This coming weekend is the August bank holiday and autumn still seems a long way away.
But on Sunday, it will be just five weeks to the TUC’s demonstration in Manchester marking the opening of the Tory party conference by declaring: “No to austerity, Yes to workers’ rights”.
At a time when more massive cuts are hitting our public services and putting the most vulnerable at risk, when continued wage freezes and proposed changes to in-work benefits are leaving hard-working public service workers wondering how they will support their families, this government is determined to undermine trade union rights.
It is no accident that the government is attacking our union at the same time that it’s attacking our members and our livelihoods.
Because the Tories know that it is trade unions who represent and speak up for the hardworking public service workers who provide the vital public services which our communities rely on and who will oppose further cuts.
Attacking both the right to strike and our ability to organise by threatening to change the way our members can pay their subscriptions are just one more way the government aims to reduce our ability to recruit, organise and represent our members.
That’s why the rally and march in Manchester on Sunday 4 October has that joint theme: No to austerity; Yes to workers’ rights.
And that’s why I know UNISON activists, branches and regions across the country are mobilising to get members along to Manchester, to show the strength of our opposition to these attacks.
Back in June, during our national conference in Glasgow, I pledged that we would work with the TUC for a mass demonstration in Manchester during the Conservative conference and that UNISON would build for it, mobilising our members to make their voices heard.
Well the TUC has delivered and organised a rally and march on the opening Sunday of the conference.
Now it’s up to the rest of us to mobilise the turn-out.
If you’re a UNISON activist, talk to you branch or regional office about leaflets, posters and other resources and get talking to our members about this important demonstration.
If you’re a UNISON member, talk to your local rep or branch about what arrangements there are for travel to Manchester.
If you’re not a UNISON member, come along anyway – and why not join the union at joinunison.org.
Either way, I hope you’ll be joining me in Manchester on 4 October to deliver a clear message to the Conservatives: No to austerity, Yes to rights.