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

Friday, 31 December 2010

Unions talk tough in New Year messages – 2011 will be the year of reckoning‏

“There are many elements to a campaign. Leadership is number one. Everything else is number two” Bertolt Brecht: The New Year’s message by GMB, UNISON and Unite is a welcome statement of intent and unity by the leadership of the UK’s ‘big 3' unions. It sets out a clear alternative programme to the ruinous policies of the Con Dem coalition government: http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2105

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Health pay cuts condemned by RCN – UNISON to decide on 10 January‏

The Daily Mirror reports on strong opposition within the RCN membership to proposals by the NHS employers, backed by the Con Dem ministers, to make pay cuts of approximately £1000 by withholding increments from some NHS grades for the next two years. This being in addition to a Government imposed pay freeze for all NHS workers with salaries over £21 000.

The Con Dem wreckers can be beaten - and so say all of us‏

There has been a surprising but welcome resonance to the various new year messages from leaders of the British labour movement. There is a consensus about the need to fight back against the Government's attack on public services and the welfare state. And recognition of the political fragility of the Con Dem coalition if sufficient public opposition is generated against their destructive policies.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

2011 - the year to take on the Tory Toffs‏

Kevin Maguire predicts that 2011 will be a year of resistance to 'tax rises, benefit cuts, wage freezes, job losses, evictions, bus and train fare increases and so many axed services it’d take me until New Year’s Eve to list them all': http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/opinion/2010/12/29/let-s-make-2011-an-annus-horribilis-for-david-cameron-115875-22812634/

NHS Direct at breaking point on busiest day

NHS Direct faced its busiest day of the year yesterday, with UNISON warning the service was close to breaking point after £20 million worth of budget cuts, reports the Morning Star http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/99248

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Party Funding - the sidelining of Labour's affiliated unions begins?‏

Today’s Independent editorial is cock-a-hoop at its own speculative report that Labour is about to make key concessions on the Union Labour link. It reports that evidence given to the inquiry into party political finance being conducted by the Committee for Standards in Public Life by outgoing Labour General Secretary (and soon to be Lord) Ray Collins has made key concessions on introducing a cap in individual donations (and therefore union affiliation fees):

Monday, 27 December 2010

The reconstruction of Haiti - Cuban solidarity an example to the world‏

As we approach the anniversary (12th January) of the earthquake that killed 230,000 Haitians, injured 300,000 and left 1.2 million people homeless let us reflect and ask why is the situation is no better now than it was then?

The NHS is not safe in Tory hands‏

Before the election it now seems that both parties in the Coalition Government made pledges they had no intention of keeping. The Tories, knowing the public still remember the Thatcher days of the NHS, were at great pains to promise that the NHS would be safe in their hands. As can now been seen these promises were false.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Counter-song to 'The friendliness of the world' by Bertolt Brecht‏

So does that mean we’ve got to rest contented
And say ‘That’s how it is and always must be’
And spurn the brimming glass for what’s been emptied
Because we’ve heard it’s better to go thirsty?

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Phoney War by Hamish Henderson‏

(western front)

It was Christmas Day in the Workhouse
And dangerous Dan McGrew
Was fighting to save the pudding
For a lady by the name of Sue.

All was quiet on the Western Front,
The waves were beating on the shore;
So send for the life-boat at Wigan -
We've never had it from there before.

http://www.dickgaughan.co.uk/chain/hamish-henderson.html

Friday, 24 December 2010

Ireland nationalises Allied Irish Bank with €3.7bn from state pension fund‏

A run on a bank is the worse kind of exposure as there is nowhere near enough money in the bank to pay the depositers. The con trick of banking is fully exposed. So the government robs the peoples pension savings to prop up the bank. Nice one: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/dec/23/ireland-nationalises-allied-irish-banks

Thursday, 23 December 2010

UK found to be in severe breach of trade union and workers rights‏

The European Committee of Social Rights has examined the application of the European Social Charter by the United Kingdom. Its report was published on 17 December 2010 and found severe breaches of trade union and workers' rights:. http://tinyurl.com/2b8yq3k

New spate of death threats in Colombia‏

A group of Colombian organizations have alerted the international and national communities to repeated death threats against social and human rights organizations in the Cauca Valley region. The threats, stigmatizing the work of human rights defenders, are systematic. Between 22 October 2009 and 14 December 2010, eleven death threats have been received, one as a fax, the rest as text messages sent simultaneously to all the organizations via mobile phone.

Something rotten in the state of Oldham?

A row has broken out about the previous homophobic tactics of the Tory candidate in the upcoming Oldham East and Saddleworth by election as the Telegraph suggests Cameron is trying to engineer a Lib Dem victory. All in an election called because Phil Woolas was stripped of the seat for 'illegal practice'. With public services facing decimation and a million being thrown on the dole, is there any chance of the by election being about the economy, stupid?

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Hapless Cable makes Mr Bean seem a paragon of tact‏

The political career of Tory patsy Vince Cable MP has been marked by duplicity. A Labour Councillor in Glasgow from 1971-74, subsequently in 1982 he defected to the breakaway SDP. As recently as 1997 he was Chief Economist for the Shell transnational oil company (renowned for human rights violations in Nigeria). In 2005, he was one of the 11 right wing Liberal Democrat front benchers who ousted Charles Kennedy as Party leader.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Even at the IMF....

Even at the IMF the penny is beginning to drop. Decreasing workers bargaining power leads to financial crisis and the best way out of crisis is increasing wages. Those are the findings of a working paper put together by two of their economists. Michael Kumhof and Romain Rancière
http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2010/wp10268.pdf

Economic crisis provides opportunity to improve wages in developing countries -ILO‏

A new International Labour Organisation (ILO) report suggests the economic crisis could provide an opportunity to improve wages in developing countries: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/dec/16/ilo-global-wages-report

Unions must promote and protect the interests of members - Keith Ewing‏

Professor Keith Ewing responds to the vitriolic editorial attack on unions in yesterday’s Guardian (the beloved alternative to the Morning Star for so many smug, centre left ‘progressives’):
http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/keith-ewing/just-what-does-guardian-think-trade-unions-are-for

Workers pay docked for observing two-minute Pike River silence‏

A New Zealand farming leader and Silver Fern Farms supplier has slammed the company for docking meatworkers' pay for observing two minutes' silence for the Pike River miners. Slaughter chain workers at the Silver Fern Farms Te Aroha plant lost two cattle each from their daily quota after stopping work to pay their respects to the 29 miners who lost their lives in the coal mine disaster.  Not paying the staff for the lost production saved the company between 98c and $1.60 for each worker.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/4469105/Pay-docked-for-two-minute-Pike-River-silence

Debt Bringing Cities to Their Knees‏

$2 trillion debt crisis threatens to bring down 100 US cities whom face financial collapse in 2011, defaulting on hundreds of billions of dollars of borrowings and derailing the US economic recovery. Nor are European cities safe – Florence, Barcelona, Madrid, Venice: all are in trouble. http://www.guardian.co.uk.../business/2010/dec/20/debt-crisis-threatens-us-cities

Monday, 20 December 2010

TUC alerts Cameron to 'divisive and dangerous cuts'‏

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has commented on today’s TUC meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron: 'The UK is currently in the grips of a bleak midwinter. Today we warned the Prime Minister that next year promises to be even bleaker for millions of families and their communities as the spending cuts bite hard and hit jobs and services. We made clear to the Prime Minister our strong view that the spending cuts would both be socially divisive and economically dangerous.’
To read statement in full go to: http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-18956-f0.cfm

Birmingham Refuse Dispute‏

John Gray reports on today's joint strike action by UNISON, GMB and Unite members at Birmingham City Council: http://grayee.blogspot.com/2010/12/picket-line-at-birmingham-fleet-waste.html?spref=tw

The truth about the local government grant settlement‏

The East Midlands region of UNISON has done an interesting and very revealing analysis of the local government grant settlement for all councils in England. The region has obtained data for all councils and looked at the political control of each council.

"Cameron to meet TUC chiefs at No 10" - a 5 point negotiators brief‏

The Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday that a 'highly symbolic' meeting is being arranged between union leaders and Prime Minister David Cameron: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/david-cameron/8211694/Cameron-to-meet-TUC-chiefs-at-No-10.html

Caste-based discrimination exists across Britain‏

New research commissioned by the Government has found that caste-based discrimination exists across Britain, prompting further calls to outlaw the malpractice that blights the lives of many people with origins in the Indian sub-continent.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Osborne Looks To Make PFI Savings - Will Workers Pay?‏

Con Dem Cancellor George Osborne is hoping to shave hundreds of millions of pounds off the cost of thousands of controversial private finance initiative deals in an attempt to cut Government spending still further.

UNISONActive debate: This is no guarantee for NHS workers‏

10 days on since the NHS employers proposed a two-year block on incremental progression for 100,000s of NHS staff in England and in return offered no compulsory redundancies for part of the workforce and finally the media are reporting it as news;
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/dec/19/nhs-salary-increments-job-losses

Good Catholic Girl - Circa 1950 by Judith Quaempts‏

Moira O’Shea.
Bless her heart.
Ten children,
a husband who beats her.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Over the Hill‏

Public life demands scruples that should not be compromised but in reality it goes one step further. Even the perception of compromising ones independence in public office is brutally damaging. Revelations in the Guardian that Andrea Hill took paid for trips to the USA from BT, whose contract costs to Suffolk council rose by over a £100m, which appeared not to be challenged by Hill, signals it is time for her to step aside.

Minimum wage 'day of shame'

ICTU general secretary David Begg calls the December 10 Dail vote to cut the minimum wage “a day of shame”, in December's edition of The Union Post, produced in association with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Describing it as a “contemptible” move, David said the wage cut took €40 a week from the working poor “in the full knowledge that there is no economic, political, social or moral justification for it” http://www.ictu.ie/publications/fulllist/union-post-december-2010/

Lib Dems crushed in by elections

As the Lib Dem vote plummets in by elections and Labour picks up some councils, there must remain a real concern about any political turnaround with voters in some areas still staying home in their droves.

Turn despair into anger

"It is time to turn the despair of assaults on public services into anger", General Secretary Dave Prentis told UNISON's Scottish Council earlier this month. Building on that theme, a UNISONActive reader sends this link to "Protest works. Just look at the proof" by Johann Hari http://johannhari.com/2010/10/29/protest-works-just-look-at-the-proof

On Living by Nazim Hikmet‏

I
Living is no laughing matter:
you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example--
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation.

Friday, 17 December 2010

2 Compass strikes bite - UNISON members dig in for long disputes‏

Workers in Southampton and Buckinghamshire return to work at 10.00 am this morning after the first of a number of strikes. 200 cleaners at Southampton and 148 ancillary workers at High Wycombe and Amersham hospitals are involved in the disputes with their Trusts and Compass Medirest who employ them.

Defend Our Pensions! The Hutton Review Closes‏

Friday December 17th marks the closure of evidence for John Hutton's review of public service pension schemes. It should mark for us the day we began to prepare all sections of the union for the fight that should unify all public sector workers in struggle against the ConDem government.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

UNISON exposes 'grave misconduct' by private bidders

UNISON called for an immediate halt to privatisation at Edinburgh City Council at a lobby of the Council this morning after it was revealed that two of the private bidders had not revealed criminal convictions arising from fatal workplace accidents.

Compass hit by 2 strikes in NHS‏

200 workers in Southampton and 148 workers in Bucks started 2 days of strike action yesterday over the non payment of Agenda for Change terms. They are employed by the global giant Compass Medirest and yet do not earn the same as equivalent workers directly employed by the NHS.
http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/news/8740250.UPDATED__Hospital_workers_on_strike/

Scotland’s Public Services on the Line

In hardly surprising lead stories this week, the Scottish press headlined the fact that Scotland’s care services could be decimated as the Scottish Government’s budget cuts begin to bite . As is happening elsewhere, social work chiefs are warning that services will be forced to retreat to focussing on statutory responsibilities.

Cheer these things and you lick the feet that kick you

Will you cheer for "more work and less pay"....Will you cheer to be taunted that your want of work at such times means "you won't work"? Will you cheer for all manner of insult and abuse, when, in distress, you approach those who are in authority? Cheer these things and you lick the feet that kick you. (Extract from a leaflet entitled "Anti-Humbug". distributed in the Haymarket, Bristol in 1888 when the Freedom of the City was conferred on Prince Albert) http://ourhistory-hayes.blogspot.com/2010/12/why-lick-feet-that-kick-you.html

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Rent-a-quote Ralfe distorts LGPS realities‏

In the long war against fair pensions in local government, the self styled independent pensions consultant John Ralfe has been a ubiquitous critic – from radio money programmes to tabloid letters pages his obsessive (but always superficial) attacks on the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) have amounted to no less than a personal crusade: http://www.johnralfe.com/

Ireland slashes bankers bonuses, will they run?‏

The huge outcry that met the Allied Irish Banks decision to award their traders £30m in bonuses has produced the correct response from the government. Now in a test of nerves we will see if the threat to cut and run by the bankers is real one?

UNISONActive debate: Tough Choice for NHS Employees‏

We in the NHS have heard nothing but lies from this ConDem Government, double counting funding for social care has meant that rather than being protected the NHS is facing a real terms reduction in its funding whilst also charged with £20bn productivity savings.

Sefton UNISON fights £38m cut backs‏

Sefton UNISON Local Government Branch is fighting back against the 1,000 threatened job losses and £38m frontloading cuts next financial year. For the first time ever, local branches of the GMB and Unite have joined UNISON in a local dispute and a recent indicative ballot of all three unions returned a massive 90% response in favour of industrial action.

Cuts are not the cure - TUC‏

Yesterday the TUC General Council received a progress report from General Secretary Brendan Barber on campaigning work undertaken in recent months against the cuts in public services. Barber also reported on preparations for the national demonstration on 26 March and also alerted the General Council to the TUC’s new False Economy website: http://falseeconomy.org.uk/  JC

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

NHS Workers to Consider 'Tough Choices'?‏

The Coalition Government's determination to see through the most austere cuts to public services continues apace. We have seen Liberal Democrat's doing a complete U Turn on their pre election pledges. What is very clear is the next pre election pledge by both Tories and Lib Dems that the NHS was safe in their hands is turning to dust as we speak. UNISONActive invites reader responses on this important issue

Judge sides with government - women’s rights “unarguable or academic”

Mr Justice Ouseley, High Court Judge has denied the Fawcett Society, the gender equality campaign group the right to challenge the legality of the Government’s Emergency Budget.

Localism Bill an excuse to outsource services‏

Eric Pickles is looking more and more comedic as the days go by. Yesterday’s announcement of a Decentralisation and Localism Bill was used by Pickles as an excuse to cut funding to councils under the supposed guise of giving councils and individual citizens more power over local services. But this is nonsense.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Scrapping of Two-Tier Code a green light for exploitation‏

The FT reports that Cabinet Office Minister is scrapping the two-tier code with ‘immediate effect’. Under the code new recruits on outsourced contracts have been offered terms and conditions no less favourable than staff transferred to a new employer under TUPE. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d44afe86-061e-11e0-976b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz17yv1eQJb

While banks profit, workers asked to give up leave to save NHS

It shows how bad things have become when nurses and health workers are asked to give up leave to bail out the NHS (and by extension, the banks). http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/health-news/2010/12/13/nurses-asked-to-work-for-free-in-run-up-to-christmas-by-hard-up-health-trust-115875-22779937/

Clegg – A Self Propelled Journey into Humiliation

British politics always follows certain patterns. First they get elected, and then they throttle the expectations of those who elected them. Then the justifications start. From posing as the party of the righteous the Lib-Dems have reached new depths of hypocrisy in a surprisingly short time.

Save the EMA‏

UNISON and other education unions are backing today’s protests calling on the Con Dem Government to think again bout its plans to axe the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

Billy Liddon's Memory Honoured‏

A social housing scheme has been named in memory of Welsh UNISON activist Billy Liddon who passed away in 2009.  Liddon Court was opened last week by Newydd housing in the mining community of Beddau, South Wales.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Clegg - the ultimate political hypocrite amongst many‏

Nick Clegg’s words will forever come back to haunt him….“Broken promises. There’s been too many in the last few years; too many in the last thirty years. In fact, our nation has been littered with them, a trail of broken promises. You remember them".
Yes, and we will remember yours Nick for a very long time..

The Haunting by Adam Engel‏

The Beatles beat beat
like hearts
in strange heads

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Enraged Bankers Under Pressure Over Bonuses‏

Bankers were yesterday told there will be no backing down from an EU demand that they should be paid no more than 20 per cent of their bonuses up front in cash, as experts said Europe's pay rules would be the "toughest in the world". http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/city-outrage-as-europe-stands-firm-on-bankers-cash-bonuses-2157462.html

Arguments against a pay freeze‏

Last week the Obama administration announced a plan to freeze the salaries of non-military federal employees for two years, using the same bogus ‘deficit’ arguments deployed by the UK Government. It was widely condemned as a bad idea by US public service unions: http://afscmemn.org/federal-pay-freeze%3A-bad-idea

Students lead by example and seize the day‏

The Guardian reports on the direct action of student groups who have mobilised large scale resistance to cuts in education and increased tuition fees. What can rank and file trade unionists, hidebound by restrictive anti trade union laws, learn from their example? http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/dec/10/tuition-fees-student-demonstrators?

Riot by Gwendolyn Brooks‏

A riot is the language of the unheard.
—martin luther king

Friday, 10 December 2010

What Debt Does To Young People In The UK‏

The bankers debt passed on to the population now finds its expression in the police response to the youth protesting for a better future. The violence of debt and the repression of the state is captured here on video. The privatisation of higher education must be stopped:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7I-enS27fI 

Unions & International Development‏

Owen Tudor writes on the Guardian ‘poverty matters’ blog about the TUC’s international development work: ‘the TUC has three main goals for international development work with our partners in the global south's trade unions: that all workers, including the vulnerable, can enjoy decent work; that all workers and their families enjoy safe working conditions, social protection and access to quality public services; and that all workers, speaking through their unions, promote and defend human rights, equality and social justice.’ http://alturl.com/yvkc2  The TUC recently published a guide to its international development strategy for 2011-2015: http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/GlobalJustice.pdf  

Resignations over student fees

Lib Dem activist Richard Huzzey has resigned from the party over the student fees vote. This follows Jenny Willott resigning as Chris Huhne's parliamentary private secretary, Mike Crockart resigning as a Parliamentary aide to Michael Moore and Tory MP Lee Scott quitting as a ministerial aide. It’s a start.
http://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-richard-huzzey-i-resign-22345.html

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Vampire Squid Sucking Irish Blood - Bankers Get Bonuses‏

Allied Irish Banks propped up by the State are going to pay €40m bonuses despite the bailout and a full frontal attack on workers and the poor. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/dec/08/allied-irish-banks-pay-bonuses-despite-bailout

Con Dem job cuts don't add up‏

Writing on the Public Finance blog, Heather Wakefield, UNISON national secretary for local government, deplores the rising number of job losses in Councils and points out the economic folly of making public service workers redundant: 'UNISON has worked out, for example, that depriving a £21,000-a-year council worker and single mother of her livelihood would cost the government around £19,000 in lost tax and National Insurance income and in benefits outlay. Meanwhile, the local economy will suffer the loss of her and others’ purchasing power, making it even more of a struggle to pull itself out of the mire';
http://opinion.publicfinance.co.uk/2010/12/economics-of-madness-by-heather-wakefield/?

The Tories & Unions - 'no disaster' or an existential threat?‏

An under-reported WikiLeaks document was a curious US embassy cable sent one year ago, on 10 December 2009, following a meeting between US ambassador to the UK Louis Susman and the TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber - who reportedly said he did not expect a Tory government would be hostile to unions and that a Cameron led regime would be ‘no disaster’:

150 NHS jobs could be axed in Wandsworth

What a Christmas gift. Wandsworth NHS will start redundancy consultations on 16 December with up to 150 jobs likely to go. “This gives a lie to the Government’s claim that the NHS is exempt from cuts", says UNISON in the Wandsworth Guardian.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

UNISON NEC 8 December 2010 Report - Call to Arms‏

UNISON’s NEC today unanimously supported General Secretary Dave Prentis' call for the immediate announcement of a £10 million war chest on top of our £10 million Industrial Action Fund. This would enable us “to fight the cuts and defend our members” as we go into battle against the worst attacks on public services in living memory.

Vampire Squid Still On The Loose‏

Two years on from the banking collapse and Banks once again position themselves in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they knew are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Environmental groups and unions must unite - Sonnet‏

The Left Foot Forward blog carries a report by UNISON Deputy GS, Keith Sonnet, direct from Cancun where he is attending the UN Climate Change Conference:  http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/12/cancun-climate-change-summit-2/

Lib Dems could vote for and against student fees‏

A beauty from Hansard 6 Dec: Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you confirm that it is in order during a Division for hon. Members to walk through both the Aye and the No Lobby if they seek to register an active abstention? For those who are not sure how to vote on Thursday in the tuition fees vote, would that not have the advantage of allowing them to say that they voted both for and against it, depending on their audience? Mr Speaker: Yes. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmtoday/cmdebate/03.htm

Union membership in the voluntary sector‏

The newest and fastest growing service group in UNISON is 60,000 strong Community - which organises members in the community and voluntary sector. A Guardian voluntary sector network article looks at the emergence of unions in the sector and interviews Stephen Brown and Mike Short of UNISON: http://www.guardian.co.uk/voluntary-sector-network/2010/dec/06/trade-unions-job-worries

UK private pension schemes 'not fit for purpose' compared with rest of Europe‏

The UK private pension system is “not fit for purpose” and “hugely inefficient”, research by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce finds. http://www.professionalpensions.com/professional-pensions/news/1930094/uk-schemes-not-fit-purpose-compared-rest-europe

Monday, 6 December 2010

Minimum wage should be a living wage - Bick‏

The minimum wage has been named as the most successful government policy of the past 30 years in a survey of British political experts: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11896971?  Prior to its introduction in April 1999, former UNISON General Secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe was the foremost trade union campaigner against low pay and for minimum wage legislation. Writing for UNISONActive Rodney responds to the survey and outlines his perspectives on the future of the minimum wage:-

Challenging Council redundancies‏

Many UNISON local government branches find themselves immersed in redundancy consultation as Councils come to terms with the severe spending settlement for local government. The upping by 40% of the LGA job loss forecast for 2011/12 to 140,000 is indicative of the immediate, front loaded impact of the cuts (27% over 4 years but 11% in the first year).

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Unions may call one-day strike in Scotland

Trade unions may call a one-day public sector strike across Scotland, reports the Herald after yesterday's UNISON Regional Council meeting reflected members' anger over cuts. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/politics/trade-unions-may-call-one-day-strike-across-scotland-1.1072487

Latin America 2010 - Conference Report‏

As unbelievable as Qatar winning the world cup, the sixth annual Latin America ‘Adelante’ conference (www.latinamerica
conference.org.uk/
) packed out Congress Hall, despite a snow struck Saturday morning in London.

The Extinct Traders by Greg Keeler‏

They should stand in a river, the makers of laws,
wars and money. They should feel the dark
molecules turn in their sockets of stone. Their flaws
should be transparent, their flesh should stand in stark
contrast to the mud, roots and leaves of the pools.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Worker against worker competition by Jim Sharp‏

worker against worker competition
[creates its own imperatives]

because we're so gude at seeming so servile
they think we can't think things thru
and yet! how mistaken they be
we've allus got our concealed gifts of thought.
this will be proven deadly true
when the right left day dawns
then they shall hear our voices
our mighty deeds, our monumental social continuum.
a raging movement will herald that day
cleaving the top end of town asunder
and all talking shops will tremble
and all dynasties will come crashing down.

http://unionsong.com/u414.html

Friday, 3 December 2010

Fat Cats urge no U-turn on Con Dem cuts‏

Today’s Daily Telegraph reports that the Institute of Directors is arguing that although the Government's austerity measures are vital, the Chancellor's ability to implement them could be derailed by "Whitehall inertia and lobbying from the public sector": http://alturl.com/7tt34
The far right bosses organisation has published a report "Don't go wobbly, George", in which they say "there is a growing danger that if part of the Coalition is already wobbling on a politically sensitive issue like university tuition fees, it might wobble even more on what is a much bigger fiscal issue, not least because political opposition to deficit reduction has yet to reach fever pitch."
http://press.iod.com/2010/12/03/there-is-a-risk-government-will-wobble-on-spending-review-says-iod/

Trade unions confronting climate change in Cancun‏

Until the middle of December, energy and environment ministers representing governments from across the globe, unions and green organisations have taken all up residence in the Mexican party resort of Cancun. http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-18876-f0.cfm

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Stop the Funding Being Cut for The People's History Museum‏

The government has announced that funding will be cut to eight “non-national” museums. The North West will be particularly badly hit, with funding chopped from the People’s History Museum, the Museum of Science & Industry, and the National Football Museum.
"Stop the Funding Being Cut for the People's History Museum [in Manchester] and other 'non-national' Museums" hosted on the web by PetitionOnline.com, the free online petition service, at: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/MancPHM/ UNISONActive readers are urged to take a look, and consider signing yourself.

Lobby your MP to fight the pensions CPI switch

UNISON is urging members to fight the Government's plan to revalue state benefits and public sector pensions by CPI rather than RPI (CPI generally being 0.7% per annum less) by printing off and sending to your MP a template letter http://www.unison.org.uk/pensions/pages_view.asp?did=12156

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Public service workers at their best

As extreme snow conditions hit hard, public service workers across the country have as usual responded above and beyond the call. Here are just a few examples from Edinburgh of the human faces behind the numbers of jobs facing the axe or being sold off.

Defending public services at the heart of today's global struggle‏

“British politicians are calling it ’consolidation’ of the economy, but make no mistake, the attacks on public services are ideological. The cutbacks constitute a direct attack on our legitimacy as a union. We’re in a fight over the right to unionise, and our approach to sustainable income growth through decent work is at real risk. Working people were the first victims of the financial crisis. During the crisis, the international refrain was ’jobs creation and restoring purchase power’”, said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation at the Public Services International executive board annual meeting, held 17-19 November 2010 in Switzerland. http://tinyurl.com/34khmb6

UNISONActive Analysis: The death spiral of debt - George Osborne watch out‏

Ireland may now be in the 'death spiral of debt' that is a natural end result of fractional reserve banking system of debt issued money. Like the UK and nearly every other country, Ireland has given the power to create money to commercial banks and given the banks a monopoly on the distribution of this money so that the public must borrow it from the banking sector.

Lib Dems oppose cuts?????

They oppose cuts and privatisation. They throw scorn on the Big Society. They are Suffolk Lib Dems. They are backing a petition that says, "As Suffolk citizens, we’re happy to retain responsibility for the control of our lives and we expect Suffolk County Council to retain control of the services it provides for us, as its members were elected to do. If any member feels that he or she is unwilling to do so, we suggest that he or she should resign". How about telling that to Clegg? http://www.facebook.com/savesuffolkcc

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The wholesale slaughter of public sector jobs‏

‘The Labour Party must sharpen up its act to effectively and collectively speak out now as the voice for the majority who are taking the hit. It must build a strong opposition and use the policy review to unite all parts of the party behind fairer, progressive policies that resonate with the public,’ says Dave Prentis in a scathing critique of Con Dem austerity measures published on the Labour List website: http://www.labourlist.org/dave-prentis-the-wholesale-slaughter-of-public-sector-jobs

OBR revised numbers cold comfort to at risk workers‏

UNISON GS Dave Prentis has rejected the spin around the economic forecast of the Office for Budget Responsibility – in which it scaled down its forecast of job losses:

'Mobilise and build united coalitions to defeat Con Dems'‏

UNISON NEC member and Northern regional convenor Clare Williams speaks at Tyne and Wear Coalition of Resistance meeting in Newcastle – view on line: http://bit.ly/eFEpKe

Monday, 29 November 2010

Ireland raids its peoples pension fund to pay for failed banks‏

The price extracted for money to bail out Ireland's failed banks is high. The Dublin government will have to raid its national pension fund andother cash reserves for €17.5bn as a condition of the deal to bail out its banks and debt-laden economy. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/nov/28/ireland-bailout-contribution-pensions

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people‏

Today is the United Nations International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, as mandated by resolutions agreed upon by the UN General Assembly.

Massive mandate for strike action at Compass‏

Cleaners, Domestics, Porters and Catering workers employed by the global company Compass - Medirest have voted massively for strike action over non payment of Agenda for Change.

How a genteel Scot fuelled revolution in South Africa

She was born into a white middle-class family in Kilmarnock, but when she died last year Nelson Mandela paid tribute to Eleanor Kasrils - the 'genteel and elegant Scottish woman' who helped ferment revolution in Africa, establish underground ANC cells in Scotland, and challenged Margaret Thatcher's government in the 1980s.A special report in the Herald http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/how-a-genteel-scot-fuelled-revolution-in-south-africa-1.1071242

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Wales unites to fight Con Dem cuts‏

A Wales TUC special conference was held on Friday and united around its opposition to the Con Dem government cuts - declaring that the coalition has ‘no mandate from Wales and no mandate for their cuts’.

1,000 jobs at risk - so much for pay freeze bringing job security

Shared services could cost 1,000 jobs in the west of Scotland reports the Herald http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/politics/joint-services-could-cost-1000-jobs-at-councils-1.1071200 UNISON's Mike Kirby tells the paper: “The Scottish Government has promised the public service workforce that a pay freeze would be in exchange for job security. The figures coming out of Arbuthnott (the shared services report) fly in the face of that pledge and show the severe personal cost the unions always said would come with shared services.”

Libraries are culturally irreplaceable‏

Catherine Bennet, in today's Observer, says that although the 250 libraries earmarked for closure because of Con Dem spending cuts, "offer something culturally irreplaceable...it is becoming clear that Mr Cameron's government will do nothing to protect them". http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/28/library-closures-catherine-bennett

Workers rise up in Dublin and Rome (& a conference is held in London)‏

Over 100 000 joined in yesterday’s Dublin protest against austerity measures organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11849568

Beyond New Labour - But to Where?‏

The full text of Ed Miliband’s speech to yesterday’s Labour Party National Policy Forum is available on line at: http://www.labourmatters.com/the-labour-party/ed-miliband-weve-got-to-move-beyond-new-labour/

Roaring Meg by Peter Branson‏

Closing time, Saturday, ‘Top o’ the Trent’:
it’s nothing personal. Mix alcohol
with youth in equal quantities round here,
there’s always some bloke boiling for a fight.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Not a cent of Irish bail out will save schools, hospitals or jobs‏

Michael Burke, writing in the Guardian, points out that it will not be the Irish people but banks who own Irish government debt which will be the beneficiaries of last week's EU/IMF £77bn bail out: http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/26/banks-benefit-from-irelands-bailout?cat=commentisfree&type=article

In Ireland ICTU demonstrates for equality and fairness

Jack O’Connor, President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), says the Irish Government has promised the harshest budget since the foundation of the state as its parting gift to the people of Ireland. This is the result of allowing speculators, bankers and developers to run riot, pillaging and ruining our economy….

In Italy CGIL demonstrates for 'the future of our youth and work'‏

Today in Rome, UNISON Italian sister union CGIL is mounting a national demonstration for “the future of our youth and work”. Hundreds of thousands will attend the march to demand more rights and more democracy. Other demands are for more equality and justice to get out of the crisis. Another aspect of the march is to denounce the terrible living and working condition of many migrant workers in Italy. Here you can read the CGIL leaflet in English http://www.epsu.org/IMG/pdf/ENG_volantino27.pdf

Lines to a Fool by Hamish Henderson‏

(who called a contemplative man dead)

You snigger at him, a walking corpse that gropes
For 'barren leaves' on learning's desert slopes.
Yet never to art (or life) you gave your praise,
Nor risked a fall, all your efficient days.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Tory funding bonanza from lobbying firms‏

The latest Electoral Commission figures show that the Tories received donations from various lobbying firms in the last quarter.http://www.prweek.com/news/rss/1043506/Lobbying-firms-donate-70000-Tories-general-election/

The continuing relevance of unions?‏

Recent articles in Tribune and Progress have assessed the continuing relevance of unions to economic, political and social progress.

How can this not be privatisation!‏

A private company has been chosen to take over the running of an entire NHS hospital for the first time. This marks the beginning of the end of the National Health Service.: http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/UK-News/NHS-Hinchingbrooke-Hospital-in-Huntingdon-Cambridgeshire-To-Be-Run-By-Private-Firm-For-First-Time/Article/201011415826427?f=vg

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Student protests and an alliance of resistance?‏

As a parent and a UNISON member I took part in the student protests in Liverpool yesterday. What I witnessed was a vibrant, fresh wave of anger organised 'from below' via Facebook and without the trappings and miserablism of recent trade union events I have attended.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/blog/2010/nov/25/student-protests-aftermath

Portugal faces the force of union power

The ‘best strike ever’ was the verdict of the Portuguese trade unions on yesterday’s general strike against austerity measures which brought the country to a ‘grinding halt’:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/24/general-strike-in-portugal

Value of public sector pensions down 25% - time to stop the rot‏

The Nuffield Foundation has published a report on public sector pensions which confirms that recent reforms have cut the value to a typical employee by 25%: http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/sites/default/files/
files/20101123_The_future_of_the_public_sector_pensions_final_report.pdf

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Ireland's 4 year austerity plan - shifting the cost of collapse onto the poor & low paid‏

The Irish Government has announced its four year austerity programme which includes €10bn in public spending cuts (targeting welfare expenditure), a €1 per hour reduction in the minimum wage rate and tax rises: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3595acd4-f7cb-11df-b770-00144feab49a.html?ftcamp=rss#axzz16D4HIVaX

Library services under threat nationwide‏

Government cuts ‘could see up to a quarter of librarians lose their jobs over the next year’, reports the Guardian. Leading authors have condemned the rising number of library closures because of massive cuts in local government spending allocations. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/nov/22/library-cuts-leading-authors-condemn

Landmark victory for union rights in Australia‏

A UNISONActive reader in Sydney, Australia reports on yesterday's landmark legal ruling: A major victory for building and construction workers around Australia, construction union member Ark Tribe has been found not guilty by an Adelaide Court. http://www.cfmeu.asn.au/news/ark-tribe-found-not-guilty

Greve Geral - solidarity with Portuguese workers!‏

Early reports from Portugal confirm massive support for today’s general strike against government austerity measures. The CGTP union centre is publishing running news about the strike on a special ‘greve geral’ website: http://www.grevegeral.net/  Public sector wages are set to be slashed by 5 per cent next year, while pensions will be frozen and value-added tax raised in order to reduce the country's deficit from 9.4 per cent of gross domestic product in 2009 to below the arbitrary EU limit of 3 per cent by 2013, according to a report in today’s Morning Star: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/content/view/full/98015

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Compass Declares Recession a 'Fantastic Opportunity'‏

Richard Cousins the Chief Executive of Compass (annual salary £3.4 million) was interviewed in the Daily Telegraph yesterday. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/supportservices/8147875/Compass-chief-executive-Richard-Cousins-points-to-growth-and-acquisitions.html Describing the new age of austerity as a ‘fantastic opportunity’ he goes on to claim that ‘costs need to be taken out of systems and that’s what we do.’

Working class kids deserve a sporting chance

When Labour came into office in 1997 they faced a legacy of neglect on school buildings and the rampant sale of school playing fields. Sports facilities in many schools were dire and funding for sports was ad hoc, disjointed and where it was available inefficient because resources were not shared within local areas.

UNISON's LGBT members come together to speak up for public services‏

Over the weekend hundreds of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender UNISON members came together in Bristol at our annual LGBT Conference. http://www.unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=6439

Ensuring 2012 is exploitation free‏

Over the past 3 days a delegation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been on a visit to the site of the London Olympics. The TUC has urged them to ensure that no workers involved in the delivery of the 2012 Games are exploited: http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-18838-f0.cfm

Monday, 22 November 2010

Local Government SGE & Policy Seminar 18-20 November - Report‏

SGE and minority distraction on Pensions: The November LGSGE began before any real business had even started with an attempt by a minority of delegates to get the SGE to agree to debate a motion on Pensions given the recent announcements of the NUT Executive. It was clear that this was an attempt to hijack informed debate and move to a premature position on industrial action.

Irish unions reject cut in minimum wage‏

Trade unions in crisis ridden Ireland have rejected Government proposals to cut the minimum wage from €8.65 per hour to €7.65 per hour. ICTU General Secretary David Begg said he was “taken aback” and that “it is an extraordinary thing that the first target in this crisis happens to be the most vulnerable. There needs to be some threshold of decency below which they shouldn’t go,”  http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/
ireland/2010/1122/1224283834873.html
 Ahead of the December 7 Irish budget, ICTU are organising a national demonstration in Dublin on Saturday 27 November.

Tory changes could mean election decided before we make it to ballot box

Recent trends reveal that aside from the usual trite, tedious, so called reality TV programmes, the biggest ITV ratings winner recently has been Downton Abbey. Apparently this appeals to a “nostalgic” streak in the British population. As the aristocracy has never been more than an insignificant part of the population, nostalgia seems to be a strange word to use.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

10,000 march in London against Afghanistan war‏

Yesterday thousands of protestors, including many trade unionists, marched in London calling for an end to the Afghanistan conflict. Guardian journalist Seamus Milne said: "in Lisbon the Nato leaders will try to make it appear that they are bringing an end to this war, a war that is now in its 10th year. This talk of an exit strategy is clearly a sham." John Hilary, the executive director of War on Want added "we want the £11bn that is being spent on the war in Afghanistan to go on things we need in this country. Bring home the troops and bring justice to the people of Afghanistan." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11803918

Ireland Making Workers Pay - There Is Another Way‏

Ireland is in its third year of recession, and income per person has already declined by more than 20% since 2007. Unemployment has more than tripled from 4.3% at the end of 2006 to 13.9% today.

The Fates by Rita Ann Higgins‏

The fates are on a bank holiday weekend
showing off around the long wards.
The spinner spins herself
into a menacing match with a melanoma
(more like a blip really)
Sourface Atropos is dying her hair,
bile green with a streak of infection.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Organising to speak up for public services

UNISON Scotland: Organising to speak up for public services: Over 100 activists, paid officials and community activists from across Scotland are taking part in UNISON Scotland’s ‘Mobilise’ campaigning festival this weekend at the STUC in Glasgow. http://unison-scotland.blogspot.com/

Ultra left out of touch with central dynamics of unions‏

An insightful Morning Star article by Gregor Gall looks at industrial action strategies in response to job cuts and austerity measures in Britain: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/97779

One Day in the Headlines, One Ongoing Tale of Misery

(From Nov 18th 2010)
-Page 3 No Busty Blondes, but “ Extreme Violence when Troops leave Afghanistan”
Even the strongest supporter of the British presence in Afghanistan must wonder what is really going on when they see headlines like this. The justification is security, but security for whom? Not for the Afghans

Forget the services so long as profits are ok

The Guardian reports that Capita, Britain's largest public sector outsourcing group, has insisted that its recent talks with Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude will lead to ‘dilution in the quality of public services rather than denting the company's profit margins’. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/nov/18/capita-francis-maude-public-sector-cuts

Apocalypse by Alfred de Zayas‏

Nocturnal darkness overcomes receding Earth,
enveloping the silent hemisphere in black.
The velvet air of night a perfumed mist brings back,
while starry skies glow softly on renewing birth.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Political rights of union members under attack‏

Back in May the Conservative Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement included a reference to pursuing ‘a detailed agreement on limiting donations and reforming party funding in order to remove big money from politics’. This was widely seen as a veiled reference to curtailing union funding for the Labour Party. Subsequently the Committee on Standards in Public Life has commenced a new inquiry into political party finance http://unisonactive.blogspot.com/2010/11/political-party-funding-under.html

Huge swing to Labour in by elections

Labour won a stunning by-election victory last night in Wednesbury North, in Sandwell, polling 1320 to the Tories' 643 votes, with the Tories losing a seat they held for 36 years. A whopping 45.2% swing to Labour since 2008. Labour also won both seats at the Croxteth by-election in Liverpool with the Tories coming last out of eight candidates. Turnouts remain low however, showing there is much work to be done to engage people in the democratic process.

Russell Tribunal on Palestine - watch it live this weekend‏

This weekend the London session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine is taking place 20 – 22 November and can be watched live on line at the following link:  http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/live The Tribunal will examine International corporate complicity in Israel’s Violations of International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, and War Crimes. For more on the programme go to:
http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/
Frank Barat

The downward spiral of council redundancy costs‏

Kenny Bell, UNISON Northern deputy regional convenor, is quoted in the FT on the impact of redundancy costs on Councils struggling to cope with unprecedented spending cuts: ‘it means that there will be further cuts to meet the cost of the redundancies; it’s going to be very much cut and burn” http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4b38b444-f0e8-11df-bf4b-00144feab49a.html#axzz15excvNip

Thursday, 18 November 2010

UNISON responds to Scotland budget

"John Swinney spoke about choices today - and he made the wrong ones", says UNISON Scotland convener Mike Kirby. "His pay freeze amounts to a real terms wage cut for many modestly paid people in Scotland. Public Service workers in Scotland face a double whammy, as workers many will see a pay cut. And as service users they will find they are paying more for services that will become ever more threadbare". See the full initial response at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/news/2010/novdec/1711.htm

Cuts phoney war ends in Wales‏

The phoney war ended in Wales yesterday as the Assembly’s draft budget was announced by Labour’s Finance Minister Jane Hutt. The budget predicted a fall of 10% in real-terms spending over three years with the main axe falling on capital spending with a 40% cut, in effect halting investment in schools, hospitals, roads and rail. http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/businessandeconomy/2010/101117budget/?lang=en

MPs asked to pay back university fees

Lewis Parker has started a campaign asking that those MPs who benefitted from a state funded education might wish to pay that money back, now that they are expecting new students to pay up to £9000 for their education. http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=7176

Public policy in grip of corporate interests‏

In today’s Guardian Seumas Milne provides a timely expose of the growing influence of private sector vested interests on Government policy in Britain. What has emerged in the past 30 years is a public services industrial complex wholly analogous with the military industrial complex. In the same way the latter has fuelled the arms race and wars, the private sector lobby is driving the privatisation and ‘small state’ agenda:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/17/corporate-grip-public-private-sector

Our NHS, Our Future - report of UNISON Health SGE 17 November‏

UNISON health Care SGE today agreed that 'Our NHS, Our Future' will be the theme of next year's health conference which in April will come at a critical time for the NHS. With the Coalition Government's White Paper - which will bring about the most fundamental threat to the NHS since its inception - the SGE today heard about the wide range of campaigning and organising work which is already underway.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Response: What a Circus What a Side Show

No. "Every" daily newspaper has NOT been "cleared of news". Unless you're actually forgetting the 'Morning Star'. Amanda Kendal. UNISONActive response: 'Fair enough- we stand corrected!'

Co-ops to privatisation in three years

In Craig Dearden-Phillips' Guardian guide for organisations stepping out of the public sector, he, perhaps unwittingly, gives the game away about the 'mutuals' con of enabling public service workers to run the services better. What it is really about is cutting pay, conditions and pensions and three years later being offered up as easy pickings for the private sector. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/nov/17/mutuals-social-enterprises-public-sector-spinoffs

What a Circus. What a Side Show

If my resident classical scholar were around, no doubt he would tell me which roman emperor started the tradition of diverting the mob by laying on the spectacle of circuses for the masses but the lesson was learned early as Imperial Rome conquered and grew, so the tradition of the games to keep the people happy expanded, with millions of public money spend on ever more blood thirsty demonstrations.

RIP Sheena Grant MBE, Darts Champion and UNISON Activist

Family, friends, colleagues and comrades gathered at Aberdeen Crematorium yesterday to say a last farewell to Sheena Grant, Aberdeen University branch chair, long standing Higher Education activist, and recent Scottish representative on the UNISON NEC.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Riots & fighting cuts – a view from abroad‏

US magazine The Nation reports on last week’s demonstration against education cuts and tuition fees: ’November 10 demonstration was an altogether different beast, a protest that galvanized teenagers and teachers, lecturers and graduates, students and professors. At its very heart it signaled a sea change in public reaction to Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne’s recent austerity measures; what is causing outrage is the attack on the poor, young and vulnerable in the unprecedented cuts laid down in the Comprehensive Spending Review. College students are the main constituency affected by the education cuts, but young people and those working in the education sector are similarly angry at the government’s targeting of their livelihood’ writes Jennifer O'Mahony. http://www.thenation.com/article/156434/riot-their-own-fighting-cuts-britain

New report exposes Strategic Partnership failures

The new European Services Strategy Unit expanded edition of PPP Database on Strategic Service-delivery Partnerships covers 43 contracts with a total value of £8.6bn and employing over 17,500 staff plus several large highway services and waste contracts.  www.european-services-strategy.org.uk
http://www.european-services-strategy.org.uk/news/new-expanded-edition-of-ppp-database-on-strate/

Rights of workers on outsourced contracts under attack‏

‘Lack of protection for pensions, pay and conditions when outsourcing takes place is a critical issue for thousands and thousands of UNISON members and public servants everywhere’ says Heather Wakefield, UNISON national secretary for local government, writing on the public finance website. The article outlines the imminent threat to the 2003 Two Tier Code of Practice, which gives new recruits on Council outsourced contracts ‘fair and reasonable terms and conditions which are overall no less favourable than those of transferred employees’. http://opinion.publicfinance.co.uk/2010/11/beginning-of-the-end-for-two-tier-protection-by-heather-wakefield/

Ed Miliband must avoid trap of attacking workers in struggle‏

Kevin Maguire of the Daily Mirror, writing in Tribune, takes stock of new Labour leader Ed Miliband’s unfolding relationship with trade unions and cautions him against falling into ‘the trap of attacking workers and unions involved in..strikes’. http://www.tribunemagazine.co.uk/2010/11/kevin-maguire-5/

Portuguese unions mobilise for 24 November General Strike‏

Reports today of a worsening economic situation in Portugal gives added urgency to the plans of the Portuguese unions for the upcoming general strike on 24 November – called in protest at austerity measures including wage cuts. http://tinyurl.com/392pgj3

Monday, 15 November 2010

Protests begin to blunt council spending axes‏

Today’s FT reports that Public protests against local authority budget cuts are forcing councils across England to reconsider plans to slash services and wages. Examples reported include the retention of leisure centre crèches in Leeds, a nursery in Brighton, free travel for school pupils in Devon and cuts in teaching assistant pay in Nottingham. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/929fc256-f01f-11df-88db-00144feab49a.html#axzz15LGkh3up

Lest We Forget…..

On Remembrance Sunday, the ceremonial often overshadows the real emotions that lie behind the reasons why we need to remember the past. The glorification of war had no place for past generations who had actually fought in them, who saw that a day of remembrance should be a day to consider the futility of conflicts where human sacrifice was used for the political expediency of the ruling classes.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The duplicity of the British ruling class‏

In the Mail on Sunday David Laws MP, the discredited and short lived Con Dem Cabinet Minister, gives an inside account of the deal which led to the formation of a Coalition Government in May: http://tinyurl.com/365tfa9

National Demonstration • Afghanistan: Time to Go‏

Saturday 20 November • Assemble 12 Noon • Speakers' Corner Hyde Park • London • March to Trafalgar Square. Called by: Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, British Muslim Initiative. Supported by: War on Want, Muslim Council of Britain, UNITE the Union, University and College Union, Pax Christi, Islamic Forum of Europe, The Cordoba Foundation and Friends of Al Aqsa http://stopwar.org.uk/content/view/2103/1/

Thanks to Jesse Jackson by Audre Lorde‏

January I, 1989
The US and the USSR
are/were the most powerful countries
in the world
but only ⅛ of the world's population.
African people are also ⅛ of the world's population.
½ of the world's people are Asian.
½ of that number is Chinese.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi Released – 1 Down, 2,202 To Go

UNISON Conference 2009
"We will not let the world forget that you and thousands of others are in prison for standing up for democracy and the rights of workers", UNISON President Angela Lynes told 2009 National Conference as it marked Aung San Suu Kyi’s 64th Birthday under house arrest. As she is released today, the Burma Campaign turns to the thousands of other political prisoners in Burma’s jails.

I'm ACAS fly me‏

Times are hard for quangos and ACAS, the Government appointed conciliation service, is urging trade union officials to ‘use collective conciliation earlier’.

Student protests give momentum to national anti cuts campaign‏

The bigger than expected turn out at Wednesday’s protest, against education cuts and tuition fees, has resonated throughout the trade union movement:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/nov/12/tuc-joins-student-protests

Poppies by Jane Weir‏

Three days before Armistice Sunday
and poppies had already been placed
on individual war graves. Before you left,
I pinned one onto your lapel, crimped petals,
spasms of paper red, disrupting a blockade
of yellow bias binding around your blazer.

Friday, 12 November 2010

UNISON reaction to spending cuts in Wales‏

‘In Wales, we will see our funding cut by 7.5% to be allocated by the devolved administration and we have seen a number of recent reports from various sources indicating that Wales is to suffer disproportionately compared to elsewhere in the UK. The First Minister has protested that this is on top of pre-existing under funding of public services highlighted by the Holtham Commission, and estimates that 38,000 public sector jobs in Wales will be lost ’ says UNISON’s Amber Courtney writing on the blog of the Bevan Foundation:
http://thisismytruth.org/2010/11/11/unisons-reaction-to-spending-cuts/

BBC News - Southampton City Council proposes 5.4% staff pay cut‏

Tory Southampton City Council is proposing a 5.4% pay cut while shedding hundreds of jobs to put through £62 million iin cuts, reports the BBC. Steve Brazier, UNISON Regional Manager, said: "The cuts are pretty draconian. I think it is a devastating proposal for both the people who use the services and the workers." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-11736767

Thursday, 11 November 2010

UNISON stands firm against Section 188 notice in Rhondda‏

In Rhondda Cynon Taff (RCT), one of the largest council’s in Wales, UNISON is battling to defend the terms and conditions of over 10,000 workers after the Labour controlled council issued a section 188 notice. Yesterday the branch has issued a briefing updating members on developments:
http://www.rctunison.org.uk/index.htm

Students shake the halls of power‏

Over 50 000 took part in yesterday’s London march to protest against education cuts and tuition fees – by far exceeding the expectations of organisers NUS and UCU. UCU leader Sally Hunt told protesters: "I am here today to send a message to the politicians at Westminster. It isn't fair to make our public universities the most expensive in the world. It isn't progressive to discourage young people from going to college.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

No fun at the seaside‏

Despite concerns about compliance with public procurement rules and the involvement of PWC as both advisors to the council and seemingly the external auditors to the successful bidder (no conflict of interest there then) Bournemouth council has decided to award a £150 million deal to Mouchels to outsource at least four council departments.

UNI World Congress‏

UNI is an international body of trade unions organising in communications, services and entertainment. It is currently holding its world congress in Nagasaki, Japan. UNISON Deputy general Secretary Keith Sonnet is attending the congress which can be followed on an informative Congress blog:
http://www.uniglobalunion.org/Blogs/nagasaki.nsf

Tory plans to slash and burn London Fire Brigade

It is now clear that the Fire Brigade Union fears that that the proposed changes to their terms and conditions by Tory London Fire authority Chair, Brian Coleman, was actually all about reducing the number of fire engines and firefighters - was pretty accurate, says John's Labour Blog http://grayee.blogspot.com/2010/11/tory-toad-plans-to-slash-burn-london.html See also http://www.fbu.org.uk/newspress/pressrelease/2010/11_05.php

Swindon members step up strike action

UNISON members in in Swindon have escalated their eight week industrial action against the council's axing of extra pay for unsocial hours with a loss of up to £300 a month for some staff. They will now strike on Fridays as well as weekends to try to force a settlement.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Douglas Alexander: Make Cuts More Slowly

On Friday Douglas Alexander Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions let the cat out of the bag. Labour, he said, is broadly supportive of the plans for the phased reform of housing benefit and stressed support for stricter incapacity benefit tests. (www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/05/douglas-alexander-labour-welfare

The shenanigans in court number one‏

There is a strange battle going on in court 1 at the High Court today as the BNP tries to convince the world that its membership rules are not racist. If it wins it will claim it has changed and is no longer extreme. If it loses then it faces possible bankruptcy, reports Hope Not Hate.

Compass Launches Commission on Executive Pay‏

An investigation into the escalating pay of boardroom bosses will be launched today as Barclays prepares to reveal that its investment banking arm has amassed a pay and bonus pot of at least £4bn this year.

Canadian Teachers and Council Workers Pension Funds Buy Up UK Rail Link‏

Next time you use the high speed rail link to Europe from St Pancras in London you will be putting money in the pockets of the retired teachers and council workers of Ontario Canada.

Bick pays tribute to Michael Foot‏

The Next Left blog carries a report of last night’s celebration of the life of late Labour leader Michael Foot. Former UNISON General Secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe was among those labour movement leaders past and present paying tribute: http://www.nextleft.org/2010/11/celebrating-michael-foot.html

Time for direct action to resist cuts – John Pilger‏

Leading journalist John Pilger calls for direct action and civil disobedience to resist decimation of public services in a hard hitting New Statesman article: http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2010/11/pilger-britain-british

Monday, 8 November 2010

Irish Congress calls pre-Budget demonstration on 27 November‏

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) is holding a major national demonstration in Dublin on Saturday 27th November in support of its demands for a better, fairer approach to the economic crisis and a firm focus on jobs, investment and growth. http://www.impact.ie/iopen24/-t-90_602.html

SUSPECT: Workfare proposals must be opposed by whole labour movement‏

On Thursday next Iain Duncan Smith, Con Dem work and pensions secretary, will announce in a White Paper his planned welfare benefits reforms and it is widely trailed that the long-term unemployed could be forced to carry out manual work to retain their benefits:  http://alturl.com/5woxp

Taunton protesters march against the cuts

Hundreds of angry demonstrators marched through Taunton on Saturady and attended a mass rally to protest against Somerset County Council’s proposed budget, which is set to slash £43 million from public services in the county with a loss of 1,500 jobs. As the sea of banners and placards of parties, trades councils and union organisations came through the town centre, local residents and Saturday shoppers clapped, cheered and waved to the marchers in support.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Graffiti Service by Peter Robinson‏

The aerosol boys have been at it again
making signature loops and swirls,
soccer boasts, names of girls

Saturday, 6 November 2010

22 activists killed in President Santos' first 75 days in office in Colombia‏

A report by human rights groups on Thursday states that at least 22 activists were murdered in the first 75 days of the government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos,  http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/12644-22-activists-killed-santos-government.html

Political party funding under scrutiny..again!‏

The Committee on Standards in Public Life, chaired by Sir Christopher Kelly, opened a new inquiry into political party finance on Wednesday of last week and will publish its recommendations in Spring 2011: http://www.public-standards.gov.uk/OurWork/Party_Political_Finance___Public_Hearings.html

Britain's broken economy & how to mend it‏

‘The deep defects in the global economic system have not been remedied. The current upswing will therefore be brief. Another, perhaps even more serious, crisis is likely. When it happens the left must not be caught, as it was last time, with its pants down’ says Larry Elliot in his foreword to ‘Britain's broken economy - and how to mend it’ published by the centre left New Political Economy Network and available on line at: http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/ebooks/BritainsBrokenEconomy.html

Remembering the International Brigades‏

Glasgow memorial
At UNISON's recent international seminar in Liverpool, North West regional secretary Frank Hont told delegates about his involvement in the International Brigade Memorial Trust (IBMT), and why the legacy of those who fought fascism in Spain over 70 years ago is still relevant today: http://www.unison.org.uk/international/pages_view.asp?did=12022

We Refugees by Benjamin Zephaniah‏

I come from a musical place
Where they shoot me for my song
And my brother has been tortured
By my brother in my land.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Cambridge becomes a Tory-free zone

The people of Cambridge will have awoken this morning to the news that not only had Labour won the Coleridge Ward by election in the City, but also that the Tories had been wiped off the political map in Cambridge. Cambridge City is now a Tory Free Council, with not one of the forty two councillors a Conservative. Meanwhile, at Swindon, Wiltshire Labour also secured another stunning victory over the Tories, with the Lib Dem vote dropping from 792 in May this year to just 98. http://country-standard.blogspot.com/2010/11/cambridge-tories-wiped-out.html

CCT or Treasury dictat - which will it be?‏

According to a Cabinet Office news release the ‘Government is united in its drive to open up public services so the best providers get the job’ and Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark has said that he wants ‘local voluntary groups to have the right to deliver more services locally so that the sector are not confined to a walled-off part of councils' budgets’. http://www.communities.gov.uk/newsstories/communities/1759026

BBC journalists pensions strike

NUJ members across the BBC are on strike Friday & Saturday in a bid to preserve some vestige of their pension. Pretty obviously anyone phoning from the BBC looking for comment or input on Fri or Sat is breaking the strike… http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=1796

Tory reactionary attacks right to strike‏

Washed up failed Tory Party leadership contender David Davies uses a column in today’s Daily Mail to wage war against public services trade unionists and attack our right to strike. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1326826/Cameron-told-Rip-outdated-union-laws-rival-David-Davis.html

The complex tasks facing public service unions‏

Gregor Gall writes in today’s Morning Star on the complex tasks facing unions resisting the cuts – achieving unity between unions, within each union at local and national level as well as between public service workers bearing the brunt of redundancies and imposed cuts in terms and conditions: http://alturl.com/924sq