“You improve people’s lives: you make people’s lives better.” That was at the heart of the message from UNISON president Gordon McKay when he addressed the union’s LGBT conference in Harrogate this morning.
“Thank you for everything you do for our union and thank of everything you do for our members,” he said.
“Who would be there for our members if it wasn’t you? You ensure they aren’t alone. You stand with them … and to me, most importantly, you give them the courage to find their own voice,” he added.
Saying that much “depresses me that NI remains the one part of the UK that doesn’t have marriage equality,” he noted that it is only blocked by one “bigoted political party” – the DUP.
And turning his attention to the Conservative government in Westminster that is shored up by the DUP, Mr McKay said that it was “happy to cut taxes for the wealthy while benefits remain low for the poor,” and poured scorn on the attitude revealed by the Chancellor’s pledge to provide cash-strapped schools with something for the “little extras”.
On the wider economy and falling pay, the president noted that even the Bank of England was now admitting the damage done by the gig economy.
But trade unions provide hope for workers.
“People don’t just join a trade union,” he observed. “They have to make a decision … and they join UNISON because they trust UNISON; they join UNISON because they trust you.”
Asking them to “do just a little bit more” on recruitment in Grovember, he stressed the importance of increasing density to make the union even more successful, before thanking them once again.