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

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Union Labour Link - steady as she sinks

A Guardian exclusive report today provides details of proposed Labour Party constitutional changes arising from the Collins Review. The most significant change relates to party leadership elections with the scrapping of the electoral college (which disproportionately empowers MPs) and the introduction of one member one vote (OMOV) which will include equal voting rights for trade union levy payers who sign up for £3 per year associate membership of Labour. Associate members will have a direct relationship with the party rather than via affiliated unions. Unions will continue to have a collective presence at Labour Party conference (and retain 50% of the 'vote') as well as on the NEC. Those political fund levy payers who opt in to making a contribution to Labour will be able to do so but will have no democratic rights of participation (unless a full or associate member).

Stronger organisation only solution to watering down of TUPE

The TUC has warned that the Con Dem Government's changes to the Transfer of Undertakings and Protection of Employment (TUPE) will 'drive down pay and conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers and make privatisation cheaper and quicker'. Which is precisely the point of the reforms at a time when the marketization of public services is being intensified and the number of TUPE transfers in the UK is likely to rocket past 50,000 in the next 12 months. Job security and contractual conditions of transferring workers will now come under serious threat. UNISON's priority must be to strengthen workplace organisation to resist privatisation and, when transfers take place, challenge employers who seek to maximise profit by imposing inferior terms and conditions on union members:

If We Must Die by Claude McKay

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.

Friday, 31 January 2014

UNISON Cymru/Wales stands up for fair pay in local government

#njcpay2014 UNISON branches across England, Northern Ireland and Wales are gearing up for next Tuesday's (4 February) day of protest in support of fair pay in local government. First out of the blocks yesterday were UNISON local government activists in Wales who lobbied a meeting of the Welsh employers in Builth Wells. The union's head of local government in Wales Dominic Macaskill said: "local government workers cannot be expected to and cannot afford to continue to subsidise local government services. Enough is enough, it is time they are paid fairly and we are calling on the WLGA to recognise this and support our pay claim."

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The £113m ghosts in Labour's machine

As the Collins Review of Labour's internal constitution edges towards its anti-climax at a two hour special conference on 1 March, speculation increases that future trade union affiliation (funding and voting) will be based on £3 per year 'associate membership' thus closing off millions of trade unionists from paying a political levy to Labour.

Labour nails cuts inequality but urgent restitution is required post-May 2015

New research by the Labour Party confirms that the most disadvantaged communities in England are facing the biggest local government cuts. Between 2010/11 and 2015/16 the percentage cut in spending will be 10 times greater in the most deprived areas than in those least deprived. The research highlights that the 10 most deprived areas, including Liverpool, Hackney, Manchester and Middlesbrough, which face an average reduction in spending power of 25.3% in stark contrast to the 10 least deprived areas, including St Albans, Elmbridge, Waverley and Wokingham, which are dealing with an average cut of just 2.54%. The big question is how fast an incoming Labour government will reverse this iniquitous redistribution of social wealth even within the self imposed straitjacket of Con Dem 2015/16 overall spending plans?

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Lobbyists welcome passing of Lobbying Bill while civil society mourns - but trade unions the real target

It seems the world’s turned upside down when professional lobbyists welcome yesterday’s passing of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill while charities and voluntary groups raise concerns at the refusal of the House of Lords to exclude them from its scope. However in truth the target of the legislation is neither the parasitic lobby industry nor the third sector but the trade union movement. This was confirmed by the Prime Minister himself in Parliament on 4 September last year ‘We all know what is going on—they do not want the trade unions brought within the law; they want the trade unions to go on spending millions after millions trying to alter an election campaign, rather than having them properly controlled by the law. That is what the lobbying Bill is about’ (Hansard, 4 September 2013).
Labour must make a priority of repealing this anti democratic, anti trade union law.
For more on the Lobbying Bill read here: http://unisonactive.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Lobbying

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

NHS alone can't solve health inequality

'Without addressing the fundamental inequalities in society the enormous efforts of our NHS staff will be like trying to push a giant rock up a hill. No matter how hard they try it comes pressing back down on them' writes UNISON Scottish Convenor and health worker Lilian Macer in a Morning Star article pointing out that policy on housing, employment and education all have an impact on health in Scotland and beyond:

UK outsourcing expands despite high failure rates

The number of PPP strategic partnerships has increased 35% in just two years with 18 additional contracts valued at £8bn. 60 contracts are currently operating, four were terminated and one completed the contract term, but was not renewed. A further two are being terminated in 2014. Strategic partnerships originated in ICT and corporate services, but have extended into planning, education, police, fire and rescue and property services. The failure rate is very high - nearly one in four contracts are either terminated, reduce scope as services are brought back in-house, and/or suffer major financial and operational problems. Savings, new business and new jobs targets continue to be illusive. Read the sixth edition of the PPP database here:

Wapping Dispute - New Online Archive‏

The News International dispute in 1986-87 was a turning point in the history of the British press. The sacking of virtually an entire workforce by the owner Rupert Murdoch introduced the age of corporate control that today determines what people are told about the world by the professional media. 5500 workers were sacked in a ruthlessly planned union busting exercise aided and abetted by the right wing EETPU union. An online archive of the dispute is now available including audio interviews with strikers, documents and photographs:

Monday, 27 January 2014

Fair demands for a fair society – Launch of the People’s Assembly Scotland

There was standing room only as Shrewsbury 24 campaigner Ricky Tomlinson joined trade unionists and community activists in Glasgow on Saturday to launch The People’s Assembly Scotland.
   Building on the National People’s assembly, launched in London in 2010, the People’s Assembly Scotland will bring together unions, trade union councils and local and national campaigning groups to fight the austerity driven policies of the UK Government.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Newcastle Labour delegation to Palestine

@Lab2Palestine Last week I was one of six Labour Newcastle City Councillors who visited Palestine with a not for profit organisation called ‘Labour2Palestine’. Their mission is to “increase understanding about Palestine in the Labour Party by organising visits.”

Passion for Solitude by Cesare Pavese

I’m eating a little supper by the bright window.
The room’s already dark, the sky’s starting to turn.
Outside my door, the quiet roads lead,
after a short walk, to open fields.