England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

UNISON: We need a leadership on the picket lines, not the sidelines

By Kevin Corran, member of UNISON’s National Executive Council (personal capacity)

As a new member of the UNISON NEC I have recently been elected to the International Committee and the Policy Development and Campaigns Committee. During the NEC elections, Socialist Alternative members stood on the Time For Real Change slate, committed to developing the democratic structures within UNISON, and focusing the power of the union on the ability to organise members to take action.

One of our first tasks is to amend and bring forward motions to the TUC Conference. Those motions building our ability to co-ordinate action, as well as motions challenging the Tories’ racist immigration policy and attacks on trans rights, will be pushed by the NEC.

The backdrop to this work is the unsatisfactory pay settlement in the health sector and likely settlement in local government. In real terms these are pay cuts. This is in part a reflection of unions inability to instil confidence that we can win a decent pay rise.

The Tory anti-trade union laws means we need to get 50% of members voting in ballots, but strikes remain our most powerful weapon. No union member wants a pay cut, but many that believe their union can’t win an above inflation pay rise, so don`t engage in ballots.

Our most important task in the NEC is facilitating industrial action for any UNISON members that come into struggle and to promote a model of fighting and organising trade unionism, that can help prepare for forthcoming battles.

The NEC has to push to the top of the agenda the need for co-ordinated action across sectors and unions, to strengthen our collective power. Coordinated strike are a real opportunity to deal with the pay cuts and attacks on our conditions. It is only through taking militant action that we can defeat the Tories and their cost of living crisis.


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