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

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Protest to Survive?

'Since 2011, the trade union movement has focused on building A to B marches and ‘co-ordinated strike action’, bringing together multiple sectors of the economy for a set of largely symbolic and defensive one-day strikes. This strategy has since witnessed a slow death by repetition' writes Michael Chessum on the New Statesman's blog reflecting on last Saturday's Britain Needs a Pay Rise march in London and simultaneous protests in Belfast and Glasgow.
     Over the conference season and in UNISON's In Focus magazine a much needed 'Autumn of Action' was launched to defeat public sector pay restraint but even before our clocks were turned back this strategy foundered as the NJC unions, first GMB and Unite (a crucial fact omitted by Chessum) and then UNISON, suspended the 14 October local government strike. Treasury claims that since 2010 pay restraint has removed £12bn from the pocket of public sector workers with minimal union resistance provides hard evidence to support Chessum's polemic that unions will need to raise our game if we are to defeat the 'entrenched Thatcherite consensus' which promises us further austerity and pay freezes regardless of next May's General Election outcome.

It’s also fine by Mourid Barghouti

It’s also fine to die in our beds
on a clean pillow
and among our friends.
It’s fine to die, once,
our hands crossed on our chests,
empty and pale,
with no scratches, no chains, no banners,
and no petitions.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

How the UK's privatised electricity industry mutated into (foreign) state owned corporations

The widely acclaimed 'Private Island: Why Britain Now Belongs to Someone Else’ by James Meek is, according to the FT's reviewer, ‘a book to read if you want vivid details of what went wrong’ in the aftermath of the Conservative Party’s orgy of privatisation in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The book's stand out essay, on the sale of UK electricity, charts the changes in ownership which have left foreign but state owned corporations dominant in the sector. It was first published in the LRB and can be read here. It highlights the contrasting approaches of UNISON and the French union CGT, with the latter bemused at the lack of resistance shown by UK unions to privatisation and foreign takeovers.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Unions and the 'Post Political Labour Movement'

For decades union activists across the world have argued the case for or against alliances between trade unions and social democratic parties, or with other parties with political and organisational links to the trade unions.

In the UK it has raged around the links to the Labour Party, now reformed (or `deformed` depending on your position) once again by the fallout from the Grangemouth and Falkirk  episodes involving Unite and the Labour Party. UNISON retains its still superior (in the light of those 2 incidents) options of Labour Link or the attractive option of the Political Fund, or even `none of the above`.