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

Saturday, 7 April 2012

4 Day Easter weekend strike in Cheshire West & Chester Council

In an escalation of the long running dispute over imposed cuts in pay and conditions at Cheshire West and Chester Council, all UNISON members have been called to strike from 6 April 2012 to 9 April 2012 inclusive. Those on strike include library staff, home care workers, housing network staff, civil enforcement officers, park rangers, central control officers, CCTV officers, streetscene operatives, children's home staff, social workers and family support workers.

GMB and Unite members are also taking part in the action. The Council's threat of an injunction to stop the strike was resisted by the union in the days leading up to Good Friday.

The Easter Rising by John F McCullagh

The Proclamation had met with silence,
he must have known the fight was lost,
But, Connolly, faithful to the Cause,
Was accepting of its cost.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Australian Health Services Union in crisis

The 77,000 strong Health Services Union (HSU) was suspended from the Australian council of trade unions (ACTU) yesterday as speculation mounts that an impending internal audit will find extensive irregularities. ACTU secretary, Jeff Lawrence, said the HSU needed to clean itself out, "this decision has been made to send a clear message to the national executive of the HSU that it must demonstrate it has a plan to deal with governance and financial management issues."

Cosmo Wages War for Equal Pay

UNISON is supporting the campaign of Cosmopolitan magazine for compulsory equal pay audits and calling on members to sign the e-petition in support of that demand:

Thursday, 5 April 2012

So Who Takes Decisions in Europe?

UNISON has a record of questioning where democracy within the European Union lies and has consistently pointed out that the role of the European Central Bank overrides that of democratically elected politicians. Recent developments in economic policy have confirmed that the austerity programme that has been a policy reiterating a monetarist free market approach that places the wishes of bankers over the needs of the working people of Europe and has even lifted the ETUC out of its usual stupor.

Work until you drop or work smarter?

Many councils are already benefiting from a four day working weeks in areas like refuse collection. These type of arrangements avoid the back up of bank holiday bin collections by scheduling work to avoid Monday collections and expanding collection rounds on other days meaning fewer vehicles are needed. In some cases savings of £450,000 per year have been found – whilst there is a double edged sword for trade unions, as these working arrangements often also reduce overtime payments that members get used to, it also preserves jobs and generates savings. There are many more services that could be overlapped allowing better work life balance arrangements – particularly in areas such as call centre operations, but which would still meet the needs of better access to services.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

2.7m workers lose out as UK employment protection is weakened

From tomorrow, only those workers with two years continuous service will have protection against unfair dismissal and the TUC estimates 2.7m workers will be without that basic legal protection. Union membership becomes even more important for workers denied fundamental employment rights in the hire and fire jungle of the UK labour market: http://www.wired-gov.net/wg/wg-news-1.nsf/0/36738DD37D6D9E8C802579D5003497ED?OpenDocument

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Backlash begins against Union Labour Link

No sooner do we have the latest scandal of corrupt corporate funding of the Tory Party than a concerted attempt is being made by to undermine the Union Labour link.

Who will be watching you or listening in?

Government plans to allow security service officials at GCHQ to scrutinize who is talking to whom and exactly when the conversations are taking place on email or social media should worry all labour movement activists: http://www.guardian.co.uk/

The usual excuses of "terrorism" and "national security" have been trotted out but as the Guardian former security correspondent Richard Norton Taylor noted in the paper as far back as 2002, the government definition of terrorism and national security are and traditionally have been extremely broad, and they have enormous discretion on how they are used.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Trade Union size & character - German lessons for the UK?

The success of the 2.1m strong ver.di union in securing a 6.3 percent two year pay rise for Germany's public service workers was bad timing for the writer of a Guardian article - published on Saturday, the same day as the deal was reported - which boosted the 'rise of small unions' in the EU's largest nation:

Academies are Tory Trojan Horses

Excellent analysis of the profit motive which is driving the growth of academies and the decline of public education in the UK, by Trevor Fisher writing on the New Statesman blog. 'Academies and free schools are Trojan Horses exploited by the right of the Conservative Party. It is far from likely that they deliver better educational outcomes in the majority of cases. But they will deliver guaranteed profits as they have done in Sweden and the USA.'  http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2012/03/free-schools-profit-education

Sunday, 1 April 2012

More strike action in Cheshire West & Chester Library Service

Yesterday, for the second Saturday in succession, UNISON's library members took strike action across West Cheshire in support of the union's industrial campaign against pay cuts imposed by a Tory led Council which is sitting on over £20m reserves.

Bick's tribute to Bill Wedderburn

On Friday a funeral service took place in London to mark the death of Lord Bill Wedderburn QC, a renowned labour lawyer who died on 9 March 2012. Rodney Bickerstaffe former General Secretary of UNISON gave the following tribute to Bill on behalf of the trade union movement:

Ballad of Jean Charles by Mike Jenkins

Jean Charles de Menezes
a Brazilian working man
came to London to find a job,
give his family hope back home.