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

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Tories Kettled at Troon

Over 1,000 STUC demonstrators against youth unemployment kettled Tory delegates attending Scottish Conference in Troon as they tried to leave for lunch today. Speaking at the demo, Mike Kirby, UNISON Scotland Secretary and STUC President, condemned this week's budget as "tax cuts for the rich few while a whole generation is consigned to mass unemployment because of crazy austerity economics".

Deregulation of Health & Safety will cost workers' lives

The budget day announcement that the UK Government will 'scrap or improve 84% of Health and Safety regulation' and legislate this year to weaken employer liability in civil law is a classic neo-liberal move to transfer the risks and costs of death, illness and injury from employers to workers.

The Think Tank Song by Michael Silverstein

For many long years I felt ineffectual
A misunderstood and ignored intellectual
My theories (though brilliant) were hooted and hissed
By colleagues and others their value dismissed.

Friday, 23 March 2012

SERCO secure £140m Social Care Contract in Suffolk

The privatisation steamroller rumbles on. SERCO - a company castigated for its treatment of asylum seekers' children in detention centres across the UK - is continuing its eating up of public services. In a taste of what’s to come now the Health and Social Care Bill is finally on the statute book, outsourcing giant SERCO has been named preferred bidder for a £140m, three-year contract to provide community health services for NHS Suffolk.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

UNISON to ballot health members over pensions

Union News reports that UNISON is to ballot its 450,000 health members over the government’s proposals for a new NHS pension scheme. The ballot will begin on the 11th April and close on 27 April and health workers including nurses, therapists, paramedics, cooks, cleaners and porters will be asked if they want accept or reject the proposed pension agreement as the best that can be achieved through negotiations. http://union-news.co.uk/2012/03/unison-to-ballot-health-members-over-pensions/

General Strike against austerity in Portugal

Portuguese workers led by the CGTP union federation are staging a 24 hour general strike against austerity today. The BBC reports on the severe impact on working people of the economic crisis and last year’s €78bn EU bail out – massive unemployment, cuts in public spending and huge tax increases: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17471098

999 plc

It was reported yesterday that from June London Fire Brigade will outsource its emergency call handling service to Capita in a 10 year contract awarded by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority – this unprecedented move is likely to be emulated other fire services and police forces squeezed by austerity measures: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4b37c0f6-71c6-11e1-8497-00144feab49a.html

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

UNISONActive instant reaction: Don’t believe the hype – this is a budget by the wealthy for the wealthy

Today’s Guardian has a headline that the “Osborne budget is a Showcase for Coalition Values". Indeed it is. It is a budget based on the values of greed and avarice, displaying the economic sense of the proverbial dead parrot and ignorance of the devastating consequences of Tory policy on millions in this country.

A Budget Bonanza for Bent Businesses

The Guardian reports an under-current running through the budget which exposes the duplicity of the Lib Dems who are complicit in a budget settlement that will take money from the poorest to subsidize a £20 billion tax bonanza for bent businesses that avoid paying UK taxes.

UNISON escalates action in Cheshire West & Chester Council

From today UNISON members in Cheshire West and Chester Council will stop using their personal cars for work in a bid to force the Tory-led Council to re-open negotiations about imposed cuts in staff terms and conditions. Strike action is being taken for the next two Saturdays in libraries throughout the authority:

For more on the dispute read:

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Court of Appeal upholds Con Dem RPI/CPI swindle

Bad news this morning from the Court of Appeal which has backed the 2-1 High Court ruling against the joint union case that the Con Dem government had acted beyond its powers granted by the Social Security Administration Act in introducing the revised indexation formula as part of its austerity measures. The BBC reports that the Court of Appeal ruled unanimously that ‘the government would have made the switch, even if the UK's economic situation had been discounted’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17444656

Why regional pay bargaining is bad for trade union organisation, bad for women and bad for employers

The drive to regional pay is nothing new as UNISONActive warned in 2010 in its critique of a report by think-tank CentreForum which claimed that national pay systems ‘ignore local differences; handicap struggling regional economies; and make it impossible for public sector managers and institutions to cope sensibly with economic difficulties'.

Public sector pay - rolling strikes across Germany

As we grapple with the challenge posed by indefinite public sector pay freezes and the proposed break up of national bargaining in the UK, German public sector workers in UNISON's sister union ver.di are using impressive strike tactics to build pressure in support of a 6.5% or minimum €200 a month pay rise. Yesterday, in the latest in a series of 'warning strikes' across all 16 German states, refuse collectors, nursery teachers, bus and rail staff started a week long walk out across the north, primarily in Lower Saxony where 450,000 commuters were affected:  http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/116800

Monday, 19 March 2012

Attack on national pay bargaining - Forward to the 1930s

A well-known 19th century philosopher said that 'history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce'. Judging by the announcement that the coalition government plans to abolish national pay deals in the public services , he was spot on. Acceptance of the principle of national bargaining in the public services was won in 1940, but only after years of sustained campaigning by progressive trade unions.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Attack on national bargaining – the Liberal Democrats as policy drivers

The liberal think tank Centre Forum has been a prime mover in pushing the reform of pay bargaining up the agenda of the Coalition Government. Back in February 2010 it published a report by Professor Alison Wolf, ’More than we bargained for‘, which called for the abolition of national pay bargaining using arguments which are bound to feature in the Chancellor’s Budget speech next Wednesday: http://www.centreforum.org/assets/pubs/more-than-we-bargained-for.pdf

Attack on national bargaining – unfinished business from Thatcher era

The fact that national pay bargaining survived 18 years of Tory rule between 1979 and 1997 can be attributed to the strength of public sector unions at that time rather than any lack of ideological commitment on the part of the Tories to break up pay bargaining in general let alone national pay machinery in the public sector.

Soon by Harry Newman

soon the generals
will have their way

and killing will begin
again the modern kind
distant and televised