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

Friday, 29 August 2014

Overcharging by private contractors – the great NHS rip off

The Independent has revealed that a company set up by Serco has overcharged NHS hospitals millions of pounds for diagnostic tests. Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee said: ’After a series of high profile failures, Government claims it has a grip on contracts with private companies to deliver our public services. Clearly it hasn’t. This is not just about ripping off the taxpayer, but about a failure to provide acceptable quality in a service that is vital for diagnosing what in many cases are serious or even life-threatening illnesses. It is also not the first time that serious concerns have been raised about Serco and its track record, including in other parts of the NHS where last year our Committee reported on substandard service and data manipulation in a contract to provide GP out-of-hours services’.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Government must share responsibility for repeated child protection failures

The Rotherham child abuse inquiry is the latest in a long line of investigations which have undermined public confidence in child protection services. Government ministers past and present waste no time in apportioning blame and calling for heads (of anyone but themselves) to roll. Local failings by social services and police are undeniable but the blame also lies with central Government – those politicians responsible for cutting funding of council and NHS services including essential outreach support for young people in particular; those politicians who have slashed social security benefits, those politicians driving a public service reform agenda based on competition rather than cooperation, those politicians responsible for inadequate regulation and standards.
     Professor Ray Jones wrote presciently on this subject last year: ‘What about the remit and responsibilities of government itself, and of politicians in Parliament, for child protection? How well have they been doing? Many might think that their contribution has not always been helpful..... Allocating blame and shame may not be the most constructive activity, and maybe social workers are not the most appropriate target anyway’

Sunday, 24 August 2014

TTIP and the duplicity of the European elite

The Critical Thinking blog has published a useful update on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). EU denials that ‘standards on consumer protection, on the environment, on data protection and on food are not up for negotiation’ are blatant lies. So too are purported assurances that the NHS is excluded from the scope of the proposed Treaty:

The Dead Angels by Rafael Alberti

Search, search for them:
In the insomnia of forgotten conduits
In gutters blocked by the muteness of litter.
Not far from the pools incapable of retaining a cloud,
A lost eye
A broken ring
Or a trampled star.
For I've seen them:

Saturday, 23 August 2014

FSA strike to go ahead as pay scraps rejected

A strike by workers employed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) will go ahead on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week after the FSA refused another offer by UNISON to try to settle the dispute through independent conciliation. UNISON is in dispute with the FSA following its decision not to pass on a 1% cost of living pay rise to its staff. Instead, a 0.75% rise was imposed, while the remainder was distributed to a selective part of the workforce, despite the concerns of trade unions.

The Lilacs and the Roses by Louis Aragon

O months of flowering months of metamorphosis
May without a cloud and June lacerated
I will never forget the lilacs or the roses
Nor those spring’s folds have consecrated

I will never forget the tragic illusion
The procession cries crowd the sunlit clarity
The tanks laden with love the gifts from Belgium
The air that quivers the road this buzzing of bees
The rashness of victory that primes a quarrel
The red blood that a carmine kiss prefigures
And those about to die at the turrets, mortal,
Covered in lilacs by intoxicated watchers

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Who benefits from union bashing?

Jane Carter, of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employee (AFSCME), addressed the 2013 UNISON conference in Liverpool about the relentless and well funded attacks on unions in the USA. Here she is interviewed by Thom Hartmann on The Big Picture and discusses the forces behind the anti union psychosis in many US states. Jane highlights the continued existence of a union wage premium despite decades of membership decline.

Stand up for Gaza Edinburgh Comedy Gig

Wednesday 20 August at 22:00: New Empire Bingo, 50 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DT
MC: Imran Yusuf
* Josie Long
* Paul McCaffrey
* Nick Revell
* Rob Deering
and more!!!
   FREE event. Donations accepted at the end of the show.
War on Want https://www.facebook.com/events/712696162158186/

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

GAZA: Emergency Lobby of Parliament - Tuesday September 9th

The massive protests against the Israeli attack on Gaza all over the UK, coupled with the resignation of the Conservative foreign office minister Sayeeda Warsi in protest at the Government's policy on Palestine, may have finally helped to bring about a shift in opinion among politicians.
It's too early to say, but MPs were queuing up to criticise Israel after the troops moved into Gaza in July, no doubt encouraged by hundreds - and in some cases over a thousand emails they had received. For some MPs it was the first time they had voiced any criticism of Israel.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Having a say in how things are run

Two new publications examine ways in which workers’ views can be better represented in corporate decision making in the private and public sectors. The TUC’s ‘Beyond Shareholder Value – the reasons and choices for corporate governance reform’ is a wide ranging collection of 17 essays on various themes of which the most significant is that of representation, focusing on who participates in decision-making and proposes potential reforms including mandatory worker representation on company boards. The Scottish Government’s ‘Working Together Review: Progressive Workplace Policies in Scotland’ looks at industrial relations throughout Scotland, and how greater engagement between employers, trade unions and government could have a positive effect in workplaces, sectors and nationally.