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

Saturday, 8 February 2014

High Court upholds Con Dem attack on workplace rights

'In this country, we don’t walk on by when people are sick when people lose work when people get old'' claimed David Cameron in his speech on Scottish independence yesterday. The hypocrisy of the aloof and smug millionaire was laid bare on the same day when the High Court rejected UNISON’s challenge to the Government’s decision to introduce employment tribunal and employment appeal tribunal fees. Yes Prime Minister, it's true you don't walk on when workers lose jobs. You put your jackboot on their throat instead:

Library services are being eroded by cuts

#NLD14 In the past two years 275 libraries have closed down in the UK as government cuts have forced councils to cut back on the provision of non statutory services. Today is National Libraries Day and Louis Whittle, writing on the False Economy blog, gives examples of how cuts and automation are decimating the quality of library services: ‘the cuts will have an immeasurable impact on learning. Libraries give equal access to education but the erosion due to cuts will create a society where the poor will not have the same access as people with money’

Moonlight by Nguyen Duy

Our childhood, we had no time
to spend idling by rivers and seas.
The war so soon upon us. In the jungle
the moon's halo, our only close friend.

Friday, 7 February 2014

HE workers dig in for pay justice‏

#fairpayinHE Yesterday members of UNISON, EIS, UCU and Unite took a third full day of national industrial action across the UK in the long running pay dispute with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA). Despite the inevitable difficulties associated with sustaining a pay dispute against an intransigent employer, early reports confirm that a vast majority of HE workers responded to the strike call:
Sign the petition to support the action: http://www.fairpayinhe.org.uk/sign-here/

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Nudging up profits by stealth privatisation

The former Government ‘Nudge Unit’ has been privatised into a joint venture with a small Government stake being retained and the remaining two thirds of the organisation going to employees and to NESTA. Ironic then that this ‘behaviour change’ unit is not changing its behaviour one iota from the vested interests in other privatised services with Maude refusing to disclose what, if any, payment the Government received for what is clearly a commercial sale of a former public service. Once services are floated off into these pseudo ‘mutuals’ they have a commercial value and taxpayers have an absolute right to hold Government to account on what these deals mean for the public purse. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26030205

Collins Review - Hollowing out the Union Labour link

Yesterday the Labour Party NEC approved the recommendations of the Collins Review to reform Labour's internal constitution, which will now be put (non amendable) to a two hour long special conference on 1 March 2014. Much has been stated about the 15 affiliated unions retaining a 'collective affiliation' and how this has been the sine qua non for trade union agreement to the changes. But does this claim stand up to scrutiny and will it be credible in the medium term?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Town Hall pay squeeze - enough is enough

#NJCPay2014 Today local government workers will be holding local protests across the UK to highlight the effects of a long term squeeze on pay and the catastrophic impact of austerity cuts on local services. Heather Wakefield UNISON head of local government, writing on the TUC stronger unions blog, said: 'The key aim of our Day of Protest is to draw attention to the 18% drop in basic pay faced by our members in local government in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since 2010. That's the consequence of a unique three-year pay freeze and below-inflation settlements in eight of the last sixteen years:

Monday, 3 February 2014

Canadian unions stand on a precipice

James Clancy, President of Canadian public services union federation NUPGE, reflects on the stark challenges facing trade unions in Canada: 'we stand now on a precipice. What happens over the next two years will likely seal labour's fate for decades to come. We will emerge either stronger than ever or broken almost beyond repair. It is an exciting but also terrifying moment. If there's ever been a time for us to speak up loudly about why unions matter - and to actively support politicians who do the same - it is now. If we don't, we will doom our children, grandchildren and perhaps even our great grandchildren to more poverty, discrimination, and authoritarianism'

Sunday, 2 February 2014

He who appoints the piper calls the tune

Political appointments to public service regulators are in the news following Michael Gove's sacking of New Labour Peer Sally Morgan as Ofsted chair. A much bigger cause for concern is the war being waged on the NHS by former Conservative Party Chief Executive, Deputy Chair and MP David Prior in his capacity as chair of health service watchdog CQC. In an article for the Sunday Telegraph he lauds the US model of health care and lays bare his agenda to destroy the NHS as a publicly funded, publicly provided service: 'We need more competition to drive up standards of care; more entrants into the market from private-sector companies, the voluntary sector and other care providers'

Maude - Confessions of a union buster

Egged on by the Tory hard right in front organisations such as the Trade Union Reform Campaign (chaired by discredited MP Aidan Burley), the Con Dem government has set about systematically ending trade union activity in the public sector. Civil service unions have borne the brunt of this offensive and Francis Maude MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, writing on the conservative home website, sets out the extent to date of the attacks on union organisation:

Remembrance by Nikola Vaptsarov

I had a mate,
a good mate too,
but... he coughed in trouble.
A stoker by trade,
he carried the coal in a sack
and threw out the ash
on the night shift for twelve hours running.