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

Saturday, 7 September 2013

TUC 2013 Preview: Oh! We do like to be beside the seaside

#TUC13 The bucket and spades are packed, the correct length of trouser leg to be rolled up for paddling purposes has been calculated and the knotted hankies are at the ready. The TUC has decamped to Bournemouth for the next few days for its 145th annual jamboree. Starting on Sunday, Congress will set out its campaign programme for the period up to the next general election.

The Deaf and Blind by Paul Eluard

Do we reach the sea with clocks
In our pockets, with the noise of the sea
In the sea, or are we the carriers
Of a purer and more silent water?

Friday, 6 September 2013

TUPE changes aim to make privatisation cheaper and quicker

#TUC13 Government proposals to weaken the Transfer of Undertakings and Protection of Employment (TUPE) regulations ‘will drive down terms and conditions for vulnerable workers and make privatisation cheaper and quicker’ says TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady in a timely warning about the latest Con Dem threat to public service workers. With the NHS alone embarking on its single biggest outsourcing of services so far by inviting bids for a contract that will be worth between £700m and £1.1bn, the serious implications of TUPE no longer applying to outsourcing cannot be overstated. A major joint union campaign is urgently required to oppose these changes:

IG Metall uses comedy video to get out the vote

Germany’s 2.4m strong metalworkers' union IG Metall has published a very amusing viral video to pose key questions and mobilise turnout in the run-up to the German general election which is taking place on Sunday 22 September:

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Unions Together – you’re having a laugh!

In the immediate aftermath of Labour’s Falkirk crisis and Ed Miliband’s statement of intent to end collective union affiliation to the party, Keith Ewing identified the importance of leadership in defending the Union Labour link – ‘Trade union leaders are now under great pressure. They and they alone have the opportunity to stop Miliband’s breath-taking changes from happening, and the opportunity to defend the principle of collective affiliation’.

Drip-drip attacks on workers’ rights are Thatcher Redux

#TUC13 ‘A cursory glance through the 2013 TUC Agenda highlights the extent of the ever-growing employment rights problems facing workers in all sectors of our economy. Whether it's on health and safety, unfair dismissal, redundancy, maternity or equality issues, this government has ignored all the evidence and sidestepped opposition to force through changes that not only turn back the clock but are now destabilising the very bases of our industrial relations settlement,’ writes Carolyn Jones of the Institute of Employment Rights in a Congress preview:

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Labour Union link - flight or fight?

Yesterday's GMB CEC decision to cut its level of collective membership affiliation to 420,000 to 50,000 (and reduce funding from £1.2m to £150,000) from next January is remarkable in its timing ahead of the planned special conference in Spring 2014. While the GMB's anger at the Labour leadership's proposals to end collective union affiliation is entirely justified this premature decision plays into the hands of critics of the link given the lack of consultation with GMB political levy payers. The Collin Review is yet to conclude and the GMB weakens its voting strength ahead of the special conference. It doesn't make sense and epitomises the counter productive nature of the Falkirk issue. The mother of own goals and a criminal distraction from the priority of defeating the Con Dems at the next general election:

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

UNISON at the sharp end of Lobbying Bill political restrictions

In recent weeks there has been a belated but welcome realisation by a range of campaigning organisations from 38 Degrees to the TUC about the draconian implications of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill which gets its second reading in Parliament today. Much has been made about the lobbying bill restricting the ability of charities to campaign. But as the exemplary analysis by Professor Keith Ewing has highlighted, trade unions and the Labour Party are the target of the bill’s parliamentary draftsmen, with UNISON caught in the cross hairs:

Monday, 2 September 2013

TUC challenges loophole which denies Agency Workers’ equal rights

#TUC13 Today the Trades Union Congress will be taking the unusual step of lodging a formal complaint with the European Commission against the UK government for failing to enforce the European Temporary Agency Workers Directive - which is meant to guarantee equal treatment for temporary staff (in the case of the UK this applies only after 12 weeks continuous employment because of an unnecessary concession by the TUC itself in 2008):
    The TUC complaint relates to a loophole known as the Swedish derogation, estimated to affect 1 in 6 agency workers, which allows agency workers placed with employers to be paid less than direct employees, provided the agency agrees to continue paying them for at least four weeks at times when it is unable to find them work.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Guatemala: The worst place in the world to be a trade unionist

Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina has promised a Public Services International (PSI) delegation of international trade unionists that he will speak out about the need to respect and protect the lives of union members in the country. Guatemala is considered to be the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist.

The Active Disconnected by Bertolt Brecht

The active disconnected, your great teachers

Worked out the structure of a community

Where man is not wolf to man

And discovered man's delight in eating his fill and having a 

                      roof over his head