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

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Burnham thinks big for the NHS

Good stuff from Andy Burnham in today's Guardian profile not only acknowledging Labour's mistake when in Government of allowing the private sector into the NHS but setting out ambitious plans for integrating social care into the NHS: 'Once the market takes a hold on the system it will destroy what's precious about it. We had been building a policy that had been saying it doesn't matter who provides healthcare as long as it's free at the point of delivery. But I'm saying it does matter.'

Death Poem by Jumah al Dossari

Take my blood.
Take my death shroud and
The remnants of my body.
Take photographs of my corpse at the grave, lonely.
Send them to the world,
To the judges and
To the people of conscience,

Friday, 9 August 2013

NHS blame culture is rooted in impossible political demands

'Public services, free at the point of use, cannot work as goods and services offered through the private sector market do. They provide to all at low public cost what would otherwise be available only to some at high private cost. Treating everybody alike, rich or poor, powerful or not, is what they are supposed to do’ writes Peter Wilby in the Guardian following the publication of the Berwick review of patient safety in the NHS:

Thursday, 8 August 2013

More on Unions & Media

Gregor Gall reports on research of media coverage of unions which identifies a warlike discourse where arguments or disagreements are described as ‘battles’ and criticisms made by union officials are described as ‘attacks.’ Gall argues that unions need a two pronged strategy for dealing with this problem. A smart media operation is important to get our message across to the public but ultimately effective organising is the key - ‘until unions regain their former strength, this strategy can only deliver so much. When unions regain their strength, more coverage will follow - even if it may not be good coverage’

Tories the same the world over - Canada’s public sector unions under the cosh

A pay dispute between Canada’s Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) and the Conservative led Canadian Federal Government is an important yardstick of what’s at stake in the period ahead of the country’s next general election in 2015. The 1350 workers at Canadian embassies around the globe have been attacked for their 'diplomatic perks and benefits' and the Government is refusing to enter into binding arbitration.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Labour must think again about 'battering the union link'

During the Brown led Labour Government the Communications Workers Union (CWU) demonstrated more than any other trade union the value of the Union Labour link. In October 2008 the newly appointed (and ennobled) Labour Business Secretary Lord Mandelson indicated his support for partial privatisation of the Post Office, contrary to the 2005 Labour manifesto.

2013 Durham Miners' Gala - Video

A superb documentary video is available of the 2013 Durham Miners' Gala including interviews with Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC; Bob Crow, Kevin Maguire, Owen Jones, and Huw Beynon, labour historian. It ends with the dedication of the new banners in Durham Cathedral and lines from the Masque of Anarchy by Shelley quoted by Canon Giles Fraser in his sermon.
"Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many — they are few"

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

On Hiroshima Day - renew our demand for nuclear disarmament in Britain

Today marks the 68th anniversary of the horrific US atomic bombing in Hiroshima in Japan. Kate Hudson General Secretary of CND writes: 'As the decades pass since the terrible war crimes at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we must never forget what happened and the cynical and barbaric opportunism of the US in using those weapons. This Hiroshima Day, let us recommit to nuclear disarmament here in Britain - and globally - to ensure that they will never again be used.'

Time for Labour to support the values and benefits of truly public services

The launch of the We Own It campaign brings a welcome fresh approach to the tired debate about private v public in our public services.
   Far from the usual embedded doctrine of the left and right (public good private bad) the campaign's latest paper explores the reality of emerging practices, such as in-sourcing services because of market failure, and calls for a public service user bill to embed into contracting the right for the public to say no to rip-off contractors.

Public Service Union & Labour lock horns ahead of Australian General Election

Australia’s Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is extending a suspension of its election campaign support of the Labour Party in protest at the federal government's plans to cut another $1.8 billion from public services. CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said ''To secure the support of public sector workers, Labour needs strong policies that demonstrate how different they are to the Liberals when it comes to public sector jobs and services. We know Tony Abbott will cut 12,000 to 20,000 public sector jobs, but public sector workers expect something different and better from Kevin Rudd. If any other industry announced it was cutting thousands of jobs, there would be a national outcry"

Zero hour contracts - a state of quasi-unemployment

Not before time zero hours contracts have come under public scrutiny. A blatant device for employers limiting their own contractual liabilities as well as denying rights to their employees, these 'contracts' have not only proliferated in marketised areas of public services such as home care but also in core areas like NHS staff banks which do not guarantee work to registered staff. An editorial in The Occupied Times locates ‘permanently precarious’ employment in the context of 30 years of neo liberalism which has led to a 'fundamental shift in the nature of work':

Monday, 5 August 2013

Public services are better in public hands

A report launched today by the UNISON backed ‘We Own It’ campaign sets out a compelling case for public ownership and public sector delivery of services. The report ‘Better in Public Hands’ is essential reading for all trade unionists and a welcome antidote to the relentless propaganda of the privatisation lobby: 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Union image problem? You can`t trust the media!

Recent events confirm that trade unions are dirt to most of the national media. Somewhere above 1970's sex offenders but way below for example the Armed Forces. Unions 21 have offered a visual display of the terms we put in press release as opposed to the terms actually used by the media. So `services,` `pensions` and `members` feature prominently in our press statements but 'strikes' dominate the headlines. It was always thus.

The sun setting by Miodrag Pavlovic

The sun setting
children shouting beneath the window
games in cold weather

When the sky closes in
the one left defenceless
tries not to show fear
or to laugh