UNISON vowed to defend quality public services and the public sector workers, to defend trade union rights and to encourage a fair, inclusive and tolerant society, drawing together a cohesive political strategy in response to the Tories’ immediate onslaught and escalation of attacks on public services and society itself.
Moving an emergency motion on Friday, Jane Carolan, NEC, said that the union could take some positives from its campaign in the run up to the general election, a campaign that was based on the fundamental principles that this union was founded on – the principles of social justice and equality.
Jane said, “This union has consistently opposed the austerity measures imposed on this country since 2010 not because we are tribal, and don’t like the Tories, but because they reinforce the state of inequality in this country, shoring up the wealth and power of the 1% against the 99%.”
She slammed the Tory policies as ones deliberately designed to change our political climate from an inclusive one believing that the state should serve its people to one in which the state is shrunk to desert those who need it. ”Because that is what is behind the rhetoric of strivers and skivers. The anti-austerity measures reject the idea of collective solutions to problems in favour of everyone standing on their own two feet.”
“The individual should be responsible for their own health their own housing educating their children. That is why the NHS for example is never safe in their hands. The NHS treats everyone equally regardless of ability to pay, a principle that offends Tory sensibilities”.
Jane pointed out that the central themes of the UNISON manifesto were the right ones – fairness – fairness in pay, fairness in taxation, fairness in the workplace, campaigning for positive policies for public services, an alternative based on values.
She noted some success getting the living wage, living standards and zero hours into the discussion, but the union hadn’t got very far challenging the Austerity Agenda. “But we must do better. And to do better it is right that we take time to review our political campaigning, our communications both with our members and the wider community. We need to build coalitions of support beyond our traditional allies and strengthen the traditional ones.”
Jane vowed, “We will continue to defend our public services, and to promote the Anti-Austerity Agenda. And where branches like Barnet continue their campaign and industrial action against the sell-off of services, we will continue to back them 100%. Back them with solidarity, but also with reserves.”
“And we will oppose in every way, at every level, the new Tory Anti Trade Union (Bill) that seeks to all but outlaw trade unionism starting by supporting the TUC campaign including the lobby of parliament. We need to build a wide Anti Austerity Campaign!”
“But in building that campaign we need to better co-ordinate our political strategy with our organising and industrial work. Co-ordinate, and integrate. Elected in May 2015, the Tories are now planning how to steal the next election. We don’t have the luxury of resting. Deep Breath, Heads Down, UNISON, CHARGE!”