Blog 44: UNISON General Secretary, Nurses United and Palestinian Solidarity

Hi Dudes, Blog 44 is here, and just like coronavirus it just goes on and on and on. There is no vaccine yet for the Rona, and similarly there is no rescue or let up from this humourless, uninformative, ludicrous Blog – We just have to put up with both as our new way of life, and make the best of it. So gather your caffeine, unfurl your Victorian nightdress, grab your gluten free digestive dunkers, and read on comrades…

David Prentis, UNISON’s current General Secretary, has announced he is to retire on New Year’s Eve 2020. So, an election will be held to appoint a new general secretary this Autumn (28 October to 27 November 2020). All members who are on the union’s membership register as of 28 July 2020, will be entitled to vote in this election. You will get a pack with a summary of each candidate and a voting form. Your UNISON Branch Committee meets on the 1st September to nominate the candidate we wish to see take charge. We will publish our decision on our Facebook page and our website. It is important to note that although we will publish the name of the candidate we nominate, our membership has the individual right to vote for who you, yourself want. You are not tied to our decision. If you want any further procedural information please give the Branch a shout at unison.sjuh@nhs.net but please participate in this vote. Our General Secretary elections are crucial – I’m sure any new leader will bring fresh momentum and renewed visibility for our union and our collected actions.

NURSES UNITED (https://www.nursesunited.org.uk/) are a non -UNISON affiliated group, but many of our members and activists are interested in their work. They are calling for an early NHS pay rise and for that pay rise to be 15% – some of you will have attended, enjoyed the speeches, and admired the socially distanced demo they organised in Millennium Square on the 8th of August. They are planning another one on the 12th September – During this demo the Trade Unions were criticised for not being in attendance and not showing solidarity. Our branch advice was due to the worries over social distancing / mass gatherings UNISON couldn’t officially be there.

In my opinion the absence of the Trade Unions (Leeds Trades Council was present) was rightfully criticised. Surely Trade Unions should be at the front of any rebellion against this corrupt government and their meaningless claps. Opinion on the day was “if unions keep taking the sensible option they will be left behind”. Black Lives Matter, Nurses United, Extinction Rebellion etc are all showing what grassroots organisations can do. They act quickly, they demand to be listened to, and they convey their activist’s passions. I am a proud trade unionist, but I’m also worried the Trade Unions will become obsolete or passed over by a new generation of politically conscious youngsters if they remain so slow to react ;- these newer groups move quickly over issues which are demanding to be heard.

Of course we need to be careful at not blurring our Health and Safety message but by embracing these groups we can help put safety measures in place. We can use our experience and established networks to help with the planning – as it was the social distancing Etc was done perfectly. The local Trades Council to their credit offered that support and healthcare workers are not stupid, we know the risks, and everyone acted accordingly.

In my opinion Trade Unions cannot just be a workplace advice centre, or else we are just HR in purple shirts. We need to be rattling the cages of the Tory establishment. The Corona crisis has raised our membership levels to a new high – To keep these new members we need results, and results on matters which are important to our members – Pay being a key issue. Activists also need to feel that their work in departments is represented at the higher reaches of the union – we do not want to be left behind by these wonderful newer groups which are getting on with the battles head on, whilst we are forced to mutter banalities about “reasonable” pay demands. #clapsdontpaybills.

Further reading…. This article says what I’ve just said (but far better) https://novaramedia.com/2020/08/13/nhs-workers-are-saying-no-now-its-time-for-unions-to-step-up/

Your UNISON Branch is affiliated to Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (https://www.palestinecampaign.org/about/), and they are calling for “an immediate two-way arms embargo with Israel”

Six years ago, Israel’s aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza killed over 2,200 Palestinians, nearly a quarter of them children, yet UK-made weapons and military technologies continues to be sold to and used by the Israeli military against the Palestinian civilian population.

Israel’s matrix of control, domination and oppression of the Palestinian population can only be maintained through military force. For example, Israel has maintained the illegal air, naval and land blockade of Gaza through several indiscriminate bombing campaigns, leading to thousands of civilian casualties.

The UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict found credible allegations that Israel committed war crimes through its indiscriminate attacks on densely populated civilian areas, which killed over 2,200 Palestinians and left over 100,000 homeless.

Despite this, Britain continues to arm Israel. Research by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has found that between 2014 and 2018, the UK issued individual licenses for £364 million worth of military equipment and technology for export to Israel, as well as 20 open licenses, allowing unlimited deliveries over a 3-5-year period.

If you feel strongly that this is wrong, and you do not want to be complicit in this, you could email your MP; –https://palestinecampaign.eaction.online/armsembargo

 

….Speak soon xxx