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

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Cameron’s EU Deal... What’s So Special?

Well, BBC Breakfast this morning has wall to wall coverage of the UK’s Special Status in the EU. Cameron has triumphantly marched back from Brussels telling us he has secured a deal that lets us stay in, while there is speculation about what Boris Johnston will say.... Don’t all yawn together.

But it is difficult to contain excitement about this deal.

Wording changes about European integration and further cuts to benefits for “migrants” are difficult to get excited about. Let’s look at what the renegotiation doesn’t say:-

• Nothing about job creation across the EU where youth unemployment in particular is at worrying levels
• Nothing about workplace democracy and collective bargaining
• Nothing about modernising labour laws to cover zero hours contracts
• Nothing about challenging corporate tax evasion (but more protection for the City of London)
• Nothing about the Robin Hood tax on financial transactions
• Nothing about the protection of quality public services in Europe, while privatisation continues running amok

So the EU remains exactly the same as far as its workers are concerned.The same EU that has dictatorially imposed austerity across Greece, Spain, Portugal, drastically cutting living standards, watching as unemployment rises and wages fall, cutting pensions, slashing public services, privatising public assets at knock down prices for private profiteers. But of course protecting the banks.

Maybe as workers the question has to be, what is in the EU for us?

Friday, 19 February 2016

Tories to block Public Sector boycotts of Israel

The Tory government announced on Monday (15/2/16) that from now on only government approved boycotts will be tolerated. So much for local democracy.

Through a guidance note published by the Cabinet Office, without a debate, statement to, or a vote in parliament, the government has effectively banned public service organisations, which includes, local authorities, NHS Trusts, universities and students’ unions from adopting ethical procuring policies and supporting boycotts of Israel.

Although couched as guidance the statement makes it clear that public bodies will face severe penalties if they introduce or continue with boycotts on ethical grounds.

Despite the note being written in general terms, it is clear that the policy is a crude attempt to block the increasingly effective Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, (BDS) campaign against the Israeli apartheid state. In fact the announcement was made while Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock was on a trade visit to Israel.