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

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Stand Up and Take Action Against Global Poverty‏

As part of Stand Up and Take Action, a global mobilisation, the TUC is urging people concerned about global poverty to assemble in Westminster to ‘Make a Noise for the Millennium Development Goals' from 1pm today (Saturday 18 September) in Old Palace Yard, opposite the Palace of Westminster.

Keep The Post Public‏

The UK postal service is under threat for the third time in a decade and the CWU is building a broad based keep The Post Public Coalition http://www.cwu.org/keep-the-post-public.html Throughout its long history, Royal Mail has provided a vital public service to isolated rural and urban communities alike across the length and breadth of the country, providing a unique one-price-goes-anywhere daily service.

Lib Dems could lose Sheffield as Clegg says no future as a left party

As the Lib Dem Conference starts in Liverpool, the party risks of losing control of Sheffield City Council, the city of leader Nick Clegg's constituency. Lib Dem councillor Ben Curran's defection to Labour follows Sharron Brook in Barnsley, Ian Jobling in Liverpool and three Lib Dem resignations in Cheshire. Top that with Clegg’s announcement that the Lib Dems have no future as a left party, and we could be in for an interesting few days.

Red Ellen by Andy Croft‏

‘Middlesbrough is a book of illustrations to Karl Marx’
Ellen Wilkinson, 1924

She stares out from the pages of New Dawn
As though the future needs to be out-faced,

Friday, 17 September 2010

European Trade Union Day of Action on 29 September 2010: 100,000 workers to demonstrate in Brussels‏

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), in reaction to the austerity measures in force in a number of European countries, is sponsoring a major European mobilisation on 29 September, with support from all its member organisations. Around 100,000 people are expected to take to the streets in Brussels and protest actions will also be held in different European countries.

Public sector cuts - let the battle of ideas commence‏

As usual, the Economist magazine has a fairly objective assessment of this week’s TUC Congress, albeit from a business/right wing perspective:

Bankers Break the American Dream‏

The fall out from the banking collapse and subsequent recession continues apace and the American ideal lies in tatters. The idea of the American Dream maintains a strong grip on the imagination of many Americans and would-be citizens, but a detailed breakdown of the figures reveals a grim reality. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/16/four-million-americans-poverty-one-year

Council control update

Labour has retaken control of Blackburn with Darwen Council from a coalition of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and For Darwen Party: http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/8390789.Labour_back_in_control_of_Blackburn_with_Darwen/

One in five UK workers earning less than living wage, says report

The Government and employers have been urged to do more to address wage inequality after a report revealed that more than one in five UK employees earns less than a "living wage", reports Daniel Thomas in Personnel Today

Northern region gears up for 29 September ETUC Day of Action

ETUC Day of Action: Wednesday 29 September. The Northern Public Services Alliance have organised two events in support of the ETUC Day of Action on Wednesday 29 September 2010.
Rally at Grey's Monument, Newcastle from 12:00 - 14.00
Rally at The Bottle of Notes, Centre Square, Middlesbrough at 17:00
For a PDF of the Newcastle Rally leaflet, click here: https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B4mGMLu_gab8MTIzOTA0ZDctOWFkYS00ZWJjLWEwZTMtYmNhODQxM2JmZDYx&hl=en&authkey=CJWsr50C
or go to http://www.tuc.org.uk/tuc/regions_info_northern.cfm?regional=3

Thursday, 16 September 2010

TUC Palestine response: Jerusalem Post 'utter arrogance'

In response to the TUC continued boycott of Occupied Territory goods, Bill King has noticed that the Jerusalem post website contains an article from which these are extracts:

The great public, private pay gulf distortion‏

The Daily Mail joined in the media propaganda barrage against public sector workers with its divisive and hysterical headline claiming that ‘state workers get £136 a week more than private employees in pay and pensions’http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1312079/State-workers-private-employees-pay-pensions.html

TUC: Congress rallies to defence of Birmingham City Council workforce‏

Yesterday Congress unanimously expressed its disgust at the decision of Birmingham City Council to issue redundancy notices to 25,837 employees. http://www.tuc.org.uk/the_tuc/tuc-18496-f0.cfm

GPs urge Government to delay commissioning

The Royal College of General Practitioners has urged Andrew Lansley to put back his plans for GP commissioning, after the biggest survey of GPs to date showed fierce opposition, says the GP magazine 'Pulse'.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

TUC: UNISON & Palestine‏

Full text of speech by UNISON delegate Mike Kirby in TUC 2010 Congress Palestine debate: Trade unionists across the world are at the centre of progressive alliances and movements. And in December 2008 as the world watched aghast at the Operation Cast Lead incursion into Gaza and we condemned the actions of Israel, HISTADRUT the Israeli trade union centre, did not join the international chorus of condemnation.

TUC: Banker King oblivious to inherent structural flaws of capitalism‏

Mervyn King is only the second Bank of England Governor to address the TUC and his nervy hesitant performance in front of Congress probably reflected he is unaccustomed to such an audience. Conciliatory in apportioning blame he repeated that there is "nothing fair about the financial crisis". He added. "Your members and the businesses that employ them are entitled to be angry".

UNISONActive Analysis: Commission on 2020: Public Services final report‏

Delusional, disjointed and a betrayal of the poor should be the trade union verdict on the final report of the self-styled 2020 public services trust. A calamitous cabal of have-beens and wanabees, with little political conviction between them, have published there not so long awaited report ‘From social security to social productivity: a vision for 2020 Public Services: The final report of the Commission on 2020 Public Services’.

TUC: Building decent homes makes economic sense‏

In moving the composite on Housing, James Anthony from UNISON said this is an issue which unites us all across our movement and beyond. We all need a decent, affordable place to live. “For UNISON it takes on particular significance as many of our members work in council and other social housing and in housing benefit.”

TUC: Congress solidarity with Palestine sends Israel lobby spinning‏

TUC Congress yesterday overwhelmingly endorsed a motion on Palestine which instructed the General Council to work closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to actively encourage affiliates, employers and pension funds to disinvest from, and boycott the goods of, companies who profit from illegal settlements, the Occupation and the construction of the Wall.

NHS Direct U-turn - unions and public acting together

Over forty UNISON NHS Direct Reps from across England meet at UNISON Headquarters yesterday and reiterated their determination to remain vigilant on the future of NHS Direct after the Governments U turn.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

TUC: UK unions up against 'the most ardent followers of the free market model'‏

In June, at the Vancouver World Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Sharan Burrow was elected as its first woman General Secretary. Today the former Australian teachers union leader gave an inspirational speech to Congress, succinctly placing the UK economic crisis in an international context.

TUC: UK trade union bodies warn of risk to regional economies from cuts‏

Representatives of the Scottish, Welsh and Irish trade union centres met with the TUC at its annual Congress in Manchester today to discuss the impact of the Con Dem Government's economic policies. The proposed cuts in public spending will hit the devolved nations hard, as well as many of the most vulnerable areas and regions of England.

TUC: Con Dem cuts & the trade union response - Morning Star fringe‏

It is not surprising that the best debate at Congress took place at the Morning Star fringe at lunchtime today. Entitled the The Con Dem Cuts: The Trade Union Response – DEFEND OUR PUBLIC SERVICES , a packed hall heard speeches from trade union leaders across the movement.

TUC: Danger - NHS under threat‏

UNISON Health Service Group Chair, Lilian Macer, made a rousing speech highlighting the very real threats to the NHS under this Tory led Con-Dem Government. “The new health White Paper, 'Liberating the NHS' amounts to nothing more than a wholescale attack on the NHS. All services will be opened up to competition with a move to 'Any Willing Provider' model of service delivery, and competition law will increasingly be used to enforce the market model into the delivery of healthcare.

LibDem answer to unemployment? Cut the welfare rights officers!

As Edinburgh announces £28 million in cuts today, on top of £16m two weeks ago, councillors admit thousands of jobs and whole services could go. So how does the LibDem/SNP coalition plan respond to the unemployment and poverty they are about to visit on the city? They plan to sack welfare rights officers. More news to follow later today at http://www.unison-edinburgh.org.uk/

TUC: The return of anti-union propaganda‏

An excellent report by Seumas Milne on the Guardian website which exposes cause and effect of anti union media bias during Congress week: “Most union leaders in Manchester reckon the expected attack on public sector pension rights will prove the most likely focus for national action. But it's precisely because the unions are going to be at the centre of resistance to the coalition's cuts that the drive to delegitimise them is bound to grow.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/13/anti-union-propaganda

TUC: A workplace agenda for women‏

Clare Williams
Equality is at the heart of everything UNISON stands for and Equality Impact Assessments should be a critical tool in challenging cuts to essential public services. However the new watered down Equality Act no longer prescribes EIA's and with the Equality and Human Rights Commission facing 50% cuts it is unlikely that this tool will be as effective as we would wish.

Public services the answer not the problem. What the economists say

East Midlands UNISON blog argues public services are actually the answer to, not the cause of our economic problems and looks at backing evidence some independent experts. A really helpful mythbuster.

Bankers agree reforms, who will pay?‏

Banks will have to significantly increase their capital reserves under rules endorsed on Sunday by the world's major central banks, which are trying to prevent another financial collapse without impeding the fragile economic recovery. The new banking rules are designed to strengthen bank finances and rein in excessive risk-taking, but some banks have protested that they may dampen the recovery by forcing them to reduce the money they lend that the economy relies upon.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Packed Cuba Solidarity Campaign Fringe pledges support for Cuba

Brendan Barber opened the fringe meeting tonight by talking of his pride at being the first TUC General Secretary to visit the May Day celebrations this year in Havana. He re-iterated his support for the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and spoke of his address to its AGM this June.

There is an alternative: Organise, recruit, educate and involve

UNISON activists are rising to the challenge as a new organising energy leads to events across the country looking at new ways to involve members and activists and get out the message that there is an alternative to the ConDem ideological offensive.

TUC: Unite to win back employment rights‏

Len McCluskey from Unite quoted Henry V, “he that have no stomach for this fight, let them depart” when in a powerful speech on employment rights he called on the whole movement to fight High Court judicial interventions on the bosses behalf.

TUC: UNISON President speaks out against child poverty

TUC: UNISON President Angela Lynes, speaking in the first debate this afternoon on Child Poverty, recognised the vital role child benefit plays in the anti poverty programme and demanded that the Government reaffirms its commitment to eradicating child poverty by 2020.

TUC: UNISON storms to support of services and staff

TUC: Public Services debate: After the mounting excitement of the public service composite, a succession of motions on public services was debated with key input from UNISON speakers Gordon McKay on the waste of PFI and Bob Oram on supporting council staff.

TUC: Public and private sector workers - a fight to unite us

First on the agenda this morning was the debate on the General Council statement on the Economy and composite 10 on the cuts, both previewed here yesterday. Dave Prentis had congress on its feet (or at least the UNISON delegation) for a standing ovation after a speech in which his passion for the defence of public services was evident.

TUC day1: Tory medicine will kill the patient

As predicted 'Mr Angry' Barber came, saw and told us bad things were about to befall us. Tories, he said, tell us 'insulting claptrap', as a 'demolition rather than a coalition government'. Barber defended the right of workers to take action in support of pay, pensions jobs and services. Unions, he said, have to win the intellectual battle, persuading people that Tory medicine was likely to kill the patient . Barber laid down the challenge of "mobilising in every community and every constituency".
Will Congress really pick up that gauntlet?

Firefighters plan a mass march in London

Firefighters from across Britain will march in London on Thursday to support their brothers and sisters in the capital.

Cuts will push UK back into recession - Sunday Herald‏

The Scottish Sunday Herald yesterday added its editorial voice to thoseopposing the slash and burn policies of the Con Dem Government: 'If Osborne chooses to ignore Keynes's advice and continues to dismiss even the possibility that he is wrong, the price the Government pays could be high. Pushing the UK back into recession will lead to higher spending and more debt. The ideological debate on the state will also end there. And the only available remedy will be intervention by the state - or worse, the IMF.' http://www.heraldscotland.com/mobile/comment/herald-view/are-cuts-still-the-right-medicine-for-a-sick-economy-1.1054406

John Monks gives 100% support to Spanish General Strike‏

Former TUC General Secretary John Monks – soon to reside in the House of Lords – attended a mass rally of trade unionists in Madrid last Thursday and gave ‘100% support’ to the general strike planned for 29 September.

NHS Direct Reps meet Tuesday‏

UNISON Reps at NHS Direct will meet (Tuesday) at UNISON headquarters, London to decide the next steps in their campaign to defend the popular 24 Hour health line NHS Direct, after forcing the Coalition to back track on axing the service.

A manifesto for the eradication of trade unions‏

Opportunistically timed to coincide with heightened media interest in trade unions during Congress week, a right wing pressure group has published a policy paper which, if enacted, would neuter the industrial organisation and political influence of UK trade unions.

Make or break time for the unions – Meacher‏

The 2010 TUC Congress is a watershed says veteran NW Labour MP Michael Meacher: ‘will the coming job cuts, on top of 2.5 million already unemployed, sap union strength even further beyond the halving of union membership since the 1980s or will it finally catalyse a fundamental grass roots revolt restoring confidence in the collective strength of workers as the only bulwark against the steady decline of the last three decades?’ http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2010/09/make-or-break-for-the-unions/

Welfare to worklessness‏

The Con Dem coalition plans to complete the dismantling of the welfare state and penalise the vulnerable, according to ex-FT employment editor Robert Taylor writing in Red Pepper. http://www.redpepper.org.uk/Welfare-to-worklessness

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Congress Voices - news & views from Manchester‏

Congress Voices is a must read web portal from the TUC this week – providing a steady supply of Congress discussion, news and comment: http://www.congressvoices.org/

TUC 2010 Congress UNISONActive Preview - Are we ready to defend ourselves or going through the motions?‏

This year’s venue for the annual trade union congress is the great northern city of Manchester, an appropriate venue, placing the delegates in the heart of a region likely to be devastated by the ideological assault being mounted against the working classes of this country.  http://www.tuc.org.uk/index.cfm

Don't be fooled by Con Dem barrage of propaganda - Brendan Barber‏

The TUC General Secretary makes a strong stand against the Con Dem austerity programme in a hard hitting pre-Congress interview in the Independent on Sunday: "There is an alternative. Don't be fooled by the barrage of propaganda by the Government, that all of this is simply unavoidable and there are no choices. There are real choices. These are not decisions made out of necessity. They are made out of political principle and choice."

Capitalism by Lee Whensley‏

Capitalism fails when there’s nothing left to take,
When everything we lived for is discovered to be fake -
Was everything we killed for just a big mistake?