‘We have to stand up for each other’ HE conference hears

Assistant general secretary Roger McKenzie opens higher education conference with call to organise and remember union values

“We have to be the ones who stand up for each other – that’s what trade unionism is about,” assistant general secretary Roger McKenzie told delegates at UNISON’s higher education in Bournemouth this morning.

Speaking of the increasing abuse suffered by union members and public service workers who are migrants or who are Black, including himself, Mr McKenzie added: “We have to be the ones giving people hope and giving people opportunity.”

He pointed out that many members in higher education are having to do two or three jobs just to survive.

Mr McKenzie told conference that “trade unionism is vital – and it’s not just about workplaces, It’s about the communities our members live in, the transport they use to get to work, their right to affordable housing and health care.

“It’s so important that we build our union – not just in terms of numbers but in terms of strength as well. That’s what will make a difference.”

Recalling the words of writer Alice Walker, Mr McKenzie concluded by saying change is necessary, but “it only changes when we’re organised; it only changes when we’re strong.”