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

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Free schools and academies fail the test of scrutiny

The latest Red Pepper mythbuster scrutinises the claims made by proponents of free schools and academies. It finds that where standards, choice, parental control, curriculum, meeting demand and value for money are concerned, the government's flagship programme has failed on every count - and overspent its budget by a phenomenal £1bn:

XIII by Juan Gelman

have you come and I don’t see you? / where
are you hidden? / will nothing ever distract me
from you at last? / I groan in the night /
I hold the groan inside myself it is

Friday, 15 November 2013

On Palestine, G4S and the Prison Industrial Complex

In London on 13 December 2013, War on Want, School of Law at SOAS and the Russell Tribunal on Palestine will be hosting a landmark discussion on justice for Palestine and the Stop G4S campaign. This will be a unique opportunity to hear eminent feminist scholar-activists Angela Davis and Gina Dent discussing Palestine and the struggle for liberty in a world of growing militarisation, privatised repression and the proliferation of prisons.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Jam tomorrow is not enough – Britain needs a pay rise

Yesterday it was announced that the higher education unions, UCU, UNISON and Unite, will stage a second day of national strike action on 3 December in support of a pay claim which ‘at least matches the rate of inflation’ (RPI currently stands at 2.6%). The cash rich University employers have offered a derisory 1%. Support came from an unexpected quarter yesterday. The Independent reports that New Labour social mobility Tsar Alan Milburn said Labour’s pledge to freeze energy prices and the Coalition’s proposal to create more competition in the industry would not solve the fundamental problem in the economy – that wages have stagnated. “The cost of living crisis is as much a problem of falling earnings as it is of rising price”

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Putting the (welly) boot in

A little local difficulty has arisen in Glasgow over the quaint tradition of putting a traffic cone on Wellington's statue. First the council wanted to raise the plinth to stop it happening, then they 'paused' after a social media backlash. The ironic news prompted this comment from a local contact: "Glasgow Labour Party has been totally united in passing £200m in cuts, closing day centres, increasing charges for care and threatening 1,000 strikers with the sack. Now they publicly split over a traffic cone on the head of a 19th century Duke who 'invented' a boot to keep working class soldiers' feet dry whilst being slaughtered in the mud during imperialist wars. Unbelievable!"

Go forth and monopolise

A new report from the National Audit Office (NAO) confirms that in 2012/13 private companies secured £187bn of public spending in the UK including over 25% of central government spending. The NAO sounds an alarm about 'quasi monopolies that have sprung up in some parts of the public sector' as the domination of public sector procurement by companies such as Atos, Serco, Capita and G4S generates super profits. As the General Election approaches it's an alarm that Labour needs to hear loud and clear:

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

No rhyme or reason to latest state intrusion on union autonomy in Britain

Yesterday the Lords inconclusively debated Part 3 of the Lobbying Bill – which if enacted will introduce statutory regulation of trade union membership records. Ahead of the debate former TUC General Secretary Lord Monks had demolished the ‘Coalition’s proposed union-bashing legislation’ in an article on the Labour Lords' website:
  The Lords debate can be read here, with excellent contributions by John Monks and other former union leaders who now represent Labour in the second chamber. Man-of-the-people Viscount Younger of Leckie put the case for the proposed anti union legislation, citing the need for ’confidence in their (union) accountability to their members’, and Liberal Democrat Lord Tyler made a vicious contribution linking the government's proposals to the Collins Review of the union Labour link:

National Lobby of Parliament for Palestine

An important lobby of Parliament is taking place 2PM to 6PM on Wednesday 27 November 2013. The lobby will be calling on MPs to support Palestinian human rights and aims to raise awareness of and provoke Parliamentary action against the many infringements of the rights of Palestinians; from the suffering caused by the blockade of Gaza to the illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

Scottish Union Women Take the Road to Dundee

#stucwomen13 This week sees Scottish trade union women take the road and the miles to Dundee for the 86th STUC Women’s Conference. The conference is being chaired by Eileen Dinning of UNISON and this year attracts 110 delegates from across the spectrum of Scottish unions.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Austerity lies

Despite the clear failure of austerity as an economic as opposed to a neo-liberal ideological strategy, the narrative still has credibility with many. This has much to do with the selling of it in the media. Initially, this meant likening the crisis to the inter-war crash and then blaming it all on the last Labour Government’, writes Paul Donovan in Tribune about the success of the Con Dem big lie political communications strategy since 2010. He calls for ‘a new and alternative vision that can be communicated effectively to counter the austerity narrative’

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Act now to stop another anti union law getting on the Statute Book

An effective campaign of opposition to the Con Dem government's undemocratic proposals to restrict third party political expenditure has resulted in a pause and review of the related part 2 of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill. A consequence of this concession has led to part 3 of the legislation - which proposes state regulation of union membership records - being brought forward for consideration in the Lords from December to tomorrow, 11 November. A coalition of Peers was instrumental in forcing back the third party expenditure proposals and now the TUC is calling on trade unionists to 'adopt a Peer' to ensure that members of the second chamber of Parliament are aware that part 3 of the Bill is equally unacceptable and should be opposed:

While earth rotates by Rasul Gamzatov

Like water, I have drunk the sun.
I’ve climbed year after year
To see its orb of scarlet rise,
And set, as night draws near.