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

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Outsourcing fails service users and workers

The outsourcing of public services provision to private providers has a detrimental impact on the workforce and a knock-on effect on the quality of care, says a new TUC report published today. The research, conducted by the New Economics Foundation on behalf of the TUC, looked at the scale and scope of outsourcing in five key sectors – social care, health care, offender management, local government and employment services. The report also examined the effects of outsourcing on staff working in a variety of public service jobs, such as care workers, nurses, prison officers and security guards.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

NHS Devolution - another Trojan Horse?

Greater Manchester is to take control of the region’s Health and Social Care spending. Yesterday George Osborne announced that from 2016 Greater Manchester’s combined authorities will take responsibility for the entire £6 billion health and social care budget. The deal is being hailed by council leaders across Greater Manchester but Andy Burnham is urging caution and warns that the proposals could lead to a break up of the NHS and an inconsistency across the country in the provision of health and social care.
     This is a massive change to the way health care is funded in England and the proposals need to be critically analyised to see if the argument that it will improve health outcomes for the people in Greater Manchester really do add up.

The Soldier and the Snow by Miguel Hernandez

December has frozen its double-edged breath
and blows it down from the icy heavens,  
like a dry fire coming apart in threads,  
like a huge ruin that topples on soldiers.  

Snow where horses have left their hoof-marks  
is a solitude of grief that gallops on.  
Snow like split fingernails, or claws badly worn,  
like a malice out of heaven or a final contempt.  

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Poison chalice or golden opportunity? What will a devolved NHS be?

The announcement of devolved NHS funding to Greater Manchester authorities is surprising on many fronts not least because the shadow Labour health secretary lives in the patch, Labour council leaders have signed up to this and seemingly colluded with the Tories to take the wind out of the sails of Labour’s main election campaign strategy on the NHS. It is either breathtakingly naive or a tacit admission the Tories will remain in power come May and they have decided to do a smash and grab for funds now. Either way it’s a remarkably disloyal approach and incredibly stupid.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Austerity job losses - bad for all but worse for some

In order to divert attention from the public sector jobs carnage caused by its austerity policies, the Conservative Party claims that ‘there are now two million more private sector jobs than there were in 2010’. A useful briefing by the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) examines Tory claims that that cuts to public sector employment facilitate private sector job creation and help to ‘rebalance’ the UK’s economy. It finds that ‘since 2008 job cuts in the public sector have fallen disproportionately on the regions and devolved nations outside of London. As a result of this, London and the South East have increased their share of public sector jobs as a proportion of the national total. Interestingly, however, London has also been the region with the fastest rate of private sector job growth in this period’

Monday, 23 February 2015

Punching above our weight

UNISON was the UK's top political donor in the fourth quarter of 2014! Electoral Commission data published last week confirms that a total of £1,384,289 was donated to the Labour Party from our affiliated political fund. The timing reflecting UNISON's determination to securing a change of government in the upcoming general election. With just over one third of UNISON members paying a political fund contribution to Labour (substantially fewer than Unite and GMB) this level of support to the Labour Party is unparalleled.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Defend the right to strike – under threat at home and abroad

Today a global day of action in defence of the right to strike is being called to highlight the serious attacks on fundamental union rights. The Institute of Employment Rights reports that the employers’ group at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is challenging the very existence of the right to strike, established under ILO Convention 87. Meanwhile a serious assault on the right to strike will be in the Tory general election manifesto with proposed minimum requirements in strike ballots of 50% turnout and 40% of all workers balloted to vote in favour – impossible hurdles to mount in large scale national ballots. Tory relic, Lord Tebbit, himself an architect of anti union laws in the early 1980’s, smugly pointed out in the Daily Telegraph this week the failure of the labour movement to deliver on pledges to reverse those attacks. The balance of power shifted against unions and quickly became a matter of political consensus. We must not let history repeat itself.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Election 2015 - What's at stake?

CLASS, the labour movement think tank, has published the first in a series of general election guides. Election 2015: What’s at stake for work, pay and unions?
    This timely publication provides excellent ammunition for organisers and stewards to explain the unfair realities of work in Britain today and why enhanced collective bargaining is the key to reversing years of rising inequality. As TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady says in her foreword: '2015 must be the year when we ensure the recovery, share its proceeds fairly and start to undo the damage done to our public services and welfare state by the crash and its aftermath. Strong unions, fair pay settlements and decent jobs with full employment rights are at the heart of how we achieve this'

Night Workers by Helen Dunmore

All you who are awake in the dark of the night,
all you companions of the one lit window
in the knuckled-down row of sleeping houses,

all you who think nothing of the midnight hour
but by three or four have done your work
and are on the way home, stopping

at traffic lights, even though there is no one
but you in either direction. How different the dark is
when day is coming; you know all this.

All you who have kept awake through the dark of the night
and now go homeward; you, charged with the hospital's
vending-machine coffee; you working all night at Tesco,

Friday, 13 February 2015

Union women can defeat the Con Dems

#unwc15 UNISON NEC member Jane Carolan writes in the Morning Star on the potential influence of the union's women members on the outcome of the upcoming General Election: 'The country can afford the services that UNISON members provide - services that save, protect and enrich lives - if we stop wasting money on costly privatisations and pointless reorganisations and make the banks, big corporations and the super-rich pay a fairer share in tax.

Cuts to funding are becoming critical, to the point that local authorities could be on the verge of collapse - yet if the Tories continue in power there’s more to come. Our alternative, the UNISON manifesto Securing the Future of Public Services, is available on our website.

We each have a contribution to make. Do not assume that neighbours and workmates vote. Do not assume that they are aware of the alternatives. We need a million female members speaking up for public services because they care about the services they deliver and the services that they use.

One million women demanding an alternative can make a difference. One million women demanding change equals hope'