UNISON is accelerating preparations for a winter of disputes, member consultation and industrial action as the union continues to fight for members’ pay and terms and conditions across most sectors.
Speaking at the first hybrid NEC meeting on the day when strike ballots started to land with over 300,000 local government members across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, general secretary Christina McAnea said it was a “concerted national action” and that the union would be doing all it could to maximise turnout in this crucial ballot.
“A lot of work has already been done on ensuring we get as high a turnout as we can,” Ms McAnea said. “This is a really important action for us and we will continue to look at the additional support we can offer to branches to help them maximise turnout.”
The general secretary also highlighted the fact that the union was still in the middle of a consultative ballot with health members in England. And she told the NEC that the local government consultation in Scotland had resulted in an improved pay offer to members that had just been accepted.
The NEC also heard that members at the Care Quality Commission, who inspect, monitor and regulate hospitals, care homes, GP and dental surgeries, as well as ambulance and mental health services, are in the process of being balloted over possible strike action after being given no pay rise this year.
Away from pay, there was news on various ongoing campaigns across the union, including the launch of the union’s ground-breaking report during COP26 in Glasgow, Getting to net zero in UK public services.
Ms McAnea also stressed UNISON’s ongoing work campaigning against compulsory vaccines in both care and the health service, which she said had had an immediate impact in the care sector in terms of increased vacancies.
And she added: “The Westminster government’s proposals on care provide no additional funding for care workers, or to local authorities and other commissioning bodies, nor are there any plans for structural changes to improve the provision or delivery of care in England.”
Two significant legal victories were also highlighted to the NEC – on term-time payments and collective bargaining that would have direct impact on UNISON members.
Elsewhere the NEC:
- Sent messages of support to university members currently taking action at SOAS in London and sent a message of solidarity to members of UCU in their current action;
- Heard about a new exhibition on Labour history at the UNISON Cymru office;
- Discussed plans for the Fight for Fairness online end-of-year rally on 15 December.