Thursday, 18 August 2011

Bully-boy Tactics in Plymouth

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, today called on Plymouth City Council to drop the macho politics and get back round the table. The call comes following the councils decision to withdraw recognition from the union, close its office and refuse further talks, in the wake of a disagreement over discriminatory cuts to council workers pay and conditions.

Dave Prentis, said:

"Plymouth City Council should drop the macho politics and get back round the negotiating table, for the good of their workforce and the people of Plymouth. Derecognising the union is an aggressive and disproportionate response to UNISON's honest efforts to protect our members jobs, pay and conditions and protect vital services for local people.

"We are taking legal advice, and we will not be pressured into signing an agreement that discriminates against some groups of staff.

"We have support from Unite and GMB who have both written to the council to withdraw their signatures from the agreement. There is only one way back now, and that is for the council to talk to the union and come to a fair and reasonable agreement."

The local UNISON branch has been overwhelmed with messages of support from around the UK and across the globe. There has been numerous messages from people in Plymouth, many of whom are not even union members but believe firmly that UNISON is doing the right thing.

The unions have been in talks for months over the Council's decision to cut jobs and the pay and conditions of its staff. The union has been given legal advice that the proposed agreement may have a disproportionate impact on certain groups of low paid workers, making it discriminatory. The cuts will particularly hit those providing home care, emergency social services, street cleaners and parks workers.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Coalition NHS Policies result in Ward Closures at Sheffield Hospitals


The proposed closure of Ward Q1 “is the thin end of a very large wedge” which will herald more ward closures and service contraction across the city as Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust seek to achieve the £40 million savings needed in 2011/12. So says Andy Freeman, UNISON Regional Organiser.

Consultation about the closure of Ward Q1 at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital ends on Tuesday 26th July and is part of the 1st Phase of the Reconfiguration of Medical Beds across the Trust.

Andy says “The consultation outlines the intention to close 4 wards so this is just the start and the impact on patients, particularly the elderly, will be immediate. The Trust is faced with some very difficult decisions in order to save £40 million this financial year so this proposal is the thin end of a very large wedge.”

Andy went on; “We already know that on top of this there are going to be reconfigurations in Theatres as funding for surgery from Commissioners has been drastically reduced. With regard to planned surgery like hip replacements and hernia operations UNISON representatives in a consultation meeting this year were stunned to hear a senior Trust Executive say “people will need to be in more pain before we can treat them””

This is the impact of the Coalition Government Policies which will “strangle the NHS as we know it” according to Regional Head of Health, Pam Johnson.

Pam says “Government plans for the NHS are directly responsible for these proposals in Sheffield. Quite clearly there is much worse to come, you can’t save these sorts of figures without more service reduction. What, I ask, is the Deputy Prime Minister, doing about this? Mr Clegg, a Sheffield MP, is sitting by while his Government’s policies strangle the NHS as we know it.”

Pam went on “I am pleased that people in Sheffield are waking up to this as UNISON members, in a very short space of time, got hundreds of people to sign a petition against these closures. The impact of ward closures like this are always keenly felt by patients and their families and we are deeply concerned about the impact of these changes will have.”

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Definition of a Scab by Jack London

After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab.

A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.

When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the Devil shuts the gates of Hell to keep him out.

No man has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with. Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.

Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Judas Iscariot sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British Army. The modern strikebreaker sells his birthright, his country, his wife, his children and his fellow men for an unfulfilled promise from his employer, trust or corporation.

Esau was a traitor to himself: Judas Iscariot was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country; a strikebreaker is a traitor to his God, his country, his wife, his family and his class.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Vince Cable - a Contradiction

Interesting to hear Vince Cable on the Politics show today... he said the following;

"No government - coalition, Labour or any other - would change its fundamental economic policy simply in response to a demonstration of that kind."

Interestingly, he said the following in private to the Daily Telegraph Journalists posing as constituents last year;

"There is a lot of things happening. There is a kind of Maoist revolution happening in a lot of areas like the Health Service, local government, reform, all this kind of stuff, which in danger of getting out of... We are trying to do too many things, actually. Some of them are Lib Dem inspired, but a lot of it is Tory inspired. Actually, the problem is not that they are Tory-inspired, but that they haven’t thought them through. We should be putting a brake on it."

Make your own conclusions from this - I have and hopefully thousands of other voters and in particulr public sector workers will conclude, like me, that there is a rotten core at the heart of this Coalition Government and they need rejecting and ejecting, before it is too late.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Cleggzilla makes the Daily Mail

UNISON's Cleggzilla poster makes the Daily Mail

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Nurses take protest to Clegg

Here is the text of a letter that two nurses from Sheffield handed in to Nick Clegg today;

Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP
Deputy Prime Minister

12th March 2011

Dear Mr Clegg

We are writing to you on behalf of over 10,000 UNISON members who work across the NHS in Sheffield and are citizen’s and voters who value our National Health Service. We, our members and their families are extremely concerned about your Coalition Government’s plans for the future of the NHS as set out in the recently published Health and Social Care Bill 2011.

We believe that these plans will fundamentally alter the NHS as we know it and undermine the basic principles on which it was founded. We do not feel that the general public knows or understands the scale or likely impact of these changes, and would not support them if they did. These reforms if delivered, will allow private companies to manage commissioning and service provision on behalf of GPs, and ultimately turn the NHS into little more than a brand name attached to a range of competing services within a fragmented health system, little if any, of which is publicly provided. Already the big health companies are circling the NHS, like vultures, waiting to exploit the changes.

Set out below are some of the key issues and implications which are of most concern to us, our members and their families, and we believe would also be of major concern to the public if they realised the impact of your Government’s proposals, all of which have prompted us to write to you:

Price over quality

• Even though the Secretary of State has performed a u-turn on introducing price competition in the NHS UNISON wants this promise delivered, by making sure that NHS guidance reflects the policy change. The Government should have the operating framework amended to make it clear that there should be no price competition. If price competition is indeed no longer Government policy, it needs to ensure that loopholes aren’t exploited that would bring in the tendering of clinical services
• Despite this u- turn the Health and Social Care Bill will undermine the NHS. The whole direction that Andrew Lansley is taking will give a boost to private health companies at the expense of local NHS hospitals, with the potential for local communities hospitals to close and local services to be displaced significant distances from the locality.

Unfettered competitive ‘free-for-all’

• The Bill reveals the government’s determination to force through competition for its own sake. The repeated references to the Competition Commission and the Office for Fair Trading are completely at odds with a public health service that must be treated as distinct from the likes of the privatised utilities.
• The Bill, if enacted, will open the NHS up to EU competition law – which will make it virtually impossible for services to return to the public sector once they have gone to private companies thereby destroying the NHS as we know it.
• The use of “any willing provider” will create a larger role for healthcare companies such as American multinationals like United Healthcare and will destabilise NHS providers.
• The sharing of ‘best practice’ which is a foundation of the publicly provided NHS will disappear as a result of these changes as private companies start guarding their intellectual property rights and cease exchanging information unless fees or charges are paid for it.

Private patients prioritised

• The Bill will remove the cap that restricts the amount of money hospitals can make from private patients that pay for their care.
• Hospitals are likely to prioritise treatment for private patients to bring in extra money, pushing NHS patients to the back of the queue.
• There are no reassurances given that private income will have to be reinvested
in NHS services.

Massive instability

• The NHS is under massive pressure to find £20 billion of savings, despite promises of ring fencing and budget protection. Now is not the right time to embark upon the largest reorganisation in its 62-year history.
• The changes will create a postcode lottery - the lack of local and regional oversight provided by primary care trusts and strategic health authorities, which your Government are dismantling, will lead to greater inconsistencies in quality and access to services.
• Safety could be compromised as well – how will the new commissioning consortia take care of crucial issues like resisting a swine flu pandemic?


• There will be considerable job losses across the NHS bodies that are being abolished and far greater instability for those working in other parts of the NHS.
• Staff transferred to commissioning consortia will be at the mercy of their new employers who will decide whatever pay, terms and conditions they see fit.
• Commissioning consortia will not have employing authority status, so transferred staff are likely to lose membership of the NHS pension scheme.

Make no mistake, these reforms will utterly destroy the NHS that we know and love. The Bill is being pushed through by the government in spite of the widespread concern raised from groups as diverse as the BMA, the NHS Confederation, numerous health and social care charities and our Union, UNISON. There is still time to influence the shape of these reforms and we are asking you and your Liberal Democrat colleagues to realise your error and support changes to the current Health and Social Care Bill proposals to help protect the NHS from being dismantled and handed over to the private sector.

Yours sincerely