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

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Leeds public back refuse collection strikers says Labour PPC‏

In a timely letter to the Guardian yesterday, Rachel Reeves the Labour PPC for Leeds West stated: ‘refuse collectors in Leeds did not resort to strike action lightly, but because they saw their income and livelihood threatened. Despite eight weeks of the strike, with the mess piling up on our streets and bins overflowing, the refuse workers have the backing of the majority of the city: a concert to raise money for the striking workers has been matched by practical support on the picket line’.

Dogs bark, organisers move on

On Thursday and Friday of last week, following weeks of planning and training, over 50 lay and employed UNISON organisers embarked on a major organising campaign in outsourced catering facilities in Sheffield. This work is part of the union’s 3 Companies project to organise workers in the target private services companies Compass, Sodexho and Aramark.

Friday, 6 November 2009

UNISON Active ANALYSIS – Investing pension funds in Infrastructure‏

As the public debt debate grows and political parties of all kinds talk about cuts and not growth in public spending how are we going to maintain the stock of our schools, hospitals, waste disposal and roads, let alone create an infrastructure for a green economy?
Traditional bond financing by governments have given way to PFI/PPP projects on a global scale, the refinancing of the banks has put a big question mark over further bond issues for public sector infrastructure in the UK.

Irish unions north and south – stand up for public services‏

Today will see a major mobilisation by trade unionists throughout the island of Ireland. http://www.ictu.ie/press/diary/2009/11/06/national-day-of-action/ The day of action is a focal point for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions campaign ‘Get up stand up – there must be a better way’ which is making five key demand of the Irish government

UNISON Environmental Investing Seminar‏

John Gray has posted a useful report on Wednesday’s national seminar organised by UNISON for lay pension trustees, LGPS (Local Government Pension Scheme) member nominated representatives and environmental activists. http://grayee.blogspot.com/2009/11/unison-environmental-investing-seminar.html

Thursday, 5 November 2009

'Hokey Cokey Cameron'

Response to - EU referendum lies – it takes two to tango: ‏‏The TUC was ever bound to launch an attack on Cameron’s hokey cokey policy on Europe – right back to Ted Heath and Thatcher’s campaign for integration the first splits became apparent in Tory policy towards Europe with Thatcher (possibly rightly) demanding some return of sovereign governance well before her time as leader of the party.

EU referendum lies – it takes two to tango‏

The right wing dominated European Commission is hell bent on rolling back workers rights and de-regulating labour markets across Europe. Who says so? The European Trade Union Confederation. http://www.etuc.org/a/6611

The virtuous circle of state investment‏

A very informative article on Ann Pettifor’s Debtonation blog examines the current public debt ‘crisis’ in the historic context of past crises and explains why government investment pays for itself:

Mexico: Electricity workers take on Calderon‏

More on the Mexico electricity workers struggle from 21st Century Socialism website, including an interview with union leader Jose Hernandez: http://21stcenturysocialism.com/article/mexico_
For background to dispute read: http://unisonactive.blogspot.com/2009/10/mass-mobilisation-against-closure-of.html

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Back to the soup kitchens‏

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber’s Guardian piece brings a welcome angle to the debate on public finances. His description of an ‘ideological trick’ is an accurate one. Embarrassed by the unquantifiable failure of the private finance sector even Cameron was forced to concede the perils of an unregulated market place demanding as he did greater regulation.

Economic crisis eroding wages for second year running - ILO‏

Global growth in real wages slowed dramatically in 2008 as a result of the economic crisis and is expected to drop even further this year despite signs of a possible economic recovery according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Fall in members of final salary pension schemes in the private sector – LGPS a different story‏

While People Management reports that there has been a further decline in the number of people belonging to defined benefit pension (final salary) schemes in the private sector, the LGPS remains strongly cash positive.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

In place of cuts: new debate announced‏

Compass has announced next high-profile Westminster Debate held in the run-up to the Pre-Budget Report and coinciding with the launch of its new publication In Place of Cuts.

Mobilise pension fund investments to allow Councils to improve public infrastructure‏

Councils must be given new revenue and capital raising powers if Britain is not to face "a new era of crumbling infrastructure", the ‘think-tank’ the New Local Government Network (NLGN) according to a recent FT report: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7fb5878c-c1ce-11de-b86b-00144feab49a.html. NLGN has come a little bit late to the party on this one. The paucity of available direct capital finance has hamstrung local authority investment for at least three decades as New Labour continued with the Tory ideals of private sector investment in public infrastructure.

Cameron and the NHS – on a mission to destroy‏

A mark of A+ in irony for the Tory Party speech writer who drafted David Cameron’s speech on the NHS. It was a master class in saying one thing and meaning the opposite.

4,200 potential job losses announced in 1 month‏

Mark Smulian writes in the LGC that more than 4,200 council jobs were placed in jeopardy in October as councils unveiled plans to save money by shedding staff. http://www.lgcplus.com/news/recession/4200-local-government-jobs-threatened-in-october/5007886.article

Council tax frozen, local services cut and privatised‏

From The Times November 2, 2009: Council tax freeze in London may be hint of a Conservative future Jill Sherman, Whitehall Editor 3 Comments London residents are to have their council tax frozen next April asConservative town halls lead the race to offer the lowest rise in household bills in the country. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6898709.ece

Privatisation During an Economic Downturn: Still Inefficient and Problematic‏

The Washington DC based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that in 2010 and 2011, states in the USA will face a combined budget deficit of $350 billion.

Monday, 2 November 2009

UNISON Regional Convenors - 2009 seminar report‏

On 28 and 29 October UNISON regional convenors (senior lay representatives from all parts of the UK) met at Birmingham University for their 2009 annual seminar ‘2010 & beyond – politics, strategy & organisation'.

War or peace: the Conservatives and public sector workers‏

The Guardian reported on Friday that the Conservative Party is poised to introduce further anti union laws in the event that it is returned to Government next year: “the Tories are looking at introducing laws setting new minimum turnout thresholds for strike ballots on the basis that they can only be lawful disputes if a majority of those being called out on strike have voted for it in a ballot. In the case of the Royal Mail dispute there was a clear majority for the strike among those voting, but not among the total workforce.”

Challenges for Public Sector Unions: Thinking Big to Win‏

From Iceland to Ireland the economic crisis triggered by the systemic collapse of global banking and financial services has led to draconian public spending cuts including attacks on wages. The same question faces public sector unions worldwide – how to respond to these new and unprecedented challenges?

Equal Pay Day-Invaluable or Irrelevant?

Oct 30th represents “Equal Pay Day”, the day from which, as the Fawcett Society reminds us, women are effectively working for free for the rest of the year.  The inequality between men and women in terms of pay is well documented. Women are paid less than half as much as men in some parts of the UK, according to statistics published on the day that reveal huge regional variations in the pay gap between male and female workers.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Obama and trade unions‏

A positive Government attitude to trade unionism has long been acknowledged as a key determinant in union membership growth and collective bargaining coverage. The good relationship between the administration of President Barack Obama and the US trade unions therefore augurs well for attempts to reverse the decline of union membership and the erosion of workers rights in the USA.

Mobilise in support of the People's Charter‏

Supporters of the People’s Charter for change are now mobilising to secure one million signatures in support of the Charter. this follows on from the overwhelming support for the Charter’s demands at the 2009 Trades Union Congress (http://www.congressvoices.org/2009/32-peoples-charter/)