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

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Frosty northern reception planned for Fib Dems

#betterwaydemo The TUC’s Yorkshire and the Humber region has organised a demonstration in York today where the Liberal Democrats are holding their Spring Conference. The protest against the disastrous austerity measures of the Coalition government will highlight the impact on women in particular. With an impressive range of women speakers - including poet Kate Fox and TUC assistant general secretary Kay Carberry - to mark International Women's Day the floundering Liberal Democrats will get a clear northern message that as the general election approaches they can run but they can’t hide:  http://abetterwaydemo.org/2014/02/13/speakers-confirmed/

Night Subway by Katha Pollitt

The nurse coming off her shift at the psychiatric ward
nodding over the Post, her surprisingly delicate legs
shining darkly through the white hospital stockings,
and the Puerto Rican teens, nuzzling, excited
after heavy dates in Times Square, the girl with green hair,

Friday, 7 March 2014

Elderly care on 'brink of disaster'

The Independent reports on the catastrophic effects of Government cuts on social care. From 2005/6 to 2012/13, the number of people aged 65 and over in receipt of social care services dropped by a 27.2 per cent, from 1,231,000 to 896,000, despite the age group growing by one million. £1.2bn (over 15%) has been cut from social care for older people budgets since 2010:

Tough times for young workers in public services

'The idea of pursuing a career in public service is also fast becoming little more than a dream, as services are contracted-out to the private sector on ideological rather than quality (or even cost) grounds; as training and development budgets are reined in; and staff restructuring reduces promotion opportunities. As trade unionists, the pressure on service delivery means it is becoming increasingly difficult to organise workplaces. From being refused time-off, to the challenges of uniting fragmented workforces, to threats of de-recognition – all present tough challenges for young workers starting out in their careers and also wanting to become active in their trade union' writes Dan Goodwin, young members representative on UNISON's NEC, in an article on the TUC blog to mark Young Workers' Month:

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Willie Carolan

The funeral of Willie Carolan, Glasgow UNISON steward, communications activist, housing, credit union activist, internationalist and partner of NEC member Jane Carolan is being held in Glasgow today. Here we print the moving obituary to Willie in today's order of service.

Free Marwan Barghouthi & all Palestinian prisoners

The new website of the International Campaign to Free Marwan and all Palestinian prisoners is now online. The Campaign was launched from the cell of Nelson Mandela on Robben Island on the 27th of October 2013, by Ahmed Kathrada, anti-apartheid icon who launched the Free Mandela Campaign before spending 26 years in apartheid jails. www.fmaapp.ps

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Electricity Privatisation - A Record of Failure

A new independent report and video documentary on electricity privatisation in Victoria, Australia, addresses its economic failings and social costs. Professor John Quiggin of the University of Queensland provides detailed evidence to support the conclusion that free-market electricity reforms have been 'a spectacular failure' and there is no fiscal or economic justification to continue the sell-off:

Monday, 3 March 2014

Tackling inequality by decentralising public services?

'The election in 2015 will be an important juncture for our public services – the course pursued after this point will determine whether they can play an effective role in the future in overturning the social determination of poor life chances. The twin pressures of rising demand and shrinking resources are forcing a choice. Either to continue, as this government has largely pursued, the course of salami-slicing Whitehall budgets, squeezing separate services and tinkering around the edges of traditional modes of delivery. This will lead to the decline, retrenchment and residualisation of public services with ever-higher thresholds for use and the termination of some altogether', writes Manchester Labour leader Sir Richard Leese in a New Statesman article arguing for greater localism to tackle regional inequality:

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Hey Presto! 400,000 UNISON APF members lose Labour Party voting rights

As expected the Labour Party's Collins Review was endorsed at yesterday's special conference without an amendment in sight. It is certain that by 2020 union influence in the Labour Party will be much diminished but the review impacts on UNISON differently than all other affiliated unions. In his report Collins says that 'UNISON has offered its levy-paying members this sort of choice for some time, and its members who choose to pay into the affiliated section of that union's political fund have already consented to the payment of affiliation fees'. Therefore UNISON can continue to pay Labour £3 per year for the 400,000 APF levy payers (including those who joined before merger in 1993) - so unlike all other unions the requirement for UNISON members to 'opt in' within five years does not apply (decisions by GMB and Unite to commence large scale disaffiliation show the degree of capitulation by those unions to critics of the union link):

The violets are children with bare feet by Rocco Scotellaro

The leaves are fresh on the almond trees,
spring water rains from stone walls;
trotting lightly, the donkeys choose
the friendlier of the river’s banks;
the girls with the darkest eyes
clamber on the squeaking cart, aloof.