Friday, October 26, 2007

More preparations for the demo

At our Branch Committee we unfurled our new Branch Banner (it's very great cos it's really light and airated to it won't blow like a sail).

It got thinking about the demo and possible chants, here's three early ideas

(to the tune of Daphnie & Celest U.G.L.Y song)
That is why you gotta pay
More cleaners!
More Cleaners!

(to My Bonnie lies over the ocean)
I went to my local hospital
I wanted it to be clean
the domestic tried their hardest
but the private contractor was mean

I love, I love, I love the N H S
I love, I love, I love the NHS

(to London Bridge is falling down)
I love the NHS, NHS, NHS
I love the NHS
Keep it Public!

[Some space for a second verse here]

So, what do you think? Any more ideas?

I've started a topic about it on the discussion board on the UNISON Facebook group so why not post some better ones there or feel free to leave a comment here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Get ready to Celebrate & Defend the NHS on 3rd November

With November 3rd a little over a week away I'm starting to get really excited about our demonstration. This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all that is good about our health service and defend it's principles against the attacks from the market and privatisation.

UNISON called the demonstration in Trafalgar Square and are proud to be joined by the NHS Together Coalition which brings together all health trade unions/staff associations and the TUC.
The National Young Members Forum will be meeting on the Friday and staying overnight to attend the demo, and will be proudly carrying the UNISON Young Members Banner. For any young members who would like to join us and march with our banner we will be meeting at 11.15am outside the entrance to Somerset House on the Strand. Go to for a map. The main assembly point for the march is in Arundel Street, about 2 minutes walking East along the Strand from Somerset House. The main march will move off at 12 noon.
If you're planning to come along drop me an e-mail and I'll send you my number (or it's in the UNISON diary)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Protesting outside the Saudi embassy

It's hard to comprehend in a Britain which has made so much progress on LGBT equality since 1997, that homosexuality is still a crime in countries around the world. Not only that but one that takes horrendous punishment, including death.

On Friday afternoon (conveniently after GPF in the morning) I took part in a demo organised with LGBT Labour and NUS LGBT Campaign outside the Saudi Embassy in London.
In Saudi Arabia, two men were sentenced to 7,000 lashes simply for expressing their love to each other. At the demonstration Peter Tatchell, LGBT and Human Rights campaigner, graphically outlined the affects that these lashed could have on those men, easily leading to death.
Michael Cashman MEP, sent an important message of support to the demo.

As we achieve greater and greater legal equality here in the UK, our LGBT campaigning must increasing look beyond our borders to defend LGBT people across the world.

GPF Committee

It was my first GPF Committee meeting, which administers the GPF money members contribute through their subs.

We discussed some interesting proposals. With funding being awarded to some really great stuff including Abortion Rights (via Women's Self Organised Group) and some great campaigning on the NHS proposed in the North West Region.

We also ratified the decision made via e-mail to fund the Vote Yes campaign in the local government pay ballot.

Not all applications were accepted, and some were deferred. It's important that applications consider the guidelines for applications.

It was also great to hear from Gloria Foran, National Officer (Disability Policy) about the work the GPF has funded for our activities at Liberty 2007; Disability Rights Festival. It was great to hear back on activity the GPF had funded, and it sounded like a great event.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

My 2nd NEC meeting

Today was our second full NEC meeting, and this time it got paperless. Well they didn’t send out papers anyway. Sadly I couldn’t find any paper so I couldn’t print any of them off and had to use one of the helpfully provided packs of spares. In another effort to help save the planet (we are THE green union after all) we decided to reduce our travelling by pegging the majority of our strategic committee meeting next to an NEC meeting.

I sadly missed Policy & Campaigns Committee yesterday because they were desperate for staff at work. But I've been volunteered for some work an my absence so that'll teach me.

A big priority is always recruitment, but never more so than at the moment with the real potential for a fall in membership for the first time in UNISON’s history. I’m sure all members reading this will get out there and get recruiting. We heard of a special package of measures that are being put in place across the regions to target branches where we have lower density (members per potential members).

We heard more about equal pay, always a key and sensitive issue. Despite the positive outcome of the Allen Vs GMB case we still face a significant threat as the no win no fee lawyers open up other fronts. This means we must regrettably continue with caution about any discussion about equal pay.

We heard an update about the local government pay dispute, with the ballot period likely to be extended due to industrial action by CWU as the ballot papers are due to go out. It is essential that we get a good turn out and a yes vote for industrial action and I’m sure all young members will give our support to local government at this difficult time.

In health plans are going full steam ahead for the 3rd November. Materials have been sent out and regions should be sorting transport so get in touch with your branch or region.

You may or may not know that UNISON is looking to build a new head office in central London at the site of an old hospital in Euston. We were updated on progress including budget and planning.

In the General Secretary’s report we heard about a number of issues across the union. We heard about the union’s response to the situation in Burma and UNISON will be supporting a demo on Saturday

There was also a discussion about the response to Police Community Support Officers that didn’t jump into a park quarry to rescue a child they couldn’t see. They have been treated awfully in the press, particularly John Humphries on the Today Programme, and UNISON is doing all we can to stand up for these members. After the meeting I discovered what David Cameron has to say about it

Cameron attacks public service workers - obviously

So we shouldn't be surprised by the same old Tories attacking public service workers . This time it's our members, Police Community Support Officers (PCSO's).

In his conference speech today David Cameron said,

"I think over these last 10 years we have seen responsibility sucked away from people, sucked away from our public servants and taken away from our public services.
And it ended with that extraordinary farce of two community support officers standing by a lake after a boy had drowned, feeling that because the rule book said they couldn't intervene, they shouldn't. Well, we've got to start tearing up the rule books and allowing people common sense, initiative, and responsibility in the jobs that they do." (Epolitix,

Yes Dave, that would be the PCSO's who attended the scene when the boy was already out of sight under the water in a quarry. If a PCSO had gone in and drowned himself then it may have been a more heroic story but i doubt that would have been much comfort for the family left behind.

So Dave, when you insult our members don't be surprised if we do all we can to condemn you and your party to perpetual opposition.

Minimum wage increases

Good news for all workers, and as always affects many women and young workers.

Basically the new rates are:

Full minimum wage will go up from £5.35 to £5.52 an hour
18 to 21-year-olds rate will go from £4.44 to£4.60 an hour
16 and 17-year-olds rate will go from £3.30 to £3.40 an hour

There's no doubt that those meeting in Blackpool this week won't be celebrating the increase (or for that matter the increase in annual leave entitlement) and will do their best to destroy the rights we have won since 1997.