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

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Choice, Transparency & Union Political Funds

#lablink13 A report by the Unlock Democracy pressure group has held up the UNISON political fund - which provides members with the the option to be a member of a General Political Fund, a Labour Affiliated Political Fund, both or none at all, as a model example of transparency:

Hands Off the Trade Union Labour Link

#lablink13 UNISON’s Labour Link section - which has the backing of one third of political fund levy payers in the union - is holding its annual forum this weekend. Yesterday General Secretary Dave Prentis in his keynote speech picked up on the media frenzy surrounding Falkirk and defended the legitimacy of union involvement in politics saying that unions 'are a vital part of the Labour Party and we have a perfect right to be involved in all parts of the Party whether that be nationally or at constituency level.’

I Beg to Apply for the Post by Catherine Graham

My school was tough:
the teachers weighed in,
tipping the scales with their red pencils,
their toxic, chalk dust.
I beg to apply for the post.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Happy Birthday NHS - Now what are we prepared to do?

#NHS65 Tonight Dave Prentis will celebrate our cherished NHS's 65th birthday at a rally in Manchester. We are rightly proud of our NHS but as it faces death by a thousand cuts, are there enough of us with Bevan's 'faith to fight for it'? As Polly Toynbee points out today: "How the NHS looks at 75 depends more on the future of politics than on economics".

UNISON Eastern's Big Weekend

The union's 20th anniversary and the NHS's 65 anniversary is being celebrated in style by UNISON members in Eastern region this weekend. The UNISON Birthday Big Weekend (AKA The Big Weekend) – is taking place from today, Friday, July 5 until Sunday, July 7 on Parker’s Piece in honour of UNISON’S 20th birthday. Rodney Bickerstaffe the first elected General Secretary of UNISON is the keynote speaker to launch the event:

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Reviving the S word?

In recent decades the tide of opinion has been that strikes are bad for unions. That strikes bring them bad publicity, that it shows unions in a masculine aggressive light and that the majority of union members, never mind workers, are very much against strikes. It has also been the position of many a veteran trade union activist or official that we must avoid strikes, that militancy loses us power and members in the long run. In times of recession and austerity our members don`t want to strike because of the fear of losing jobs and then in good times members don`t want to strike because generally things are ok.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Local Government – running on empty

This week the Local Government Association is meeting in Manchester reeling under the blows of last week’s Spending Review announcement that town hall spending will be cut by a further £2.56bn in 2015/16. Heather Wakefield, UNISON head of local government, writing for the Public Finance blog, reports on union research which shows that ‘cuts are not just having a devastating impact on local people and local economies now, they have inflicted ‘irreversible damage… fundamentally restructuring UK society for the future, changing the lives of local people and local economies’ and the very heart of the UK itself’

UNISON calls on councillors to back Fair Pay as strike ballot opens

As the Scotland Local Government pay ballot opens today, UNISON has emailed councillors asking them to support Fair Pay for council workers. Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said: “We have asked every councillor in Scotland whether they think it is fair that their employees have been offered a miserly 1%, when the value of staff pay has fallen by more than 10% in the last three years.”

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Plan to restrict union political funding 'a de facto ban on electoral free speech'

The government’s recent announcement on lobbying was soiled by its unexpected inclusion of an attack on trade union support for the Labour Party, writes Keith Ewing. Apparently the government is proposing that any money spent by an affiliated union campaigning at an election is to be treated as not as a ‘third party expenditure’ as at present, but as an expenditure by the Party for the purposes of electoral law. It will also count towards the Party’s electoral spending limit.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Steady as she goes - UNISON 20 years on from vesting day

'The union we've been waiting for' was the slogan that marked UNISON's arrival on 1 July 1993. Forged as a defensive merger (albeit based on sound industrial logic) in the era of Thatcherism, consolidated during 13 years of Labour government and now adapting to the challenge of seemingly permanent austerity, UNISON celebrates our 20th birthday today.

Future Directions workers escalate strike action against pay cuts

Over 100 UNISON members in Rochdale are staging their latest round of strike action (4 days) in their campaign to reverse pay cuts imposed by their employer, Future Directions, an arms length social care company wholly owned by the Blackburn based Calderstones NHS Trust. On Saturday hundreds of supporters marched through Rochdale and heard local, regional and national speakers including new NEC member Rena Wood who called on the community of Rochdale to stand up in support of the strikers. Messages of solidarity and donations can be sent to Helen Harrison, Branch Secretary, Rochdale UNISON, 46 Richard Street, Rochdale, OL11 1DU - cheques payable to Rochdale UNISON.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Bob Abberley’s all over? It is now!

On the cusp of UNISON’s 20th anniversary, Assistant General Secretary Bob Abberley retired last week after playing a key role in the union’s national leadership since 1993. Acknowledged as the prime mover in bringing health union Cohse into the Nalgo/NUPE merger talks in the early 1990’s, Bob went on to lead UNISON’s health service group for many years. Latterly he has been responsible for industrial action in UNISON and served on the TUC’s General Council. It was Bob who moved the historic 30 November 2011 national day of strike action in defence of pensions in the TUC public services forum. A long term supporter of ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ Bob will continue to be active in anti racist work as well as community organising through the Movement for Change.

Motorway by Roger McGough

The politicians,
(who are buying huge cars with hobnailed wheels
                the size of merry-go-rounds)
                have a new plan.
                They are going to
                put cobbles
                in our eyesockets
                and pebbles
                in our navels
                and fill us up
                with asphalt
                and lay us
                side by side
so that we can take a more active part
                in the road
                to destruction.