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

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Bird with the Engine Heart by Elisaveta Bagryana

‘He who’s never known tempting distance,
the momentum of moving,
the wonder of danger,
the tipsiness of space
and the weariness of wandering -

New book on austerity, opposition and alternatives

Unmasking Austerity: Opposition and Alternatives in Europe and North America, by Dexter Whitfield, Spokesman Books (eBook)
    Unmasking Austerity: Opposition and Alternatives in Europe and North America exposes how austerity policies have fuelled the fire of recession rather than stimulated growth. It identifies key lessons from organising and action against such policies, and urges a rethink of trade union, community and social movement strategies to overcome austerity. Unmasking Austerity examines the deeper causes of the financial crisis, and exposes the manufactured crises, which are being used to dismantle hard-earned labour rights and the welfare state.
      A radical alternative strategy includes economic stimulus, reconstruction of public services, faster fundamental reform of banks and financial markets, the elimination of corporate welfare that enriches big business, and strategies to increase labour’s share of national income.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Rana Plaza - one year on but workers still face repression

Today marks the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza textile factory collapse when almost 1200 workers – mostly young women – were killed in the worst industrial disaster in Bangladesh’s history. In its aftermath the TUC and the international trade union movement mobilised to secure an Accord - which has now been signed by more than 150 companies that employ factory workers and ensures that 1619 factories in Bangladesh have safety inspections and work with unions to correct safety hazards. However the TUC points out that problems with Bangladesh labour law mean that workers are still facing significant repression:

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

NUT draws on experience of Chicago teachers

The rapid growth in Academy schools has led the NUT from having to deal with 153 employers in England (local authorities) to something approaching 4,000, where, on average, each NUT division (branch) has to deal with 26 separate employers. UNISON has much to learn from the NUT’s organising strategy outlined by General Secretary Christine Bower in a series of Morning Star articles coinciding with the union’s Easter conference. It is clear the at the NUT is taking some inspiration from the example of the 2012 campaign of the Chicago Teachers Union which engaged with broad sections of its membership and reached out to communities outside the union's ranks to challenge the free market school reform agenda.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The varying practices & narratives of organising

An accelerated increase in both the number of members and membership density offers 'a solid basis, in challenging times, to progress a vision of the “organising model” that genuinely seeks to further empower lay structures to help improve the working lives of teachers and posit a better vision of education' writes the NUT's Christine Blower in a useful contribution to the debate on union renewal:

Baggage by Jackie Kay

Dark, the days when the ships came slowly in,
Carrying the baggage from the old past,
Old love letters, promises long since past.

Icy cold it was that winter morning,
Thick fog blurred the ship mast
The ship humped in like a hurt already cast.