Mike Kirby’s festive message: We showed once again the importance of trade unions

Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Secretary
Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Secretary

2018 was a significant year and we should be rightly proud of the role UNISON played in defending public services, protecting and in pivotal cases enhancing pay and conditions of our members, challenging Scottish Government and all political parties to do better for our people at work and the communities in which we live and work.

Be it campaigning on equal pay in Glasgow, smashing oppressive pay policy in health and local government and further education, organising on jobs and conditions in higher, and in areas like Angus and East Dunbartonshire, protecting members in reorganisations in police , fire and utilities, fighting for the real living wage and trade union rights in the voluntary sector….

UNISON Scotland at the fore.

We continue to lead the debate for a fairer and just Scotland. Setting parameters for a budget for public services, enhanced use of tax and welfare benefit powers, to have those who can pay more to take tens of thousands of children out of poverty, and lay the basis for reformed funding of public services.

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.

If Brexit wasn’t so serious, we regard the antics of Westminster as barmy!

But UNISON works with and for our members and EU nationals and others, who provide vital skills and experience. Our projects across Scotland, mentoring EU nationals on Settled Status Rights, and giving them the evidence that We’re One, and You’re Welcome!

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.

2019 promises to be just as busy.

We can be proud to 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 the political parties 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 seasonal 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.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Mike Kirby
Scottish Secretary