It’s the start of a new year: and a challenging one for UNISON members, for the services they provide, and for the union.
Many of you will have returned to work after the Christmas and new year break – but equally, many of you will have worked over the holidays.
Providing key services and supporting the public is what you, our members, do – whether you work for local councils, in education, the health service, utilities, police and other emergency services, flood defence and environmental protection, or in the community and voluntary sector – every day of the year and every hour of the day.
And that is particularly true of our members in northern England and Scotland – dealing with floods and their aftermath just weeks after the devastation caused to Cumbria and other parts of the North West earlier in December.
On top of that, many members will have had to deal with the flooding at home – because you aren’t just public-service workers: you’re members of the public and service users as well.
On behalf of UNISON, I’d like to thank those of you who worked to deal with the floods, or who gave up their holidays to provide ‘normal’ services, for the tremendous job you’ve done.
And to members hit by the floods: remember that your union is there to support you – and you can get help through our welfare charity There for you.
Whatever the weather throws at us, we will always support our members – and not just in emergencies. The attacks on our members, our services and our union didn’t take a break over the holidays, and our campaigning on behalf of members at work does not take a break either.
This Saturday, 9 January, will see a march from St Thomas’s Hospital in London to Parliament, organised by student nurses, to argue against the abolition of the NHS bursary.
That will be followed on Monday (11 January) by a debate in the Commons after more than 100,000 people signed a petition against ending the bursary.
And on 20 January, UNISON will be hosting a campaign summit for student nurses, midwives and other medical professionals to come together and shape the campaign.
11 January is also a key parliamentary date for the Trade Union Bill as it moves through the House of Lords. And that will be followed by the TUC organised “heart unions” week of action on 8 to 14 February.
Your union is working in Parliament, but there’s a lot you can do: