McAnea: “Governments would do well to listen to unions”

There are tough choices ahead for all our members. The amazing people delivering essential public services that everyone relies on are now being hit by the cost-of-living crisis.

Inflation is set to hit 8%, the national insurance increase is just months away, interest rates are climbing, and every month, pay packets are squeezed by rising food and energy bills.

When everything is soaring but pay, the choice between heating and eating becomes real. Government failures will dramatically change people’s lives and push them from living a decent life into a struggle just to exist.

But government action can shift that back too – if it happens now.

But sadly, when we have Tories in Westminster who squandered billions of pounds on contracts – with no transparency – on unusable PPE, and spent time partying in Downing Street, we know we can’t leave them to their own devices.

It’s an unavoidable conclusion, that workers are now being forced to pay the price for government failures during the pandemic. And it’s outrageous for the governor of the Bank of England to suggest workers can control inflation by not asking for pay rises.

With the value of public sector pay dropping significantly in the past 12 years, there is absolutely no way our members can continue to provide the same level of service while their standard of living is being cut. It’s just not possible.

We face more staffing crises – as we’re seeing in the NHS and social care sector – and it will take years to repair.

It will be in the best interests of our whole society, if governments across the UK listen to us, and act now to deal with the cost-of-living crisis.

We know our movement is a force for positive change, and our trade union will make sure our members across the UK, are heard. Because if we don’t stand up for our members, who will?

I will be leading UNISON’s work with the TUC, to campaign in every part of the UK, to build our power. You can do your bit too. Ask a colleague, a family member or friend to join UNISON now.

And make sure they know, that when they do join us, they become part of change that really matters.

  • Christina McAnea is general secretary of UNISON. This blog first appeared here.

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