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

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Leaders organising to meet the challenge

“Everyone can be a leader. The key is to translate what we do on a day to day basis into leadership.” That was the inspiring message from Roger McKenzie, West Midland’s Regional Secretary, as he kicked off UNISON’s 2nd National Leadership School last week.

Stop the cuts? Yes we can!‏

On the eve of TUC Congress, a timely report of some victorious early battles in the long war to protect public services and the welfare state from the Con Dem onslaught. Campaigning and organising against cuts works – now is our time. Read more: http://www.unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=6320

Connaught Administrators Sack 700 Workers by Phone‏

About 700 workers have been made redundant - many by phone and conference call - at the collapsed social housing group Connaught, and another 1,200 jobs remain at risk. Jim Woods, from the construction union Ucatt, told the BBC it was an "absolute disgrace" and workers were"fuming". http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/sep/10/connaught-administrators-cut-700-jobs

Birmingham Connexions protest causes a stir‏

200 people joined a UNISON rally this week in Birmingham against cuts of than 200 jobs, mostly with the Connexions service. This follows a ‘Day of Action’ outside all 6 Birmingham Connexions advice centres on A Level results to highlight the devastating cuts. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-11217902  and http://www.unison.org.uk/westmidlands/pages_view.asp?did=11737

UNISON and PCS launch Norfolk coalition against cuts‏

More than 60 trade union activists from across Norfolk have come together to set up a "coalition against the cuts" with the public. The meeting was organised by UNISON and PCS, with support from Unite, UCU, CWU and the GMB.

Chile Stadium by Victor Jara‏

There are five thousand of us here
in this small part of the city.
We are five thousand.
I wonder how many we are in all
in the cities and in the whole country?

Friday, 10 September 2010

A conversation with Noam Chomsky on Palestine/Israel‏

Filmed by Frank Barat at the M.I.T, Cambridge, USA on 2 September 2010. Topics talked about include: Zionism, One State/Two States, Right of return, BDS.

Labour success in Exeter City Council by-elections

Labour won seven of 13 seats up for grabs in the by-elections in Exeter and has become the largest party on the Council. One of the issues in the Council election was the threat to axe NHS Direct which employs 120 nurses at a call centre in the town and UNISON had leafleted the key wards highlighting the threat to NHS Direct and nursing and health advisors.

OECD calls for more central bank action on money supply‏

A few months ago the pro market OECD gave the thumbs up to austerity but now they are in retreat and yesterday said central banks must issue debt free electronic money to prevent slide into economic depression. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/sep/09/oecd-advice-to-g7

Dire convergence of high impact cuts areas with BNP targets‏

Hope not Hate flags up the ominous connection between BNP target areas and the BBC's research into the impact of the impending public sector cuts. http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/blog/article/883/Tough-times-ahead

Winning Tory seat keeps Labour running Norwich

Labour took the scalp of the former Tory leader as 13 seats went up for election yesterday at Norwich City Council. With this gain and holding its six seats that were up for election means Labour will continue to run the council as a minority administration. The Greens took one seat from the Lib Dems.

Thursday, 9 September 2010


Commenting on reports that Health Minister Andrew Lansley has denied plans to shut down NHS Direct, Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said: “This is great news for patients and for staff at NHS Direct. The service that NHS Direct offers is tried and tested and is of great value to the public, as the outcry over the threat of closure shows.

Ken Livingstone joins the campaign against Sodexo in Richmond‏

This week Twickenham Labour Party held a hustings meeting for Labour Party nomination for the London Mayoral election in 2012. UNISON is backing Ken Livingston who offered his full support for the union’s organising campaign in Richmond school meals service. The meeting heard from Sodexo workers who invited the Labour Party members to join the rally outside the Town Hall in Richmond at 8pm on October 19th. Ken Livingstone joins Labour Party Leader candidate Ed Milliband in giving his public support – see link to hear the workers’ case and Ken’s statement of support:

Connaught the contractor run like Enron?‏

The administrator now running Connaught, the failed housing and ground maintenance contractor, has admitted there were accountancy problems in the company. These look somewhat familiar to anyone who remembers the Enron scandal.

Public spending cuts will cause regional economic earthquakes‏

A new BBC research study looks at the ability of each local authority area to withstand and respond to sudden changes in the economy. As massive public spending cuts loom large, it provides further evidence that regions blighted by deindustrialisation will be most severely affected by loss of public sector employment and services. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-11141264

If the cuts are to be derailed, there must be an alternative‏

Seumas Milne, writing in today’s Guardian, predicts there is “little doubt that the unions are about to return to the centre stage of British public life”. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/08/cuts-derailed-alternative-unions

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

UNISON and PCS forge fighting alliance‏

Two of the UK’s biggest public sector unions, UNISON and PCS, representing 1.7 million workers, have pledged to forge a powerful alliance to fight back against the coalition government's cuts to jobs and services.

Australia faces interesting times after close shave for the labour movement‏

Report from a UNISONActive reader in Sydney, Australia:
Australia finally has a Government following the decision by two of the three rural independents to support the Gillard Labor Government. The future stability of the Government will remain in question as it navigates an alliance with both the Greens and independents.

Building Contractor Demolished by ConDem Austerity‏

Thousands of construction workers face losing their jobs after the collapse of a company responsible for maintaining huge numbers of council houses. Connaught, which employs 10,000 staff, called in administrators KPMG last night after bankers, who are responsible for the austerity programme, refused to give the struggling group more money: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5in44Cnux4QYR2Q5HttEIo3-d9kew

Con Dem cuts the 'new poll tax' says TUC‏

Ahead of next week’s 2010 Congress, TUC General Secretary Brendan barber has issued a stark warning that the cuts being implemented by the Con Dem Government are ‘'far more radical and dangerous than we have seen since the 1930s'. http://tinyurl.com/3ac7qd7

Poison Bottle of Tory Cuts T-shirts

As part of its contribution to the fight against the coalition governments cuts offensive, the Ken Sprague Fund has produced a new T-shirt and postcards, based on Ken’s renowned ‘poison bottle’ design for the campaign against the anti-trade union laws in the eighties.

South African public services strike suspended to enable consultation on final offer‏

After 3 weeks of strike action by 1.3 million public service workers fighting for a living wage and improvement of conditions of employment, COSATU has decided to suspend the strike and its affiliates will consult on the final offer in the next 21 days.  http://tinyurl.com/3ymcm3f

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Double Whammy‏ - the joy of outsourcing

As Connaught faces going into administration, a combination of privatisation - leaving public funds open to the predations of greedy directors - and cuts,  leave housing services and the jobs of those who provide them in limbo. Edinburgh Council's flagship privatisation plans only dropped Connaught as an option a few months ago. Now, imagine if they had got the services....
Ah The Joy of Outsourcing... Living proof that the cuts will hit all areas of the economy. These needless ConDem cuts will savage public and private sector jobs alike.

And the story continues………..

Just because the Tories have forgotten the cause of this crisis doesn’t mean that we all have to.

Soyons ensemble! - General strike in France to defend pension rights‏

A general strike takes place today in France in protest at the right wing Sarkozy Government’s plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11204528 A coalition of trade unions are taking action in both the public and private sectors, and are urging the unemployed, students, young people and retired workers to join in.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The public face of a million voices‏

Today’s Morning Star interview with Dave Prentis in which UNISON GS Dave Prentis gives his take on the fight against Tory cuts:

Express keyboard warrior Leo is back on the attack‏

One week before the TUC congress and the anti union media ultras are on the attack. Ex Labour councillor turned anti union obsessive Leo McKinstry is quick to jump on the union facility time bandwagon following yesterday’s attacks by the Sunday Telegraph/Tax Dodgers’ Alliance.

Wales could be decimated by Con Dem cuts‏

A BBC investigation confirm that Wales could be more vulnerable to spending cuts than other parts of the UK because of the high proportion of people employed in the public sector:

NHS Direct campaign goes to Burston rally‏

UNISON members leafletted to save NHS Direct at the Burston Rally, Diss, Norfolk on Sunday. There was a record attendance with speakers including Tony Benn, Ed Balls and Diane Abbott. The rally takes place on the first Sunday in September and commemorates the longest running strike in British history. The strike began when teachers at the village's Church of England school, Kitty Higdon and her husband, Tom Higdon, were sacked after a dispute with the area's school management committee and schoolchildren went on strike in their support. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burston_Strike_School

Labour must abandon privatisation - Prentis‏

"We will not go back to a New Labour agenda based on privatisation, and fragmentation and globalisation that we have had over the past few years” said Dave Prentis in a no holds barred interview with the Observer newspaper yesterday. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/sep/05/david-miliband-unions-labour-leadership

How European multinationals violate labour rights in the US‏

Sodexo, Group 4, Siemens, DHL, Tesco among the firms highlighted in a new Human Rights Watch report 'As demonstrated in the cases detailed in this report, some of the largest and best-known European employers in the United States ... seem to forget their sensitivity to social responsibility concerns and much-touted public commitments to workers' rights.

Government preparing to privatise library service, warns Terence Blacker in the Independent‏

"A country's public library service is a sure indicator of how highly it values its citizens, its children and its future. There may well be a place for the new localism around the outer fringes of the service - the library is a focus of local life, after all - but, if the Government allows it to slip into decline in the hollow name of community, Ed Vaizey's promises and his boss's Big Society will be exposed as a heartless sham", writes Terence Blacker in the Independent‏  http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/terence-blacker/terence-blacker-hands-off-our-public-libraries-2057131.html

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Here we go again.Torygraph attacks public sector union rights‏

In 2010 lazy journalism is to recycle Freedom of Information requests (garnered at great public expense) and dress them up as an investigation:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/7981717/Taxpayers-spend-millions-paying-for-trade-union-activities.html

Nothing new about BBC bias and capitulation to powerful interests‏

Good coverage on the TUC’s Touchstone blog of the controversy surrounding the attendance of BBC Director General Mark Thompson at a Downing street briefing on how to spin the Con Dem Government’s austerity measures: http://www.touchstoneblog.org.uk/2010/09/bbc-cuts-coverage/

International Solidarity - the only response to Globalisation?‏

The Human Rights Watch report ‘ A Strange Case - Violations of Workers’ Freedom of Association in the United States by European Multinational Corporations’ opens the page on the monster coming over the hill for UNISON. http://www.hrw.org/node/92719

Anatomy of Migration by Rani Drew‏

Older than time, migration is the story
of survival. Change and betterment,
desire and dreams put motion into feet.