UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Monday, 7 March 2011

South West Gets Active - ‘Heads up and spirits high!'

This weekend UNISON activists from across the South West Region gathered in Taunton for two days on 4th and 5th March to mobilise against the cuts and to step up campaign efforts in the run up to 26 March. The Get Active, Be Inspired event, a first for the region, offered short campaign skills sessions on public speaking, handling the media, one to one recruitment, using social media and film making and economic arguments against the cuts amongst many others.

Panel discussions were also held on new ways of organising and resisting attacks on terms and conditions.

The highlight, however, was an evening rally, with speakers – Roger McKenzie, UNISON Assistant General Secretary, Joanne Kaye, SW Regional Secretary and Tony Benn, a genuine labour movement legend. Each speaker focussed on the effort to build resistance to the Government attacks on public services and the welfare state and the need to hold our heads up and stay optimistic and determined to fight.

Inspiration was also drawn from comedy, music – a socialist choir and Tony Benn’s performing partner, Roy Bailey – and a fantastic rendition of Bread and Roses, sung by Rosie MacGregor, a former South West Convenor and stalwart of the union who has also been made redundant recently. Her powerful voice and the words of Bread and Roses emphasised the aims of the event – that as well as fighting for jobs services and pay, we need to stay positive, celebrate our movement and our achievements as a union.

Too often, left groups can concentrate on gloom and despair, with too many rallies held in the rain and cold. Building a strong resistance will only flourish if we can remember to laugh together and relish the energy and enthusiasm that working together and acting together can bring.

The mood of optimism continued through the weekend – ending with the announcement that the union was recruiting at its highest rate in its history, affirming the message that we can be confident about our union. There is much to do, but much to celebrate too.

See Rosie sing (and hear Roger talk about the event) at http://www.1in25.co.uk/

Steve Warwick,
UNISON South West NEC member