I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year.
2015 will be an enormous year for us, with significant challenges ahead. And we are in a strong position to continue to meet those challenges and make the case for an alternative and better way forward.
Our NHS members will be out on strike on 29 January, escalating their historic action. It will be the third day in dispute at the government’s arrogant and harmful attitude towards NHS.
Their decision to reject the 1% pay rise recommended by the independent Pay Review Body is a callous and unnecessary action against a workforce that is hard working and compassionate.
They won’t be alone in their battle. The threat of strike action by police staff has brought the employers back to the table, while the probation service deals with a new era of privatisation.
Our school support staff and members in higher education will be fighting for fair pay.
In the community and voluntary sector we will be campaigning for employers, and public-sector commissioners, to make ssure that the living wage is established as an absolute minimum pay level.
Local government staff will once again be asked to deliver quality services to local communities, despite another massive reduction in funding.
Social care, children’s centres and the homeless will all be under fire as town hall cuts continue to bite.
The union’s aim this year is to continue to grow and build our union as a fighting force – to work with our communities, campaigning organisation and sister trade unions to stop the relentless attack on public services, the use of zero-hour contracts, the rise of in-work benefits and the reliance on food banks and pay-day loans to make ends meet.
The choice between eating and heating should not exist in Britain in 2015.
Many of our members have worked tirelessly over the festive period to keep vital public services running, and it will be these services that come under further attack if a new Tory-led government gets the chance to ramp up austerity for another five years.
May’s general election will give all of us the chance to vote for what we want our country to stand for.
We cannot afford another government that fails to get a grip with the soaring cost of living, while running public services into the ground.
Let’s make sure that we send a clear message that our vital services will not be eaten away to the bone, and that the hard working people who provide them will not be taken for granted.