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

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Slow fuse pay campaign set to detonate in October

This week’s welcome confirmation of Tuesday 14 October as the next strike day in the NJC local government pay dispute (which has rumbled on since April) not only opens up the possibility of co-ordinated action with health - the NHS pay industrial action ballot opens on 28 August - but could draw in UNISON local government members in Scotland who are also set to ballot for strike action over pay.
     It is essential that local union branches use the intervening 10 weeks to step up the pay campaign, in particular seeking the support of councillors for an improved pay offer - which is the only way the dispute can be won.

My Father's Voice by Edoardo Sanguineti

my father’s voice is recorded on a tape labeled “Venice ’66”:
(the flipside features a Mozart symphony):
the tape contains a series
of phone calls from that time: my three boys, my wife, various relatives
of my wife, and a couple of her friends got reeled in by that wiretap
(there’s even my mother-in-law ordering bottles of Lurisia from a woman
with a deli in Turin, an Emilian is my guess):
the electrifying clip (which electrified me
on Tuesday in a fit of unhappiness): (and was a typical trait of his):
(which determined many things for me and my life): (I’m quoting from memory)
is when he says, then, to my son:
when others are happy, I’m happy too:

translated from Italian by Will Schutt

Thursday, 31 July 2014

For Gaza's pain my heart is bleeding - Bickerstaffe

Some things we should read about #Gaza today....

'The world stands disgraced' - Israeli shelling of school kills at least 15 (Guardian)

 'Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children'. United Nations Ban Ki-moon condemns school attack, demands accountability & justice. 

US condemns shelling of UN school in Gaza but restocks Israeli ammunition (Guardian)

There are times when tears speak more eloquently than words. UNRWA official breaks down in interview 

Rodney Bickerstaffe 
Henry Siegman, Leading Voice of U.S. Jewry, on : "A Slaughter of Innocents"
Seven journalists and media workers killed, four media centers targeted by Israel in Gaza

"I’ll separate them, thinking that if I divide my children they won’t all die in an attack"

Israel’s war on children - Man’s inhumanity to man writ large: I can’t get it out of my head, the situation in...

Now diplomacy has failed, boycotting Israel might be the only way we can protect the people of Gaza - Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/now-diplomacy-has-failed-boycotting-israel-might-be-the-only-way-we-can-protect-the-people-of-gaza-9638191.html

I’m relatively ‘Chillaxed’ about a ‘democratic threshold’ but it should be for everyone

On the face of it the requirement to have 50% of the vote, or a turn out of 50% as a minimum before representative action can be legitimately determined, may seem like a reasonable standpoint, however it poses some serious questions for the ‘Mother of all Parliaments’.

The Prime Minister has eventually succumbed to the lobbying of the most aggressive anti-trade unionists in his party and the Conservative manifesto for 2015 will include a pledge to impose a minimum threshold of 50% for all future trade union ballots on industrial action.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Vintage tables and the NHS

Yesterday Andy Burnham addressed a packed gathering of the Labour faithful at North West UNISON’s office.
   It was a timely speech as part of Labour's summer campaign offensive. Burnham is an articulate and engaging speaker who talks in language that actually speaks to ordinary voters. A rare quality in a shadow cabinet awash with southern policy wonks whose ideas seem to stem from glugging Rioja over an Islington vintage effect kitchen table, complete with Cath Kidston crockery and twins called Cornelius and Cosmo.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Workplace rights are being priced out of existence

A new report from the TUC - What Price Justice? - shows how since the introduction of fees in July 2013 there has been a 79 per cent fall in overall claims taken to employment tribunals, with women and low-paid workers the worst affected. One year on, the worst fears of trade unions are being realised and workplace rights are being priced out of existence. In business and Tory Party circles much is said about 'regulatory barriers' yet they have hypocritically introduced a fees regime to block enforcement of legal rights for workers. All in support of their preferred 'hire and fire' flexible labour market:

Monday, 28 July 2014

Privatisation by stealth

The Herald reports that the Policy Exchange is proposing that job centres should be broken up and forced to compete against private firms in helping people find work. The A4E profiteering debacle clearly escaped the notice of this right wing 'think tank' as they disguise further privatisation of public services as 'personalisation'. A spin originally weaved by Blairs' policy wonks. It now seems you can have a 'choice' about which provider will subject you to benefit sanctions and workfare. How nicely personal is that!
 Anna Rose

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Pay campaigning and the future of public services

The current national pay campaigns in local government and health are a necessary and overdue response to Government pay policies which have resulted in public service workers being on average £2,245 worse off in real terms.
    All of the unions involved, especially UNISON as the largest, have a heavy responsibility to halt this unprecedented downward spiral in earnings and to force employers (and politicians) to respect collective bargaining and pay determination processes.
    The stakes are high. In addition to halting the unjustified pay detriment of our members and restoring union credibility, Professor Roger Seifert, reviewing the impact of the 10 July coordinated strike action, argues that the pay campaign poses a much wider question - ‘what do our main political leaders consider to be the future of UK public services? Pay cuts, workload increases, further supply-side fragmentation, and privatisation suggest not just a down-grading of all public services but a removal of some services from public access’

I’ve been expecting the unexpected for a long time by Othman Hussain

The boy screams: Stop
He gets up alright and steps forward cautiously like a blind man
[Nothing calls for that]
I whisper:
Only now will I fall on my way to the first street in Asia*
Rafah can’t cope with a new blind man
A strongly featured blackness keeps him awake
A careless woodsman drags him from the haze
behind our ageing galaxy