government’s public sector pay freeze. Ballots of NHS members in England and Wales close on 18 September and 20 October respectively. Ballots of local government members in NJC conditioned academy schools and SJC conditioned members in Scotland close on 24 September and 29 September respectively. There is also the possibility of Police Staff holding an industrial action ballot if the recent consultative ballot delivers a majority for rejection of a 1% offer.
    However balloting is not an end in itself. As local government branches in England, Wales and Northern Ireland gear up for a second day of national strike action on 14 October momentum is building for co-ordinated action. Delivering effective action and securing improved outcomes at the negotiating table is the biggest challenge facing UNISON and other recognised unions this autumn:

The Word by Pablo Neruda

It was born
in blood, the word
grew in the dark body, beating
and flew through the lips and the mouth.

Further, and nearer
still, still it came
from dead fathers, nomadic races,
from lands made of stone,
that were tired of their wretched tribes,
because when pain set out on the way
the villages walked and arrived
and new earth and water joined again
to sow their words anew.
And so this is the legacy:
this is the air which connects us
to the dead man and the dawn
of new beings not yet woken.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Think Before You Vote

With a week till the Scottish referendum vote, many with socialist tendencies have moved to a Yes position, on the basis that it will change the system. Sometimes however, romance and high hopes are not enough, and hoping and voting for constitutional change will not fundamentally alter the class nature of Scottish society. Moreover, it is impossible to divorce a Yes vote from the political context in which it would be delivered.
    Seamus Milne succinctly challenges those for whom a yes vote has become an end in itself here http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/11/salmond-scotland-no-escape-tory-britain   Read it and then consider the real consequences of this constitutional change.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

UKIP - time to expose the lies

#TUC14 'UKIP are no flash in the pan – we have to expose UKIP as the party that will strip away the employment rights we have fought for over generations. We have to tell our Members what voting for Ucrap means – they want to scrap maternity pay – UKIP want to privatise our schools and our hospitals, they want workers’ rights to be at the discretion and good will of our employers. UKIP want all planned house building to cease and they want to raise income tax for nearly 88% of all British people' said UNISON's Glen Williams moving Composite 4 on Challenging the Politics of Poverty, Inequality and Racism. Full speech below.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Extension of collective bargaining is the key to redressing inequality - Hendy

#TUC14 The damage done to workers' rights by the Coalition Government - notably the two year qualifying period for protection rom unfair dismissal and the imposition of Employment Tribunals - shows how easy individual employment rights can be removed said John Hendy QC at a packed first fringe of Congress called by the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom and the IER. Only a restoration of collective bargaining and the unfettered right to strike will give workers a real voice at work and enable unions to redress pay and wealth inequality. The Minimum Wage and Living Wage - neither negotiated by unions - provide no substitute for collective bargaining structures binding on all employers.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Major legal battle looms over holiday pay

The Telegraph reports on the far reaching implications of UNISON’s recent and successful test case against British Gas: ‘The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in May ruled that staff who receive part of their earnings in commission should have this taken into account when holiday pay is calculated, rather than just basic pay. Unions are gearing up to help their members launch a flood of claims against employers for holiday pay and overtime they are owed under EU law.’ Mass litigation on a similar scale to equal pay claims over the past decade is now on the cards following years of employers limiting holiday pay to basic contractual entitlements (regardless of the regular hours actually worked and disregarding shift allowances etc).

Bhopal by Varavara Rao

Oxygen a danger
Sight darkness
Breast milk a mortal kiss
Colonialism feeds
Crops of feudalism

Green revolution
Gurgles life force
On the ground it drained
The village blood

Cities are hugger muggered
By the long arms of multinationals
Exploiters funnel chimney fumes
Right in the heart of cities

Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Union Advantage

#TUC14 On the eve of the annual Trades Union Congress in Liverpool, the TUC has today published The Union Advantage, a guide to how unions make work better and society fairer. The guide demonstrates the benefits of unions not only to individual workers but to employers and society as well. These include:
•55 per cent of unionised workplaces had pay rises in 2011, compared to just 35 per cent of non-unionised workplaces
•16 – 24 year-old union members earn, on average, 33 per cent more than non-union members of the same age
•Union members have 3.8 days more paid leave on average than non-union members
•Unionlearn improves Britain’s skills base and it supported 219,000 learners through apprenticeships, numeracy, literacy and other learning programmes in the year to March 2014
•Union health and safety reps save taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds each year by reducing lost time from occupational injuries and work-related illness, according to government research.


Anatomy of Migration by Rani Drew

Older than time, migration is the story
of survival. Change and betterment,
desire and dreams put motion into feet.

The first stirrings begin in the brain. Reason
catalogues gains and losses, credits and
deficits. Movement becomes compelling.

New visions bring desires to the heart.
Collaborator of the brain, it fantasises
greener places on the other side of the globe.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Austerity wrecks lives - Manchester march and rally tomorrow

North West unions are organising a demonstration against austerity in Manchester tomorrow. Assemble Castlefield Arena (off Deansgate) at 11AM. Speakers include Dave Prentis and Christine Blower NUT General Secretary. UNISON Regional Convenor Angela Rayner called on branches and members to support the mobilisation saying 'we know that austerity has a tremendously negative impact on our public services, welfare state, jobs and wages. We need to demonstrate to show the current Government (and any future Government) that we’re not prepared to accept permanent austerity'