UNISON: 25 years strong

UNISON flags

Our union is strong as we approach our 25th anniversary, general secretary Dave Prentis told UNISON’s national executive council at its meeting in London.

“The Trade Union Act was designed to break us, but we haven’t allowed that to happen,” he said.

The union has now largely secured its income by agreeing new arrangements covering some 8,000 employers to allow continued deduction of union subscriptions directly from salaries, as required by the new Act.

“Originally the plan was to end check-off altogether and that would have been a massive attack on our union. We fought that off, and now we have put the work in to make sure our union is strong and viable for the future.”

Conference motions calling for a review to reshape the union to fit the next 25 years are a sign of our strength, Mr Prentis said.

“If we can get this right and keep a positive focus on the future, our union can thrive.”

He called for a mass mobilisation in branches to support the TUC demonstration on 12 May in London. UNISON will march under the banner, Step up for Public Services.

“Protest is important,” Mr Prentis said. “It is vital that it is seen as a huge protest against austerity, against cuts to public services, against job losses and pay cuts.”

The general secretary’s report also included the following statement about the rise of anti-semitism, which was endorsed by the NEC:

“We have not intervened in the current debate in the Labour Party on anti-semitism, but instead we have made clear and categoric statements speaking out against all forms of racism which includes anti-semitism. UNISON’s founding principles make it clear that any racism by members of our union conflicts with our aims and values set out in our rule book and brings the union into disrepute.”

The NEC heard updates on arrangements for the union’s annual national delegate conference in June and agreed the draft annual report.

The council agreed to prioritise the following 12 motions:

  • Motion 89: The UK EU withdrawal agreement and the future UK-EU relationship;
  • Motion 39: The crisis in health and social care;
  • Motion 121: Education is a public service;
  • Motion 12: Promoting the union as an organising union
  • Motion 32: Pay Up Now!
  • Motion 1: Reshaping and resourcing our union;
  • Motion 81: Workers’ rights in Turkey;
  • Motion 122: Cuts to our safety net;
  • Motion 105: Tackling xenophobia and the far right
  • Motion 14: Learning for the future;
  • Motion 79: Modern slavery;
  • Motion 37: Public service champions 2018/19;

The NEC agreed to send messages of support to Birmingham home care workers and UNISON members in Dacorum council taking industrial action.