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

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Ballot: What’s good for the Lib Dem goose…

Danny Alexander has hailed a Lib Dem councillor’s election in Inverness on a 26.8% turnout, a 0.3% majority and less than a third of the electorate’s first preference. Will he now hail a UNISON pensions ballot majority of 73% in Scottish local government on a 32% turnout? Or indeed a 33% turnout in NHS Scotland with an 88% yes vote?

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine - live on-line today

Today the South Africa session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine can be watched live on line from 10am. If you want to view contributions from Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Stephane Hessel, John Dugard, Michael Mansfield, Vavi, Mairead Maguire, Jeff Halper, Jamal Juma'a, Haneen Zoabi and many others go to: http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/

Qantas shows there's nothing fair about Australia's Fair Work Act

The TUC reports on the response of Australian unions to last week's Qantas lock out through the ACTU trade union centre:
Whilst it's necessary to expose the corporation's machinations it isn't the whole story. As in the UK, Australian trade unions operate under restrictive labour laws and what this case highlights is the legislated right of employers to lock out workers!

Honda's Right Hand Works Hard by Jennifer Cooke

sibilance for mascu-doric
shoulder blades dehiscing
over Threadneedle Street
the machines that make
dancing are stilled red
one journo in / one out
tick tick thrice-crossed by
anti-trade union ligature
tearing enough cerumen
from the kitchen DAB
greasing his column inch
remote in one-way windows
diamonds snagging skin
fall downstream this May
while pea soup is eternal
smeared sideways to seal
flies to the cheap metal pan


Friday, 4 November 2011

Pensions - the real story behind tabloid tosh

The hawks will now start to circle, regurgitating the bile to undermine the democratic right of all workers to withdraw their labour.

Vigil for the Miami 5, Thursday 1st December 2011

Outside the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London, W1 (Bond St tube): Bring candles and trade union banners to this peaceful Vigil for the Five and their families as we mark the 13th year of their unjust imprisonment. Special guests include mothers of the Miami 5: Mirta Rodriguez Perez, Irma Sehwerert Mileham and Magali Llort Ruiz. For up-to-date information and full speaker details, please visit the Vigil webpage: http://www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk/events.asp?EventID=360 

Flawed Journalism

Confusing attention seeking assertions with facts, Personnel Today is running an 'exclusive' report that the UNISON pensions industrial action ballot could be “fatally flawed:”

Thursday, 3 November 2011

30 November mobilisation begins

Dave Prentis addresses an historic joint meeting of six service group executives on the outcome of UNISON's public sector pension ballots today in London. Strike action on 30 November was unanimously endorsed.

Ballot turnout - hypocrisy of Tory attack dogs

The UNISON ballot result was greeted with predictable attacks by Tory politicians on the level of turnout. Yet two thirds of MPs (433, 66.6%) elected in 2010 did not have the support of a majority of voters – as highlighted on the map of ‘minority mandates’ published by the Electoral Reform Society: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/minority-mandates

It's a huge YES to pensions strike

Members of UNISON, the UK’s largest union, have today voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action to protect their pensions.

DOCAS now on Tory radar

Pressure by right wing ultras recently led to a Government review being initiated of the right to paid time off for trade union duties. Their attention is now shifting to the payroll check off arrangements whereby union subscriptions are deducted at source (DOCAS).

In Place of Austerity

A new book IN PLACE OF AUSTERITY: Reconstructing the economy, state and public services, uncovers the realities of commissioning, localism, ‘big society’ empowerment fraud, and the systematic undermining of public services and the welfare state. It exposes the scale of disempowerment, dispossession and disinvestment, and analyses the dominant rationale, which continues to underpin the financialisation and personalisation of public services, accelerating marketisation and privatisation on an unprecedented scale.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Con Dem concessions as UNISON members await strike ballot outcome

On the eve of UNISON’s ballot result announcement, the Government has announced improvements to some aspects of its framework proposals for public sector pension reforms. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15549321 Full details of the Treasury proposals on public sector pensions can be read here: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/press_120_11.htm UNISONActive analysis of the proposals, the trade union response and the ballot outcome will be published over the next few days.

Time to act on disability hate crimes

The Independent reports that an all party group of MP's are calling for tougher sentences for hate crimes committed against disabled people, thus putting such offences on the same footing as acts of violence motivated by race, religion or sexual orientation: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/mps-call-for-tougher-sentences-for-hate-crimes-6255903.html

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Northern A ‘Better Way’... Forum for the Alternative 11-13 Nov

North 'Better Way' young people's workshop

The new Irish President

The election of Michael D Higgins as President of the Republic of Ireland will help lift some of the doom and gloom across the Irish sea. A socialist and Republican, Higgins has never been afraid to articulate his radical vision: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/

Commenting on his election victory the Irish Times said that the outcome was a vindication for Mr. Higgins's distinct personal values. "He is a politician who has displayed single-mindedness, a voice for the oppressed and disadvantaged, and a supporter of campaigns that sometimes ran contrary to the populist view - but always calibrated by standards of justice and the public interest. Most significantly, given the office he will hold, he articulates a vision for our Republic, tangible optimism in relation to its future and an acute sense of place with culture at its heart".

A poet as well as a politician Higgins's words seemed apt on the occasion of his success

"We make an affirmation.
The stuff of hope beckons.
Out of the darkness we step,
And blink into the new light."


'Occupy LSX' protest has finger on pulse of UK pay gap

"The research shows that if you want to do something about rebalancing inequality you have to take on the financial sector, and that what we're seeing in the Occupy protests," comments Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, on research which shows that the very highest earners have seen the fastest growth in their wages, with the top 1 percent's pay packet growing 68 percent faster than that of the median earner from 1977 to 2002: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/11/01/uk-britain-inequality-idUKTRE7A000T20111101

The 21st Century money trick - converting the bankers 'bail out' to 'public debt'

Ahead of the G20 summit, ITUC leader Sharan Burrow pulls no punches as she surveys the state of the global economy and growing public discontent with the political elite – ‘what is common is recoil at the excesses of the world's financial institutions that appear committed to a form of Mutually Assured Destruction in their pursuit of profits. They over-reached, got bailed out by governments and created the crippling public debt crisis, particularly in Europe, that now threatens the security and quality life of ordinary workers around the globe’ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sharan-burrow/g20-cannes-financial-regulation-_b_1067017.html

ILO World of Work Report 2011 - heading for abyss of mass unemployment

In a grim analysis issued on the eve of the G20 leaders summit, the International Labour Organization (ILO) says the global economy is on the verge of a new and deeper jobs recession that will further delay the global economic recovery and may ignite more social unrest in scores of countries. http://www.ilo.org/global/publications/ilo-bookstore/order-online/books/WCMS_166021/lang--en/index.htm

Monday, 31 October 2011

UNISON President tells Canadian health care workers: Beware of privatisation!

Eleanor Smith, UNISON President addressed the health care sector conference of CUPE, Canada's largest public service union, yesterday in Vancouver.

A useful overview of public service pension reforms

This week will be a momentous one in the history of UNISON - with the results of the pensions industrial ballot being announced on Thursday. An impressive research briefing on reform of the UK's six largest public sector pension schemes has been published by the Commons Library. Three of the schemes include UNISON members being balloted for action - the Civil Service, NHS and the Local Government Pension Scheme (The Armed Forces, Police and Teachers being the others) http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/SN05768   

Striking while the iron is hot

Gregor Gall writes topically in the Morning Star about the various tactical options available to unions when mounting strike action: ‘The effectiveness of any industrial action will depend to a large extent upon the tactics deployed and whether they increase leverage over the employers or government and whether they maintain or lose public support’: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/111265

John Ross 1955-2011

John Ross, UNISON stalwart, a dedicated Labour politician, and a friend to so, so many, died aged 56 on 22 October 2011. He worked for Edinburgh District Council, then the City of Edinburgh Council for almost 38 years. He was a senior activist in the NALGO Edinburgh City Branch and then in the UNISON City of Edinburgh Branch until his death. He had been Scottish vice-chair of NALGO.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Tory 'cast-iron' pledge to protect the NHS melts into air

Analysis from the House of Commons Library confirms that the Conservative Party has broken a pre-election 'cast-iron' pledge to protect the NHS. Official figures show that health service spending fell in real terms in the coalition's first year: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/cameron-has-broken-castiron-pledge-to-protect-the-nhs-official-figures-show-2377780.html

Monopoly by Paul Farley

We sat like slum landlords around the board
buying each other out with fake banknotes,
until we lost more than we could afford,
or ever hope to pay back. Now our seats
are empty — one by one we left the game
to play for real, at first completely lost
in this other world, its building sites, its rain;
but slowly learned the rules and made our own,
stayed out of jail and kept our noses clean.
And now there's only me — sole freeholder
of every empty office space in town,
and from the quayside I can count the cost
each low tide brings — the skeletons and rust
of boats, cars, hats, boots, iron, a terrier.