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

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Mentioned in Dispatches – Wikileaks Cables & UK Unions

The latest cachet of US diplomatic cables published on line by Wikileaks includes several references to UK unions including UNISON. In particular they reveal that the highly effective union boycott of Hilton hotels in 2007 led to concern by the hotel group that ‘a conflict between US sanctions on Cuba and UK law banning discrimination, has instructed its employees not to violate local UK law, putting them on a potential collision course with US law’ http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/02/07LONDON780.html

A subsequent cable reported in some detail on the principled, internationalist stance taken by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, GMB and UNISON: http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/06/07LONDON2340.html

UNISON’s 2006 anti-privatisation NHS Logistics Strike was the subject of a detailed report back to Washington DC (as well as American consulates in Northern Ireland and Scotland) and included information gleaned from UNISON officials: http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/09/06LONDON6853.html

A US Embassy political evaluation of the 2006 Trades Union Congress referred to UK unions alternately pursuing ‘enlightened and narrow self interest’ and reports that the ‘moderate General Secretary of the TUC, Brendan Barber, faces increasing difficulty holding the trades union movement near the political center, as a powerful core of big unions pulls it left’. http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/09/06LONDON6761.html

Almost two years on Brendan might have cause to reflect on a later US Embassy cable, transmitted in December 2009, headed ’Union Leader: Conservative Victory No Disaster’ - ‘If the Tories were to win, trade unions do not expect a return to the Thatcherite days of hostility to labor, when she called unions the ‘enemies from within’ stated Barber’: http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/12/09LONDON2770.html

15 months on from the election we have public spending cuts, mass redundancies, a long term public sector pay freeze, pension attacks, systemic privatisation, NHS fragmentation, welfare benefit cuts etc - plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!