In the first of a series of blogs during the Covid-19 crisis, UNISON Eastern acting regional secretary Tim Roberts welcomes 5,000 new members to the region.
Despite all the tribulations of the last few weeks, there have been a few positives emerge.
The public has rediscovered an appreciation for our public services, most clearly expressed in the weekly clap for key workers.
Of course, UNISON has been at the forefront of making sure that front line workers get more than a round of applause during the crisis — from our tireless efforts to secure enough personal protective equipment to our ongoing campaign to secure a better pay deal for local government workers.
This brings us to a second, perhaps more subtle, change: politicians and the press are starting to remember how important trade unions are.
UNISON spearheaded the commemorations on International Workers Memorial Day. Trade unionists have marked the day since the ’90s, but for the first time hospitals, councils and even Number 10 fell silent to remember those who lost their lives at work.
From local employers to national Government, people are realising that trade unions have to be central to any workforce planning and our voices are being listened to more and more in the areas that affect our members. It’s still not enough, but it’s a start.
It’s part of the reason we’ve seen an explosion in the number of people joining UNISON Eastern, with the number of new joiners this year shooting past the 5,000 mark.
I’d like to welcome you all to UNISON Eastern and thank you for the essential work you’re all doing.
Many will have joined for advice and security during these worrying times. We’ll step up to the challenge here in the Eastern region.
Public-service workers are going above and beyond to protect our loved ones and keep our communities safely functioning.
Supporting you and campaigning for your protection is the priority of our union at this trying time; the priority for the region, our branches, our staff and activists.
But remember, it’s not just during this crisis that public-sector workers need UNISON. We’ll need to fight for a fairer settlement for public services after this crisis, probably in the face of a fresh round of austerity.
If we’re going to defend our vital public services, we’re going to need to do it together in UNISON.