I think it’s fair to say 2021 is another year most of us will be glad to see the back of.
We’ve escaped another lockdown for the time being (though whether that’s the right decision is still a matter for debate) but there’s a similar sense of uncertainty to this time last year when we looked back on 2020 and forward to 2021.
And our hopes going into 2022 are broadly the same: we’ll be hoping that we an see the back of Covid in the new year; we’ll all be hoping we can smash the government’s pay freeze and win real-terms increases across our public services; and above all we’ll all be hoping for health and happiness.
We can be under no illusion about the size of the task ahead. The Tories may say the freeze is over but the 3% for NHS staff has already been gobbled up by inflation. After nearly two years going through hell, health workers are paid less than before the pandemic. It’s a disgrace.
Workers in local government and schools are still voting on taking industrial action to improve the 1.75%insult offered up by their employers. Hopefully the new year will deliver a huge Yes vote and a massive message to the government that local government pay has to improve.
But whatever uncertainty and struggles public service workers face, they can be certain that UNISON will be there for them. The pandemic proved time and again that trade union values of solidarity, fairness and justice could help us through We’re stronger – mentally, physically and industrially – when we work together.
So as you draft your resolutions for 2022, make sure that top of the list – above the fad diets and gym membership – you put building your union.
And as you sing Auld Lang Syne at midnight, remember this other Rab Burns verse:
To-day ’tis theirs. Tomorrow we
Shall don the Cap of Libertie!
The Golden Age we’ll then revive:
Each man will be a brother;
In harmony we all shall live,
And share the earth together.
Happy New Year to everyone in UNISON Eastern.