Monday, June 20, 2016

The challenges facing UNISON

The agenda for UNISON Local Government Conference over the past two days has seen a litany of complaints and protests at various dimensions of what is a comprehensive assault upon every aspect of our welfare state.

The Housing Act threatens further to undermine social housing ‎whilst the crisis in social care has brought social work - and social workers - to the edge of a precipice.

Phoney devolution to "city regions" threatens to devolve nothing but cuts, as local authorities set up trading companies to cut workers' pay and conditions.

The Government may have backed off from wholesale forced academisation‎ but academies remain a vicious attempt to privatise our schools and remove them from local democratic control.

Against this backdrop, local government workers face overwork and stress (but not, of course, decent pay).

It is clear that our members, our class and our public services are being battered by an attack on almost every front.

The challenge which this poses to UNISON, our largest public service trade union, is how to organise a fightback against these attacks.

We face this challenge in circumstances of falling membership and income, declining engagement of members with their trade union and a withering of activism and militancy - with the considerable added obstacle of mistrust in those reportedly willing to contemplate working with "sympathetic employers" against "hostile branches" (in respect of an internal trade union election).

Tomorrow evening's fringe meeting (at 7pm at the Holiday Inn) - called by and for lay activists - offers an opportunity ‎to consider how UNISON can rise to the challenge of these terrible times.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

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