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

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Edinburgh takes to streets to isolate Nazis

Thousands of people demonstrated in Edinburgh today peacefully under the 'Scotland United' banner to further humiliate the so-called English/Scottish Defence League's attempt to bring its message of hate to the city. While demonstrators from trade unions, faith groups, students and ordinary members of the public staged a peaceful protest through the city centre, less than 100 fascists were corralled in pubs by the police and sent home again humiliated, as they were in Glasgow in November.

Re: Irish public service unions dig in for long haul‏

This week, the public sector committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions met to discuss progress of the first five weeks (phase one) of co-ordinated industrial action in response to the Irish Government’s December budget.

Hospital hive off is thin edge of NHS privatisation wedge‏

Karen Jennings, UNISON national secretary for health, has condemned “the unnecessary costly and dangerous” bidding process which has led to an all private shortlist for Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon.

So you think I'm a mule? By Jackie Kay‏

‘Where do you come from?’
‘I'm from Glasgow.’
‘Uh huh. Glasgow.’
The white face hesitates

Friday, 19 February 2010

Confine the co-ops to the vineyards...‏

The last co-operative that I visited was a beautiful sun-washed vineyard on the northern Cyprus border where the co-operative movement flourishes in the production and sale of good quality local wines. Land is owned and used for the vineyards and wine production. The worker-owners benefit with local jobs, sales to local people and tourists alike. As a model for wine production every town should have one – if only we got the same amount of sun! But taking this sunny view of co-operatives into public services is a bit like turning the Queen into a punk. It ain’t never gonna work.

UNISON highlights threat to charities from cuts and contract competition‏

A UNISON commissioned report reveals that in a couple of local authority areas, the voluntary sector was "completely wiped out of home care" by competition from private companies who "don't pay pensions, who have zero hour contracts for staff". See Guardian report.

Local Government Chronicle survey dispels public sector myths‏

Widespread concern amongst public sector managers that government budget cuts will cripple frontline services and damage staff health and morale, have been uncovered in a new report, says the Local Government Chronicle.

Cut Now are Not the Way Forward

Today’s Financial Times contains an article condemning those who see cuts in public expenditure as the only way forward. Sixty leading experts in the economic profession believe that cuts at this time could simply lead the country back in recession. (see http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/75b2481e-1cb5-11df-8d8e-00144feab49a.html)

Thursday, 18 February 2010

UNISON Health Executive focuses on Organising‏

Meeting in London on 17 February the UNISON Health service group executive sent a unanimous message of support to the Sodexo workers who after taking strike action won their claim to be on Agenda for Change terms and conditions. This victory is an excellent example of why the SEIU 3 Companies Organising project is so important.

Ofsted to Privatise Nursery Inspections

UNISON parents with children in nursery would have been shocked last night by the decision of Ofsted to privatise inspection of nursery provision. UNISON members in Ofsted where inspectors with specific qualifications in the pre school education field are being made redundant will be astonished.

Broken Holmes - you're in a hole stop digging‏

It now seems it was not only the boosters of unlikley UNISON GS candidate Paul Holmes who placed emphasis on a supposed branch membership density of 86%. In his letter to branches seeking nomination Holmes states that 'Kirklees UNISON has a union density of over 80%. There is no reason why this can't be achieved in every branch'.

US unions continue to press for state investment and labour reforms‏

The Lexington column in the Economist this week runs a vicious attack on the US unions and their lobbying for increased federal spending on ‘unemployment benefits, on roads, on schools, on green energy projects and on aid to state and local governments’.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

20 Feb Edinburgh Scotland United rally against racism and fascism

Join a day of celebration of multicultural Edinburgh on Saturday 20 February. Assemble Ross bandstand Princes Street Gardens at 11.30. Peaceful Rally and March against English/Scottish Defence league plans to demonstrate in the city that day. http://www.scotlandunited.org/

The Starting Gun for Public Sector Recession has been fired!

Thus the Charted Institute of Personnel announces that profound job cuts will hit the public sector earlier this week. We are told that we can expect the deepest and most prolonged cuts in public expenditure in decades.

Breaking News - UNISON GS Election Health Service Group Executive nominates Dave Prentis‏

The executive of UNISON’s 440 000 strong Health Service Group today nominated Dave Prentis for General Secretary. At the meeting in London Dave received overwhelming support winning the executive’s support by 22 to 3.

BMA to launch pro-NHS campaign‏

The British Medical Association, the doctors’ trade union, is launching a “look after our NHS” campaign ahead of the general election. Predictably it came under attack from the CBI which promotes the interests of private sector bosses as well as the right wing ‘think tank’ Civitas a mouthpiece for the public services industrial complex.

'patient choice': any provider you like, as long as it's Care UK‏

Pulse, the GPs' magazine, reports, "GPs are being told to refer thousands of patients to the private sector to bail out a Government scheme to outsource services from hospitals. http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=35&storycode=4125097&c=2

Guardian reports on growth of private 'public services industry'‏

"As support service companies jockey for position, some are growing uneasy about the prospect of the private sector providing more public services, often to vulnerable members of society such as children, the sick and the elderly. Questions are also being raised whether all the benefits of outsourcing claimed by the industry stack up" http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/feb/17/outsourcing-boom-as-cuts-bite/print
See also The Public Services Industrial Complex and Public Services Industry poised to make a killing

Local government union leader killed in Guatemala‏

The TUC has protested to the Guatemalan Ambassador in London about thekilling of a 5th trade union leader in Guatemala since November 2009, MrPedro Antonio Garcia a local government union leader was murdered afterorganising protests over non-payment of wages.

Tens of thousands march against controversial health 'reform' in Colombia‏

Tens of thousands of people marched in cities all across Colombia last week as outrage continues to grow over highly controversial health reforms introduced by President Alvaro Uribe’s government.

What would you do with euro lottery £56m?

What would you do with euro lottery £56m?
Support 315 MPs including expenses for 12 months.

Left Foot Forward on public sector cuts‏

LeftFoot Forward incovers more evidence of the financial squeeze set to confront the public sector, as policy makers turn their attention to how to plug budget deficits across the country.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Why UNISONActive is backing Dave Prentis for General Secretary

In the coming weeks, UNISON members will be called upon to elect their General Secretary. Those members want their union to be organised, serious about fighting for their jobs and conditions and speaking up for the vital public services they deliver.

2010 Women's Conference Preview - A million voices for women in UNISON‏

UNISON's Women Conference arrives in Gateshead later this week. Women from around the country will be attending to participate in debates about issues affecting women in our workplaces and communities. The current economic crisis, and the global context and impact on women across the world means the Conference comes at a good time. http://www.unison.org.uk/file/conference%20timetable%20-%20for%20website.doc

Monday, 15 February 2010

Campaign for Dignity and Respect for staff at Notting Hill Housing Trust

UNISON members are being balloted on action against imposed cuts to terms and conditions at Notting Hill Housing Trust. Supporters are being urged to send letters of protest to the chief executive and messages of support to members. More info at http://unisonhablondon.org/ and letter of support at John's Labour Blog

All Together Now‏

In her recent article ‘all together now’ in the left publication Red Pepper, UNISON national secretary for local government Heather Wakefield is correct to emphasise the unholy alliance which is building on the right to attack and demolish public services. In the run up to the General Election the role of the public sector will be the key debate. http://www.redpepper.org.uk/All-together-now

UNISON launches campaign to save community school‏

Surrey County UNISON lept to the defense of Shortwood Infant School in Staines as plans to close the much loved community school were announced by Surrey County Council. http://www.communitynewswire.press.net/article.jsp?id=6513764 The branch tells the full story and has launched a petititon at http://www.surreycountyunison.org.uk/

Inverness: UNISON lobbies to protect women's refuge‏

UNISON's Highland Branch is calling for talks with Inverness Women’s Aid amid fears that a review of services will lead to job losses. Branch Secertary Liz Mackay added: "This is an anxious time for our members in IWA, with cuts looming. They support vulnerable women and children in thecommunity, and should be treated with respect during this worrying time."
Read more at: http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1601414?UserKey=#ixzz0faZW10Dg

Broken Holmes - dumb lies about density exposed

Small time boosters for UNISON General Secretary candidate Paul Holmes have made strident claims that his branch has "86% density" which is "the best in the union".

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The ultra left beauty contest to challenge Prentis?

It is constantly infuriating for long-standing left campaigners that the ultra-left try to corner the market, labelling everyone who does not subscribe to their centrally imposed, undemocratic theology as the ‘right’. And it’s happening again as the so called United-Left (which of course it never is) wrangles over which contender to support in the UNISON General Secretary election. Anyone who disagrees with their, well, disagreement, is labelled as ‘right wing’.

NHS - the unions are back in town‏

A quiet transformation has been taking place in the NHS. The current Health Secretary Andy Burnham MP talks openly about 'our trade union colleagues'. As Nicholas Timmins points out in the BMJ it is more than just rhetoric:

Cameron's political fund‏

The Financial Times reports that David Cameron has built up a £75million war chest, with at least £16million funded by City bank, hedge fund and broker bosses since 2006. "Political opponents said the influx of City cash raised questions about the professed commitment to tightening regulation of George Osborne, shadow chancellor", says the FT

Private sector butchering techniques for public services - no thanks‏

The Guardian recently featured private sector management cost cutting techniques and questioned how suitable they were for public services. Lean thinking, value mapping, continuous improvement and propertiy reviews were among the suggested fads in a sweeney todd style barbers kit bag for public sector managers gearing up for budget cuts.

The Choosing by Liz Lochhead‏

We were first equal Mary and I
with the same coloured ribbons in mouse coloured hair,
and with equal shyness
we curtseyed to the Lady councillor
for copies of Collins' Children's Classics.
First Equal, equally proud.