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

Saturday, 24 December 2011

#N30 - Treasury briefing on the £500mn Damp Squib

Following a Freedom of Information request to the Treasury, a breakdown of the Government's £500 million estimate of the cost of the 30 November strike in defence of public sector pensions is available on line:

LGPS agreement is a victory - Socialist Unity blog

Andy Newham takes issue with those who claim that this week’s LGPS deal constitutes a defeat - ‘given the comment from some on the left, it might seem surprising to claim that this result is a victory, but I think they have both misunderstood the specific arguments about the LGPS, and also misjudged the political and industrial situation. Unfortunately, pension arrangements are an inherently complex and technical topic’

Christmas Legend by Bertolt Brecht

On Christmas Eve today
All of us poor people stay
Huddled in this chilly stack
The wind blows in through every crack.
Dear Jesus, come to us, now see
How sorely we have need of thee.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Tory campaign against union reps belies their contempt for democracy

Solomon Hughes, writing in the Morning Star, juxtaposes Tory MP Priti Patel’s support for the tyrannical Bahraini regime with her crusade against the workplace rights of trade union representatives:

24 hour public sector strike in Belgium

Yesterday Belgian trade unionists shut down schools, post offices and the national rail network as part of campaign to stop the new ‘socialist’ led Government from putting public sector pensions on a par with the private sector. Trade unions are involved in fighting attacks on workers living standards all over Europe. International links between unions are needed more than ever: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/

Trade union rights are human rights – John Hendy QC

Union News interviews John Hendy QC on the occasion of Liberty bestowing him with a well deserved lifetime achievement award. Asked how difficult it is to represent unions given the anti union laws prevalent in the UK, Hendy characteristically replies that ‘it’s not particularly difficult. Compared to the risks faced by lawyers and trade unionists in Colombia it’s child’s play really’ http://union-news.co.uk/2011/12/video-john-hendy-barrister-to-the-unions/

Thursday, 22 December 2011

4 Community Budget pilots confirmed – time to organise

The Government has announced that in 4 large areas public bodies are to be given the chance to pool budgets across all local public services – thus posing a major organising challenge to UNISON over the next 10 years – building workplace power to secure in house service delivery as the public service structures in England are transformed:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/dec/22/councils-local-public-services-budgets The local authority areas selected for the pilots are:

LGPS impasse over – union consultation begins

Following the withdrawal of Tuesday’s letter by DCLG Minister Eric Pickles - which was seen as undermining the framework agreement for taking forward negotiations on the LGPS, UNISON will be consulting on the proposals - which ward off the 1.5% pension contribution increases due to commence next April: http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2559

Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy

Book launch with Ben White - author and activist Thursday, 26 January 2012, 6.30pm – 8.00pm at Amnesty International UK, The Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA. Discussion followed by Q and A and reception - signed copies will be available to buy The event is free and will start at 6.30pm - please ensure you book to reserve your tickets http://www.amnesty.org.uk/benwhitebooklaunch

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

NHS Pension Scheme: final proposals published

Details of the Government’s final offer to NHS unions has been published with confirmation that 70% of UNISON members will not pay increased contributions in 2012/13 (thus avoiding the 1.5% increase due to be implemented next April under previously agreed ’cap and share’ arrangements’).
Key points of the offer are set out below: http://www.unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=7505

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

LGPS – ‘Deficit Tax’ Increased Contributions Averted

In October the DCLG commenced a formal consultation on increased employee contributions for LGPS scheme members in England and Wales - proposing increased contributions for all scheme members in posts with FTE salaries over £15,000 - rising from 1.5% for those earning under £21,000 to a maximum of 6% for ‘high earners’. Negotiations on the LGPS have successfully averted the DCLG’s proposed increases – which were due to be phased in between April 2012 and April 2014. http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/pensionconsultation

Monday, 19 December 2011

Tax Avoidance: Finding who's not paying what

An NAO report shows about a third of the UK’s largest companies paid no corporation tax at all. But they won’t tell us who they are. http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/0607/management_of_large_business_c.aspx

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Ultra left sows disunity as pensions negotiations enter critical phase

It is a sad reflection on the lack of integrity of certain unions present at Thursday's TUC Public Services Liaison Group (PSLG) meeting on public sector pensions, that lies and misrepresentations emanating from their ranks have been allowed to go unchallenged. Two basic facts about the PSLG meeting need to be stated:

Union bashing 'Nazi stag party' MP is sacked

Aidan Burley, the disgraced far right Tory MP who is leader of the anti- union Trade Union Reform Campaign has been sacked as PPS to the Transport Minister. A welcome development but surely this proto-fascist should be removed from Parliament? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nazi-stag-party-mp-is-sacked-6278863.html

How marginalised are trade unions in the UK?

Jerry Latter of Ipsos/MORI has written a short article on surprising opinion survey findings that the public view the public sector strikes as relatively unimportant in answering the question 'what are the most important issues facing Britain today?' Whilst the article doesn't give the alternative answers that the public gave, it does help us to reflect on the findings: http://www.ipsos-mori.com/newsevents/blogs/thepoliticswire/962/Igniting-the-squib-public-opinion-on-strikes-and-trade-unions.aspx

The 20179th by András Mezei

Like ink on the blotting paper, the number
tattooed in Auschwitz splinters and spreads
on the inside of my lower left arm
when I ride the tram in the summer
and, forgetting myself, I happen
to reach up in my short-sleeved shirt
to hang on to the strap.

* * * * *

May I never lift my right arm
if I forget the mark on my left.