Speaking at UNISON’s national women’s conference in Bournemouth, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis today (Friday) said:
“This year’s conference is the biggest in a quarter of a century. More than a thousand women from all walks of life and every corner of the country are here to defy those who said, ‘unions are for only for men’.
“Today UNISON has a million women shaping our agenda and driving us forward.
“It’s mostly women pushing back against the backdoor privatisation of the NHS. It’s mostly women in Northern Ireland who took seven long weeks of action to demand fair pay.
“Those workers won their fight and forced politicians to return to Stormont. UNISON is proud of their historic victory, but the fight goes on.
“Addaction staff in the North West are striking for fair pay, cleaners at Essex’s Princess Alexandra Hospital have fought and won, and those in Scotland are marching for equal pay.
“In dispute after dispute it’s amazing, courageous, determined UNISON women who are leading the way.
“Laddism has returned as typified by Trump and Johnson. It means battles we‘d believed we’d won will need to be fought again – and UNISON will proudly lead that fight.
“This week UNISON was in the Supreme Court fighting for the right of sleep-in care workers to be paid hourly for their night shifts. Their support is not worth less when the sun goes down and we’ve taken their fight to the highest court in the land.
“Make no mistake, the fight will be even harder after the terrifying Tory election victory that cost us a lot of parliamentary friends.
“It was devastating when Eleanor Smith, the first Black UNISON president, lost her seat. But even on that night there were rays of hope as strong UNISON women were elected.
“Kim Johnson, Mary Foy, Paula Barker, Florence Eshalomi and of course Angie Rayner will be carrying the torch for UNISON in Westminster.
“We need Angie and people like her to take our party back to power. That’s how we end austerity, protect the NHS, fix the care system and pay public service workers a decent wage.”