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

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Strike strategy and tactics

It's early days in the NJC pay dispute but already UNISON local government activists in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are discussing the prospects of membership support for a long overdue industrial mobilisation against the pay freeze. Activists in Scotland have already agreed a ballot and meet on 15 March to decide on a recommendation. The big (and perennial) question in national pay disputes is what intensity and level of strike action will be be necessary to force the local government employers to think again and abandon their contemptous attitude to its workforce?

Pickles launches attack on union facility time

At the Tory Party Conference in October, class warrior Eric Pickles MP declared his intent to attack union rights in English local government: "I am delighted to announce today in relatively short time we will be offering advice to local authorities both in terms of trade union time and check-off. I want to retain the independence of trades unions and therefore it is massively important that they pay for things themselves." As Conservative politicians tend to do when in Government, Pickles has quickly delivered on his anti union agenda.

The Oath Of Eureka by Bartlett Adamson

The workers of Kembla, those leaders of men,
Those leaders in deed as in thought,
They challenged the might of the pound and the yen,
And there at the "Dalfram" they fought
The cause of the Chinese distraught,
And still marching onward,
With gaze lifted sunward,
The call of Eureka is caught.
Democracy thrills to that message of yore.
The vow of Eureka has echoed once more.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Modernising Money - The Way Out of Austerity

The current monetary system still continues to fuel a social and economic crisis, and although the media coverage doesn't give us much hope, there is a way out of it!
  The government claims its run out of money, it has too many debts so it has to cut spending. Is this right? Is it true? No is the answer.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Class politics and the media

Former FT journalist Stefan Stern writes on the CLASS blog about the difficulties faced by campaigners and trade unionists in securing media coverage:
   'This is a familiar saga to trade union press officers, who have long known that unless their union is calling a strike their work gets very little coverage at all. The national media have hardly any specialist reporters left covering trade union and workplace issues, even as more people than ever (30 million of us) are going to work full or part-time'

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Negative interest rates - more madness?

Another day another mad idea to get banks lending (but wasn't lending the cause of the crisis?)
  The basic idea is that the Bank of England (BoE) starts charging for any surpluses held by banks who have accounts at the BoE. Currently the BoE has to pay interest to the Banks.
  All of banks and building socities have to hold accounts at the BoE - to make sure that all transactions in the economy are balanced up at the end of a day and so that as the lender of last resort they can inject money into a failing bank (electronically).

Made in Britain - the Con Dem economic disaster

'Cameron and Osborne have failed in their central goal of cutting the deficit and debt precisely because their austerity policies – combined with a refusal to get a grip on the banks, falling real wages and the boomerang effect of the eurozone crisis – are squeezing the life out of the economy' writes Seumas Milne in the Guardian in a scathing critique of the Coalition Government's economic policies. He cautions against the very real danger of Labour locking itself into the Con Dem austerity agenda in order to boost its credibility with the financial markets, right wing media and other vested interests. 'As the experience of its sister parties in Europe has shown, that would be a calamity for Labour – but also for Britain'

Chile 40 Years On

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the military coup that ousted the constitutional president of Chile, Salvador Allende, from office and gave rise to the vicious dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.
  People all over the world are already organising and planning events to mark this crime that cost the lives of thousands, and the disappearance and torture of many thousands more.
  Here in Britain a network has been set up – as announced at the Another World Real Conference here - to organise & encourage the commemoration of our 9/11, 40 years ago Visit the web site http://chile40yearson.org/

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

UNISONActive Analysis - NJC Pay & the case for an improved offer

As UNISON’s NJC Committee prepares to meet on 27 February to consider the NJC Employers derisory pay offer it is worth starting with a reminder of just how parlous the state of local government pay has now become.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Local government national bargaining put in jeopardy by derisory NJC pay offer

Last week the local government employers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland made a bizarre two 'option' pay offer with their preferred option being 1% on all pay points with strings - changes to terms and conditions including detrimental changes to mileage rates.

The big issues for UNISON members in Scotland

'How are we going to achieve a fairer, more equal society? Can you achieve that with independence, through the status quo or with more devolution? In terms of local government, it is really important that people start talking about what kind of local government we want.' UNISON Scotland's deputy regional convenor Stephen Smellie comments on the constitutional debate and other topics in a personal profile published by Scottish political journal Holyrood: http://www.holyrood.com/2013/02/for-the-people-unison-scotland-vice-convener-stephen-smellie/

Unions buck the trend as Women's representation in UK public life goes into reverse

Trade unions are in danger of becoming ‘irrelevant’ and ‘cannot connect to a whole swath of the workforce that thinks they died out with the ark’ former Labour Cabinet Minister and ex-CWU General Secretary Alan Johnson recently told Progress.
   Strange then, that trade unions are one of the few areas of public life in Britain where women’s representation in leadership is growing. A new report Sex and Power 2013 compiled by the Counting Women coalition, finds a ‘shocking absence of women from UK public life. The number of women in senior levels of the judiciary, education, the arts, finance, the civil service and government is plummeting’

UN report calls for end to Israeli settlements

A UN fact finding mission into illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory has called for Israel to end all settlement activity without preconditions and is recommending tough measures against Israel as well as private companies involved in settlements:

  Last week leaders of seven UK trade unions, including UNISON, called for urgent action by the British Government and large retailers to stop imports from the illegal Israeli settlements:

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The scandal of youth unemployment in Britain

The UK has experienced the fastest rise in youth unemployment of any country in the G8 since the start of the recession and now has the third worst levels in the 34 country OECD. A new Work Foundation report 'International Lessons: Youth unemployment in the global context' looks at youth unemployment internationally, placing a spotlight on Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia - all of which have maintained consistently low levels of youth unemployment despite the economic crisis: http://www.theworkfoundation.com/DownloadPublication/Report/329_International%20Lessons.pdf

The Happy Lands Road Show Dates

The Happy Lands, the inspirational Scottish film about the miners' struggles in 1926, was very well received at this year's Glasgow Film Festival and is now embarking on a tour of Britain and international film festivals:

  The tour is modeled on the great American road show theatrical releases of the past - a limited number of screenings, to gage the appetite for a more general release of a title, and to garner interest in the film. Please click links below to venues for more information and to purchase tickets.

The City and I by Aurel Stancu

in ivory dreams
armed creatures guard doors
corridors windows
over the central square
a couple of hawks
flying in stifling watching circles