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

Saturday, 26 January 2013

A Marshall Plan for Europe - German Unions Aim High

The German trade union centre DGB has published an ambitious €260 billion Marshall Plan for Europe, aimed at generating economic growth and new jobs between 2013 to 2022. The DGB argues that Europe’s welfare state should be expanded rather than cut back and that high quality public and private-sector services are essential - both for designing a modern welfare state and for dynamic and innovative industry:http://www.fesdc.org/pdf/A-Marshall-Plan-for-Europe_EN.pdf

Man's a Man by Hugh MacDiarmid

There was a massive St Bernard and a sinewy greyhound
And a wise old collie, when breaking through
Came a hideous dachshund
Proclaiming ‘But I’m like a liver sausage gone bad, I’m a dog too!’

There was Mohammed and Plato and Shakespeare and Dante,
And Spinoza and Hegel – ‘but I’ll tell you flat’
Cried J.G. Smith, wine and spirit merchant, Milngavie
‘A man’s a man for a’ that’.

This poem is published in ‘The revolutionary art of the future – rediscovered poems by Hugh MacDiarmid’

Friday, 25 January 2013

Walmart organising campaigns creating a buzz in the US

Small but highly publicized strikes by Walmart retail and warehouse workers last autumn 'set the labor movement abuzz and gained new respect for organizing methods once regarded sceptically' reports Labor Notes. US trade unions are deploying new, flexible tactics including the use of 'open source organising' to create economic leverage with hostile employers:

Lewisham Hospital demo Sat 26 January

The next step in the fight to save Lewisham Hospital is a wide community demonstration assembling at the main roundabout outside Lewisham Rail/DLR/Bus station at 12 noon on Saturday 26th January. The campaign, backed by UNISON, has attracted support from people and organisations as diverse as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Millwall FC http://www.savelewishamhospital.com  For background see http://unisonactive.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/thousands-protest-at-lewisham-hospital.html

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Trade Union Yes to EU? Not at any Neo-Liberal price

Yesterday in his Bloomberg speech David Cameron set out a five point bottom line for renegotiation of the UK relationship with the EU, to be followed by an in-out referendum in 2018. Some senior Labour politicians argue that Cameron's stance is a distraction but in reality that's far from the case. His agenda for (acceleration of) neo liberal reform of the EU is a deadly serious threat to working people: http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/eu-speech-at-bloomberg/

Private health contractor's staff 'told to cut 999 calls to meet targets'

The Guardian reports that a leaked email from Serco managers tells workers to manipulate a computer system to 'stop the clock' on emergency calls. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/23/private-health-contractor-999-calls

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Unions are good for public finances - new research

It may seem to be blindingly obvious to those of us in all levels of the public sector that we generally do an efficient job with a view to minimising costs and keeping the service as good as possible. But this reality has been body slammed by a mantra from Pickles and others before him that we are overpaid, over compensated and that our unions are costing the tax payer a fortune in times of austerity. If only we were like the private sector the austerity high priests claim.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Putting faith in untested theories

Demos have hardly been the bastions of left leaning politics as the plaything of New Labour but their latest ‘report’ frankly stretches the boundaries of even their restricted credibility. Based on severely limited case studies, with no quantifiable data or proof of claimed ‘efficiencies’ (other than volunteers are ripe for exploitation to cover rabid right-wing cuts in public services) this report promotes the failed right wing ideology that volunteerism can patch up flaking public services. The link to the report is here on the Local Gov website: http://www.localgov.co.uk/index.cfm?method=news.detail&id=108544

Campaign for trade union freedom launch

Launch rally 23 March. A date for your diary - be part of it! Since 1980 the unions in our country have had their rights, supposedly guaranteed by international law, trampled underfoot by successive governments. Each in turn cared little for the rights of working people. As the laws shackled our unions, so union membership fell away which contributed greatly to the decline of collective bargaining and ever widening gap between the rich and poor. It’s time to make a change.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Inez - 'loved in low places and loathed in high places'

In the union we have always known her true worth. It lies not solely in her remarkable journey, engaging with power systems dominated by disrespect for women in general and the working class in particular. It lies especially in her unselfish and unshakeable belief that ordinary people, given a chance, can change the world' writes Patricia McKeown of UNISON Northern Ireland in a moving tribute to her predecessor as Regional Secretary, Inez McCormack, who died on 21 January 2013: hhttp://www.unison.org.uk/northernireland/pages_view.asp?did=1517

Deregulation serves up Trojan Horsemeat

In this Observer article UNISON National Officer Ian Adderley highlights the dangers of deregulation of inspection regimes in the meat industry. For years UNISON was told that it didn’t matter if the meat inspection service was killed off and that the industry could self-regulate. The consequences as warned by Adderley could be far worse than Trojan Horsemeat burgers:


The vice tightens on UK employment rights

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady was correct to condemn last Thursday's announcement of further attacks on employment rights in the UK. http://www.tuc.org.uk/

Restricting the limit on unfair dismissal compensation (to 12 months pay) and weakening TUPE rights for workers transferring from the public to the private sector (repeal of the service provision change test) are the latest turn of the ratchet in favour of private corporations. Once again the Tories are aided and abetted by the Liberal Democrats in an attack on workers' rights. No wonder the CBI are cheering:

Sunday, 20 January 2013

A General Strike & the general lack of strikes

Hollow cliches about organising a General Strike have become a commonplace in union meetings since last year's Trades Union Congress - when a majority of trade unions went along with a POA proposal that the TUC leadership should 'investigate the practicalities of a General Strike':

That such demands can be made with any credibility, given the current low levels of industrial militancy and the absence of evidence that large swathes of unionised workers are ready to respond to a general strike call, is in no small part due to the opportunism and self serving gesture politics of some union leaders who fail to point out these basic if uncomfortable realities.

Public Space by Ken Babstock

Wandering wordless through the heat of High
Park. High summer. Counting the chipmunks
who pause and demand the scrub stand by
till their flitty, piggybacked equal signs can think
through this math of dogwood, oak-whip, mulch.
Children glue mouths to ice cream and chips, punch
and kick at the geese, while rug-thick islands
of milt-like scum sail the duckpond’s copper stillness –
Over-fat, hammerhead carp with predator brains...
We can wreck a day on the shoals of ourselves.
Cramped, you broke last night and wept at the war,
at the ionized, cobalt glow that fish-tanked the air.
We’re here to be emptied under the emptying sky,
eyes cast outward, trolling for the extraordinary.