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

Monday, 21 July 2014

Asking difficult referendum questions is essential

Despite some recent press coverage, UNISON's position on the referendum remains one of challenging both sides of the referendum debate on how their plans will create social justice, bring an end to austerity, poverty and health inequality. We want to know what they will do about building social cohesion, a more equal society and a world without nuclear weapons.

The referendum differs from the devolution campaign of the 1990s. There is no 'settled will of the Scottish people'. There is a divide. So, more important that taking positions of Yes or No, is pushing home the difficult questions for both camps and getting answers for our members.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

In our thousands in our millions we support the Palestinians

Over 100,000 people came onto the streets of London, Glasgow and Belfast and other towns across the UK yesterday to protest at the continuing Israeli attacks on the people of Gaza in which over 340 have died including 75 children. In London the names and ages of all the Palestinian children killed
by Israeli air and ground attacks in Gaza in the last 11 days were read out in front of the Israeli embassy

Among the other events across the country, Aberdeen saw campaigners gather for the third consecutive week in St Nicholas Square in a show of solidarity with the people of Gaza. http://aberdeentuc.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/hundreds-of-voices-raised-in-protest.html

See more photos of protests around the world at http://theworldstandswithpalestine.tumblr.com/

Connecting Cultures by Liz Lochhead

I am talking in our lingua franca.
Tell me, do you drive on the left or right?
Is your football team the Botswana Zebras
Or Indomitable Lions of Cameroon?
Can you take me to Junkanoo
And is there mangrove forest?
Is it true that a lightweight business suit
Is the appropriate city-garb and shaking hands
The usual form of greeting?
Are there frigate birds? Diamonds? Uranium?
What is the climate? Is there a typical hurricane season
Or a wind of change?
How many miles of coastline in your country?
Is the currency the Kenyan shilling or the
Brunei dollar -- or is it also the word for rain or a blessing?
Do you speak the lingua franca?

Communication can mean correspondence,
Or a connecting passage or channel, can mean
A means of imparting and receiving information such as
Speech, digital media, Facebook, the press and cinema.
Communications can mean means of transporting, especially
Troops or supplies.

Commonwealth means
A free association of independent member nations bound by
Friendship, loyalty, the desire for
Democracy, equality, freedom and peace.
Remembering how hard fellow feeling is to summon
When Wealth is what we do not have in Common,
May every individual
And all the peoples in each nation
Work and hope and
Strive for true communication --
Only by a shift and sharing is there any chance
For the Welfare of all our people and Good Governance.

Such words can sound like flagged-up slogans, true.
What we merely say says nothing --
All that matters is what we do.


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Austerity, Unions and Labour - a conversation running dry

At Labour’s National Policy Forum today Ed Miliband will commit an incoming Labour Government to continue austerity cuts until 2020 to eradicate a deficit made worse by Con Dem tax cutting policies for corporations and the rich. The Guardian previews his speech "You and I know we won't have the money. For all of the cuts, for all of the pain under this government, Britain still has a deficit to deal with and a debt to pay down. That's why our programme starts with a binding commitment to balancing the books in the next government.”

The Legend of Mythic, Proud Perfection by Tareq al-Karmy

Not Richard’s – not your “Lionheart” ’s – horse, no
Nor Great Alexander’s steed Bucephalus, no
Not Roman horses thundering home their demonic mastery,
Not the legendary, immortal, Trojan horse,
No, there’s never been a horse on all the earth but –
failing to attain absolute perfection of nobility –
has, in the end, had to be put down
by merciful bullets. Not one
this, the one my father bought me,
my horse,
although it’s only wee and made of wood.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014


This infographic dramatically shows Israel's aggression towards occupied Palestine over the last year and a timeline of Gaza under siege from 8-16 July 2014. Click on the graphic for a bigger version.
Gaza under Siege

Contrary to false assurances, health services are included in TTIP

As opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) gains momentum in the UK and elsewhere, suddenly (and based on leaked correspondence) it has been claimed in some quarters that the treaty poses no threat to the NHS. John Hilary of War on Want, writing on the Open Democracy website, demonstrates convincingly that the opposite is true and emphasises the importance of continuing to build the campaign against TTIP:.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Labour Link Forum: Less than 10 months to get rid of Cameron and Tories

UNISON Labour Link Forum took place this year in Bristol earlier this month. This is the national meeting of UNISON delegates from regions and Self Organised Groups who support our constitutional link with the Labour Party via the Labour Link (also known as the APF) political fund.
    This is a motion based conference which had some great debates on policy. There was also workshops and a number of high profile speakers including Jon Cruddas MP, Head of Labour's policy review; Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Minister for London Sadiq Khan MP, and our General Secretary, Dave Prentis. There was a UK Parliamentary panel of Labour MPs and a European Parliament panel of MEPs.

Tebbit resurfaces to attack collective union rights

The Tory world view regards collectivism as a threat to civil liberties. This explains their fundamental opposition to trade unions. In 1975 Tory MP Norman Tebbit accused the Labour employment minister Michael Foot of 'pure undiluted fascism' for upholding the primacy of collective agreements in a unionised workplace. Tebbit went on to become an arch ally of Margaret Thatcher in rolling back union rights.
   As Tory employment minister he introduced the landmark Employment Act 1982 in order to, in his words, 'redress the imbalance of bargaining power' by narrowing the definition of a legal strike and outlawing solidarity action. Now Tebbit has surfaced to invoke his 1982 legislation as a smarter way than ballot thresholds to 'restrain the extremists of the union movement' and proposes that union immunity from civil action for damages arising from a strike be conditional on 'a minimum percentage of the relevant workforce and possibly a minimum turnout' rather than an outright ban on strikes not meeting those requirements:

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Urgent call from Gaza civil society: Act now!

'We Palestinians trapped inside the bloodied and besieged Gaza Strip call on conscientious people all over the world to act, protest and intensify the boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel until it ends this murderous attack on our people and is held to account.
    With the world turning their backs on us once again, for the last four days we in Gaza have been left to face massacre after massacre. As you read these words, over 120 Palestinians are dead now, including 25 children. Over 1,000 have been injured including countless horrifying injuries that will limit lives forever –- more than two thirds of the injured are women and children.