Birmingham care striker brings conference to its feet

Mandy Buckley tells delegates that the Birmingham strikers are not going to give in

UNISON women’s conference rose to its feet this afternoon, after hearing from Mandy Buckley (pictured), a Birmingham care worker and the rep for those women who are fighting against the city’s Labour council’s plan to slash their hours and pay.

Telling delegates about the strike she said that “it’s hard going when it’s 12 months”.

“I’ve only been a steward for two years – I have never been political,” she added.

Thanking all the unions that have been supportive, she paid “Liz and Dave” [UNISON assistant general secretary Liz Snape and general secretary Dave Prentis] specific thanks, before asking delegates to do thing such as liking the campaign’s Facebook page at, saying that such apparently small acts can really help to boost morale.

And Ms Buckley pledged that the workers would not cave in to the council.

Read more about the Birmingham care workers’ struggle at

Later, in a debate on organising against the odds, Ms Buckley pointed out that organising has meant that her fellow members now know that “they ARE the union!”

Conference also came to its feet to applaud one of the women who have recently won their struggle for equal pay in Glasgow.

When the victorious women walked into George Square in the city for a rally to celebrate their victory, it was, the speaker said, “the greatest moment in my life”.

It was a busy afternoon in Bournemouth, as delegates debated a range of motions.

Major discussions focused on tackling transphobia “Everyone deserves to live in a world free of violence,” said a delegate from Northern Ireland.

Another delegate from Cymru-Wales echoed other speakers to say that “trans women are women”. But she continued: “While everyone is entitled to their own view, there is no room in our union for trans hate.

“We need to make sure our branches are equipped to tackle these issues.”

A moving debate heard many delegates relating the stories of themselves, friends and family who have had to deal with stillbirth and miscarriages.

Some reported unsympathetic responses from managers – male and female – that added to the trauma.

Conference called on the national committee to review the union’s advice on pregnancy rights in terms of stillbirth, and also to provide advice to women’s and welfare officers to enable appropriate advice to be given to women who have experienced a stillbirth.

Further debates included:

  • misogyny and domestic abuse experienced by disabled women;
  • caring about women carers in the workplace;
  • social care cuts and how they impact on women.