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

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Collapse in Tory Party membership under Cameron confirms a trend‏

During the recent ‘conference season’ media comments on the decline in trade union membership were ubiquitous – particularly with reference to British trade union movement’s high water mark of 13.3m members in 1979. However union membership continues to dwarf political party membership – which is rapidly in decline.

Afghanistan by Paul Muldoon‏

It's getting dark, but not dark enough to see
An exit wound as an exit strategy.

Campaign festival launched in Scotland

UNISON Scotland is launching 'Mobilise', a 'Campaign Skills Festival’ comprising short and linked modules on trade union history, political education, econcomis, campaigning, media, new media, researching, videos, public speaking and organising. Working jointly with Communications and Campaigns colleagues, the event from 19-21 November will tap into the huge range of skills and knowledge from lay and full time officers across the Region.

Facing the attacks on our jobs and services means there is an unprecedented need for branch activists to develop skills to run effective local campaigns; to deal with the media (both traditional and new); to engage effectively with members and with community groups and with the public. The event will consist of practical workshops where new skills can be learned and existing ones practised.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Photo: 200 attend UNISON London Health Training Conference

200 delegates attended today's UNISON Greater London Health Training Conference. Dave Prentis (under the second 'O') is pictured with participants spelling out the message "Our NHS, Our Future".

$1.29 trillion -that's what I call a budget deficit!‏

Reuters reports that at $1.29 trillion, the United States ran up its second-highest budget deficit since World War Two in the fiscal year that ended September 30. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69658Y20101007 An interesting analogy from mathematician John Allen Paulos (Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences) makes tangible the scale of the ‘superpower’s’ debt – ‘it takes 11½ days for 1 million seconds to pass but 32 years for 1 billion seconds to pass. And it takes 32,000 years for 1 trillion seconds to pass…..’

Massive support for public sector strike in Greece‏

Another national strike was held in Greece yesterday in protest at austerity measures. The FT reports that ‘the strike resulted in some government and tax offices being shut while public hospitals and ministries worked with emergency staff. Many flights to and from Greek airports were cancelled as air traffic controllers joined the civil servants’ strike for four hours.’ Spyros Papaspyros, leader of ADEDY union said “the allocation of the government’s austerity measures continues to be against the salaried workers and pensioners,” adding wage cuts lead to less consumption spending and a deeper recession.

NHS: Burnham says Labour's grassroots can fight back

In June, a respected international think tank gave this verdict on the NHS: the 2nd best health care system in the world and top on efficiency. This is the final word on Labour’s NHS. But it's all at risk. 13 years of careful work - staked on the roll of a dice, warns Andy Burnham in a call for united opposition to ConDem plans http://www.labourlist.org/nhs-reforms-how-labours-grassroots-can-fight-back

Health minister's links with health insurance industry

"2020Health, the centre right think tank with close links to health secretary Andrew Lansley – and which was out in force at the Conservative party conference – is chaired by the CEO of a huge global network of health insurers. 2020Health chairman, Tom Sackville – a former Conservative minister – is CEO of the International Federation of Health Plans, which represents 100 private health insurance companies in 31 countries", reports guest writer Tamasin Cave on LeftFootForward http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/10/andrew-lansley-private-health-insurance-industry-links-exposed/

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Hutton Report - You Will Pay More Now (but expect more pain later)‏

Summary of key points

- Past pension earnings to be protected
- Pension contributions should rise this October
- Workers are living longer this is the key pension problem
- No such thing as gold plated pensions
- No race to the bottom - will not recommend private sector solution, ie no pension
- But rising costs must be met by a structural over haul - see below
- Retirement age should rise to 65 for all
In other words, pay more, work longer and get less! http://www.lgcplus.com/5020210.article

No Cameron, Spare Us The Rhetoric: An Open Letter to David Cameron on reading that Conference Speech

In proposing a reply to one’s opponents, in the best Oxbridge tradition, it is traditional to start by finding at least one flattering thing to say of them. This letter is in more of a Roman tradition. I come not to praise Caesar but to bury him.

Decent Work Day - today and every day‏

Today trade unions across the world are mobilising to tackle the global economic and employment crisis and demand fundamental reform of the world economy. Events can be followed on a dedicated website: http://www.wddw.org/In the UK, the TUC is marking the day with a night of politics, comedy, music and poetry. Featuring the comedy of Shappi Khorsandi, and with contributions from Kat Banyard, author of the equality illusion, and Andrew Simms, Policy Director of the New Economics Foundation. Guest speaker is Z.M. Kamrul Anam, leader of the Bangladeshi textile workers movement, at the forefront of the national campaign to give garment workers - some of the worst paid in the world - a living wage. Performance poetry from Luke Wright and soulful music from Fanfara

ACAS cautions against more anti-union laws‏

Peter Harwood, ACAS chief conciliator, has criticised plans to introduce a threshold of 50% turnout for industrial action ballots: "the risk is that if you make balloting too difficult you will get back to where we were in the 1970s and people will take unofficial action. If people feel strongly about something they will walk out."

Con Dem rethink on pace of cuts?‏

In what may be a vindication of union criticism of Con Dem deficit reduction plans, the FT reports today that are afoot to delay public spending cuts: “The Treasury insisted there was absolutely no change in the government’s economic strategy of eliminating the current structural deficit within a parliament….but would not confirm that the spending review on October 20 would maintain the £23bn spending cuts in 2011-12, rising to £83bn a year cuts by 2014-15. This week it has already become clear that many of the cuts will be difficult to start in 2011-12.” http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6d914844-d18a-11df-96d1-00144feabdc0.html

Cameron celebrates cuts with £3,000 bottle of wine‏

"What will be the abiding image of the 2010 Conservative conference? The row over child benefit? David Cameron's triumphant platform wave? Or might it be a very expensive bottle of wine?", writes Michael White in guardian.co.uk http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/06/conservative-party-conference-diary#history-link-box

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

NEC Report - Defending Public Services‏

“We must organise our union to have one mindset about what is happening in this country and to challenge it in everything we are doing” was the powerful message delivered by Dave Prentis when introducing the report on Defending Public Services at UNISON’s National Executive meeting today.

UNISON riposte to Dispatches et al‏

The Municipal Journal has published this week a detailed response by Dave Prentis to recent attacks on unions in the media, notably on Channel 4’s Dispatches. Full text below:

Hutton & Public Sector Pensions - What Changes Will He Recommend Tomorrow - Will the ConDems Ignore Them?‏

Tomorrow at 8am former Labour Secretary of State for Work and Pensions will fire the gun in the opening battle to defend our pension provision. You will be able to read it here..….

NHS White Paper carries significant social risks - NPC‏

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) has produced a comprehensive briefing on the NHS White Paper: http://www.npcuk.org/publications/NHS%20White%20Paper%20Briefing.doc

Tories cut & run!‏

The Guardian reports that plans by the so called Big Society Network to launch David Cameron's "big society" through a series of public meetings have been abandoned after the first event held in Stockport ended in ‘acrimonious exchanges over spending cuts’. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/oct/05/big-society-meetings-cancelled-cuts-anger

The poor got whacked by Osbornes' cuts

In a letter to Tory MPs, Chancellor Osborne admits something about the Emergency Budget that he was loathe to admit at the time (despite the IFS's verdict that it was regressive): the poor got whacked.reports Paul Waugh in the Standard. http://waugh.standard.co.uk/2010/10/osbornes-message-to-troops-dont-panic.html  "I made £11 billion of savings from other parts of the welfare system, many of which affected people on lower incomes," Osborne says.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Osborne in Birmingham - Lies and More Lies

George Osborne gave his economic speech in Birmingham yesterday lying to the Tory party and lying to the British people. It would be too kind to say that his take on the state of the economy was an ideological statement-though it was. His comments on the state of the economy fly in the face of the known facts.

Attack on universal benefits‏

The Tories played a blinder rushing out the announcements on reforms to child benefits which explains Danny Alexander’s late night appearance in the corridors of the ICC on Sunday. Clearly he had turned up to be patted on the head and his fearfully furrowed brow smoothed by assurances that this was a ‘progressive’ way forward to protect the poorest.

Compass Medirest Workers vote for strike ballots‏

UNISON members working at both Southampton University Hospital Trust and at Buckinghamshire NHS Hospitals at Wycombe and Amersham have voted at mass meetings to be balloted for strike action.http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/8428384.Strike_threat_by_Southampton_hospital__cleaners/

Tories "laid out plans to betray rural communities"

Mike Walker, editor of the progressive rural journal Country Standard, has condemned Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman's speech on rural issues to Tory party conference as "a manifesto of someone interested in sitting in an arm chair and sipping a gin and tonic in Whitehall rather than a Minister who is will roll up their sleeves and fight on behalf of rural communities"

Murdoch converts on immigration?

In a move which didn’t pass unnoticed by lovers of irony, Rupert Murdoch departed from the fevered anti-immigration rhetoric pumped out by his very own Fox News this week to argue in favour of amnesty for “illegals”, ahem sorry, ”responsible, law abiding immigrants who are in the US without proper authority”. Under questioning from Democrat congresswoman, Maxine Waters, Murdoch – himself an immigrant from Australia – claimed that: “We are not anti-immigrant on Fox News”. MediaMatters for America unfolds the tale.... http://mediamatters.org/research/201010010027

Final day to get NHS responses in

Today is the final day to get your response into the Government's white paper. Tell them the drive to hand over large parts of the NHS to the private sector is driven by ideology, not by evidence. Click here for a model response on UNISONActive

The Joy of Outsourcing - again

From a reader: Interesting Liverpool Echo report about BT having their snouts in the public trough... http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2010/09/29/finance-select-committee-chairman-demands-answers-over-secret-liverpool-direct-limited-report-100252-27361424/  With a smilar deal being put together in lancashire (and who knows where else) hat tip (as I believe they say on the interweb) to Paul at Though Cowards Flinch http://thoughcowardsflinch.com/2010/10/01/outsourcing-and-democracy-the-liverpool-direct-scandal/

Monday, 4 October 2010

Workers' rights under attack - CBI/ Tory pincer move to tighten union straitjacket‏

The Con Dem Government is less than 6 months old and already pressure is building up for a further round of anti union laws. Labour’s shameful legacy of leaving Thatcherite laws on industrial action fully intact is insufficient for ungrateful hawks in employer and Tory ranks whose ultimate aim is to negate the right to strike:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/borisjohnson/8040306/Boris-Johnson-we-need-new-laws-to-stop-wave-of-strikes.html

Unions hold the key to transforming politics‏

Hilary Wainwright writing on the Guardian website urges Labour leader Ed Miliband to engage with trade unions in order to succeed in his mission to transform British politics: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/03/ed-miliband-trade-unions

ETUC Day of Action - Newcastle Rally‏

Video of closing comments by Clare Williams UNISON Northern regional convenor: "The fight starts here" http://www.shakewellbeforeopening.org.uk/home/?p=273

Sunday, 3 October 2010

One Nation Working Together - report‏

Report from a UNISONActive reader in Washington DC: Union members, students, peace and environmental activists, and advocates for immigrant rights travelled from across the country yesterday to gather for a mass demonstration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. The extremely diverse crowd was pulled together by speakers on the platform calling for Americans to stand together as "One Nation" -- against the right-wing extremism of personalities like Fox News' Glenn Beck and the Tea Partiers, as well as demanding the Obama Administration to bring about "The Change I Voted For."

"We March for Hope, Not Hate!" says AFL-CIO‏

Addressing nearly 200,000 ‘one nation working together’ marchers assembled in Washington DC yesterday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “America is here today. America is One Nation and we signify that nation. Behind the voices of fear and hatred that have risen to dominate out national conversation are the forces of greed, the moneyed powers that put us in the economic mess we’re in today. And we’ve got a lot of work to do to repair the damage that greed did to our country.” http://blog.aflcio.org/2010/10/02/america-is-one-nation-and-we-signify-that-nation/

Who are the real 'vested interests' in health, education and welfare?‏

“We are being radical; we are taking on vested interests in areas like health and education and welfare” said Prime Minister David Cameron in a pre-Conference interview with historian Simon Schama in this weekend’s FT magazine: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/c09c43d6-cb72-11df-95c0-00144feab49a.html

Fallin Lives by Mike Jenkins‏

This factree's grindin me dead,
it's pummellin me down,
it's got metal treads,
my skin's jest dust.