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

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Not too late to abandon austerity

'If Labour now repudiated austerity in favour of the far more effective way of cutting the deficit through public investment to expand the economy out of stagnation, generate real jobs, increase household incomes after a decade of steep decline, it would be a game changer at the election' writes Labour MP Michael Meacher.
http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2014/11/the-case-for-abandoning-austerity-is-a-no-brainer-mathematically-financially-and-politically/
    Trade unionists desperate to see the back of a Con Dem coalition which has slaughtered services and social security on the altar of austerity need to wake up to the economic prospectus being offered by Labour. 'Having rejected the option of extra borrowing, Labour will now need to meet all its promises through tax rises or spending cuts elsewhere. Austerity really is here to stay' wrote George Eaton in the New Statesman in response to this year's conference speech by Ed Balls in which he did a U-turn on borrowing to fund capital spending on housing, roads and other infrastructure projects.
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/09/balls-binds-labour-austerity-promise-no-extra-borrowing
   Meacher is right about the abject failure of austerity economics and UNISON should support for his call for Labour to abandon austerity. It is not too late.

Aiberdeen Street by Alastair Mackie

Ye were hyne awa fae Nuremberg o the flags,
the death-crap o the purges; Il Duce's
black-sarked legions heistin eagles…
Woolie's guns and gairden canes airmed oor wars
focht on your cassies, oor granite battle-field.
Paper planes whitent the gloamin-faa,
earth-bund swallas the scaffies sweepit up.
And quines were bobbin corks aneth the tow brigs
o their skippin ropes. Cairt horses snochert
and the shod wheels girned and dirded.
Here in this play-grun atween the tenements
– sea gulls on the lums – I breathed in Scots.
Years later I howkit up the street's kist
o memories and found amon the mools, deid words,
the affcasts o history, teuch as granite setts,
the foonds o my world.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Half measures will not stop TTIP from destroying the NHS

Today the Commons will debate Labour MP Clive Efford’s worthy bill to save the NHS from irreversible privatisation, which will aim to reverse the Health & Social Care Act 2012 and seek to exempt the NHS from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
   However, John Hilary of War on Want points out that ‘such national legislation would not be enough to save the NHS from TTIP. If health services are included in the deal, any future UK government will be bound by its treaty obligations as an EU member state over and above unilateral declarations such as the one envisaged in the bill. Even if the UK were to take the extreme option of leaving the European Union altogether, TTIP would still enable US health corporations to sue future governments for reversing NHS privatisation, thanks to the ‘survival clauses’ that ensure free trade agreements remain in force for years after a state has ceased to be a party to them’.
     Only outright rejection of TTIP will save the NHS.
https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/john-hilary/cameron-faces-ttip-showdown-over-nhs

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Gaping gaps in Labour's proposals for enhanced workers' rights

#workplacepledge As next May's General Election draws closer, the outlines are emerging of Labour's proposals on workers' rights. Announcements on raising the minimum wage and the banning 'exploitative' zero hours contracts are welcome but fall far short of what is necessary. The least we should expect in Labour's 2015 manifesto is the reinstatement of collective and individual rights removed by the Coalition government, in particular a reduced qualifying period for unfair dismissal and other rights, the abolition of employment tribunal fees and a reversal of the reduction in redundancy consultation periods.
    A new campaign called 'a Pledge for every worker' sets out a useful framework for Labour enhancing workplace rights but, as any lawyer will tell you, precision matters in drafting offers and now is the time for specific commitments on fairness at work from Labour rather than abstractions or aspirations.
http://www.workplacepledge.org/blog/british-workers-trapped-climate-insecurity-writes-stephen-cavalier

The ever-tightening vice of Council spending cuts

The cumulative effects of Con Dem cuts in local government funding (by 37% between 2010/11 and 2015/16) is bringing front line services in England to breaking point according to a National Audit Office report, which finds that ‘one in six councils are not expected to deliver services within budget this year, and more than half of all councils are at risk of financial failure within the next five years’
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/19/councils-risk-financial-failure-auditors

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Rank hypocrisy

Tax pays for Governments. Governments use tax to pay for international development and aid. There is of course a place for charitable endeavours and arguably tax will never be enough but the rank hypocrisy of would-be-saints ‘Bono’ and ‘Geldof’ with their warped views on taxation and fairness isn’t ‘bollocks’. It is at the heart of what is right and what is wrong with the super-rich believing they can say one thing and do another. When it comes to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable there is a direct cause between the West’s approach to tax havens and the worlds poorest being short changed. Ebola has been made all the worst by poor sanitation and crumbling healthcare. International tax fairness can resolve that.
Read these links and then you decide.
http://www.finfacts.ie/irishfinancenews/article_1026589.shtml
http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2012/05/16/whys-bob-geldof-so-tetchy-about-his-tax-affairs/
    And then perhaps make a direct donation to DEC as an alternative to massaging the egos of past-their sell-by-date rock capitalists.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Hamburg brings utilities back into public ownership - let's have some of that here

Following a public referendum, Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city has voted to take all available steps to re-municipalise the electricity, gas, and district heating networks. The Guardian reports that Hamburg has 'joined a growing number of cities worldwide deciding to end their experiments with privatisation. Since 2007, 170 municipalities in Germany alone have brought energy services back into public hands. Globally, at least 100 cities have done the same with privatised water services over the past 15 years, including dozens of municipalities in France – once seen as a growing focus for water privatisation'
http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/nov/12/hamburg-global-reverse-privatisation-city-services

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The votes of blue collar workers cannot be taken for granted

3.5m (1 in 4) children in the UK live in poverty yet remarkably Labour has committed to a two year freeze in child benefit if it forms a Government next May. Do such reactionary policies have electoral consequences? An article in the Fabian Review suggests that 'between 2005 and 2014 Labour has seen dwindling support from a wide range of blue-collar working demographic groups'. The recent Heywood by-election highlighted the threat posed by UKIP in Labour's electoral heartlands. Labour's best antidote to UKIP's politics of despair and xenophobia is to give working people hope that their lives will improve for the better with a change of government - by pledging to end the public sector pay freeze, improve front line services such as home care and to halt the rolling back of the welfare state (including a rethink of the disgusting proposal to freeze child benefit).
http://www.fabians.org.uk/labours-weakening-hold-on-blue-collar-workers/

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Pickled Eric knows the cost of everything & the value of nothing

Tory union basher Eric Pickles MP has stepped up his war against local government unions. In March 2013, dancing to the tune of the Taxpayers Alliance, Pickles issued advice to local authorities on reducing trade union facility time. Now he has ratcheted up the attack with new requirements on councils to publish the cost of trade union facility time and numbers of union representatives involved. His so called transparency code will not require the benefits and purpose of trade union facility time to be published. The rabid right winger has previous form for union bashing. Back in September 2013 he failed in his attempt to end union subscription check off in his own DCLG department - when PCS won a legal challenge – Pickles’ obsessive anti trade unionism costing the public purse £90000.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Brussels sprouts resistance to austerity

Over 100,000 workers protested against austerity in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday in a growing campaign that will include national strike action on 15 December by public and private sector workers. Union leader Marie-Helene Ska said: 'The government tells us and all of the parties tell us that there's no alternative. We don't contest that they have to find 11bn euros we've been saying for a long time that it's possible to find this money elsewhere, rather than in the pockets of the workers'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-29944648