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

Saturday, 31 October 2009

PUBLIC WORKS: Quality Public Services are a true measure of a civilised society

In a speech to an SNP Conference fringe, UNISON Scotland Convener Mike Kirby looks at the history of public provision and slams trusts and outsourcing as a forerunner for privatisation and an attack on jobs, terms and conditions and pensions. In a call for valued, accountable and quality services, he asks why, if other countries can fend off possible accusations on unfair state aid to services, why can't we?

Private hospitals feather bedded by Government’s NHS ‘choice’ reforms

UNISON has consistently opposed the extension of private health care provision as inefficient, leading to higher costs and undermining the principle of equal access for all in need. Now analysts say private hospitals "can turn the tap on and off at will for NHS patients"

New South Wales - unions in campaigning alliance for public services‏

In the Australian state of New South Wales there is a hugely impressive joint union campaign for jobs and public services. The web site is packed with information and campaign resources across all public services. “With the Better Services campaign, public sector workers are calling on our leaders to invest in better services. If our essential services work better, we will have a better state. Stand up for investment in NSW jobs and services.” http://www.betterstate.org.au/

Friday, 30 October 2009

Leeds refuse collectors strike set to enter 9th week of continuous action‏

The strike by 600 refuse collectors (members of GMB & UNISON) in Leeds City Council remains deadlocked as it enters its ninth week of continuous action. The local press reports that temporary refuse workers are being recruited by Leeds City Council via its website.

In the Sorting Office

In London Review of Books, a postal worker lifts the lid on how the Royal Mail is run and questions whether it is being deliberately run into the ground to soften it up for privatisation. An interesting insight into incompetence at the top. Response to Roy Mayall's article in LRB. See also UNISONActive 25 October.

Argentina: 50,000 health workers strike

The PSI website is reporting that on Wednesday of this week 50 000 health workers staged a strike against proposed cuts in Argentina's 2010 national health budget.

UN Vote Condemns US Embargo on Cuba‏

The U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly condemned the 47-year U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. CBS reports that ‘this year's vote was 187-3 in opposition to the embargo, with only Israel and the tiny Pacific island nation of Palau supporting the United States — just as they did last year. It was the 19th year in a row that the General Assembly has taken up the symbolic measure, with Washington steadily losing what little support it once had’. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/28/world/main5436488.shtml

Response to 'being realistic in struggle'

Reading the Gregor Gall article reminded me of this year's important update of UNISON's industrial action handbook which includes:

Thursday, 29 October 2009

UNISON Active Exclusive: Strikebreakers TNT touting for Royal Mail work - Fortress Wapping re-visited‏

See below a TNT circular to customers in the English regions making it clear that picket lines will be disregarded and that they are hand in glove with Royal Mail bosses. No surprise given that company's previous involvement in a high stake strike. http://eastlondonhistory.com/fortress-wapping/

Being realistic in struggle‏

In today’s Morning Star Gregor Gall reflects on the Vestas jobs fight on the Isle of Wight and argues for ‘rigorous and grounded assessments’ when making the case for trade union action. http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/features/Being-realistic-in-struggle This is sound advice for union activists and emphasises the importance of industrial struggle.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Tories advised to ban national public sector strike ballots‏

Given public sector workers’ propensity to strike, a pay freeze will lead to industrial action unless something is done. The Tories need a plan, says Liberal Democrat Tim Leunig in the FT - http://www.libdemvoice.org/author/tim-leunig/)

New ITUC report - "Jobs - the Path to Recovery: How employment is central to ending the global crisis"‏

ITUC has produced a new publication that highlights trade union actions to fight the crisis in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe and explains the steps needed to achieve a decent work-led recovery and build a fairer and more sustainable world economy for future generations.

Million Voices in Defending Public Services in Northern Region

Over 140 activists and organising staff came together at the annual regional conference to promote Million Voices for Change – Defending Public Services.

OFA Health Reform Video Challenge

Organising For America has just finished going through the submissions to OFA's Health Reform Video Challenge, and 'they're great', says New Media Director Natalie Foster. There are personal stories that grab your heart, brilliant summaries of what reform would really mean, and plenty of biting satire that calls out the insurance lobbyists. Read on to see the videos.....


1) He will show proper respect for the US State Dept. His old pal George never got anything wrong, and he won’t change the habits of a lifetime.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Big Brother!

In an interesting but provocative move a local council imposed the use of C-Tracking Satellite systems in their vehicles in such departments as Refuse and Cleansing. UNISON opposed the use of such systems on the basis that the prior knowledge of the driver is required and that the information would be used by unscrupulous managers to effectively have staff electronically tagged.

The BNP and the BBC‏

What was the outcome of the decision to give air time to the BNP in front of 8 million viewers? A Daily Telegraph poll that claims that 22% of voters would now consider voting for the BNP, and a further claim that 3,000 people joined the BNP on line on the night of the broadcast.

National Minimum Wage - needed now more than ever‏

The UNISON 2009 submission to the Low Pay Commission (LPC) is available on line: (http://www.unison.org.uk/Acrobat/e5719.pdf)

Response: UNISON for Edwina not Carwyn

In response to Bill King's post on the Welsh Labour Leadership contest: UNISON Labour link will be fully behind Carwyn Jones the Counsel General and UNISON member in the forthcoming leadership election. Brian Griffiths disagrees....

Monday, 26 October 2009

Palestine in Pieces‏

The US political newsletter Counterpunch has published an interview with Bill and Kathleen Christison, authors of a new book ‘Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on the Israeli Occupation’ which provides graphic details of the brutal and horrendous realities of daily life for the Palestinian people. http://www.amazon.com/Palestine-Pieces-Graphic-Perspectives-Occupation/dp/0745329292

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Is it right to strike in the public sector?

On Sunday 25 October Rena Wood, Deputy Regional Convenor of UNISON North West region, took part in the BBC1’s current affairs programme The Big Questions live from Bury.

German President harks back to beer and sandwiches past‏

The German newspaper Deutsche Welle reports on line that Horst Koehler the conservative German President (and former IMF big shot) has called on unions ‘to get involved’ in the G20 led reforms of the global financial system. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4758992,00.html

Tax Dodgers Alliance calls for end to national pay bargaining and attacks UNISON‏

Using the Conservativehome website as a platform for its usual anti public service, anti union vitriol, the self styled and shady Taxpayers Alliance reaches new depths in calling for pay cuts in local government:

Corporate vultures and work intensification - the daily realities ofworking life in Royal Mail

In the London Review of Books, Roy Mayall (a pseudonomous postman)gives an insiders account of the daily pressures endured by workers in Royal Mail, its unrelenting poor management and the rich pickings enjoyed by the global companies who have entered UK postal services and who at EU level have driven the privatisation agenda http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n18/maya01_.html

Not fit to run the Metro - the sorry tale of Deutsche Bahn’

UNISON Northern region in alliance with other unions have been running a major campaign to keep the Tyne and Wear Metro services in the public sector. http://www.unison.org.uk/northern/pages_view.asp?did=9723

CBI calls for £120bn extra public spending cuts – and more outsourcing of services!‏

In a stark example of the public services industrial complex modus operandi, the CBI employer’s organisation has called for an extra £120bn public spending cuts in order to bring the public finances into balance by 2016. The call is made in the lobby organisation’s pre-Budget report submission to the Chancellor: http://www.cbi.org.uk/pdf/20091015-cbi-pbr-submission.pdf