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

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Prentis declares 'Enough is Enough' - Full Ballot for Action is Underway

#TUC11 As we reporteded this morning, Congress rose to applaud Dave Prentis' announcement that UNISON was giving notice to 9,000 employers that we are balloting for industrial action. Here we print his speech in full...

"UNISON represents one million public services workers and the campaigns we are fighting aren’t just about pensions
They aren’t just about jobs and pay
They are about the kind of society we leave to our children

They’re about protecting and passing on the rights our grandparents fought for
The welfare state
Universal public services
They’re about breaking a political consensus that says the market know best
We stand for ordinary people serving the public
Caring, educating, making our communities safer, cleaner, healthier
Ordinary people who had nothing to do with this financial crisis yet now being made to pay the price
A Coalition taking away their pay
Privatising their jobs
Daily rounds of redundancies
And yet on top of all this
They now want to take away our pensions
The pensions our members worked for
The pensions our members saved for
Every week of their working lives
Not for a life of luxury
But for some basic security in retirement
Putting away a little each week for dignity
so they didn’t have to rely on benefits in old age.
No gold plated pension
Just enough to get by
An average pension in local govt just xx
Congress,our members are no militants
Striking is the last thing they want to do
And no -we didn’t ask for this conflict
We’ve spent 8 months looking for agreement
Always willing to talk
To modernise the schemes-to be realistic
It’s been less than four years ago that we agreed to close our health pension scheme to new members
New schemes brought in recognising that people were living longer –we did it
A new local government scheme capable of investing £3 billion pounds a year in our economy-because it is cash rich..we did that...
But now not satisfied with that
This Coalition wants its pound of flesh
They are intent on re-opening the protected schemes
Demanding hundreds and thousands of workers, mainly women work 6 even 11 years longer to get their pension
They are intent on closing new schemes just coming in, the ink barely dry
Yet bringing in new “new schemes “ with far worse benefits
They are intent on stopping our members who are privatised taking their pensions with them.
Cut off completely from their pension scheme. Locked out
And to add insult to injury
They are intent on imposing a tax on all public service workers who save for their pensions
A staggering 50% increase in their contributions
But Congress-not a single penny to go into the schemes
All of it-every single penny to be syphoned off by the Treasury to pay for the deficit created by
the failure of the banking system.
An unprecedented attack on ordinary working people
An audacious and devious means to pay for the greed of others
So Congress we’ve had enough ...
We’ve been patient,we’ve cooperated
But there comes a time when we say enough is enough
Because if we don’t they’ll be back for more...and more and more,,,
So today .....Congress
I want to make it clear to this coalition that we will negotiate any time, anyplace, anywhere but if they impose change by dictat
We will take industrial action
And today Brendan Barber has convened a meeting of all public service unions to look at united co-ordinated industrial action if those talks fail
And in moving to industrial action I commit UNISON to work as one with out sister unions the GMB and UNITE
And today as General Secretary of UNISON I give formal notice to 9,000 employers that we are balloting for industrial action.
A ballot unprecedented in scale will cover over a million workers in health,local government, school, FE, higher education, police, the voluntary sector and the environment and the private sector

It’s a decision we don’t take lightly
And the stakes are high
Higher than ever before
But Congress of one thing I’m certain
Now is the time to make our stand
And it will be hard
We’ll be vilified,attacked
Set against each other
Public versus private ,divide and rule
The oldest trick in the book
But if we’re serious
We must stay strong,united
All of us shoulder to shoulder
No gesture politics ,no hollow rhetoric
Our members looks to us all to lead
To work together,
To run the public and political campaigns
needed to win their case
It’s crucial
And we’ll accept none of the emotional blackmail from politicians of any colour
If this coalition is so worried about the people who use our services
They shouldn’t be closing them down
If they’re so worried about disruption
They shouldn’t be privatising them
If they’re so worried about the old, the sick or the young
Stop shutting down care homes and start getting our young people into work and giving them a future
So Congress
The fight of our lives may be an overused cliché
But make no mistake Congress ------THIS IS IT...
We will take the fight to them
Congress this is no time for despair
No time to look back
Let us go forward
Confidant in our cause
A clear message from this Congress
We are determined
We are united
We are determined
Fighting for what is right
Fighting for our members