NEC hears of ongoing industrial action across the union

Fair pay and fighting the Westminster government’s anti-strike bill are also discussed by UNISON’s ruling executive

UNISON and Prospect unite on the picket lines outside the Environment Agency on Marsham Street, London SW1.

The first National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of 2023 heard a long list of all the industrial action that members are currently taking part in, across the UK.

“It’s been a very busy few months,” admitted general secretary Christina McAnea. “I’ll be heading to the South West for our next ambulance strike day on Friday, and we’re working on keeping up the huge media attention and public support that our strikes have attracted so far.

“Our health team, AGSs and regional secretaries have also spent many hours supporting our members on picket lines, and this support will continue throughout the dispute.”

Besides the ongoing dispute in the health service, strike action is also taking place in higher education this week, and the NEC meeting was taking place on the second day of action by members in the Environment Agency.

With strikes across the union – and pay ballots also taking place – Ms McAnea stressed that the union’s industrial action strategy was constantly being reviewed. “The Westminster government is still not engaged in meaningful talks with us and our concern is that they are deliberately not trying to resolve these disputes – that this is a deliberate tactic.”

The general secretary also discussed the difficulties of trying to coordinate strike action with other unions.

The NEC welcomed the news that the union has recently launched an appeal, so that all health activists and members can show solidarity by donating to the strike fund.

The NEC also discussed the ongoing campaign to fight the Westminster government’s draconian anti-strike bill, which seeks to severely limit the ability of workers to go on strike. The general secretary highlighted ongoing work with other unions and the TUC, with the possibility of a legal challenge.

The NEC agreed that raising members’ awareness of the threat posed by the bill was a priority.

In the light of so much activity, the NEC heard the welcome news that the union’s membership was continuing to grow, turning around a deficit at the start of 2022 and seeing strong growth in the first month of this year.

Ms McAnea noted: “We ended last year in net growth, which, given how we started the year, is very good news. January was also a very good month. Branches and regions are working very hard. Thank you to everyone who has been involved.”

The NEC also:

  • Sent a message of support to members across the health service in Northern Ireland, ahead of their next strike action on 21 February;
  • Sent a message of solidarity to the people of Turkey, in the aftermath of the earthquake earlier in the week;
  • Commended the launch of UNISON’s Year of Black Workers;
  • Vowed to continue to fight for full implementation of the Windrush review;
  • Congratulated former UNISON vice president Sian Stockham on receiving an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List, for services to the trade union movement.