The half-million strong TUC demonstration on 26 March and the fantastic public-sector pensions strike on 30 November last year show the way. The Con-Dem Government has launched a class war against working people. The Government says we have to make cuts because of the deficit. But the rich are still getting richer and the bankers are getting more bailouts and bonuses.
All working people face unprecedented cuts and deprivations but UNISON members, the backbone of the public sector workforce, are at the very centre of this onslaught. That puts the combativity and confidence of our union at an absolute premium with a “knock-on” effect way beyond our ranks.
The lessons of last year’s union successes are clear. UNISON members want a fighting, democratic union that’s prepared to challenge the cuts, take to the picket line and take to the streets. UNISON members cannot fight alone. Even uniting all the unions in a single campaign is not enough.
We need to put the unions at the centre of a wider alliance. We have to link up with everyone opposed to the cuts - students, young people, pensioners, the disabled, the unemployed as well as campaigners for libraries, schools, and hospitals.
The old adage ‘Unity is Strength’ has never been so true and vital.
In HE, we face a version of the Con-Dem’s cuts offensive every day. It’s that blizzard of restructuring, job losses, outsourcing and “more-for-less”. In the same way we face up to the bullying manager, UNISON has to challenge this vicious, ideologically driven government. And in the same way the bullying manager can back down, so can this weak Con-Dem coalition.
A fighting, democratic UNISON means a union that:
• Keeps fighting for pensions
• Resists the pay freeze
• Defends jobs and conditions
• Won’t let us pay for their crisis
What I will bring to the Service Group Executive is not only a proven track record at the University of Bedfordshire but also years of successful anti-fascist and anti-war campaigning. I am a member of Counterfire and Luton Trades Council, and I am supported by the United Left.
This is the fight of our lives. It can only be won through a mass campaign that unites other unions and all the communities currently under fire. Let’s make sure UNISON is a leader here, not a follower.
A vote for Mark Dee Smith is vote for a fighting, democratic union!