We’re in for a rough ride under the ConDem government and we know it. The question is: how much of a fight will we put up?
As Chair of London Metropolitan University Branch, I’ve been in the eye of the storm over the last couple of years and proven myself willing and able to lead a campaign of action against cuts and outsourcing. We won significant victories – reducing the job cuts by 200, stopping the plans to outsource IT (saving 80 jobs in the process), and forcing the entire Board of Governors to resign in disgrace.
Now the entire public sector faces an unprecedented onslaught on our jobs, services, pensions and pay, and a continued threat of privatisation and outsourcing. Nationally we must stand strong and throw everything we’ve got into defending ourselves and we must believe in our ability to win.
I’ve got vital experience leading my branch in strike action against job cuts, and we are now going from strength to strength. I want to bring that experience on to the NEC. Actions speak louder than words: we will have to take determined national industrial action to face up to the Con-Dem government.
United we stand
We need unity in action. At London Met this was our key weapon; united with the UCU and with students. We should strengthen the cross-union ‘United for Education’ campaign and when possible we should coordinate action with our sister unions in the education sector. As with our best local campaigns, UNISON should play a leading role in defending jobs in education, never playing second fiddle to the academics.
We fought tooth and nail to save our nursery at London Met, defending low paid women workers and students. I applaud those other branches struggling to save theirs, such as Greenwich, Goldsmith’s and Westminster. We must learn the lessons of Brighton’s successful campaign to save The Phoenix nursery – working with communities and developing broad alliances .
For any campaign to work, members should make the decisions, not unaccountable officials. Local branches should have more say over their own disputes: when members want to take action, as they did at KCL, Westminster or Manchester Met last year – officials should fully support them, not delay and tip-toe around legal hurdles until the momentum is lost.
We need a union that inspires us and that leads by example – such as capping top salaries and paying all officials a workers wage. You and I don’t earn £100,000 – our representatives shouldn’t either.
UNISON should be led by elected grass-roots activists, with members’ interests at its core; challenge the ConDem consensus with heart and passion; be proud to speak out for our members; celebrate and support those defending their jobs.
Vote for an independent socialist – non-aligned to any party, in the United Left alliance – with a strong track record of organising members and inspiring activists.
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Vote Max Watson - a fighting candidate, standing up for you!