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

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Rochdale care workers strike back against pay cuts

115 UNISON members employed by NHS spin off Future Directions, a social care company, started a 48 hour strike at 8am this morning (Saturday). The action was initially due to take place a fortnight ago but was blocked by a last minute injunction which the employer secured under the anti union laws. Branch Secretary Helen Harrison said ‘our members provide a vital service to vulnerable adults living in Rochdale. They do a tough job, and now they are being asked to do it for even less money, on worse terms and conditions. Some of our members may lose their homes because of these drastic cuts. They care deeply about the services they provide, but have no choice but to take this strike action’

Advert by Matthew Caley

Satyrs and nymphs in the foam. A spume of fire,
the wicked glint of nails and razors.
The slyest reference to the slyest reference
of Peter Greenaway. Pinhead
from Hellraiser.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Social Security and Labour: More than a Missed Opportunity

Ed Miliband’s speech in Newham on the subject of social security was an excellent example of the failure of the Labour front bench to think beyond the Tory terms of debate. It features the workshy, “hard working families”, compulsory work for the unemployed and better testing for the disabled.
   The Labour Leader displayed all the understanding of the working of the social security system that is commonly found in the average episode of the Jeremy Kyle show. There is a simple rule that states that every time Frank Field MP praises a change in the social security system check the smell on the air. And in this case something stinks.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Cleggzilla strikes back by gagging unions

An interesting revelation on the Spectator blog today. Apparently Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is a zipped up supporter of the proposed regulations to stifle the collective political voice of trade unions because he is on the receiving end of UNISON campaigning in his Sheffield constituency. Not unreasonable criticism given that Sheffield has lost £190 million from Con Dem spending cuts in the past three years, don't you think? So much for free speech:

The quixotic demands of the ETUC

‘High noon for social Europe’ is the theme of the European Trade Union Confederation’s (ETUC) mid term conference which opened yesterday in Dublin, the graveyard of social partnership. ETUC General Secretary Bernadette Segol stated that ‘social Europe must be at the core of all economic decisions. Social Europe is not an optional appendage to economic governance, social Europe is part and parcel of economic governance.’

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Yes to Teaching Assistants, No to Classroom Volunteers

Teaching Assistants have come a long way since 2001 when the General Secretary of the NASUWT teachers union referred to them as ‘pig ignorant peasants.’ Not in pay terms, where they remain an under paid and often exploited workgroup, but in the education profession there is widespread recognition of the value of their role. In a recent UNISON survey ‘all but a few of the respondents justified their use of TA's and some said that they could not run their school without them.’

Scotland ballots on pay action

Local government workers across Scotland will be balloted on strike action after rejecting a 1% pay offer. The ballot, covering 75,000 UNISON members, will start on 3 July, giving time to build the momentum with two Fair Pay Days of Action in council workplaces around the country on June 11 and 25.

The June 25 Fair Pay Day will also form part of the STUC’s 'Austerity Uncovered -There is A Better Way' nine days of action across Scotland, focusing on the effects of cuts to services and benefits.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

How to Balls up big style

There has been a fundamental principle guiding the left's commitment to universal benefit that everybody contributes and everybody should benefit. Many years ago as a young activist, I recall a visit by Rodney Bickerstaffe, as then general secretary of UNISON, who came to the Manchester branch and as part of the visit he met with some older people in the Lord Mayor's parlour.

Never mind the corrupt politicians blame the unions – Episode 3

Here we go again. Over the past decade, every time corruption and sleaze has reared its head in Westminster, the default position of the political elite has been to divert attention onto party funding, in particular union ‘donations’ to Labour.
    In 2006 it was the cash-for-honours scandal which led to the Sir Hayden Philips review of party funding in 2007.

Monday, 3 June 2013

UKIP- no friend of workers or trade unions

UNISON’s Narmada Thiranagama, provides an overdue examination of UKIP’s policies beyond the EU and immigration and finds that ‘UKIP are not a friend of workers or trade unions. Nor is there an evidence base for their economic and employment policies, which would remove virtually all regulation particularly for small companies. They sincerely believe that this would have no negative impact on living standards or economic confidence. It is time the media started asking them some tough questions on jobs and work’

UKIP – a nationalist response to unfettered globalisation

'UKIP is not an isolated phenomenon, but a nationalist response to the unfettered globalisation which has been the dominant ideology since the mid 1990′s. Though much of the left argued that the global world order needed global rules to protect people’s livelihood, it is in the main the regressive and nationalist right that is the political beneficiary of the chaos that has ensued,' writes Giampi Alhadeff former European Parliamentary Labour Party Secretary General:

Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Outsourcing of Social Care – death by a thousand cuts

The New Statesman investigates outsourcing of social care services in the London Borough of Barnet and its findings will be familiar to service users and care workers throughout Britain – budget cuts, reduced pay and a worsening of service provision for the most vulnerable people in local communities:

Architects of Progress by Chris D’Errico

paper cut and a muffin for the boss upstairs
backache headache shoeshine new leather upholstery
sweat stink and sciatica down here
pavement thrusts out where sewer grates no longer fit
flush the summer sun works its July expansion
grey flashlight on a graveyard shift construction job
armpits cigarette butts and fast food wrappers
Harold the pan-sweeper works his magic
in the numb moonlight another Monday cross-town
bus farts out hot air