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

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Attack on Chavez rebutted in Tribune‏

Colin Burgon MP, Chair of Labour Friends of Venezuela, has published in Tribune an excellent rebuttal of an attack on the Chavez led Government by fellow Labour MP Denis McShane.

"Public services industry" poised to make a killing‏

(see also http://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/MarketsAndSectors/Sectors/article/20090811/9a417d2c-8673-11de-80de-0015171400aa/Get-on-the-government-gravy-train.jsp)
Serco and Capita expect to profit from government woes

Shift in policy on private sector services - FT

NHS organisations are the “preferred provider” of state-funded healthcare, says health secretary - See FT story by Nicholas Timmins http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fa664852-a3c6-11de-9fed-00144feabdc0.html.

Time to take urgent action on excessive pay says Compass‏

Left of centre pressure group Compass is calling on trade unionists to write to the Chancellor demanding that the government establishes a High Pay Commission. Over one thousand have done so already.

Friday, 18 September 2009

The other half of our rich past

TUC: Women have played a crucial but overlooked role in union struggles, Judy Cotter tells the Morning Star

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Britain’s unions commit to a mass boycott movement of Israeli goods

TUC: "We need a campaign of focused and selective action against arms sales to Israel, against the illegal settlements and for a targeted consumer boycott. We need to get as many people involved as possible. Our aim is not to put jobs at risk, but to build political support and awareness. This is our generation's responsibility." Mike Kirby on UNISON Scotland website

PALESTINE - TUC statement takes BDS step

TUC: TUC policy taken 'light years forward' as statement calls for end of arms sales to Israel, a ban on importing goods produced in the illegal settlements and a boycott (where trade union members should not put their own jobs at risk by refusing to deal with such products).

Palestine debate - media feeding frenzy and a Times onslaught against TUC democracy

TUC: According to the Guardian, the debate on Palestine scheduled for yesterday was 'postponed until the last day of conference because of a behind the scenes row'
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/sep/16/tuc-delays-israeli-boycott-motion . UNISONActive: "Let's hope democracy, internationalism and unity prevail in today's debate and the Palestinian cause is not once again undermined by the Israel Lobby"

The BBC reports leads on 'acrimony' betweeen various union personalities.

Sky goes even further into the gutter trivialising a crucial debate about apartheid style injustice as mere 'handbags' between senior union officials (who seemingly regard themselves a more important than the issue at hand).

Typically, this morning's Times is not content on reporting developments but intervenes with a vicious attack on those unions faithfully implementing the democratically agreed policies of their union conferences

Let's hope democracy, internationalism and unity prevail in today's debate and the Palestinian cause is not once again undermined by the Israel Lobby - which is so brilliantly exposed by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their seminal book of that name http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/mear01_.html

Brown speech - an alternative view

TUC: Having sat through Gordon Brown’s address yesterday, but reading the accounts of the content in various newspapers today, I am convinced I did not sit through the same speech as the variations and interpretations of the content seem so far removed from the actual words used.

Political fund review online

UNISON's political fund review is now online. Deadline for responses is 13 November. Click here for more details 

Musings on Wednesday afternoon's business

TUC: The afternoon began with Amnesty International – short film presented 30 year history of Amnesty and its partnership work with trade union Branches and regions to affiliate to Amnesty. Support for the ‘Miami 5’ and all victims of injustice and prisoners of conscience was explained with examples of their important work.

Day 3 in the TUC big brother house

TUC: Day 3 in the TUC big brother house and house delegates are beginning to look weary from their exposure to speaker after speaker, constant demands to clap the aforementioned speakers and the effects of socialising well into the early hours of the morning!

Following big brother Brendan’s statement on the economy, house delegates began to “debate” issues related to this subject matter, some house delegates spoke very eloquently particularly the delegate moving Motion 15 “Women’s employment and the recession” submitted from the TUC Women’s Conference. The motion notes the deep concern at the impact the economic downturn will have on vulnerable women, including, pregnant workers and agency workers.

The motion was part of a group debate (motions 15 and 16) and was carried, which should ensure the house delegate remains in the TUC big brother house!

Big Bother TUC invited the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate change, Ed Miliband, but big brother delegates were left pondering whether it was Ed or David!!

In his confident and upbeat address to house delegates, Ed paid tribute to “Green Reps” up and down the country. He went onto outline what the Labour Party had achieved in terms of addressing the climate challenges which face us and made comparisons to what the Tories would or indeed would not do should they come power at the next general election, highlighting that 60% of Conservative run Local Governments have rejected applications for the building of wind turbines.

Ed said lots more, but quite honestly, you can go to the TUC website for a more detailed report.

UNISON’s, Ruth Davis, put a question to Ed relating to fuel poverty and the need for a continued commitment and strategy to address the ongoing poverty experienced by many within our societies.

This morning felt a little like the PCS and RMT congress, although Jane Carolan, was able to fight her way to the rostrum and having done so, made an excellent contribution to the debate.

Banking on Essex

A year after the almost total collapse of the world’s banking system Essex County Council has agreed to establish a new municipal bank, called Banking on Essex. http://www.essexcc.gov.uk/vip8/ecc/ECCWebsite/dis/guc.jsp?channelOid=14008&guideOid=129449&guideContentOid=130843 UNISON will need to keep watchful eye on staff pension fund.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Climate Change - Green Jobs, Green Skills and a Just Transition

TUC: "A low carbon revolution needs to be about new industries and new jobs. Tackling climate change can’t be left to the market alone to deal with". - and Vestas workers given standing ovation for stand in trying to protect their jobs, and also promote green solutions 

How do we respond to the Economic Crisis? – A programme for recovery

TUC: A key debate takes place at TUC to promote trade union’s strategy to respond to the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s. "There is no hierarchy of public service workers – you cannot cut without impacting on the delivery of frontline services." Jane Carolan.

General Council dinner - platitudes main course hogwash aperitif‏

TUC: The Tory prospectus is so bad we'll accept any crumbs from Labour was the underlying theme of the last night's General Council dinner.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

How does the Sun think campaign of hatred against social workers helps vulnerable children?

TUC: Motion 57: Child Protection Services and Media Coverage of Baby Peter. Damned if they do….. Chris Tansley, a childcare social worker of over 30 years experience, tells the TUC, “I’ve never encountered the level of hatred and attack that followed the Sun’s petition demanding the sacking of all those social workers involved in the tragic case of baby P”.

Annette backs call to keep fire control centres local

TUC: The TUC has called for for all aspects of local fire and rescue services to remain under local democratic control. Annette Mansell-Green of UNISON and Chair of the TUC General Purposes Committee told congress that moving away from local control centres would be bad for the service as you need the local knowledge of the area when the emergency call comes in.

We must be the voice of Britain at work – Sue Highton

TUC: Comp 5, Trade Union Membership, raised concerns that in 2008 trade union membership and density in the UK both declined. NEC member Susan Highton said ‘the recession is hitting our families and communities hard. Members are looking at their wages and thinking what do I not need to pay! It cannot be their union subs it is times like this that their subs are a must”.

TUC recharges union batteries for new delegate

TUC: View from a New Delegate: TUC afternoon session 15 September: An extremely well attended Fringe meeting on the Future of Public Services, addressed by our General Secretary as well as Ed Balls, raised, in no uncertain terms the UNISON concerns of the future funding of Public Services. The threat to Children, Schools and Families left the Secretary of State appreciate he was amongst ‘very critical friends’.

Unified response from unions needed to Make Every Child Matter

TUC: Motion 59 Children’s Workforce: Some of the positive aspects of the Every Child Matters Government Agenda were highlighted in this debate, such as increased investment in the workforce for training and development as well as proper focus on career development and maintaining specialist skills in an integrated service.

However there were more gaps in the Agenda that raised issues for the 2.7 million workers in the children’s services sector. Concerns raised ranged from the appalling pay and conditions of our members in that sector to the emphasis on further privatisation of new children’s services.

To move from the slogan ‘Every Child Matters’ to a reality that achieves it will require a unified response from the trade union movement and the motion outlined how this might be achieved.

TUC breaking news General Council to support FBU motion on Palestine and oppose GMB amendment‏

TUC: Ahead of tomorrow's keynote debate - when Congress will debate the aftermath of the Gaza massacre of innocents and how UK unions can step up support for the Palestinian cause - the TUC General Council this morning agreed to support motion 76 from the FBU and to oppose the reactionary amendment from the GMB.

Merger nonsense - The Times gets it wrong again‏

Hard on the heels of its recent disinformation on the UNISON staff pension scheme, today The Times gets it badly wrong again with its bogus story on an upcoming merger between GMB and UNISON.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6835133.ece As ever dressed up in the context of a 'threat' to New Labour it is a classic smoke and mirrors conference season story.

The Tory strategy on unions - a steel fist in a velvet glove‏

TUC: As the general election gets ever closer and the Tories remain consistently 10+ ahead in the polls, it is no surprise that battle lines are being drawn with the trade unions.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Dave Prentis gives a rousing call to arms to defend front line public services

TUC: Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary moved the keynote composite motion 21 on public services and the economy. Drawing on the work being done at all levels of the union to resist cuts in jobs and services Dave attacked attempts to shift the burden of the economic crisis onto the backs of public service workers.

TUC Fringe report - Normalise UK Cuba relations urges Dave Prentis

TUC: Over 300 delegates packed into the Cuba Solidarity fringe heard Dave Prentis demand of Foreign Secretary David Miliband that the UK Government 'normalise relations with Cuba'.

The sad demise of Liverpool Trades Council

In a city where the Labour Party was uniquely weak in municipal politics for most of the 20th century (Liverpool City Council was Conservative controlled as late as the mid 1960's), it was from Liverpool Trades Council where the organised working class received its political leadership.

Call to combat misinformation on Venezuela - Kirby

TUC: "There is a continuing campaign of misinformation by the Chavez led Government’s opponents, aimed at isolating Venezuela", UNISON Scottish Convenor, Mike Kirby, reports to TUC Fringe on Venezuela visit.

TUC Fringe report - Public Service Reform - But not as we know it!"

In an excellent scene setter for Monday's debates on public services, last night a fringe meeting jointly organised by UNISON and Red Pepper, drew a range of speakers on how trade unions can and should shape the future of public services.

Rena Wood calls on TUC to oppose BNP

TUC: Rena Wood, deputy convenor North West region, gave a rousing speech to congress in moving composite 6 on opposing the BNP.

Rena deplored the election of BNP leader Nick Griffin in the June European Parliament election and pointed out that the BNP vote in the North West had gone down in 2009 but the widespread alienation from politics and refusal to vote of many working people had enabled the fascists to secure a parliamentary seat.

Rena called on delegates to inundate the BBC with protests at the invitation of Griffin to appear on Question Time. http://www.stopthebnp.org.uk/index.php?location=news&art=1332

UNISON leads on the NHS at TUC

TUC: In the first debate of Congress Lilian Macer, chair of UNISON's Health service group and Scottish deputy regional convenor, moved composite 16 on defending the NHS. The motion called for services to remain in the NHS and be delivered by NHS staff. Lilian condemned the acceleration of marketisation in Labour's third term

“Make no mistake: the Co-operation and Competition Panel is there to enforce opportunities for private companies to make further inroads into healthcare provision."

In a later intervention on NHS waiting lists, Clare Williams, UNISON NEC and convenor in Northern region, condemned the target driven culture which in services such as A&E has had negative consequence on NHS patients including queuing in ambulances in order to delay admissions.

All composites can be read on line: http://www.tuc.org.uk/congress/tuc-16963-f0.pdf

Pre-Congress delegation meeting‏ - respecting UNION policy

TUC: On Sunday morning UNISON's policy committee presents its recommendations to the delegation as to how it should be voting. The delegation can then debate the recommendations. On a TUC agenda very little is opposed. But obviously there are those who always know better……

TUC fears risk of riots as jobless total rises‏

TUC: In today's Financial Times Brendan Barber gives a dire warning that public spending cuts would have a catastrophic effect on working people in Britain. Dave Prentis reiterates UNISON's commitment to take action to oppose job cuts and compulsory redundancies.http://m.ft.com/cms/s/0/5b3fd11c-a097-11de-b9ef-00144feabdc0.html?catid=2&SID=3b1034cba26ed43fe17361666b207c54

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Can we trust the 2020 public services trust?

2020 public services trust, a new cross-party, self styled 'think tank' has been launched ahead of the political conference season. Public service trade unions are conspicuously absent from the trustees but not the 'business leaders' (see below) and consulting firms who have profited handsomely from 30 years of privatisation.

Killer fact - £6bn pensions tax relief for richest 1%

TUC: Taxpayers contribute 10 times more in pension tax relief to the richest 1% of earners than the state pays to all retired public servants. Brendan Barber slams subsidy.

Pensions: we must halt this race to the bottom

TUC: “The problem isn’t public sector pensions. The real problem is the devastation of private sector provision and the abject failure of the three main political parties and the industry to offer any meaningful solution.” The OTHER Taxpayers' Alliance looks at the TUC's "Decent Pensions For All" report.