Women – a formidable force

UNISON President, Andrea Egan opened Women’s Conference by thanking members and activists for all the work they do in our union.

She promised UNISON would continue the fight to end in-work poverty. “We face unprecedented times. We are in a working class war,” warned Andrea. “We are seeing the biggest squeeze on incomes since the second world war.”

“GPs treating growing numbers of patients with malnutrition. Millions of families in food, fuel and hygiene poverty. This is all taking place in the fifth richest country in the world and we have to say “not on our watch” slammed Andrea to applause.

She condemned the increasing numbers of millionaires whilst our members go to foodbanks

Tory priorities – lining the pockets of the richest while the rest of us suffer

“Crisis made in Downing Street won’t be paid for by those with the deepest pockets. No they will expect the rest of us to pay for it through more cuts to public services and low pay.

“In councils a £3billion shortfall which will see more services close – libraries, leisure services – things on which our communities rely.

“Our union has gone into 2023 with a renewed sense of member power,” said Andrea, sending solidarity to all members taking action now.

She warned: “The breaking point has been reached by our members. They are angry and have been pushed to brink We need to help shape the power of the collective. Our response to the anti-strike bill is to make stronger alliances and strengthens our resolve.

She pointed out that women are most affected by spiralling living costs and it is women who are plugging the increasing gaps in our services.

“Women are the formidable force to be reckoned with” said Andrea, referencing the suffragettes and many other campaigns demonstrating the power of women standing together.

Andrea concluded by detailing the work of the NEC and how it has taken forward decisions taken by members at National Delegate Conference, for the benefit of the union and members. She thanked the staff for all their work to support this, in challenging times.

She ended by saying, “We must send a clear message to the Tories. We’re up for the battle – bring it on!”