UNISON’s voice is at the heart of government

UNISON hosted a post-election reception at Parliament last week (Wednesday) to welcome new and returning MPs with links to the union.

The event saw a host of MPs attend, including eight recent UNISON staff and activists who had been newly elected as MPs, the newly appointed deputy prime minister Angela Rayner and the secretary of state for health and social care, Wes Streeting.

Liz Twist, chair of the UNISON group of MPs, welcomed attendees, saying she was “delighted to welcome everyone here with a Labour government in power”.

Christina McAnea speaks at UNISON post-election parliamentry House of Lords reception.

Christina McAnea welcomes attendees. Photo: Jess Hurd

Introducing UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea, she said the party is ready to work with UNISON on policies for public services and on the New Deal for Working People.

Christina continued the speeches, saying: “I’m so excited to be here, this is like a dream come true, the thought of being general secretary while we have a Labour government is just amazing.

“I want to thank everyone who has been involved in the election campaigns – our staff, activists and members, and I particularly want to thank our Labour Link committee and its chair, Linda Hobson.”

Speaking of the formation of the new government she said: “One of the most exciting moments for me was the next morning, watching the TV, bleary eyed, and seeing Angie (Angela Rayner) walk into Downing Street and I thought, ‘yes, yes we’ve done it’.

“I can’t tell you how excited I felt to think that Angie Rayner, who I’ve known for many years, is now the deputy prime minister of this country.”

Introducing Ms Rayner, Christina said: “I can’t tell you how many times I go to UNISON events and people talk about you, because you are the inspiration for so many people – and particularly women – in unions.”

Angela Rayner addressing the reception
Deputy prime minister Angela Rayner tells her UNISON story. Photo: Jess Hurd

The deputy prime minister then spoke and, referencing Labour’s manifesto commitment to give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote, she said: “I remember bouncing into my first UNISON young members weekend, where I demanded votes at 16 – isn’t that funny?

“I wasn’t told to stay in my lane, I wasn’t told I was talking too much, I wasn’t told that my opinion didn’t count. UNISON was the place for me where your opinion did count, where respect was given to people and was expected to be given to others.

“UNISON gave me an absolute warm cuddle, they looked after me, guided me and that’s why I call UNISON my family and my home, and without them I wouldn’t be able to stand in front of you today as your deputy prime minister.

“One thing UNISON taught me is that it’s not about yourself, it’s about ‘us’. It’s about who you’re there [in parliament] for. You’re there to fight for the people you represent, to fight for your constituents. Everything I’ve achieved has been an endeavour for ‘us’, for our people, for the people who have elected us.

“I’m incredibly proud that the Labour government will deliver a new deal for working people. We will fix our economy so we can pay for public services. We will respect our fantastic staff that work in our public services. We will make sure that working people get a better deal than they have had. And the reason why we’ll do it is that we’ve all had skin in the game.”

“UNISON is a great union and I’ll always have it in my heart. I always say ‘I was born in Stockport and raised in the movement’ and I know what a force for good it is. I know sometimes it’s tough, sometimes it’s difficult, but it’s never as hard when you know you’re going to make a real difference.

“You [UNISON] are in government with us, I know you’ve got my back, we’re going to smash it and we’re going to change Britain for the better.”

After Ms Rayner, Wes Streeting, secretary of state for health and social care also spoke. He said: “This afternoon I was in the department with Stephen Kinnock (minister of state for social care) and Karin Smyth (minister of state for health).

Wes Streeting MP, UNISON post-election parliamentary House of Lords reception

Secretary of state for health and social care Wes Streeting speaks of his first days in  government. Photo: Jess Hurd

“We were doing a walk around to meet officials and learning a bit about different teams and what they do, and it was a chance for people to ask questions. One of the questions we were asked was, ‘how are you going to make sure that you speak up for the interests of parts of the workforce in health and social care that don’t always manage to grab the microphone or the headlines?’.

“And it was a really easy answer for me because I said, ‘in myself, in Steve and in Karin, you’ve got three UNISON MPs and those [people who don’t grab headlines] are our people’.”

He continued: “UNISON’s voice is now right at the heart of government and right at the heart of the department which will deliver for UNISON members.

“And the truth is, we would not all be here today, and we would not be in government without the political leadership that UNISON has shown, year in year out, from that awful defeat in 2019.

“In UNISON we have an outstanding general secretary, and we’re going to be working really closely together and if ever we steer off track she’s going to keep our feet firmly on the ground.

“But enjoy this moment, there’s a lot of hard work to come and we’re going to do some incredible things, thank you for slogging your guts out to get here and together we’re going to change our country for good.”

The article UNISON’s voice is at the heart of government first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON members speak out about the renting crisis

UNISON recently partnered with Generation Rent, a housing campaign organisation advocating for people who rent, to understand the realities of public sector workers.

Four key areas emerged from the discussions: affordability, standards, security, and the treatment of renters.

Members struggled greatly to find affordable homes to rent, with the rising cost of living making covering the rent and other costs increasingly difficult.

One member, Rebecca, said: “I’m currently in major debt with my gas and electric, because I’m choosing to pay my rent over that.

“My mum is feeding me and my son because, otherwise, by the time all the other bills are paid, and there’s diesel in the car to get to work, there’s nothing left.” 

Last year, a UNISON survey found that almost a third (32%) of union members who rent their home were spending 60% or more of their income on their rent.

Poor standards and disrepair were commonplace, some of which is endangering health, with many members struggling or unable to get their landlords to carry out repairs.

Working renters struggled to assert their rights, and had to put up with poor treatment from landlords and letting agents, due to worries over ‘no fault’ evictions and the lack of good quality, affordable homes to move into. The threat of eviction and homelessness appears constant.

One member, Julie, said: “We’re treated like second-class citizens, when in fact a lot of us are probably paying more than what our neighbours are paying on their mortgage.”

UNISON assistant policy officer Sylvia Jones said: “From nurses keeping us healthy to teachers educating our children, our members are the very foundation of our society, yet our report exposes a shocking reality: a growing number of these essential workers are struggling to find a decent, affordable place to live.

“The new Labour government has a chance to be the solution,” she added. “We need strong legislation to clean up the private rental sector – and criminalise rogue landlords who break the rules and mis-treat renters – alongside a significant increase in council and social housing. 

“By building the right homes, protecting renters, and ensuring adequate supply and affordability, a new Labour government can finally offer a path out of the housing crisis for millions of hard-working citizens”.

The UNISON report outlines how to fix these problems: by building a system based on decency and true affordability for everyone. This involves an increase in social homes alongside improved rights and protections for renters and effective regulation to get rid of exploitative and criminal landlords and agents. 

The article UNISON members speak out about the renting crisis first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Ofwat has been asleep at the wheel

Commenting on the move by water regulator Ofwat to place Thames Water in a new ‘turnaround regime’ today (Thursday), UNISON head of environment Donna Rowe-Merriman said:

“Ofwat has been asleep at the wheel. Its failure to manage has plunged the water industry into chaos. The latest recovery plan is way too late to have any impact.

“Consumers are once again facing rising bills while shareholders pocket hefty dividends. The infrastructure has been critically neglected, causing irreversible damage to the environment and eroding public trust.

“The rot must stop. Water companies and the regulator must be held accountable to ensure the public interest always comes first. A complete overhaul in the management of the industry is urgently needed.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Fatima Ayad M: 07508 080383 E: f.ayad@unison.co.uk
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk

The article Ofwat has been asleep at the wheel first appeared on the UNISON National site.

Ofwat has been asleep at the wheel

Commenting on the move by water regulator Ofwat to place Thames Water in a new ‘turnaround regime’ today (Thursday), UNISON head of environment Donna Rowe-Merriman said:

“Ofwat has been asleep at the wheel. Its failure to manage has plunged the water industry into chaos. The latest recovery plan is way too late to have any impact.

“Consumers are once again facing rising bills while shareholders pocket hefty dividends. The infrastructure has been critically neglected, causing irreversible damage to the environment and eroding public trust.

“The rot must stop. Water companies and the regulator must be held accountable to ensure the public interest always comes first. A complete overhaul in the management of the industry is urgently needed.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Fatima Ayad M: 07508 080383 E: f.ayad@unison.co.uk
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk

The article Ofwat has been asleep at the wheel first appeared on the UNISON National site.

A new dawn for public services – a hopeful vision under Labour

After 14 long years of Conservative rule that left our public services in a mess, the UK finally stands at the beginning of a new era.

The recent general election has put an end to a government marked by chaos, infighting, and cronyism. We can all breathe a sigh of relief as we say goodbye and good riddance to an era that has seen our essential public services so terribly mismanaged.

The Conservatives have left a legacy of underfunded and overstretched services. Our NHS is in crisis, social care is woefully inadequate, and local governments are barely coping with community needs.

Fixing these vital services will be a massive task, requiring significant investment and a serious effort to restore public trust in our political system.

Fortunately, with Keir Starmer’s Labour government now at the helm, there’s a beacon of hope. Labour’s resounding victory is a testament to our calls for real change and renewal. Starmer’s historic landslide win isn’t just a political triumph; it’s a clear mandate for a brighter future for all of us.

The priority for the new government must be clear: to invest in and revive our public services. This means ensuring NHS patients get the care they need promptly, building a social care system that supports everyone in need, and restoring local services so that local governments can effectively serve their communities.

These steps aren’t just about fixing services; they’re about reaffirming the social contract that holds us together as communities and as a nation.

Keir Starmer’s first speech as prime minister highlighted his dedication to this mission. Unlike many before him, Starmer isn’t a career politician; he’s a true public servant who understands the critical value of high-quality public services and the crucial role of the workers who deliver them.

His leadership brings a fresh perspective and a much-needed focus on the well-being of the many, not the few.

Investing in public services is more than just a budgetary choice; it’s a moral duty. High-quality public services are the foundation of a fair and just society. They drive economic growth, support the most vulnerable, and foster community spirit.

With Labour in charge, we have the chance to build a more equitable and prosperous future for everyone in the UK.

We won’t always agree with the new government. But UNISON is very clear about what our priorities are – for our members and for working people – and I will be doing everything I can to make sure they are the government’s priorities too.

The road ahead won’t be easy, and the work to repair the damage of the past decade and a half will be tough. But with a Labour government dedicated to public service and led by a prime minister who values integrity and dedication, there’s hope that we can rebuild a country where public services once again serve the people effectively and compassionately.

The dawn of a new era is upon us, and with it, the promise of a better, fairer Britain.

The article A new dawn for public services – a hopeful vision under Labour first appeared on the UNISON National site.

At last the UK has a prime minister who understands the value of public service

Commenting on Keir Starmer’s first speech as prime minister, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said today (Friday):

“Labour’s historic victory promises real change for public services. Unlike many previous prime ministers, Keir Starmer isn’t a career politician.

“He’s a true public servant and understands the value of high-quality services to local communities, and the importance of the workers who provide them.

“A new approach can’t come soon enough. Investing in essential services will stimulate economic growth, not drain resources.

“There’s much to fix, including across the NHS, social care and local government. But Keir’s leadership offers the promise of a fresh start for the UK, its key services and working people everywhere.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk

The article At last the UK has a prime minister who understands the value of public service first appeared on the UNISON National site.

A Labour government can now press the reset button for public services, says UNISON

Commenting on the results of the general election today (Friday), UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“Goodbye and good riddance. The past 14 years of Conservative rule has been nothing short of a living nightmare.

“After an endless merry-go-round of chaos, infighting, untruths and cronyism in government, public services are in a sorry state. Fixing them and rebuilding trust in politics will be no easy task and will take time.

“Thankfully a Labour government can now press the reset button. That means investing in essential services to get communities back on their feet, ensure patients receive NHS treatment when they fall ill and the creation of a social care system that can support everyone needing help.

“For Keir Starmer to win such a historic victory and completely turn around the party’s electoral fortunes is nothing short of remarkable. The idea of a Labour government was unthinkable just four years ago, so to win by a landslide is off the scale.

“Rebuilding public services and reviving the UK must be at the heart of Labour’s mission. Now the hard work begins.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk

The article A Labour government can now press the reset button for public services, says UNISON first appeared on the UNISON National site.

A Labour government can now press the reset button for public services, says UNISON

Commenting on the results of the general election today (Friday), UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“Goodbye and good riddance. The past 14 years of Conservative rule has been nothing short of a living nightmare.

“After an endless merry-go-round of chaos, infighting, untruths and cronyism in government, public services are in a sorry state. Fixing them and rebuilding trust in politics will be no easy task and will take time.

“Thankfully a Labour government can now press the reset button. That means investing in essential services to get communities back on their feet, ensure patients receive NHS treatment when they fall ill and the creation of a social care system that can support everyone needing help.

“For Keir Starmer to win such a historic victory and completely turn around the party’s electoral fortunes is nothing short of remarkable. The idea of a Labour government was unthinkable just four years ago, so to win by a landslide is off the scale.

“Rebuilding public services and reviving the UK must be at the heart of Labour’s mission. Now the hard work begins.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk

The article A Labour government can now press the reset button for public services, says UNISON first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON to hold 10-year political fund ballot

UNISON is to hold it’s 10 year political fund ballot, this summer, with ballot papers going out to all 1.3 million members from 15 July asking whether or not the union should keep its political fund.

All trade unions are required by law to hold a ballot every 10 years.

The political fund enables UNISON to campaign for better rights at work, for more support for public services and against discrimination.

A ‘yes’ vote is vital to the work that UNISON does to defend and promote our members’ interests.

Over the years the political fund has helped secure gains including the national minimum wage, equalities legislation and increased investment in the NHS. UNISON’s input into the current government’s New Deal for Working People would not have been possible without the political fund.

Civica Election Services have been appointed to act as independent scrutineer for this election, under part of their contract to provide election services to UNISON.

Ballot papers will be posted from 15 July. The ballot closes on 16 August. The result of the ballot will be published on 22 August.

The article UNISON to hold 10-year political fund ballot first appeared on the UNISON National site.

UNISON to hold 10-year political fund ballot

UNISON is to hold it’s 10 year political fund ballot, this summer, with ballot papers going out to all 1.3 million members from 15 July asking whether or not the union should keep its political fund.

All trade unions are required by law to hold a ballot every 10 years.

The political fund enables UNISON to campaign for better rights at work, for more support for public services and against discrimination.

A ‘yes’ vote is vital to the work that UNISON does to defend and promote our members’ interests.

Over the years the political fund has helped secure gains including the national minimum wage, equalities legislation and increased investment in the NHS. UNISON’s input into the current government’s New Deal for Working People would not have been possible without the political fund.

Civica Election Services have been appointed to act as independent scrutineer for this election, under part of their contract to provide election services to UNISON.

Ballot papers will be posted from 15 July. The ballot closes on 16 August. The result of the ballot will be published on 22 August.

The article UNISON to hold 10-year political fund ballot first appeared on the UNISON National site.