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

Saturday, 5 October 2013

NHS pay under further attack

In its submission to the NHS pay review body the Department of Health is calling for flat rate seven day working and the scrapping of incremental progression as pre-conditions for the 1% pay rise sanctioned by the Con Dem Government. The employer proposals mark a further attack on the Agenda for Change national agreement despite union concessions made as recently as April 2013 on the removal of enhancements from sick pay and tighter criteria for incremental progression. The integrity of the NHS pay review body as an independent system of pay determination has been a strongly contested issue in UNISON and the next pay award will be a major test of its credibility as an alternative to collective bargaining:

Free turkeys for the workers?

A great story on the Counterpunch website about the morality of working people by US trade unionist David Macary in which recalls a union local decision to hand out Thanksgiving turkeys to the whole membership and what happened next....

For Noha Al Hegalan by Vénus Khoury-Ghata

At that time the earth was so high up
women hung out clouds and laundry on the same line
angels gripped their skirts to keep them from following stray souls

Everything that frequented water had a soul
clay jug, gourd, basin
buckets fished out the ones stagnating in the wells’ indifference

Friday, 4 October 2013

US Government shutdown puts workers in fear of the breadline

This week’s US Congress budget blocking tactics by right wing Republicans to defund the Affordable Care Act has led to a partial government shutdown and over 800,000 public service workers being laid off without pay. Karina Vazquez, a SEIU member cleans government offices at the IRS building in Washington, D.C and says:
    "I'm worried because without work how am I going to look after my family? Every paycheck I get goes to paying bills, cards or food. The worst thing that I fear could happen to me is not being able to pay for food and rent. If the Republicans want to play games to stop the healthcare law, it's wrong for them to affect me and my family with them. I am asking them to stop"

UNISON - adapting to a changing environment?

‘We have a very clear view. We believe that public services are best provided by the public sector. Because you get the public service ethos, the services are provided on a comprehensive basis and not for profit. But over 20 years ago, we recognised that privatisation was on the increase and that we could no longer be just a public sector union,’ says Dave Prentis in an interview published by Ethos, the public policy journal of business services conglomerate Serco. The UNISON General Secretary explains the twin track approach which the union has honed since the 1980's privatisation of the UK's major utilities - 'We do meet with the private companies. And we do say openly that our principled position is to swing the pendulum back towards the public sector being the preferred provider. But we also recognise that we have to build a relationship with private sector employers. You can only have collective bargaining if you’ve got a relationship’

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Winning people to the union cause

‘I’m personally committed to unions devoting ever more resources to organising, to be willing to take risks about the new models of trade unionism we develop to reflect the real working lives of people today rather than a generation ago, I think there’s something more profound that we have to tackle. This is about rebuilding support for collective values, solidarity, people looking after each other, equality, compassion, dignity at work. These are very basic values but I don’t think we should take them for granted’ says TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady in a wide ranging interview in Red Pepper on the challenges facing the British trade union movement today:

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Do leopards change their spots?

Thanks to Political Scrapbook
The facts you need to know about the Daily Mail
  (1) Lord Rothermere the proprietor of the Daily Mail in the thirties (and ancestor of the current owners)was an active supporter of Hitler and Mussolini (ref- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1484647/When-Rothermere-urged-Hitler-to-invade-Romania.html)
   (2) In 1924 the Daily Mail published the Zinoviev Letter and defended it, smearing the Labour Party of the time as agents of the Comintern (ref http://www.theguardian.com/politics/1999/feb/04/uk.politicalnews6  http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/sceptred_isle/page/189.shtml)
   (3) This was the paper that published the editorial “Hurrah for the Blackshirts (http://www.military-quotes.com/forum/disgraceful-past-major-british-newspaper-t81288.html)
   Do leopards change their spots? But make up your own mind based on facts. The Daily Mail doesn’t.

1 October 2013 – RIP employment protection against third-party harassment

Today marks the repeal of provisions in the Equality Act 2010 for employment protection against third-party harassment and xpertHR lists eight key cases from its short existence. They highlight the limitations and strengths of the now scrapped law including an EAT decision which held that ‘an employer “subjected” its employees to unlawful race discrimination when it allowed comedian Bernard Manning and guests at an event to abuse and harass them racially, in circumstances in which it had sufficient control over the discriminatory event so as to have been able to prevent or reduce the extent of it by applying good employment practice’

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

If you see Sid tell him...

#cpc13 Or so went the Tory slogan on privatisation of British Gas. But I am referring to an old friend of mine called Sid. A Sid who like thousands of others in the public sector is paid to clean the streets, to clear graffiti. The street cleansing teams up and down the UK are fed up with the way in which their jobs are likened to ‘punishment jobs’. Community service for crimes? Make them clear graffiti. Too lazy to get a real job? Make them clean the streets. But Osborne’s demeaning approach is far more sinister than just an attack on the unemployed. It is an attack on the very concept that the public sector has a role to play in working for a better environment.

Monday, 30 September 2013

After #NHS299 - the fightback starts now

As the dust settles on the magnificent UNISON-led demonstration through Manchester on Sunday, the big question on activists lips is “What next!” That is the right question and the answer must be that we build on the momentum of the energy and passion shown by the 60,000 people snaking through the city centre demanding that we fight to save the NHS. This is a fight which everyone has a part to play.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Hands off our NHS says Prentis

#nhs299 (and @BBCNews in case you're missing this) UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis, in a speech to the 'wonderful people' at the Manchester rally, says the union will fight to keep the privateers out of the NHS.
   "55,000 people marching, speaking with one voice a clear message to the Tories, hands off our NHS", said Dave. He pledged support to the fight against privatisation at George Eliot hospital and for UNISON ambulance workers about to ballot. 
    He warned privateers would 'suck money' out of the NHS. "The NHS loses out, patients lose out, staff lose out: the only winners are the shareholders. Even the NHS chief executive now agrees that the government's ridiculous competition rules are holding back quality improvements.
   "Cameron said he could sum up his priorities in three letters: NHS. It turns out he was right. But in Tory language, this stands for 'National Hospital Sell-Off'."
   See also UNISON head of health Christine McAnea's speech on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b5iYLfBlv8&feature=youtu.be&a

Let's hear it for the Future Directions workers

#nhs299 Joining the Manchester rally are UNISON members from Rochdale on a 10 day all out strike in their campaign to reverse cuts in pay following outsourcing of adult social care services to Future Directions a community interest company 100% owned by Calderstones NHS Foundation Trust. http://unisonactive.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/future-directions-workers-striking.html

Photos from the march in Manchester today

#nhs299 As thousands upon thousands march for our NHS in Manchester, photos are coming in thick and fast from the front line.....

Andy Burham, Dave Prentis and Frances O'Grady head up the march in glorious sunshine

Parity - NHS by Philip Ruthen

A laboured ache
always full of itself
no need to collect tokens
it is here, Pain is here
choices codified
the daze numbered
or even precisely
losing too much in bulk buying
perhaps gaining a little
by making text
calls chase miss-named special offers