UNISON: We’re still here – and we’ll be here next year too.
For UNISON, the New Year begins in the spring rather than 1st of January. Our branches are required to hold an Annual General Meeting by April each year. These meetings are a formal opportunity for members to engage with the democratic processes within their union. Representatives and officers are elected for the coming year, branch finances are discussed and guest speakers often talk about issues - such as the Trade Union Bill https://www.unison.org.uk/our-campaigns/trade-union-bill-2015/ - that the union will face. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the union movement we are part of and to reaffirm our commitment to supporting our members through difficult times.
It was in this context that, at their AGM, UNISON Hampshire Health branch took the opportunity to pass the following resolution:
This statement re-outlines the commitment of UNISON Hampshire Health branch to continue to provide support to health workers in difficult times. In the face of austerity measures and attacks on our human rights from the Trade Union Bill, stating this position is not to adopting a “business as usual” approach. Instead, it is highlighting our duty as trade unionists to meet this challenge as best we can under difficult circumstances as well as celebrating our dedication to doing so.
This resolution was resoundingly endorsed. The message was clear – six years of austerity but we’re still here. And we’ll be here next year too.
The Trade Union Bill
UNISON Fareham and UNISON Southampton District branches also took the opportunity to highlight the draconian Trade Union Bill. All three branches ran free sweepstakes, with prizes for the member who guessed closest to the correct answer. The question was a tricky one – how many Conservative MP’s in the South East would still have their seats if the ballot thresholds in the bill were applied to their own ballots? It’s probably less than you think!
UNISON Southampton District branch secretary Hayley Garner said:
“Yet again this Tory government show themselves as hypocrites when trying to impose ballot thresholds they know the majority of their own MPS wouldn’t meet. Electronic balloting for trade unions isn’t good enough, but when you’re electing the Mayor of London, suddenly its an important democratic tool.
“It’s clear to our members that this government doesn’t believe in democracy. It wants to silence the voice of hard working people by attacking the trade unions. Our members won’t allow this to happen and will fight back”
Because this legislation has consequences that threaten our union, Fareham UNISON also took the opportunity to invite Regional Organiser Andy Straker to talk about the Bill. Joint branch secretary Charlie Dacke commented:
“The TU Bill is unnecessary and unfair. Even our own employer believes that elements of this Bill are bad for our working relationship. For example, they have confirmed that they would prefer to provide us with the same facility time and DOCAS arrangements as long as they are legally able to.”
In all three cases, the AGM formed part of the wider campaign to raise awareness of the Trade Union Bill. With the Bill currently at the House of Lords, this campaign will gather pace in the coming months when it returns to the House of Commons to be voted on in its amended form.
UNISON needs everyone to get involved to limit the affect of laws that have far reaching consequences on our ability to protect our members and public services.
Visit the UNISON website https://www.unison.org.uk/our-campaigns/trade-union-bill-2015/ or contact your branch to find out how you can take part.