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

Saturday, 26 November 2011

'Quietly awkward' - The Independent profiles Dave Prentis

'...if he has an ideological worldview, he keeps it hidden behind the self-effacing exterior of a professional negotiator. His politics are to the left of the Labour leadership, but the views of the people he represents, all of whom work for the public sector, and most of whom are low paid, are to the left of the rest of the general public's' http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/dave-prentis-quietly-awkward-6268165.html

Postmistress by Lorraine Mariner

My friends laughed, when the computerised psychometric test
we took at school recommended I pursue a career
as a post office clerk, thinking of the battle-axe that sat
behind the counter of the post office we’d grown up with.
But at the post office this lunchtime there was something comforting
in the firm hand pressing ink stamp to paper; the air mail stickers
were bluer than any sky I’d ever seen and I could do worse
than find myself a sub post office to manage, where I could bestow
pensions and tax discs and at first light each morning
launch my very own fleet of postmen, the best sort of men,
the ones that know the only way to live this life is free in the afternoon.

Friday, 25 November 2011

LGPS - Funding Storms on the Horizon

The key question facing negotiators on both sides of the fence is this – will the reforms drive out the scheme members, because they impose too much cost on us? For if the members leave, both the government and the unions have a large headache to come. Why? Because as income falls, as scheme members leave, costs will rise dramatically and employers will foot the bill: http://www.professionalpensions.com/professional-pensions/feature/2125228/double-whammy-lgps  

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Why the test of 'adequate' should not apply to pensions

Should we accept the test of ‘adequate’ or like the living wage, we have campaigned for, shouldn’t pensions be about providing a ‘living’ pension rather than an ‘adequate existence’ in our retirement?

shadow Cabinet or a Cabinet of shadows?

It's time for Labour to make up its mind.
Does it support pensions justice for public sector workers or not?
A generation of workers will not forgive or forget if it doesn't.

EU competition law - the driver of privatisation

'Even our banks - bailed out by the tax payer - have to be reprivatised to meet the demands of EU competition law' says Carolyn Jones, making a case in the Morning Star for a better understanding of the neo-liberal, pro-big business DNA of the European Union and its institutions: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/

Deregulation doesn't work - will they ever learn?

Even the dogs on the street know that deregulation of the banking and financial sector caused the 2008 economic crash. In the UK alone £1,270bn private banking debt was bailed out by government, swelling so called public debt by 57% in one fell swoop. Now the TUC’s Touchstone blog reports evidence from an unlikely source – the IMF – that countries with the most deregulation have the worst performing economies and are hardest hit by the economic crisis: http://touchstoneblog.org.uk/2011/11/debunking-the-deregulation-myth/

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

In-House: The Right Choice for the Right Reasons

Why the Edinburgh in-house option is 'best value'. UNISON has issued a briefing on why the In-House Environment Option is 'best value' and should be supported by councillors on 24 November: http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/citynotforsale/EnviroBriefng.pdf  . UNISON examines all the privatisation issues in a detailed briefing to councillors and urges a decision made on 'best value' for the people of Edinburgh. Check out the website for full details http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/

Con Dems to unveil Sacker's Charter

After 15 years of settled albeit inadequate employment rights in the UK, today the Con Dem coalition will unveil plans for a major attack on individual and collective workers' rights:

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Political environment & union density rates

A fascinating article on whether or not the political environment produces a correlation between union density and social democracy – that might explain why union density in neo conservative or liberal market economies like the USA and the UK continues to fall: http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publications/reports/changes-in-unionization-rates-in-rich-countries-1960-2010

Opt-in threat to trade union political funds

The long running inquiry into party funding by the Con Dem appointed Committee on Standards in Public Life is recommending that the clock be turned back 84 years and trade unionists be required to opt in rather than opt out of union political funds. Last time around this resulted in a halving of political funds:http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/nov/22/party-funding-shakeup-rejection-promises

Con Dem NHS privatisation plans exposed

Last night Channel 4 News reported on Department of Health plans which show for the first time the scale of the involvement of private companies. The proposals are set out in a document called Developing Commissioning Support: Towards Services Excellence, which has been circulated to various health organisations. http://www.channel4.com/news/proof-government-plans-to-privatise-nhs

Monday, 21 November 2011

Irish government attempts to roll back Agency Workers rights

Unions in Ireland are resisting last ditch attempts to secure their agreement to a six month qualifying period for equal treatment for agency workers (ahead of the 5 December deadline for its introduction). Elsewhere, the EU directive has been applied from day one, apart from the UK where the TUC conceded a 13 week qualifying period in 2008 to the then Labour government: http://www.icem.org/en/73-Contract-and-Agency-Labour/4773-SIPTU-Fights-Attempts-to-Dilute-EU-Agency-Workers-Directive

Bored with Maude? Strike back on 30 November!

Bungling Cabinet Office Minister and Con Dem lead pensions negotiator Francis Maude MP yesterday took advantage of an easy ride with sycophantic BBC journalist Andrew Marr to issue an ultimatum that strike action later this month could threaten the "real prospect" of a deal over public sector pension reform http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15810074

Sunday, 20 November 2011

LGBT members mobilise for action on 30 November

UNISON's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) members meeting at our conference in Glasgow have shown our commitment and resolve to fight for equality and to stick up for LGBT workers and the services we provide and rely on. In a historic moment the conference was addressed for the first time by an out gay woman Vice President of UNISON Maureen Le Marinel.

Stop cutting women out!

'Hey, Hey, Mister, Mister, Get your cuts off my sister' was the message loud and clear from yesterday's women's march against austerity which included a vocal contingent of UNISON members.The event was organised by the Fawcett Society in response to the government's cuts which will put the clock back on the advances which women have made towards equality since the 1950's: http://www.demotix.com/news/932387/women-march-london-against-turning-back-equality

Over and Under by Harriet Zinnes

Over and under,
beyond, of course.
Beneath is not disclosure.
Above is vision.
There is an arc.
There is a triangle.
There is a square,
even a rectangle,
and then the great mystery:
people people who swarm the earth,
disconsolate, searching, weeping,
occasionally loving,
more often in battle, in hunger and disease.