‘Be proud of our union’

General secretary praises union’s activists and staff for their commitment and flexibility during the pandemic crisis

“I could not be prouder of this union and the way that you, our activists – and UNISON staff – have stepped up,” general secretary Dave Prentis told the union’s national executive council (NEC).

In a time of crisis, insecurity and anxiety, the courage and dedication of UNISON members was what kept the country going, he said. “Our members have been through so much during the pandemic, and the union has to be there for them.”

He told how, “back in March, we had 24 hours to close our buildings and relocate every function of the union so we could still be there for our members. Six months on and I could not be prouder of the way you, our activists – and our staff – have stepped up.

“Everyone has shown willingness, flexibility and commitment.”

Recently, the union has:

  • launched its #NoGoingBackToNormal campaign with billboards and digital ads across the UK – calling for a new deal for public services;
  • campaigned on the gap in funding for local government;
  • mounted a massive campaign across its health branches for a pay boost of £2,000 for every worker;
  • won a significant legal case on payment for travel time for homecare workers;
  • seen record-breaking recruitment levels;
  • recruited 1,000 new health and safety reps;
  • made over 76,000 one-to-one welcome calls to new joiners, and
  • kept the union website up to date with COVID-related information for all sectors.

Mr Prentis made special mention of the union’s charity There For You – “the jewel in our crown” – which had helped a record number of members suffering as a result of the impact of the pandemic.

“I’ve served this union for over 40 years and I have never been more proud of our staff, our activists and our members,” he added.

The NEC meeting also heard updates on recruitment and organising, bargaining and negotiations and industrial action.

The meeting agreed to:

  • seek agreement from the certification office for the current presidential team to remain in place until a 2021 delegate conference;
  • make contingency plans for online versions of both large-scale decision-making conferences and branch annual general meetings, in the event that in-person gatherings continue to be subject to COVID restrictions; and
  • held a minute’s silence for all those who had lost their lives in the pandemic, including former NEC member and North West regional organiser, Raph Parkinson.