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

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:
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:

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

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.