UNISON opinion: Supporting our LGBT+ members is crucial

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

Today is the international day against homophobia, bi+phobia (IDAHOBIT) and transphobia. It’s always been an important date for UNISON since its creation in 2004. Each year since then, we’ve reflected on how we can combat LGBT+-phobic discrimination and harassment.

Of course, some progress has been made over the last couple of decades, but I’m saddened to say that in some ways, LGBT+ equality is going backwards in the UK.

The 2024 ILGA Europe rainbow map was released just a couple of days ago. It ranks European and Central Asian countries in terms of how inclusive the country is for LGBT+ rights. Disappointingly, the UK has dropped to 16th place after ranking first right up until 2015.

The Conservatives’ culture wars have certainly contributed to our diminished standing on the rainbow map. In particular, ILGA Europe highlighted the lack of a ban on conversion practices, no self-determination legal framework for gender recognition and the passing of the Illegal Migration Act that could send LGBT+ asylum seekers to Rwanda, a country that is not safe for LGBT+ people.

Our union has a long, proud history of fighting for LGBT+ rights. I’m delighted that this year, our Year of LGBT+ Workers, has been embraced wholeheartedly by members. It’s been great to see the various launches, events and workplace activities that have been taking place across the UK to celebrate the year.

And we do have a lot to celebrate – the campaign has already been successful in encouraging members to step up to become leaders, with over 40 branches electing an LGBT+ branch officer since the start of the year and regional LGBT+ SOGs reporting a surge in new members coming along to meetings.

The young LGBT+ network is now 300 members strong, many of whom have gone on to other avenues of activism within the union.

Our trans equality campaign, which has been a key campaign of ours, has been wildly successful. Over 4,000 members have now been trained on how to be a good trans ally and over 70 of our trans, non-binary and gender diverse members have now completed a programme on how to deliver the trans ally training.

UNISON continues to lead the union movement in pushing for greater LGBT+ rights and inclusion. We have recently established an asexual (ACE) and aromantic network, which is a first for a UK trade union. We are focused on making workplaces inclusive of ace/aromantic workers, who are often misunderstood and many of whom experience appalling discrimination and harassment at work.

We have a lot more to do. The theme for this year’s IDAHOBIT is “no one left behind: equality, freedom and justice for all.” At UNISON, equality is at the heart of everything we dohardwired into our DNA.

I look forward to being part of the Year of LGBT+ workers activities throughout the rest of this year and promoting why UNISON really is the union for LGBT+ public service workers.

The article UNISON opinion: Supporting our LGBT+ members is crucial first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON opinion: Supporting our LGBT+ members is crucial

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

Today is the international day against homophobia, bi+phobia (IDAHOBIT) and transphobia. It’s always been an important date for UNISON since its creation in 2004. Each year since then, we’ve reflected on how we can combat LGBT+-phobic discrimination and harassment.

Of course, some progress has been made over the last couple of decades, but I’m saddened to say that in some ways, LGBT+ equality is going backwards in the UK.

The 2024 ILGA Europe rainbow map was released just a couple of days ago. It ranks European and Central Asian countries in terms of how inclusive the country is for LGBT+ rights. Disappointingly, the UK has dropped to 16th place after ranking first right up until 2015.

The Conservatives’ culture wars have certainly contributed to our diminished standing on the rainbow map. In particular, ILGA Europe highlighted the lack of a ban on conversion practices, no self-determination legal framework for gender recognition and the passing of the Illegal Migration Act that could send LGBT+ asylum seekers to Rwanda, a country that is not safe for LGBT+ people.

Our union has a long, proud history of fighting for LGBT+ rights. I’m delighted that this year, our Year of LGBT+ Workers, has been embraced wholeheartedly by members. It’s been great to see the various launches, events and workplace activities that have been taking place across the UK to celebrate the year.

And we do have a lot to celebrate – the campaign has already been successful in encouraging members to step up to become leaders, with over 40 branches electing an LGBT+ branch officer since the start of the year and regional LGBT+ SOGs reporting a surge in new members coming along to meetings.

The young LGBT+ network is now 300 members strong, many of whom have gone on to other avenues of activism within the union.

Our trans equality campaign, which has been a key campaign of ours, has been wildly successful. Over 4,000 members have now been trained on how to be a good trans ally and over 70 of our trans, non-binary and gender diverse members have now completed a programme on how to deliver the trans ally training.

UNISON continues to lead the union movement in pushing for greater LGBT+ rights and inclusion. We have recently established an asexual (ACE) and aromantic network, which is a first for a UK trade union. We are focused on making workplaces inclusive of ace/aromantic workers, who are often misunderstood and many of whom experience appalling discrimination and harassment at work.

We have a lot more to do. The theme for this year’s IDAHOBIT is “no one left behind: equality, freedom and justice for all.” At UNISON, equality is at the heart of everything we dohardwired into our DNA.

I look forward to being part of the Year of LGBT+ workers activities throughout the rest of this year and promoting why UNISON really is the union for LGBT+ public service workers.

The article UNISON opinion: Supporting our LGBT+ members is crucial first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON opinion: Your vote matters

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

It’s the final countdown to the close of UNISON’s important service group executive elections.

It’s because UNISON members are at the heart of all our work, that we put power into members’ hands. That’s why your votes in these elections matter.

The ballot closes this Friday 17 May at 5pm, so if you’re planning to vote by post, don’t delay in returning your paper ballot. You can also vote using the link sent to you by email from CES – search your email inbox to dig it out.

Voting only takes a few seconds, but could be significant in shaping your future.

The members who win in these elections are not just figureheads for your health, local government, community, higher education, energy or WET service groups, they’re decision-makers, negotiators and advocates.

Your vote gives them the power to deliver fair wages, safe working conditions, and advocate for your rights at work.

They could also be in charge of taking decisions on pay consultations, strike ballots and strike days.

Throughout this election, it’s members doing similar jobs to you, or working for similar sorts of employers, who’ve been asking for your vote.

So if you haven’t already voted, now is the time to choose your rep and get the best from your union. Don’t delay. Vote today.

The article UNISON opinion: Your vote matters first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON opinion: Your vote matters

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

It’s the final countdown to the close of UNISON’s important service group executive elections.

It’s because UNISON members are at the heart of all our work, that we put power into members’ hands. That’s why your votes in these elections matter.

The ballot closes this Friday 17 May at 5pm, so if you’re planning to vote by post, don’t delay in returning your paper ballot. You can also vote using the link sent to you by email from CES – search your email inbox to dig it out.

Voting only takes a few seconds, but could be significant in shaping your future.

The members who win in these elections are not just figureheads for your health, local government, community, higher education, energy or WET service groups, they’re decision-makers, negotiators and advocates.

Your vote gives them the power to deliver fair wages, safe working conditions, and advocate for your rights at work.

They could also be in charge of taking decisions on pay consultations, strike ballots and strike days.

Throughout this election, it’s members doing similar jobs to you, or working for similar sorts of employers, who’ve been asking for your vote.

So if you haven’t already voted, now is the time to choose your rep and get the best from your union. Don’t delay. Vote today.

The article UNISON opinion: Your vote matters 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.

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: Make sure that you use your vote this Thursday

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

Up for election in England and Wales this Thursday are 41 police and crime commissioners, thousands of councillors, 10 metro mayors and all 25 London Assembly members.

This election is about putting your trust in the right people to deliver local services in your town or city, and about who you want to be responsible for your local police force. It’s also the last set of local results we will get before the general election.

The prime minister is still refusing to announce the date of that election. It’s most likely he hasn’t even decided yet – just loitering around, waiting to see if he needs to call it quickly before being ousted by his party.

But when it comes to this Thursday, I hope voters will remember that Conservative politicians have been responsible for huge funding cuts to policing and thousands of vacant roles as police forces withhold over 4,000 posts to manage budget deficits.

That includes our members working as police support staff – investigators, custody and detention officers, 999 call-takers, scene of crime officers, are just a few of the vital roles they do. Neighbourhood policing is suffering too and today we all feel much less safe.

UNISON’s own research shows that forces in England and Wales could face a combined budget shortfall of £720m by 2026, putting public safety at grave risk. The result of political choices from the Westminster government.

When you vote for your councillors and mayor, or your London Assembly member, you are choosing what you want for the places where you live and work. The people you vote in could have an impact on regional inequality, growth and prosperity, safe communities, affordable housing, accessible public transport and clean air.

The services you and your family rely on every day, can only continue with politicians who believe in investing in them. After 14 years of cuts by the Conservative government, I know I can only trust Labour with our essential services and that’s the party that will get my vote this week.

This Thursday, make sure you head to the polls and choose who you can trust to put you and your family first. And don’t forget to bring your photo ID to the polling station.

The article UNISON opinion: Make sure that you use your vote this Thursday first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON opinion: Make sure that you use your vote this Thursday

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

Up for election in England and Wales this Thursday are 41 police and crime commissioners, thousands of councillors, 10 metro mayors and all 25 London Assembly members.

This election is about putting your trust in the right people to deliver local services in your town or city, and about who you want to be responsible for your local police force. It’s also the last set of local results we will get before the general election.

The prime minister is still refusing to announce the date of that election. It’s most likely he hasn’t even decided yet – just loitering around, waiting to see if he needs to call it quickly before being ousted by his party.

But when it comes to this Thursday, I hope voters will remember that Conservative politicians have been responsible for huge funding cuts to policing and thousands of vacant roles as police forces withhold over 4,000 posts to manage budget deficits.

That includes our members working as police support staff – investigators, custody and detention officers, 999 call-takers, scene of crime officers, are just a few of the vital roles they do. Neighbourhood policing is suffering too and today we all feel much less safe.

UNISON’s own research shows that forces in England and Wales could face a combined budget shortfall of £720m by 2026, putting public safety at grave risk. The result of political choices from the Westminster government.

When you vote for your councillors and mayor, or your London Assembly member, you are choosing what you want for the places where you live and work. The people you vote in could have an impact on regional inequality, growth and prosperity, safe communities, affordable housing, accessible public transport and clean air.

The services you and your family rely on every day, can only continue with politicians who believe in investing in them. After 14 years of cuts by the Conservative government, I know I can only trust Labour with our essential services and that’s the party that will get my vote this week.

This Thursday, make sure you head to the polls and choose who you can trust to put you and your family first. And don’t forget to bring your photo ID to the polling station.

The article UNISON opinion: Make sure that you use your vote this Thursday first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON opinion: Who wins? You decide

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

Ballot papers for the service group executive (SGE) elections should have arrived in your email inboxes. You’ll also receive a postal ballot paper to your home address very soon.

Now is the time to use your vote and choose who represents you on your service group executive committee.

The SGEs are made up of UNISON members who decide what campaigns to run on your pay, terms, conditions, and funding for public services. They can also take decisions on pay consultations, strike ballots, days of action and are responsible for protecting your interests at work. It’s not paid staff at UNISON headquarters who make these decisions, it’s members just like you.

For some SGEs, like health, the people you elect could be around the negotiating table with employers and government ministers, hammering out a pay deal. Their role is to work in partnership with activists and staff, to improve your working life.

It’s members doing similar jobs to you in your region, or working for similar sorts of employers, that are asking for your vote in this election. So, it’s important you consider it carefully and choose your rep to get the best from your union.

Check to see if your local UNISON branch has made a nomination. But it’s your decision, so don’t miss out on your chance to choose your voice in UNISON.

You can either vote using the ‘click here to vote’ link in the email from Civica Election Services or by returning your completed ballot paper that you’ll receive in the post soon.

Voting will remain open until 5pm on 17 May 2024.

But it’s best to vote early – it only takes a few minutes.

And remember: Who wins? You decide.

Find full information about the elections here

The article UNISON opinion: Who wins? You decide first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Opinion: Who wins? You decide

Ballot papers for the service group executive (SGE) elections should have arrived in your email inboxes. You’ll also receive a postal ballot paper to your home address very soon.

Now is the time to use your vote and choose who represents you on your service group executive committee.

The SGEs are made up of UNISON members who decide what campaigns to run on your pay, terms, conditions, and funding for public services. They can also take decisions on pay consultations, strike ballots, days of action and are responsible for protecting your interests at work. It’s not paid staff at UNISON headquarters who make these decisions, it’s members just like you.

For some SGEs, like health, the people you elect could be around the negotiating table with employers and government ministers, hammering out a pay deal. Their role is to work in partnership with activists and staff, to improve your working life.

It’s members doing similar jobs to you in your region, or working for similar sorts of employers, that are asking for your vote in this election. So, it’s important you consider it carefully and choose your rep to get the best from your union.

Check to see if your local UNISON branch has made a nomination. But it’s your decision, so don’t miss out on your chance to choose your voice in UNISON.

You can either vote using the ‘click here to vote’ link in the email from Civica Election Services or by returning your completed ballot paper that you’ll receive in the post soon.

Voting will remain open until 5pm on 17 May 2024.

But it’s best to vote early – it only takes a few minutes.

And remember: Who wins? You decide.

Find full information about the elections here

The article Opinion: Who wins? You decide first appeared on the UNISON National site.