More than 700,000 people have joined UNISON since David Cameron first came to power, Dave Prentis told health activists in the West Midlands yesterday.
“That shows that unions are as relevant today as they ever were – in fact when times are tough, we show our strength.”
Speaking to activists gathered for the 17th annual West Midlands health conference in the Bescott Stadium in Walsall, the UNISON general secretary warned that “we cannot promise our members an easy ride over the next few years.”
The government’s agenda was clear, he said.
The cuts to tax credits – which will affect thousands of low paid UNISON members and their families – have shown that the government is not interested in supporting working people.
The union has campaigned hard to show how these cuts will penalise working families and will not be countered by the introduction of a national living wage.
Some 50,000 people have used UNISON’s online tax credit cuts calculator, showing the amount of concern about this cut.
And the introduction of the Trade Union Bill – including measures to ban the payment of union subs direct from salaries, and changes to political fund rules – is clearly designed to make it harder for unions in supporting people at work and campaigning on issues that matter to our members.
“This government wants to stop unions like UNISON speaking up for our members and for the public services they provide,” said Mr Prentis.
“But this is the fight of our lives and we will not lose. We have to fight so that we can protect our members and protect our NHS from increasing privatisation.
Activists also took part in workshops around key healthcare issues including change management and downbanding, stress and sickness absence management and the changing face of UNISON.
They heard presentations and took part in question and answer sessions on the Trade Union Bill and TUC campaigning against austerity.