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

Saturday, 7 July 2012

UNISON Labour Link Forum 2012

Friday, July 06, 2012
UNISON Labour Link Forum 2012: Day 1: Picture is of Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Health Secretary and key note speaker at today's annual UNISON Labour Link Forum which this year takes place in Cardiff. Labour Link is the UNISON political fund that is affiliated to the Labour Party. Delegates to the Forum are elected regionally and from our self-organised groups. The Forum began with a welcome from National Chair, Steve Warwick, who was the first to make the point about how good it was to be in a Country with a Labour Government. This was followed by motions on "Constitutional Change" and "The Welsh Approach".

Applications for union recognition rises from a terribly low base

Personnel Today reports that in the past year applications to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) for trade union recognition last year rose by half (54%) - a mere 43 applications in the year ending 31 March 2012 compared to 28 applications received the previous year. With private sector union density standing at post war record low of 14% this raises serious questions about organising momentum in the UK trade union movement. It's a sorry state of affairs when for several years there have been more CAC commissioners than claims for them to consider!

PFI - the early years

Believe it or not there wasn't always a trade union consensus against the use of PFI to fund public sector capital projects. The report of the Trade Union Congress on 9th September 1997 records a debate in which the TUC rejected a composite moved by the late Jimmy Knapp of the RMT, and supported by UNISON, calling for opposition to the PFI programme being promoted by the newly elected Labour Government. Knapp's speech rings down the years:

The child and her diary by Laila Yaghi

She wrote in her diary every night
When bullets passed by her window… she wrote
When Israeli soldiers killed her mother she wrote
She wrote of the horrors she sees
And the nightmares of flames and destruction

Friday, 6 July 2012

UNISON said it from the start, we say it again - PFI is a debt time bomb

At the 2002 Labour Party Conference the affiliated trade unions, led by UNISON, defeated the Labour leadership on their use of the Private Finance Initiative to fund public sector capital projects.
  10 years on, Dave Prentis, who was the subject of much abuse and negative briefing by New Labour ministers at the 2002 conference, restates in today’s Guardian UNISON’s objections to PFI: "We're sitting on a PFI debt time bomb, and the sheer scale of the burden paints a seriously grim picture for the future of our public services." As predicted back in 2002, PFI had left the UK with a "staggering mountain of debt"

Thursday, 5 July 2012

UK 'welfare-to-work policies' ruining lives while private vultures profit

This government has blood on its hands. It’s ironic that the whilst the news this week proves that debate about whether the banks can be regulated more effectively, which has been going on since the economic crisis started in 2008, has changed absolutely nothing, ordinary people around the world are suffering untold human costs as the crisis continue to be used as an excuse to implement neoliberal reforms and attack living conditions.

NHS birthday work-in protest spreads

East Midlands NHS Direct staff have been joined by colleagues in Cornwall as they stage a "work-in" to expose problems with the replacement 111 service being rolled out from August.

Nursing and Health advisors providing NHS Direct helpline services to Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire are reporting for work in their own time to take calls to highlight the valuable work they do and ensure that patients get the best possible quality of service on the NHS's 64th birthday.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Key Facts About LGPS 2014 Proposals and LGPS Members

Following the decision at last month’s Local Government Service Group Conference, UNISON England and Wales branches and regions are conducting a widespread consultation with members over the LGPS 2014 proposals. This will inform the national union’s recommendation in the postal ballot of members which is due to start on 31 July (ending 24 August). Key facts to be taken into account in the consultation are:

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Stop helping your rich friends, George. Help the people instead

Cost of tax avoidance three times the cost of benefits. See the graph.

Minimum wages in Europe squeezed by austerity

The European Trade Union Institute has published an interesting paper 'Minimum wages in Europe under austerity', which shows that across EU member states minimum wages have either risen only very slightly, been completely frozen or, in the recent case of Greece, cut at the behest of the IMF/EU by 22% (for young people by 32%):  http://www.etui.org/Publications2/Policy-Briefs/European-Economic-Employment-and-Social-Policy/Minimum-wages-in-Europe-under-austerity

Monday, 2 July 2012

Union Renewal - all ideas welcome but organising is the key

Veteran labour movement commentator Geoffrey Goodman writes in the current edition of Tribune on the role that trade unions can play in rebuilding Britain. Harking back to a 1960’s era of ‘national consensus, Goodman identifies that union membership levels in the private sector have declined to a sub-critical mass, ‘fewer than one in 10 workers in the private sector are now in any trade union’

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Pension Funds Should Remove Bob Diamond From Barclays

Are you in a pension fund? In the LGPS? Then here is your chance to help remove Bob Diamond from his position as CEO of Barclays.... if there really is a time for a Shareholder Spring (revolt) then it is now.... contact your pension scheme and suggest that as the beneficiary of the fund's Barclays shares you want him removed.

Cui Bono? Employers & workers benefit from trade union facility time

Excellent independent research commissioned by UNISON on the value of trade union facility time is now available on line. National Officer Gavin Edwards has posted an article on the Stronger Unions blog about the right's ideological offensive against trade union rights in the public sector. Although removal of facility time has been confined to a handful of Tory-led local authorities, the report provides useful ammunition to local negotiators forced to defend paid time off for union duties:

Benefit King by Paul Birtill

When I grow up I'm going to be
an astronaut a footballer a physicist
or be long term unemployed.