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

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Labour's chance for a Sea Change in Local Government

Whilst the impact of UKIP splitting both the Conservative and Labour vote is still rippling through politics at large the Local Government Association (LGA) is busy assessing its own structural make-up, with the much anticipated swing back to a Labour led LGA. It is a strange world indeed for the umbrella governance of local authorities. More often than not the LGA is out of sync with the colour of the national government and these latest changes will be no exception to that rule. One might be tempted to say that these means Mr Pickles is about to stop listening to the LGA but the truth he is didn’t anyway - even whilst under Tory control. And to the credit of Sir Merrick Cockell he at times has been a far more effective opponent of cuts to local government than the frontbench team of Ed Miliband.

On Election Day by Charles Bernstein

I hear democracy weep, on election day.
The streets are filled with brokered promise, on election day.
The miscreant’s vote the same as saint’s, on election day.
The dead unleash their fury, on election day.
My brother crushed in sorrow, on election day.
The sister does her washing, on election day.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Local government NJC pay ballot - Get out the YES vote

Today industrial action ballot papers are being sent to 600,000 UNISON local government members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The pay ballot closes on 23 June and mobilising support for industrial action must be the number one priority of the involved UNISON branches over the next four weeks. GMB and Unite are also balloting in a long overdue united challenge to pay restraint in local government. UNISON head of local government Heather Wakefield makes the case for a YES vote in the adjacent video .

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The myth of superior private sector efficiency

'The rhetorical claims of greater private sector efficiency are not supported by any evidence' concludes an in depth critique of claims that private sector management of services is more efficient and less expensive than the public sector. The EPSU commissioned report, by the Public Services International Research Unit, examines case studies across nine economic sectors of public services and finds that the ‘empirical evidence undermines a fundamental part of the argument for privatisation and use of the private sector. If private companies are no more efficient on a technical level, then the usual case for privatisation collapses’

Monday, 19 May 2014

Care UK strikers pledge to keep up pay fight

Hundreds of striking Care UK UNISON members and supporters marched and rallied in Doncaster on Saturday. The mental health care workers have taken a remarkable 34 days strike action in opposition to cuts in pay and conditions following a TUPE transfer from the NHS to the for profit care company. A video of the rally can viewed via the link below. Donations to the branch hardship fund can be sent to: Doncaster District and Bassetlaw Health Branch, UNISON Office, Jenkinson House, White Rose Way, Doncaster DN4 5GJ.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

England’s local democratic deficit

'Over a period of decades, English local government has been reduced to a dwindling set of prescribed services that councils are permitted to perform. We do not really have local government, but rather councils with responsibilities for some local public service. The sector does not decide the policy on which it will act or have the powers to tax or borrow to the degree needed to execute this for the area it serves’ writes Rob Whiteman on CIPFA’s Public Finance blog. Whiteman points out that the devolved administrations outside of England retain control of the shape and system of local government 'whereas ‘double devolution’ in an English context is often more a matter of central government cutting out what it sees as the middle-man of local government by creating markets of autonomous delivery/provider organisations’

Bus by Theresa Muñoz

A piece of your childhood never confessed.
And I confess I heard it from Dad.
Those humid months
the family home was a broken down bus.
Ditched beside a graffitied wall.
Three brothers and three sisters.
You the youngest.
Mostly I imagined the evenings.
Streetlight warming the greasy windows.
Doors rattled by cars.
Each kid curled on a bench seat,
inhaling leather.
Grandpa, a ticket conductor, dreaming at the wheel.
A bus poised for the road
but didn’t go anywhere.