A socially distanced May Day won’t stop us working together for change

There’s a lot to keep us active during this second pandemic International Workers’ Day, says Tim Roberts

Tomorrow, 1 May, would normally see marches and rallies take place across the region and across the world as trade unionists mark International Workers Day.

We’d follow in the footsteps of millions before us – starting in 1890 when workers in Britain, the US, France, Germany, Cuba and elsewhere used day to push for the eight-hour day.

Now we celebrate our shared struggle and continue the campaigns that matter to us today.

If conditions allowed us to unfurl our banners, you can be sure nurses, healthcare assistants, porters, medical secretaries and a whole legion of other NHS staff would be hitting the streets against the government’s derisory 1% pay offer.

You can bet local government and schools workers would be waving their purple and green flags to demand a fair deal so that they can continue delivering the services we all rely upon without pushing themselves into penury.

You’d see care workers out calling for a decent living wage and a shake-up of their industry so that the mistakes of the last year aren’t repeated.

Higher education staff would be alongside them to reject a pay freeze, while energy workers would be taking up the battle against redundancies.

They’d be marching together because they know that simple trade union principle that we are stronger together. And whether we can be in the same physical space or not you can rest assured UNISON will keep living up to that principle and supporting workers across our public services.

One way we can still do that despite the restriction we face is by going out to vote next week.

With scores of local council seats up for grabs, as well as police and crime (and in some cases fire) commissioners standing for election, next Thursday will be absolutely crucial for our public services.

Don’t forget to cast your postal ballot quickly or safely make your way to the polling station on Thursday and cast your vote in the spirit of May Day.

Join UNISON’s international committee for a May Day rally with inspiring stories from South Africa, Palestine, Canada and more on 1 May at 11am.

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