Branch Secretary, Surrey County UNISON (in a personal capacity)
Calls for a general strike of all workers came thick and fast at Saturday's AGM of the UNISON SE Region. Resolutions calling for coordinated 24 hour general strike action came in from Surrey and Portsmouth local government branches and from Bucks Health branch. Only one person spoke against the motions with speaker after speaker pushing for UNISON's leadership to take the lead within the TUC.
In moving the Surrey motion, I argued the need for our union to give a lead to the millions of working class people already struggling in Britain. Food banks are appearing in Surrey County Council offices for the first time in living memory. I also said that the trade union movement needs a general strike to remind the government we exist and that workers hold the real power in society.
Delegates from social workers to admin workers to health workers all spoke of a growing mood of anger and determination amongst UNISON members and the support that could be built across the whole union for a general strike. James Morbin from Oxford Health explained how the tragedies and scandals now unfolding in the NHS are a direct result of the Con Dem government's privatisation and austerity programme. Jane Armitage from Surrey County reminded delegates how many new members joined UNISON when we took coordinated strike action on pensions.
All three motions were passed overwhelmingly by the 100+ delegates present and the meeting agreed to send them as a combined motion to the UNISON national conference in June. Many delegates made it clear that we don't want to wait till June for our national leaders to step up to the mark but agreed that the motion should go to conference just in case we are still waiting.