Saturday, 28 March 2015

Victory for rank and file democracy: UNISON Local Government special conference

Delegates at the UNISON government special conference this week (24th March 2015) have delivered a massive blow to the current leadership by voting to submit a new pay claim for 2015-2016.

The special conference was called following an initiative from the North West Region of UNISON after the fiasco of last year's pay dispute. The strike was called off, with Local Government Trade unions accepting a worse deal than what had previously been on the table.
The mood of activists is clearly such that they have had enough of the leadership’s attempts to blame the membership for an unwillingness to fight and to accept continued pay restraint. There is a glaring need for a determined and confident lead to be given over pay.

Members are also questioning the union's relationship with the Labour Party and it’s influence on our internal affairs. The union leaders’ strategy to give a Labour government, if elected, breathing space of a year against any new local government pay claim was defeated by conference delegates.
An amendment to a motion on the decision to cancel strike action for 14th October last year ensured "at least one" lay member would be present at future talks with the employers.

The conference passed a motion branding senior officers’ decision to cancel the strike a “complete denial” of union protocols.
It was a victory for rank and file democracy. It will remain to be seen if the leadership carries out the decisions of conference – activists will have to keep up the pressure.

The special conference should now be a platform to transform UNISON into a fighting, democratic union. All UNISON members and activists should be encouraged by it to make a determined effort to get the 'Reclaim the Union' slate of left-wing candidates elected in the forthcoming UNISON NEC elections that start on 7th April.

UNISON Left slate:



Saturday, 14 March 2015

Stand up to racism!

As the continuing crisis unleashed by the banking collapse continues to work itself out racism is on the rise in many European countries and beyond.

Nigel Farage of UKIP (aka the ‘pound shop Enoch Powell’) from his comments this week is clearly looking for racist votes in the General election and to stoke up racism by scapegoating migrants.

Farage as a former commodity trader is one of those who has contributed to the banking crisis but is now trying to put the blame on migrants.

As a result of our campaigns in the labour and trade union movement against racism in the past we have made progress and made gains but there is clearly still inequality in society – witness the higher rate of unemployment of young black people with the same qualifications and the fact that women still get less pay than men.

Farage wants to take us backwards to the days when ‘No blacks, no dogs, no Irish’ signs were displayed. We therefore have to protect the progress we have made.

The trade union movement as a bulwark to the prevailing ideas in society (i.e. those of the ruling class) is vital to the fight against racism. The issue of racism will be important in the General Election. We should be cautious of those who have an interest in scaring working class people and distracting them from austerity. Wages are historically low because of government policy over many years – this is not the fault of migrants. All workers are victims of these global market forces – the solution is stronger collective bargaining and unionisation.

This needs to be one of the issues addressed at the UNISON National Delegate Conference this June.

As an important next step UNISON and the other Trade Unions are supporting the major demonstration against racism next week in London on Saturday 21st March 2015. This needs to be as big a demonstration as we can make it.

Transport details to demo: