UNISON opinion: PM should call an immediate general election

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

The Westminster government’s plummeting popularity was made clear in almost every ballot box last Thursday.

Divisive politics were rejected in our cities and towns, and voters in council elections deserted the Conservatives over their party’s failure to properly fund local services.

Labour achieved some stunning victories, but has also acknowledged there’s plenty of work to do to ahead of the general election.

The prime minister did get to celebrate holding onto the Tees Valley mayoralty, but the swing against the Conservatives there was massive.

After all the results were finally in, we heard some bizarre lines from Rishi Sunak. He claims the “plan is working”, but that’s clearly not what the public are feeling. He says he is determined to “fight the Labour Party”, but he’s missing the point and signalling everything that’s wrong with his leadership and government.

If he truly cared about the British people, he would call an immediate general election and a halt to all this suffering. He would admit that the game is up.

Instead, he is inward looking, out of touch and living in a different economic reality to working people.

Political choices have resulted in over a decade of decline in our public services, and voters are sick of it. They’re sick of the scandal and sleaze that keeps seeping out of Westminster, and they want a government that’s focused on delivering decent living standards. 

That shouldn’t be too much to ask of their government. In fact, it’s the very basics of serving your country. But this prime minister is only interested in serving his party.

The Conservatives have messed with our public services for 14 years, and this has messed with people’s lives. Too many working people and their families have been deeply, detrimentally affected. And when the general election comes, I hope voters won’t put their trust in them again. A party that consistently turns its back on working people should never be given the honour to serve its country.

The article UNISON opinion: PM should call an immediate general election first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON opinion: PM should call an immediate general election

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

The Westminster government’s plummeting popularity was made clear in almost every ballot box last Thursday.

Divisive politics were rejected in our cities and towns, and voters in council elections deserted the Conservatives over their party’s failure to properly fund local services.

Labour achieved some stunning victories, but has also acknowledged there’s plenty of work to do to ahead of the general election.

The prime minister did get to celebrate holding onto the Tees Valley mayoralty, but the swing against the Conservatives there was massive.

After all the results were finally in, we heard some bizarre lines from Rishi Sunak. He claims the “plan is working”, but that’s clearly not what the public are feeling. He says he is determined to “fight the Labour Party”, but he’s missing the point and signalling everything that’s wrong with his leadership and government.

If he truly cared about the British people, he would call an immediate general election and a halt to all this suffering. He would admit that the game is up.

Instead, he is inward looking, out of touch and living in a different economic reality to working people.

Political choices have resulted in over a decade of decline in our public services, and voters are sick of it. They’re sick of the scandal and sleaze that keeps seeping out of Westminster, and they want a government that’s focused on delivering decent living standards. 

That shouldn’t be too much to ask of their government. In fact, it’s the very basics of serving your country. But this prime minister is only interested in serving his party.

The Conservatives have messed with our public services for 14 years, and this has messed with people’s lives. Too many working people and their families have been deeply, detrimentally affected. And when the general election comes, I hope voters won’t put their trust in them again. A party that consistently turns its back on working people should never be given the honour to serve its country.

The article UNISON opinion: PM should call an immediate general election first appeared on the UNISON National site.

NEC hears of another Supreme Court win for UNISON

UNISON’s national executive council, meeting yesterday, heard that the union had just won the case of Fiona Mercer in the Supreme Court. General secretary Christina McAnea said that it means that, “today, the court has agreed that the (UK) law is incompatible with international law, because it does not protect workers from ongoing victimisation by employers if they have taken legal industrial action”.

The case had been won in the employment appeal tribunal, but the then business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng intervened and took the case to the Court of Appeal, which subsequently decided to reverse that decision in March 2022.

Now, Ms McAnea said, that had been overturned in a judgement that was scathing of the UK government.

In her report to the meeting, the general secretary noted that it has continued to support the organisations campaigning on Palestine.

“We had a really brilliant presentation at health conference from Richard Pyle from Medical Aid for Palestinians, who spoke very movingly but very honestly about the reality of what it’s like for people working on the ground in Palestine,” she said.

“The union is also in talks with the Palestinian Embassy about what we can do, practically, to help on the ground in Gaza.”

Continuing to push on with the union’s campaign for a national care service, she stressed that the Labour Party is “on side” and has assured the union that this, and the commitment to a Fair Pay agreement for care workers, is high on their agenda.

And she told the meeting that she had attended the United Nations (UN) as part of the Public Services International delegation, to speak on the issue of care.

After the Dudley Mitie strikers won their fight to be paid the government’s promised COVID bonus for all health service staff, Ms McAnea spoke of the continuing campaign to get “that money across the board” for all those working in the health service, but employed by private contractors.

Speaking of the problems across local government, with many authorities facing the possibility of going bust, the general secretary said she is raising this with the Labour Party. She emphasised that unless they tackle this issue one of the first problems they will face in government is the collapse of many local authorities.

She also talked of the problem of rising violence in schools and said that UNISON will be looking to create a “huge campaign” on this, as it is becoming an “increasing issue”. This is particularly because it’s almost always UNISON members – support staff – who bear the brunt of violence in school settings.

Ms McAnea also welcomed the signing of the union’s Ethical Care Charter with the council in Lambeth.

The meeting also passed a report from the presidential team, with UNISON president Libby Nolan saying that she and vice-president Julia Mwaluke had attended women’s conference in February, where she herself had spoken of “the societal damage by this Tory government” and its profound “impact on service for women and children.

“In the fifth richest country in the world, the UN is expressing concern that children in this country are experiencing unprecedented levels of poverty and hunger.”

The report also spoke of the ongoing crisis in Gaza, noting that the UN has called the situation “a war against women and children”.

The meeting discussed the arrangements for national delegate conference in June – in particular, the council’s own provisional policy on motions and proposed amendments, together with proposed rule changes to the unions annual parliament.

The council also received reports on organising – highlighting good recruitment and retention figures – service group pay campaigns and national industrial action.

The article NEC hears of another Supreme Court win for UNISON first appeared on the UNISON National site.

NEC hears of another Supreme Court win for UNISON

UNISON’s national executive council, meeting yesterday, heard that the union had just won the case of Fiona Mercer in the Supreme Court. General secretary Christina McAnea said that it means that, “today, the court has agreed that the (UK) law is incompatible with international law, because it does not protect workers from ongoing victimisation by employers if they have taken legal industrial action”.

The case had been won in the employment appeal tribunal, but the then business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng intervened and took the case to the Court of Appeal, which subsequently decided to reverse that decision in March 2022.

Now, Ms McAnea said, that had been overturned in a judgement that was scathing of the UK government.

In her report to the meeting, the general secretary noted that it has continued to support the organisations campaigning on Palestine.

“We had a really brilliant presentation at health conference from Richard Pyle from Medical Aid for Palestinians, who spoke very movingly but very honestly about the reality of what it’s like for people working on the ground in Palestine,” she said.

“The union is also in talks with the Palestinian Embassy about what we can do, practically, to help on the ground in Gaza.”

Continuing to push on with the union’s campaign for a national care service, she stressed that the Labour Party is “on side” and has assured the union that this, and the commitment to a Fair Pay agreement for care workers, is high on their agenda.

And she told the meeting that she had attended the United Nations (UN) as part of the Public Services International delegation, to speak on the issue of care.

After the Dudley Mitie strikers won their fight to be paid the government’s promised COVID bonus for all health service staff, Ms McAnea spoke of the continuing campaign to get “that money across the board” for all those working in the health service, but employed by private contractors.

Speaking of the problems across local government, with many authorities facing the possibility of going bust, the general secretary said she is raising this with the Labour Party. She emphasised that unless they tackle this issue one of the first problems they will face in government is the collapse of many local authorities.

She also talked of the problem of rising violence in schools and said that UNISON will be looking to create a “huge campaign” on this, as it is becoming an “increasing issue”. This is particularly because it’s almost always UNISON members – support staff – who bear the brunt of violence in school settings.

Ms McAnea also welcomed the signing of the union’s Ethical Care Charter with the council in Lambeth.

The meeting also passed a report from the presidential team, with UNISON president Libby Nolan saying that she and vice-president Julia Mwaluke had attended women’s conference in February, where she herself had spoken of “the societal damage by this Tory government” and its profound “impact on service for women and children.

“In the fifth richest country in the world, the UN is expressing concern that children in this country are experiencing unprecedented levels of poverty and hunger.”

The report also spoke of the ongoing crisis in Gaza, noting that the UN has called the situation “a war against women and children”.

The meeting discussed the arrangements for national delegate conference in June – in particular, the council’s own provisional policy on motions and proposed amendments, together with proposed rule changes to the unions annual parliament.

The council also received reports on organising – highlighting good recruitment and retention figures – service group pay campaigns and national industrial action.

The article NEC hears of another Supreme Court win for UNISON first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Opinion: Every day, UNISON is fighting for our NHS

Christina McAnea with Wilma Brown, chair of UNISON’s health service group executive

I’ve just delivered my speech to UNISON’s health members at their annual gathering in Brighton. I spoke about the immense pressures on NHS staff – caring for more patients, with fewer staff, in less time. But I also spoke about the support UNISON gives them to find their voice and help drive through the campaigns that matter most to them.

It’s always important for me to remind our members that UNISON is standing by them, backing them up and fighting their corner. That’s needed more than ever right now, because health workers are having to take time off for mental health issues and many are walking out completely for better paid and less stressful jobs at supermarkets down the road.

What has struck me most about this year’s health conference, is the number of contributions from tearful health workers, detailing the struggle they have with getting by day to day. Juggling caring responsibilities with tough jobs, on low pay, with little respite. To top it off, they’re facing abuse and sexual harassment at work, and they don’t feel safe enough to report it.

This is what neglecting our NHS looks like. It affects every part of the service and the workforce. After 14 years of Tory failure, it’s UNISON’s mission to defend the NHS from being driven into complete rack and ruin.

Every day, UNISON is fighting for our NHS and for the decent pay that staff deserve. Our re-banding campaigns continue across almost every region, and our agenda for change pay consultation is now live. The Tory government in Westminster has learnt no lessons from the past. The NHS pay increase is overdue again, and so is the Tories time to leave power.

During the general election campaign, I hope the public won’t be tricked by the Tories. They must be stopped from doing any more damage to our NHS. Staff working so hard to keep services going deserve so much better. Patients languishing on dangerous waiting lists expect better, and together we can all demand better.

The article Opinion: Every day, UNISON is fighting for our NHS first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Blog: This is what neglecting our NHS looks like

I’ve just delivered my speech to UNISON’s health members at their annual gathering in Brighton. I spoke about the immense pressures on NHS staff – caring for more patients, with fewer staff, in less time. But I also spoke about the support UNISON gives them to find their voice and help drive through the campaigns that matter most to them.

It’s always important for me to remind our members that UNISON is standing by them, backing them up and fighting their corner. That’s needed more than ever right now, because health workers are having to take time off for mental health issues and many are walking out completely for better paid and less stressful jobs at supermarkets down the road.

What has struck me most about this year’s health conference, is the number of contributions from tearful health workers, detailing the struggle they have with getting by day to day. Juggling caring responsibilities with tough jobs, on low pay, with little respite. To top it off, they’re facing abuse and sexual harassment at work, and they don’t feel safe enough to report it.

This is what neglecting our NHS looks like. It affects every part of the service and the workforce. After 14 years of Tory failure, it’s UNISON’s mission to defend the NHS from being driven into complete rack and ruin.

Every day, UNISON is fighting for our NHS and for the decent pay that staff deserve. Our re-banding campaigns continue across almost every region, and our agenda for change pay consultation is now live. The Tory government in Westminster has learnt no lessons from the past. The NHS pay increase is overdue again, and so is the Tories time to leave power.

During the general election campaign, I hope the public won’t be tricked by the Tories. They must be stopped from doing any more damage to our NHS. Staff working so hard to keep services going deserve so much better. Patients languishing on dangerous waiting lists expect better, and together we can all demand better.

The article Blog: This is what neglecting our NHS looks like first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON opinion: The budget will deliver more cuts and more pain

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

Working people are bearing a triple burden. The cost of living crisis is still here, taxes are weighing heavy on workers, and in return, we’re getting broken public services that can’t guarantee support for everyone.

It’s even more galling for public service workers – they spend their working lives propping up essential services, only to be undermined at every turn by the Westminster government.

Underfunding services and undervaluing the workforce sabotages every effort made in hospitals, councils, schools, care homes and in the community.

The prime minister and the chancellor keep telling the public to stick with the plan, but the plan failed a long time ago.

Tomorrow’s Budget is an opportunity to help the economy grow, invest in public services, tackle low pay and ensure the country is not only prepared for the challenges ahead, but building a better future for everyone.

It will likely fail on all counts, with the Conservatives hoping to take off the edge with a sweetener gimmick. But gimmicks and slogans don’t put food on the table.

Rishi’s recession threatens to trap even more people into poverty, and the Treasury seems poised to further trash our public services with more cuts to spending. They’ll try and justify it with a small cut to income tax or national insurance.

Given the choice, the public would rather miss out on this ploy if it means properly investing in our struggling NHS, broken social care and childcare systems, saving councils from bankruptcy and boosting the economy.

UNISON agrees that taxes on working people are too high and it’s wrong that wealth isn’t taxed to the same level as earned income, but a 1p or 2p cut to National Insurance will benefit the richest households 12 times more than the poorest.

UNISON believes in an economy that has fairness at its heart. That means cancelling the personal allowance freeze so the lowest earners aren’t pulled into paying taxes they can’t afford. It means increasing taxes on unearned wealth so landlords are no longer paying less in taxes than their tenants. And it means fixing the tax loopholes that allow non-doms to get away with not paying their fair share, and gives the green light to oil and gas companies pocketing mega profits while polluting the planet.

Above all, fairness is about equal access to great quality public services. Right now, they’re on their knees – as are the workers delivering them.

After fourteen years of economic mismanagement, I know what to expect from tomorrow’s budget. More pain for working people, more money in the pockets of the wealthiest, more cuts to public services.

With the right people in power, making the right choices, it is possible to have a thriving economy, driven by a healthy, happy, safe and productive workforce. But all this depends on having a government that will deliver decent public services that can support everyone.

The article UNISON opinion: The budget will deliver more cuts and more pain first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON opinion: The budget will deliver more cuts and more pain

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

Working people are bearing a triple burden. The cost of living crisis is still here, taxes are weighing heavy on workers, and in return, we’re getting broken public services that can’t guarantee support for everyone.

It’s even more galling for public service workers – they spend their working lives propping up essential services, only to be undermined at every turn by the Westminster government.

Underfunding services and undervaluing the workforce sabotages every effort made in hospitals, councils, schools, care homes and in the community.

The prime minister and the chancellor keep telling the public to stick with the plan, but the plan failed a long time ago.

Tomorrow’s Budget is an opportunity to help the economy grow, invest in public services, tackle low pay and ensure the country is not only prepared for the challenges ahead, but building a better future for everyone.

It will likely fail on all counts, with the Conservatives hoping to take off the edge with a sweetener gimmick. But gimmicks and slogans don’t put food on the table.

Rishi’s recession threatens to trap even more people into poverty, and the Treasury seems poised to further trash our public services with more cuts to spending. They’ll try and justify it with a small cut to income tax or national insurance.

Given the choice, the public would rather miss out on this ploy if it means properly investing in our struggling NHS, broken social care and childcare systems, saving councils from bankruptcy and boosting the economy.

UNISON agrees that taxes on working people are too high and it’s wrong that wealth isn’t taxed to the same level as earned income, but a 1p or 2p cut to National Insurance will benefit the richest households 12 times more than the poorest.

UNISON believes in an economy that has fairness at its heart. That means cancelling the personal allowance freeze so the lowest earners aren’t pulled into paying taxes they can’t afford. It means increasing taxes on unearned wealth so landlords are no longer paying less in taxes than their tenants. And it means fixing the tax loopholes that allow non-doms to get away with not paying their fair share, and gives the green light to oil and gas companies pocketing mega profits while polluting the planet.

Above all, fairness is about equal access to great quality public services. Right now, they’re on their knees – as are the workers delivering them.

After fourteen years of economic mismanagement, I know what to expect from tomorrow’s budget. More pain for working people, more money in the pockets of the wealthiest, more cuts to public services.

With the right people in power, making the right choices, it is possible to have a thriving economy, driven by a healthy, happy, safe and productive workforce. But all this depends on having a government that will deliver decent public services that can support everyone.

The article UNISON opinion: The budget will deliver more cuts and more pain first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON opinion: A better way is possible for social care

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

Social care is broken. Despite it being an essential service that should be the cornerstone of a compassionate society, the Westminster government has washed its hands of it.

It has been allowed to deteriorate into a fragmented, underfunded and privatised system that’s unfit to meet the needs of social care users. The inadequate pay and conditions for the workers propping up the system, fail to recognise their value and contributions.

UNISON knows that care workers are the beating heart of social care, and is proud to represent so many working in care homes and communities.

Care workers should be able to look after everyone’s loved ones with the best care and kindness. But without the cash or sufficient staff, the sector is struggling to deliver and it’s putting unbearable pressure on the NHS and families.

But a better way is possible. A national care service is the radical change needed to fix social care. A service that everyone can be proud of.

Care users would be able to access the right care when they need it, their families would be reassured and able to continue working, and care workers would be truly valued, recognised and rewarded as the skilled professionals they are.

It’s in everyone’s best interest that England has a national care service. Labour has already pledged to create a national care service and a fair pay agreement in the sector.

I met with Wes Streeting MP, the shadow secretary of state for health and social care, who is the first to sign up to UNISON’s national care campaign pledge and is committed to delivering a service with the same respect as the NHS.

As we head towards a general election, UNISON is asking all parliamentary candidates in English seats, to join our campaign and publicly pledge their support.

The article UNISON opinion: A better way is possible for social care first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON opinion: A better way is possible for social care

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

Social care is broken. Despite it being an essential service that should be the cornerstone of a compassionate society, the Westminster government has washed its hands of it.

It has been allowed to deteriorate into a fragmented, underfunded and privatised system that’s unfit to meet the needs of social care users. The inadequate pay and conditions for the workers propping up the system, fail to recognise their value and contributions.

UNISON knows that care workers are the beating heart of social care, and is proud to represent so many working in care homes and communities.

Care workers should be able to look after everyone’s loved ones with the best care and kindness. But without the cash or sufficient staff, the sector is struggling to deliver and it’s putting unbearable pressure on the NHS and families.

But a better way is possible. A national care service is the radical change needed to fix social care. A service that everyone can be proud of.

Care users would be able to access the right care when they need it, their families would be reassured and able to continue working, and care workers would be truly valued, recognised and rewarded as the skilled professionals they are.

It’s in everyone’s best interest that England has a national care service. Labour has already pledged to create a national care service and a fair pay agreement in the sector.

I met with Wes Streeting MP, the shadow secretary of state for health and social care, who is the first to sign up to UNISON’s national care campaign pledge and is committed to delivering a service with the same respect as the NHS.

As we head towards a general election, UNISON is asking all parliamentary candidates in English seats, to join our campaign and publicly pledge their support.

The article UNISON opinion: A better way is possible for social care first appeared on the UNISON National site.