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

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Mission Impossible - the Tories reaching out to trade unionists

The gradual weakening of Labour’s links with trade unionists provides an opportunity for the Conservative Party to reach out to trade unions according to a recent article in the Economist magazine. Ideas being promoted by the pressure group Renewal - which aims to broaden Tory appeal among working class, northern and ethnic minority voters - include free party membership for trade unionists and Tory backed slates in internal union elections. Given the onslaught on trade union and workers’ rights waged by both current and past Tory Ministers this initiative is about as viable as a Bargain Booze franchise in Saudi Arabia.

Streetlights by Luo Ying

Come shine on me
I’ll get deeply drunk
Shocked people
Get away from me quick
These streets
Have untamed me
It’s impossible to run wild

Friday, 14 February 2014

Public Sector jobs - austerity death toll reaches 40%

A new report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies confirms that the biggest cull of public sector jobs for at least 50 years will see vulnerable parts of the country suffering staff reductions of up to 40%. The study confirms that the reductions are already hitting hardest those parts of Britain with the weakest economic activity and greatest levels of poverty:

Thursday, 13 February 2014

TUC National Demonstration 18 October - Britain needs a pay rise (and shhh... Tories Out!)

The TUC is to organise a mass demonstration in London under the banner of Britain Needs a Pay Rise. It will take place on Saturday 18 October 2014, and will begin with a march through central London, culminating in a rally in Hyde Park. This will be the fourth march that the TUC has organised since the coalition came to power. Previous demonstrations - in support of alternatives to austerity, opposing cuts and in defence of the NHS - drew broad based support from local communities and service users as well as trade unionists. The narrower focus on pay of the 2014 demonstration (just 7 months before the 2015 General Election) will surprise many and arguably represents the first scalp of the Transparency of Lobbying etc Act which comes into force on 14 September and will make it illegal for ‘registered campaigners’ to spend more than £319,800 on seeking to ‘influence voting choice’ in the year before an election:

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Collins: PLP leadership election power untouched

One should not imagine that the proposal from the Collins Review, that members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) are to have their section of the Party's Electoral College removed means a significant reduction in their influence over who the leader of the Labour Party will be. That power remains largely intact due to the fact that the PLP are to retain sole control over leadership nominations, as well as the figure where Collins proposes the threshold is to be set.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Floods crisis - UNISON gave EA cuts warning before February storms

As the arrogant and odious Eric Pickles MP blames the blame game on the flooding crisis in the South West of England, it is worth remembering the warnings given by UNISON at the beginning of the year about the likely catastrophic impact of large scale funding cuts at the Environment Agency. Will this Government ever learn that austerity is ruining lives? "Staff in the Agency have worked day and night to keep communities safe and prevent flood damage, and work tirelessly to support those devastated by the aftermath. The government can't have it both ways, praising the sterling work of members in the Agency but at the same time imposing further damaging cuts."

Monday, 10 February 2014

Labour's Citizen Smith is missing the mark

For someone who has taken such an anti-radical view of policy it is a touch ironic that Ed Miliband has now decided his election rallying cry will be a Citizen Smith style ‘power to the people’. Unfortunately there is nothing remotely radical in his ideas – just a re-hash of Hazel Blears days in local government and communities and Blair’s obsession with NHS meddling under the guise of patient power. Perhaps Mr Miliband needs a little lesson on what already exists in terms of ‘people power’:

Solidarity with the Palestinians of Yarmouk

Christopher Gunness, spokesman for UNRWA (the UN relief effort for refugees) wrote in yesterday's Observer about more than 20,000 Palestinians trapped in Yarmouk, a refugee camp in Syria. In the midst of the Syrian civil war the refugees are enduring appalling conditions which Gunness rightly says ought to concern all of us and calls for humanitarian aid to be stepped up . UNISON branches can donate via Human Aid.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Home carers stretched beyond the limit

The BBC's File on 4 last week broadcast an important analysis of the state of home care. A survey of all local authorities in England discovered severe cuts in spending on care services leading some home care providers to withdraw their operations because of inadequate funding. However the real impact of the cuts is being born by elderly and disabled service users whose quality of care is being badly reduced and the low paid workforce struggling to deliver a decent service with inadequate resources and time. In the programme Labour's shadow health minister Andy Burnham acknowledges that previous governments across the board have failed to integrate with heath care and properly resource social care. Every UNISON branch which organises in councils which commission home care services must press for the adoption the union's ethical care charter:

Who is the Enemy? by Ali Sardar Jafri

You were slaves till yesterday, so were we.
And then came the season of freedom bathed in showers of blood…
Between you and us rage rivers of fire
Tall frowning barriers of hate
With a mere glance, however, we can tear them down;
We can forget, forgive the cruel part;
And again embrace you, yes we can.
But first you will have to break your swords,
And cleanse these bloodied garments;
After that we shall become no more strangers.
You bring us flowers from the gardens of Lahore,
We bring you light from the dawns of Benares,
Freshness of the Himalayan breeze;
And thereafter we ask each other:
Who is the enemy?