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

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Public service workers deserve respect and decency - Tony Benn

"When people talk about cuts to public services they forget that people depend on them. They’re just told about the cost, and that it’s more money for the state - as if the state was some great monster that does things to you. When in reality it’s the public services workers who look after you, and who are paid for by the community" said the late Tony Benn in an interview with UNISON activist magazine Infocus back in 2010 soon after the formation of the Coalition Government. The full interview can be read here:

Facts about Things by W. N. Herbert

Things are tired.
Things like to lie down.
Things are happiest when,
for no reason, they collapse.

That French plastic bottle, still half-full,
that soft-back book, just leaning on
another book, drowsily:
soon they will want to go outside,

Friday, 14 March 2014

Straight as the crow flies - an appreciation of Bob Crow by Rodney Bickerstaffe

Bob Crow, dead at 52: an open, short letter to a long list of closed minds
- to all who despised Bob Crow, because he spoke truth to power and believed there was a better and fairer society out there to be won.
- to the bosses and senior hirelings who stuff their bank accounts with impossibly earned salaries, bonuses and share options.
- to those who talk of "our country" yet practice blackmail, threatening to or actually moving factories or head offices, to other parts of the world for personal and corporate advantage from low taxes, chaotically light regulation or slave labour.

We must stand up and fight Hunt on NHS Pay

Whatever the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) announced yesterday, it was unlikely to be enough to maintain the living standards of NHS workers in the face of the huge cost of living crisis. A 1% increase leaves pay well behind inflation, saps the spending power of these workers and leaves NHS staff still picking up the bill once again of a crisis not of our making. But Hunt’s kick in the teeth for NHS staff in reneging on the PRB recommendations has damaging consequences.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

A declaration of war on NHS workers

#NHSPay We have just had the announcement that the government has rejected the PRB’s recommendation that staff in the NHS should receive a 1% up lift on all pay points. The PRB’s recommendation is itself pathetic and amounts to a further erosion of NHS workers’ pay. But the government has even undermined this miserable recommendation by announcing that only those staff at the top of their grades will receive 1%, and even then this will be unconsolidated which means it does not get added to the hourly rate and nor will be included on unsocial hours payments, nor is it pensionable. Those staff still making their way up the pay bands will receive nothing. In addition the government has said if the trade unions do not agree to changes to incremental progression and other terms and conditions then the 2015 pay settlement will be the same as this year's.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Bob Crow RIP - 'A great member of our trade union family'

Dave Prentis issued this statement on yesterday's untimely death of RMT leader Bob Crow: ‘I am shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Bob Crow. Unison members will want to send their sympathy to his family and friends. Bob was a tough, no-nonsense union leader who always did his best for his members. And it was very much down to his tough stance that their pay and conditions improved.Despite all the flack he got, he stood his ground and was a great member of our trade union family. His loss will be felt across the whole trade union movement’

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Liverpool to end the BT contract

When the Liverpool BT joint venture was first set up it was mooted as the new way of doing business. This wasn’t outsourcing it was partnership. Staff would retain their terms and conditions. Liverpool wouldn’t be ripped off like many outsourcing deals. This was different. Except it wasn’t. It is a painful and powerful lesson for politicians of all political parties to learn. If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck the chances are it is a duck. The BT joint venture was outsourcing in any other name and designed to boost the profits of BT not make services better for the people of Liverpool. Now Liverpool has taken the bold and right step to end the contract.

Outsourcing epidemic hits NHS

Yesterday's FT reported that the NHS is preparing outsourcing contracts worth £1.2bn for the provision of frontline cancer treatment in district hospitals and care for the terminally ill. Opponents of the Health and Social Care Act had predicted that the concept of 'any qualified provider' would accelerate NHS privatisation. Labour shadow health minister Andy Burnham MP is in no doubt about the threat to the future of the NHS: 'It is clear that ministers are determined to force ever-larger and more valuable contracts out to the open market. David Cameron has placed the NHS on a fast track to fragmentation and privatisation. The next election presents the last chance to change course.' The graph above shows that it was on Labour's watch that the NHS outsourcing epidemic took hold. It is vital the party holds firm to Andy Burnham's commitments when elected.

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Men of Atalissa

Services for adults with learning difficulties have been decimated by austerity driven cuts and the introduction of charges. A Mencap report in 2012 found that one in four adults with a learning disability are stuck at home due to cuts to day services across England, leading its Chief Executive to express concern that 'progress towards greater participation of disabled people in the community and mainstream society risks being undone by a failing system that has long been ignored and is now creaking under the pressure of increased demand and budget cuts’. A powerful New York Times video documentary ‘The Men of Atalissa’ - about a community of men with learning disabilities in Iowa - highlights the danger of abuse and exploitation when social services provision is inadequate.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Big UNISON presence as thousands march in York for a 'Better Way'

#betterwaydemo A large contingent of UNISON members from the Northern and Yorkshire & Humberside regions turned out at yesterday’s TUC organised protest in York at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference. TUC regional secretary Bill Adams said that 'a strong message has been sent out about trying to find a better way to do things, rather than through austerity and attacking the most vulnerable.
We've reminded Lib Dem delegates that their party is complicit in that. We are saying that there must be a better way than pushing back workers, driving down living standards and attacking the poor’

Awake by Najwan Darwish

Awake for longer than forever
and since before eternity:
My waking is the wave that froths and foams
Awake in hymns and the mailmen’s passion
Awake in a house that will be destroyed
and in a grave that will be dug up by machines:
My country is the wave that froths and foams
Awake so that the colonizers might leave
Awake so that people can sleep
“Everyone has to sleep sometime,” they say
I am awake
and ready to die.