UNISON members are gathering at the union’s national delegate conference in Manchester today, determined to defend their jobs, pay, pensions and public services.
They will be demanding coordinated national strike action along with other public sector unions.
The militant mood of members was clearly signalled at the union’s sectional local government conference on Sunday and Monday.
This laid ‘the basis to take the campaign forward and win the biggest war on the welfare state’.
Moving a comprehensive composite motion on fighting the cuts, service group executive speaker Glen Williams said its length reflected ‘the fact that Unison is facing the biggest threat ever, led by a government hell-bent on making fundamental and irreversible changes, on making our public services another corpse for the financial vultures to feed on’.
Delegates declared that ‘the Conservative government is playing on people’s fear of the economic uncertainty to pursue its agenda through a con trick built on endlessly repeating a big lie’.
The motion cited claims that there is ‘an unprecedented deficit due to government overspending’, that ‘the national debt is out of control’, that ‘debt repayments are higher than ever’, ‘cuts are inevitable and necessary’ and ‘there is no alternative to cuts’.
In the face of this, said conference, ‘2011/12 merely marks the beginning of a sustained attack on public services, and local government is bearing the brunt of these attacks’.
However, Rena Wood of the North West region insisted that ‘we are still the fifth richest country in the world.’
Middlesbrough branch delegate Ian Campbell warned that Cameron and Osborne ‘are butchers in suits’.
Newcastle City delegate Nicky Ramanandi told conference: ‘We need a clear organising agenda in our workplaces, involving both members and non-members, a campaigning agenda in our communities and a political agenda. With that, we can win.’
Delegates voted to mount a comprehensive campaign against cuts to jobs, pay, conditions and services.
The composite motion called for ‘an alternative economic agenda based on growth, creating jobs and progressive taxation’ as well as building support for industrial action.
Neelo Farr of Wales/Cymru declared: ‘To make a difference, industrial action needs to be co-ordinated.’
Delegates sent greetings and solidarity to Southampton colleagues striking against their Tory council’s plans to sack the entire workforce and re-employ them on worse conditions and five per cent lower pay.
Southampton delegate Mark Roberts told conference: ‘We need to keep up the pressure on employers and on the government. We will never give up.’