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

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Adios Audit Commission‏

Pickles has made no secret of his distaste for the Audit Commission. Even before the ink was dry on the Con Dem coalition Pickles had made great play of the Audit Commission being found to have used their public funds on lobbyists to argue for their own preservation. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/7945123/Eric-Pickles-interview-slimming-down-the-public-sector.html

Love Song for Fidel Castro by Jackie Wills‏

They’ve started a tight salsa
when Elisa strolls on, hips round as a drum.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Labour Force Survey confirms adverse trends - unions must organise to survive‏

The annual Labour Force Survey has produced the latest figures for 2009. Whilst density has stayed the same as in 2008 (approximately 28%) the number of union members has declined by a further 163,000, following a 20 year trend. The report highlights density amongst the young as a particular issue - currently about 9% - a clear worry for any efforts made to recruit for the future.

UNISON challenges North Somerset privatisation‏

North Somerset UNISON has hit out at a decision to hand council services worth £100million to the private sector. Branch secretary Helen Thornton also criticised the secrecy surrounding the contract approval by councillors. See report in Weston, Worle and Somerset Mercury

UNISON highlights threat to South Wales services‏

As UNISON took its meaaage to Swansea and Aberavon to campaign against ConDem cuts, local organiser Gemma Hurse said: "We are not going to sit back and accept these unnecessary and brutal attacks on our frontline services - our public services cannot afford to take an indefinite holiday at the expense of the most vulnerable in our society." http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/news/Cuts-hurt-8211-union/article-2518198-detail/article.html

A rat race is for rats. We are not rats. We are human beings

A rat race is for rats. We're not rats. We're human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice, lest you jeopardise your chances of self-promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts. And before you know where you are, you're a fully paid-up member of the rat pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. The words of Jimmy Reid 39 years ago when he addressed Glasgow University. Today, several newspapers will print the speech in full - almost 40 years after the New York Times spotted its significance and reportedly printed it in full.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

UNISONActive analysis - Maude's muddled thinking‏

There has always been an eighteen carat love affair between the Tories and big business. Maude’s latest muddled thinking proves that even though the Tories know the relationship is no good for public services they want to hang on in there anyway. They are most definitely the mistress in this sorry saga, taking the riches from the big business in the form of party bungs in exchange for a quick fondle to sign off another public service contract.

Southampton libraries to be closed by two day strike 13 and 16 August

UNISON members working in Southampton libraries are to strike on Friday 13 August and Monday 16 August over the introduction of new style volunteers and the closure of the Thornhill and Millbrook libraries.

IER Briefing - a dangerous time for workplace safety‏

An IER briefing explodes the claims that businesses are over-regulated. Instead the evidence points to the opposite: "in fact, the previous government’s desire to reduce the 'burdens' on businesses has emasculated the regulatory system designed to prevent death and injury at work". Steve Tombs and David Whyte show how a "collapse in inspection, investigation and enforcement has dramatically reduced the chances of businesses being detected and prosecuted for committing safety offences".

Maude reassures private sector lobby "we expect public services not to be delivered in-house"‏

Investors Chronicle reports on the comments of Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude that “it’s the stated coalition policy that we expect public services not to be delivered in-house”. http://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/MarketsAndSectors/Sectors/article/20100804/4b2f945e-9f08-11df-ac15-00144f2af8e8/Maude-for-it.jsp

Cuban trade unions - an urgent call to prevent a new holocaust‏

To all trade union organisations worldwide from the Cuban Workers Trade Union Central: In times in which mankind commemorates a new anniversary of the unjustified throwing of atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which caused the immediate death of more than two hundred thousand people, while many other died in the aftermath or suffered as well as their descendants the devastating sequels, serious threats of a new holocaust hangs over a large portion of the world.

New Labour and 'public service reform' - a Blairite recants?‏

"We should be as aggressive in promoting collectivist and egalitarian models of delivering services as the Tories are at dismantling them. We ought to have a situation where private sector companies are copying the brilliant management and quality of the public sector, and public sector leaders are seconded to help turn round industry, not vice versa", says Labour councillor Luke Akehurst ('was proud to be a Blairite') in a considered attack on the Blair's record on public services http://lukeakehurst.blogspot.com/

UNISON challenges flawed consultation on day services provision‏

UNISON has slammed cuts to day services for the elderly and disabled in Crawley. UNISON's Christine Earwaker criticised the consultation:"Nowhere on the questionnaire can respondents positively express a preference for the county council to continue its current role of providing day services to meet all levels of need. It seems the public are only invited to comment on the single option senior managers prefer, which is one of centre closures and retrenchment of services. These proposals won't benefit service users or their carers." http://www.thisissussex.co.uk/news/Union-slams-Crawley-adult-services-stitch/article-2510113-detail/article.html | >http://www.unisonwestsussex.org.uk/

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Jimmy Reid RIP‏

Veteran trade unionist and socialist Jimmy Reid has died aged 78, just short of the 40th anniversary of the Upper Clyde shipbuilders work-in, where he played a leading role. On The Guardian’s comment-is-free website Gregor Gall reflects on Reid’s contribution: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/11/jimmy-reid-true-radical-giant

Prentis slams business offensive against workers' training rights‏

A bonfire of regulations and rights has long been trailed by the Conservative Party and its corporate backers. Now the FT reports on moves afoot to repeal rights to time off for training introduced by the last Government: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cdf81c98-a4a4-11df-8c9f-00144feabdc0.html

Care UK boss driving Osborne's cuts plan‏

John Nash, ex-chair* of the fast growing private health and social care provider Care UK who provided key funds to the Tories in the run up to the election (see http://unisonactive.blogspot.com/2010/01/tory-health-spokesman-linked-to-key.html ), has now been brought into the Treasury as part of a 'quartet' of bankers and private equity bosses helping George Osborne finalise the Spending Review.
*Apology: In the original post, we referred to John Nash as still being the chair of Care UK. We are happy to point out that Care UK advises us that Mr Nash stood down in April. This was also reported in The Mirror on 18 July

Northern Public Services Alliance growing stronger‏

In the Northern region of England local PSA coalitions have been launched in North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Durham, Teeside, Newcastle, Gateshead, Northumberland, and Cumbria. The Northern PSA is committed to engage with public sector workers, service users, community/voluntary sector organisations to build a massive campaign against the Government's austerity measures which will impact on the most vulnerable in society.

Local Government Employers play hardball on pay arbitration‏

The Local Government Chronicle reports on indications from the local government employers’ organisation for England, Wales & Northern Ireland that it will not enter into arbitration at ACAS. http://www.lgcplus.com/briefings/people/pay/lge-wont-participate-in-pay-freeze-arbitration/5018150.article?

Council Chief apologises for describing union members as 'terrorists'‏

Union members opposed to Government spending cuts have demanded an apology from a Rotherham council chief who branded them "terrorists". UNISON's head of local government in Yorkshire and Humberside, Margaret Thomas, said: "It is outrageous to refer to our members as terrorists. To suggest that people who are opposed to the public sector picking up the bill for the reckless greed of bankers who caused the recession are terrorists is insulting and crass." http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/Industrial-relations-Union-blasts-council.6467941.jp

Kent: UNISON joins with residents and families to defend care homes‏

UNISON launched a campaign to disrupt the planned closure and privatisation of a number of council-run care homes for the elderly in Kent. David Buss - chair of the branch's adult services stewards committee - said: "UNISON is committed to joining with everyone who wants to defend these vital services to some of Kent's most vulnerable people, who have given their lives to their communities and should now have the right to spend their remaining years in dignity in the home of their choice." http://www.yourcanterbury.co.uk/kent-news/Union-fights-plans-to-close-KCC-care-homes-newsinkent38472.aspx?news=local

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The right to strike is a human right‏

Ed Williams has written an excellent article in Tribune calling on Labour leadership contenders to ‘make the case for a new type of industrial relations’ that once again seeks to uphold the right to strike.

NYT paints bleak picture of Con Dem austerity Britain‏

Today’s New York Times paints a sorry picture of Con Dem austerity Britain, barely three months since the General Election: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/world/europe/10britain.html?_r=2&ref=world

Pensions indexation - imposed change could breach human rights‏

The BBC reports that a group of pension industry experts have attacked plans to link private pension increases to the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation. Many pensioners have been promised Retail Prices Index (RPI) linked annual increases and the expert panel says that retrospective legislation could breach human rights. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-10922139

Reading unions start weekly protests against the cuts‏

Members of all 13 unions at Reading council have launched weekly demonstrations at the Civic Centre against cuts. Debbie McKenzie, secretary of UNISON Reading Branch, said: "The Government has repeatedly stated that cuts are essential and inevitable but the trades unions believe that there are alternatives. We have supported improvements in efficiency and will continue to do so, but we will not support cuts that fall most severely on the most vulnerable in society. Our members are out there on the front lines every day and are worried about what cuts will mean to the people they work with." Members will talk to the public about what the cuts mean each Wednesday from 12-2pm. http://www.getwokingham.co.uk/jobs/news/s/2075352_trade_union_protests_at_civic_centre_today

Young users support UNISON demo to save careers service‏

Young people joined forces with redundancy-threatened workers and UNISON activists as they demonstrated last week to urge members of Norfolk County Council to vote against a plan to cut £2.8m from the Connexions service which provides advice and guidance to thousands of young people.
See report at EDP24 and the UNISON national campaign page http://www.unison.org.uk/education/connexions/index.asp  and fast growing Facebook group here http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=108686792515084&ref=ts

Derbyshire patients sign UNISON petition against NHS outsourcing‏

UNISON is opposing plans to process personal data overseas as part of a plan to cut 100 jobs and up to £5 million from the budgets of nine East Midlands health authorities. UNISON has gathered thousands of signatures against the proposal and Allestree resident Shirley Sherrington handed one of the petitions on behalf of UNISON into Derby health bosses. http://www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk/news/Don-t-send-private-details-India/article-2488229-detail/article.html

Monday, 9 August 2010

Alternative cuts consultation‏

The Robin Hood Treasury Saving Challenge: "We all understand the deficit we are facing and remember how we got here. The financial crisis started in the banking sector and we spent £1.4 trillion bailing it out. With the economy in a mess, the government’s Spending Challenge is asking us to make difficult choices over what it should cut. But there is a better way. A series of taxes on the banks in the UK could raise tens of billions each year to help recoup some of this lost money and help the poorest at home and abroad who have been hit hardest by the economic crisis."
Feed in your ideas at http://www.rht-treasury.org.uk/

Oliver Stone's 'South of the Border' - a summer must see!‏

It is rare to see political films with a message of truth about injustice, especially over a summer of Toy Stories, Expendables and A Teams. But , not for the first time, Oliver Stone has made a film that has offended the right wing in the USA and the liberal circles of the UK. His journey across South America and his presentation of the Bolivarian revolution that is going on is such a smack in the mouth for the neo conservatives that it is a miracle that it ever got made.

Pig squeal - another private care provider issues 'cuts' profit warning‏

Southern Cross Healthcare, the UK’s largest private care home operator says dramatic cuts to public spending will squeeze its profits. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/aug/09/southern-cross-care-home-profits.

9 August 1945 - Nagasaki remembered‏

Today, Japan and peace campaigners worldwide mark the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on 9 August 1945. The horrendous attack by the USA killed more than 70,000 people and blighted the lives of many more. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-10914914
The disproportionate effects of cuts on those parts of the UK outside of the growing South East region will lead to “an inflaming of that national scar we know as the north-south divide”, writes John Harris in the Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/08/north-south-divide-soon-become-chasm

Sunday, 8 August 2010

PSC Open Letter to Prime Minister David Cameron‏

2nd August 2010
Dear Prime Minister,
On 27 July during your visit to Turkey, you stated that:
‘The situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp'

The Women Who Clean Fish by Erica Funkhouser‏

The women who clean fish are all named Rose
or Grace. They wake up close to the water,
damp and dreamy beneath white sheets,
thinking of white beaches.