Socialist Worker

Unison local government conferences debates how best to resist Tory austerity

by Sarah Bates, in Liverpool
Issue No. 2659

Delegates at Unisons local government conference this week

Delegates at Unison's local government conference this week (Pic: Unison Bexley branch)

Hundreds of delegates spent two days thrashing out how to fight austerity at the Unison union local government conference this week.

Anger at the Tory programme of cuts, privatisation and attacks was palpable. 

Margaret Gallacher from south Lanarkshire blasted the Tories.

“Whichever clown runs their evil circus their policies show that more is yet to come,” she said.

Unison members debated climate change, the crisis in social care, schools funding and house building. 

Many spoke about how public sector workers are struggling with increasing workloads, skeleton staffing levels and deteriorating services.

Delegate James Robinson argued, “It’s not enough to deal with cuts on a case-by-case basis.

“It’s much better to deal with these things collectively and industrially.”

Conference voted to fight zero hours contracts and the undermining of terms and conditions.


Delegate Liz Wheatley said, “Zero hours contracts are an attack on all of us—they’re more likely to be used when the services have been privatised.”

Members voted unanimously to organise against Tory legislation to cap retirement payments for public sector workers.

Mandy Buckley, a senior steward for the victorious Birmingham home care workers, said their action changed workers. 

“Campaigning makes a difference,” she said. 

“I was the only steward there when everyone left on voluntary redundancy. Now I’ve got ten stewards.

“Our campaigners are going to be the leaders for the future—and we need more leaders.”

Unison’s national delegate conference was set to start as Socialist Worker went to press.

Bin services in Newham, east London, look set to grind to a halt as workers get ready to stage a 12-day strike.

Some 45 Unite union members are fighting a pay grading that they say could cost them over £20,000 in a 12-year period.

Workers voted by 88 percent for the strike, which was due to start on Monday of next week.

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