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

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Unions are only barrier to the overwhelming supremacy of capitalism

The attack on union rights is currently the number one priority for public sector unions in every part of the world. That was the message from Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International (PSI) to this week’s convention of CUPE, the Canadian public services union. Pavanelli told delegates that the recent financial crisis created by bankers and speculators led to attacks on public services and the union movement. “I firmly believe that we are confronted with a deliberate attack that has been planned to get rid of the only barrier still opposing the overwhelming supremacy of capitalism. We are not only the witnesses of such an attack; we all are the target of this attack.” Watch the speech on line at: http://cupe50.ca/the-fight-for-union-rights-is-in-front-of-us-pavanelli/

Shades of Anger by Rafeef Ziadah

Allow me to speak my arab tongue before they occupy my language as well
Allow me to speak my mother tongue before they colonize her memory as well

I am an arab woman of color and we come in all shades of anger

Alvaro Uribe - not welcome here

Canning House and the Institute of Latin American Studies have invited ex-Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to give a talk at Senate House on 31st October 2013. The decision to invite Uribe to talk by such prestigious institutions is troubling since it offers him undeserved moral legitimacy at a time when his eventual incarceration for serious crimes against the Colombian people looks increasingly likely. Sign the petition here to protest against the planned visit:
www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/alvaro-uribe-is-not-welcome-in-the-uk-alvaro-uribe-no-es-bienvenido-en-el-reino-unido

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Iron Heel of Ineos - another multinational adds to misery

It has been hard to miss the coverage of Grangemouth petro-chemical works in the past few days. From a parochial local matter, the affair has been escalated into the national headlines as an example of union intransigence costing workers jobs. The origins of the dispute lie with union perception and reaction to the victimisation of a member, an affair going back to the Labour Party and the Falkirk candidate selection conflict.
    Ineos alone chose to up the ante, threatening closure unless the entire workforce agreed to drastic cuts in terms and conditions (including the closure of the final salary pension scheme), a no strike agreement and as a last resort attempting to cut the union out by going directly to the workforce. This can best be described as blackmail, at worst as extortion.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Violence against health trade unionists in Guatemala

Public Services International (PSI) is calling on affiliated unions to protest at a recent escalation of violent attacks on members of the SNTSG health union in Guatemala. A PSI report gives the background to recent violence which follows on the cases of 58 trade unionists murdered in recent years, in particular the murders in March 2013 of Carlos Hernandez and Santa Alvarado of SNTSG (National Health Workers’ Union of Guatemala) and Kyra Zulueta Enr√≠quez Mena (Union of the Municipality of Nueva Concepci√≥n).
    Embassy of Guatemala in London can be contacted at 13 Fawcett Street London SW10 9HN Email: Embgranbretana@minex.gob.gt
http://www.world-psi.org/en/new-attacks-and-death-threats-against-union-members-Guatemala

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The contract culture in social care is a national scandal

‘The government have made such swingeing cuts to council grants that forces social care providers into cutting pay and conditions. Many employees are now being paid below the minimum wage. That's because they are not being paid for travel time, use their own cars without being paid reasonable mileage rates and have to pay for mobile phones and uniforms,’ says Heather Wakefield, UNISON head of local government, in a Guardian report which examines the downward spiral of budget cuts, underfunded contracts and attacks on care staff wages – exemplified by the Future Directions dispute in Rochdale:
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/22/council-funding-cuts-care-homes-minimum-wage

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Spanish Lessons for UK trade unions?

Angie Goga writing for the LSE blog has nailed down the malaise affecting the leadership of trade unions in Spain. Like rabbits in head lights they are stunned by the violence and depth of the attack on workers and public services. The savagery of the austerity measures in Spain are destroying the lives of young workers - 50% (!) unemployment - and those who have lost their jobs see little left of the social security arrangements that might keep their families out of poverty:
http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2013/08/19/spanish-trade-unions-must-change-with-the-times-if-they-are-to-offer-a-coherent-voice-against-austerity-policies/

Monday, 21 October 2013

Bosses who play hardball

Gregor Gall takes stock of the dispute at Ineos oil refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland, and finds that the belligerent stance of the company is not an isolated case of anti union management behaviour but reflects a growing trend of ’put up or shut up’ by bosses citing UNISON’s dispute with the NHS employers over ambulance workers pay and conditions as one of several current examples.

Council funding crisis - Austerity is cutting out the heart of local democracy

Following interviews given by Sir Merrick Cockell, Tory Chair of the Local Government Association, on the eve of Conservative Party Conference, there is a slowly dawning realisation in the broader realm that council funding cuts are threatening the very future of local democracy as we have known it. To many within the sector, particularly in England, this is not breaking news and has been the stuff of waking nightmares for some time.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The neo liberal reality of the EU

The European Social Model (ESM) is a mirage argue Philip B Whyman and Mark Baimbridge in a Chartist article which lays bare the neo liberal reality of the EU and challenges the sacred cow of those in the labour movement who promote social Europe as an antidote to austerity and marketisation – ‘if the ESM is unlikely to be enacted in any kind of meaningful way beyond the minimal welfare base line that for most EU nations represents a race to the bottom in social terms, where does that leave support for further integration and support for continual membership of the EU?'   http://www.chartist.org.uk/articles/europe/sept13whyman.htm

A Lullaby by To Huu

Bees produce honey, love flowers;
Fish swim, love water; birds sing, love the sky.
My baby, if humans want to survive
They must love their comrades, love their brothers.