Christmas message from Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish secretary

Date: 19 December 2014

2014 was a significant year and we should be rightly proud of the role UNISON played in the independence referendum. We led the debate for a fairer and just Scotland. Thank you to UNISON members, activists, staff and supporters for the way you conducted yourselves throughout. We showed, once again, the importance of trade unions in shaping the country we live in.

Public services remain a key issue. People in Scotland made it clear they want more, not less investment in public services and want to keep public services in public hands. UNISON will continue to keep all political parties to the promises they have made both on where powers lie and how they will use them. And most importantly we will ensure ordinary working people have a strong voice.

2015 promises to be just as busy. We have a general election in a few months and the outcome matters to us all. UNISON members and their families have been struggling under UK government austerity. We have seen jobs lost with the biggest squeeze on wages since Victorian times while prices for everyday goods are increasing.

The statistics speak for themselves. Six in ten children who live in poverty have at least one parent in work, four in ten Scots live in fuel poverty, personal debt is on the increase and many families continue to struggle to pay for childcare or find decent housing. The debate over the next 18 months or so could not be more important.

As soon as we get the general election out the way we will start building towards the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. We will be fighting for public services and those who deliver them; an end to the council tax freeze; and to hold all our political parties to the promises they made to build a fair and just Scotland.

I am proud that I can say life is just a little bit better for ordinary working people because of the hard work of UNISON activists and staff. Whether we are negotiating a big pension deal, campaigning for better pay, fighting the cuts, or representing a single UNISON member who has a problem at their work. Sometimes it may not feel like it, but these things make life a little better for UNISON members and their families.

We are the biggest trade union in Scotland, with more members than any political party in Scotland. We take our responsibility seriously and work in solidarity across civic Scotland. Stick together and we will continue to improve lives for many years to come.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the support and hard work you have given UNISON over the last year. Enjoy your Christmas break, I hope you get to spend it with family and friends, and take time to remember those who are no longer with us.

Lastly let’s remember our colleagues who do the difficult and sometimes dangerous job of keeping the rest of us safe and well over the festive period. Instead of spending time with their families they are out there working 24/7 on our behalf, and they do an amazing job.

I look forward to seeing you all back in a week or so refreshed and ready for a busy 2015.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Mike Kirby