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

Thursday, 31 December 2009

All bets off as March General Election speculation gains ground‏

After 13 years waiting to take power Gordon Brown will lead New Labour into an election after thirteen years in Government. Will he be lucky? All money seems to indicate that he fancies his best chance is on March 25th.

Solidarity with the people of Iran‏

CODIR, the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights - which for almost 30 years has campaigned against human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran – is calling on the British labour and trade union movement to lodge protests with the Iranian Government about its repression of opposition activists.

Smokers of Paper by Cesare Pavese‏

Culture: Smokers of Paper by Italian novelist and poet Cesare Pavese

Tax Dodgers' Alliance under investigation‏

The Charity Commission is investigating the anti public services taxpayers Alliance which is linked to the Conservative Party.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

No new year greetings from Obama for Cuba‏

Former US Under Secretary for Hemispheric Affairs Thomas Shannon has finally been allowed to be voted ambassador for Brazil after republican US senator George LeMieux lifted a ban on the voting process in exchange for reassurances that Washington would promote democracy in countries like Cuba and Honduras.
With this confirmation, the Obama administration has clearly signalled it will continue to carry out the Bush policy of overthrow of the Cuban government by any means.

NHS Pay - battle lines drawn‏

THE NHS Chief Executive David Nicholson has thrown the gauntlet down to health unions on pay for the settlement period 2011/12 onwards:

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

"Israel is an EU member state in all but name."

By David Cronin, The Electronic Intifada, 21 December 2009: BRUSSELS (IPS) - Israel's relations with the European Union were tense for most of 2009 -- if newspaper headlines are to be believed. In the past week, a British court drew fierce criticism from Israeli politicians after it issued an arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister, following a complaint that she had authorized war crimes in Gaza.

AFL-CIO & Israel‏

Labor for Palestine's 14 December Open Letter from US Trade Unionists to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: Boycott Apartheid Israel has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response. However, it has also become clear that growing support for boycott, divestment and sanctions is seen as a threat by those who would continue US labor officialdom's support for the apartheid state of Israel, as evidenced by new attacks on Labor for
Palestine. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10966.shtml

Barbarism a la carte?‏

Is Ivan Lewis MP - who intervened with the Chinese authorities to seek clemency for a convicted heroin trafficker - the same Ivan Lewis MP who was a strong supporter of the Israeli military offensive in Gaza in which 1400 Palestinians were murdered including 400 children?

Colombia - Edwin Legarda Memorial Event‏

In Cauca department, Colombia, more than 1000 people took part in an event to mark the first anniversary of the death of Edwin Legarda, an indigenous community member who was murdered by the Colombian army on December 16th 2008. Edwin was the husband of indigenous leader Aida Quilcue, who was in the UK in September at the invitation of UNISON Northern and the Northern TUC, in conjunction with the Colombia Solidarity Campaign. The event was supported by West Midlands UNISON, UNISON Northern, and the Gateshead Hospital branch.

The Great Party Question

‘Tis the season to be jolly and the merriment is in full swing. The cava and wine has been flowing and the room is growing steadily jolly, as the middle- aged party goers hum along to half forgotten punk classics they could once have pogo’d to. Everyone is relaxed, comfortable and stress free. These people share the same prejudices and values, but someone asks the inevitable question. “Where are your kids going after Primary? Then it is war.

Monday, 28 December 2009

The NHS is in mortal danger from the Tories‏

At an early stage in his leadership of the Conservative Party David Cameron recognised the importance of neutralising the NHS as a political issue. Cynical Tory strategists were aware in equal measure of the enduring popularity of the NHS and the recognition by voters that the Tories had run down the NHS in the Thatcher/Major years and therefore placed greater trust in Labour to preserve a universal health care system.

Tory Stories - New Blog:

Tory Stories - New Blog: http://www.torystories.com/about/ "The site acts as a depository for evidenced articles on Conservatives inlocal and regional government, showing that, once in office, the party's actions consistently fail to match its rhetoric. We urge readers to contribute to keeping this as up-to-date as possible by sending in furtherTory Stories from across the country."

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Gaza - one year on from launch of 'Operation Cast Lead'‏

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Israel's unleashing hell on the people of besieged Gaza with its brutal and murderous 'Operation Cast Lead'. It was a haunting reminder of the threat made earlier in 2008 by Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai, who promised the Palestinians of Gaza a "shoah" - or holocaust. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7270650.stm

Saturday, 26 December 2009

UNISON members to strike against Sodexo & North Devon NHS Trust‏

UNISON members at the North Devon hospital Trust employed by Sodexo have voted by a massive 97% in favour of strike action over unpaid wages and conditions going back over 3 years to 1st October 2006.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Agency Workers – stop talking start doing‏

The TUC has published its response to Government consultation on draft Regulations which supposedly implement the EU Temporary Agency Worker Directive into UK law. The TUC correctly concludes that ’the new Regulations must include more effective anti-avoidance measures to prevent unscrupulous employers and agencies avoiding the new rights by moving agency workers between jobs within the same workplace, or by rotating agency temps on short-term assignments between different employers’.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Public Library service under review‏

On 1 December 2009 the Government launched a two month consultation seeking the views of a wide range of people on the future of public libraries.The Bookseller reports that UNISON is to hold a "People's Inquiry" into the public library service in the New Year.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Butcher Mandelson cuts £500m from universities funding‏

Yesterday’s announcement that English universities will have £500m less to spend in 2010/11 has been fiercely condemned by the leading higher education unions UCU and UNISON.

TUFI - interfering in the internal affairs of Palestinian trade unions‏

Delegates at trade union conferences in Britain may have come across the Trade Union Friends of Israel (TUFI), the insidious apologists for the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. TUFI is always on the outside looking in at trade union events and it is widely understood that its influence in the higher echelons of the Labour Party and TUC is inverse proportion to the presence of TUFI supporters in democratically elected rank and file delegations.


Venezuela has expressed deep disappointment with the Copenhagen talks on climate change. President Chavez stated that developed countries - especially the US – should have acted more decisively as they bear the major historic responsibility for causing climate change.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Competition 'efficiencies' cost consumer £11 per parcel!

As the private sector, and right wing politicians continue to demand more competition in the delivery of public services, one consumer of postal delivery services - a service that has been exposed to competition - has found that 'choice' has meant an extra cost of nearly £11 per parcel this Christmas. See Dave Watson's story at UNISON Scotland

Eurostar - a highly effective strike which the media buried in snow‏

Last Friday Eurostar staff walk out on a 48 hour weekend strike after talks over pay collapsed. Intransigent management boasted that "Eurostar will operate normally over this weekend and the Christmas period. Threatened industrial action by one UK rail union will not affect Eurostar services". 70 members of train drivers' union Aslef took strike action over pay differentials in the company. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/6837897/Eurostar-staff-walk-out-on-weekend-strike-after-talks-collapse.html

Sign Alison's Gaza letter today

To John Ging, UNRWA Director of operations in Gaza
As people living in Scotland we are writing to let you know of our support for what you peacefully and constructively are trying to do in Gaza, in very difficult circumstances, to fulfill the mandate of UNRWA in caring for the welfare of Palestinian refugees.

The rat-race is for rats - the BA judicial coup explained‏

A timely analysis on the 21st Century Socialism website explains in detail the judicial coup d'etat against the BA workers. It is both a case study in the politics of the British judiciary and a call to arms for BA workers to perservere with the struggle.

ETUC says Copenhagen was an anti-climax‏

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) considers that the outcome of the Copenhagen climate negotiations is a failure at both the environmental and social levels. It is also and above all proof of the institutional collapse of the international negotiation system. For the European trade union movement, the European Union must make a commitment to an urgent resumption of the negotiations. http://www.etuc.org/a/6797

Monday, 21 December 2009

IBM takes on services in Essex as part of £5bn privatisation deal‏

Today's Times reports on a new strategic partnership between IBM and Tory controlled Essex County Council. Reminiscent of the 'front line' councils which formed Thatcher's praetorian guard in the 1980's this contract is undoubtedly an experiment with profound implications for UNISON branches throughout Britain.

Revolting Reform is wrong again‏

'Cut 109,000 civil servants, Scots told' read a headline in yesterday's Sunday Times followed by a sub heading claiming that 'think tanks says widescale redundancies would save money and boost ailing services'.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

6 Months are a Long Time

If this government is serious about addressing the issue of youth unemployment, then a commitment and a clear plan is required of them to support these young people, rather than letting them float back to the dole queue after their placement is completed see Graham's UNISON Blog http://grahaminunison.blogspot.com/2009/12/6-months-is-long-time.html

Tiresome Tories & the Labour-Union link‏

The FT, via its political gossip columnist Jim Pickard, reports that once again the Tories are 'set to attack Labour on ties to unions'. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7c21a60c-ec29-11de-8070-00144feab49a.html In a supposed Tory 'offensive' (a Conservative political strategy which pre-dates the very existence of a Labour Party) the Tories are setting out to attack the collective right of organised workers to have a political voice. Possibly emboldened by last week's vitriolic press attacks on the BA workers the Tories see slandering unions as a way of neutralising Labour's effective criticism of their links to Eton and the aristocracy.

Cuba and Copenhagen "Solar Energy is the energy of socialism"‏

Poor and Emerging States Stall Climate Negotiations" by John M.Broder, in the New York Times 12-17-2009 says it all: "If the United Nations climate talks here [Copenhagen] are entering their final two days in virtual deadlock, it is in large measure because of delays and diversions created by a group of poor and emerging nations intent on making their dissatisfaction clear."

Pre-Budget Report 2009: APSE Analysis and impact on local government‏

http://www.unison.org.uk/images/home/pensions1009t.jpg The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) has produced a detailed analysis of the recent Pre-Budget Report of Chancellor Alistair Darling. It can be accessed on the APSE web site via the following link:

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Greenpeace - 'the city of Copenhagen is a crime scene'‏

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, has condemned the 5 nation (US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa) deal stitched up by the US at the UN climate change conference:

National strike action against spending cuts in Greece‏

On Thursday progressive trade unions in Greece staged a 24 hour strike against spending cuts by the PASOK led Government. The BBC reports that thousands of supporters of PAME, a Communist-backed union, marched through Athens saying they should not pay the consequences of a capitalist crisis.  PAME had called on workers across the country to enforce a 24-hour strike.

Friday, 18 December 2009

‪More front than Sainsbury – Institute of Directors launch public sector pension commission‏

That well known worker friendly organisation the Institute of Directors has ‘launched’ a commission into public sector pensions. Business chiefs fund body to look at public sector pensions - http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2009/dec/17/business-leaders-launch-pension-commission

On balloting Labour has failed the trade union movement - BA injunction shows real nature of anti union laws‏

12700 workers
92.5% yes vote
80% turnout
1 judge

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Cardiff County Council - Strategic Transformational Change or Sale of The Century?

Cardiff County Council is undergoing a massive transformation, with between 500 to 700 jobs being lost. Originally, the proposal was that this was to be by reorganisation over 5 to 7 years. But an apparent hole in the Council's finances has been used as an excuse to accelarate the process and bring in massive 15 year private sector 'partnerships'.

Seven ways to protect public services‏

The marketisation model has a built-in trait towards increasing market share from private companies so within that it serves a commercial purpose to expand public sector provision. If we take the case of individualized care budgets what incentive is there for a private provider to nurture ‘independence, wellbeing and choice’ when if someone is independent and doing rather well they will need less care and therefore you get paid less to provide that care?

Fight Climate Change, Not Wars‏

Last year’s US defence budget was $512 billion – almost as much as the rest of the world combined. The US has pledged $1.4 billion to an international climate change fund. On the environation blog (linked to The Nation magazine) Naomi Klein interviews Steve Kretzmann, Director of Oil Change International, on the links between war and climate change.

Unions urge Edinburgh Council to save local economy from unprecedented cuts

As the City of Edinburgh Council meets today to decide on a huge raft of service cuts, unions will call on the council to ‘work with them to save the local economy, keep jobs in Edinburgh and stop local taxes being exported into the private coffers of big business.’

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Victory for French student nurses‏

French student nurses have won a victory in their battle to stop the government from compelling them to work seven days a week for up to 14 hours a day in swine flu vaccine centres. Les Echos reports that students nurses cannot be requisitioned for more than ten hours a week or two sessions of five hours. http://theflucase.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2231%3Afrench-nurses-win-a-victory-over-requisitions&catid=41%3Ahighlighted-news&Itemid=105&lang=en

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Public sector job cuts hysteria belies social consequences‏

People management website reports that the “Public sector faces job losses ‘on unprecedented scale”
http://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/pm/articles/2009/12/public-sector-faces-job-losses-on-unprecedented-scale.htm - Any local council that takes a slash and burn approach to their local jobs market will face serious and long term consequences......

The Government is being transformed into an arm of the City‏

In its coverage of the pre-Budget report the Daily Telegraph reported that “Paul Skinner, the former Rio Tinto chairman, is to take the chair at Infrastructure UK, the souped-up Treasury body established to advise on and help deliver new energy, transport and technology projects”. To do this now can only lead to certain cabinet members lining their pockets as advisors post the next election – final pay back time for the ‘inclusive government’ mantra.

The flight of the bankers‏

The flight of the bankers – You can hear the slamming of Gucci luggage – the screech of tyres and the raw of private jets. The bankers are fleeing. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6954613.ece.

Monday, 14 December 2009

At last we find out cleaners are better than bankers‏

Our government needs to pay serious attention to this report and stop threatening to close down our final salary schemes, make us redundant and cut our pay just to keep the bankers alive.

The crisis in US public services and lessons for the UK‏

The Economist carries an article this week that signposts the way forward for the public sector under a Tory government – or even a Labour Government struggling to pay off the same debt?. Quite simply it argues that public sector pensions, wages and health care are the sole cause of great American Cities like Detroit, Philadelphia and Los Angeles going bust.

South Korea: Public sector unions face Government oppression‏

The Public Services International (PSI) is reporting a crackdown on public service unions by the South Korean Government and is calling on affiliates and the wider trade union movement to send letters of protest to the South Korean Government as well as to the South Korean Embassy.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Ireland’s 2010 budget – public service workers to carry burden of economic failure‏

Ireland’s 200 000 strong Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) has condemned the Irish Government’s 2010 budget as “a massive Christmas present for the rich which must have exceeded even their wildest expectations.

UNISON speaks out in Copenhagen‏

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis speaking in Copenhagen said that “the rich countries created the problem of climate change, yet it’s the developing world that is likely to be hit first and most severely by droughts and rising sea levels. It’s only right that the richer nations make the biggest cuts and provide resources to the developing world to help them grow in a sustainable way and adapt to the consequence of the climate change that we know is already inevitable.”

Saturday, 12 December 2009

TUC calls for a ban on Israeli goods from illegal settlements‏

In response to the publication on Thursday of Government's advice to retailers on produce from illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories, Brendan Barber, General Secretary said:

Friday, 11 December 2009

38,000 EU staff to strike for 3.7% pay rise

Quote of the fortnight: "Eight years after its conception, the Treaty of Lisbon will finally come into force on the 1st of December. But through it, Europe will neither become more effective nor more democratic, neither more transparent nor more open...The political elite has failed." Article in German newspaper Die Welt, 30 November

PPP Industry gives thumbs up to Infrastructure UK‏

Members of the public services industrial complex are licking their lips - its fee and deal time.

Pensions, one size fits all…‏

Alistair Darling has been busy telling us how we were going to pay more in pension contributions and that pensions had to fall in line with the rest of the economy, does he mean defined contribution benefits?

Predictable cuts clamour from the know-all IFS‏

The cuts thirsty right wing think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) is predicting a further £36b cuts from 2011 and claims a £15b shortfall in the cuts announced by Chancellor Alistair Darling earlier this week.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Drive for shared services and 'back office' staffing reducations stepped up‏

Key to government promises to "protect the frontline" (http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page21634) from the impact of spending cuts are"efficiency" plans for "back office" operations across central government, local government, schools, the health service, police services, and all other public sector bodies. Cabinet Office papers released this week to accompany the Pre-Budget Report provide more detail, building on the Operational Efficiency Programme launched by the Treasury earlier this year:

Councils already cutting social worker training and recruitment, finds survey‏

Councils are cutting recruitment and training budgets for social work and other social care roles as they grapple with recessionary pressures, an exclusive Community Care survey has found. http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2009/12/01/113300/councils-plan-training-and-recruitment-cuts.htm

Stunning legal victory for UNISON as High Court enforces private work cap on FT’s‏

Yesterday the High Court ruled upheld a challenge by UNISON that foundation trust regulator Monitor had undermined the provision of NHS services by failing to produce and enforce accurate guidelines on the levels of income derived from private patient services.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

NEC report - UNISON standing up for public services‏

NEC meeting 9 December 2009: UNISON is on course to achieve 1.5 million members by 2013 the NEC heard today. Excellent recruitment figures in October and November underpin Dave’s view that we are now starting to see the fruits of activist and staff engagement with ‘Meeting the Organising Challenge’.

Oh No Darling!

UNISON members will be less than delighted to find that today’s pre-budget report places their income and pensions in jeopardy. Darling proposes a two year 1% pay cap and a pensions cap on public sector workers.

Pre-Budget report pay freeze - No way‏

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis has come out fighting against proposal to restrict public sector pay rises to 1% for 2 years from 2011.

SOLACE/CIPFA study predicts transformation of local government‏

The FT reports on a joint study by Solace, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, and Cipfa, the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accounting..... What lies ahead.......

Cuba tops the class in UN development report‏

UNISON members through their unfailing solidarity have always understood that Cuba's achievements are inspirational not only in this country but the world..... Cuba tops the class in UN development report  http://alainet.org/active/34510&lang=es

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The bigger the pension funds the better for benefits!

The shape and size of the LGPS in England, Wales and Scotland is quite unique in that there are 89 funds in England and Wales and 11 in Scotland. All to serve two sets of national benefits.  If you look across the channel to the Netherlands there is one fund for local government, the civil service, teachers, the military and the judiciary.

Goodbye to rat infestation‏

It started back in August 2008 when Hilary Armstrong, the former Local Government Minister decided that her mantra of ‘what matters is what works’ should be applied to her retirement plans. Ms Armstrong, opponent of CCT and architect of Best Value, decided that there was no better value for her than to accept a paid position as chairman of the advisory committee for French-owned environment company Sita, nicely positioning herself for a cosy retirement; Unlike of course the millions of low paid public sector workers who face poverty in retirement.

Future Jobs Fund‏

The TUC has published a useful guide to the Government’s Future Jobs Fund (FJF): http://www.tuc.org.uk/welfare/tuc-17271-f0.cfm Britain currently has the highest rate of youth unemployment in Europe, and the FJF is part of the Government’s ‘Backing Young Britain’ package, providing £1bn for 18 - 24 year olds, as they come up to 12 months of unemployment.

Putting Irish unity on the agenda‏

A major conference is taking place, of interest to all UNISON members who want to put Irish unity on the agenda and encourage a debate in Britain, in the context of the Good Friday Agreement of self determination.

Monday, 7 December 2009

How FT sources compromised its Venezuela coverage‏

Further to the Latin America 2009 conference interested readers may be interested in this article - How Financial Times’ Limited Sources Compromised its Venezuela Coverage by Justin Delacour.

UNISON International Conference on Capital Stewardship

“Yes we can” attitude demonstrated by SEIU: At the UNISON/PSI conference on Capital Stewardship, held in London on Dec 3rd & 4th, conference heard of the efforts made by the SEIU to use workers capital within pension funds to successfully lobby large corporations, to ensure that they were persuaded to take a positive view of the Health Care legislation being proposed by the Obama administration. From a resolution at their 2000 convention, the SEIU now has grown to a position where it actively intervenes as a shareholder through the pension schemes, calling major companies to account.

Scottish PFI and the LGPS‏

Hot on the heels of the Local Government Association in England and Wales, the Scottish Executive has announced its intention to explore the use of UNISON member's money to be invested in potential privatisation deals. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/ministers-hope-to-tap-council-pensions-1.990222.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Latin America 2009 'Facing the Challenges' - conference report & pictures‏

With over 500 delegates and 50 speakers Latin America 2009 ‘Facing the Challenges’ was by far the most successful conference ever in this now annual event at the TUC. A packed congress hall heard speakers from across the continent, solidarity campaigns, politicians, journalists, academics and trade unionists.

Rhetoric or reality - the relevance of ILO standards‏

The Bureau for Workers' Activities (ACTRAV) at the International LabourOrganisation (ILO) has published the outcome of a recent symposium on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining in the 21st Century. The symposium noted that full respect of the right to organise and collective bargaining, including the right to strike and protection against anti-union discrimination, is the pre-condition for the realisation of democracy at the work place and in society: http://www.ilo.org/actrav/info/docs/lang--en/docName--WCMS_118115/index.htm

Other Taxpayers Alliance calls for FOI extension to private contractors‏

Power2010, the campaign to revitalise democracy, has been asking supporters to send ideas for political reform. The TaxPayers' Alliance has sent two ideas, and, with pleasing symmetry, so have we, says The Other Taxpayers' Alliance. http://taxpayersalliance.org/news/two-submissions-to-power2010/

Saturday, 5 December 2009

LGPS under attack in bid to slash budget deficit‏

The first public statement that our pension benefits are to be cut to pay for the bankers bail outs was made yesterday at the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum conference in Bournemouth. Bob Holloway a civil servant, on his own final salary scheme, and a regulator of the LGPS used the conference as an opportunity to announce the potential end of final salary benefits.

King’s Fund NHS report is tilting at windmills‏

UNISON has criticised the 2009 Windmill report of the King’s Fund. Windmill is a think tank process in which private sector interests are well embedded and unsurprisingly it recommends “commissioners and providers need to grasp opportunities to work with the independent and third sectors, where these can make a contribution to innovation and improvement.” http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/research/publications/windmill_2009.html

Friday, 4 December 2009

Money, money, money‏

Many councils are citing financial problems for cutting jobs and services, and it is important that UNISON activists are able to get reliable and useful information to check what the real financial situation is. In the East Midlands, the regional office has made a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests on agency workers and consultants' costs, chief executives' pay, and they have also made FOI requests to councils about their levels of reserves.

Tyne & Wear Metro - Nexus sells off the family jewels‏

The Northern TUC and trade unions are extremely disappointed with today’s decision to award the contract to run the Tyne and Wear Metro to German company Deutsche Bahn.

Save the planet: not Trident‏

In its latest eBulletin Compass urges you to take action and sign up to its new statement on Rethink Trident, take action to stop climate chaos this Saturday and get your ticket to the No Turning Back Christmas Party. For all the latest news, action and debate from Compass visit: http://www.compassonline.org.uk/

Sefton UNISON - Determined to Save Jobs‏

Having left behind over 30% losers in JE and 300 job losses in her previous job, the new Chief Executive arrived in Sefton this year spotting an apparently previously unidentified £25m hole in the budget. Whilst this was hardly a vote of confidence in either the previous CEO or the Finance Directorate, announcements were to quickly follow of job cuts.

Stop climate change – social justice now!‏

Looking ahead to the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit which starts next week, the European Left (EL) highlight that the ecological crisis already has a dramatic impact today which can and most probably will assume a catastrophic dimension in the near future.

The Union Advantage‏

Great work by the TUC in producing a new report The Union Advantage: The positive impact of trade unions on the economy and British society. http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/unionadvantage.pdf This is part of a range of materials aiming to help affiliated unions attract new recruits and demonstrate the value of unions.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

TUC says UK has reached a defining moment in the battle against racism‏

TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O' Grady told a TUC conference on Monday that ten years after the publication of the Macpherson Report into the death of Stephen Lawrence, the UK has reached a defining moment in the battle against racism. The TUC published a new guide for union negotiators Tackling Racism in the Workplace to coincide with the conference. To read more on the conference go to: http://www.tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-17301-f0.cfm

Smarter Government?‏

Tuesday’s Downing Street press briefing flagged up Cabinet discussions on proposals for ‘smarter government’ due to be published next week. http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page21552
This followed an FT report of a leaked documents outlining Government plans for further decimation of the civil service. http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2009/11/save-up-to-xbn-a-year-government-on-the-hoof/

Palestinian trade unions unanimously support boycott movement‏

In reaction to reports alleging a Palestinian trade union official has reservations about the Palestinian civil society campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), the full spectrum of the Palestinian trade union movement has expressed solid support for the campaign. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10915.shtml

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

UNISON backed candidate wins Welsh labour leadership election‏

Yesterday Carwyn Jones, the AM for Bridgend, was comfortably elected leader of the Labour Party in Wales and will succeed Rhodri Morgan as First Minister.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Social Work task force recommendations - Now let’s get them enacted‏

There’s a lot to be welcomed in the task force recommendations released today (1st December) and a lot that mirrors what we’ve been saying in Unison since the Laming report.

Extra funding is the key to improving the quality of home care‏

Heather Wakefield, UNISON head of local government, writes on the Public Finance website about the proposed National Care Service and argues that increased funding of home care is essential if current standards are to improve and the NCS is to attract the extra million carers needed by 2020

Couling vs Barnbrook

UNISON NEC member (and local School Crossing Officer) Louise Couling will be challenging the BNP's Richard Barnbrook for his seat on Barking and Dagenham Council in 2010. John's Labour Blog offers a new take on the Hitler video spoof.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Tory pay by results plans for public services will create market mayhem‏

Tory plans to set public sector budgets by results are a rehash of the previous failed model of internal markets and competition within the NHS. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tories-public-services-plan-will-save-billions-1828764.html

FOI exposes "public services industry" lobbying of Audit Commission‏

NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH, says Private Eye: "The future looks rosy for public service "outsourcing", especially under alikely Tory government. So companies are busy promoting the "efficiencies"they claim to offer in the age of austerity, and sucking up to the watchdog who is meant to police such local and health authority deals, the AuditCommission. http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&issue=1250

Helping bankers help themselves

"Bankers are earning giant bonuses again because governments have had to borrow in order to keep bankers in business. Now, what was I saying about democracy?" says Ian Bell in The Herald. http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/ian-bell/helping-bankers-help-themselves-1.987112

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Public sector workers across Turkey mobilise for the right to strike‏

Last week tens of thousands of public sector trade unionists in Turkey walked out in national action to secure the legal right to strike.On 25 November 2009 rallies were held in many parts of Turkey. The BBC reports that transport, hospitals, postal services and schools were disrupted.

UNISON condemns Foundation Trust regulator for failure to enforce care standards‏

Karen Jennings UNISON head of health has criticised the Foundation Trust Monitor for its delayed but ultimately headline grabbing intervention in the Basildon and Thurrock NHS Foundation Trust: http://newscdn.bbc.net.uk/1/hi/health/8382036.stm

TUC calls on EU to suspend Colombia trade talks‏

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written to the current EU trade commissioner Baroness Ashton (soon to take up her new role as High Representative for Foreign Relations) calling on her to abandon trade talks with Colombia because of its appalling human rights record. http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-17300-f0.cfm

Saturday, 28 November 2009

St Andrew’s Day Success

The annual St Andrew’s day march against Racism and Fascism took place today, the 28th Nov, in Glasgow. This is a long standing event in the trade union calendar, originating in a response to an attempt by the far right to co-opt the day for their own pernicious propaganda. Since then it has gone from strength to strength from the first march where fifty hardy souls marched from Kelvin Way into the city.

Newcastle UNISON Warns of Action Against Pay Cuts

Newcastle City UNISON is the latest branch to warn of a confrontation with the local authority as a result of proposals on Single Status. A leaked report suggest more than 1,400 workers could face a pay cut as a result of the introduction of a new pay and grading structure. 700 workers could face pay cuts of more that £2,500 a year.

Edinburgh facing 'biggest ever dispute'

UNISON, the largest union representing City of Edinburgh Council staff, has warned that 'bad faith' in consultation about cuts of £90m could lead to huge disruption as the union fights to save Edinburgh's local services.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Labour’s next 6 months in office‏

The Economist magazine has an interesting feature on the next (and probably final) 6 months in office of Gordon Brown’s Labour Government.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

PGFTU's position towards boycott of Israel.

Letter from Shaher Saed PGFTU General Secretary to Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Jewish Chronicle published an article by Leon Symons on November 12th 2009.  As the article do not reflect the real position of the PGFTU, we would like to emphasize the following:

Israel/Palestine response: BDS and PGFTU

In his comments, Terry McCorran is either misinformed or seeks to mislead others. He says he visited Israel and Palestine with TUFI, “in a personal capacity due to the UNISON Boycott”. Terry should read UNISON policy. Neither UNISON policy nor that of the TUC calls for an outright boycott, but of those companies involved in activities deemed by the international courts to be illegal, of produce from the illegal settlements or colonies and a review of trading relations between EU and Israel. http://cms.unison.co.uk/MotionText.asp?DocumentID=1000235

Israel/Palestine response

Response to The Israeli Lobby and British Unions Having just come back from a trip to Israel and palestine through TUFI. In a personal Capacity due to the Unison Boycott. I think it only fair and Democratic that people who dont agree with the calls for boycotts should be allowed to voice our thoughts and opinions.

VT, Capita and Serco join forces to push outsourcing model‏

VT, Capita and Serco, the leading support service providers in the UK, havebegun roadshows with local and central government departments to explain howoutsourcing works. "We have developed a co-ordinated approach with Capita andSerco to preach the model. Our industry is not the panacea but we can be animportant part of local and central government dealing with their problems."  http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/support_services/article6920675.ece

public services industry looks forward to 'outsourcing boom'‏

VT, the shipbuilder turned service provider, is preparing to cash in on a boom in outsourcing in the wake of future cuts in public spending. Paul Lester, VT's chief executive, has warned that public services will becontracted to the private sector "with a vengeance" after the next election, reports the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/nov/17/vtgroup-sercogroup

staff strike against Sodexo's failure to match Agenda for Change‏

UNISON porters, cooks and cleaners at North Devon Hospital have voted in favour of industrial action over sick pay. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/devon/8377460.stm the Trust and Sodexo failed to to enact Agenda for Change

FW: new poll: public don't want cuts‏

Surprising and mostly encouraging new MORI results:
- 53% are willing to pay more tax to avoid cuts to public services, against 42% favouring service cuts
- 43% think there is ‘a real need to cut spending on public services in order to pay off the very high national debt we now have’ (up from 40% in June); 44% disagree (down from 51% in June); 10% are ambivalent (up from 7% in June)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Key questions on pension scheme governance‏

The TUC is right to welcome the Pensions Regulator's campaign on good pension fund governance, but the regulator must go further and install a requirement for 50% of trustees to be elected from scheme members by scheme members. It is still shocking to consider that the Local Government Pension Scheme member has no legal right to take part in it's governance.

Left Foot Forward on NHS marketisation‏

Lansley’s market dogma at odds with OECD health study: A key OECD report on “Value for Money in Health Care” has criticised as “zealots” those like Tory MEP Daniel Hannan who “adhere absolutely to the belief that competition offers an unalloyed solution to society’s more intractable problems” – especially in the field of health care, reports LeftFootForward

....more on Compass tax report‏

This latest Compass report puts forward a comprehensive analysis of the UK Tax system and offers a straightforward set of proposals which would start to make it fairer. The report entitled In Place of Cuts: Tax reform to build a fairer society was written by George Irvin, Dave Byrne, Richard Murphy, Howard Reed and Sally Ruane and produced with support from UNISON.

In Place of Cuts‏

The Compass report 'In Place of Cuts' has provoked a fierce debate between those in favour of progressive taxation and those against, and it is clear whose side the Tories are on.Compass is organising an event tonight in Parliament to continue the debate, click here for details and to register.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Irish public service unions strike over cuts in budgets and pay‏

Today Irish public service trade unions are taking 24 hour strike action against Government plans to cut pay and public service budgets in order to reduce the budget deficit which stands at 12% of GDP, following the banking bail out.

Leeds pay dispute settled after 12 weeks of solid strike action‏

After more than 11 weeks of continuous strike action 600 refuse collectors in Leeds City Council have voted overwhelmingly to accept a settlement negotiated by GMB and UNISON which will remove the threat of draconian pay cuts.

The Israel lobby & British unions‏

Last week’s Dispatches programme ‘Inside Britain’s Israel lobby’ was compulsive viewing. A wide ranging investigation by journalist Peter Oborne, its purpose was to ‘investigate one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain, which is working in support of the interests of the State of Israel’. The programme is available for viewing for the next 21 days on 4 on demand. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-42/episode-1

Monday, 23 November 2009

People's Charter complements Million Voices?

In a speech to the People's Charter Convention on 21 November‏, Mike Kirby argued that the Charter was not for 'a separate political party' but was "complementary to" the million voices campaign and gives "a platform to work with whoever shares our pursuit of common objectives".

NHS competition – the public services industrial complex launches a fight back‏

It was only a matter of time. The announcement last September by health secretary Andy Burnham that the NHS staff would be the ‘preferred provider’ of health services was warmly welcomed by UNISON and other health unions.

Communities ravaged by floods as profits soar for water firms‏

As in 2005 and 2007, hundreds of public service workers have been mobilised to defend communities in the North West of England ravaged by floods. UNISON members employed by Cumbria County Council, the emergency services, the Environmental Agency, the NHS and water companies are providing relief to residents whose homes, amenities and local infrastructure have been devastated by flood damage. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/22/cumbria-flood-cockermouth-relief

Northern Region TUC Reclaims the Night‏

On an inclement night over 200 people came together in Durham to Reclaim the Night. The march through the town had a carnival atmosphere, and members of the public showed their support. A packed rally of people from across the Northern Region heard from Durham City MP, Roberta Blackman-Woods, Bridget Philipson, Head of Women in Need, Sunderland, and Labour candidate for Houghton and Sunderland South, along with Clare Williams, Chair of the NTUC Women’s Group, and UNISON Regional Convenor and NEC member.

Uncovering the truth about Tory plans on Council Funding‏

This blog has reported on the devastating cuts being announced across the country here, here and here. The most savage cuts have been at Tory controlled councils, especially where they have take the decision to freeze council tax. This is a financially irresponsible decision, as in a recession, vulnerable members of our communities need their council services more not less. And this needs to be paid for.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Equal pay breakthrough for 200,000 community workers in Australia‏

The Australian Services Union (ASU) and the Australian Government have reached an historic agreement which will see the social and community services sector as the test case for pay equity in the new Federal Industrial Relations system.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

To hell in a handcart, via bankers bonuses!‏

Earthly bodies are moving into alignment as the general election draws nearer, the CBI yesterday backed the Tory plan to cut jobs and services in the public sector to pay back government debt. The CBI's backing for Tory economic strategy reflects a reversal in allegiances since last year, when leading business groups lined up with the government against the Tories in advocating a cut in VAT to help people buy more so stimulating the economy.