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

Saturday, 1 October 2011

We will win, Benn tells 15,000 in Glasgow

Tony Benn told 15,000 'People First' marchers in Glasgow today that 'we will win' in the fight against cuts. UNISON Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby, this year's STUC President, praised the trade unions, community groups, faith groups and wider public who had braved the torrential rain to get their message across. "You are the real big Society", he told them. UNISON members turned out in their thousands, supported by Eleanor Smith, UNISON President. http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/publicworks/1oct.html

12 week qualifying period undermines new Agency Workers Rights

Today new regulations come into force giving agency workers no less favourable treatment in pay, holidays and working time. In other EU member states equal rights for agency workers apply from day one. However in Britain the TUC conceded a 12 week qualifying period to overcome the resistance of big business and the (then) Labour Government to the Directive. The Mirror examines the loopholes which this concession will create: http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2011/09/new-law-on-equal-pay-for-temps.html

Pleasures by Bertolt Brecht

The first view from the window in the morning
The old book found again
Enthusiastic faces
Snow, the turning of the seasons
The newspaper
The dog
The dialectics
To shower, to swim
Old music
Comfortable shoes
To grasp
New music
To write, to plant
To travel
To sing
To be friendly.


Friday, 30 September 2011

Work till you drop – a cause for celebration?

Tomorrow marks the end of the UK's default retirement age (DRA) and the TUC welcomes the scrapping of what it regards as an ‘unfair anachronism in modern workplaces’ – but in a country with over 2.5m unemployed, the longest working hours in Europe as well as (post-Hutton) pension benefits linked to a rising state pension age –is this really social progress? http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-20099-f0.cfm

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Robin Hood tax - Unintended Consequences?

The European Commission yesterday agreed to consider a proposal to introduce a tax on financial transactions to raise money to pay back government debt and improve the functioning of markets. A so called ‘Robin Hood’ tax on financial transactions will hit pensions funds and Undertakings for Collective Investments in Transferable Securities (UCITS) funds hard, the Investment Management Association (IMA) has warned.  http://www.ifaonline.co.uk/ifaonline/news/2112815/eu-robin-hood-tax-hit-pension-funds-ima

The Pump House Manifesto for a Visionary Alternative

The despair at the lack of Labour’s vision for a progressive agenda led (unapologetically) to the pub – the Pump House in fact at Liverpool Albert Docks. Sitting with a couple of good comrades we decided that if Ed the Moribund couldn’t commit to change then we would start the ball rolling. Accepting that this is not about a revolution tomorrow (the nearest we got to that was scribbling this on a copy of the Morning Star) it is an attempt to talk in language voters will get.

Health & Social Care Bill remains a one way street to privatisation

UNISON NEC member James Anthony told Labour Party Conference that, despite cosmetic changes, “the predators that Ed spoke of in his speech are circling the NHS ready to use Any Willing Provider and competition law to force even well intentioned local commissioners to privatise services. And they are removing the private patient income cap. As Tory austerity bites, waiting lists are growing, and now those that can pay will be allowed to jump the queue.” http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2458

Nurses Protest at NHS Mental Health Cuts

Nurses, Therapists and Doctors employed at South West London & St George's Mental Health NHS Trust will be involved in a UNISON organised lunchtime protest at Springfield Hospital, South London today to draw attention to massive cuts in NHS mental health services. The protest is timed to coincide with the Trust Board's AGM.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Unions have vision for jobs, growth and prosperity

A couple of days at the Labour Party Conference proved to be frustrating. The spectacle of a Labour leadership so cowed by the Tory attacks in the right wing media that they failed to provide any articulation of what they were really about.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Labour delegates hear about advances in Cuba & Venezuela

At a packed conference fringe tonight in Liverpool a glittering array of speakers talked of the importance of fighting for social justice, solidarity and internationalism. The effect of dragging people out of poverty can never be diminished as long as it is understood and supported by the will of the people, as has been so clearly demonstrated by Cuba and Venezuela.

Strikes before ballots?

As Ed Miliband read out a list of concessions to Thatcherism during his leader’s speech, he referred to the outlawing of the closed shop and "strikes before ballots”, no doubt intending to signal support for the legal straightjacket in which successive Tory governments placed UK unions (which was accepted by Labour when in power).

Pan-European action against austerity?

Dave Prentis floats the idea of Europe-wide co-ordinated action against austerity in a conference interview with Reuters: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/09/26/uk-britain-unions-prentis-idUKTRE78P5IQ20110926?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&rpc=401

Fund mergers essential for survival of LGPS

It is “completel​y mad” that there are 34 public sector pension funds in London alone and 100 local ones across England, Scotland and Wales says Mike Taylor the Chief Executive of the London Pension Fund Authority. The debate about the future of the Local Government Pension Scheme has an elephant in the room - fund mergers!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Pensions - UNISON "expects the support of this Party & its Leader"

Dave Prentis, UNISON GS, moving composite 2 on Public Services, won two standing ovations when he called on the Labour leadership to back public sector workers in our fight for fair pensions. Dave noted that very demand had been unscrupulously omitted from the composite. Prior to the debate Dave had set out the UNISON position on the LabourList blog:

Mixed message from Balls on Public Sector Pensions

In his speech today at the Labour Party Conference, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls MP described the Con Dem Government’s approach to pensions as ‘confrontational and unfair’ but was equivocal on the upcoming industrial action to resist the imposed changes ‘there is nothing George Osborne would like better than a strike this autumn to divert attention from his failing economic plan… we know too that there are difficult decisions on pensions which we cannot duck and that under Labour contributions and the retirement age would be rising too’: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/8789445/Labour-Party-Conference-Ed-Balls-speech-in-full.html

Pensions Campaign – Stand Firm Vote Yes for Industrial Action!

#Nov30 By voting yes in large numbers we will do three critical things:
· We send a powerful message to government
· We show solidarity with all public sector unions balloting or preparing for industrial action on November 30th
· We give negotiators new strength to support our demands

Trade unionism is vital in any society and we are proud of our union link – Peter Hain

Although he was winding up a series of endorsements - rather than a debate - on the Refounding Labour proposals, Shadow Welsh secretary Peter Hain MP yesterday gave a welcome reaffirmation of the Labour-Union link, albeit with a curious emphasis on ‘individual trade unionists’:

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Stage theory and the erosion of union influence in Labour leadership elections

"Stage theory" relates to cognitive development but can be applied beyond psychology to describe phenomena more generally where multiple phases lead to an outcome. It might be argued that the acquiescence of unions since 1993 in the erosion of our (hard fought for) collective influence in Labour Party leadership elections is a case in point: http://blogs.channel4.com/gary-gibbon-on-politics/miliband-to-offer-deal-to-the-trade-unions/16538

The game is up: the age of neo-liberal finance is over. But Where is the Left's Plan B?

As the economic crisis precipitated by the 2008 banking collapse intensifies as a crisis of the whole of our debt based money system where are the left's alternatives? Neither the Labour Party or the Trade Unions were able to articulate a solution to solve our major economic and social problems, outside of berating bankers bonuses and calling for more tax collection.

The War Horse by Eavan Boland

This dry night, nothing unusual
About the clip, clop, casual