Today is May Day – International Workers’ Day – a day to look back on the achievements of our movement, and ahead to a better and brighter future for working people.
That’s particularly pertinent for UNISON this year, because in just a few months, our union will be 25 years old. To mark that occasion, we’re planning to review every aspect of how our union is run with one focus in mind – UNISON members. Since 1993 our country has undergone immense changes, and so have our workplaces.
We should be rightly proud that we’re the biggest and best union in the country. We should celebrate our quarter of a century of incredible achievements. Yet we must also take this as an opportunity to look at how UNISON – and all of us within it – can do more, and do better, for all our members in the next 25 years.
That thought was certainly on my mind last week when I visited UNISON branches from Stoke and the surrounding area. I’m grateful to the brilliant Steve Jones from Staffordshire Community Health branch (who is also a member of our NEC) for bringing so many different activists together to discuss the challenges facing our members and our union. We talked about the many ways in which UNISON supports our members and the wins achieved by UNISON in the region, but also the ways in which we can change and adapt to do so much more – especially in terms of helping our activists reach even more members.
Building networks between UNISON branches and activists is important too. These branches in Stoke already come together to share support, advice and resources. That’s so important at a time when our members across all public services are under so much pressure, and 25 years on from UNISON’s birth, shows the incredibly diverse nature of our union – public service workers supporting each other across different sectors, different areas and different services.
That is what our union at its best is all about. It’s just another reason to be proud of our union – on May Day, and every day. In the years ahead we have an opportunity to build upon and strengthen those ties that support us and bind us together.
We must not waste that opportunity.