It is a great honour to be beginning my work as Regional Convenor in the North West, the union’s largest region.
We face huge challenges but we need to be ambitious for our union, with the vision to see beyond the current crisis that engulfs our members and our public services.
I am proud of the work that activists have done to empower our members to stand up to a bully of a Government with its nasty damaging policies.
One of our recent achievements that we should all be proud of is our stance on pay. We have experienced the longest period of decline in average wages since 1964 with the Office for National Statistics saying average wages have dropped consistently since 2010. We know that this Government’s austerity agenda is a vehicle used to ram through public sector pay restraint. It’s not fair and not required.
Our message to Labour must be that our vote does come with strings attached and that our demands are the demands of the many and not the few. Our pay demands for the public sector are fair and are good for them and good for our economy.
I became active in UNISON as a young member over ten years ago and am grateful for the help and support of fellow activists. As Regional Convenor, I know I am accountable to all branches, regardless of service group, size or location, and I am arranging visits to branches to listen to your priorities and what you want in terms of support from me. I know that the fragmentation and privatisation of public service delivery is presenting challenges for activists in representing members and building the union across a growing number of employers. I am committed to ensuring branches and workplace stewards get the support they need for this vital work.
Our members are suffering under austerity and our public services are creaking under the pressure of cuts, but we are a fighting union, not a victim support group, and under my leadership we will go on fighting for our members and for a fairer society.