“A call to arms or alms?”

UNISON have announced that after joint trade union consultation the members of all the main trade unions have voted to accept 1% National pay offer.

It is clear from the media circus that politicians across the mainstream parties are queuing up to show how they would cut public sector spending if they were elected to run the government. The vote to accept 1% is a critical moment for public sector trade unions. They need to quickly  develop a coordinated, joined up strategy to defend public services in a way that members can feel confident that their leaders really means business. 

Our members and members of other trade unions need strong leadership, it needs to go beyond rhetoric and sound bites. Members need to be inspired, they need to believe that they can make a difference.

 White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said to President Obama to ‘never let a good crisis go to waste.’ 

I believe the same applies to the trade union movement. We need change. The change has got to come from our members and our stewards, they are the key to the future of trade unionism in the next decade. 

The government is committed to breaking up public services. Easy Council is not a Barnet only concept, it is government policy to encourage the move from a provider to a commissioner. This change will gather momentum if we don’t stand up and fight. There are those who prefer appeasement on the basis that people are not prepared to fight. 

I point to positive reaction of the British public to the attacks on our NHS from right wing fundamentalists in the USA (what planet are these people from?)

Next week sees the start of TUC conference. In my day it marked the beginning of televised politics, the mainstream party conferences would follow and we would watch and listen to the speeches. Nowadays it hardly raises a mention in the media. 

This non engagement is a ‘wake up call’ for the trade union movement. Potential members of trade unions need to be convinced of the need to belong to a trade union. The hard won terms & conditions that people take for granted were not handed over willingly. They were hard fought, there were casualties. We need to show these potential members why we need to fight and why they need to be part of the fight.  

I would ask members to note Motion 49 entitled ‘Defending public services’ going to TUC conference from the PCS which I am hoping will be adopted. It opens with

“Congress rejects the notion that the solution to the economic crisis, and the resulting national debt, must be found in public spending cuts which damage services, freeze public sector pay, increase privatisation, or cut pensions and benefits. Congress rejects the divisions that are being encouraged by the media and politicians between private and public sector workers in order to justify cuts…..” 

Rank & file members understand unity, they understand the need to stand together, they have an expectation of the leaders of the public sector unions to work together for the survival of public services and their members. 

We don’t want members put on the dole, we don’t need ALMS we don’t want benefits

We need jobs, wages, we need dignity and self respect in the work place. 


UNISON National Pay Award Press release


TUC Conference


Total Place


Barnet UNISON response to Easy Council


Don’t waste a crisis


Public spending cuts