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

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Arriving in their thousands in London and Glasgow

#Oct20 #SCOct20 They're ready to go in London and Glasgow for a Future That Works. North West one of the first to arrive in London (after Greater London of course). Sefton Branch secretary Glen Williams reports: "We left Sefton at 4am. There were 120 of us on the train - more than last time including many low paid workers. We've had to scoop our banner out of the Thames. The wind blew it in and it's sopping wet - we've been sold down the river!" See more at http://www.unison.org.uk/20102012/
In sunny Glasgow they've been arriving since 9.00 with Glasgow and Clyde Health's sparkling new banner and the Aberdeenshire contingent looking exceptionally sprightly after their 6am start. See more at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/oct20/index.html

Belfast, Glasgow, London - Here We Go, Here We Go, Here We Go

UNISON members will be out in force at today’s 3 anti-austerity demonstrations for ‘A Future that Works.’ As on 26 March 2011, the mobilisation by the UK’s largest union of working trade unionists will provide the mass of the protests alongside members of other trade unions and anti cuts campaigners.
A superb TUC video has been produced to mark the occasion featuring Olympics opening ceremony volunteers and Artistic Director Danny Boyle:

Marching by Jim Harrison

At dawn I heard among bird calls
the billions of marching feet in the churn
and squeak of gravel, even tiny feet

Friday, 19 October 2012

Food poverty is a trade union issue

Food price hikes and food shortages are once again looming. And it is the poorest and most vulnerable that will suffer. Here in the UK food poverty amongst children is reaching epidemic proportions. In Manchester 42% of children are living below the poverty line – twice the national average. Increasingly youth workers and teaching assistants are digging into their own pockets to feed children who are quite simply hungry. Parents are going without in order to feed their kids. Food bills are taking up an increasing proportion of the meager household money.

UN Recognition of Palestine - How you can help

According to a report in yesterday's Guardian, the UK is helping the US is a behind-the-scenes diplomatic attempt to force President Mahmoud Abbas to back down in his November 15th bid to win United Nations recognition for Palestinian statehood:

Thursday, 18 October 2012

South Africa’s Mine Workers press on with demands for better pay & working conditions

Patrick Kane of War on Want reviews the intensified struggles of South Africa’s mineworkers in the aftermath of the deaths of 34 mine workers by police shootings at the Marikana mine in August and quotes COSATU’s Sidumo Dlamini: "What we see happening at Marikana and elsewhere is that workers are essentially demanding a living wage. Workers are simply saying, 'We produce wealth and we want our reasonable share. And they expect to be given a fair share.' This is a reflection of the demands being harbored by millions of our people"
Leading COSATU affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers, is South Africa 's largest union organising in the mining industry: http://www.num.org.za

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Re-mutualisation or privatisation?

UNISONActive ran a link to the ‘We own it’ anti-privatisation campaign yesterday. Although the new campaign has laudable aims, it is notably disappointing that the arguments against privatisation are contaminated by statements under the ‘better-way’ header on their website (http://weownit.org.uk/content/better-way) which state ‘they [cooperatives and mutuals] can also have a role to play in providing public services.’

Austerity is Blighting Developing Countries

A new UNICEF book “A Recovery for All: Rethinking Socioeconomic Policies for Children and Poor Households” is a timely reminder the global economic crisis has had a devastating impact well beyond Europe. 'High food and commodity prices, unemployment and austerity measures have aggravated persistent inequalities and contributed to a substantial rise in hunger and social tensions. Now, more than ever, investments for the world’s poor are needed to recover lost ground in pursuit of development objectives:
The full report is available at:

Public spending on a Con Dem Helter skelter ride

The Guardian reports on an IMF comparative analysis of public spending plans up to 2017 and finds that within five years the UK’s public sector will be the smallest of any major developed nation - ‘prepare yourself for welfare to be downsized into American-style workfare, for public-sector jobs to be turned into a second-class employment and for services, from school to healthcare, to demand that users pay more to get something decent’

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

We Own It! A new campaigning organisation made for these times

#Oct20 In the week leading up the UK's 3 nation mobilisation against austerity, a brilliant new campaign has launched its website. 'We own it!' is campaigning for public services to be run for people and not private profit. Follow at @We_OwnIt and read more at: http://weownit.org.uk/

Calling time on privatisation and outsourcing

#Oct20 A great new fact sheet from UNISON calls for an independent inquiry into the effect of privatisation on services... The Tory-led government wants to put more public services out to contract. But experience shows that outsourcing public services to private companies or the community and voluntary sector can often have a negative impact on the services themselves and those that provide them. http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/PrivAndOutsourcing.pdf

Monday, 15 October 2012

Stop Police Privatisation

#Oct20 ‘We need to elect PCCs who support our “Stop Police Privatisation” campaign. It will be our members and our communities who have to pick up the pieces if we do not succeed’ says UNISON’s Debi Potter in a Police Oracle report on the union’s Police and Justice service group conference.UNISON has pledged to only support Police and Crime Commissioner candidates who oppose privatisation of police services. It’s a message that UNISON police staff members will be bringing in force to next Saturday’s 'A Future That Works' marches:

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Trade Union Rights - The Short Story

At last week's Tory Party conference a succession of Tory Ministers, including Francis Maude and the unhinged, Senator Joe McCarthy impersonator, Eric Pickles, declared war on trade union rights. The Institute of Employment Rights has published a timely briefing on trade union rights by Keith Ewing and John Hendy. 'Trade union rights are fundamental human rights. This is not an matter of opinion by partisan trade unionists or sympathetic academics. It is a statement of international law' - essential reading for all trade unionists:

Working Late by Don Winter

Slumped in a rusted folding chair,
he locks the chuck into place,
keeps count of finished pieces
on a junked chalkboard.