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

Monday, 1 July 2013

Steady as she goes - UNISON 20 years on from vesting day

'The union we've been waiting for' was the slogan that marked UNISON's arrival on 1 July 1993. Forged as a defensive merger (albeit based on sound industrial logic) in the era of Thatcherism, consolidated during 13 years of Labour government and now adapting to the challenge of seemingly permanent austerity, UNISON celebrates our 20th birthday today.

Few union mergers (and none on a comparable scale anywhere in the world) have succeeded in integrating union structures at all levels as effectively as UNISON has done. And the union is gradually coming to terms with the organisational challenge posed by the increased marketisation of public services where 1 in 4 new members are now employed in the private sector.

Equalities is deeply embedded in the union's culture and practice although more work is required to raise the consciousness of the activist base. National bargaining and political influence are two areas where the union must and will raise our game in the period ahead.

An industrial challenge to Government-imposed pay restraint and a more effective intervention in the Labour Party in support of alternative economic policies are both long overdue. More active campaigning and protest against austerity requires a whole union movement response but UNISON has never been found wanting when the call has been made.

The union’s recent National Delegate Conference set out a comprehensive policy agenda for the next phase of the its development but UNISON's future success will be measured by actions and not words. The union is well placed to build on the strong foundations laid over the past two decades.