'We keep campaigning, we keep fighting'(22/02/12 ) "We need to keep campaigning, we need to keep fighting for our NHS," general secretary Dave Prentis told UNISON's national executive council meeting in London this afternoon.
Noting that UNISON has been leading the campaign against the bill for more than a year, often as a lone voice, the NEC urged a massive turnout of members at the Westminster rally against the bill on 7 March.
There are dozens of royal colleges involved now, the executive heard, but it's still UNISON at the heart of the campaign.
In particular, the NEC voted to congratulate one of our former activists June Hautot, the pensioner who made the news headlines on Monday night by confronting health secretary Andrew Lansley on his way to prime minister David Cameron's NHS 'summit'.
The national executive heard an update on the pension dispute and negotiations around the various pension schemes, particularly local government and health.
Getting access to information has meant timetables have slipped and final offers will probably not be available for members to be consulted on before mid-March in health and later in local government.
Full details will be reported to the lay service group executives who will decide the details, including timetables and any recommendations, of future membership ballots.
While the fight for decent pensions goes on, the NEC agreed, UNISON is still seen as the key player and main voice on public services and needs to ratchet up the Million Voices campaign in defence of public services.
Next month's budget will not see any respite in the attacks on public services or the union members who provide them, the NEC warned, and the campaign will offer hard-pressed branches off-the-shelf tools for local campaigns against privatisation and cuts.
On recruitment and organising, the meeting heard that December's and January's recruitment had been down on October's and November's, in the run-up to the pensions strike - though still up on the comparative months from a year before.
The NEC agreed that momentum needed to be regained on recruitment in what is likely to be an extremely challenging year for UNISON.
The scale of that challenge became apparent as the NEC discussed the attack on the union in Swindon.
That Tory-controlled council is seeking to end facility time for the union and make the branch's two leading officers redundant.
The NEC sent a message of support to the Swindon branch, and its lobby of the council tomorrow night, noting that the branch is not the only one facing such attacks and this is a major threat the union needs to meet.
The attack, and the challenge, is wider than activists - with 67,000 public service axed in the last three months alone, noted Mr Prentis noted that "this year is probably the crunch year."
The NEC also:
- received a report on planning for June's national delegate conference in Brighton;
- agreed the motions it will submit to conference on pensions, organising,n learning find organising, Palestine, sustainable development, the economy, campaigning to protect equality, the EU after the banking crisis, health and safety, defending our NHS, local government services, and public services;
- agreed to rule changes to propose to conference on becoming a member, obligations of membership, disciplinary action and conditions of legal assistance;
- heard the latest on equal pay litigation;
- received the management accounts for 2011;
- was updated on staffing issues.