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

Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Benefits System: EXPOSED

A TUC animation tackles some of the media and political myths about the benefits system, with the aid of a talking dog.


STUC cancels march after Glasgow tragedy

The STUC has cancelled the St Andrew's Day anti-racism march in Glasgow today due to the tragic helicopter crash. The march would have passed close to the scene. A statement from the STUC says: "As a mark of respect to all those affected by the tragedy at the Clutha Vaults last night and in view of the pressure which has been placed on the resources of Scottish emergency services, STUC has decided to cancel its annual St Andrew's Day anti-racism march. The march which had been due to leave from Glasgow Green at 11am will now NOT take place, but participants are invited to attend a short rally at the Glasgow Film Theatre at 12 noon as planned".
   Our thoughts are with those affected and the public service staff working tirelessly to deal with the incident. http://www.stuc.org.uk/campaigns-and-external-events/st-andrews-day

Zero Hour by Ernesto Cardenal

Tropical nights in Central America,
with moonlit lagoons and volcanoes
and lights from presidential palaces,
barracks and sad curfew warnings.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Private provision in the NHS - the more we see the less we want

Public support for private firms providing services falling markedly, according to a poll conducted by Ipsos Mori. 1009 people were asked if they agreed with the statement 'as long as health services are free of charge, it doesn’t matter to me whether they are provided by the NHS or a private company'. There was net agreement of -5 per cent with the statement, with 42 per cent agreeing and 47 per cent disagreeing. When the same question was asked in 2011 there was net approval of 5 per cent:

Urgent - Sign the Shrewsbury 24 petition now

You only have till 14 December to sign the Shrewsbury 24 paper petition calling for the release of government documents that pertain to the Shrewsbury trial in 1972. A request to release these documents has been denied on grounds of “national security” and this decision is not due to be reviewed until 2021.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Poorest areas hardest hit by Con Dem cuts

The Independent reports that Government spending cuts have hit the poorest parts of England and Scotland much harder than more affluent areas. Research published today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) confirms that the North and Midlands are suffering more than the south, with deprived areas left about £100 per person worse off. The JRF analysed the 30% real terms cut in local government spending between 2008 and 2015:

'Austerity increases income inequality' (c) IMF

The fanatically pro market Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises famously stated that 'inequality of wealth is the cause of the masses' well being, not the cause of anybody's distress.' Once the province of right wing cranks, such thinking has become today's neo liberal orthodoxy. The December 2013 issue of the IMF's quarterly magazine "Finance & Development" has an article summarizing recent reports produced by the Fund's research department showing that austerity ("fiscal consolidation") and capital account liberalization policies increase income inequality:

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Agency job cuts put environment in danger

The Environment Agency in England, where UNISON organises 3,500 workers, is slashing its staff by 15% in the next year. Over 1,700 jobs will be lost as a result of Government funding cuts. Veerle Heyvaert writing for The Conversation blog warns that the ‘environmental and related economic costs of this scale of layoffs at the Environment Agency should be taken seriously. By themselves they are unlikely to sway a government that, regardless of its claimed green ambition, pursues an agenda of environmental deregulation. Yet there are other significant legal and political costs that may have escaped the government’s attention so far but are significant’

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Indy White Paper flags up need for cross border discussion

We have got the best part of a year to analyse the White Paper on Scottish Independence so any attempt to do the debate justice at this stage would be a bit previous. However, a Holyrood Magazine has thrown up some key cross border issues that will have to be adressed whatever the result.

The myth of the contented slave

Slave Masters justified slavery by claiming that slaves 'were perfectly contented with their condition, and on the whole a much better race without education than with, as they were now faithful, kind-hearted, and attached to their masters, whereas education would destroy all their natural virtues, and make them as vicious as the lower orders in other countries.'

Monday, 25 November 2013

End Violence against Women

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. According to a 2013 WHO global study, 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence but some national studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime from an intimate partner. Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights.

Labour's Collateral Damage?

Anyone with any doubts about the madness of Ed Miliband's proposal to end the collective affiliation to the Labour Party of almost 3 million trade unionists will surely have had them dispelled by yesterday's Sunday Telegraph report that the Labour Party has secured £2.4 million in loans from the Co-operative Bank 'using future income from union affiliation fees as collateral'

Upbeat mood at UNISON LGBT conference

#ulgbt13 Over 400 delegates and visitors gathered in Liverpool over the weekend for the annual conference of UNISON's LGBT self organised group. In a moment of collective pride, exactly 30 years after Nalgo's first lesbian and gay conference, UNISON's first out President Maureen Le Marinel addressed conference on Saturday morning. Local Labour MP and Shadow Minister for Justice Stephen Twigg praised the trade union movement's massive contribution to the recent advances in LGBT rights but noted that there remains much to do both at home and internationally:

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Free School chickens coming home to roost

One of the first schools to open as a free school (state funded but run as independent schools) is facing closure if it does not come up with an improvement plan in the next two weeks. Opponents of the Con Dems' free schools programme in England have long warned that the deregulation of education will harm standards. Labour shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt accused Ministers of ‘refusing to take action to address the fundamental flaws in their schools policy that allows unqualified teachers in classrooms on a permanent basis; a lack of transparency; and a complete failure of oversight’

Talking to myself by Kishwar Naheed

Punish me for I’ve written the significance of the dream
in my own blood written a book ridden with an obsession
Punish me for I have spent my life sanctifying the dream of the future
spent it enduring the tribulations of the night
Punish me for I have imparted knowledge and the skills of the sword to the murderer and demonstrated the power of the pen to the mind