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

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Cornwall caught in bed with BT as councillors raise red card

'Councillors might have put Cornwall's privatisation on probation. But the council had already begun acting as a joint venture partner with BT. They voted unanimously Tuesday to suspend a proposal to put up to £800m of public services into a company in which BT would own a majority stake' writes Mark Ballard on the Computer Weekly Public Sector IT blog. http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/public-sector/2012/10/cornwall-already-doing-deals-w.html

North Tees NHS workers say hands off our terms & conditions!

Health workers in Northern Region rallied in defence of their national conditions of service on Thursday. A well attended protest outside the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton heard local and national speakers condemn the Trust - for imposing worse terms and conditions on new starters from 1 November and for issuing a Section 188 statutory notice to dismiss and re-engage over 5500 staff on new contracts inferior to the national agreement (Agenda for Change), including removal of unsocial hours enhancements from sick pay:  http://www.shakewellbeforeopening.org.uk/home/?p=1558.

Tea Lady by Nicola Daly

after twenty-five years of prehistoric humour

dressed in something the colour of ice cream
with a dab of eau de cologne behind her left ear

Friday, 26 October 2012

CBI calls for a 21st Century Combination Act

The absence of outrage at this week’s proposals from Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy Director-General, for new laws to create ‘more flexible, individualised relationships between employees and employers’ speaks volumes about the deadening effects of decades long repression of trade unionism in the UK. Bentley has launched an attack on collective trade union rights.

A culture of openness is a first principle of safeguarding vulnerable people

Mo Baines, a UNISON activist in the North West, writes on the Public Service Europe website, about the implications of the emerging Savile scandal and other abuse cases for the effective governance of public service providers where the safeguarding of vulnerable adults and children is concerned: 'within the public sector, there has to be a recognition that while we have statutory responsibilities for the care of vulnerable people - we also have responsibilities to support a culture of openness where staff, service users and relatives of those being cared for feel able to raise concerns; to be believed and supported, and to have effective lines to report their concerns. A culture of openness costs little but could bring great riches when it comes to safeguarding our most vulnerable members of society'

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Austerity degrades industrial capacity and social well-being

Ann Pettifor considers the importance of the IMF’s surprising repudiation of austerity and regards it as a vindication of those who have argued for alternative policies (aka Plan B).‘In a recession the only means to improve the public finances is for the government to invest and create work for both firms (think of the construction sector) and the unemployed. Public investment in sound projects will generate income - wages, salaries and profits. Newly employed workers will spend their income and this will further boost activity and revive the private sector. Confidence will return across the economy; taxes paid on incomes will increase the government's revenues and lower unemployment will mean lower government spending on benefits’ http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ann-pettifor/imf-austerity-_b_2004700.html

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The anatomy of public sector employment & what happens when it’s gone?

A new and highly informative study by the Work Foundation dissects the structure of public sector employment in 2012. Interestingly, FE and sixth form colleges have been moved out of public sector classification giving the false impression of 200,000 jobs being created in the private sector. Universities and Housing Associations sit outside of the public sector and instead are defined as Non-Profit Institutions. The report looks at the historical experience of cutting public sector employment (during the Thatcher and Major Tory Governments) and doubts whether the UK labour market can absorb the unprecedented cuts in the public sector workforce planned by the Con Dems over the next decade – inevitably leading to higher levels of unemployment and under-employment:

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Profiting from the criminal justice system - It's a crime

Today's Independent reports that multinational contractors G4S, Serco and Sodexho are in the running for probation services which are being outsourced by the Con Dem Government in England and Wales:
  UNISON has over 5000 members employed in probation services and, alongside NAPO, is steadfastly campaigning against privatisation: http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/unpaid_Work_flyer.pdf

Calling for a future that works - Sign the e-petition now!

Hard on the heels of Saturday's demonstrations, UNISON's Stockport Branch Secretary Angela Rayner has launched an e-petition called 'Calling for a future that works' and it can be accessed here:

Resist going ‘back to the future’ on public services

The Con Dem Government's Open Public Services white paper asserts that going back to purchaser/provider splits will enhance public services. We know from the experience of our members In health and local government since the 1980's that falsifying public services to act as ‘clients and contractors’ is playing a game of shop and does nothing to enhance service quality or cost. Instead it introduces marketization into public services to ripen them for privatisation. This APSE briefing explains why splitting off public services along market driven lines is simply bad practice and one that sensible public service providers reject.

Troika should be in sackcloth & ashes for their sins

ICTU general secretary David Begg has accused the Troika’s “neoliberal zealots” of causing untold misery to the Irish people by wrecking Ireland's economy. The Troika of the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank are wedded to a strict neoliberal approach to dealing with the deficit, he tells this issue of Union Post. The magazine also covers the 20 October rally, a UNISON survey showing nurses are under huge workload pressures and Dave Prentis's demolition of regional pay. http://www.ictu.ie/publications/fulllist/union-post-october-2012/

Monday, 22 October 2012

Trade Unions are Capitalists? Pull the other one!

These days the notion of a Tory trade unionist is as contradictory as a meat eating vegetarian. Yet it wasn't always the case, as UNISONActive recalled in a 2011 blog post http://unisonactive.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/lost-world-of-tory-trade-unionism.html

What next after Oct 20? Ending the Pay Freeze must be top priority

The massive demonstrations in Belfast, Glasgow and London once again showed the latent strength of our trade unions, particularly those who organise in the public services. looking ahead, it's important that momentum is maintained and focused on ending the pay freeze - which after three years is damaging the living standards of workers in local government in particular, where most employers have even refused to implement the Con Dem concession of a £250 rise for those earning under £21,000. Last week GMB, UNISON and Unite submitted a claim for a ‘substantial flat rate increase’ and it’s about time the populist rhetoric about a general strike is put to the test by at least delivering an industrial campaign to secure a pay rise in real terms during 2013:
The NJC pay claim for 2013/14 (England, Wales & Northern Ireland) can be read here:
http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/B6085.pdf and the SJC (for Scotland) here http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/localgovt/pay2012/index.html#1

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A sea of purple across the land

Hundreds of thousands hit the streets of London, Glasgow and Belfast yesterday to fight back against austerity. Marching for 'A Future That Works' and a 'Better Fairer Way'. In London the front of the rally was at Hyde Park before the end had left the Victora Embankment. The same in Glasgow where people were still in George Square when the GMB pipe band at the front was entering Glasgow Green.
..The Mirror follows the London March in words and pictures at http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/a-future-that-works-live-blog-from-tuc-1388672   The UNISON story is at http://www.unison.org.uk/20102012/  and http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/oct20/

The Broader Perspective by Mike Ashton

Last night
            on the steps
                     of the job centre