Brum Visitor inspires
John Burgess, the Branch Secretary of Barnet UNISON Branch. John gave an inspirational talk on on Wednesday 27th July to Birmingham Unison members . He talked about how they have mounted a lengthy campaign against a right wing Tory Council, determined to outsource all the Council Services.
Along with sustained industrial action they have utilised an innovative mix of campaigning materials using animation, cartoons, songs and protests.
They have galvanised and supported local resident campaigns and promoted local bloggers who have challenged the Council and critiqued their policies.
John described it like a guerrilla war and though they have suffered setbacks they have delayed and frustrated the council and maintained membership involvement and are the best recruiting branch in London.
John fielded every question stewards had and imparted his accumulated experience in an honest and informative way. It demonstrated a real need for better networking between UNISON Branches, in a bottom up way, if we are to successfully challenge austerity.
John bought a fraternal message to our Branch from Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, who the Barnet Branch had developed a strong relationship with before they had come to prominence in the leadership of the Labour Party.
The message from the Labour Leader read
"This is the joint message from Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell to members of Birmingham UNISON.
We stand shoulder to shoulder with trade unionists in Birmingham.
The Tories have stripped over £10bn from local government since they came into office - and as Britain's biggest local authority, responsible for a huge area with a range of complex social issues, you have been in the front line of that brutal assault.
For the Tories these cuts are numbers on a spreadsheet, but we know that on the ground they are meals-on-wheels, care centres, libraries, community safety and services for the most vulnerable, as well as the jobs and livelihoods of staff.
We offer our solidarity and support, and we will continue to fight for a Labour government that invests in and empowers communities rather than draining the resources you need.
John and Jeremy"
It certainly was an encouraging afternoon.