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

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Trade Unions alive and well? Only if we’re kicking...

‘Thatcherism is unfortunately alive and well, but so – thankfully – is trade unionism,’ says Carl Roper of the TUC, writing on the Stronger Unions blog. Carl makes an important point that ‘the paradox of Margaret Thatcher's policies is that whilst proclaiming the illegitimacy and irrelevance of unions they actually reinforced the need for collective representation of working people.’ Of course unions are alive but we can be less confident that the condition of the trade unions in the UK is ‘well’ whatever criteria is used - membership density, collective bargaining coverage, political influence etc.

Annus Mirabilis by Philip Larkin

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the "Chatterley" ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Local Government: the Thatcher War Years

In another assessment of the Thatcher years, Tony Travers of London School of Economics writes that her legacy to local government was 'increased centralisation and the willingness of her successors to cap, limit and control local democracy in England. This country is one of the most centralised of western democracies, which is an odd legacy for a politician who so prized individualism and freedom'

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Facing Up to Thatcherism and how we fought back

There is no better volume of trade union history which charts the public sector trade union real time response to the excesses of Thatcherism than the third and final volume of NALGO's history - Facing Up to Thatcherism: The History of NALGO 1979-93 by Michael Ironside and Roger Seifert. UNISON's founding General Secretary Alan Jinkinson, in a foreword to this important book, written in June 2000 but which has found many echoes this week, states that: ‘Thatcherism became the global phenomenon of the era.
    Many NALGO members were angered by an ideology which undermined the post-war welfare settlement, that worshipped monetarism, the market and the individual,that asserted that there was ‘no such thing as society’, and that sought to humiliate public servants and trade unionists.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

TUC final verdict on Thatcher – ‘Good at Destruction'

‘Demonising unions and stripping the great mass of private-sector workers of a voice and power in the workplace is still the root of the great living standards crisis that saw the share of wealth going to wages slide long before Lehman Brothers failed,’ says TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady in a Guardian article on the legacy of arch neo-conservative ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
    Frances goes on to point out that the ‘financial crash of 2008 was a direct result of the policies Thatcher championed. The dominance of finance in the economy and the failure of bank regulation flowed from her belief that markets should always be left to themselves’

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Thatcher’s professed aim - 'irreversibly' dismantling Britain’s public sector

A considered view of Thatcher's legacy from Michael Hudson writing for the US webzine Counterpunch. From her first Government's groundbreaking privatisation of telecommunications and public utilities through to New Labour's deregulation of the City of London and the financial sector, Hudson traces the continuities since 1979 which have led to Britain's 'Great Polarization between the creditor 1% and the increasingly indebted 99%'

Monday, 8 April 2013

Lest we forget...

- The Milk Snatcher
- The Falklands War
- A Decade of vicious Anti trade Union Legislation
   . Interference in ballots
   . End of the Closed Shop
   . End of Secondary action
   . Wages Councils wound up
-Privatisation of Water

A typo is worth a thousand words

Head of State praises public servants

'We thank all our hard working public servants. Keep up the good work and let us continue building a responsive, effective and caring government,’ says South African President Jacob Zuma. ‘In today’s global and competitive world, a country’s success is determined by many things. Key amongst these is a patriotic, effective and efficient cadre of public servants that translates government policies and programmes into tangible benefits’

We must fight any change to the National Minimum Wage

Influential Tories have never reconciled themselves to the national minimum wage, warns John Prescott writing in yesterday's Sunday Mirror. He reminds us that it was a Conservative administration which abolished Wages Councils in 1993 and urges a fightback against any attempt to cutback the minimum wage. The Government 'wants to look at freezing or cutting the national minimum wage, claiming that convenience stores say it’s leading them to axe jobs and reduce hours. The bottom line is they want cheaper and cheaper labour. This is short-sighted. By raising the minimum wage, the Treasury would receive more tax revenues, reduce welfare payments and boost the economy when we desperately need growth. The minimum wage is a floor on pay. No one wants to live on a floor. But if you freeze or take this floor away, hundreds of thousands of workers will crash into poverty. We must fight any change.'

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Young workers hardest hit by austerity

The economic and financial crisis since 2008 has hit young workers particularly hard. Almost 1m under 25's were unemployed in the UK at the end of last year and across the EU youth joblessness is double the general rate of unemployment.

The End and the Beginning by Wislawa Szymborska

After every war
someone has to tidy up.
Things won't pick
themselves up, after all.