We should be proud of our past and ready for the battles ahead, says UNISON general secretary

When we stand together we can take on anyone

Speaking at UNISON’s annual women’s conference today (Friday) in Bournemouth, general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“UNISON is now the biggest union in the country and, with a million women members, that means the biggest union in the country is a women’s union.

“What we have done, is create a union where women call the shots. The majority of the NEC, the presidential team and the assistant general secretaries are women. Nationally, locally and regionally women are leading the union.

“Last year, more than 100,000 low-paid women workers won the living wage in the NHS. That’s a life changing pay deal for the cleaners, cooks and carers who keep our NHS ticking.

“There was also the monumental employment tribunal fees victory. An historic case that no other union was willing to fight, but UNISON was.

“And UNISON continues to fight in the courts. On Wednesday our union was granted the right to appeal on our care workers sleep-in case. Across the country, thousands of care workers, mostly women, aren’t paid the proper salary for the valuable work they do.

“UNISON is seeking justice for these workers just as it is seeking justice in Birmingham for the incredible homecare strikers. Fighting a Labour council who seek to slash their wages by thousands of pounds.

“We should be proud of our past and ready for the battles ahead, like equal pay. It’s a long, tough battle that we’ve fought together over the decades, but in too many places the argument is yet to be won.

“I am proud of the thousands of women who took to the streets in Glasgow and took strike action to fight for their right to equal pay.

“For years, we have been fighting the worst of the Universal Credit regime. Showing how it’s damaging lives and hitting so many people so hard. We’ve fought against the government’s ‘two-child limit’ which callously tells women hardest hit how many children they’re allowed to have.

“The first twenty-five years of UNISON show that when we stand together we can take on anyone. We are unique and we are special.

“When others have stumbled UNISON has stayed strong. When others veered from their course we have stayed true. An inspiration to unions around the world.”

Notes to editors:
– The 2019 Women’s Conference takes place between 14 and 16 February at the Bournemouth International Centre, Exeter Road, Bournemouth BH2 5BH
– Motions include campaigning for safety within the social care workforce, supporting young women to challenge workplace sexual harassment and protecting, extending and enforcing disabled women’s rights.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

Media contact:
Anna Mauremootoo T: 0207 121 5555 E: a.mauremootoo@unison.co.uk