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

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Thatcherism a ruinous economic & social failure

Mitchell Anderson compares and contrasts the economic and social development of Norway and the UK, two countries which benefitted from North Sea oil wealth windfalls from the 1970's onwards:
    'Thirty-five years after she swept to power as British prime minister, it is ironic that socialist Norway now has $830 billion in the bank and enjoys fully funded social programs that most of us can only dream of. Meanwhile the U.K. is enduring another round of wrenching austerity and owes over £1.3 trillion - about US$2.2 trillion. That massive debt grows by about $3.8 billion each week, while every seven days Norway adds another billion dollars to their bank account'

The Deluge and the Tree by Fadwa Touqan

When the hurricane swirled and spread its deluge
of dark evil
onto the good green land
'they' gloated. The western skies
reverberated with joyous accounts:
"The Tree has fallen !
The great trunk is smashed! The hurricane leaves no life in the Tree!"

Friday, 28 March 2014

Tangled web of Tory vested interests in NHS privatisation

The connections of Conservative politicians past and present with an array of consultants and private companies currently plundering the NHS are outlined in an article by Jos Bell writing for the Open Democracy website. As Labour's Andy Burnham MP has said 'It’s shocking the same Tory donors who ­bankrolled the development of their NHS reorganisation policy are now ­profiting from the sell-off of NHS services'

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The breathtaking scale of economic inequality

An Oxfam briefing paper published in January outlines the 'serious and worrying trend' of rising wealth concentrations, opportunity capture and unequal political representation:

• Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.

• The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Solidarity with the NUT in England and Wales

#M26 UNISON has advised members working in schools that they should not take on any additional responsibilities given to them directly as a result of today's industrial action by the National Union of Teachers. This follows revised guidance sent to schools by the Department for Education stating that 'cover supervicors can be directed to cover industrial action.' UNISON has advised members that 'staff should not be moved from the duties they would normally have carried out in order to cover classes and frustrate the industrial action of colleagues. Members who are under pressure to cover should contact their UNISON rep, branch or region for further advice and support.'

Outsourcing is driven by worker exploitation

'Basic logic and a growing amount of evidence suggests that where money is saved by outsourcing, it is often at the expense of wages of already low paid public sector workers. Contracting out doesn’t improve efficiency – it just makes it easier to pay people less,' writes UNISON's Sara Gorton in an analysis of the failed model of outsourcing past and present. The previous Labour Government did not eschew outsourcing but introduced additional protections to prevent cuts in terms and conditions including for workers joining contracts post transfer.
   Removal of those protections - the so called Code of Practice on Workforce Matters - was one of the first acts of the Coalition, followed by a weakening of TUPE regulations from 31 January this year. The article concludes by posing a crucial question about a future Labour government: 'Do they continue with this failed system, built on a project to drive down workers wages? Or do they take a new approach to public sector reform which is not automatically hostile to in-house delivery'

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Pensions Freedom Or Pensions Fiddle?

Forgive a cynic, but Gideon’s pension changes last week stirred memories of previous pension changes. How many other old Nalgo stewards were transported back to the last pensions mis-selling scandal, when Thatcher deliberately encouraged members of public sector schemes to move their pension pots to private providers? Despite the best efforts of the union, some people were tempted and are now living with the consequences – usually a much reduced pension, in some cases no pension at all.

Monday, 24 March 2014

The trouble with academics, coops and decentralisers

I dropped my car off for a service this morning around the corner from the Downing Street Men’s hostel - an ironic name where many of Manchester’s homeless alcoholics gather for a bed, warm food and sign posting to agencies. It was 8.30AM and they were standing in weak sunshine cracking open their first can of beer. It made me smile because the car radio was just reporting on the Guardian letter from a range of think tank signatories offering their views on Ed Miliband and what he needs to concentrate on to win the next election. The upshot of the debate was less centralised public services and more devolution.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Thousands march against racism & fascism in Cardiff, Glasgow & London

Marches and rallies were held in Cardiff, Glasgow and London yesterday to mark United Nations Anti-Racism Day. In London a large and noisy march snaked through Whitehall from Westminster to a rally in Trafalgar Square where Diane Abbot MP stated "the objective is to say to politicians in all parties that we're tired of this anti-immigrant political narrative"

Glasgow rally
'Glasgow Girls' Emma Clifford and Amal Mally Azzudin address the Glasgow rally

Let Them Be Stupid by Andy Carrington

If it’s cost effective
made for mass production
with the quality watered down
most likely it’s consumer Capitalism
-- made to benefit them,
never you or me.