Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It was Facebook what won it

Ever at the forefront of Technology the latest phase of UNISON’s Million Voices campaign has used a range of social media, from YouTube to Twitter. Initial results presented to UNISON’s Campaigns & Recruitment Working Group today suggests Facebook being the most successful having been the biggest single source of referrals to the Million Voices website. Being a bit of a Facebook addict I was surprised because I hadn’t seen one of the adverts, but apparently most referrals came through a farm application which is the sort of thing I block on sight!

I have long argued that UNISON needs to access these media more effectively, and I hope this foray into the modern internet will lead on to more activity.

It seems that there has been a lot of response to this campaign with if I remember rightly over 50 000 extra visits to the Million Voices site in the month after the launch of this phase, which has also led to a significant increase in online joining.

Now I’m not one to think that social media can replace traditional campaigning, the most important part of our Million Voices campaign is going on out in workplaces and communities defending our services from the onslaught to come, but it is an important tool that engages different people in a different way.

How else can be use technology to use political change?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Who will cuts hurt? Million Voices steps up a gear

UNISON is launching the next exciting phase of our Million Voices campaign. The campaign will hit TV's, Newspapers, Facebook and even be projected onto buildings.

There's also a newly revamped website and there'll be facebook adds (make sure you like them)

This next stage is key, as we take a high profile message to the public. The key message being 'Don't Wait to Defend Them' and with the General Election round the corner we need to ensure the public know what's at stack and raises the importance of public spending with their local candidates.

So find out more and add your voice to the million

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Who will put members first?

With every candidate seemingly claiming that they are about putting the members first it's worth looking at who can really claim that?

Paul Homes?

The bloggers supporting Paul seem thrilled by the support he's getting. But not from ordinary UNISON activists through their Branches, Regions, Service Groups, etc, but from one Labour MP? That doesn't sound like putting the members first. Or how about Paul's track record on the NEC? Paul failed to even complete his first term on the NEC, choosing to resign rather than sitting with the NEC at Conference were delegates elected by members in their Branches hold us to account as their NEC. Sound more like putting your own interests first rather than the member.

Roger Bannister?

This one is even more cut and dry. Roger is the candidate of the Socialist Party, a revolutionary party who operate 'Democratic' Centralism. For those not in the know this means that he is at the behest of the Central Committee of the Socialist Party. His candidacy itself is all about promoting the Socialist Party and their agenda rather than about winning. That is clearly why the Socialist Party have even refused to work with other extreme-left groups in the election, it's all about them and their sectarian interests. UNISON members and our interests don't seem to come into it at all!

Dave Prentis?

Dave's support does not come from outside parties or cults, but from UNISON members. Dave's website details the members the ones working in our public services, the stewards working on the ground, the Branch Secretaries leading local organising, and UNISON's lay leaders at Regional and National level.

Dave's nominations and endorsements are coming in from across the union; Branches, Regions, Service Groups, the Retired Members, Young Members, Self Organised Groups and of course the National Executive. At all of which he's been supported by UNISON activists and shop floor public service workers that know Dave's record of working hard for our members and always fighting for our interests first and foremost.

That's why I'm backing the candidate that puts members first: I'm backing Dave Prentis

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The only real choice - Dave Prentis for General Secretary

So nominations are now open for UNISON's General Secretary.

Now I'm sure it won't come as a surprise that I'm supporting the re-election of our current General Secretary, Dave Prentis.

Over the past 9 years I think Dave has done us proud as General Secretary. Not only because he's well respected, passionate, and dedicated to our members, but he's got the instincts and experience to steer a massive organisation like UNISON to continued success.

You only have to look at Dave's record, membership increasing year on year (particularly healthy Young Member recruitment which I know Dave is very committed to), the unions resources increasingly been shifted towards directly organising our members, high profile campaigns which have successfully got the public on board from Keep the NHS Working to our current Million Voices campaign, in Health our historic Agenda for Change agreement putting all our members in the NHS on an equal footing, developing our commitment to the international agenda supporting sisters unions across the world, and the list goes on.

And Dave is a strong and effective voice for our members to Government. You just need to look at what happened in the summer when the NHS Co0operation and Competition Panel produced their guidance that only a quarter of local health services could be retained by the NHS otherwise it would 'damage the markets', Dave's personal intervention (including leading a delegation of NHS Together unions to meet the Health ministerial team) meant that position was more than reversed with the Health Secretary announcing the NHS was the 'preferred provider' of services.

When you look at the ragtag bunch also seeking nomination, it'd be easy to think there's no contest. As my Branch Secretary put it, 'There is no other choice, it has to be Dave.' But there's no room for complacency.

Our union is about to enter the most important and most difficult period since we came together as UNISON. Public spending is set to be squeezed whoever wins the next election, with our members in the public, private and community sector set to bear the brunt of the pain if we let it. But with a Tory Government (heaven forbid) those cuts will come quicker, be deeper and they've already indicated would come hand in hand with attacking our ability to resist from cutting facility time to further restricting our right to take industrial action.

And in this tough time ahead, UNISON doesn't just need a steady hand at the tiller. We also need and strong determined fighter who can truly serve the interests of our members and not their own factional interests.

That's why I'll be supporting a nomination for Dave at the NEC, my Regional Council and my Branch AGM.

Join us and give your support:
  1. Find our more about the campaign and sign up
  2. Get in touch with your Branch and ask them how and when they're making their nomination (Dave's letter seeking nominations)

  3. Support Dave at the nominating meeting (either Branch Committee were your' represented by you steward who you should ask to vote for Dave or Branch Meeting where you can go along and vote)

You can also follow the campaign on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The race is on for UNISON’s General Secretary

The NEC today decided to instigate an election for General Secretary. Not because we’ve lost faith in Dave Prentis. But because rather than press his right to stay on as GS until he reaches 65 (as he’s within 5 years of 65 that is his right under law and UNISON’s rule book) Dave has decided to ensure the union has maximum strength by seeking to renew his mandate for another 5 years.

Now first of all I want to put to bed these roomers flying around that I will be the candidate. I’d like to thank all those why have said they would support me but I’m just loving being a Nurse in the NHS too much to leave it!

No, on a serious note. This is the start of a 5 month process for electing our General Secretary which starts with Branches, Regional Councils and the NEC deciding who to nominate. Nominations open on the 4th February and close on 1st April. Please ensure that your Branch has a meeting between those dates and that nominations are on the agenda. Nominations are a really vital part of the democracy of UNISON’s elections especially for General Secretary so I encourage ALL Branches to get involve and nominate.

Full details including the nomination forms will be coming out very soon.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The NEC approves UNISON's budget but not the Chancellor's

Yesterday's NEC meeting (of which there is and excellent report elsewhere) coincided with the Pre-Budget Report. This meant that as me met and discussed the service and pay and conditions cuts that our members are facing and how we are responding through our Million Voices Campaign, the Chancellor was telling MP's what would be in the budget, and sadly not what was in UNISON's excellent alternative budget.

For me this meant the rare experience of being asked to right an article for progress, the shall we say 'loyalist' Labour website. Now with promises of caps on our members pay and pensions, my reaction to the PBR was never going to be a glowing endorsement of the Chancellor (though of course on the important issue of spending he gets it absolutely right that spending cuts now not only would damage those services but also the economy). As what one of our officers said to me, it's the difficult audiences not the easy ones that are the most important to get to.

Which is fitting given some of the debate around the Million Voices Campaign at the NEC meeting. I had to intervene after another member of the NEC criticised us for allowing Labour MP's to sign up to the campaign, when surely they are a key audience we need to influence? I posed the question of who they think will make the decisions, and will any other political party come to our defence? And I also pointed out that getting the MP's to sign up couldn't be the end point, but that now they (and particularly the Cabinet members) have signed up to a clear statement against cuts and privatisation it is our job to hold them to that.

Ultimately, that's the difference between those of us who want to campaign and win with our members, and those that want to posture and grandstand.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World Aids Day: Remembrance and Action

World Aids Day is an important time to stop and think, and an important moment to be open and honest, raise awareness and dispel the stigma of HIV/AIDS.

I will always remember the first time I wore a red ribbon on the 1st December. I was at secondary school, and I didn't think twice about proudly wearing it in support of people with HIV/AIDS. However it became a struggle to keep it on through the day as kids taunted me for wearing it, saying it meant I had AIDS.
I'd love to think this wouldn't happen today (this was well over a decade ago), but the fact is stigma and prejudice against people with HIV is still rife. That is why World Aids Day and the wearing of red ribbons are still so important, and why HIV/AIDS is still an important Trade Union issue. Like all discrimination, Trade Unions take a hard line. Unions and campaigners were successful in getting protection of people with HIV as part of disability discrimination legislation, but as with all such issues the law is only as good as how it is implemented on the ground. All Trade Unionists need to be continually vigilant against discrimination.

More than this, HIV has become a massive issue for workers across the word. HIV has devastated working people in many developing countries, damaging their ability to live and work and their ability to organise together to make things better. UNISON can be rightly proud of our response and our work with our sister unions internationally. This focuses on supporting Southern African unions in developing their response to HIV through the organisation
Public Sector Unions fighting AIDS in southern Africa (PSUFASA).

So today, lets remember all those who have suffered, think about those who are still dealing with HIV and re-double our support for all the work going on across the world.